FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (1/?)
Ayers Rock, Australia
The looming red rock dominated the landscape, casting shadows in each direction, over the surrounding brush. A huge rock that had stood for untold centuries, had witnessed the fall of great empires and the passing of legends. It was certainly impressive to gaze upon.
It was also after an hour of just looking at it, really, really boring.
Kennedy turned to her girl-friend. “What’s with this place, and why Xander’s been in such a mood for this week?” Tara sighed. Kennedy looked across at his girl-friend. “Okay, you know why Xander got out of this car looking wrecked, and why Faith was being so sensitive and caring, you know the Anti-Faith?” When Tara didn’t answer, Kennedy scowled. She didn’t like being kept out of things, but it was more than that. “Look,” she snapped, “if there’s something wrong with my friend I deserve to know about it!”
Tara let out a long-suffering sigh
before nodding reluctantly. “I suppose that’s fair.” Tara turned to look at
her. “A few months ago, Xander came to me asking me to help him research
Mithras and his ancestry-.”
“No way!” Kennedy gasped.
“Way,” Tara nodded. “At first it was
really hard, we couldn’t find anything, but finally we found a book written in
the Hyborian Age by a scholar in the court of King Conan-.”
”Wait,” Kennedy blurted out, her concern about her friend lost in the shock of what she was hearing, “as in the King Conan? Like Arnold in a loin-cloth?” Tara looked at her. “I had brothers.”
“Oh I forgot, you weren’t with us when we met Kull,” Kennedy mouthed ‘Kull’ as her girl-friend continued, “both him and Conan were real, and I suspect descendants of the Mithras line. Conan lived and ruled about fourteen thousand years ago, Kull around one hundred and five thousand years ago, it’s just that Robert E. Howard was some sort of unknowing physic who dreamt the heroes’ past lives and put them into stories. Anyway, this scholar’s work made some oblique references to the first and mightiest empire, and the names of some texts discussing them.”
“So you looked them up,” Kennedy prompted when her girl-friend fell into a gloomy silence.
“Yeah,” Tara started at her voice. “We looked them up using the Eternal Archive. It turned out the texts were all written by a historian in Kull’s court. These texts were debunked as sacrilegious against the gods and it was only because of Kull’s tolerance of differing views that the historian wasn’t killed, but his books detailed other texts thought to be millions of years old that discussed the first ever empire, so we looked for them. And finally we hit pay-dirt. These books detailed a time called ‘The Usurping’ where a legendary hero led an army of millions to claim earth for humans and drive the demons from the earth.”
“Mithras?” whispered Kennedy.
Tara heard and nodded at her whisper. “The hero of the story was never named, that was lost, but we think so. The battles were only vaguely detailed, saying only that all the nations of man joined together under this hero to end the demonic tyranny.”
“Poetic,” Kennedy muttered.
“Yeah, but then it details what happened afterwards, and it wasn’t poetic or pretty,” Tara said.
“Go on,” Kennedy prompted as she was drawn into the story and just watching her girl-friend.
“Many of the world’s countries were inspired by the principles espoused by Mithras. He was centuries ahead of his time, promoting accountability for nobles and merchants, and trials for criminals, the sort of thing that would only became commonplace in the last century. Because he and his companions had the power to back up their beliefs, their empire grew until the empire had lands on no less than three of the world’s then seven continents, including the entirety of one continent. All in all twenty-four of the world’s eighty nations and ninety-eight million of its citizens were under his sway.”
“Wow,” Kennedy muttered, trying and failing to envisage just how fearsome and commanding Mithras must have been.
“Yeah,” Tara smiled softly. “This is where the first Mithras Brotherhood enters the story.”
”First Brotherhood?” Kennedy’s brow furrowed in confusion. “I thought we were the first Brotherhood.”
“I thought so too, but apparently even our naming wasn’t coincidental, instead it was some genetic memory from Xander’s past,” Tara explained. “The first Mithras Brotherhood was a collection of a few dozen loyalists who’s sole duty was the protection of Mithras and his family. However as the empire grew and its army expanded, so did the Brotherhood. At the empire’s peak, its army had three million warriors, and the Brotherhood were a hundred thousand strong, its most trusted and elite soldiers. There was no greater honour than being one of the Brotherhood.”
“Like Rome’s Praetorian Guard or Sparta’s 300?” Kennedy commented.
”Or the British SAS or our own Delta Force today,” Tara agreed with a nod before continuing. “The empire far out-lived its creators, reigning for four centuries and rebuffing several attempts at toppling it, but as in all things there is a season, and a loose coalition of rival nations, dark arts mages, bandit lords, and traitors from within brought it down.” Tara shook her head. “It took almost three decades, and an unstinting campaign of assassination, sabotage to dams, roads, and crops, bribery, blackmail, and outright warfare but eventually the empire crumbled to in-fighting and invasion.” Tara looked around before continuing. “The Brotherhood made their last defiant stand here, the last ten thousand against a horde of quarter of a million.”
“Wow,” Kennedy looked around her surroundings with renewed interest. It was almost as if she could hear the cavalry charges and weapons crashing together, smell the warriors’ sweat, and see their desperate bravery. A bleak part of her wondered if she and the others would fall like that.
“The book says the battle raged for three days, no quarter given by either side, and when it was over, the Brotherhood had been slaughtered to a man, but for every one of them a dozen of their enemy had died, the ground soaked with blood.” Tara paused for a respectful second. “But their enemy discovered to their horror that even in their death the Brotherhood completed their final mission.”
“Their goal?” a bemused Kennedy felt compelled to ask.
Tara turned towards her, her eyes misty with tears. “While the battle raged, the last empress fled with fifty of her most trusted followers, men and women all descended from Mithras’ closest friends and fellow pit-fighters, and her three sons. The enemy, fearful that Mithras’ children would one day return seeking revenge, had always considered the extermination of his line a top priority, as evidenced by their casual casting away of a hundred thousand lives in an attempt to capture them. But because of the ground’s hacked up condition, there was no way of tracking them, and so they were lost into history until Xander discovered his heritage.”
“So Xander’s paying respect to those who died so his family could live?” Kennedy asked. Tara nodded soberly. Kennedy sighed, hating to think about her life without her friend in it. “I guess we can wait.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (2/?)
Citalli gasped and wheezed as she ran, nearby tree branches whipping at her face as she hurried through the undergrowth. The bushes around her seemed alive with movement, every bush appearing to conceal a pursuer behind it. Her heart pounded as she ducked under an over-hanging bush. How could everything have gone so wrong, so quickly?
“Aaaah,” she squealed in outrage as a stone underfoot betrayed her by pulling away, her ankle twisting, pain shooting through the muscle and ligaments. And then she was falling, hitting the mud facefist. “No,” she grunted as she pushed up and struggled back up, her lungs heaving and heart pounding with the stress even as mud dripped from her face. How could things go so wrong, so quickly?
Her mind span as a figure burst out of the undergrowth ahead and to her left, his blade flashing in the shadows. “Fuego!” Her hand came up, palm outstretched as she fired a flame into the man’s heart, the warrior toppling to his knees with a strangled cry, shock filling his eyes as he fell onto his back, the smell of his roasted flesh filling the air.
Citalli smiled sourly as she continued on her way after a satisfied glance at the hole she’d blown through her enemy’s chest, her followers might have deserted her, and the Gods knew they’d pay for that one day, but she still had her pow-.
“No!” she spun around at the sound of a twig cracking behind her. She had the briefest glimpse of a clean-shaven youth perhaps ten to fifteen years her junior perhaps fifty feet away from her, his eyes like a rabbit’s that realised the wolf had caught her. “Fuego!” Her hand came up again, the boy began to turn then fell as her bolt hit him in the side, his body contorting in agony.
Citalli raised her hand again then lowered it, expediency rather than mercy stilling her hand. She could kill this whimpering brat, but that took strength, and she needed all the remaining strength she had.
Citalli turned and hurried on. Citalli gritted her teeth as her injured ankle protested painfully with every step. She could heal the injury, but healing had always come less naturally to her than other magics, she couldn’t just say a word, it would take poultices that she didn’t have the ingredients of and time she could ill afford. She would have to bear the pain, but comforted herself with the thought that one day she would visit a hundred times her pain on the men who had dragged her down.
”Ah!” Citalli shot a scared look over her shoulder when an arrow thudded into a tree trunk to her right, the archer smartly ducking under cover before she had chance to retaliate. Her eyes still fixed over her shoulder, she ducked behind the tree then limped on, ducking behind another, and then another.
A fist crashed into her jaw as she ducked behind the fourth tree. Blood spewed from her mouth as she fell against the tree, her head bouncing off the age old wood. Her eyes widened as she saw the sword coming in at her head. “Parar!” She smiled as the blade hit an invisible wall, barely letting the swordsman begin to comprehend his failure before striking. “Fuego!”
The man screamed as his face exploded in fire. Citalli smiled as he fell to the ground and hurriedly clambered over his convulsing body.
“Owww!” her head exploded in agony when a catapult shot exploded against the side of her head, pitching her onto her knees beside the corpse. She blinked furiously, trying to clear enough of her head to ready another spell even as she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. “Oooof!” Pain exploded in her side when someone kicked her in her ribs, much needed air fleeing her lungs.
“Hold her.” Her blood chilled as she
recognised the hateful voice of the man who had mastered her downfall, the
mysterious white-skinned foreigner who’s native girl had spear-headed her
enemy’s forces before dying at her hands. “I wish to question her.” Hands
grabbed at her from either side, hatefully strong hands that pulled her arms
back and pulled her up to her knees. Her mouth opened only for the man in front
of her to drive a foot into her stomach, a rib cracking under the impact.
Citalli wheezed for air and would have doubled up but for the two men holding
her. “No magics,” the foreigner warned, his command of the local tongue clumsy
but understandable, “I have four men in the bushes surrounding us, two either
side, with bows trained on you. If you try anything you’ll be dead before you
can take a step, understand witch?”
Citalli forced an unconcerned look even as she nodded. “Good.” The foreigner was a tall man with the features of a scholar but the shoulders and bearing of a warrior, a strange combination, but one that somehow worked for him. “You’ve caused me considerable trouble, cost me my Slayer.” Citalli felt a chill at the man’s cruel smile. “No matter, doubtless another will have been Called already. However,” Citalli hissed when the man grabbed her hair and pulled, “this hasn’t been a total loss, you’ve been dethroned, and you’re going to give me your magic book so I can take it back to the Council.”
Citalli laughed as she realised what had motivated this man’s attack. “Never!”
The man laughed as she spat at him. “You’re certain about that?”
“I’ll not say a word!” she promised.
“You’ll never find-, ahhh!” she screamed when a white-hot pain blazed across her
chest, the man having back-hand slashing her across the bosom with a machete.
“Oh the gods,” she panted as she stared dazedly up at the man. “Thanks to my
book, I will return, and slaughter your descendants.”
”Well if that’s your last word,” the man reached into his jacket and pulled out a serrated knife, “let’s make it your last word.” The man knelt before her. “You shouldn’t have conquered these people, the Council will not allow the use of black magics.” She opened her mouth to defiantly reply then started when the man grabbed her jaw, held it open, and pushed his blade into her open mouth. Blood and pain filled her mouth as the man began sadistically hacking at her mouth, slicing her tongue into strips, in-between brutal hacks at her cheeks, and stabbing down into the bottom of her mouth.
Finally the man pulled out with a chuckle, the previously shiny knife soaked with blood. “Any and all godless bitches and bastards who think to play with the forces of darkness should suffer in the manner.” Citalli’s head swam as blood filled her mouth and dripped down her face, unable to do anything but gurgle and splutter incoherently. She was so dazed she barely noticed the man take a one-handed hatchet off one of his companions, raise it, and bring it down on her head.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (3/?)
Jose Duro looked up, chest tightening in anticipatory fear, as the door opened, casting a band of light into his darkened cantina.
All muttered chat stopped instantly when the four men moved inside, every one sat at his bar’s tables staring at the group, the only sound the jukebox playing Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’. None of the men bar him had ever met any of the quartet before, but that scarcely mattered, all in the bar knew what type of men now walked amongst them. Hard men, cold men, killers. Then their leader, a tall thin man with haunting brown eyes, a scar on his left cheek and a greying goatee spoke. “Everyone out.”
Those two words were enough to start a stampede out of his bar. In less than a minute he was alone in his bar with the foursome. “My collectors came the other day,” Duro noted the man’s rasping voice, “you thought you were a big-shot, thought the usual rules didn’t apply to you.”
“That’s not -.”
“Bars in sixteen towns throughout the state all pay my people money, but you don’t think the rules apply to you is that right?” the gang-leader over-rode him, his voice cold, almost disinterested even as his eyes glittered dangerously.
Sweat beaded down Jose’s face. “Business has been slow-.”
“Business is never slow for the
Brotherhood,” the gang-leader continued to talk over him. “We’re here
protecting you from the things that lurk in the night, but you think you’re so
tough, too good to need our help. Even beat up my collectors and throw them
out.” The man’s gaunt features re-arranged themselves in a smile. “Let’s see
how tough you are.”
