FIC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (1/?)
"Mr. Stark," Tony looked down at his desk’s steel intercom, "your 1:30 is here."
"Thanks Pepper, the rest of my afternoon is free?"
"Yes Tony," his friend and personal assistant replied.
"Good, then if I get any calls from anyone bar Jim I want you to stall them until tomorrow," he instructed. "Could you send him in?"
"Thanks." Stark rose as the door opened, a smile pulling at his mouth as the young man walked in through his office’s glass doors. "Xander! You didn’t bring the girls with you?"
"Eh, no Mr. Stark," Tony didn’t bother correcting the lad. These days Xander always started off calling him ‘Mr. Stark’ but loosened up eventually to call him ‘Tony’. "They went shopping."
"Ah." The two men shared a sympathetic shiver. "If you’d have told me, I know a few boutique owners who’d have been more than happy to close their shops for the girls for a few hours." Something he’d done for several of his girl-friends over the years.
Xander stared at him, eyes horrified. "What are you trying to do, bankrupt me?"
"Sorry should have thought." Tony grinned as he motioned towards Xander’s seat and sat down himself. "But you’ll all come out for dinner at my place, tonight?"
"Love to," Xander sat down.
"Excellent," Tony’s beam momentarily widened then he sobered. "Now what did you want to see me for?"
"Yeah," the youth licked his lips. "I want to financially re-structure the Mithras Brotherhood."
"Oh," Tony pulled out his calculator. He’d thought Xander’s remark about the girls bankrupting him was a joke but apparently not. "You’re having problems?"
"Sorry?" Xander looked briefly confused then let out an embarrassed laugh. "No, nothing like that." The youth shook his head, expression sobering. "My people are out there risking their lives in my name every single day. The least I can do for them is make sure they can afford the best to fight with. The best equipment, the best medical care, the best information, the best everything."
"Ah," Tony nodded. It was a laudable thought and one that deserved commendation, but if he knew Xander like he thought he did, praising the boy would only embarrass him further. "Catch me up, how many Mithras Branches are there?"
"Forty-four." Xander coughed. "Well not exactly, but some of the team leaders have split their branches into two because of the size of the area they’re dealing with."
Tony nodded as he tapped at his calculator. "And each one has a trust fund of one hundred and fifty million dollars?" Xander nodded. Tony whistled as the figures came up on his calculator. "That’s a current outlay of six point six billion dollars."
"Sounds about right," Xander agreed.
Jesus, Tony resisted the temptation to shake his head. That was one hell of a
private army Harris had. "Okay, so how do you want this financial re-structuring
"Okay," Xander reached into his Always Pocket and pulled out a reporter’s notepad. "I’ve just done some scribbling on it. I thought it’s not really fair that a group with just fifteen members get the same amount as a group with forty, so I separated the groups into three groups, the first with less than twenty members, they get one hundred and seventy million each."
"How many groups are that size?"
"Huh," Xander glanced at his notes then up at him, "Eleven."
"Okay," Tony tapped at his calculator. "In that case you have a current outlay of 1,650,000,000 dollars and a new outlay of 1,925,000,000. An increase of two hundred and seventy five million."
"My next group would be for branches with twenty one to thirty members in them." Xander looked at his notes. "Seventeen branches fall into that group."
"Okay," Tony worked at his calculator. "Current outlay is 2,550,000,000." Tony looked at his guest. "And what’ll you increase their numbers to?"
"One ninety a group."
"That puts your outlay up to 3,230,000,000, an increase of 680,000,000," Tony looked towards his companion. Somehow he guessed Xander had enough intelligence to do the maths for himself, but just wanted the reassurance of someone being his sounding-board.
And if that meant he got to spend some time with the young man he regarded more or less as his protégé that was fine by him. "And the remaining sixteen have a current total outlay of 2,400,000,000 dollars. How much do you want this group to go up to?"
"Huh," Xander looked down at his notes. "This is for the groups with over thirty members. I’ve decided to increase the funding to two hundred and ten million dollars."
"Okay," Tony whistled as he worked on his calculator. "That’s a total new outlay of 3,360,000,000 dollars, an increase of 940,000,000 dollars. All told your total current funding is 6,600,000,000 dollars, your new funding will be 8,515,000,000 dollars, an increase of 1,915,000,000." Tony looked up at his guest. "That’s a whole lot of dough. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Xander shrugged. "They’re my people. If I can’t fight beside them, I can at least provide for them. And besides it’s only money."
Only money. Tony felt the slightest flutter in his chest at Xander’s words. "How much further do you intend to extend the Brotherhood?"
"Huh," Xander’s brow furrowed. "Well we’re pretty much covered in North America, but I’d like more units in Europe, South America, and Asia, and I’d love to be able to break into Africa and the Middle East. So at least double the number, maybe triple."
Stark’s mind boggled at his young friend’s breadth of ambition. For a second he could scarcely recall the over-come teen he’d first helped guide into the creation of the Brotherhood. "That’s one heck of an outlay, son," he carefully replied. "If all goes to plan, you’ll be spending upwards of thirty billion dollars. Can you afford that?" Tony chuckled. "And don’t say it’s only money, my heart’s weak, kid."
"It’s only -." Xander half-grinned. "Nah, I can’t do it to you. I’ve got my multi-national, my patents, and my own two and a half billion ring-posted for me and my girls-."
"Lucky," Tony grinned back at the kid. "Otherwise I think Faith would probably have your nuts."
"My girl likes her creature comforts," Xander agreed before sobering. "In addition to my own money, I’ve managed to acquire over twenty billion from other sources, so I doubt I’ll be setting up
‘Other sources’. Stark nodded non-committally but in truth he knew full well
about the hacking that Xander had had done, he’d even ever so discreetly
inserted himself in the electronic hacking process and laid a few more false
trails and red herrings. It had been a gutsy move by Xander, but one that could
have blown up in his face and set several of the world’s most corrupt
businesses, powerful crime-lords, and insidious black ops organisations on his
Such audacious moves worried him, but he was hardly one to judge anyone else’s recklessness given his double life. "If you’re sure about this," Stark glanced at his clock, noting with pleasure less than an hour had passed since Xander had come in. "If business is done with, perhaps you can tell me about your recent adventures." He flashed his trademark devil may care smile. "Entertain this desk jockey."
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (2/?)
Cold winds whipped at Elizabeth Twoyoungman’s scantily clad body but she ignored it all as she cast her auguries, brow furrowing in horror at what the powers of the Talisman were telling her. It wasn’t possible, what fool would dare interfere with the mystical order in such an arrogant, off-handed manner? Who of those with the power did not also have the wisdom to understand the consequences?
Doom? Strange? Hellstorm? The Halliwells?
"Ahhh!" Her back arched as a thousand white-hot needles impaled her head, the circlet that was the source of her power seemingly slicing into her forehead as sweat poured down her, muscles shaking as if she suffered from a palsy. Then unconsciousness flung her into a blissfully dark vortex.
* * *
Chicago PD, Special Investigations
Dresden chugged at his beer, a small smile pulling at his face as he listened to Murphy and her fellow cops talk, the companionship of others so precious to one normally on the outside of everything. It was a good day, a case solved and a beer shared with friends, days didn’t-.
"Aaaaah!" Pain shot through him like a lightning bolt, the force of it lifting him from his chair, spinning him around like a top, and flinging him to the ground. His landing drove the air from him, but that was unimportant next to the hollowness inside him and the pain blazing through his skull.
What had just happened?
* * *
Sarah Bailey rolled from side to side in her bed, thrashing wildly, sweat streaming off her despite the night’s relative coolness, her heart hammering and muscles cramping even as her mouth dried and she dry-heaved.
What just happened?
* * *
Mathilda grinned as she and Michael led their team back into their base. A good patrol was one where they didn’t lose anyone. "Any problems?" James queried as he met them at the doorway, the tall marine looming over them.
"No," Mathilda shook her head. "Just a couple of newbies rising, I doubt the city even knew we out tonight."
"Good," Dunn nodded. "Nights where we go unnoticed are definitely the easiest." Dunn’s brow creased as he glanced towards their fellow team leader. "Michael-."
Mathilda spun to face the Sunnydale warlock as his body contorted, his eyes blanking and legs buckling beneath him. "Michael!" Mathilda screamed as she lunged forward and joined James in grabbing the warlock before he hit the ground.
James looked at her, eyes wide with shock. "What just happened?"
* * *
Phoebe awoke with a start, an icy finger trailing down her back. Teeth gritted in determined defiance, she reached for her bedside lamp to ascertain what had wakened her.
"Aaaaah!" A tidal wave of pain crashed over her, hitting her like a dozen tazers electrocuting her until her teeth rattled and the blood pounded in her ears. In the background she could hear her sisters’ cries as the undeniable power also battered them.
* * *
"No." Strange gasped as he awoke, flinging the sheets from him and standing,
casually flinging away the magical barrage assailing him. His eyes narrowed as
he traced the magic to its source and his jaw dropped as he realised the foul
magic’s contemptible intention. Bad enough it had been done once, but to
multiply its evil by condemning not one but thousands of girls to that dark fate
was monstrously short-sighted, heartless, and arrogant. "You foolish, conceited
ninny." He readied himself to tear the spell apart.
The voice that sounded in his head would have driven anyone else unconscious and perhaps comatose. As it was, it almost drove him to his knees. Looking up, he glared at the cosmic being stood hovering above him. "What she plans is an obscenity, a destruction of the natural order."
"And yet," Eternity looked down silently at him, the cosmic being’s expression inscrutable, even as his words echoed inside Strange’s head, "natural orders are destroyed and replaced every day." Eternity raised an eyebrow. "Is that not evolution?"
