FIC: MC 25 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (1/?)
Previously In The Mithras Chronicles (from ‘Taking A Chance):-
He smiled to himself as he turned his remote viewing device on, preparing it to spy on one of the men he considered a possible threat. They were few in number, those he considered possessing the combination of will, intellect, and resources to be of concern to him. That select few included Strange, Richards, Stark, and of course Xavier.
He concentrated. The screen he was staring at cleared to reveal Xavier’s base. He moved to Xavier’s study. Finding his potential adversary talking to a young man h listened with interest to the youthful stranger’s story. "He’ll bear watching."
Turning away from the youth and his host, he moved through the mansion, inspecting it for any new potentially useful or dangerous mutant. His heart stopped when he reached the training room, the young woman he saw exercising there re-igniting feelings he’d only previously felt once before.
Where the first woman to inflame his heart had been blond and demure, this one was brunette and brash. But both had within them something, a spark, that he had to process. He listened to the woman talk, his interest growing as he learnt of her supernatural powers. "Fascinating." He reached out a finger to stroke her curvy image. "You will be mine," he promised.
Standing, he strode through his base, his minions scurrying away from him. Finally he reached a vast chamber filled with various artefacts from ancient cultures. Some were just curiosities, but others…. He smiled as he spied the object he wanted. "Slayer’s Strength," he picked up the hexagonal amulet. So his Faith was a Slayer? She’d appreciate this, the question was how to get it to his future bride. His smile widened. All it took was a little patience and ingenuity, and in time an opportunity would present itself.
* * *
Ancient South America, 8,000,000 years earlier
"Is this all you have?" Magnus Deimos crowed as a stone-tipped arrow bounced off his chest. Leaping forward, he grabbed the bowman by the throat and squeezed, laughing when the man’s head exploded off his shoulders, the gore showering the near-by trees. He looked around, hungry for more chances for carnage, but they were all dead, the crumpled bodies lying everywhere, a small village slaughtered in just a few minutes. "Pathetic," he muttered. "There is no one to challenge me."
"Oh, I wouldn’t go that far."
Looking up, he saw a trio of the Old Ones hovering around him. He felt a rare frisson of fear. He might be an overlord, but his power didn’t compare to these three. "This is none of your concern!" he blustered. "You don’t care about them!" he gestured carelessly at the corpses littering the sandy grey ground.
"If you and your rampages continue we will have no subjects to rule," intoned the central of the Old Ones. "That concerns us." The Old One glanced to his left. "The Box of Ligatio?"
His eyes widened in terror when one of the Old Ones produced a velvet topped wooden box the size of a chair. "No," he croaked, readying himself in a desperate leap at the Old One.
And then screamed as the Old One opened the box with a flourish. He sensed rather than heard the incantation that accompanied the box’s opening. Then his entire being was consumed with an unsurpassable pain, making the days-long tortures he himself had inflicted on many of the primitives that had fallen prey to him seem insignificant by comparison. He screamed again as his essence was torn from him and flung into the box.
* * *
"Most satisfactory," he turned to his juniors. "Come."
As they strode away the youngest of the three of them, a mere 200,000,000 years old, spoke. "Not even a Box Of Ligatio can hold one such as Magnus for eternity. Perhaps it would have been best to kill him?"
"Perhaps," he shrugged, it was a matter of little interest to him. "But when he gets loose we will deal with him again. Perhaps permanently, perhaps not. Who cares if he slaughters some of the vermin? Just not all of them."
His junior nodded. "Yes. And what shall we do with the box?"
He took the box off his junior and looked over his shoulder. "Follow me." He teleported thousands of miles across thick jungle. Once his companions had joined him, he pointed ahead of them. Instantly a huge, gothic temple sprang up, everything from its grey stone walls and forbidding aura transported from a vision in his mind. Smirking slightly, he transported the box into a maze of tunnels beneath the great building. "Someone will doubtless find it. Eventually. But somehow I doubt that Magnus will be suitably grateful."
* * *
Brazil, Jul 2000 AD.
"This way!" Dario paused to wipe the sweat from his forehead. "It’s over here!" After a quick sip of his canteen, he stumbled into the opening, the sun’s rays beating down on him, even through the towering trees casting shadows that enveloped him. He stopped to take an awed breath at the sight before him.
The building’s sombre greyness was in stark contrast to the multi-coloured foliage surrounding it. The temple, because that was it surely was, was constructed entirely from huge granite blocks giving it a menacing appearance. Its doors had long since rotted away, leaving the oval-shaped entrance open for interlopers to walk in. But no power in the world would force him inside this building on his own.
"Wow," he heard his brother Paco from behind. "How old is this place?"
"Old," he replied. "Look how worn the stone is. It’s been here centuries at least."
"Maybe we should inform the authorities?" suggested the youngest of his brothers. "Let them do the work, we still get a cut."
Both he and Paco turned and shot Jose twin looks of disgust. "Idiot!" Dario exclaimed. "You know the government! We wouldn’t see a penny of anything they find in there! Not a penny! Best to take the treasure ourselves and sell it on the black market!"
Cowed by his outburst, Jose nodded meekly. "It is as you say," his brother allowed, "government flunkies," his brother spat into the long grass, "always stealing from the working man. Bastards." His fellow treasure-seeker looked up at the building, eyes growing even more nervous. "Shall we?"
Dario took another breath. After wiping his sweaty hands on his pants, he nodded. "We shall," he agreed. "Let us go." After a final look around, he followed the others in diving into the mysterious temple.
* * *
He smiled as he watched the three fools hurry to their doom, oblivious to his presence. It had been a simple task for him to influence their weak, peasant minds into doing what he required. He wouldn’t be long now.
His smile widened at the sounds of their screams. "Pathetic," he muttered. "They didn’t even clear the first level."
Chuckling slightly, he strode to the temple’s entrance, his armoured suit’s internal air conditioning allowing him to stay cool despite the baking heat. He pursed his lips as he gazed inside the temple, his sensor unit searching for the object he searched for. He smiled again as he found it. "Excellent," he stepped inside, unworried despite the threesome’s recent untimely passing.
"Now to open it," he continued. That had caused him quite a problem. When designed the Box of Ligatio had been made to be opened only by magic or a magical being. But he sensed this temple was covered in pentagrams preventing magic from being worked in its walls. A pretty puzzle.
But one science had solved for him. Pulling out his remote, he pressed a button and smiled when the luminous readout. "That should get his attention," he muttered before heading towards the entrance. Stopping there, he carefully placed a hexagonal amulet in the shadows just inside the temple, a DNA tracer carefully placed on it ensuring that no-one would see it before her. Indeed, her eyes would be drawn to it. "Welcome to my parlour said the spider to the fly."
* * *
Stephen Strange poured his tea, a satisfied smile on his face. Another enemy vanquished. Another victory won. A most pleasing day. He lifted his cup.
And gasped as wave of energy ran through him, making him drop his cup, the fine porcelain shattering on his apartment’s floor, and momentarily doubling him up. "What was that?" he muttered as he straightened and stared around him, his glee of only a few seconds earlier forgotten, replaced by gnawing fear.
Centring himself, he sent out his essence, searching for the force that had caused the disturbance in the mana. He shook his head when he cleared America without finding the source. For something to have such an effect on him but not be near-by, was bad, very bad.
He stopped as he reached South America, his powers unable to penetrate a building deep in the Brazilian rain-forest. But he recognised the binding pentagrams that surrounded the building, and what they were there to protect against. And they must have failed, the creature inside, an overlord of considerable power, was slowly working itself loose. "This is bad," he muttered, "very bad." With this sort of binding, his powers would be useless in battling the monster. As would those of many of his allies. And those who would be able to fight the creature had their own battles to fight, their own innocents to protect.
But there was one group who could perhaps help. He only hoped his young friends were up to it.
FIC: MC 26 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (2/?)
JFK International, New York
"What’s so important, X?" Faith queried as they hurried through the airport, weaving through the crowd consisting of baggage handlers, businessmen, and tourists.
"I don’t know exactly," her boyfriend admitted. "Strange said it was too sensitive to talk about over the phone, but that he needed our help and fast."
"Wicked cool," Faith nodded in satisfaction. She didn’t trust Strange, but if X vouched for him, that was five by five by her. She trusted her babe. Stepping out of the airport, she looked around for a cab. "We best head there then."
"Gee," Tara commented, her mutter audible even over the busy New York traffic, "why didn’t I think of that Napoleon?"
Faith shot her sister an irritated look. What had happened to that shy kid they’d rescued a year ago? Maybe X was right, she was a bad influence.