”Wha-.” Before he had time to fully grasp what was happening, two of the gang leader’s men leapt forward, grabbed him by his arms and legs, and flung him down on his back on the bar, back arching in pain at the violent impact. “Get off!” His eyes bulged with the effort as he tried and failed to wriggle free of the iron-hard grip on his limbs.
“I thought about killing you,” his heart skipped a beat at the group leader’s cold voice. “But of course I reconsidered. You are a much better lesson if left alive for others to learn by.”
”Get off!” He screamed as the gang leader leaned over him and stared down at him like a scientist examining a lab rat.
“Pedro,” the gang leader spoke after a second, “close the front door and stand guard.” His breath caught as the man reached inside his jacket and pulled out a curved blade then slowly, almost tenderly, cut his shirt open. He whimpered and shook his head as the man placed the flat of his blade against his stomach, skin pimpling at the steel’s cold touch. “What shall I carve?” the man’s brow furrowed thoughtfully, then he smiled the most terrible smile that Jose had ever seen.
“No, no, no,” Jose shook his head and stared up pleadingly at his tormenter. “Please-.”
”Aaaaaaaaaaaah!” Jose screamed and thrashed but the two men held him down as his tormenter placed the blade’s tip in the centre of his belly and pressed down. “Aaaaaah!” The next few seconds were a hellish eternity as the blade dove into him and was dragged across his flesh, shredding his skin.
And then thankfully the man stepped back. For a second the only sound was Jose’s sobs. “I think you’ve learnt your lesson.” The man smiled. “We’ll forget about this week’s indiscretion, but I’ll expect our money next week.” The gang leader wiped his blade clean on the remains of Jose’s shirt then looked to his companions. “Come on. It’s been fun but we’ve other business tonight.”
* * *
Mantra on the Esplanade, Darwin, Australia
Xander stared out onto the city from his hotel room’s 6th floor balcony. At his insistence, Faith had gone out with Tara and Kennedy to leave him to his brooding. Xander’s lips quirked up in a half-smile, he was turning into a regular little Angel.
The smile died. His ancestor had defeated the greatest enemy ever known to man, built the greatest empire in the pre-known world, and had become to all intents and purposes a god. How was he supposed to compete with that? Xander shook his head and sighed. He had to, not only for the people who’d joined his Brotherhood, but for the ten thousand who’d died at the dawn of time so his family could have a chance to live.
The sudden ringing of his phone pulled
him out of his grim reverie. “Yeah?” he snatched at his cell and growled into
”Well aren’t you the rainbow after the storm?”
Xander shook his head. He really didn’t need Lorne’s full-on effervescence right now. “What is it Lorne?”
“No how are you Lorne?” now the demon sounded slightly injured.
”Lorne,” Xander gritted his teeth, “I’m not in the mood today.”
“Well sorry,” now the camp club owner sounded mortally wounded. “I thought you’d be interested in my news?”
“I’m sure I would be,” Xander managed to keep an even tone. “If you’d shared it?”
“Oh, okay then,” Lorne huffed. “Here’s the news in brief. Your Mexican team has gone rogue, they’re protecting people from demons and vampires alright, if they come across with the money.”
”Wait?” Xander blinked. “You’re telling me they’re running a protection racket?”
“Oh yeah, word has it they marked a guy who wouldn’t come across with a ‘M’,” Lorne said. “They’re running through Tamaulipas, all the bars, strip-clubs, casinos; they all pay protection to stay open, otherwise no protection.”
“That’s really interesting, thanks,” Xander replied, a cold anger building up inside him, his knuckles whitened as he clenched the phone. Whoever dared desecrate his ancestor’s name was making a fatal mistake.
“Yes,” Lorne said, “I’d thought you’d want to know about one of your teams going rogue.”
“No,” Xander shook his head. “That’s not why it’s interesting.”
“Ooooh, but I can tell it bothers you chocolate bun, wanna tell me why?” Lorne cooed.
”It’s because we don’t have a team in Mexico,” Xander grated. “And I’d like to know who the hell thinks they can use my name and get away with it!”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (4/?)
Sydney wiped at the sweat gleaming on her forehead, a smile parting her lips. It was surprisingly humid for this time of the year, yet despite that and the tents they were forced to make camp in, the nearest currently lived-in village being over an hour away, she was in absolute heaven.
Her own expedition to dig on a before undiscovered Aztec village, absolute pure heaven.
* * *
“Okay,” Faith peered through the SUV’s window, having arrived in Tampico less than an hour ago via plane, a seemingly possessed Xander had immediately rented a car and driven them here, probably breaking several traffic and road safety laws, all in a gloomy silence that had blanketed the car. Yeah, she had to remember to thank Lorne for making her boy-friend even pissier than he was before. Faith looked towards her boyfriend. “And the plan is?”
“The plan is you and I go in and talk to Jose Duro,” Xander tersely replied.
“Just talk?” Kennedy queried from the back.
“Just talk, he’s the victim here,” Xander replied. “Tara, you and Kennedy wait here just in case.” Xander looked towards her. “Come on.”
“Woof, woof,” Faith muttered as she climbed out of the car and into the chilling night, “walkies.”
All talk stopped as she entered the bar, a reaction she was used to. While everyone was looking at her, she looked around the bar. It was nothing special, a wooden-floored place with dimmed lighting and the clientele sat huddled around its round tables seemed to be made up of strictly working-class types in the forty and above age bracket, a jukebox playing a selection of what appeared to be fifties music, the speakers on low so to allow for conversation.
The bartender stood huddled behind the well-made but strictly function-only bar was a tall man but stooped over as if carrying some great weight with slouched shoulders that would have otherwise been quite broad, and a nervous, almost diffident air. “He’s the one,” Faith muttered to her boy-friend, “definite victim vibe.”
“Duly noted,” Xander nodded before striding over to the bar.
The man looked from him to her and back again. “Foreigners,” the man’s hands shook slightly, “I don’t want any trouble.”
“I’d have said you’d had your fair
share,” Xander equably agreed. “I don’t want to cause you any trouble, I want
to help you with some you’ve had previously.”
”Look,” Xander interrupted the man. “I know about your scarring, I know about the protection racket, and let’s say I have a vested interest in stopping it.”
Xander had barely begun to turn to look at her when she was over the bar, grabbing the bartender by his elbow and gently guiding him into the back room that had a desk with a lamp on it and a safe in the far corner. “Show us your scar,” Xander ordered the moment the man had sat.
After a second of looking from Xan to her and back again, the bemused man lifted his T-shirt to reveal a ‘M’ carved into his stomach, the injured flesh pink against his tanned skin. “Jesus,” Faith whispered as bile rose in her throat.
Xander though had a completely different
reaction, her boy-friend had gone ashen grey, but his eyes had hardened to
stone, his fists tightly clenched. “What do you know about the men who did
“T…they call themselves the Mithras Brother-.”
“They’re not the Brotherhood,” Xander shook his head. “I’m the Brotherhood.” Eyes wide with terror, the bar tender began rising only to sit at Xander’s raised palm. “And we don’t extort from people, we help people. And right now, I’m very angry, and I’d like very much to share my anger with the people who did this to you.” Xander paused. “What do you know about them?”
Duro’s eyes shot from Xander to her and back again. “They can’t know,” the man’s voice shook. “If they even knew-.”
”They’ll never know,” Xander promised before looking at the man’s midsection. “How much did your hospital bills cost?”
”Fourteen thousand pesos.” The man’s eyes widened when Xander dropped two bundles of one hundred dollar bills on the table, hitting the wood with audible force.
“For your trouble and information,” Xander said.
The bartender licked his lips, his fear thick in the air, making it difficult to breathe. Then he nodded. “I don’t know much, who their leaders are, only that the men who do the leg-work own and hang out in a bar in the rough side of town called El Viejo Formas. You don’t want to take her there,” the bar-owner looked towards her, “it’s not a nice place.”
“She can take care of herself,” Xander’s half-smile was the nearest thing to a smile she’d seen in a week. “Thank you for your help.”
“How much money did you give him, Xan?” Faith asked the moment they exited the bar and started across to the road where Tara and Kennedy awaited in their car, the sound of bar’s hubbub rapidly dwindling.
Xander shot her a bleak look. “Twenty thousand dollars.”
Faith raised an eyebrow. It wasn’t anything more than a drop in the ocean for them, but considering the man’s hospital bill had come to less than twenty thousand pesos and given the exchange rate, it seemed a little over the top. “Seems a bit much.”
“These bastards tortured him in MY name, it’s my responsibility,” Xander replied.
“Jesus,” Faith muttered as she followed her honey outside, into the darkening night. Way to bring on the guilt, Harris. In this world there was more than enough guilt to go around. You didn’t need to start hoarding it like it was gold. “To El Viejo Formas then?” Faith sighed at Xander’s replying nod, she was so glad they’d had this conversation.
* * *
Tampico Bus Station
The battered bus screeched to a halt, the smell of diesel, motor oil, and worn tire filling the air as the bus’ passengers began to disembark, their chattering discussions and arguments filling his ears as they passed him.
His eyebrows rose as the last person walked or rather strode out. He was tall for a native, several inches over six foot, with shoulder-length hair matched in darkness by his probing black eyes, and in his late thirties, but with the sort of sleek physique and handsome, tanned features women of any age went for. It was an allure probably only added to by the guitar case in his hand.
The man stopped and turned to him. “You know the city?” he nodded silently, noting it was a statement rather than a question. “Do you know a bar called El Viejo Formas?”
His eyes widened. The bar had to say the least a notorious reputation locally, the sort of place that would be closed down in a night if a lot of the right people weren’t apparently in its owner’s back pocket. “You don’t want to go there,” he glanced at the musical instrument in the man’s hands, “it’s a bad place. A man with your talents could -.”
His voice trailed off when the man stuffed five crumpled 100 Peso notes in his uniform’s front pocket. “Let me worry about that,” the man replied. “I have business there.”
“Very well,” he nodded meekly before giving the man directions. The man nodded before walking away, leaving him with a chill. His father had been fond of a saying he used to use to describe people on a mission, ‘he had a devil on his back’, he’d used to say, and with that man he could practically see the trident’s three spikes.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (5/?)
El Viejo Formas was rocking, the jukebox blasting out hip-hop out of the speakers spread fastened to the bar’s walls loud enough to shake the building’s foundations. The smoke that filled the air was frequently cut through by the dancing primary-coloured fluorescent lights that illuminated the table dancers wearing the usual selection of skin-tight costumes – cop, schoolgirl, nurse, waitress, secretary, and sailor amongst others. The patrons sat around the cavorting girls clawed at them, sticking bills down their tops or in their g-strings. At the same time they slurped avidly at their hugely-expensive drinks ordered from the well-stocked bar stacked up against the club’s left wall beside the jukebox, the only slightly-more clothed and only slightly less attractive waitresses hurrying to fulfil their customers’ orders and endure the occasional grope.
All this Enrique Castillo saw in a moment before returning his gaze to the table reserved for him and his gang, the bar counter between it and the jukebox, the only corner without a speaker above it. He grinned as he returned to the card game him and his five amigos were playing. For years he’d been nothing but small-time, ostensibly the owner of this club, but his true income coming from some drug dealing, pimping, and fencing. Then six months ago he’d been approached by a mystery man who’d wanted to invest in him, back him to run a protection racket throughout the state, under the name of ‘The Mithras Brotherhood’. In those few short months his income had increased six-fold, and now he held sway over the entire state. Sure he’d had that problem the other night, but that was sorted now.
Yes, life was good.
”Who is that guy?” asked his brother, pointing over his shoulder.
Enrique looked over his shoulder and snorted. The guitarist who’d just sauntered into his bar was out of luck if he expected to get work playing here, their club catered to an entirely different taste. He shrugged. As long as the man bought drinks and didn’t cause any trouble he could stay-. His eyes widened as the door swung back open and another man strode in, but he immediately discarded him in favour of his companion. “Mi dios!” he hissed.
The gringo, she had to be a gringo or maybe an European, had full dark locks that seemed to shine as they cascaded down to rest just under her shoulders, framing a heart-shaped, fine-featured face. Deep dimples famed the beauty’s full red lips as she pulled them up into a dazzlingly perfect smile, while the eyes flanking her snub nose were dark yet full of light. The brunette’s black gym-vest threatened to burst with the effort of containing her ample chest, while seemed to ripple around her flat midsection. The shirt was tucked into a pair of black jeans that clung to the gringo’s rounded ass and long, muscular legs.
“That girl, she’s a new dancer right?”
Enrique smirked as he tore his eyes away from the stunning temptress and looked back at his brother. “She’s gonna be,” he declared. It was easy to get a girl like that or any girl to do what you wanted, even if they didn’t initially want to obey. First you told them what was what, emphasised who was in control with a few slaps and few rough screws, then you eased their pain with a few drugs, then when they begged for their next fix, you broke them down a little more, and finally you let them dance. Hell, the dumb bitch was asking for it coming into his club looking like that. “Pedro, Luis, with me.”
* * *
Faith’s nose wrinkled as she stared at the dirty windowed, one-storied place that seemed to shake under the impact of the music blasting out of it. God, she hated hip-hop. “What’s the plan?”