Strange shook his head. "This foolish child’s plans will affect thousands-."
"And yet it is necessary for what is to come," Eternity replied. "Do not seek to balk me in this Sorcerer Supreme. This witch’s arrogance is ill-planned and yet required for things to continue. This event was written in the annals at the dawn of time, do not seek to change it."
Strange’s shoulders slumped in defeat. "Very well." For all his power he could not hope to stand against one of Eternity’s power and resources, one might as well try and stop the seasons from changing.
* * *
Puerto Rico. A tanned, lithe girl fights a Zaxac, her face creased in concentration.
Paris, France. A muscled teen stalks through a hushed graveyard, stake in hand.
London, England. A pasty girl creeps in the Belgravian shadows.
Madrid, Spain. A girl pants and wheezes as she races from a pair of bulky figures then spins to face them, a sudden determination halting her pursuers.
Seoul, Korea. An Oriental girl leaps from roof to roof, eyes set on the vampire fleeing her.
Tel Aviv, Israel. A girl snapped off a flawless leaping roundhouse kick that flung her rival across the dusty alley.
All these girls and thousands more flashed before her eyes. She’d never seen any of them before and yet she knew immediately, intimately, as if they were related. And in a way they were.
"OH FUCK!" Faith bolted upright in bed, a horrifying realisation crashing over her. "You dumb bitch, B! What in the hell were you playin’ at Red?" Her heart thumping hard enough to make her ribs ache and mouth dry like a desert, Faith reached out, grabbed Xander’s shoulder and gave him a hard shake. "Xan! We got -."
"OH GOD!" At Kennedy’s panic-filled scream Faith’s gaze snapped to the wall
of the adjoining hotel room. "TARA! I DIDN’T MEAN TO!"
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (3/?)
"Shit," Xander’s eyes shot open at the scream, already half-awake from Faith’s rough shaking. "What’s the problem-." He sighed as he saw his nude bar a black g-string girl-friend race out of the flung open door. "Could you have," he threw aside the sheets and hurried after her, "put a robe on or something?"
Following his girl-friend, he hurried into Tara and Kennedy’s room to find a bloodied Tara lying on the ground slumped against the far wall with a distraught Kennedy stood over her. Even as he opened his mouth to counsel Faith against lashing out before they knew what was happening, Faith spoke, her voice oddly soothing, especially considering Tara’s battered condition. "Hey Ken," Faith stepped to the side of the dark-haired potential, "this ain’t your fault. Hell of a kick waking up to that ain’t it?"
Xander’s brow furrowed. What the hell was Faith talking about? Hearing approaching footsteps, probably drawn by the commotion, he quickly shut the door.
"I had a nightmare," Kennedy stared glassy-eyed at Faith. "I thought I---I was -, and suddenly Tara was clawing at my face, screaming, I shoved her off, and she flew across the room, into the wall."
"Well I don’t know what the hell happened to -," Faith’s forehead furrowed. "Shit." Faith began pacing the floor, a thoughtful expression on her face. "Yeah I do, kinda makes sense."
"Glad it does to one of us," Xander muttered before raising his voice. "What’s going on?"
"Oh nothin’ much," Faith turned to face him, which was kinda distracting at the best of times, but especially now when she was practically naked. "Just Red’s turned every Potential throughout the world into a Slayer, and caused a backlash that hit every mage in the world causing our Tar to hit Kennedy in her sleep. And if there’s one thing you don’t wanna do is hit a sleepin’ Slayer."
"I’m a Slayer?" Kennedy gasped as she helped Tara to her feet.
"’Ccording to my dream, yeah," Faith nodded.
"But Slayers can only be Called with the death of a Potential," Xander dared to object.
"Do I look dead?" Faith queried, hand resting on an arched hip.
"Eh, nothing like dead," Xander flushed as he pulled a grey silk robe out of the Always Pocket. "Which reminds me, put a robe on."
"Does she have to?"
Xander shook his head. "At the risk of getting my ass kicked, shut up Kennedy."
* * *
"So there’s a world full of Slayers," Faith paused. "How many Slayers?"
Xander glanced across at Faith. They were all in his and her room, Tara holding an ice-pack to her face while Kennedy continued to bob up and down with a barely controlled energy. As far as Angela’s intelligence went, there was an estimate of around one hundred and seventy-five Potentials in the Council’s care at the time of his destruction of the organisation, but the smart odds were there were far more undiscovered or not scooped up by the Council. "Don’t you know?"
Faith shrugged as she tugged on a grey hoodie. "Hey, it was a freakin’ dream, didn’t come with an in-built commentary, I don’t know why B pulled such a bone-headed move, much less how many gals it affected."
"Why do you think it’s bone-headed?" Kennedy snapped defensively.
"Hey cool your jets kid," Faith paused in pulling on her jeans to eye-ball the new Slayer, "I know you’re buzzin’, but there’s only so much slack I’m gonna give ya."
"Faith," Xander sighed.
"’Kay, whatever," Faith shook her head. "You wanna be a Slayer and that’s great for ya. What ‘bout a girl in Buttfuck, Alabama who just wanted to grow up and be a teacher or a nurse?"
"Is that an actual town?" Kennedy sniffed.
"You’ve been to Alabama, right?" Faith grinned then sobered. "But bein’ a Slayer takes choices away from people, forces them into a life they might not have chosen. Me, it was a step-up, but B’s just drawn a bullseye on the back of every newly Chosen Slayers. Plenty of girls who don’t have a fuckin’ clue why they’re suddenly different." Faith shook her head. "And after always bitchin’ ‘bout how hard it was bein’ a Slayer to me.""
"And you’ve got to consider other possibilities too," Xander glumly commented. "Girls who feel the urge to hunt like you and Faith do, but not having any training or anyone to guide them will get themselves killed first time they face anything even moderately dangerous."
"What if the newly Chosen is a gang member? Or a bullied kid? Or an abused one?" Faith kept out throwing nightmare scenarios. "Hell what would Al-Qaeda do with a couple of them in its ranks? And if some of these Slayers don’t have any ideas about demons and shit, they’d be easy targets for brain-washing by a mage who’d use them as mercenaries."
"There’s something else too," Tara softly commented. "With the creation of what could be thousands of new Slayers, there’s been a huge tip of the cosmic scales in favour of good."
Kennedy’s brow furrowed as she glanced towards her girl-friend. "And that’s a bad thing?"
"It is if you figure bad’s not going to want that to last any length of time," Xander replied for Tara.
"Oh right," Kennedy grimaced. "Not good."
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (4/?)
Kennedy glided through the darkness. As a Potential and training junkie, the lesbian has always had an athlete’s grace, moving like a state-level competitor in gymnastics or track, but now her grace far exceeded that, making him feel ham-footed in comparison.
"Oww!" Xander rubbed at the back of his head as he turned and glared at an in-turn glaring Faith strolling beside him. "What was that for?"
"Two things," Faith hissed. "One, Ken’s gay! Two, you’re mine! So stop staring at her ass!"
"Hey," Xander rubbed at his head. "No fair. I was just comparing-." Faith’s eyes darkened. "No, not like that. I’ve never seen a girl who wasn’t a Slayer become one, the change’s-."
"Really, really hot?"
Xander glared at a smirking Kennedy. "Really not helpin-."
"Gotcha," Faith bumped her hip into his and winked up at him. "Me and Ken figured you’d noticed, I figured I’d be annoyed at you noticin’."
Xander sighed, shoulders slumping. "I’m just a big joke to you all," he commented mournfully.
"Et tu, Tara?" Xander shot the Wicca a wounded look. The girls’ laughter was cut short by screams in the distance. "Ah hell," Xander cursed, smart people ran away from trouble, he spent his life running headlong into it.
* * *
"Come on Awen," Hilma resisted the temptation to look over her shoulder as she made her way through Old Quebec’s winding streets, the shadows cast by the looming buildings surrounding them cloaking them in darkness. Unfortunately those chasing them could see well enough in the dark, and even if they couldn’t, the only sound in the strangely empty streets was the clattering of their feet and their effort-filled panting as they hurried away from their pursuers.
"Sush," Hilma forced a smile as she glanced down at her little precious, her
little miracle after years of trying for a child, "sush for mommy. We’ll be
"No, I’m afraid you won’t."
"Aaaaaah!" Hilma screamed and fell against a wall as a bull-necked, yellow-skinned creature with a single red eye and a mouth filled with jagged teeth stepped out of the shadows just ahead of them.
"We want the child."
"No," Hilma hissed, grabbing her daughter by her shoulders and pushing her behind her, "stay away from my daughter."
The demon let out a mocking cackle. "Come now, we both know she’s not your daughter." Hilma whimpered as other demons stepped out of the shadows to join the first, crowding around her in a semi-circle, her knees shaking as they surrounded her. "And soon she won’t be any concern at all to you."
* * *
"Fuck!" Faith panted as she raced towards the screaming, the demons coming into view. There had to be four of -.
"Fuck!" Faith spun to her right as a demon launched itself from behind a parked car, leaping at her, axe in hand.
A gunshot rang out, the demon’s head bursting like an over-ripe melon as Xander’s shotgun tore it apart.
"Thanks X," Faith didn’t turn or even pause in her charge when another demon lunged out from the left, ducking under its clumsy haymaker as she sped past it, a backhand slash slicing its hamstring away, sending it crashing to the ground, dirty water splashing.
"Shit!" Faith cursed again as a van door facing her to the left burst open and something like four more of the demons burst out and charged towards them. Faith changed direction, leaping from the ground and onto the roof of a car parked to the right, leaping from it to the next. "Guys!" She hollered as she jumped from car to car, side-kicking a demon that lunged up out of the shadows to her left as she did so. Her heel slammed into the demon’s face square on the jaw, blood erupting from its mouth as its head snapped back and it fell back into the shadows with a mournful wail. "Take care of them, I’ll see to the screamer!"