* * *
The Illuminati Headquarters, A Fortress In The Bavarian Alps
Franz Raynor looked up as the twin, wood-panelled doors to his office crashed open, and his second in command rushed in, an excited look on his face. "Yes, Carlos?" with a reluctant sigh he pushed away the week’s reports on the inherent corruption in each and every major worldwide religion. "I trust you have burst into here for a good reason?"
The portly Spaniard paled slightly at his stern tone before nodding. "Yes, sir." The man shoved a report into his hands. "We’ve received information from a source in South America. A temple of an entirely ancient and new design has been discovered in the Brazilian rain forest."
"Oh?" he was less than fascinated. Another temple, another religion. Just what the world needed. "And this is interesting because?"
"Because," Carlos licked his fat lips, "our source indicates there is a weapon of unimaginable power, capable of destroying a city, hidden beneath the temple."
Franz stiffened, sitting bolt upright. A weapon of such power would give his group a power they hadn’t for -, well ever. "A weapon, you say?" he pursed his lips in thought. "And how reliable is your source?"
"He’s never let us down before, sir."
Franz nodded, his mind going at a hundred miles an hour. "Are the Brazilian government aware of this find?"
"No sir," he was gratified by Carlos’ shake of the head. "Our source only knows because he equipped some Brazilian adventurers who broke into the place." His subordinate hesitated, he nodded impatiently. "The place is heavily booby-trapped, they were killed."
"Um," Franz tapped thoughtfully on the table for a few seconds before coming to a decision. "Are Spitzer on stand-by?"
Carlos nodded at his question regarding the movement’s elite assault team. "Yes sir, they’ve just returned from their mission in Algeria."
"Have them fitted out and ready to go as soon as possible," he announced. "I want that weapon for us!"
"Yes sir!" he smiled as Carlos hurried out to execute his orders. A new world order was coming, one that would see him at its head.
* * *
Drogna Headquarters, A Tuscan Villa
"Hurry! Hurry!" Antonio rushed through their master’s vast villa, pushing aside those unfortunate enough to get in his way, running up the three floors that led to the ground floor and out of The Drogna’s secret underground rooms. He gasped for air as he stood before the electronic keypad that marshalled the entrance between the public and private face of the villa and its billionaire playboy owner. His breath regained, he hurriedly punched in the code. After a second the door slid soundlessly open.
Antonio instantly rushed through the doorway and into the corridor beyond. Stopping at the door opposite, he looked into the retina scan and impatiently waited until the door slid open. "Finally," he muttered as he rushed upstairs and into the villa proper.
Slowing to a more sedate pace, he made his way to the house owner’s, and their Order’s leader, drawing room. Upon entering, he was as always struck by the dignified glamour of the room. Everything about the room – from the antique furniture to the collection of 1st editions in the bookshelf by the far wall shouted money. "Sir, I have news, ‘The Thoughts of Luca Gaurico’, I have deciphered them!"
"Oh really?" the man sat behind the room’s gleaming desk looked interested. But no wonder, Luca Gaurico a fifteen century Italian astrologer, astronomer, and mathematician was a prophet of considerably less fame than Nostradumus, but held in no less regard by true academics. Born into a poor family in Naples, Luca had studied judicial astrology . Judicial astrology concerned the fate of man as influenced by the stars. His most famous work was the Tractatus Astrologicus. But there were lesser works too, like the book they’d recently found, a tome written in an unique code so that the Church that deemed such studies as heresy would not persecute him.
The room’s other occupant spoke, his clipped tones clearly indicating he was used to instant obedience. "I trust from your state they revealed something of interest?" he demanded.
"Of great interest, sir."
"Please," the man glanced to the empty chair at the other side of the desk, "sit down."
"Thank you, sir." He hurriedly sat down. "Sir, the papers reveal a number of things, but the most immediate is the location of an ancient weapon made by the First Ones with terrifying power."
The man sat behind the desk raised an carefully coiffured eyebrow. "That is interesting," he agreed.
Antonio waited patiently for his order’s master to continue. Most people would , but the Drogna knew that sometimes science didn’t hold all the answer. Finally the man spoke. "We have the exact map co-ordinates?"
"It’s all in the translation, it’s located in the Amazon rainforest."
The order’s leader nodded, hand thoughtfully stroking his greying goatee. "Send Spada to retrieve this weapon. If nothing else, we can sell it to the highest bidder."
* * *
Dr. Strange’s Apartment
"Thank you for coming so promptly," Dr. Strange led his guests inside his rooms. "Can I get you a drink, anything?"
"What ya can get us is an explanation why ya called us here?"
Strange shot the brunette bombshell an amused rather than annoyed look. "As blunt as ever I see," his amusement faded as he remembered the danger he could well be sending two of the three youngsters into. "Please," he glanced towards the sofa. "Sit."
Once all three teens were sat, he started to talk. "In the years before Mithras," he nodded towards the young man now possessed by earth’s first hero. "As you know, demons walked the earth as her masters, doing what they wished with those poor unfortunates that fell into their grasp-."
Faith yawned theatrically. "Were you a Watcher in an earlier life?" the curvy brunette queried.
He raised an eyebrow but didn’t otherwise comment before continuing. "At the top of the demonic hierarchy were the Old Ones, but just below them in status and power were their first creations – The Overlords, demons of immense strength. Most were banished with their masters when Mithras," again he nodded at the boy, "rebelled. But one, Magnus Demios, was imprisoned on this plane before that by some of the Old Ones, his massacres were so out of control."
"Do you remember him, Xander?"
"No," the boy shook his head at the witch’s question, "but then he was imprisoned before Mithras’ time. And if he’s imprisoned why does this concern us?"
"Unfortunately, his South American prison was disturbed, and he now awakens, forcing his way out of his prison." he bared his teeth in a half-snarl, hating to admit his helplessness. "Normally I would deal with such a beast myself, but the temple is a duller."
"Say what?" queried the buxom brunette.
"There are charms on the building that would nullify a mage’s powers," Strange explained.
"Why didn’t the Old Ones just kill it?"
Strange shrugged at the witch’s question. He’d wondered that himself. "I don’t know. Perhaps they couldn’t, perhaps doing so would use up too much energy. Or perhaps, and this is my personal theory, it amused them to leave it imprisoned, impotent, for however long it took to escape. And then when it did escape, they could glory in the carnage it did before it escaped before stopping it."
"Kinda like a tear a hardened crim goes on after gettin’ out?"
"Something approximating that," Strange agreed with Faith’s summary with a wry grin. She was a brash young thing, but there was definitely a brain hidden beneath all that attitude.
"Huh, huh," Xander said. "But The Old Ones aren’t here to stop it anymore."
"No," his mood once again sobered. "Others," he focussed his gaze on Xander and Faith, "will have to stop it. Because of the pentagrams on its prison, myself and Tara are helpless against," his lip curled up at that unwilling admission , "it until it gets free. By which time, many could well have paid with their lives."
"What about my powers?" Faith queried. "Won’t they be affected?"
"No," he shook his head. "you are a magical creature-."
"See X," Faith smirked at her boy-friend, "why don’t ya say nice things like that to a girl?"
"Because I know you?"
"As opposed to a user of magic," he continued over the two’s bickering. "A vampire likewise would keep its power in the temple, but Tara and I would be blocked from reaching ours." He looked towards Xander. "However you will be unable to use your Always Pocket and other instruments inside the temple. And the tunnels beneath the temple leading to the prison are booby-trapped, so you will need both strength and ingenuity even to get to the demon."
"Okay," the boy nodded, his expression once again serious, "when do we leave?"
"The longer we wait, the more powerful Magnus Demios will become. I’ve taken the liberty of booking you both tickets on a flight in ten hours," he glanced towards Tara, "you of course are welcome to stay and study with me?"
After a second the witch nodded. "I’d like that."
"Excellent," he beamed, hiding his own misgivings about the danger he was plunging a pair of teens into, "now I’m sure you’d like to rest, I have some spare rooms if you want?"
"Yeah," Faith nodded. "But first, this Magnus Demios, what’s he actually like?"
"According to all information I have been able to find, he wasn’t a demon who used magic or was a tactician, simply an user of brute strength. But he was immensely powerful and had a terrifying reputation for sadism. Here is a drawing of him," he passed over one of his books.
Faith’s eyes widened. "Cute critter, bet he didn’t get many dates."
* * *
A Central European Castle
Sat alone in his throne room, he chuckled as his carefully placed pieces assembled on the chess board of his making. "And so," he smiled. "The games begin."