“Kennedy,” Xander’s gaze didn’t shift from the club, “take the back entrance. Tara, you guard the front.”
”What about the guards?” Faith asked as she climbed out of the car and joined Tara in falling in beside Xander.
Xander chuckled as he looked at the pair of barrel-chested gym rats flanking the door. “What do you think?”
“Figures,” Faith shrugged.
The two bouncers stepped forward, something close to grins twisting their swarthy faces as their hands reached out. “Gringo tourists? We’re going to have to check you for weapons before you come in,” one of them said.
“Not going to happen.” Xander’s straight right hit the nearest meat-head square under the jaw, lifted him from his feet, and dumped him in a heap by the club’s walls. Even as he fell, the other bouncer lunged at Xander who spun into a roundhouse kick that end with Xander’s foot cracking into his adversary’s nose, blood exploding from it in a gush. The man fell into the wall but started to drunkenly stagger away from it.
Which was his second mistake, the first being pissing Xander off in the first place.
Faith winced when her boy-toy’s kick caught the man right between the legs and decided to put him out of his misery before Xander got really inventive on his unfortunate ass, grabbing him in a front-facelock, and quickly choking him out. “Right,” Faith looked towards Xander, “you got your head on right to do this?”
“Oh yeah,” Xander barely breathed, his eyes fixed on the black, peeling-painted door before them, “let’s get this done.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (6/?)
He tensed as his target rose, hand edging towards his guitar case as the man walked into the centre of the bar, ignoring the scantily-clad ‘pilot’ dancing on the table by him. His eyes narrowed as the devastatingly-beautiful gringo, easily more beautiful than any of the club’s dancers, and her powerfully-built companion were intercepted by his target and two of his men. This complicated matters.
* * *
“Your companion,” the man identified by Duro as Enrique Castillo leered at Faith for a moment before looking towards him, “is very beautiful. Such beauty deserves special treatment. You should join us at our card table, play a few hands of cards.”
Enrique’s smile reminded Xander’s of a fox stalking his prey. Unfortunately this fox didn’t appear to realise its prey wasn’t a rabbit, but a lion. “I’d rather just talk,” Xander smiled easily even as he readied the Always Pocket for use.
”Talk?” Enrique’s eyes flashed from him to Faith and finally back to him, the hungry look in his eyes making Xander want to use the man’s head as a football. “You are a businessman?”
“You could say that,” Xander thought briefly of A-Team Industries. “But mostly I’m a concerned consumer.” The club owner’s eyes blanked. “I’d like to know who is paying you to blacken the name of the Mithras Brotherhood.”
Enrique’s mouth dropped slightly open, revealing a flash of appalling dental work, and then the man was lunging forward, a carving knife in his hand. Xander quelled the instinct roaring in him for a quick kill, as he lunged to meet him, his foot snapping out to connect with the inside of his adversary’s knee.
The Mexican’s face greyed as he fell forward and face-first onto Xander’s upper-cut. Blood flew from the Mexican’s face as the blow’s impact reversed his forward fall and sent him crashing into the bar, a bewildered look on his face.
Xander gasped as his girl-friend grabbed him by his neck. “They’ve got guns!” Xander glanced across to see Castillo’s other cronies throwing their card table aside and rising, guns in hands. “And they don’t look friendly!”
The next thing Xander knew, he was flying over the four foot high bar, his girl-friend following in close pursuit. Even as they hit the floor the bar descended into bedlam, screaming dancers leaping off their tables and joining the patrons in a desperate stampede for the exits, while the bottles in the drinks cabinet behind them exploded as gunfire smashed into them, showering him and Faith with glass and more booze than his dad could drink, well in a day anyway.
* * *
Faith’s eyes widened as she rolled onto her back and kicked out, catching the advancing, shotgun-wielding barman in the knee, knocking him falling off-balance onto her, a head butt to the face robbing the portly man of any instinctively horny thoughts the position might give him. Then she snatched at the whimpering man’s shoulders and flipped him off her, before snatching up his shotgun.
“Shit,” her dark eyes widened as she spied a tall man dressed entirely in black flip open what appeared to be the false bottom of a guitar case and pull out a pair of automatics. “Who the fuck is that!”
* * *
Xander pulled a pair of automatics out of the Mithras Pocket as he rolled into the gap in the bar the staff used to get out from behind the bar, the guns in his hands bucking as he fired at the three shooters. Cordite filled his lungs and his ears throbbed as his bullets crashed into the three gunmen’s shins and thighs, blood exploding out as their legs shattered under the kinetic impact.
Even as the three shrieking killers hit the floor, he was up, leaping over the bar and kicking away their guns. “You don’t need those boys,” he reprimanded before spinning around to deal with Enrique. His eyes widened at what he saw. “Now, you don’t want to break up a beautiful friendship before it’s begun friend, I need that man and I can’t let you shoot him.”
* * *
El Mariachi shook off his shock to glide to his feet, guns in hand. He started to raise them only to be force to sidestep a screaming ‘fire-fighter’ who blundered into his path. Then his guns were up and firing at the two men with Enrique, blood covering their faces from blows from the American woman, but their hands coming up with guns. His first slug caught the one to the left high on the right arm, almost on the shoulder, and spun him like a top before knocking back down to one knee. His second bullet tore the face of the man on the right, his body falling bonelessly to the ground. A bottle exploded on the table to his right, glass flying everywhere as he strode on regardless, his finger tugging on the trigger as he blew a hole in the first of Enrique’s thugs’ heads, knocking the man on his back, his brains spraying the floor undertneath. He kicked a fallen gun out of the way of Enrique’s scrabbling fingers before pointing his own guns at the gangster’s face.
“Now, you don’t want to break up a beautiful friendship before it’s begun friend, I need that man and I can’t let you shoot him.”
He’d barely noticed the young man next to his sultry companion, but he noticed him now, his hard eyes belying his friendly features. Still, he was unmoved. He glanced down to the whimpering man at his feet. “Several of his goons beat a bar-owner friend of mine to death, one does not do that to friends of mine without retribution.”
“Oh blood feuds, what fun,” the American
shook his head. “Faith?”
”Way ahead of you.” El Mariachi blinked as the brunette snatched his guns from him before he had chance to well blink.
“My grudge first I think.” Before he could speak the man was crouched before the crumpled club owner. “Don’t think I’m doing you any favours-.” The club owner stuck out one finger only to let out a piteous scream when the mystery man grabbed it and snapped with a casual twist. “You took my name and used it to build an extortion racket. I don’t like that, trademark and all that. Now I want the name of your boss or I start breaking things.”
“He’ll tear you apart!” The man reared back as if to spit. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” He abandoned that in favour of screeching when the American’s hand snatched out in a blur and grabbed his nose, yanking it to the right, the nose breaking with a pop, blood seeping out of both nostrils. “He has a hacienda outside town!”
”I want a name and address?” The stranger nodded as Enrique babbled out some details before rising. “Faith, give him his guns back.” The American looked towards him. “He’s all yours.”
Enrique’s face twisted in fear. “You can’t-.”
“I can do whatever the hell I like.”
* * *
Faith glanced at Xander as they strode out of the devastated bar. Fortunately police didn’t exactly hurry to calls in this part of town, otherwise they might be in trouble. “You just gonna leave him there?”
“He intimidated and beat people in my name,” Xander replied. “I’m not exactly feeling charitable.”
“Jesus, getting biblical, I can dig that,” Faith nodded as they reached the exit and joined up with Tara, the witch radioing Kennedy that they were leaving. “The hacienda next?”
“Yep, let’s finish this tonight.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (7/?)
“You’ve got an address?” Kennedy queried as she sped around the back of the club to join the rest of them.
“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “Tara,” Xander pulled the computer out and passed it to the witch, get what you can on -.”
“I will come with you.”
Xander’s brow furrowed and he let out an
impatient gust as he turned to face the guitarist. “Is Enrique dead?” The
musician nodded. “Then your part in this is over.”
Xander began to turn away from the glowering musician. “It is a matter of honour-.”
”If,” Xander spun around to face the Mexican, “you don’t watch yourself, your honour will get you killed!”
The Mexican stepped forward, face hardening. “Was that a threat?”
“If you’d been threatened, you’d know about it,” Xander snapped as he moved to meet the Mexican, “it was a warning. There are forces in the world you really don’t want to mess with.”
“Jesus, Xan!” Faith lost her temper as
she stepped forward and pushed the glaring pair apart and spun to face her
boy-friend. “Will you pull your fuckin’ horns in for Christ’s sake. It’s like
it’s your time of the month for fuck’s sake-.”
”You’d know,” Tara muttered.
Faith ignored her friend in favour of
making a far more important point. “Listen and listen good!” Faith jabbed her
finger into her boy-friend’s chest. “I get you’re doubting and hurting over
what you found in Australia. But here’s what you should do.” Faith took a
breath. “Get over yourself.”
”Get over -.”
“Yeah, your family was this big deal and that’s great, but while you’re doubting yourself and making all these emotion-driven decisions, you’re not living up to your family, you dig?”
Xander stared at her for a second, his face like stone. Faith’s heart twitched and stomach hollowed as she wondered if this was the time she’d gone too far, this was the time that would make Xander turn away from her, but she forced her eyes to meet his unblinkingly. “Kennedy,” Xander’s eyes didn’t shift from hers, “you know Spanish?”
“Okay, our friend speaks better English than I do Spanish, but I suspect there might be a language barrier when it comes to explaining about the world,” Xander looked to the musician, “come on.” Xander glanced to the musician. “What’s your name anyway?”
“El Mariachi.” The man replied after a heartbeat’s pause.
“Oh goddess.” Faith glanced at Tara who was in turn staring at the Mexican. “I’ll tell you on the way there.”
Faith shrugged. Life was gettin’ weird. Again. “Five by five.”
* * *
Faith stared through the binoculars at the hacienda some three hundred yards away from them. It was pretty enough she supposed, a huge three-storey, whitewashed Spanish colonial house dating back to the 18th century with a marble fountain on the front lawn, a neatly looked after garden, filled with beautiful plants, and a tall wall made of quarry stone sweeping around the building’s grounds.
Course that image was sorta ruined by the fact her infra-reds couldn’t get any signature off the trio of the thuggish-looking guards loitering by the building’s ornate gates. “Defnitely vamps, X.” She reported as she passed the glasses back.
“And humans don’t normally have bodyguards of the demonic type, unless they’re sorcerers. So he’s either mage, demon, or another vampire.” Xander looked towards El Mariachi. “Are you sure you still want in?”
The Mexican folk legend, Tara had gaspingly babbled his story to them on the ride here, nodded. “Si.”
“Do you think they know about the bar and Enrique being killed?” Kennedy suddenly asked. “They might be expecting us.”
“Maybe,” Xander slowly replied. “But if
they knew, I figure there’d be more activity in the house.”
”Unless they’re waiting for us,” Tara whispered.
”Always with the optimism,” Faith snarked before glancing at Xander. “What’s the plan, Xan?”
“You, Tara, and Ken are going to drive down there, hit them at the front gate and hit them hard, me and El are gonna go over the wall, and head into the house.”
Faith groaned. “Your plans are never long in detail are they, hon?”
“Keeps you and Ken from getting
confused.” Xander smirked briefly at their dual ‘heys’. “Me and El are gonna
go over at the corner nearest us the moment that you hit the front gate, that
way any one in the house will think you’re the attack, and not be ready for us.”
”Bait,” Faith shook her head. “I hate being bait.”
”Look at it this way Faith, at least this time you didn’t have to get dressed in hooker wear,” Kennedy snarked.
“That meant to comfort me, really doesn’t,” Faith grumbled.
“You mean you like wearing hooker wear?” Kennedy innocently commented.
Xander forced back a laugh at the glare she shot the potential. “Tar,” Faith grated, “you can drive, me and the brat are better shots.”
“Speaking of which, what do you want?” Faith looked towards him and smirked lasciviously. “In weapons I meant.”
“Oh god, don’t do it in the car,” Kennedy shuddered.
“At least not in front of us,” Tara added.
“I said weapons,” Xander sighed long-sufferingly.
”Stakes, shotguns, Berettas,” Faith winked at him.
“Okay,” Xander passed the weapons over
to his girl-friend before looking across to El Mariachi. “Couple of mini-uzis
on a holster and some reloads for those pistols okay for you?” The Mexican
nodded. “You’re just a real people person aren’t you? Come on.”
The car door opened and Xander climbed out. Faith took a breath. “Looks like we’re up.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (8/?)
“Put your seatbelts on,” Tara said as
she settled behind the wheel and grabbed a hold.
”Jeez,” Faith glanced across at her, an amused look on her face. “What are ya, the safety monitor.”
”I’m going to be driving into those iron gates,” Tara replied.
”Point,” Faith conceded as she grabbed for her seatbelt. “Ken, you sit behind Tar, anyone on that side is min -, fuck!” Faith squealed as she slammed on the accelerator, car jetting forward even as Faith bounced up and down on her seat, eyes bulging in shock. “A little warning woulda been good, sis!”
Tara half-smiled. “And you’re usually so impatient.”
* * *
Xander watched from the shadows of the hacienda’s outer wall as the car screeched off. As always before one of their endeavours, trepidation filled him. Not so much for himself, but for the others, and for those who might suffer if they failed.