Even as Faith let out her syell, two of the demons melted into the shadows ahead of her while the remaining trio turned to face her, charging towards her as she leapt off a battered Volvo’s roof and down into a cleaving sword-swing that sliced open the nearest demon’s skull, dropping him like a stone. The moment Faith landed in a legs apart, knees-bent crouch she was moving, panther-like twisting to the left and away from a demon’s rush, her back-up blade slicing up where she’d been stood and into the creature’s distended gut, ichor gushing out over the thing’s belly as she danced around it, and lashed out in a back-hand slash that tore its hamstring from its near leg, sending it crashing face-first to the tarmac.
The third, its eye wide with horror lunged for the weeping woman lying against the wall, probably gonna use her as a hostage. But whatever his plan, Faith was in-between them before the demon could reach her. The demon let out a frustrated snarl as it threw a swinging haymaker that would have taken Faith’s head off if she hadn’t pulled it down and out of the way, her blades flashing up, one slicing through the demon’s neck from the right, the other taking it from the left, the creature’s head spinning off its shoulders.
"Hey," Faith spun to the sobbing woman the moment she was satisfied her friends were rushing in to have her back, "it’s okay, they’re gone."
"No, no, no," the woman, a skinny blonde in those anonymous years between thirty-five and forty, looked up at her eyes glassy with the sort of pain that didn’t come from physical blows. "My BABY! THEY TOOK MY BABY!"
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (5/?)
"My baby," the woman continued to sob, eyes glassy with pain, "my baby, they took my baby."
Xander shot his girl-friend a concerned look. "Faith, could you-."
"On it," Faith melted into the shadows the demons had fled into only to
quickly return with a shake of the head. "No sign."
"Noooo!" the woman let out a shriek, dragging herself up the wall and to her feet before lunging towards the shadows. "I want my-."
Xander stepped around the hysterical woman to hook an arm around her slightly bloated belly while pulling out a syringe with the other and sinking the needle into her neck. Seconds later the woman’s eyes dilated and she slumped into his arms, her speech turning to sing-song slurs. "Bbbbaby, bbbbaby."
"We’ll get her back," Xander grimly promised as he passed the woman off to his girl-friend.
"What’s with the drugs, Xan?" Faith asked as she took the not quite dead-weight.
"An experimental A-Team Industries drug," Xander explained. "Leaves the recipient appearing drunk, so you can move them around in public without arousing suspicion. Before you ask, it’s nothing like GHB, once it wears off, the recipient can remember everything that happened, also I have an antidote that’ll cure her in a couple of minutes."
"We shouldn’t have things like that."
Xander shot Tara an irritated look. "You saw what she was like just five minutes ago. You know we’re going to have to question her if we have any hope of getting her kid back, how do you suppose we do that if we can’t get her anywhere private without the police coming down on us?" When Tara just glared at him, he nodded. "Yeah that’s what I figured. Forget about our hotel, let’s just head to the nearest, see what we can find out, and get out hunting." Xander threw Kennedy a camera. "Take a photo of one of those demons, that way we can use the demonic recognition database to find out what we’re dealing with." Xander looked towards Faith. "Check her pockets to see if she’s got any id on her."
* * *
Hilma stared dazedly around the peeling-wallpapered room, the smell of mould from the corners where the ceiling met the walls filling the fetid air. Then terror filled her as horrifying memories swamped her. Her back arched, eyes bulging in terror as her mouth opened to scream for her daughter.
A palm slammed into her mouth, muffling her cry. "Listen," a firm but kind voice filled her ears, "we want to help you, but for that to happen you need to calm down and be lucid. Understand?" Hilma stared up at the young, wavy-haired man looming over her, his hand clasped to her mouth. "Understand?" Finally she nodded. "Great," the man stepped back releasing his grip, "I’m Xander, the hottie by my side is Faith, the gal by the door is Kennedy, and the girl on the laptop’s Tara."
"I…I need to ring the police," Hilma panted, her body wracked with trembles as she recalled her tension-filled flight from her apartment.
"And tell ‘em what?" the strikingly beautiful brunette that had been introduced as Faith challenged. "That you were attacked by demons? They can’t help you, we can."
"You!" Hilma let out a half a shriek before descending into hysterical laughter. "What are you going to do? We need the arm-…" Her voice trailed off when the girl took a tire-iron and effortlessly bent it into a pretzel. "H…how did you do that?"
"How isn’t important," Xander interrupted her barrage of questions, "and would take too long to answer. We need to concentrate on getting your daughter back, Hilma. Can you tell me what’s so special about Awen?"
"S…she’s my baby," Hilda whimpered.
"Yeah," the man crouched down in front of her, "and because of that, she’ll
always be special to you, but demons don’t randomly snatch kids from homes where
they’ll be missed, there has to be something that makes her special to them. Do
you have any idea what that might be?"
"I….I had to have," her cheeks reddened at the thought of admitting this to a
young man and three girls easily fifteen years his junior, "IVF treatment four
times and it still didn’t work, but then six months after the last treatment I
"Right," the young man looked towards the girl by the laptop who shook her
head. "Okay," the young man looked back towards her, "anything else?"
"Noooo," fresh tears filled her eyes. "I don’t know why they took my baby! And I don’t care, I just want her back!"
"Okay, okay," Xander smiled soothingly before glancing towards the girl with the laptop, "anything on the demons, Tara?"
"Yes," the honey-blonde nodded, "they’re Gartocks, low-level thugs, nothing
special about them. Except they usually work for Gartells, and they’re creatures
who love the smell of diesel, its like a high for them."
"So?" Kennedy queried.
"So," Tara shot the brunette a winning smile, "there’s a recently abandoned
scrap yard a couple of blocks from here, we passed it on the way here."
"Yeah," Xander nodded, "good work, Tara." The honey blonde beamed. "Faith, Kennedy, decide what weapons you’ll need." Xander glanced back at the honey-blonde. "I’ll leave you here to guard Hilma, just in case it’s one of those mother and daughter deals-."
"Oh god, he’s been watching blue movies again," Faith snorted.
Xander ignored the caustic comment to continue staring at the honey-blonde. "You’ll be alright?"
Hilma gasped as electricity sparked between the honey-blonde’s right and left hands. Tara grinned at her reaction then nodded. "We’ll be fine."
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (6/?)
"How ya feelin’ Rookie?"
Kennedy glanced at Faith. Deciding ‘Rookie’ was somewhat better than ‘Brat’,
she deigned to answer. "Full of energy," she admitted, "practically bouncing off
"Yeah," Faith nodded as they hurried down the steps leading into the motel’s drab, 30s style and never re-decorated since then lobby, "hell of a high ain’t it?" Faith paused, glancing behind her, almost as if checking that Xander wasn’t quite near enough to hear them. "What ‘bout the responsibility?"
"I guess," Kennedy licked her lips, "it doesn’t crush down on me as much as I thought it would."
"Yeah," Faith nodded. "Figures. Probably ‘cause you ain’t the one girl in the
"Yeah," Kennedy nodded then grinned at her friend\rival. "Once we get ourselves a decent hotel with a gym, we’ll have to spar."
Faith laughed throatily. "Lookin’ forward to it, kid."
"If you girls are going to bond, can there be a pillow fight and making out? Oh please let there be making out."
Kennedy looked over her shoulder and glared. "You’re a pig Xander."
Xander beamed. "But a pig with video camera if you two want to make out."
"You realise we both can kick your ass now?" Faith queried.
Xander sighed. "If you two aren’t going to be fun, I suppose we should get to
The hairs on the back of Kennedy’s neck prickled. "The scrap yard?"
"Yeah," Xander nodded as the three of them exited the hotel, cool winds whipping at us.
"Do you think there’s a chance some of the demons might double back and make a play for Hilma?" Kennedy queried, worry about her girl-friend filling her.
"No," Xander shook his head. "They got what they wanted, although why they wanted this kid is still a mystery."
"And ‘sides, you might be a Slayer now, but sis can still twist you up like a pretzel," Faith added. "Don’t worry ‘bout it, rookie."
"Will you stop calling me that?" Kennedy hissed.
Faith shot her a shit-eating grin. "What do ya think, rookie?"
"Girls, girls, if there’s not going to be a pillow fight followed by hot make-up sex, stop squabbling," Xander reprimanded. "It’s unprofessional, not to mention grating on the old ears."
Faith shook her head. "Always had a thing for Slayers, Harris."
"This Slayer’s going to use his balls as a piñata if he doesn’t watch it," Kennedy announced. She had to admit, after months of genuinely disliking her now fellow Slayer, she’d grown to admire her heart and enjoy their bickering.
"Duly noted," Xander smirked.
* * *
"Okay," Xander peered through his A-Team Industries Night-Glasses, the
specially made binoculars cut through the night like a scalpel in addition to
being the best most lightweight, yet sturdiest glasses on the market. "The wire
mesh fence appears nine to ten feet high and topped off with barbed wire."
"No problem," Faith confidently said. "What ‘bout guards tho?"
"Don’t know." Xander admitted with a grimace. Unfortunately the development crew hadn’t worked out a way to make the glasses’ x-ray and infra-red functions work simultaneously, meaning he couldn’t see through the yard’s stacked piles of cars.
Which meant they’d have to get a closer look.
"Tonight Ms. Spenser," Xander put on his best announcer’s voice, "you will be playing the role of my girl-friend as we take a romantic walk around the scrap-yard."
Kennedy sniffed. "Your boyfriend’s borderline retarded."