And Faith was one step closer to being his.
His laughter boomed out, echoing around the otherwise empty chamber.
FIC: MC 26 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (3/?)
Belem Airport, Brazil
"Damn, this is hot!"
"Yeah," Xander took a second to drink in the brunette beauty stood beside him. "Scorching." Faith was clad only in a pair of khaki shorts that left little of her lithe legs to the imagination while clinging to her perfect butt, and a tied-off shirt that displayed several inches of gym-trained stomach as well as barely containing her full chest. Add the way she glistened in the -.
Faith pulled her aviator glasses down her nose and stared at him. "Got everything ya need?"
Xander smirked. "Just admiring the view."
Faith smirked back at him. "Not lookin’ so bad yaself, Harris." His girl-friend turned serious. "Ain’t we got a job to do?"
"Yes we have," Xander used the back of his arm to wipe the sweat off his brow. This weather made California seem mild by comparison. "I figure we best hire a car fir-," he looked at his girl-friend, remembering Florida. "Correction, I best hire a car first. Then get a few hours rest, set off fresh in the morning."
"In this terrain, we’ll need an off-roader." Xander stared at his girl-friend. "What?" she exclaimed. "I can be practical!"
"See," Faith beamed at him, "you’re smarter than you look."
* * *
Belem Airport, Brazil
Hans Koeller, head of Spada, looked around the busy airport, the soldier’s instincts of two decades automatically filtering out the superfluous noise and activity. His search stopped as he spotted something. "Look at that," he muttered.
"What?" his second-in-command, a Polish former soldier by the name of Nelek Krepa, followed his gaze. "Nice, very nice," the bullet-headed Pole nodded approvingly. "Good spot, sir."
"Not her," Hans hissed impatiently, "I’m more interested in her boyfriend." Nelek shot him a confused glance. "Look at the way he moves, he moves like special forces."
"But he’s just a kid!"
"Exactly," Koeller nodded. "And that’s what worries me. What is he doing here?"
"You think someone else has found out about the temple?" Nelek queired.
"That’s exactly what I think." He paused for a second. "Send Hovan, Evenz, and Stoyan to trail them. Tell them to do nothing but watch and photograph anyone they meet with for later identification. If they try and leave town, kill them and get rid of their bodies."
* * *
Paulo smiled as he noticed the gypsy-eyed beauty. After taking a couple of discreet photos with the camera he used as part of his cover as tourist photographer, he hurried out of the airport. After hailing a cab, he followed the young couple through Belem’s busy streets and to their hotel, before finally heading to his boss’ home.
His boss lived in a palatial house in one of Belem’s most exclusive suburbs. The house was a three-storey white-walled palace with an iron grille fence around it and a trio of sub machine-gun toting guards patrolling the neatly-mowed grounds. Leaping out of the taxi, he hurried to the gate and pressed onto the intercom. After a minute a suited guard appeared at the gate. "It’s Paulo, I’ve got some big news for Mr. Chavez!"
The guard stared at him for a while. Recognition finally dawned in the thick-set gorilla’s eyes. "Sure, Paulo," the guard pressed some buttons on the keypad at the other side of the gate. Paulo pursed his lips together impatiently when he heard a beep. "No," the guard scowled and shook his head. "That’s not it." The man re-tried the code. This time the door swung open. After enduring the pat-down, Paulo hurried up the path and inside the grand house.
As always the beautiful furnishings of his boss’ house took his breath away. He didn’t know shit about art, but he knew what was expensive, and everything in his boss’ house screamed money. Making his way to the office, he knocked on the wood panelled door. "Yes?" barked a cold voice from inside, a voice clearly used to being obeyed.
Paulo licked his lips. All at once he was nervous. Telling himself his boss would have wanted news of the new gringo beauty in town, he cleared his throat and spoke. "It is Paulo, sir-."
"Paulo!" he cringed at the crime-lord’s bark. "I thought you were meant to be at the airport, watching for any likely prospects for ransom or blackmail?"
"Yes sir," he wiped the sweat suddenly dripping from his forehead away, "if I can come in and explain, sir."
There was a pause and the door swung open. Paulo swallowed before stepping into the long room. At the far sat a brown wooden desk, behind which a stony-eyed man sat, his sausage-sized fingers wrapped around a Cuban cigar, and his custom-made suit not hiding the man’s gross obesity. Not that anyone would ever mention it to him of course, Mr. Chavez’s pet alligators were far too fond of human flesh for someone to be that stupid.
Legs slightly wobbly, he made his way over to the man. He looked at the empty suede-upholstered chair at the other side of the desk. When he didn’t receive an invitation, he remained standing. "S…sir," he licked his lips before starting again. "I was at the airport-."
"But you’re not there now!" Chavez barked. If possible his eyes grew even harder. "These cigars are expensive you know, and you standing here in my office isn’t earning me any money to buy some more!"
"No sir," he reached into his pocket and pulled out the two photos he’d managed to snap of the foreign beauty. "I thought you’d want to see her," he carefully placed the photos on the varnished table.
His boss immediately discarded his smouldering cigar, dropping it into his glass ashtray before snatching up the photos. "Formosa!" his boss whispered.
"Yes sir," he nodded, exhaling in relief when he realised he was back in favour. "I was thinking, a puta like that, she could make you a great deal of money, taking care of local dignitaries, visiting businessmen, that sort of thing. Maybe even use her in blackmail deals."
His boss rubbed at his jowls. "Screw the business. I’ll keep this pretty for myself. A little training and she’ll be nicely obedient," Chavez glanced up at him. "I trust you know where she’s staying?"
"Yes, sir," he quickly gave the address.
"You’ve done well," the gangland leader praised before glancing at the head of his security, a thickly-built native Indian with dead eyes. "Take three of the boys and bring her to me."
"Yes sir," the security head nodded. "And her boyfriend?"
Chavez stared at the guard, eyes filling with disbelief as it was the stupidest question he’d ever heard. "Why, you kill him of course."
* * *
"Ya know," Faith grinned as she came out of the bathroom, "I love sis and all, but me and you, some quality alone time. I see possibilities."
Xander’s eyes bugged when his girl-friend dropped the towel she’d been wearing. "I was," he licked his lips, "thinking the same thing."
Faith’s grin widened. "Smart boy."
* * *
Djavan spoke as the car pulled into the hotel car park, his eyes fixed on the early nineteenth century building. "Remember your orders, the boy he dies, anyone who gets in the way, they die. But hurt a hair on the girl’s head and the boss will make you wish you were dead yourself. Now, let’s go."
* * *
"Oh shit," Hovan put down the night-vision glasses he’d been using to watch the hotel from across the road, hidden in an alley. It had been boring duty, barely a sight of the target, Hovan had personally thought the lucky bastard was some rich kid who’d bought a bit of skirt down for some fun. But with the appearance of the four gunmen, it looked like he was wrong. "Look at them," he pointed for his companions to see the men disembarking the car. "Call it in, we best get over there."
FIC: MC 25 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (4/?)
Faith laughed as her boyfriend approached, hands out-stretched to get a hold of her goodies. She’d been itching for some hot lovin’ for hours. "Fuck!" She scowled as pushed her honey back and grabbed for the shorts she’d discarded on the floor before showering. "We gotta get dressed!"
"No time to explain," she growled. "Heard someone being pistol-whipped in the corridor outside, we got trouble." Grabbing her shirt she hurriedly dragged it on, not bothering to tuck it in.
"Every time," Faith couldn’t help but grin at Xander’s woeful expression. "Every time this happens!"
"I’ll make it up to ya afterwards," she promised with a wink before glancing towards the balcony. "Third floor, right?"
"Yeah," Xander nodded. His eyes widened in horrified realisation. "Oh you have got to be kidding, there’s no-."
She placed a finger on her boyfriend’s lips, cutting off his protests. "Men with guns, hon. I jump and then catch you when you come after me."
Xander’s face reddened. "Have you any idea how humil-."
"Hello," they both turned at a knock at the door, "room service."
"On the other hand, I think it’s a great idea!" Xan shook his head before raising his voice. "Give me a minute, just dressing." Her boyfriend turned to her. "After you."
"Gentleman," Faith tilted her head to one side and winked before sprinting to the balcony’s glass door, easing it open, grabbing a hold of the balcony wooden railing and one-hand vaulting to the ground.