Forcing the trepidation away, he glanced towards his companion and threw him a rope with a grapple hook attached to it. “You know how to use that I assume?”
“Yes.” The Mexican nodded as he caught the rope. “What are we waiting for?”
“Oh you’ll hear it in about five seconds.”
* * *
Tara braced herself as they screeched towards the gates. She hadn’t bothered turning the car lights off, knowing that as they were facing vampires, they’d hear and see them coming anyway, turning the lights off it would probably only hinder Faith and Kennedy’s attempts to shoot the vampires. Her heart pounding as the vampires scattered before her, the barred gates gleaming golden in the car lights.
And then they hit it at around forty-five miles an hour, the car bouncing with the impact and the gates inverting with a mighty clang. The car’s hood lid crumpled like paper, hissing steam erupting from beneath it. Her teeth were still jangling from the impact when Faith flung her door open and jumped out, the sound of her shotgun firing exploding in Tara’s ears.
* * *
The moment the air exploded with the impact of metal hitting metal, Xander went into action. “That’s what we were waiting for,” Xander informed his companion as he threw his grapple hook over the wall then yanked on it. Once he was satisfied the hook was secure, he glanced at his companion to check he was okay then started up the wall. In seconds he was clambering over and dropping to the ground on the other side.
They stuck to the shadows as they crept up towards the house, using any cover the meticulously landscaped garden offered. Xander grimaced as half a dozen probable vampires raced out of the front of the house and down the eight steps before charging towards his girl and her companions at the gates. He grabbed the Mexican’s arm as the man started out of the shadows to intercept them. “Leave them to Faith,” he ordered. “She’ll eat them up like they were Doublemeat burgers.”
After a second El Mariachi nodded. “Are
we to go in through the front door?”
”Hardly,” Xander smiled. “This ain’t my first rodeo.” He smirked as he pulled out a M203 grenade launcher and put it to his shoulder, the Mexican’s mouth opening in a question. “Never mind. Just be ready to run for the near side of the house after I’ve fired.”
Xander squinted as he aimed, forcing himself to ignore the sounds of growing battle. Then he squeezed the trigger. The grenade shot out of his launcher, the impact jarring slightly against his shoulder. By the time the White Star Cluster exploded in the house’s hallway, briefly bathing it in a blazing white light, he was already moving, racing to join his companion by the side of the hacienda.
His grenade launcher came up again, time this he sent it crashing barrel first through the window. “Come on,” he ordered once he’d quickly knocked the remaining shards out of the window pane.
* * *
Faith kicked the gate in desultory fashion. “The car didn’t break it.”
Tara rolled her eyes at her best friend’s pout and repeat of her complaint for the third time. “I assume you grasp the meaning of the word ‘reinforced’?”
Faith looked over her shoulder and
grinned. “Damn, that sounded so snooty, you’d make a wicked Watcher.”
Tara stuck her tongue out. “Oh heck!” Kennedy reported as she peered through her binoculars. “There’s a bunch of vamps coming down from the house.”
”Shit!” Faith back-flipped over and behind her still open passenger door, scooped up her shotgun, and sighted it all in the same inhumanly fluid motion. “Let’s get ready!”
* * *
The room beyond was a darkened kitchen, a gleaming place complete with all the mod-cons. Xander pursed his lips, it was starting to look like that the runner of this little operation was either a rather refined demon or a black arts mage.
Xander winced as he opened the kitchen door, the door uncooperatively creaking, mind you, right now his breathing seemed positively bull-horned. Sweat began beading down his forehead as he and his companion crept through into the vast hallway, its walls decorated with lavishly-coloured portraits of who Xander assumed were Mexican heroes or patriots.
“Welcome to my abode!” a voice boomed out. “And a hearty welcome it is, as deserving of a pair who made such an effort to visit me.”
Xander spun to shoot the man stood on the stairs behind them then gasped as the guns flew from his and his companions’ hands. “Oh dear, how impolite,” the man was tall and gaunt with a drooping beard, bald pate, and glinting green eyes, his thin-lipped smile vicious. “Impolite guests need to learn their place.”
Before either of them had chance to react, he and El Mariachi flew into opposite walls, hitting them with crashing impact. Xander grunted as his head bounced off the wall, then reached into his jacket, tugged out a knife and lunged forward. Once again the weapon flew out of his hand, and he flew back into the wall, a phone desk that he landed on collapsing under his weight, and crashing him to the ground. “Stay there.” Xander hid a smile as the man turned to El Mariachi, clearly thinking that he was out of weapons, and opened the Always Pocket, reaching for another shotgun.
His eyes widened as the mage spun back towards him. “Magic, but how!” The mage screeched as he fired a fireball at Xander. Xander flung himself to the left, the fireball scorching the wall where he’d been laid, El Mariachi throwing himself into the mage, knocking him off balance, then folding again as the mage hit him with another spell.
And then Xander’s finger tightened on the trigger, a bullet exploded, and crashed into the mage’s left knee. The mage let out a strangled cry, face greying as he stumbled down onto the steps, blood gushing from his torn leg. “How,” the man gasped as Xander rose and hurried over to him, “you’re not a mage.”
“No,” Xander smiled as he levelled the gun’s muzzle at the man’s face, knowing that pain would disrupt the magician’s abilities for long enough for him to end this. “I’m the man who’s name you’ve been using. I’m the runner of the real Brotherhood.” The man’s mouth opened. “Let me save you the effort.” A trigger pull later and the man’s brains were decorating the triangular-patterned carpet beneath him.
“What now?” El Mariachi asked, the man’s dark eyes wide from his first encounter with magics.
“Now we go and check on the girls,” Xander said. “And then me and you have to talk.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (9/?)
El Mariachi looked around the brightly lit hotel lobby they were in, he and his companions having returned from the now blown to rubble hacienda less than a half an hour ago. “So,” Xander paused then continued, “are you interested?”
He raised an eyebrow, surprised by the note of trepidation in the voice of the previously so focussed youth. “I work better alone,” he replied.
”Yeah,” this came from the buxom and very forthright Faith, “and so did I. But it’s good having people ‘round you, that you can trust to have your back.”
El Mariachi stared at the fearless young woman, seeing the scars in her eyes. She had a point, his life was one of solitude, constant danger, and an emptiness that was only briefly filled by violence. And the evil he fought seemed somehow less significant when compared with the evils the Mithras Brotherhood fought. His fingers tapped out an indecisive rhythm on the round table separating him from his companions before querying reservedly. “This back-up you mentioned?”
“Yeah,” Xander licked his lips even as he pulled a lap-top out of his Always Pocket, such a marvellous creation and more proof of a world he’d never dreamed of, and passed it across the desk to Tara. The witch immediately opened it up and turned it on. “You get the interest off a hundred and fifty million dollar trust fund to spend as you wish – wages, health insurance, arms and ammunition, equipment, a base, whatever you deem necessary. You can access to our intelligence network, arms, communications, and equipment suppliers, and of course should you really run into major trouble, you can call on the group’s trouble-shooters.” El Mariachi stared blankly at the man.
“He means us,” Kennedy supplied.
”Of course,” El Mariachi nodded, embarrassed he’d been caught out like that. “And what do you get in return.”
Xander leaned forward, hunching over the desk, his face tightening. “We supply protocols that any group that works for us has to adhere to. A set of rules if you will, no harming innocents, no charging for your help, that sorta thing. But the big thing is there’s a battle coming, a sorta world-ending battle if we don’t get it right, and I want all units to be there.”
El Mariachi leaned back as he struggled with his decision. On the one hand, he could help more people than he did now with the resources offered, on the other, the thought of fighting at a battle upon which the world’s fate hung frightened him. Then he thought of these youngsters willingly doing just that and was instantly shamed. “What sort of resources are there to aid me in Mexico?”
Xander beamed at him before glancing at Tara. The witch spoke before the Californian had chance to prompt her. “I’ve got two teams of eight and one of nine demon hunters in in Mexico City itself, Monterrey, Puebla and Guadalajara each have two teams of eight, Toluca has two teams of six, and both Tijuana and Leon have a single team of eight hunters.” El Mariachi blinked, surprised that there were so many people both aware of and willing to fight an evil he’d never even been aware of. “There’s also white magic covens in Monterrey, Puebla, and Tijuana.” The witch looked directly at him. “I’ll print the details out if you’re interested.”
El Mariachi made the only decision his honour and humanity would allow him and nodded. “I’m interested and I’m in.”
* * *
Martina Cruz ducked her head as she clambered into the hollowed out shell that had once been a hut. At first this had been a routine dig, the likes of which she’d been on many times and in many nations during her fifteen year career in archaeology, first as a student and then as an assistant, enlivened only by the notoriety of the esteemed Sydney Fox and the affable geniality of the very English Nigel Bailey.
But then she’d found it. She dropped into a crouch and turned on her pencil light so not to alert others that might come and steal HER find from her. The book was bound in human skin, something that had first disgusted her, but she now barely noticed as she carefully turned its brittle pages, mesmerised by the words and terrible secrets contained within.
She was scarcely aware of her clothes shredding, leaving her as naked as the day she was born. Didn’t even notice the multi-coloured ink sliding off the page and trickling towards her. It was only when the ink brushed against her foot she became aware, and then it was too late, although really it had been too late from the moment her eyes had fallen on the accursed book. Pain blazed through her like she was being blow-torched from head to head, the ink shimmering against her tanned skin as it flowed across her flesh, leaving a glowing tattoo where it had been.
All she could do was scream, her straining voice becoming shriller and shriller with every note, sweat flowing like waterfalls down her desperately convulsing body, every muscle cramping and flexing.
“Ayuda! Ayuda! Ayuda!”
And then the ink reached her throat, her chest heaved as her windpipe closed off, vainly struggling to conserve what little oxygen she had. Then darkness descended and she fell forward, dust billowing as her face hit the ground.
A second later her head rose, her eyes changed from a kind brown to the darkest black and her friendly features elongated, sharpened. “Finally,” she hissed, “Citalli will have her revenge!”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (10/?)
Citalli laughed as she heard the approaching shouts and footsteps. It was past time for her vengeance to begin. Still naked, she stepped towards the hut’s entrance, a laugh erupting from her parted lips as the spell told her just how many years had passed since her activity. Five centuries and more was so very long to wait for her revenge, she had best make the most of it.
A chubby figure appeared in the hut’s
entrance’s, the sweat-streaked man’s eyes bulging at her nakedness. “Martina,
what happened?” the fat man, the body remembered him as an English archaeologist
called Bruce Lassiter stepped forward, his jaw dropping open. “That tattoo, i….it’s
”But of course it is Bruce, it’s my life-force. Speaking of which-.” She lunged forward, placing her hand around the man’s neck and focusing through it. “Grip. You won’t be needing yours anymore.” She cackled as the man first purpled and gurgled, then beat vainly at her hand. Finally his eyes rolled back in his head and legs buckled under him. He dropped face-first into the dust, never to complain about the oppressive heat again.
Citalli stepped out of the shadowed hut then smiled, taking a moment to bathe in the sun. It had been too long since she had felt Tonatiuh’s rays on her face. “Martina! Martina!”
She sighed long-sufferingly at a voice to her left and turned to greet the on-coming students, two youngsters working on their dissertations she vaguely recalled. Both girls stopped and stared open-jawed at her nudity. It seemed this time put a greater premium on clothing than hers ever had.
Tired of their staring, she looked to their left and nodded at the tree stood there. “Fall.” The two youths looked up in time to see the tree fall and crash on top of them. “What boredom,” she muttered as she continued on. Her eyes narrowed as a man leapt at her, his hand coming up holding some sort of weapon. “Destroy.” The man screamed as the device exploded in his hand, ripping the hand off, blood spurting everywhere as the man stumbled back into the forest.
After centuries of rest she felt somehow more powerful than she’d ever felt before. The magic coursed through her veins and made her senses hum.
A low growl escaped her, dark eyes hardening to stone as she recalled the Slayer that she’d slain and the Watcher who’d killed her first body. That Council would have to be dealt with and his bloodline slaughtered.
Citalli smiled at the carnage around her, people rushing away from her in panic. And two running towards her. “Interesting.”
* * *
“Why is it, when everyone else runs away from something we run straight to it?” Nigel mumbled.
Sydney shot her best friend a grin even as she ran alongside him. “Because we don’t want to live boring lives?”
”Speak for yourself,” Nigel panted.
“Away!” The naked woman that Sydney vaguely recognised as Martina Cruz lifted a hand and pointed at them.
”Aaaah!” Sydney gasped as she and Nigel were picked from their feet and flung some thirty feet away. “Ooooof!” Sydney grunted as she landed, back arching with the impact. “Nigel!” she rolled over to glance at her friend who’d landed in a thorny bush some seven feet to her right. “Are you alright?”
“Apart from this confirming acupuncture is not for me,” Nigel winced as he tore himself loose from the bush, “fine.”
”Good.” She heard Nigel groan, then fall in beside her as she headed back towards the rampaging Cruz.