"You’re being way too generous with borderline." Faith snorted at Kennedy’s caustic comment before looking towards him. "And romantic? A walk around the scrap-yard, really?"
"Let’s pretend I’m on a budget," Xander rolled his eyes, two Slayers. What had he ever done to deserve this?
They’d just crossed the road and started around the side of the shadowy scrap
yard when Faith spoke in a whisper. "Figure the kid’s gonna be okay?"
Xander didn’t have to be a genius to know Faith was talking about Kennedy rather than the missing child. "She’s got the best back-up a Slayer’s ever had," turning he took his girl-friend in his arms, "us." Lowering his head, he kissed, crushing his lips to hers, looking over his girl-friend’s shoulder as he inspected the dark yard.
"Damn Harris," Faith pulled away and chuckled into his ear, "at least pretend like you’re enjoying the kiss."
Reluctantly pulling away from the kiss, he took Faith by her arm. "Come on."
* * *
The air was alive with smells and sounds, her senses burning more acute than they’d ever been. Kennedy forced herself to focus as she crouched in the shadows opposite the gloom-shrouded yard, eyes burning into it as she waited for her friends to return. The seconds crawled by as cars zoomed obliviously past on the road between her and her target destination. Sensing Faith and Xander’s approach, she looked to her right. "What’s the situation?"
"There’s two guards to the rear of the fence, there’s four to the front, they’re in pairs. They’re the same demons we fought before, and the good news is the fence definitely isn’t electrified."
"What about the girl? Did you see her?"
"No," Xander shook his head. "Too much scrap in the way, couldn’t even see the boss demon."
"Smart money is that’s in the middle of the yard, all the guards seem to be real diligent about protecting that," Faith added.
"So what’s the plan?" Kennedy queried, her blood quickening with the thought of the violence to come.
"You two get in position, Faith to the left front side, Kennedy, I want you on the two guards on the right front side. I’ll sneak around the back and cut my way through the fence, and get in. When you hear my signal, jump the fences and kill the demons."
"Your signal?" Kennedy queried.
Xander grinned. "You’ll know it when you hear it. Now what weapons do you want?"
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (7/14)
Xander glanced left and right before stalking out of the shadows, bolt-cutters in hand. After peering into the darkened scrap yard to satisfy himself the demons weren’t aware of him, he eased the bolt cutters into the fence and began cutting, grimacing at the audible clink, his eyes shooting left as he watched for the demons to come racing out of the darkness.
Fortunately, the less than observant demons stayed in the shadows, probably snoozing from the odd grunting snores he heard.
When he’d cut enough links of the fence, he pulled on a pair of welder’s glove, grabbed the fence’s serrated links and tore the fence to one side before crawling through the slight gap, the cut links to his rear furrowing slightly into his leather jacket, and into the scrapyard. The first thing he noticed was the over-whelming stench of oil, outside it had been noticeable, but inside the yard it permeated everywhere. Piles of crumpled and dented cars stood between four to six high, symbols of a culture that too often threw away items before they were truly used up.
Dust scuffled as Xander rose from his crouch, counted silently to three as he found his centre, then opened his mouth. "What does a customer have to do get served around here???"
"Well finally," he muttered as a demon burst out from the left, wielding a mammoth axe its rounded blade apparently made out of a hubcap.
Xander’s answer to the monster’s howl was to draw a sawn-off Mossberg 590, and in the same smooth, effortless motion raise it to shoulder level, point, and pull his trigger. The gun bucked in his hand, but the newly-created ‘Devil’s Bane’, an explosive round blessed by an A-Team Industries employed priest and containing a drop of holy water, more than did it its job, the shell crashing into the creature’s face.
The demon’s face collapsed in a gory mist, its brains erupting out of the back of the beast’s head as it fell into a pile of cars, toppling the top one off to land on him, flattening him like stomped on soda can.
However Xander was too busy to admire his handiwork, twisting at the waist to face right, re-aiming and tugging on the trigger to blow the head off the demon charging from that direction, knocking that demon on his back, the top half of his head torn off.
"Yep," he nodded thoughtfully. "They outta have heard my signal."
* * *
The moment Faith heard the roar of Xander’s shotgun she was moving, leaping from her crouched position, across the two lane road, and landing on the kerb outside the scrap-yard’s barb-wire topped fence. Her landing’s impact reverberated through her lower limbs, but she bounced through the impact to fly over the barbed-wire adorning the top of the fence.
Dust billowed up as Faith crashed to the ground on her shoulder. Ignoring the collision’s impact, Faith rolled onto her feet in time to greet a pair of demons charging her in a pincer manoeuvre.
Faith’s hand darted down to draw her sword as she skipped to the left, putting the left demon between her and the one to her right. Her blade flashed up, slicing at the demon’s face, forcing it to hurriedly retreat.
Seeing the other demon racing around the retreating one, Faith covered the distance between them in a leap, her foot stamping into the outside of its nearest knee even as her blade thrust up and into its distended gut. The monster grunted, its body beginning to jack-knife as Faith bent her knees then powered through them, dragging her blade out as she slammed a shoulder into the creature’s jaw, knocking it to the ground.
Faith spun around to face the other demon, bobbing her head from side to side as its claws sliced at her, darting in and out of its attacks, never slowing enough to give it a clean shot while constantly searching for her moment.
Finally the beast spread his feet just a little too wide, over-extended himself forward in an attack, and Faith glided beneath the creature’s flashing claws, came up side to side with the monster and thrust her sword up and through the creature’s trunk-thick neck. Blood spewed from the creature’s mouth even as it twisted to face her in a final defiant attempt at an attack, its claws vainly missing her as she yanked the gore-covered blade out of its neck, allowing the creature to crash to the ground.
* * *
The moment she heard the boom of Xander’s shotgun, Kennedy sprang over the road, landing on the roof of a dirty white Volvo. Its roof hadn’t finished collapsing inward, its windows shattering and the car’s alarm futilely blaring out, before she leapt off the roof into a flawless somersault over the barbed wire. Kennedy landed in an one-kneed crouch, her sword seemingly springing into her hand.
Alright, she grinned as she leapt upright, that had been a little showy, but it was her first day as a Slayer.
Her elation faded as a pair of demons charged out of the shadows just ahead of her. Kennedy sprang to meet the first of the duo, gliding outside its swung right haymaker to swing her sword up to slash through the demon’s arm while simultaneously kicking the other demon in the gut. Blood gushed out of the demon’s stump as she dragged her blade out the other side of the creature’s elbow. Kennedy danced around her pain-crazed adversary’s back and tore her blade through the back of the beast’s neck.
"Shit!" Kennedy danced like a matador out of the other demon’s rush, then stepped around the back, thrusting the sword through its back and out of its chest.
"Not bad kid." She spun around to see Faith glancing from her to further into the scrap yard. "Come on."
"Whoa," Kennedy blinked as she followed the Bostonian in hurrying through to the centre of the scrap yard. "That many arms, is this guy your dream date, Faith?"
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (8/?)
"Slayers!" The demon’s cackle rumbled out of its deep chest as it glared at her. "You’re ten a penny these days!"
"She is," Faith ignored Kennedy’s grunt as she continued to stare at the green-scaled beast before her, "but I’m like an original. And in case you’re wondering we’re the Mithras Quartet."
The demon seemed to stiffen, its viperish gaze seemingly intensifying. "Then I shall give my life to end your taint on OUR world!"
Faith eyed up the chief demon. "Huh, huh." After a second she
glanced towards Kennedy. "Heads or tails, brat?"
"Will you stop calling me that?" Kennedy glowered.
"Probably not," Faith admitted. "Heads or tails?"
"Heads," Kennedy waspishly replied.
Faith flicked a quarter into the air, caught it in her hand and looked at it. It had come down heads. "Tails," she lied before looking towards the new Slayer. "You wanna take this asshole?"
Kennedy stared at her for a second before checking her weapons. "Sure."
"Are you sure about this?" Xander whispered as he backed away to stand beside Faith.
"Hey, she's a big girl now," Faith paused as Kennedy swaggered forward to face the chief demon. "'Kay, maybe not in height. But there's never been a new Slayer as well trained as her. She's trained with former special forces personnel, a Dhampir, mutants, a Slayer, and a freakin' warrior god. Plus she's clocked more field time than most Slayers manage. Time for her to make her Slayer bones."
"You realise Tara will turn you into a snail if anything happens to Kennedy?" Xander queried.
Faith affected an unconcerned shrug. "Hey, never said my plan was perfect."
"I could shoot it," Xander commented.
"Don’t," Faith looked up at her boy-friend, her mask of unconcern replaced by grim seriousness. "Girl’s gotta know we trust her as a Slayer and that she can win one without our help, let her."
Xander sighed then gave her what he always gave her. His trust. "Okay."
* * *
Kennedy eyed the six-tendriled, seven-foot tall demon as she approached. The thing stood on a pair of short, fire-hydrant thick legs, while each pair of rope-thick tentacles ended differently, either in pinchers, claws, or shovel-sized hands. Things were made even more complicated by the thick green scales covering the towering monster and the spiked tail swishing behind it, just waiting to come into play.
Still, there were weak points.
Even as she thought that, Kennedy moved into action. Her hand blurred down to snatch and draw the perfectly-weighted throwing daggers sheathed in her boots, weapons coming up and flying through the air to imbed themselves in the creature’s hand-ending tentacles, yellow blood gushing from the thing’s arms.
Kennedy grinned at the creature’s scream before launching herself forward, twisting left and right between the beast’s slashing tentacles, her sword swinging up to slice into the monster’s gut. "Oh crap!" Kennedy groaned as sparks flew off the creature’s belly, its scales apparently impervious to her blade.