She grunted as she hit the ground, her feet apart and knees to minimise the impact, still it reverberated through her body, and made her very grateful that she didn’t have an ordinary mortal’s weaknesses. "Speaking of which," she looked up and gestured at her man. After a second, X climbed over the railing and dropped towards her, a look of almost comical horror on his face. Faith grunted as she caught her boyfriend. "X," she wheezed as she put the man down on the ground. "Cut down on Twinkies, hon."
"I’m not that heavy." X glared at her.
"Sure you’re not," she broke off from their bickering at the sight of their pursuers, a quartet of grubbily dressed, unshaven thugs running out on the balcony above them, carrying guns. Many guns. "Let’s motor," she suggested as they looked down and started to shout.
"Not arguing," exclaimed her boyfriend. "Car’s this way."
* * *
"Did you see that!"
Hovan nodded at his subordinate’s shocked exclamation. "I saw it," he replied. And had scarcely believed it. First the girl had taken a three floor drop without any apparent harm, and then had easily cushioned the selfsame fall of a youth more than twice her lithe size. There was something more going on here than met the eye that was for sure. Hovan’s eyes widened as he came to a shocking realisation. There’d been rumours in the underworld, but this was confirmation before his very eyes. "The runaway Slayer," he muttered before turning to the others. "Contact Team Leader," he ordered, "we have the runaway Slayer!"
* * *
Djavan stared over the balcony, unable to believe the evidence of his own eyes. How had that girl managed the jump without apparent injury? And even more staggering, how had she managed to easily catch her much heavier boyfriend?
"Duodo!" his eyes widened when he realised one of his companions was aiming a gun at the couple. Slapping the barrel down, he shook his head. "Mr. Chavez wants her alive and unijured. No shooting!"
His underling’s face flushed. "I was aiming for the man-.."
"And if you miss," he shook his head. "And hit her, the boss will feed us all to his crocodiles." He turned back to the hotel room. "To the car! We can’t let them get away."
* * *
Xander pulled his keys out as he hurried towards the car, glancing over his shoulder as he watched the men on the balcony. One raised a gun, but another angrily knocked it down, a second later they scurried inside. "They want us alive!" he yelled.
"Who do ya figure they are?" Faith asked as she pulled to a halt by their rental, eyes wild.
"I’m guessing local gangsters who’ve found out about the temple and figure it has to contain some treasure, so want to stop others from getting it, but want to check if we know something more about it than they do."
"Makes sense," Faith scowled when he dropped the keys. "Damn, Harris," his girl-friend shook her head before joining him in crouching to pick them up. "Hurry, remember?"
Ignoring Faith’s admonishments, he snatched up the keys and stood. And squinted as he realised a sudden hole had appeared through both the far and near window where Faith had been stood. A horrified realisation dawned, someone had shot at Faith, and if he hadn’t dropped his keys, she’d be dead. "Oh hell." Grabbing Faith’s shoulder, he yanked her back down. "There’s another group out there, across the road!" he explained as he unlocked and opened the door, ushering her inside. "They’ve got a sniper, stay down!"
"Same group or different group?" Faith queried, face paling.
"Gee," Xander raised an eyebrow. "I forgot to ask. Maybe I should email them?. But first get in, and stay low!"
"Funny bastard," his girl-friend muttered as she crawled into the car, giving him an admittedly enticing view of her ass. But taking far too long about it. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he reached up and shoved her into the car. "Fuck!"
He winced at Faith’s glare as she fell from the seat and to the floor. "Sorry Faith," he apologised with a look behind him, "but we’re in kind of a hurry!"
"Ya heard of asking?"
* * *
"You missed!" Hovan glared at the sniper and his silenced rifle. "You missed!"
"She ducked," the sniper was ashen grey with shock. "It was like she knew I was going to fire."
"Impossible," he shook his head, shaking off his own trepidation. It was impossible, and yet the rumours said that Slayers had supernatural powers, maybe precognition was one of them.
"The boss phoned in," he turned at his subordinate’s voice. "He said apprehend for questioning if possible. If not, kill them both."
"Okay," he looked towards their tinted-window SUV. "Let’s move it!"
"What about them?"
Hovan looked towards the teen couple’s other pursuers, watching as they leapt into a battered old jeep. "If they kill them, they kill them," he decided, "if they get in our way, we kill them."
* * *
"Ah shit!" Faith risked a peek over her shoulder to see not one but two cars following them. "X, they ain’t together!"
"What makes you so sure?" Xander asked as their car screeched off the parking lot.
"Well, the guys from the hotel look like slobs, but the shooters from the alley, they look like some sort of special forces shit."
"Special forces?" Xander grimaced. "My guess is they’re a Council hit team."
Faith smiled wryly. "Sucks to be popular."
"Doesn’t it just?" her boyfriend took a hard right. "Hold on, this could get hairy!"
"Doesn’t it always?" Faith shook her head. Just once, she’d like things to go simply. Suddenly she smirked. That was bullshit, she loved the rush. She ducked as the rear window exploded, shot out by one of the chasing vehicles. Okay, so there was such a thing as too much adrenalin. "Faster would be good, X!"
FIC: MC 25 Jul ‘00 A Spot Of Jonesing (5/?)
"He’s a fucking good driver!"
Hovan shot their driver an irritated glare as they sped in and out of the traffic, their chase made all the more dangerous by the dangerously erratic native drivers. Machismo indeed. "You’re pursuit trained aren’t you?" he demanded. "Keep up!"
The driver paled and nodded at his bark. "Yes, sir!"
* * *
Djavan bared his teeth, thoughts of what his boss would do if he failed plaguing him. His boss was not known for his tolerance. "Keep up!" he shot the other pursuing car a glare. They’d best not get in their way. Nothing was stopping them from getting their hands on the boss’ prize.
* * *
"Jesus!" Faith winced as X overtook a tanker on a hairpin bend, the lorry heading in the opposite direction narrowly missing them. Looking over her shoulder, she cursed as she saw their pursuers flanking and speeding past the tanker. "They’re still coming, Harris!"
"In that case," Faith groaned when Xander yanked the wheel, putting them in the way of on-coming traffic, tires screeching and rubber burning, before powering forward, sending them plunging down the steep embankment. "I better do something about it!"
"Ah fuck!" Faith screamed as their car plunged into the shanty village on the side of the hill. Maybe getting captured wasn’t so bad after all.
* * *
Hovan’s eyes widened when their quarry’s car plunged down the embankment. The boy was insane. "After them!"
* * *
"Puta!" Djavan cursed as the car flew off the road. "Follow them!"
A screech of the wheels later and they were flying down the hill.
* * *
"Why do I feel like an extra in a Jackie Chan film!" Faith demanded as she gritted her teeth with every jarring bump. Her eyes widened when a middle-aged woman stepped out from in front of a shack, directly into their path. "Shit!" Xander yanked on the wheel, pulling the car violently to the right, and into the nearest shack. Wood splintered and flew up into the air as the car took out one side of the house, the building’s corrugated roof rattling onto their roof. "Ah fuck!" Faith gasped, her heart thundering with the near miss.
Once X had straightened the car out back onto the path, she looked over her shoulder. "Still com-, shit!" she exclaimed as her boyfriend pulled hard to his right, dragging the car down another path, and in the process ripping down a clothesline hanging between two houses, its contents draping them across their windscreen.
"On it-," winding her window down, Faith leaned out, wind battering her, grabbed a pair of boxers that could have doubled for a tent cover and a revoltingly flowery dress that only someone like B would wear and flung them to the side.
"Thanks," Xander exclaimed as he yanked the car to the left, putting it back on a downward path.
"Don’t mention it," Faith replied as she climbed back inside. "Just concentrate on keepin’ my cute little ass alive."
"You won’t be if you fuck this up, Harris," she warned darkly.
* * *
"Follow them!" Djavan’s eyes widened at the youth’s insane driving. His driver obeyed immediately, swerving his car to keep after the fleeing kids.
"Aiieee!" Chale screamed as he was flung from the jeep’s rear seat, to the ground, and under the wheels of the mysterious SUV. The vehicle smashed into the crumpled man, crushing him under its wheels, leaving him nothing but a bloody smear.
"Everyone else keep a hold. And keep going," he growled, eyes fixed on the car ahead. They couldn’t lose them.
* * *
Xander let out a sigh of relief when they burst out of the shanty town and skidded back on the slightly less bump road beneath. "They’re still following?" he queried.
He ducked when what remained of the rear window exploded, the bullet carrying through to shatter the front.
"Oh yeah," muttered his girl-friend beside him. "I think they’re still after us."
* * *
"I’ve got a shot," Hovan declared. Pulling his shotgun out from under the dashboard, he wound the window down and leaned out. After a second sighting on the driver, he pulled the trigger.