Suddenly Cruz’s eyes shot to her and Nigel. Sydney gulped as the eyes bored into her, the witch veering off-course to head towards them both. Then her knees buckled beneath her, her legs suddenly weakening. Her hand went up to her throat as she wheezed, invisible fingers crushing her larynx.
“This world, so pathetically weak,” Martina came to a halt before them. “Where are its warriors? I Citalli must have challenges.”
Suddenly Nigel fell flat on his stomach
before her. And then came up with a pocket-knife he jammed into the woman’s
calf. The witch reared back with a scream, the blade having sunk in a good
inch, blood spurting out. “Ahhhhh! Go!”
Sydney screamed as she could breathe again. And then she was lifted up again, flung high and even further than before. Her eyes widened as she realised they were flying over the edge of the near-by waterfall, its roaring filling her ears, as all she could see was the white foam flowing from it.
She hit the water with a splash, the shock of her landing shaking her. Instantly she was underwater, going down, down. Then she reversed the trend and swam for the surface, buffeted by the waterfall’s torrid currents. Then she burst through the aqua surface with a gasp and started swimming with powerful strokes to her friend’s apparently limp body bobbing on the surface.
Her heart leapt when she grabbed a hold
of Nigel’s shoulder and he started, proving he was stunned rather than injured
or worse. “The shore!” she hollered in an attempt to be heard over the
waterfall’s gushing roar. “Head for the shore!”
Nigel nodded to show he’d understood. Sydney grimaced as she started for the shore, the effect of her crash landing making it difficult for her to swim across and against the currents. Her eyes widened when a loose branch appeared in front of her, seemingly propelled by the river’s fury at having its pretty snatched away.
Unable to escape the on-rushing flotsam, Sydney took the branch flush on the head, her head exploding in pain. Fighting back the nausea that washed over her, Sydney continued for the shore, doggedly ignoring the growing ache in her shoulders and arms as she headed for the grass covered shore. She groaned with relief as she dragged herself up onto the ground, flopped onto her back and reached down to pull Nigel up. She raised an eyebrow as Nigel flopped onto the grass beside her, turned his head towards her and then quickly looked away.
“What?” Sydney stared at her blushing friend.
“Let’s just say wet t-shirts really suit you,” Nigel gulped. “And those shorts are really form-fitting now.”
”You’re an idiot!” Sydney slapped her best friend’s shoulder.
“We need to get help,” Nigel slumped on the lakeside, a look of exhaustion on her friend’s face.
“I know,” Sydney reached into her water and shock-proof fanny-pack, it had been a very expensive purchase, but if her cell still worked, worth every cent.
”Who you gonna call?”
“It seems that Martina is possessed, who do we know who deals in these sort of things?” Sydney rhetorically asked.
“Oh no,” Nigel shuddered. “Not her.”
“What’s wrong with Faith?” Sydney asked as she dialled the number.
“She scares me,” Nigel shuddered. “She
makes you seem reserved.”
”I’ll reply once I’ve worked out who that was an insult to.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (11/?)
Faith drummed her foot impatiently as she waited in the queue at the booking-in desk. Waiting definitely sucked, why Xander hadn’t bought them their own personal jet was beyond her, given all his billions. Yeah, she definitely decided she’d have to bring this up at the next finance meeting.
AKA their bedroom. It was odd but, she always won their battles there. Faith grinned impishly. For someone who supposed to be this hot-shit warrior, you’d think X would know a little ‘bout what Sun Tzu would say in a sitch like this. ‘Terrain is of assistance to one's army. Analyzing the enemy so as to create/control victory, assessing the difficulties and dangers of terrain, how near and far of distances, is the Way of the superior general.’
You know, the simple stuff. No way her dude was gonna say no to her in a transparent teddy or a lacy bra and thong….
“Ah,” Kennedy ruminated, “back to the good old US. of A, where you can drink tap water without boiling it first.”
Faith glanced at Kennedy. “Have you ever been to Boston?”
Kennedy’s probably smart-ass answer was cut off by the ringing of Xander’s phone. Her boy-friend pulled his phone out and lifted it to his ear, brow furrowing. “Yeah? Hi Syd?” Her boyfriend laughed. “Really? What a coincidence, we’re in Mexico ourselves-.” Xander’s brow furrowed. “Hold on. Yeah, we can get down there by tomorrow morning, I’ve got your number saved. I’ll get Tara to use it to track your GPS signature.”
“I’m just a nerd,” Tara lamented with a theatrical sigh.
“Just a hot nerd,” Kennedy comforted her girl-friend with a hug.
”Gag, gag, and oh gag,” Faith commented before looking at Xander as he hung up, a worried look on her boy-friend’s face. “What’s the sitch, studly?”
”Change of plan,” Xander’s brow furrowed, Syd and Nigel were in charge of excavating an Aztec village-.”
“Oh yeah,” Faith nodded thoughtfully. “The Aztec empire was dominant in this area from the 14th to 16th century until the Spanish came here and kicked their asses through superior arms, but mostly through bringing diseases over from Europe. At its height the Aztecs comprised of five to six million people. The empire was made possible by their successful agricultural methods, including intensive cultivation, irrigation, and reclamation of wetlands. The Aztec state was despotic, militaristic, and strictly hierarchical according to class and caste. Also practiced human sacrifices to their gods. Nasty fuckers.” Faith grinned at the others, enjoying their shocked looks. “What? I can read.”
“Didn’t know they’ve done ‘Aztecs The Pop-Up Version’,” Kennedy fired back.
Xander spoke up before she could kick Kennedy’s ass all the way to Argentina. “It appears that their excavation has awoken something-.”
“Little vague,” Tara commented as they started following Xander as he hurried towards the car rental desk.
“Demon? Vampire?” Kennedy threw in a couple of guesses.
“Sydney didn’t know much,” Xander replied. “Apparently something possessed one of their colleagues and she started killing the camp.”
“Dispossessed spirit, demonic entity, or some sort of spell would be my best guess,” Tara said.
“I’m gonna get some less weird friends,” Faith commented.
“Tut,” Kennedy shook her head, “hate to shatter your illusions, but you’re the weirdest of the lot.”
“Xander,” Faith whined, “can I put her in the trunk. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeee.”
“As tempting it is to throw you both in the trunk,” Faith snorted at the thought of Xander tryin’, “we’ve got work to be doing. Tara,” Xander passed the witch the laptop and his cell, “get Syd’s phone number and start tracking her GPS signature.”
* * *
Citalli looked around the dead, the coldest of schemes filling her as the night began to settle in around, the apparent life in the forest surrounding her an interesting contrast with the stillness in the centuries old village. At first she’d planned to kill everyone here and then disappear into the nearest village, and move on from there.
But she had once ruled here and it would make a good start for her next empire. She needed servants to complete her orders and enforce her will, it mattered not if the first amongst them weren’t actually alive. She glanced around again, moving through the camp and muttering a spell to bring those with the least damage to their bodies back to life.
And in the morning, she would begin her hunt for new servants. Oh yes, and there were just a few monsters she could bring to heel to make sure no challengers were foolish enough to rise up against her.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (12/?)
The car bobbed about the bumpy road that cut through the thick, green forest, its yellow headlights leading the way. Faith looked left and right as she drove, her enhanced stamina and senses making her the ideal candidate for night-time driving. Man, growing up in Boston, she’d never dreamed that such greenery existed.
Her eyes returned to the road. “SHIT!” she cursed as she hit the brakes, she could have sworn the tree trunk now just ahead wasn’t there but five seconds ago. Brakes screeched and the others yelled as they awoke, but Faith ignored them all as she stood on the brake, steam coming up from the tyres as the car twisted and bounced to a stop, her hands gripping vice-like to the steering wheel, not allowing it to fly off the dirt-track.
”Faith!” Xander shot her a shocked look as the car came to a final shuddering halt just feet from the darkness-shrouded log. “What was that about?”
“Quit complainin’,” Faith pointed at the
log, “there’s an obstruction in the road. I wasn’t gonna blow out our tyres by
driving right over it was I?”
”And you couldn’t just come to a gentle stop?” Kennedy predictably complained from behind. Any excuse to metaphorically bust her balls.
“I swear it wasn’t there a minute ago,” she replied through gritted teeth.
Xander sighed as he glanced at Tara’s GPS locator. “Syd and Nige are about three quarters of an hour away, let’s get this thing shifted and get on.”
“Cool,” Faith agreed as she climbed out of the car and stepped towards the log. “We’ll just-. “ Her voice trailed off when the green ‘log’ turned towards her, its serpentine head glaring malignantly at her and Xander, and its forked tongue streaking out to dance over its bottom teeth. “Ah crap,” Faith groaned. “I should have just speeded up.”
* * *
Sydney looked around the darkened coastline, a great weariness filling her. It had been a stroke of luck Xander and his team already in Mexico, so it wouldn’t take them long to get here and help them.
Not soon enough however to bring Martina’s victims back to life. A deep sorrow filled her, twisting her guts as she leaned over the river’s gleaming surface, the water so calm. If only-.
Sydney shook her head and laughed softly. Life had taught her not to deal in ‘if onlys’. One could only act for the best, what happened then was in the hands of fate, god, or whatever.
Sydney knelt by the edge of the river and reached down to scoop up some water up, they’d have to risk any of the infections that might be in the water, it was either that or-. “God,” she gasped as she saw a red-haired, dog-like beast with a tail with a hand on the end of it staring malignantly up at her from under the water, “an Ahuitzotl.” How could a beast from Aztec mythology be-.
And then the creature burst from water and hit her in the chest, knocking her on her ass. Sydney let out a shriek as the beast’s snout dived in, eyes widening at the piranha-like teeth she saw there. Reaching up, she grabbed the beast around the snout and grabbed it there, holding the monster’s mouth shut even as its fists pounded at her.
She gasped as a branch slammed down on the top of the Ahuitzotl’s head, looking up to see a grim-faced Nigel, the make-shift weapon went up and then swung back down, the Ahuitzotl shuddering as the blow connected then going into a wilful frenzy. Sydney grunted as the creature began pounding at her with even greater force, now no longer needful of the kill, but desperate for its escape. And then Nigel, his face contorted with a protective rage, brought the club down again, the beast’s skull cracking, blood spurting out to splatter her.
All at once the creature went limp and slumped against her. Then Nigel flung his stick away, grabbed the thing by the scruff of its neck and flung it off her. “What was that?” her friend queried as he pulled her up to her feet. “I’ve never seen anything like it!”
“An Ahuitzotl,” she breathlessly explained. “An Aztec water monster, part monkey, part dog.”
“How is that possible?” Nigel mumbled as he concentrated on wiping the blood off her shirt.
“I’ve no idea.” Sydney looked down to where Nigel’s hands where and then back up at her saviour and best friend. “You’re groping me,” she said, an impish grin tugging on her lips.
”Oh good lord,” Nigel snatched his hands away, a familiarly pleasing flush rising in his cheeks. “I’m so sorry-, gaaaah!” Nigel’s eyes bulged when she took the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head. His eyes snapped away. “Sydney! What are you doing?”
Sydney laughed softly, the tension
caused by the attack already abating thanks to the moment’s amusement, as she
reached behind and unclicked her bra, the undergarment falling to the floor.
“If you’re going to grope me, do it properly, and don’t let my clothes get in
Nigel looked back at her, his eyes primly fixed on her smirking face. “Sydney, you’re obviously under a spell-.”
”No spell,” she took Nigel’s face in her hands, “I just realised that while I’ve been running around the world searching for things, what I really wanted was right under my nose the all time.”
”Just kiss me.” Sydney pressed her lips to Nigel’s even as she reached down and began unfastening his belt.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (13/?)
For a shocked half-second Faith stared at the snake, taking in its immense girth. The snake had to be at least eighteen feet long and each of its huge scales gleamed with incandescent menace and the creature’s wedge-shaped face stared unblinkingly at her, seemingly vibrating with menace. “Oh yeah, I should have definitely kept driving,” Faith muttered as a chilly grip squeezed at her heart.
Then the serpent leapt at her such speed that it had wrapped itself around her from head to foot before she could move, encircling her with half-a-dozen slimly coils, her hastily drawn blade bouncing harmlessly off the serpent's coils but causing the reptile to tighten his grip still further. Faith groaning in response as her vision blurred. “Jeeze,” she groaned as her ribs started to creak under the pulverising pressure.
Realising her sword arm was still free, Faith pushed down with her feet. The moment she felt firm ground underneath her, she pushed upright, thighs throbbing as she lifted herself and the beast wrapped around her up. Feeling consciousness begin to slip away, Faith slashed downwards. With one blow she tore through scales, muscle and vertebrate, covering herself from head to foot in an inky ichor. Where there had been one huge writhing cable there was now two lashing wildly in death throes. Faith staggered away from the mayhem she had created, her lungs heaving frantically for much needed air.
* * *
“Faith!” His heart firmly Xander started towards his girl-friend, calling a shotgun from the Always Pocket as he did so.
”Xander! To your right!”
“Damn it!” Tara’s cry had him spinning to face what looked like a skeletal-faced, old woman leaping out of the bushes with clawed-hands rending the air. He didn’t even think about it, just pulled the trigger, the gun bucking in his hands. His rounds crashed into the thing’s chest, knocking back into the wood from which it had come. “What was that?” Xander demanded.