Shock and dismay flooded her, slowing her graceful movements to the extent that one of the monster’s tendrils managed to crack against her face. Its foul, sweaty stench filled her nostrils as she was lifted from her feet and flung twenty feet into a battered grey sedan, the impact of her collision further denting an already concave front passenger door, the glass from its window exploding to shower her.
"Hey," Kennedy dimly heard Faith’s mocking drawl, "you’re not gonna pop your Slayer cherry on this second-rater? Jesus, talk ‘bout not ready for the big leagues."
Rage flared through her as she scrambled through the dust for her sword and leapt up, narrowed gaze fixed on the advancing demon. A closed off part of her mind got what Faith was doing, goading her to keep fighting. But about 95% of her was just hugely pissed off at her smart-mouthed counterpart.
Power coursed through her veins as she charged into the creature’s path, alternatively running in a crouch under some of the tentacles then leaping in the air over others. Her right foot shot out, slamming her heel into the monster’s eye, then landing in a dust spewing crouch before it.
Kennedy’s lips pulled up in a smirk when the creature stumbled back a half-step. Yeah, that was about what she figured. Ignoring a bruising buffet to her left side, she thrust her sword up as left the ground in a leap, ramming her blade’s point through her rival’s eye. Foul-smelling pus and gore sprayed from the creature’s eye as it fell, but Kennedy had already gotten out of its range, performing a back-flip an Olympic gymnastic gold medallist would have been proud of.
Even as her fingers touched dust and she powered through them to reverse her fall land in a crouch, the monster let out a hopefully final cry and fell onto its back, its corpse spasming in its death throes.
"Rookie scores a win," Faith commentated. "Here," Faith had an unusually
uncomfortable look on her face as she attempted to pass the rescued child off to
Xander. "Why don’t you take the kid back to her mom while me and Ken do a sales
pitch for that contact."
"Oh I don’t think so," Xander stepped back from the proffered kid with a smirk. "I think it’s important that I as boss make first contact."
Faith glared at Xander. "Bastard."
FIC MC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (9/14)
"You have got to be kiddin’," Faith glared at her boyfriend even as she scooped up the child and tucked her under her arm. "Come on kiddo. I’ll take you back home to your mom."
"See," Kennedy smirked at her, "you’re a natural."
"Why don’t you-." Faith glanced at the girl in her arms and clamped her mouth shut in a helpless pout.
"Not in front of the children."
"Come on," Xander grabbed the new Slayer’s elbow and dragged her away before Faith could introduce her boot to the younger brunette’s ass.
Faith sighed and shook her head. "Come on kid."
"Thank you for coming to my aid, Faith." Faith’s head snapped down to the kid, dark eyes widening at the kid’s suddenly adult voice and her strangely knowing eyes. "Don’t be alarmed, I’m not going to hurt you, I’m a muse. Do you know what a muse is?" Faith stared blankly at the child. "Faith?"
Faith shook her head. "Yeah, sure," she mumbled, recalling a book about classical mythology Tara had told her to read in her role of strict school-marm. "According to the classical Greeks, they inspire creativity in the arts."
"Not just the arts, in the sciences, politics, everything really," Awen replied. "You mustn’t tell Hilma, but muses can only be born to mortals, and because my mommy is such a wonderful, loving woman, but because she couldn’t have children, the powers that be gave me to her. Wasn’t that sweet?"
"Yeah copasetic," Faith numbly agreed.
"Of course I won’t start working as a muse until I’m all grown up. And because I can see potential in anyone, I can see how their lives will turn out, all they will achieve," the child continued. "And because you saved me, I can tell you your future."
"Oh prophecy, goodie," Faith grunted. ‘Cause they always ended fun.
"Your life will be filled with pain and triumph, sadness and joy, and through it all the Brotherhood will grow beyond your wildest dreams," the child began, undaunted by Faith’s mutterings. "When the history books are written about the 21st century, you and the Quartet will be remembered as its legends."
"Great," Faith cautiously eyed the toddler even as she struggled to take in the child’s prophetic words. Freakin’ three year olds were tellin’ her how her life was gonna turn out, wicked. "Let’s get you home to your momma hey?"
"Yes, I’d like to see her again," the baby closed her eyes and stuck her thumb in her mouth, quietly suckling on it as she nestled her head into Faith’s chest.
* * *
"Ha," Kennedy threw her head back and laughed as they hurried out of the scrap yard. "The look on Faith’s face was hilarious!" Kennedy shot him a considering look. "Why did you chose me to come with you anyway?"
"Thought Faith needed to practice her nurturing side," Xander joked. Truth was, as the Brotherhood expanded, he might not be able to do all the recruitment spiels himself. And while Tara was probably too shy to do them herself, she was confident enough around people she knew and talking topics she was an expert in, Faith on the other hand, while she’d calmed down some would probably react to a snub undiplomatically. Kennedy on the other hand had the spirit to make the requests, the smartness to deal with the paperwork, and just about the control not to lose her temper
Note the just about.
"Your girl-friend needs all the help she can get," Kennedy grinned at him as they started through the streets. "And what’s the lowdown on this guy we’re meeting?"
"Yeah," Xander forced himself to focus before replying. "He’s another contact I’ve got through Charles Xavier, a French-Canadian mutant. He’s capable of generating bio-electricity, capable of using it to create force fields and energy blasts."
"Cool," Kennedy nodded.
Xander stopped. "It’s a bit chilly, want a coat?"
Kennedy grinned. "Don’t feel the cold, Slayer remember?"
"Young lady," Xander huffed in his best English accent, "I do recall something to do with that." He broke out into a grin as he slowed to pull on a denim jacket. "How do you feel about being a Slayer?"
Kennedy shrugged as they continued on their way, the streets becoming lighter
and busier as they entered a touristy part of Old Montreal, passer-bys jostling
past them as they headed from bar to bar, themed pubs and posh cafes lining the
brightly-lit streets. "More alive than I’ve ever felt before, my senses are
surging, every smell, every sound, you’ve no idea."
"Yeah," Xander nodded. "Sounds great, but just remember being a Slayer’s a high, and any high can run away with you if you let it."
Kennedy shot him a sharp look then nodded reluctantly. "Yeah, I guess you’re right."
"There’s the bar," Xander glanced at his watch and grimaced. "Damn we’re
Car horns blared as he stepped off the kerb only to be grabbed around the collar and yanked back off the road by his glaring companion. "Slays demons by night, gets killed by a hatchback," snarked the Slayer. "Eyes on the road, mister. Better to be a little late than arrive a lot dead. Imagine the first impression."
"Yeah," Xander dipped his head and flushed. "Sorry."
"Come on." Kennedy started across the road.
The interior of the brightly lit bar was a warm contrast with the windy night, Xander’s ears filling with the happy noise of the crowd mingling within the wine bar. Its thick carpet, brightly coloured walls, and mouth-wateringly smelling kitchen combined with the contents of its extensively stocked bar to create a congenial atmosphere.
Xander glanced through the thong and into the booths, nodding as he saw his contact sat alone at a wooden booth towards the far end of the bar, the seats carved out of the wood and upholstered with thick red cushions. "That’s him."
"You go introduce himself, I’m parched," Kennedy said. "The usual?"
"Coke with ice," Xander confirmed with a nod.
"See you in a minute."
The moment the petite Slayer left his side, Xander hurried across to the man, a tall, lithely built man with strong features and brown hair. "Hi, I’m Xander," he smiled apologetically. "Sorry I’m late, moment of heroism on the way here."
"Albert Louis," the man introduced, his accent carrying just a note of his French ancestry. "Please, sit."
"Thanks," Xander slid into the booth opposite the mutant. "And thanks for meeting me."
"When someone is able to garner praise from the most august Charles Xavier, one cannot help but be curious," the French-Canadian replied.
"Yeah," Xander flushed at the comment. "Well I wouldn’t know about that. What did the Professor say about why I wanted to meet with you?"
"Nothing," Albert Louis shook his head. "Only that you were a man that could be trusted and that your cause was just."
"Right," Xander grinned. The big brains liked throwing vague, wordy statements around, made them look mysterious he supposed. "Well you see I run this organisation called the Mithras Brotherhood-."
"Here’s your coke." Kennedy interrupted, placed a pint glass before him then looking towards his companion. "Can I get you anything?"
"Merely a kiss from your beautiful lips."
"Boy are you barking up the wrong tree there," Xander murmured.
Kennedy laughed before sinking into the seat besides Xander. "You’d have to ask my girl-friend."
"A great shame," Albert looked towards Xander. "You were saying?" Xander
continued explaining about the Mithras Brotherhood. When he’d finished, Albert
stared at him for a long second. "I am a mutant."
"I don’t care what you are," Xander replied. "A man I greatly respect vouched for you. I don’t care if you’ve two heads, green skin, are alive, undead, from this dimension or not. All I care about is if you can be trusted." Xander paused, licked his lips and continued. "And in the near future, the Mithras Brotherhood is likely going to end up going public in a big way. I can’t think of much that will help the acceptance of mutants than having plenty of mutants leading teams of humans in defence of the planet, saving lives."
"A convincing argument." Albert Louis nodded. "In that case I’ll take
FIC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (10/14)
Holland sighed wearily as he slumped down onto his seat. "What a day," he grunted. One of their own, one of the Black Thorns had turned rogue and led an invasion from Pylea into this very realm. If Angel hadn’t killed the rogue and thus collapsed the portal who knows how it would have all ended?
Holland shuddered. It really didn’t bear thinking about. As it was, the majority of W&H employees had been slaughtered in a surprise pre-emptive attack. Of course the staff could be easily replaced, but-.