"Damn!" he cursed as they hit a bump in the road, the impact enough to throw his shot off so that although it smashed the window, it missed the boy, flying between the two teens and through the front window. Calming himself, he readied himself for another shot.
The car swerved suddenly, hit by the jeep, sending his second shot off harmlessly into the sky. "Damn it!" Hovan twisted to see the jeep coming in for another side-swipe. Aiming his gun at the jeep, he fired.
The driver’s head exploded in a mist of blood and the car spun off the road and into the side of the hill before flipping onto its side. A grin on his face, he turned back to the kids’ car. "And now," he smirked, "for you."
* * *
"Oh, oh," Faith groaned as she peered into the wing mirror from her position huddled in her seat.
"Oh, oh," Xander shook his head. "I don’t like oh, oh. I need details."
"You really don’t," Xander barely heard his girl-friend’s mutter. "Okay," Faith raised her voice. "There’s good news and bad. The good news is one of the cars has run the other off the road, the bad news is the other, the SUV is just now trying to blow our fucking heads off."
"Oh crap," Xander muttered. Seeing a tunnel just ahead, carved into the side of the hill, he smiled. "Faith, grab the wheel and when I say ‘now’, do an u-turn."
His girl-friend raised an eyebrow. "Ooookay." After a quick look behind them, Faith leaned across and grabbed the wheel. "What ya planning X?"
"Turnabout," his smile widened as the car entered the tunnel, "is fair play. NOW!"
Faith yanked on the wheel, the tyres screeched as the car around, giving him a sensation that briefly reminded him of his first ever roller-coaster at ten. He’d thrown up after that too. The moment the car straightened, Xander slammed onto the accelerator, sending the vehicle hurtling back in the direction it had just come. "Hold steady," he ordered as he drew his Mossberg 590, quickly loading it with explosive rounds.
The eyes of the man hanging out of the SUV, rifle in hand, widened the moment they left the tunnel. A terrified look on his face, the man climbed back in the car even as Xander punched out what remained of the windscreen, aimed his shotgun and fired. The weapon’s boom filled his ears and its cordite discharge filled his nostrils. An instant later and the car windscreen exploded, and Xander had a glimpse of the other driver slump forward across his wheel, a look of shock on his passenger’s face as he attempted to shove the killed man off the wheel.
"Hard right!" he yelled as the car careered at them.
Faith obeyed immediately, the speed of her reactions the only thing that allowed them to slide past the out of control, Xander glanced over his shoulder, grimacing as the car exploded into the side of the tunnel. "I’ll take the wheel thanks," Xander said.
"Sure hon," Faith slumped back in her seat. Suddenly his girl-friend smirked. "Another rental fucked, hey Harris?"
Xander groaned. "Oh great, just great."
Faith turned serious. "What next, the temple?"
"The temple," Xander confirmed.
FIC: MC 26 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (6/?)
"Wow," Faith took a breath before stepping towards the towering grey building. "This place is wicked scary."
"You feel it too?"
Faith glanced towards her honey. "Hair standing up on the back of my neck, lover." She took another breath and smiled weakly. "Guess it’s too late to turn back?"
"That’d be the smart thing to do." Xander agreed with a nod.
Faith waited for a second. "So, we goin’ in?"
"Give me a minute," she watched with interest as X pulled a ton of stuff, torches, guns, rope, first aid kits, out of his Always Pocket. Man, that thing was so cool, she kinda wished she had one of them. Xander threw her a torch, her favourite sword, and a shotgun. "I think we’re ready, remember-."
"Be careful, I know." Xander shook his head as she ran through the entrance way. "Fuck X!"
"What?" her boyfriend hurried through, a concerned look on his face.
A look that turned to disgust when he saw the four bodies impaled on wooden pikes in the darkened entrance. "How did they manage that?"
"My guess," Xander crouched on the ground, looking at the blood soaked device. "They triggered a pressure trigger. The moment they stepped here, the spikes ripped through the floor, and through them. They look military, probably the partners of the guys in the SUV."
"This only happened recently too, like in the last few hours," Faith commented.
"Yeah, the bodies haven’t started to decompose. Strange how animals haven’t ventured inside to feed."
Faith shuddered. "I don’t even wanna think about that."
Xander glanced at her. "What? Animals feeding on them or why they haven’t come in here?"
"Slayer feeling squeamish?" Xander taunted with raised eyebrow.
Faith flipped her boyfriend the bird. "Bite me, Harris." Dismissing her clearly insensitive boy-friend Faith looked around. Her eyes narrowed as they alighted on something swinging from a hook by the door. "Damn," her mouth drooled slightly. "What is that?"
"What is what?" Xander turned in the direction she was looking. "I don’t see anything-." Before he could speak further, she was hurrying towards it, somehow strangely compelled. "Faith? Caution-, oh hell, I might as well be talking to myself."
Grabbing the amulet, she pulled it off its hook and stared at it intently. "Wow, it’s beautiful," she said, for some inexplicable reason she was awed by the amulet.
The jewellery was hexagonal in shape and made out of the finest silver, so shiny that it shone even in the stygian temple. And on its surface, Faith’s fingers danced lightly over the amulet, there was a skilfully engraved figure of a female warrior. Before she knew it, she had it on. "Look X!" Faith turned to face her boyfriend.
Her glee faded at her boyfriend’s disapproving look. "Faith, I told you to be careful."
Faith scowled at Xander. "But I got pretty shiny thing, look!"
"Faith-," whatever X was going to say was lost when his anger turned to incredulity. "How did you get that?"
"Hey!" Faith let out a protesting cry when her boyfriend snatched the necklace off her neck. She reached to snatch it back only for Xander to lift it out of her reach. "That’s mine!"
"Finder’s -, ooof."
Xander doubled up when she punched him in the gut. Grabbing the amulet as it fell to the ground, she quickly slipped it back on. "There, that’ll teach ya," Faith turned away from her man.
"Faith, I’ve seen that thing before."
"Say what," Faith spun back around, eyes suspicious. "Where?"
"’Folklore of The Slayer’." Xander elaborated at her confused look. "In the Eternal Archive," her boyfriend straightened, a pain look on his face. "I was reading, doing some research on Slayer history. That came up," Xander pointed at the amulet, "it’s ‘Slayer’s Strength’."
"Say what?" Faith repeated.
"In 2000 BC., in what’s now known as Syria, the Hittites ruled-."
"Seriously, there was a people called the Hittites?"
"Faith," Xander shook his head. "Focus."
"Yeah," Faith shrugged. "Sorry."
"Anyway, the Hittites were the world’s dominant power at the time, and as such Slayers were usually Called from within their people. It’s actually quite interesting, it’s a common theme through history, Slayers are generally Called from the world’s great powers at that time -."
"X," Faith sighed, "you were saying about focus?"
"Yeah," her honey smiled apologetically. "Sorry. Anyway, the Hittites had their mages make their Slayers a weapon ‘Slayer’s Strength’," Xander looked down at the amulet she’d just put back on. Or down her top, whatever. "It amplifies a Slayer’s supernatural abilities, making her faster, stronger, heal quicker."
A slow smile spread across her face. "No shit!" she exclaimed.
"Apparently not," Xander shrugged. "It stayed with the Slayer line until the Hittite empire fell in about 1200 BC. Then it was lost." X’s eyes gazed into hers. "Until now.""
Faith’s brow furrowed at the worry in her baby’s eyes. "What’s the drama, X?" she queried. "Us getting this back is good, right?"
"It got lost in the middle east, how does it find its way to South America?"
"Fate, portal," Faith shrugged. She didn’t much care, it was hers.
"I don’t like it-."
"Geez X," Faith exclaimed. "We’re gonna need its power boost against this thing, right? Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, dude."
"Okay, okay," Xander shook his head. "Let’s get this over with."
Faith turned back towards the back of the temple. The two of them slowly made their way through the temple, their torches leading the way and each step taking an apparent eternity. Finally they came to a confusing sight. "How the hell do you get a landslide inside a temple?"
Xander directed his torch beam up at the ceiling. "My guess is there was another pressure trigger. Someone activated it, a panel opened in the ceiling and the rocks fell on them."
Faith shuddered. "Ouch." Her eyes narrowed as she cast her beam over the twenty metre long rock fall and to the land beyond. "There’s a hole beyond there," she declared. "You figure its the entrance to the lower levels?"
"Probably," Xander exchanged a look with her. After a second they started to scramble over the rocks, careful to avoid putting their feet against any unsteady rocks or into any holes that could result in a sprained or twisted ankle. An injury even a minor one was the last thing they needed now.