“A Cihuateteo!” Tara screamed. He
glanced blankly at her. “A sort of Aztec vampire,” the witch hurriedly
supplied. “Blow off its head.”
”Whose a bloody thirsty new age lesbian?” Xander muttered as he raised his gun and shot another load into the rising vampire, its head exploding off its shoulders and splattering the tree behind.
“XANDER!” Kennedy let out a scream that
had him spinning around to face the car to see another Cihuateteo land on the
SUV’s roof with a crash, the roof caving in slightly under the impact.
Even as his gun came up, Faith let out a roar. “Cover me Harris!” his viscera-soaked girl-friend leapt from the ground and onto the car’s roof, ducking smoothly under a roundhouse-kick before coming up, hooking the demon’s leg and bringing her down on her head on the car roof, Faith’s sword lashing down and through the creature’s neck.
”Faith! Down!” Faith dropped backwards at his yell, falling off the car roof even as he used his hastily drawn Uzi to strafe the heads off two more of the vampires who he’d spotting coming out of the forest at the other side of the car as they leapt up onto the roof.
“Thanks stud,” Faith kipped up and
started vainly trying to wipe the dust and viscera off her outfit before staring
down at her sodden clothes then up at him. “I’m gonna have to change before you
let me back into the car aren’t I?”
”We might not let you in then,” Kennedy commented as Xander pulled out a fresh pair of jeans and a T-shirt for her.
“You got off lucky,” Tara commented as she stripped.
Faith paused in stepping out of her
jeans to look at the dressed and most importantly warm witch sat smugly safe
inside her car. “Lucky!” She exclaimed. “Do you know how much those jeans
cost?” She pulled yet more gunk out of her hair. “And how long it’s gonna take
me to get my hair clean?”
”That was an Aztec fire serpent,” Tara continued on. “If it hadn’t been hungry and wanted to eat you, it’d have just spat acid at you and let the flesh burn off your bones.”
“Great.” Faith looked towards Xander. “You know, if we ever don’t actually need a witch, Tara could always hold down a position as the Brotherhood’s morale officer.”
* * *
Faith joined Kennedy in staring
disapprovingly at the two sleeping adventurers. Well at least she was staring
disapprovingly, she thought Ken might be having a perv at Sydney’s admittedly
fine ass, while Xander and Tar looked anywhere but at the obviously
post-copulation couple. “So you’re sayin’ that while we’ve been drivin’ all
night fightin’ our way through vampires and serpents-.”
”Getting covered in demon gore.”
“Don’t remind me.” Faith shuddered at Kennedy’s comment. “While they’ve been gettin’ all Adam & Eve, and re-fertilising the world? Tain’t-.”
”Ahhhh!” Sydney awoke, quickly covering her private areas while a red flush rose.
All over the Eurasian’s naked body.
“Now that’s the reaction I was lookin’ for,” Faith proclaimed as Sydney shook Nigel’s shoulder.
”A fourth time,” the Englishman sleepily muttered, his eyes still closed, “I’m not eighteen you know.”
“Nigel,” Sydney hissed. “Xander and the others are here!”
“Oh jolly good,” the Englishman grunted. “Rescued, finally.”
Kennedy laughed. “Are you sure you want
”Aaaah!” Nigel sat up bolt-right, a matching flush to Syd’s covering him as he went diving in to cover his essentials. “Oh good lord. Oh bloody hell!”
“Damn,” Faith stared at the reddening couple, “you’re really hung like an Englishman.” Xander groaned as she took another look, so she got enjoyment from others’ embarrassment. She saved the world on a regular basis, she was allowed a few vices. “Nigel,” she shook her head and tutted. “That’s just so disappointin’.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (14/?)
Sydney and Nigel were still blushing
when they returned, now clothed in some of the Always Pocket’s supplies. Faith
chortled one last time before letting Xan get down to business. “What precisely
I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more
than I did before,” Sydney paused. “I don’t suppose you have anything to eat?”
“Yeah,” Xander passed the pair a handful of energy bars and a Lucozade each. “You were saying?”
“We were doing a dig at a previously
undiscovered Aztec village-.”
”Those creatures that attacked us were Aztec monsters,” Tara commented.
”You too?” The relic hunter’s keen gaze snapped to Tara. “We got attacked by an Ahuitzotl-.”
”Weren’t the only thing that attacked you,” Faith muttered before grinning lasciviously at Nigel. “Right, English?”
“But anyway,” Sydney continued. “We were supervising the dig when one of our archaeologists started screaming.” The Eurasian beauty shuddered before continuing. “People raced over to the hut to find out what was happening, we thought perhaps a snake attack of some sort. Instead Martina Cruz came out of the tent, completely naked-.”
“Seems to be a lot of that going
Faith chuckled at Kennedy’s mutter.
Nigel glared at the potential, but Sydney continued on, her equilibrium apparently returned. “With this shimmering tattoo covering her, and started killing people.”
”It’s a bestowal spell,” Tara announced.
“A what?” Xander queried.
Faith noticed how unsettled Tara looked when she glanced towards Xander. “A bestowal spell is a spell where a witch or warlock instils part of its life essence into an object or book. That way, if they die, a part of them lives on after their death and can infect a person if they find the object.”
“Nifty trick,” Faith commented.
Tara nodded. “But it’s an immensely powerful spell that only the most experienced of practioners can complete. It has other problems too, the spell comes in 12 stages, each stage to be cast at a full moon and be accompanied by a blood sacrifice, and the practioner is weakened for a few days after each casting.” Tara looked from her to Sydney. “Did you happen to catch a name?”
Sydney shook her head. “Excuse me,” Nigel raised a hand, “she was doing a little grand-standing and said her name was Citalli.”
Tara looked towards Xander. “Please can I have the laptop and Eternal Archive?”
“Sure can, boss.” Xander grinned as he passed the objects over.
“This spell, can it be broken?” Sydney asked.
Tara looked up from setting up the computer. “Not without killing the host I’m afraid. We’ll have to find the object that housed the spell, destroy it, and then the spell will snap like an over-extended string.”
“Oh,” Sydney’s shoulders slumped. “I suppose death might be preferable to the knowledge you’ve murdered almost two dozen of your friends.”
A gloomy silence fell as Tara worked at
her computer, occasionally turning to the Eternal Archive, muttering book titles
and flicking through its pages. When the witch looked up, her face was drawn
with tension. “Citalli was killed in 1421, she was quite a power in this area
known as ‘Bane Of The Gods’ and ‘Dread Of Empires’, she was largely considered
the most feared witch in the Aztec Empire at that time.”
Faith whistled. “Heavy duty.” She blinked at Tara’s stare. “What? My make-up smeared or somethin’?”
“According to a Watcher Diary of the time, the people who killed the first Citalli were a Watcher and a Slayer,” Tara licked her lips, “but the Slayer died in the attempt.”
“And yet the Watcher didn’t, imagine my surprise,” Faith raised an eyebrow. “Guess I’ll be popular at the reunion then.” She shot Kennedy a warning glare. “Don’t even.”
“There’s something else,” everyone
looked back at Tara. “I think the bestowal spell had only just been finished
when she was killed last time.”
“Why?” Xander queried.
“Well the Watcher’s journal says,” Tara flitted through the Archive’s pages before nodding and beginning to read, “’Eloise performed her duties adequately today. However it must be said that Citalli did not perform up to expectations, given the names she has had been given. Yes, she was formidable in battle, but hardly the empire-shaker that I was led to believe.”
Faith glared at Tara. “Jeez, like I
said, you should be our morale officer, I mean fuck!”
”Calm down,” Xander said with a smile. “We’ve beaten vampires, witches, demons, voodoo witches, Chaos Lords, the Council. This is just another obstacle.”
* * *
Citalli’s eyes hardened as her remote viewing spell zeroed in on the small camp. She’d intended to investigate the near-by area for potential resources and obstacles, but what she’d found was more than a little worrying. Sydney and Nigel she recognised, but the others. The bigger brunette, she had to be a Slayer from the way she moved, that bitch had to be one of them.
Citalli smiled. At least she’d get to kill another one of those bitches, and this one slowly, she’d not had time to enjoy the first one’s death for daring to challenge her.
And the man, he was interesting. He carried himself as a warrior, a man of power. Perhaps he was the Slayer’s Watcher, he was young for it, but the only one of her companions to fit the bill.
Whatever he was, was unimportant. What he was to become was far more important. A woman of power, a woman meant to rule, required a suitable consort.
Her smile widened as she turned to her amassed followers and uttered a few commands. Soon he would be hers.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (15/?)
“Okay,” Xander looked towards Tara, “you’re our magic expert, give us your plan?”
“My plan?” Tara flushed then nodded at Xander’s patient stare. “Okay,” she gathered her thoughts with a long drawn-out breath. “Citalli’s very powerful-.” She stopped at Faith’s raised hand. “What?”
“You keep sayin’ this witch is so powerful, how come she didn’t conquer a really big area?” Faith queried.
“Well,” Tara looked down at the Eternal
Archive as she gathered her thoughts, “she did conquer about half a dozen
near-by villages, but my guess is the Aztecs had a lot of mages, not many as
powerful as she was, but enough to give her pause.”
”The time period was possibly a factor.” Everyone looked towards Nigel who hurriedly clarified. “The roads and modes of transport at this time meant it would take weeks to travel distances we could manage in hours, perhaps she couldn’t afford to over-extend herself.”
“So with the improved transportation system and cars, she could be a real threat,” Kennedy grimaced.
After a moment’s silence, Tara continued. “As I said, the object containing the spell’s the key, the only way to destroy her. My guess is she’ll keep it close to herself, we destroy it-,” she blinked when Faith raised her hand again. “Faith?”
The brunette Slayer’s face was unusually tense and thoughtful. “How will we know what the object is? Is there a special ritual to destroying it?”
“When we’re close enough, I’ll be able
to sense it, it’s a real powerful black arts spell,” Tara replied. “As for
destroying the object, that’ll be easy, the object itself isn’t magic, just the
power inside it. Just destroy it in the same way you’d destroy it if it was
just a normal object. If it’s a book tear the pages out or burn it. If it’s an
amulet, break it.”
”Cool,” Faith nodded.
“Her powers are extensive, but she’s still only human and can be exhausted,” Tara said.
“We should go in at night and try and catch her unawares,” Xander commented.
Tara nodded. “When we attack, I think
it’s best that Xander and I engage her, while Faith sneaks in and goes for the
object. The rest of you should-.”
”El Craneo!” Sydney let out a scream as a disembodied head, no make that a swarm of disembodied skulls flew out of the surrounding trees, their jaws open displaying their rotting teeth.
* * *
Faith’s eyes bulged in disbelief as she struggled to take in the horde of disembodied heads flying at them, their jaws chomping hungrily through the air. This was whack, even for them. “Gross much!” Faith pulled out her sword and leapt ten feet up into the air, aiming a kick into the mouth of a head swooping down on her from the left, the blow sending the skull somersaulting into one of Tara’s fireballs. At the same time Faith brought her sword down to cleave through a skull coming from her right. The moment she began to descend, Faith glided into a sideways roll and then a back-flip that landed her directly behind Nigel, her sword backhand slashing to the left to take a skull swooping in on the oblivious Englishman in its jaw and out the other side.
Faith was moving through the chaotic camp before the monster’s remains hit the ground. Seeing another one flying towards her, she leapt over it, bringing her feet down on its head, driving it into the ground, hard enough to shatter it. “Owww!” Another flew in, forcing her to lean back at the waist, its foul, stale breath making her nose wrinkle as it flew past her.
Again she hit the ground, but she bounced off the grass like it was a trampoline and into a jumping roundhouse kick that sent a skull flying away, and then she was landing again, her sword thrusting upwards and through a descending skull’s jaw and up through its head, cracking it like an egg.
The thing fell away in two halves, shattering still further when it the ground. “Shit!” Faith fell forward and into the skull’s remains as another head flew in at her, gliding smoothly into a forward roll and up into a back-heel, shoulder-high kick that crashed into the skull as it started to turn towards her. Faith’s dark mane snapped from side to side as she spun around to face the now drunkenly bobbing skull, her sword cleaving down through the top of its head and out of its jaw, the pieces clattering to the ground.
And then just like that, the skulls were either demolished or retreating, Faith cast a look around their camp to check on the others, her heart catching at what she saw. “Xan!” she huskily demanded. “Where’s Xander!”
* * *
Xander’s eyes widened as the disembodied heads swooped in. “And just when you thought life couldn’t get any weirder,” he muttered as he reached in the Always Pocket for a couple of Desert Eagles.
“Owwww!” An awesomely powerful hand smashed into his shoulders with knee-buckling force. “What the-?” He turned his head, jaw dropping at the sight that greeted him.
His assailant was an eight-foot tall, hairless ape-like creature with gigantic muscles and a brutish demeanour. Its blood-eyes stared unblinkingly at him, its lantern-jaw slightly open and the nostrils in its snout-like nose flaring challengingly. His blood raced as Xander attempted to bring his guns up, but before he had chance to pull the safeties off, the creature had its hand around his throat, choking him.