He looked up as Lindsey rushed in. "Excuse me sir," the young man looked
around, then seeing the other chairs had been loped in two remained standing.
"But our sources have confirmed the Mass Calling has occurred and Lillah’s pet
Potential has been empowered."
"Excellent," Holland nodded. He rubbed at his forehead, forcing away his pounding headache even as his throat ached from all the screaming. "Then all we have to do is hope Lillah succeeds in her corruption."
* * *
Gunn felt like a walking bruise as he wearily stumbled through the entrance to the Angel Investigations’ office, his own team inter-mingling with Angel’s own group of Doyle, Wesley, and Pike. "Man, Lorne," he glanced at his demonic friend, "your boys can fight."
He hid a grin at the demon’s predictable bristle. "I assure you they’re not my boys." Lorne stopped, eyes widening. "What the-."
"Well done boys and girls!" Lillah beamed as she walked in from the inner office with a sarcastic clap of her hands. "You stopped the invasion. Yay, you!"
Angel stopped, hands on hips, and glared at the lady lawyer. "What are you doing here, Lillah?"
"Hell," Alonna spat, "if you’ve got some chivalrous notion of not decking this bitch, just step aside Fang and I’ll kick her teeth down her throat."
"Nice table manners you got there kid." Lillah smirked as Gunn grabbed his sister’s shoulder and gently but firmly eased her back. "I’m just a messenger," Lillah’s expression sobered. "Here to make you an offer."
"An offer," Wesley’s teeth were gritted, his sister’s boy-friend, that was a kick his sister dating a member of English gentry, "what sort of offer?"
"Good work with the Pyleans by the way, that thrown axe through their leader’s head might be your best work." The lawyer’s smirk widened as she perched on the reception counter, her legs crossed. "You win, which is why I'm here. I have been authorized to make you kids an offer."
"I might be immortal but my patience isn’t," Angel growled. "Say your piece then get out before I bounce you out."
"That’s not welcoming," Lillah smiled.
Gunn drew back his crossbow’s string and raised it to his shoulder, then pointed it down at the lawyer’s legs. "Which leg do you want it in, right or left?"
Angel shot him a pained look over his shoulder. "Gunn-."
"You ain’t the boss of me," Gunn interrupted. "Three of my people died today fighting those monsters, and I ain’t got the patience to put up with this bitch’s games."
Angel sighed before turning back to the lawyer. "Make your offer then get out."
"You can't possibly think there's anything we'd want from you," Alonna sneered.
Lillah replied with a smirk that Gunn guessed was second nature for her. "I don't think you'll want it, but you'll take it, because this is the offer of a lifetime."
"Ach lassie," Doyle spoke up. "Save the saleswoman pitch and get to the meat."
"My firm, or rather my branch, got hit hard in the recent invasion." Gunn grinned as one of his gang mimed crying. "Significant losses all round, so the senior partners are ceding the territory to you, Angel. Simply put, they want to give you controlling interest in our L.A. Office. You get the building, assets, personnel, letterhead, paper clips, all of it. It's yours to do with as you see fit."
Gunn felt the world tilt on its axis. "There is no Los Angeles office of Wolfram & Hart. Not any more, the Pyleans hit it first and hardest."
"Quite," Wesley agreed, the Englishman’s eyes narrowing, "and why was that exactly?"
Lillah ignored Wesley’s question to stare at him. "A little thing like a full-on assault doesn’t keep us down for long. We’re re-staffed, bigger, better, and shinier than ever, and we want to give it to you."
"You want to give us your evil law firm? We ain't lawyers," Gunn snorted.
"Or evil," his sister added.
"Goes without saying," he agreed.
Lillah’s smirk stayed resolutely in place. "What we're offering you is a turnkey, state-of-the-art, multi-tasking operation. What you do with it, well, that's up to you."
Angel crossed his arms. "Why?"
Lillah chuckled. "Well, I thought that was obvious. You earned it. Think of it as a reward."
"Reward for what?" Pike queried, the former mechanic absent-mindedly wiping soot from his face as he spoke.
A fire ignited in Lillah’s cold eyes then was quickly doused. "Whatever you
think, this world is ours, the meek won’t inherit it, we won’t let them. But
these Pyleans attempted to take it from us, you stopped them. Call it thanks."
"Couldn’t you have sent us a gift basket and called it even?" Wesley muttered.
"You’re not getting it," Lillah said. The lawyer shook her head and laughed mockingly. "God, you’re so dumb. How did you cause us so many problems any way?"
"Pluck? Good nature? Charm?" Wesley suggested before looking at Angel. "Only obviously not his."
"Think of what you can do with the resources of Wolfram & Hart at your fingertips, the difference that would make. Nothing in this world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh, and it's cruel, but that's why there's you, Angel. You live as if the world were as it should be. With all this, you can make it that way. People don't need an unyielding champion. They need a man who knows the value of compromise and how to beat the system from inside the belly of the beast."
Gunn saw it, he wasn’t sure what he saw exactly, a change in the soulled vampire’s posture or stance, but whatever it was, he knew instinctively the vampire was wavering. Gunn changed his aim, directing the crossbow directly at the undead Irishman’s broad back, his men tensing behind him. "Whatever he says, he don’t speak for us," Gunn declared. "Know this Angel, you take the bitch’s offer, and you move to number one in our hit list."
Angel turned towards him, the vampire letting out a growl when he saw the crossbow levelled at him. "Damn it Gunn, put that thing down!"
Gunn smiled coldly, pleased that despite the thundering of his heart his aim remained steady. "I’ve told you a thousand times you’re not the boss of me."
"See here Charles," Wesley was trying for his most reasonable voice even as the Englishman shot bemused looks at his sister, "we are just talk-."
"You might not be the boss of him," Gunn bit back a groan when Lillah’s amused voice cut through the tense atmosphere, "but I know who is. Are those cheques from the Mithras Brotherhood still clearing, Charles?"
Lorne groaned. "It had to happen, it just had to happen. This is gonna get uglier than the Beatles’ break-up."
"Sis," Gunn didn’t look away from the vampire. "If anything starts, your priority’s dropping that bitch."
"On it," Alonna agreed.
"Is this true?" Angel growled. "You always said you were funded by a billionaire who’d lost family to a vampire?"
Gunn didn’t bother at pretence. "Harris always said he lost a friend he considered a brother to a vampire, and he’s a billionaire. So yeah it’s true."
"You lied to me," Angel’s hands clenched into fists.
Gunn ignored the accusation even as he ignored the wounded\betrayed looks on Doyle, Wes, and Pike’s faces. "I’ll do a lot worse if you start working for that bitch’s firm," he began backing out of the offices, his team-mates covering his retreat. "You wanna keep working together, that’s fine. You wanna go to war with us, that’s fine too." Gunn smiled. "I’ve got plenty of friends."
FIC: MC 71. May ‘03 – Protector (11/14)
"Hello everyone," President Palmer greeted as he strode into the tension-filled situation room, Secret Service agents flanking him like a modern-day Praetorian Guard.
"Hello Mr. President," everyone rose at his entrance and only sat at his quick, obliging nod. Today of all days they didn’t have time for ceremony.
"I’m sure you all recognise Speaker Walken," Palmer glanced at the obese man being guided to one of the empty seats by one of his Secret Service escort even as he took his own seat. "Given the gravity of the situation facing us I thought it wise that we have cross-party input into this matter." Palmer nodded at the others’ quick agreement. In truth although he and Walken disagreed on many issues, he also recognised his rival as a man of great intelligence, principle, and trust-worthiness.
He’d have done the same if Vinick was Speaker, but an unprincipled glory-hound like Haffley wouldn’t have gotten within a mile of this. Mind you, there were plenty in his own party he wouldn’t let near this either.
"Now, where are we on Sunnydale?" Palmer queried as he looked at the screen on the wall opposite him, at the room’s far end. The aerial shot of what had once been a thriving coastal town in Sunnydale but was now a desolate sink-hole sent chills through him.
"It appears the entire town was sucked into the hole," National Security Advisor Trenton replied.
"Excuse me Mr. President," Walken’s jowls might have danced when he spoke, but there was an admirable note of command in his every utterance, "but while you briefed me on the supernatural, do we believe this was caused by demons or something?"
"Yes sir," it was Trenton rather than him who answered. "According to our own Demonic Research Initiative, Sunnydale was built on a hellmouth by its former Mayor in an attempt to ‘ascend’ to the status of a pure-blood demon."
Walken shook his head. "Astonishing." The Speak shot him an apologetic look.
"Sorry for interrupting, sir."
Palmer smiled. "If you require clarification, by all means interrupt." Palmer looked towards Tenton again. "Loss of life?"
"It should be minimal, sir." Trenton grimaced at his question. "For the past fortnight there’s been a steady evacuation of the city by many of its citizens, it’s as if they sensed what was coming. However until we track them down, we won’t know for sure how many were still in the city."
Palmer grimaced. In all likelihood they’d never know. "And what story are we giving to the media?"
"We did consider saying it was a terrorist attack," the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs jumped in, "but although that would have explained the strong military presence in the aftermath, we worried about it provoking a panic so in the end we went with the city being built on an unidentified fault-line."
"And how’s the media taking that?" Speaker Walken queried a second before he could.
"They’re not happy about it, digging up scientists that are saying it’s impossible, but we have our own scientists saying its unlikely and a freak occurrence, but possible," the Chief Of Staff broke in. "So our scientists downplay the likelihood of it occurring again, but saying it could."
"Good," Palmer nodded. "I want a cordon around the sinkhole at all times. Sell it to the press that we’re doing a scientific investigation of the area and we don’t want any evidence disrupting, but really it’s all about keeping the media out. A panic about a terrorist attack wiping out a small American town would be nothing compared to the hysteria that would engulf the globe if the truth about demons got out." Palmer paused for a moment, allowing the implications of what just would happen to sink before continuing. "And the financial cost?"