After a torturous five minutes they reached the other side. Faith sighed as she looked into the hole. The fall didn’t seem steep, maybe five metres, but who knew if the floor was real or some sort of illusion. "I’ll go first." Before X had chance to do anything other than open her mouth, she jumped.
* * *
"Hell!" Koeller cursed as he leapt out of his jeep, the car’s diesel in his nostrils. He stared suspiciously around the green jungle. When nothing leapt out at him, he turned to the offending 4*4 parked where the dirt road ended, some two hours from where the maps indicated the temple was located. Obviously Hovan and the others had failed to stop the Slayer and her companion.
"What are we going to do sir?"
He turned at his second-in-command’s query. He smiled slowly as an idea began to grow. "Get that jeep out of sight!" he barked at the jeep’s driver before turning back to his subordinate. "We’re going to use the Slayer as a stalking horse. We’ll hide in the bush and wait until the morning. If they come out before then, we’ll kill and relieve them of the weapon. If not," he shrugged. "We’ll go in and get it ourselves."
FIC: MC 25 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (7/?)
"No!" Ducking X’s hand reaching for her, she leapt into the hole, eyes fixed on the floor beneath, feet spread to minimise the landing impact. She let out a relieved sigh when she hit the ground exactly where she expected it to be. Looking up, she called out to Xander, surprised how taut her voice sounded. "Ya can come down hon."
A few seconds later and a rope dropped into the hole, slithering snakelike down the wall. Faith heard a grunt and then her boy-toy started down. And giving her, she leered, a great view of his ass. The moment Xander hit the floor, he turned to face her, his expression pissed. "Faith-."
She cut her boyfriend’s complaints off with a long, lingering kiss, eagerly working her tongue into his receptive mouth. Pulling away, she winked. "Hey, I ain’t gonna let my man risk his life am I? Slayer, remember? Come on," she started off.
Xander grabbed her arm. "Let me lead the way," her boyfriend said. Faith opened her mouth. "Please."
Faith shook her head before sighing. "Fine, but don’t do anything dumb!"
"Me," Xander’s eyes widened. "What about-." Her stud shook his head. "Fine, I won’t."
Faith nodded in satisfaction. She had her man well-trained.
* * *
Head shaking at his girl-friend’s recklessness, Xander led the way down the featureless tunnel, a mystical light somehow illuminating the stone wall passageway, rendering their torches unnecessary. Shoving his into his rucksack, he continued on, eyes flicking left, right, floor, and at the ceiling. He wiped at his forehead, removing some of the sweat dripping down him despite the tunnel’s relative coolness.
His eyes narrowed as he noticed something. Dropping to one knee, he inspected the walls to his left and right, grimacing at what he saw. "What’s the sitch, X?"
Xander allowed himself a wry grin. No matter the situation, Faith could sound impatient. "There’s something wrong. See the tracks," he pointed to two sets of railings running from one wall to the other across the floor, some forty feet apart, "why are they here?"
"Some sort of booby trap?" Faith guessed.
"That’s what I figure." Xander looked around. Seeing a torso sized rock just behind them, he nodded towards it. "Get that and throw it in-between the two sets of tracks."
Faith shrugged. "Sure." His girl-friend sauntered over to the rock, lifted it with an effortless ease that made him sick with envy and flung it into the centre of the space between the tracks. The moment it touched the floor, the walls shot out, and thudded together, sliding back into position as quickly as they came out, crushing the rock where it landed. "Oh shit."
"That about covers it." Xander sat down facing the trap, deep in thought. Not even Faith could run the space without being crushed. Unless, he leaned forward, eyes fixed on the enigma ahead of him. "I remember an episode of Babylon 5 when Captain Sinclair faced a similar problem. Of course in that episode it was laser beams rather than -."
"X," Faith let out an all-too familiar long-suffering sigh. "ya know I love you hon, but now is not the time to be petting your inner geek. Get the fuck on with it."
Xander turned to see his girl-friend impatiently tapping her foot, hand on hip. "Okay, get as many rocks as you can. All a decent size."
"K," his girl-friend hurried about in the tunnel behind him. "I got six, no seven." Faith reappeared, her arms filled with rocks, each the size of at least a clenched fist. "What do ya wanna me to do?"
"Right," Xander thought for a second. "When I say ‘now’, throw the first of the rocks. The moment the walls slide back, throw the next, and every second afterwards until they snap closed again."
"Why the fuck?"
"I’m trying to see how many seconds past between each wall movement. There might be a window of opportunity."
"Smart," Faith actually sounded impressed. "Not bad, Harris. Not bad at all."
Xander nodded. "Now!"
The first rock dropped mid-section. The walls smashed together, grinding it into dust. The moment they withdrew, Faith threw the second. Nothing. A second later, she threw the third. A second later, the fourth. The fifth crashed onto the ground without any response. The moment the sixth hit the ground, the walls came in, smashing it to smithereens.
"Five seconds," Faith said the moment their ears had stopped ringing from the impact of the walls crashing together. "Figure you can run it in about five seconds?"
Xander nodded before rising and taking off his rucksack. "Just about. But you’ll have to take this for me."
"K," Faith nodded before slinging the rucksack on. "Ya ready?"
"Ready." Faith threw the rock. The moment it touched the ground, the walls slammed together. The instant they withdrew, they started across the trap, legs pumping at maximum stretch. The moment Faith reached the far side, she turned, reached out, grabbed the front of his shirt, and pulled. Xander gasped as he left his feet, the Slayer pulling him clear just as the walls began to close, the momentum of Faith’s actions knocking them both to the ground, him on top of her. "On top, X?" Faith grinned up at him. "Why am I not surprised?"
"Yeah," Xander grinned as he stood, "it was quite a trip."
"Smart thinkin’, X," Faith praised as he pulled her up.
"Babylon 5 holds the answer to most problems," he replied.
"But you’re still fuckin’ weird," his girl-friend shook her head before turning away. "We carryin’ on?"
"I don’t see any other solution."
* * *
Faith glanced at her honey. They’d been walking for what seemed hours since the crashing walls. Xander crouched down and leaned towards the wall to his left. "What’s up, honey?"
"Have you got a rock?"
"Give me a minute." Faith glanced around for a second before finding a slight boulder the length of her arm. She quickly picked it up. "Got one."
Xander moved back a couple of feet. "Throw it about six feet ahead of me."
"Sure hon." The moment her projectile crashed to the ground, three twenty foot long rows of barbed spears flew out of the left wall, one at knee length, one at waist level, and the last at shoulder level. After a second, the rows of spears twisted and retracted back into the wall. After a dazed second she’d got her breath back. "How in the hell did ya see that?"
"There’s iron-rimmed holes at every six inches in the wall. The moment anyone steps onto the pressure trap, the spears fly out."
"Nice. Wanna try that timing thing again?" Faith queried.
"We can." Xander sighed. "But my guess is the spears will be ready faster."
"Fuck," Faith groaned. "We gonna have to crawl it then?"
"Yep," Xander dropped to his knees and dragged his rucksack off. "I’ll push this ahead of me."
"No," Faith corrected as she snatched the rucksack off. "I will, Slayers go first." She pursed her lips as she looked down at the dusty floor, and then at her shirt and shorts. "You are so buying me a new outfit."
"Women," Xander muttered.
"What was that?" she demanded.
"Thought not." Faith sighed. "Let’s go."
Five minutes after completing the crawl, they came to a dead end, the only exit a hole in the ground. Faith shook her head. "For the record, this blows." Quickly wriggling into the hole, she found herself in a tunnel that with Xander’s added rucksack was so tight that she could only crawl through on her belly. Grit scratched at her. She tried to lift her head upwards only to hit it on the ceiling. Clumps of dirt rained down as dust clogged her eyes. After a muttered curse, Faith started to crawl through the tunnel.
At first, the tunnel was deathly quiet, not even a hint of noise, but as she continued on Faith began to make out dripping sounds…a plop here…a plop there. Groundwater. It must have recently rained heavily. How much was down here? Unsettling images of her drowned corpse filled her but she shoved them aside and continued on her torturous way.
The stone floor soon became soaked, turning the cramped channel’s walls to slime and the floor into stinking puddles that grew deeper as they progressed, the water soaking them. Swallowing the ball of fear lodged in her throat, she plunged on, conscious she had little choice. Just as she felt sure she would die in the cramped hellhole it broke out into a wider tunnel.