Then he was airborne, his flight only ending when he crashed with root-shaking force into a tree and slid to the ground. “Oh boy,” Xander put his hand on the ground and shoved up, regaining his feet in time to catch a spade-sized slap to the side of his head. His head rang as he tried and failed to grasp a weapon out of the Always Pocket, only just managing to duck under another slap even as he kicked out at the creature, his foot bouncing discouragingly off its rounded belly. And then a backhand to the jaw lifted him from his feet and dumped him back down, a kick to the ribs driving the air from his lungs, leaving him unable to do anything but wheeze and gag.
The last thing he saw was the foot of the creature’s foot coming down at his dazed face.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (16/?)
”Xan! Xan!” Faith’s heart pounded as she searched frantically through the surrounding foliage, hoping against hope that Xander had been thrown clear in the skirmish and was simply lying injured somewhere. When she couldn’t find him, she stalked back into the clearing, her insides twisting. “No one takes my man!” she growled. “Get your gear together, we’re going after bitchy witchy! No cow is gonna make my man her concubine!”
“Well as he’s a male, technically he’s a
concubinus rather than a -.” Kennedy paled at her searing glare. “Although I
can see that’s not really important right now.”
”Xander said we should wait for night.”
Faith’s head whipped towards Tara. “In case you ain’t noticed, Xan ain’t here anymore ‘cause that bitch took her!” Faith grated.
Tara jumped slightly. “Um, good point.”
Faith forced herself to calm and shot her sis an apologetic look. “Look, anyone who don’t wanna come, stay here, but I ain’t waitin’, just stay outta my way ‘cause hell will be five steps behind me!”
“Of course we’re coming!” Kennedy snapped back at her. “It’s Xander! We’re not gonna just leave him!”
“He wouldn’t be here if not for us,” Nigel agreed.
”Kay,” Faith forced a smile. “We’ll have to take the weapons we’ve got here.” Damn that bitch for taking Xander’s Always Pocket. “Two swords, a couple of shotguns, and a pair of Berettas.” Faith looked towards Kennedy. “We got loads for them?”
“A box each for the shotguns and a spare
magazine each for the Berettas.”
”Good,” Faith nodded at the Potential’s terse report. “Ken, you’re on pistols, Syd, Nigel, take a shotgun each. Tar, you know you’re on spells.” Faith picked up the swords. “I’m on hack and slash.”
* * *
“He’s here! He’s here!” Citalli bounced up and down on the spot, clapping her hands as the ogre strode in, the unconscious man slumped in its arms. Citalli threw back her head and laughed. It was irritating having to use up her servants’ corpses to create an army of beasts she remembered from her people’s mythologies, but there was entire world of people she could use in her spells, and he was so worth it.
Once the ogre had placed the man on the prepared cairn made out of the village’s rubble, she approached and tore his shirt open, tongue sliding over her lips at the muscles revealed. “So pretty,” she panted. He was more powerfully built than the farm workers and hunters she remembered, a sort of rough vitality to him. And the scars that adorned him, her fingers trailed down a years-old scar on the right side of his chest. Clearly he was a formidable warrior.
Citalli reluctantly stepped back, brow furrowing in thought. Now there was the question of what to do with him. It was easiest of course to just kill and then re-animate him, binding him permanently to her by the re-animation. However such a spell would rob him of much of his vitality and personality, qualities she’d found so desirable when eavesdropping on him.
“The blood magics,” she muttered, lips creasing up in a smile. Yes of course, she could bind him to her via the blood arts, a longer, more arduous route, but one that kept most of the man. A smile on her face, she began daubing ceremonial paint all over the tethered man’s chest. When she’d finished, she stepped back and nodded, clearing her head as she began to concentrate on the spell ahead of her.
“Hey bitchy witchy, I just know you’re gonna keep your hands off my man.”
* * *
Faith forced her impatience under control as they hiked the last mile to the excavated village, the SUV left behind for fear the car would be heard approaching, as she slowed her pace so the less ‘enhanced’ could keep up with her. Finally though, they crept through the final copse to peer down on the village just a few yards away. “What the fuck,” Faith hissed in outrage, “is that bitch doin’ with X?”
“Good lord,” Nigel muttered. “Some of the others are still alive.”
“No,” Tara shook her head, “they’re zombies re-animated by her. Faith, you see
that bulky leather-bound book under her arm, I bet that’s where the bestowal
spell was kept.”
”Kay,” Faith forced her anger away she continued to glare holes into the naked Latina’s back. “Here’s the plan, Ken, I wanna you take Syd and Nige to the east and attack from there.”
“But our colleagues,” Nigel muttered, “if they’re still alive-.”
“Their bodies will be enspelled,” Tara whispered. “When
Citalli dies, her power to animate them goes with them.”
Sydney took a rattling breath and nodded. “Okay then,” Kennedy spoke before nodding to the east, “come on.”
“Tar,” Faith took a breath before glancing towards her best friend, “I’m gonna go play rope a dope with the witch.” Tara stared blankly at her. “I’m gonna let her beat the snot out of me, then when I’ve got her exhausted, I wanna you to come in fast and hard, distract her long enough for me to get that book.”
”Risky, I know, but we don’t have the Always Pocket, so I can’t magic up a rocket launcher and blow the fuck out of her.” Faith forced a smile as she rotated her neck from side to side. “So I’m gonna have to be the rocket launcher.”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (17/?)
Citalli turned at the sultry voice, smiling slightly as she noted the approaching beauty’s determined yet loose-limbed stalk. “You’re the Slayer,” she greeted. “I killed a Slayer.”
“So I heard,” the brunette smirked at her, “weren’t me.” The Slayer threw her head back and laughed. “By the by, congrats on your nerve, no really.” The dark-eyed beauty licked her lips before continuing with a smirk. “If I had that pot-belly I wouldn’t dream of goin’ naked.”
“You bitch!” Citalli’s hand came up. “Die!”
* * *
“Not fuckin’ likely!” Faith flung herself into a leaping side-ways roll, the possessed woman’s energy burst scorching the grass where she’d stood. Faith hit the ground on her side and rolled back up in time to back-flip out of the way of another energy blast. Faith powered through the fingers of her hands stretched out behind her to leap back up into a crouch and then into a split-legged leap frog over yet another attack. “Ah come on,” she taunted, “I thought you were meant to be bad-, shittt!”
Pain exploded through her side when the witch’s energy blast cascaded into her, dropping her on her ass. Sweat poured into her eyes as she wheezed for air, nothing but instinct causing her to feint a roll to the left, then dive desperately to the right. The stench of burning grass filled her nostrils as she leapt up, conscious of the blood leaking out of her side, dripping down her. “Man,” she blustered as she kipped up in time to duck under yet another energy blast that would probably taken her head off if she hadn’t, “you really, really suck at this.”
The witch let out an inarticulate scream before raising her hand to shoot off another blast, Faith charged in, only to be forced to leap behind a crumbling stone wall when the witch’s blast hit it, then leap over the four foot wall and scramble on, weaving left and right to avoid the bulging-eyed witch’s blasts.
At least that was the theory.
“Jesus!” Faith screamed as a blast caught her on her left thigh, the pain lashing into the muscle as she fell and rolled instinctively away from a follow-up attack. “Oh fuck!” Faith groaned as she rolled up to her feet, hurt ravaging her body. Xander better appreciate the hammering she was gettin’ on his behalf.
Seeing the witch racing in, a gleefully wicked smile twisting her coffee-skinned features, Faith reached out, grabbed a baseball sized stone and flung it with all her might at the witch, her eyes widening when the rock exploded in mid-air. ‘Kay, this bitch wasn’t interested in playin’ fair at all.
Faith placed her palm down on the ground and shoved up, long mane snapping from side to side as she made her feet. She tried a kick with her injured leg. “Jesus!” she screamed as the witch blocked her weakened attack and then twisted her ankle, injured thigh muscle rippling and shredding in protest.
Even as she fell, Faith was fighting, her other foot coming up to catch the sorcereress in the gut, knocking her back a step, pained shock on her face. Faith’s eyes widened as the woman’s hand came up and rolled to her right, the energy blast singing the ground where she’d been laid. Faith leapt in before the woman could right her aim, hard elbow cracking into the woman’s jaw knocking her back a step.
The witch’s eyes hardened as blood flew from her mouth. Suddenly Faith couldn’t breath, the air in her lungs dissipating and her throat constricting narrower than a straw as her knees buckled beneath her. ‘Kay, Faith sent out a mental message to Tara, this is all your show, sis. Make your move ‘fore I can’t make mine.
* * *
Citalli smiled as the Slayer hit the ground, the little bitch’s healthy colour rapidly replaced for the greyish pallor and desperate thrashing of one dying an agonising but fast death, her tortured wheezing sweet music.
“They’re my friends, and I won’t let you
Citalli’s breath caught at the honey-blonde who stepped out of the trees just outside the village. Even at the distance she could sense the young woman’s power, power that surpassed her own by some measure. Citalli calmed her fears with a smile, she was stronger yes, but smarter?
Citalli brought her shields up just in time to block the rampaging power crashing towards her, teeth gritting in determination as they did battle. Sweat beaded down her forehead even as she planned her counter-offence. She scowled as the Slayer crawled away, but didn’t do anything to stop her, secure in the knowledge she could finish her off at her leisure.
Instead she fired off a bolt at the witch, smirking slightly as the witch managed to block her attack, but failed to block a second attack she’d sent off a half-second later. Her opponent staggered, sweat soaking her taut features. Yes, that would be her strategy, not merely attempting to bludgeon the witch’s defences away, but a series of small, fast attacks that caused her opponent to have to constantly adapt. Let her adversary wear herself out, and then when she made her inevitable mistake, she’d pounce on her.
“Hey bitch, can’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Citalli turned her head, the colour draining from her face as she saw the until this moment forgotten Slayer now stood by the cairn where she’d tied her soon to be consort, her book in one hand and a brass Zippo lighter in the other. “Noooo!” she screamed, hand raising as the Slayer winked and lit her book on fire, the flames eating hungrily at the pages.
Her vision blurred and legs grew weak, she barely managed a single panicked step towards the Slayer before her legs betrayed her, plunging her to the ground.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (18/?)
Faith whistled at the city’s skyline, towering skyscrapers competing for attention with more traditional buildings. “A few days’ holiday you say?” Faith glanced up at her boy-friend.
Xander glanced away from the road and to her sat beside him. “Seemed the least I could do after all the trouble you went to saving my life.”
”As thanks for saving your life,” Faith paused then flashed a gleaming smile, “don’t suck.”
“She didn’t do it on her own you know,” Kennedy ruined the moment with a chirp-in.
“You’re both here aren’t you,” Faith grunted. Her eyes widened as they drove up a vast palm-tree lined drive towards what looked to be a huge pyramid with a flat roof with a gleaming blue triangle on it, flanked by two pairs of only slightly smaller pyramids. “What the hell is this place?”
“This is the Gran Melia Resort,” Xander explained.
“They’re designed to look like the Mayan pyramids,” Tara explained. “The Mayans were very big around here. It’s Cacun’s number one resort with pools, tennis courts, and spas, and everything!”
“Cool,” Faith nodded approvingly. Just the sorta place she needed to go after the beating she’d taken, somewhere where she could rest up for a few days.
They pulled up outside the hotel’s marbled steps and jumped out, a valet taking her man’s keys and driving their SUV away. Faith’s amazement only grew when she walked inside the lobby. She’d been in some places in her time, but this blew them all away.
The palm-tree filled lobby seemed to go up forever, Faith having to crick her neck to look up to the ceiling. And everything gleamed, the golden window frames that went up to the ceiling and every scrupulously cleaned glass. “Wicked.” Faith muttered as she followed Xan over to the reception desk and listened to him stumble over a few sentences of high school Spanish before the smiling and far too exotic-looking receptionist took pity on him and explained that she spoke English.
Then minutes later, the bell-hop was guiding them into the glass elevator, and taking them up in his soundless elevator, then they were in their room and Faith was peering over their balcony’s rail, whistling at the white sand and vast pool. “This is one helluva place, lover,” she peered up at the man with his arms around her waist, his chest resting against her shoulder-blades. “Thanks for bringin’ me here.”
”You’re welcome,” Xander smiled down at her.
”Nah,” Faith shook her head, an impish smile tugging at her lips. “I ain’t thanked you properly yet.” Faith turned to face Xan and winked. “Let’s get you on that bed so I can start thankin’ you properly.”
Xander’s grin widened, his dark eyes sparkling. “I like that idea.”
”Well duh,” Faith grabbed Xander’s hand and pulled him into the immaculately furnished room.
* * *
Three hours later and they were
showering the sweat and sex off themselves when Faith looked trailed her fingers
down Xan’s still wet chest. “What we doin’ tonight, lover?”
Xander shot her that infuriating grin of
his, the one that only he could get away with shooting at her. “That’s a
”Asshole,” Faith smirked. “And I was thinkin’ of doin’ that special thing you really like but I don’t tonight.”
Xander gulped. “Seriously?” Faith
shrugged as she kept her eyes on Xander and reached for a towel off the rail to
dry her hair with. “Okay,” Xander gulped again. “We’re going to Coco Bongo,
one of the hottest clubs in the city. I don’t wanna say too much, just that
it’ll blow your mind.”