"Sir," his Chief Of Staff shook his head, "the bean-counters are still doing their sums. But while there wasn’t any major industries in Sunnydale for obvious reasons, eighty thousand people lived there. The insurance companies are going to take a massive hit."
"So it would appear," Palmer nodded.
"Sir, if I may." Walken continued at his nod. "What I find most worrying about this affair is the intelligence about an army of super-powered girls being Called? What are the implications of this?"
"Sir," Damien Falco looked towards him, "in my remit as head of the NSA, I’ve
been doing some research into possible experts-."
"Is this the Indian Jones gentleman you asked for a top-level clearance for?" Palmer interrupted, brow furrowing. "The man has an impressive record, especially his service in the second world war, but he’s also one hundred and two years old! Does he even remember his own name?"
Falco smirked. "You’d be surprised sir. If I get one of your agents to bring him in?"
Palmer nodded. A minute or two passed then the Situation Room door opened and a straight-backed, grey haired man with keen blue eyes and a weathered face strode in, his suit of tweed not at all fitting with his energetic aura. Palmer gasped as he looked at Falco, his own eyes hardening. "Is this a joke?"
"A pleasure to meet you Mr. President, I voted for you by the way," the archaeologist greeted as he sat down. "And Mr. Falco isn’t joking at all, I am Indiana Jones and I am one hundred and two years old."
"Given your appearance you’ll excuse my scepticism?" Palmer queried.
"Of course sir," Indiana Jones smiled. "But I’d add your agencies have checked me out thoroughly, I’m who I say I am. I assume you’ve read my file?" Jones’ eyes shadowed at his nod. "I held the Holy Grail. That changes a person, in my particular case it’s meant I age at a fraction of the time of a normal man. I didn’t notice until the sixties when I realised I wasn’t slowing down like my friends. I’ve aged a mere thirty years in the past seven decades." Jones looked around the shocked to silence room. "And before anyone asks, the Holy Grail is now utterly lost."
Pity. President Palmer cleared his throat before continuing. "I understand you’re our expert in Slayers?"
"Yes sir," Indiana Jones nodded, the centurion pulling out and putting on a pair of wire spectacles. "Ever since my brushes with the occult in the thirties and forties, I’ve been interested in researching the occult and myths in an attempt to separate fact from fiction."
"Very well," Palmer nodded. "Tell us about the Slayer origin."
"Well all my information has come second or third hand as the Council was most secretive and possessive about the Slayer," Indy said. "However African myths first make mention of the Slayer being created by a blending of demon and a teen girl approximately nine thousand years ago."
"Any theories on why they chose a girl?" queried the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Indy grimaced. "Unfortunately women were very much second class citizens in the majority of the African tribes of that time. Moreover, there was a very pragmatic motivation. Men were the tribe’s hunters\gatherers, to the tribal elders’ thinking, they couldn’t spare a man, but a woman was far more expandable." Indy glanced around the room before continuing. "And another thing to consider, a Slayer is called between the ages of 13 – 19. Even today, children can be considered adults by the time they reach their early teens in some areas."
"Monstrous," the vice-president shook her head, a disgusted look on Kathryn Bennett’s face. "What were they thinking?"
"Of survival I shouldn’t wonder," Palmer replied to the vice-president’s rhetorical question before looking towards Jones. "I’ve met a Slayer, but I’d like to know a little more about how they’re Called, their powers?"
"You’ve met one?" Interest danced in the elderly man’s intense blue eyes. "How fascinating." Jones sobered. "A Slayer has a violent life, and as a result, few live more than a couple of years after being Called. As a result the creators of the Slayer Line also created a number of Potentials, normal girls scattered around the globe who may be Called upon the death of the Slayer-."
"What or who decides which girl is Called next? Is there any way of finding these Potentials?" queried the President’s Chief Of Staff, Gardner’s expression worried.
"Well apart from them being female and between the ages of thirteen and nineteen it appears completely random," the famed archaeologist replied. "However there are certain theories that a ‘higher being’ chooses the Slayer in the place where she is most needed. As for finding potentials, I suspect the Council has or rather had a magical means of tracking them down, as many Potentials are taken in by the Council and trained, but doing it through scientific or investigative methods I have no idea. And whatever method they used wasn’t one hundred percent because a number of Slayers are recorded as being Called without ever being identified as Potentials."
"So being a Potential or Slayer doesn’t run through family lines?" queried the Secretary Of State.
Indy winced at the question. "As I said earlier, my information is a little sparse. All told, I’ve managed to identify and somewhat document what I think are just over one hundred Slayers, but given the average Slayer lifespan I suspect that something like four and a half thousand Slayers in the nine thousand years that the Slayer Line has existed. As a result, I’ve not been able to uncover any familial lines."
"These Potentials, any guesses on how many there are at any one time?" queried the portly Speaker of the House.
Indy pushed his spectacles up his nose before replying. "As I said, the Council had some way of keeping track of the Potentials-."
"Excuse me, you said had?" the Speaker interrupted.
"Mr. Speaker," Palmer spoke up before anyone could. "That Mithras I briefed you about, apparently he destroyed them when they kidnapped and tortured his girl-friend."
"Thank you, Mr. President," the Speaker nodded before looking towards the archaeologist. "Sorry, please continue."
"So that they could place them with their Watchers for training and
supervision," Indy continued. "All told, there would be something like a two
hundred Potentials scattered throughout the world and trained by Watchers." A
collective gasp filled the room. "However, the current two active Slayers, Ms.
Summers, and," the man checked through his notes, "Ms. Spenser were Called
without ever being recognised as Potentials until just before being Called in
Ms. Spenser’s case, and after her Calling in Ms. Summers’ case."
"How is that possible?" queried the Vice-President.
"I have no idea, however a small percentage of the Slayers I’ve managed to identify were also never identified as Potentials. This leads me to believe that the Council only ever identify a small percentage of the Potentials." Jones paused. "Perhaps only as much 10%."
"You’re saying there might be as many as two thousand of these girls?" gasped the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Palmer leaned forward, eyes boring into the archaeologist. "What can you tell us about their powers?"
Indy nodded. "The foremost power is their strength, given what I’ve read, I’d estimate they’re around six times stronger than a strong man twice their size. They also upon Calling become an instant expert in a lot of fighting styles, including ones they’ll not have been introduced to before their Calling. They’re also far more durable, faster, and agile than normal humans and heal at a three to four time faster rate than normal. They have enhanced senses and apparently some have prophetic dreams warning them of threats etc as well as the innate ability to sense demons such as vampires that to the naked eye would pass for human."
Two thousand newly Called Metas, many without a clue why they had their powers or what they were meant to with them. And how many of those girls were criminals or mentally-ill? How many of them lived in countries like China? How many were under the influence of Muslim terrorist groups?
FIC: MC 71. May ‘03 – Protector (12/14)
Horrifying scenario after horrifying scenario flashed before him. Palmer
cleared his throat. "Thank you for your input Dr. Jones, you’ve been most
illuminating." Palmer turned to his National Security Advisor then looked back
at Dr. Jones. "Are there any supernatural powers that might react badly to this
"Ah, an interesting question, sir," the explorer leaned back on his seat, facial creases deepening in thought. Finally he shook his head. "In general no, the demonic world doesn’t have governments as such, what powers there are appear to be highly localised."
"Thank you," Palmer nodded even as he noted that the explorer appeared unaware of Wolfram & Hart.
"Sir," it was Lewis Berryhill, his Secretary of State’s craggy features creased in thought, "if I might suggest it would be prudent to create a think-tank dealing specifically with the fallout from this Mass Calling?"
"Excellent idea," President Palmer nodded approvingly, the wheels in his mind turning swiftly. "Directors Archer, Falco, and Ryan, I want you to contribute liaisons for this task force, you too General Grey, you’ll all be working under National Security Advisor Trenton, and I want this group to be a top priority, no time-servers, only the best and brightest you can find."
"Sir," Trenton raised a hand, the scholarly features quizzical, "what would be the think-tank’s remit?"
"Discovering as much as possible about these Slayers, running strategies how to contain them, dealing with worst-case scenarios should organised crime, a terrorist group, or even a rouge state find themselves in possession of a number of them. In addition, I’d like them to build dossiers on the other supernatural powers – the Vatican, the Brotherhood, the Danites, and anyone else you deem worthy. I want threat assessments, likelihood of alliances, weaknesses," he promptly replied before turning back to the archaeologist. "Dr. Jones, do you have any idea where the Council will make its base now that the Sunnydale Hellmouth is closed?"
"There’s two possibilities," Jones said. "It’s interesting to note that the Council has always made its base in the greatest power of its time."
"I beg your pardon?" the Speaker queried. "Care to clarify that?"
"Of course," Jones nodded. "I’ve found record of the Council in Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece, Ancient Rome, and so on, always moving on to the next power when the civilisation falls, until it set up home in England in the late 16th Century."
"Why hadn’t the Council moved its base to the USA then?" the Speaker queried. "At least not until this Mithras destroyed it?"
"I suspect the ease of travel and communication in the modern age rendered
any such move as unneeded," Jones replied. "So I suspect the two possibilities
for the Council’s new base would be a return to England or alternatively setting
up base on the new Hellmouth."
Cleveland, Ohio. Palmer winced at the very thought. Palmer glanced around the room. "Okay, what do we know about the Council itself, its resources?"