After standing and stretching her cramped muscles, Faith looked around her new surroundings. To her back, left, and right she saw nothing but walls of thick granite but to her front he was confronted by three tunnel entrances, each indistinguishable from the others. "Which one?"
Xander shrugged. "The other two head up, I’d say the left. " After a moment’s hesitation, Faith plunged into the leftmost tunnel.
For a while Faith walked through the downwardly sloping tunnel, the only sound breaking the tunnel’s deathly silence was the sound of their boots pounding the granite floor and their soaked clothes dripping down. But then her ears picked up a deep rumble in the tunnel ahead. Her eyes narrowing, she allowed her hand to drop to the hilt of her sword as she peered into the darkness ahead. "You hear that, X?"
Faith’s eyes widened in shock as she realised the sound she heard was a boulder rolling down the slope towards them, a huge rock easily large enough to crush them to a pulp. Even as the cold shock of realisation hit, Faith turned and raced up the slope, snatching a hold of X, dragging her protesting boyfriend behind her, her legs straining for every bit of speed. She didn’t glance over her shoulder at the boulder, she didn’t need to, her ears told her all she wanted to know of its ever-nearing proximity.
The boulder scraping at their heels, they reached the mouth of the tunnel. Once out of the tunnel, she dived desperately to her left, her landing knocking what little air remained out of her lungs, and watched as, a bare half-second later, the boulder sped past and crashed into the wall opposite.
For a few seconds, Faith lay on the floor and allowed her heaving lungs to grab some desperately needed air. Then, her legs still unsteady with fatigue, she got to her feet and turned towards the trio of tunnels.
Faith winked at her boyfriend. "Call it a receipt for before with the crashing walls." Faith turned serious. "Same tunnel again?"
"I doubt it holds more than one boulder trap," Xander agreed before plunging into it.
"I fuckin’ hope not," Faith muttered.
Eventually the tunnel levelled out. Faith inspected their surroundings, they were in a long passageway that went on for as far as the eye could see. Faith glanced downwards, dust lay thick on the ground – it was a long time if ever since anyone had trodden this path.
Her inspection finished, Faith started forward. Her ears picked up an all but inaudible click, a split-second later and the ground began to move under her feet. Faith glanced down, the section of the floor she was stood on was disappearing beneath her, leaving only a pit filled with gleaming iron spikes.
Cursing, Faith grabbed a hold of a likewise falling Xander and with a power born of desperation flung him to the far edge, even as she powered herself towards the ledge, hands outstretched. For a second she thought she wasn’t going to make it, that she was going to end up impaled on the pit’s spikes. "Got you," she gasped when a pale-faced Xander grabbed her wrist and dragged her to safety. "Guess we’re even on this one. How did you manage to throw me, I mean even for a Slayer that was strong?"
""I know," she agreed before looked around. "My guess it was the amulet kicking in." Rising, she pointed towards a cavern some thirty feet away, a wooden box sat in the centre. "That’s it? He ain’t that big."
"Faith, size isn’t everything."
"Keep tellin’ yaself that, X." Faith winked at her boyfriend. "Strange said the prison will break the moment a mortal steps into the cavern," Faith paused. "Why did it have to be us?"
"Because if someone else did it, they’d get annihilated, and the beast would be free to wreck havoc."
"Oh yeah," Faith nodded, "that. We gonna do this?"
Xander nodded, drawing his shotgun. "Let’s."
FIC: MC 26 Jul ’00 A Spot Of Jonesing (8/9)
The moment they stepped through into the cavern the box stood in the centre of its floor exploded, wood flying everywhere as the beast erupted from it, wood splintering everywhere.
"Shit," Faith breathed. "He’s a big one."
"See," Xander grinned wryly. "You can sometimes be surprised by the size of something up close."
For once Faith wasn’t laughing. The monster they were facing stood maybe 12 feet tall, the one foot horn sticking out of its forehead curving upwards, its point just about scraping the high ceiling. The fur-covered demon resembled a gorilla she’d once seen at a zoo, except way bigger, and its red eyes shone with a kind of malign intelligence no natural creature could match. Faith pulled out her shotgun. "Shotguns first?"
"Both barrels," Xander agreed.
"I hear ya," Faith agreed.
And that was the last she heard for quite some time. They simultaneously opened fire. The twin blasts from their weapons thudded into the monster’s chest, staggering but failing to put it down. "Great," Faith muttered before joining Xander in firing again.
Soon the chamber was filled with smoke. Her eyes burnt from it, and her ears roared with the mingled sound of their gun blasts and the beast’s pained roars. Suddenly Xander’s gun fell silent. "Damn," her boyfriend reached into his pocket. "Need some more ammo-."
"ARRR!" The demon burst out of the smoke, patches of fur missing from its body, and burns covering the spaces, but otherwise apparently unharmed. Even as she watched some of the wounds healed.
"Shit!" Seeing the monster charge her honey, Faith made to get in the way only to catch a backhand blow to the face.
She’d never been hit so hard in her life, the blow lifting her off her feet and flinging her into the wall. She groaned as she slid down to the ground, her jaw aching.
Her heart skipped a beat when the monster hit X, the fact her boyfriend flung himself away from the blow probably the only thing saving him from death. As it was, Faith saw the light of consciousness leave his eyes and his suddenly limp body leave the ground, flinging him into the corridor they’d just entered from.
Seeing the monster approaching her unconscious honey, Faith shook her head clear and forced herself to her feet. "Ya hit my man, big fuckin’ mistake."
* * *
Magnus Deimos roared as he advanced on the crumpled figure, power flowing through his body even as he exulted at his new-found freedom. He could feel the ages that had passed since his imprisonment rushing past him. Even for a creature such as himself it was a long time, but the world would pay for his captivity. He’d see to that himself.
"Ya hit my man, big fuckin’ mistake."
He turned at the voice, surprised the creature wasn’t dead. He only needed one to torture, the other was meant as food. It should be dead, he thought he’d connected fully with his attack. He found himself being regarded by a tiny, coal-eyed creature. "You dare speak to me in that tone?" he roared.
The creature tilted her head to one side. "For the record," it drawled. "I have not a fucking clue what you just said." The thing’s mouth twisted as she raised her sword. "Doesn’t matter, you’re dead anyhow."
"You are your people’s champion?" He threw his head back and laughed. Such a tiny thing thought it could defeat him, the destroyer of hope, the slaughterer of wishes?
"Hey, cave-thing!" he turned his attention back to the amusing and yet annoying creature. "For the record this is the new millennium and us fem-types do not like being laughed at. And here’s a reminder."
The thing leapt into the air, moving into a jumping spin-kick. He laughed at its attack and moved to block, sticking up a casual forearm. He gasped as the creature smashed into him with surprising force, knocking his arm down, and crashing into the side of his head with enough impact to knock him back a step.
He stared at the thing in amazement. It cocked its head to one side. "Now we finished with the prelims let’s move onto the main event."
The thing charged in again, feet scuffing up dust. It moved at an astonishing pace, his eyes barely capable of keeping up with it. He threw an overhand right at its head, but his fist just punched air as the thing slid under its attack. He roared in pain when the tip of its weapon ripped into his side, blood pumping out. It had been so long since he had felt pain.
He swung another backhand fist. This time, the blow connected, thudding into the tiny thing’s head, lifting it off its feet, and flinging it into the air. His eyes widened when the creature somehow managed to land on its feet and spin to face him. "Stronger than it looks," he mumbled.
The beast began to circle him, its movements cautious yet unafraid. Suddenly enraged by its lack of fear, he lunged towards it. He grunted when its weapon slashed him across the chest, but ignored the pain to grab it around its slender throat, lift it off the ground, and fling it into the ceiling.
* * *
"Shit!" Faith groaned as she crashed into the ceiling, every bone in her body protesting against the abuse. Not that she blamed them, she mused as she plunged towards the ground, she didn’t feel too hot herself.
Hitting the ground on her side, she rolled up. If not for her amulet she’d be dead already. The son of a bitch hit like a mack truck, and yet, although it hurt like hell, she wasn’t going down for as long as normal. Still, she looked up to see the monster charging her, her only advantage was her speed.
And her brains. Although X would say that was arguable.
She grimaced as she realised she’d dropped her blade and the stampeding monster was between her and the weapon. "Fucking a," Faith muttered before returning her gaze to the demon. At the last moment she flung herself towards the sword, hitting the ground on her side and rolling up to her feet, fingers grasping and lifting the blade as she did so.