“Sounds good,” Faith commented. “Now, I need somebody’s help choosing my outfit. Whatever will I do?”
* * *
“Look good honey?”
Xander’s Adam’s Apple did that cute little dance she loved when she exited the changing room wearing a leather mini that left plenty of sleekly muscled thigh showing, her injury there already healed, and a gleaming black halter top that stopped traffic. “Oh yeah,” he nodded.
Faith shot her boy-friend a grin. She never got tired of that reaction. “Wicked, then let’s get the others and head out.”
* * *
It was just gone nine when they left the hotel, the night still light and relatively warm as they strode through the busy city. Faith whistled as they approached the club, the sound of ska booming out from it audible over a street away. Its front was another one of these mock-Mayan area the place seemed so found of, its front decorated with a string of illuminated, artificial palm-trees and the neon name sign above the entrance gleaming an orangey red. “Whoa, big.”
Inside was even bigger and completely chaotic. They followed the general crowd up into a series of escalators that took them up to the top of the club, where they found themselves in a teeming, amphitheatre type nightclub. The club consisted of a main stage high up to the front with a central bar where people were being served. Xander grabbed her forearm and pointed towards the tiers of seating, the lower ones being like bleachers you’d find at a football game, with the higher levels being dominated by private tables. Faith nodded in understanding as she followed Xander up the tiers, the club shaking to music and strobe lighting dancing everywhere.
Suddenly she gasped as she caught sight of acrobats leaping around in the ceiling. “Holy shit!”
Brightly coloured balloons suddenly fell from the ceiling and doors flew open as what looked to be the Mask, Wonder Woman, and Elvis Presley ran out into the massed crowd, throwing Tequila shots down patrons’ throats even as confetti streamers followed the balloons down. Suddenly the Salsa band on the stage were replaced by looked like to be a Ricky Martin impersonator, prompting people to leap on the central bar and start a freakin’ Congo line.
Faith grinned and laughed, amusement sparkling in her eyes as a waiter hurried over, took a $ 100 bill off Xander and their order. Man, this was gonna be a blast.
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (19/20)
Four and a half hours later and they were leaving the club, Faith buzzing after several hours spent dancing, listening to blasting music, and being entertained by a series of mind-blowing acts – fire-eaters, acrobats, and celebrity impersonators. “Man,” Faith elbowed Xan in the ribs as they burst out of the humid club and into the refreshingly cool night, the street gleaming with all the lights beaming down on them, “that was one hell of a club. Thanks Xan.”
“Thanks to you, too,” Xander replied with a grin that broadened at her puzzled look. “Remember I’ve got that special thing that I really love but you’re not keen on to look forward to.”
“Oh yeah,” Faith shook her head as she linked arms with her man and started down the busy street filled with club-goers on their way home, their laughter and the club’s pounding disco floating across the cool air. “Where we gonna go tom-, tonight?” she corrected herself as she remembered it was already early morning.
“I’ve booked us a table at La Habichuela,” Xander replied, “one of Cancun’s most famous restaurants. It serves Caribbean seafood and traditional Mexican cuisine, all in a Mayan setting.” Her boy-friend grinned at her. “No clubbing tonight, not all of us have the stamina you have.”
“I think it’s all those extra months on ya, boy-toy,” Faith winked teasingly. “Makes ya old.”
“Might be all the enhancements you have too,” Xander replied.
”Hey this is all my own stuff, no surgeon’s been near me,” Faith fired back.
Tara’s cry and pointing finger directed Faith to look towards three guys leading a couple of girls down a near-by alleyway. “So they got lucky, good for ‘em,” Faith shrugged.
”The men, they’re vampires!” Tara hissed in her ear. “None of them have auras.”
”Ah crap,” Faith palmed the stake Xander discreetly handed her. “Tar, you and Ken, go ‘round the long way and cut them off. Shit,” Faith’s eyes narrowed as she noticed some more movement in the shadows, “there’s two more of them at least. Come on, X.”
* * *
Faith’s heart was pounding when she hit the alleyway, entering it at a run that had the demons only just beginning to turn when she hit the first of them, her foot catching him in his lower back, knocking him off balance and face-first into the wall. Before she could press her attack she was ducking under another demon’s wild haymaker, all power no technique, the two girls’ screams filling her ears as she stepped into the attacker, feinted with a staking, then drove her knee into the handle-bar moustached man’s crotch.
Even as the demon doubled up the two, no make that three she’d missed one, vampires lurking in the shadows burst out of the darkness and into the attack. Faith grimaced as she sidestepped the first vampire’s wild right, hooked his arm with her free arm, and twisted at the waist, flinging him into the still doubled up vampire. Before Faith could press her attack, another charged in, the worn baseball bat in his left hand swinging down in an attempted skull-crushing.
Faith felt the wind of the bat’s passing before her as she pulled her head back, her free hand swinging up to grab the end of the bat, stop it, then reverse its descent, swinging it up and into the vampire’s face. Bone shattered and blood burst from the demon’s left eye, fortunately though its pain was short-lived, mainly because Faith slammed her stake through its chest.
Even as the vampire exploded into dust, one of its companions swung a bike chain at Faith’s head, forcing her to drop into a squat under the attack then spring up with her stake, the weapon powering through muscle and bone to slam into the vampire’s unbeating heart, and dust him. Faith looked around, seeing Xan had also dealt with two of the vampires, the other two having took to their heels and fled. “Reassure these two,” Faith glanced towards the wailing party-goers. Blondes, couldn’t you just tell from all the screeching. “I’ll check on Tar and the Brat, you reassure them. Only,” she winked at her boy-toy, “don’t be too reassuring, less you wanna lose your under-carriage, stud.”
Faith was still laughing when she reached the other end of the alley to find Tara and Kennedy just running around the corner. “You get them?” she demanded.
Tara shook her head. “No, we’ve only
just got here.”
”Damn it,” Faith shook her head. “They musta got away,” Faith shrugged. They’d done their best, saved two people, killed four demons, pretty fair night’s work. She wasn’t gonna get broody over it, as long as they always did the best, they had to take the victories where they got ‘em. “Let’s grab Xan from his fan-club and get back to the hotel.”
* * *
Jean LaFitte, former notorious 19th century pirate and a vampire for almost two centuries, looked up when a pair of his minions stumbled into the underground cavern that had once been a secret warehouse for their bounty but now served as their base. “Weren’t you supposed to be bringing the entertainment?” his brother growled from his position.
“We had a couple of co-eds, but then these hunters crashed the party,” snivelled one of the men, a tall, lean man with a scar down his left cheek and a slight squint in the same eye.
“There were six of you,” Pierre growled as he leaned forward, impatience etched on his brother’s face. “How many hunters were there?”
“Just two,” the other of the survivors admitted, a tall, portly man Jean had turned some fifty years ago after being impressed by the man’s fighting prowess. “But the woman moved like silk and fought like a tiger.”
“Woman you say?” Pierre cast him a
worried look. “Do you think?”
”That it could be the Slayer?” Jean nodded after a second. “There’s usually four of them all travelling together, but it could be.” Jean re-directed his gaze to the two survivors. “Gather the men together, tomorrow night we strike at the Slayer before she can kill us!”
FIC: 61. Dec ‘02 Give A Lobo A Bad Name (20/20)
La Habichuela, Cancun
Faith stared hungrily around as they entered the famed restaurant’s garden. After a night spent swimming in and relaxing by the pool, she was eager to stuff herself on the best food Mexico had to offer.
The restaurant was a sculpted garden filled with aromatic plants and traditional Mexican trees decorated with fairy lights, and Mayan statues planted strategically on the stone floor to create a rather beautiful illusion of Mayan ruins under starlight while in the background, a group of musicians dressed as charros played Mexican folk music. Course some of the beauty was kinda lost on her, what with an Aztec witch nearly sacrificing her man a few days earlier, still it was a nice effect.
Their hostess led them to their table, smiled politely, placed some menus in the centre of the table then hurried off. Faith smiled at Xander as he held her chair out for as she slinked into position and sat down, her little black dress pulling up slightly. “Thanks hon,” she purred as her boy-friend hurried around the round, white table-clothed table doing the same for each of their companions before himself sitting down and passing the menus around.
Faith grabbed the menu opened it up, eyebrows rising at the prices. It was lucky her honey was a billionaire, ‘cause back in her broke days she’d fed herself for a week on what the appetisers cost here. “Jesus,” she mumbled as her eyes scanned the items and their prices, “they better come on gold plates for what they charge here.”
“What was that, Faith?”
Faith looked up from the menu and smiled
at Xander. “I was just decidin’ what to order.”
”And?” Xander smiled back at her.
Kennedy grinned across the table at her. “You gonna leave anything for the rest of us?” the potential challenged.
”Why would here be any different?” Tara laughed.
* * *
Two hours later and even Faith’s Slayer appetite was beginning to feel sated. Faith smirked at her boy-friend, about to compliment on his choice of restaurant when something set her Slayer Sense jangling. Eyes narrowing, Faith looked around, her heart dropping as she saw a gang of seven men and four women coming through the garden’s archway entrance. “Fuck,” she grunted before looking towards Xan, “see that gang by the entrance, ain’t human.”
Xander sighed. ”Just one day would be nice.” Her boy-friend glanced down as he passed weapons under the table. “Don’t show our hand, wait ‘til they make their move.”
“Sure,” Faith took the holy water vial she carried in her purse, downed her glass of wine in one mouthful, and poured the vial inside. The vamps walked by, almost as if going for one of the far tables, then spun into the attack.
Except the one who grabbed her shoulder got a glass of holy water in her face and fell back with a scream, Faith surging up into a side thrust-kick that caught the demon in the midsection and doubled her up. Even as Faith went for a staking she was hit in the back with her chair, knocking her forward and into the doubled-up vampire.
Faith turned the situation to her advantage, grabbing the back of the demon’s head and utilising her stumble’s momentum to carry her into a roll over her adversary’s back and coming up to face her other attacker even as she back-heeled the bent double vampire in the face. Faith ducked under the swinging chair and jammed a stake deep into the chair-wielder’s thigh.
”Aaaaah!” Even as the chair fell from the wounded demon’s grip and he stumbled backwards, Faith leapt up and at him, leaping up until her knees were level with his face, then driving them both into his face, and bringing her stake down on her descent, driving through its chest.
Even as the demon exploded into dust, Faith was pirouetting into a roundhouse thrust kick, her heel catching another of the vampires full in the face and knocking him five feet into another table, knocking it and several of the customers sat around it to the ground. Faith changed direction with a grace that would have turned Olympic gymnasts green with envy and back-flipped to the downed demon’s side, her stake streaking down at its chest.
“Damn!” she grunted as the vampire grabbed her wrist just inches from her target, and elbow to the ribs knocking her down on her side.
The moment she hit the ground, Faith was rolling away from any further attack and back up in time to block a right cross from another demon on her forearm, hook the demon’s leg with her arm then leg-sweep his grounded leg from under him, leaping onto the vampire before he had chance to even register his precarious position and drive her stake home. “Owww!” Faith grunted as a knee from another demon caught her on her jaw, knocking her on her ass.
Blood bubbled up in her mouth as Faith allowed the blow’s momentum to carry her through into a backwards roll. Seeing the on-rushing vampire, Faith balled up her fists and waited. Then sidestepped at the last second, snatching up a carving knife off a near-by table and driving it through the back of the demon’s neck and all the way through to the front, the demon bursting into dust as Faith came under attack from another vampire.
It was the first vampire, the one whose face she’d burnt, and she looked a little irritated. Faith reeled away from the demon’s attempted follow-up stomp, then snatched a candle off a near-by table for two and flung it at the vampire. The demon let out a pained shriek as it ignited, running heedlessly past her.
* * *
Xander’s foot hit the table as he rose, crockery and cutlery falling to the ground as he came up, Desert Eagles with ‘Vamp-Buster ammo’ loaded in them. The first two vampires were dust before they even knew it, the guns bucking mightily in his hands as he blew their heads off. He caught another as it ran it, blowing its head off, but then a demon got behind him, grabbed his collar, and threw him from his feet.
Xander grunted as he hit the ground, wind gusting out of him as he caught a kick to the ribs, then utilised his assailant’s attack as momentum to roll out of the way of a second kick and up to his knees. Xander grinned as he saw his assailant running towards him on a fallen tablecloth, reached out, grabbed the nearest end and pulled with all his might. The vampire’s eyes widened as his balance went and he fell on his ass, only getting up in time to be met with a blast to his face that took his head off.
And just like that it was over.
“I bet this attack has something to do with those vampires we slayed yesterday,” Tara commented, “they must have thought we were after them.”
“Delusions of adequacy,” Xander shook
his head, “don’t you just hate them.”
”Heh,” Faith chuckled. “You’ve been labouring under them for years, dude.”
“Just as a note, Xander,” Kennedy spoke up as they hurried from the carnage. “The vacation idea was a nice one, but if we never have to come back here it’ll be too soon.”
“Amen to that,” Faith earnestly agreed.
Xander let out a long-suffering sigh. There was never any gratitude. “I’ll book the tickets out of here in the morning,” he promised.
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