The demon turned to face her. It roared in fury when her sword swung upwards, cutting through the clammy air before slicing through the bottom of its chin, blood flying out, with equal ease. "Got ya attention big guy?" Faith queried as she backed off from the advancing beast. Suddenly she turned and ran towards the wall, leaping into the air, she kicked off against the wall, and flew into the air, twisting to face the beast as she did so.
The beast’s haymaker caught her full in the shoulder, sending her flying back the way she came. "Fuck!" Faith hit the wall feet first. Gritting her teeth at the impact reverberating through her, she spring boarded off the wall and flew straight back at the demon, her sword thrust in front of her.
The tip of her blade squelched through the demon’s eye. Even as Faith hit the ground, the monster went into a pain-filled frenzy, clawing wildly at the blade sticking out of its eye. Faith smirked. "Score," she muttered before leaping into the air, hands held overhead.
The moment she was in reach, she snatched a hold of the hilt of her sword and yanked it free. As she descended to level with the demon’s throat, she slashed from left to right, taking the demon’s head clean off.
Upon landing, she watched the demon’s body crash to the ground. Once she was satisfied that the demon wouldn’t rise again, she rushed over to Xander. "X!" she shook the slowly-awakening youth’s shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Not so loud," Xander groaned before looking at the demon. "It’s dead?"
"It’s dead, hon," Faith confirmed.
"I was a great help?" Xander queried as he gingerly rolled his jaw about.
"Couldn’t have done it without you," she replied, her man’s arm wrapped over shoulder as she supported him.
"That’s what I figured." Xander spat up a wad of blood. "Makes the pain all worthwhile."
"Figured that," Faith stopped at the edge of where the last trap had been. "Strange said the traps would be turned off when the thing was dead, didn’t he?"
"He did," Xander confirmed before pausing thoughtfully. "Let’s not take any chances."
"God call," she agreed.
Faith was relieved when they reached the surface without any further incident. "Wow," Faith said as they exited the temple and looked around. Several hours had passed since they had entered the temple. Night had fallen, blanketing the jungle in a strangely comforting blackness. "That is so beautiful."
"Raise your hands, slowly! No sudden movements!"
Faith groaned at the sight of four commandos exiting the undergrowth and heading towards them with guns raised. "Way to ruin the moment, guys," she groused. Were they ever gonna catch a break?
FIC: MC 25 A Spot Of Jonesing (9/9)
Hovan smirked as he approached the two teens, his team’s guns pointing steadily at them. He and his three men had them in a perfect crossfire, not even a Slayer could escape this. "What did you find?" he demanded. "Throw it to us!"
* * *
Sensing Faith tensing beside him, Xander spoke quickly. "Let me handle this," he whispered. He raised his hands as he smiled disarmingly and raised his voice. "Hey guys, don’t shoot!" Praying that they were far enough outside the temple, he spoke to the Always Pocket. "Grenades, one each hand."
His smile widened as the mystical container open and felt the reassuring weight of the explosive in each hand. "Duck!" he roared as he threw a grenade towards each of the groups of advancing troops.
The moment the explosives left his hands, Faith thudded into him, knocking them both to the ground. A half-second later and his ears pounded and the ground shook to the explosion. Looking up, Xander saw both duos of gunmen lift up into the air and crash lifelessly to the ground. He swallowed as the explosion lifted their car off the ground and sent it hurtling towards them. "Oh boy," Xander ducked his head and prayed.
The car flew over the heads and into the temple behind them, smashing into its unforgiving stone wall before crashing to the ground and exploding into flames. His back warm from the flames flickering behind them, and his lungs filling with the smoke all around them, he climbed to his feet, giving his hand to Faith. "Thanks hon," Faith pulled herself up.
"No problem," Xander winced as he looked at the carnage his explosives had wrecked, smoke coming up from the crumpled, mangled corpses. "You know," he tore his eyes away from the massacre. "Whoever they were, I don’t think they were Council."
Faith stared at him. "Why’s that?"
"Their leader spoke with an European rather than English accent, I can’t see the Cricket players having non-Brits have as a leader of one of their teams."
"Yeah," Faith nodded, "makes sense." Faith’s eyes widened as she looked around. "Hey, you blew up the rental!" she exclaimed. "It’s like fuckin’ miles back to town!"
"They must have used a car to get here, it’ll be parked down the road out of sight," he soothed.
"It better be," Faith grunted. "No way am I walking all that way!"
Xander sighed. He’d just got through saving both their lives and she still wasn’t happy? "Nag, nag, nag," he muttered.
"I heard that!"
"Not as sorry as you’re gonna be if their car ain’t down the road like ya say," his girl-friend threatened.
Xander sighed again. "Yes dear."
"Are you even listenin’ to me!"
"Kinda hard not – OWWW!"
* * *
"That’s right, dear," Doctor Strange smiled encouragingly at the beautiful young witch as she practiced the meditation techniques he’d been teaching her over the past few days. She was someone of tremendous power, possibly the finest witch he’d personally met in the past five years, and one of the top dozen or so magic users in the world, a real find. And such a pure soul too, she gave him new hope for the future of mankind.
Of course her worries about her friends were somewhat of a distraction, but she was progressing well nonetheless. He smiled as he felt something. "Oh wonderful," he paused, deciding on whether to interrupt Tara’s meditation with his news.
Reasoning it was cruel to withhold it, he spoke. "Tara, come out of it."
After a second the sat cross-legged witch’s eyes opened and she looked up, her expression question. "Yes, Doctor Strange?"
"Your friends have vanquished the demon," he smiled. "I imagine they’ll be back here in a day or so."
The beam in the witch’s eyes told him he’d done the right thing. Sobering, he nodded. "Indeed, they are most resourceful. Now," he glanced at the book before the witch. "the next stage of our lesson, the seventh level of power-centring and meditation."
* * *
LA, W&H Offices
Holland Manners looked up at a knock on his door. "Please," he placed the gold engraved pen his wife had bought him for their 20th wedding anniversary down. "Come in."
Lindsey MacDonald ran in, a flushed look on his face. Holland hid a smile. The boy was probably excited over some news he’d discovered that Miss Morgan hadn’t yet uncovered. Their constant competition, in addition to be hugely entertaining for him as an observer, sharpened their teeth, kept them keen, something that would stand the winner of their feud in good stead.
While killing the loser.
But that was for the future. He was rather busier with the now. Speaking of which, he directed his gaze at the young man stood before him. "Yes, Lindsey?"
"We’ve received a report on the actions of Harris and Hart," the boy glanced down at the notepad in his right hand, "they’ve been sighted in Brazil, specifically Belem."
"Really?" Manners leaned forward, his elbows resting on the edge of the desk and fists clenched together. "Please, continue."
"Apparently they stopped the rising of an overlord by the name of Magnus Deimos in addition to dealing with an Illumanti team, a Drogna team were also killed, but by the defences of the place holding the demon."
"That’s interesting," it was an effort but he managed to keep his face straight. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention so promptly." He glanced down at the young man’s newly acquired prosthetic. "And how are you getting used to your new hand, might I ask?"
The youth glanced down at his hand. "Managing, sir." The words were suitably bland, but he saw the fires flickering in the boy’s eyes.
"Well yes," he nodded. "I can only imagine your pain Lindsey. But the senior partners have noticed your sacrifice on their part. It is much appreciated. It’s a hard road we travel, all have to make sacrifices." His pep talk, he nodded at the youth. "Thank you for your promptness in bringing this information to be. It is much appreciated."
The junior lawyer took the hint. "Yes sir," nodding his head, he backed out of the room.
The moment the door closed behind the boy, he allowed himself a smile. The senior partners would be most pleased with the news of Magnus’ demise.
After all, it was them who had originally imprisoned him.
* * *
A Central European Castle.
He closed his eyes, allowing his secretary’s words to wash over him, bored with the affairs of state. These days he was rather more interested in the affairs of the heart. "And the peasants in -."
His secretary’s report was interrupted by a beeping from the display unit build into his walnut desk. His heart raced when he read the report. " "Wait a moment," his gauntleted fingers flew over the unit’s grey keyboard. He smiled as the report was confirmed. The nano-technology he’d added to the amulet corroborated it, the Slayer had found the amulet. Now he could track her wherever she went, and his scheme would take place. Soon, she would be his to cherish. He could take her now, but part of the fun was in the chase, watching his plans unfold. He looked up at his secretary. "Soon," he smiled at his cowering secretary. "Soon, I will have a queen again!"
"Yes sir," the secretary backed out of his office, eyes wide.
His laughter boomed out, filling the otherwise empty room.
Return To The Mithras Chronicles