"Sir," Jack Ryan was first to speak up, the head of the CIA having given him
a report on a couple of his men’s brush with the Mithras Brotherhood just a
couple of days ago, "we’ve been able to find bank accounts linked to them in the
Bahamas, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Cayman Islands, Singapore, and Lichtenstein.
We think they have financial assets in the hundreds of millions sterling."
All the places with reputations for being very uncooperative with authorities. Palmer grimaced. "Anything else."
"Many of those I believe to be Watchers are amongst the world’s foremost historians, archaeologists, and anthropologists," Jones commented. "Occultists and magicians I shouldn’t wonder too."
"Dr. Jones," it was the Vice-President who spoke up. "What sort of support do these Watchers give their Slayer?"
Jones grimaced. "As far as I can see very little. In the cases of the early Slayers, Middle Ages and before, the Slayer fought alongside their Watcher and usually two or three warriors, either mercenaries or ‘true believers’, but there seems to be a sort of change around the twelfth century, the Slayers began patrolling on their own, with only their Watcher in support. Why I don’t know."
"Monstrous," the Vice-President repeated her earlier comment with a shake of the head.
"Mr. Trenton," Palmer looked towards the National Security Advisor. "I understand you’ve profiled the Council’s leaders?"
"Yes sir," Trenton nodded. "According to our best intelligence-."
"Intelligence from where sir?" Walken interrupted.
"National Security Agency phone-taps, FBI surveillance, and various local law enforcement agencies, in addition to various international agencies," Trenton replied. "The Council will be lead by a Miss Elizabeth Summers, Ms. Willow Rosenberg, and Mr. Rupert Giles."
"Elizabeth Summers is the previous Slayer," Dr. Jones commented.
"Previous Slayer?" Palmer asked for clarification.
"Yes sir," Dr. Jones nodded. "As I mentioned earlier a Slayer’s power was only passed by the death of the current Slayer. Ms. Summers died three times, once at the hands of a vampire called the Master, once at the hands of a hell-goddess, and finally by a stray bullet, but was revived on each occasion, but a Slayer was only Called by her first death. This means the line runs through Ms. Kendra Young and on her death passed to Ms. Faith Spenser. Until the Mass Calling, Ms. Spenser was the Active Slayer, only her death could call a new Slayer, however that’s been rendered moot by recent events."
"Interesting," Palmer nodded. "Mr. Trenton, please continue."
"Sir," Archer spoke up, "if I may interrupt, I actually have a great deal of information relating to Sunnydale that only came to my attention in the past few days following the collapse."
"Oh really?" Palmer’s attention switched to his FBI chief. "Please, Director
"Thank you, sir." The round-faced agent nodded before continuing. "In the
early 90s, a UCLA student was studying for her PhD. As part of her dissertation
she was attempting to look into crime figures in the smaller California town and
compare it to the crime figures of the state’s cities, and study what factors
influenced the crime figures. However, she found that one town had missing and
murder figures that threw out the curve, that had figures that would be
considered bad for a town four to six times its size. Furthermore, she noted
that since the city’s inception it had had Mayors that appeared to be
descendants of one another. Worried that the town was in the grasps of some sort
of crime family, and that state authorities might be somehow complicit in the
corruption, she approached the FBI."
"Excuse me," the Speaker rumbled. "This seems an awfully thin supposition on which to base an investigation?"
"Yes sir," Director Archer nodded before grinning wryly. "But she was the grand-daughter of a patriarch of the nationally governing party of the time, and her mother was a major player in state politics."
The Speaker chuckled. "I see, stroke at work, sorry, go on."
"Two agents were sent in undercover in early ‘95, not really expecting to
find anything." Archer chuckled. "They came inspecting to find small-town
corruption and perhaps a people-smuggling operation, given the large numbers of
missing people. What they discovered shook them to the core."
"They found out the Mayor wasn’t in fact a familial crime boss, but an immortal sorcerer?" Palmer interrupted then smiled at Archer’s blink. "Yes, I’ve made investigating this world a priority ever since I discovered it." When your nightmares kept you awake, you might as well have reading material.
"Yes, it appears he’d leased the Hellmouth from a law-firm for a century, at the end of which he intended to ascend," Archer continued. "However they were stymied from reacting by forces that were unknown at the time, but we now believe were the Demon Research Initiative." Palmer felt his head throb at the mention of that particular monumental cock-up. He supposed the organisation might have served a purpose once, but for the last several decades it had been utterly corrupt, incompetent, and self-serving. "As a result they were restricted to a purely surveillance role."
This was all very fascinating but… "Excuse me," Palmer leaned forward, eyes intent on the law office. "I assume the agents stayed in place until after Harris and Spenser left?"
"Yes sir," Archer nodded. "We had agents in place until the day before Sunnydale’s collapse."
"I have a meeting with the British Ambassador to discuss the Mass Calling in a hour and I’m conversant with occurrences in Sunnydale until they left," he’d spent hours tracing every minute of Xander, Faith, and to a lesser extent Tara and Kennedy’s lives, "so can we move to events following 16th July 1999?" He looked around the room. "Director Archer will provide dossier copies to everyone in the room with the understanding they’re classified ‘Eyes Only’."
"Yes sir," Archer flipped through a few pages of his file before continuing. "During 99/00, the ‘Scoobies’ were joined by Anya Jenkins, a former Vengeance demon who became Ms. Rosenberg’s lover, a Jonathan Levinson, a minor sorcerer, and William The Bloody, a notorious vampire with a chip in his head forcing him to non-violence around humans. Ms. Summers dated an Initiative agent, Riley Finn until late ‘01 when he was recalled and seconded to SHIELD. Their foes during this period of time included the demon\human\cyborg hybrid ADAM created by the DRI’s pet scientist Mrs. Walsh, and Anya’s former boss, the chief Vengeance demon, D’Hoffryn. They also broke up a money-lending ring led by a shark-headed demon called," Archer smirked, "Teeth."
"Better that than Jaws," Walken snorted. "But only just."
"In 2001, Harris destroyed the Council in retribution for their attack on Faith, forcing a number of the surviving Watchers and their Potentials to flee to Sunnydale-."
"How many Watchers and Potentials?" queried Trenton.
The FBI director checked his file before continuing. "Somewhere in the region of twenty five Watchers and sixty Potentials."
"Thank you," Tenton nodded.
"Also in 2001, the group were forced to fight off the attempts of a hell goddess called Glory who was attempting to rip her way through this dimension to her home. They killed her," Archer looked up, "we believe that Mr. Giles killed the demon in her human form, but chose not to pursue the possible prosecution for obvious reasons, but Ms. Summers died."
"The same Ms. Summers who caused this Mass Calling?" queried a bemused looking Speaker Walken.
"Yes sir," Archer nodded. "Ms. Rosenberg resurrected her-."
"What?" the vice-president exclaimed. "She did what???"
"It’s believed that behind Dr. Strange and a trio of witches on the west coast known as the Charmed Ones, that Ms. Rosenberg is the most powerful magic user in the world," Archer explained. "In 2002, Levinson was slain, killed and turned on a normal vampire hunt, then slain by the newly-resurrected Slayer. It’s believed that it’s this event that pushed Summers into the arms of Spike. Also, Ethan Rayne, an old friend\enemy of Mr. Giles returned to town, and in concert with the mage Rack, de-ratted a Ms. Amy Madison and freed a Mrs. Catherine Madison from her prison in a cheerleader’s trophy-."
"Please," Palmer raised a hand before anyone could comment, "I’m sure it’s all covered in the files. Director Archer?"
"The quartet teamed together, causing general chaos for the Scoobies, but the group’s alliance fell apart, leaving three of them dead, and Rayne fleeing town fearing retribution from his old running-buddy. Late in 2002, a noted vampire hunter and son of Slayer Nikki Wood, Robin Wood turned up in Sunnydale seeking his mother’s killer, a recently ensoulled Spike. Also this is about the time the First began killing Potentials scattered throughout the world, hoping to force the survivors to flee to Sunnydale." Archer looked up. "There’s more in the records, but this is just a brief over-view."
FIC 71.May ‘03 – Protector (13/14)
"Thank you for that Director Archer," Palmer nodded. If nothing else it had filled in a few gaps. "Now," he looked towards Trenton. "You were going to profile the Council’s probable leaders?"
"Yes sir," Tenton nodded. "Elizabeth Summers, commonly known as Buffy-."
"Oh the poor girl," muttered the Vice-President as a photograph of a pretty but vacuous-looking blonde came up on the screen on the far wall opposite the president.
"Born in LA, 19th January 1981. As Dr. Jones indicated she was Called in April ’96 and moved to Sunnydale, the previous Hellmouth in 1997. Since her Calling as Director Archer detailed she’s defeated a number of Master Vampires including Lothos, and the Master, several demon lords, a rouge military unit, a hell-goddess, assorted human dark mages, and the First Evil."
Palmer pursed his lips and nodded approvingly. "She sounds like an amazing fighter."
"Oh she’s astounding according to all records, however there are a number of concerns as regards her personality," Trenton reported.
Palmer’s brow creased and nodded. "Please continue."
"The first problems as the Slayer began dating Angelus, a vampire-."
"Ugh," the Vice-President shuddered. "Is the girl a fan of Anne Rice?"
A chuckle ran around the room, somewhat lightening the mood. "It appears Angelus had a soul at this time, however for some unspecified reason he lost it in early ’98, and began slaughtering Sunnydale’s population, including Mr. Giles’ lover, a minor gypsy witch. Apparently the Slayer was unable and unwilling to confront her ex for several months, a problem compounded by Mr. Giles’ coddling of the girl that included him not informing the Council of his Slayer’s inaction. Finally the vampire attempted to raise a demon that would have sucked the earth into hell, forcing her into action that ended with her exiling her lover into hell. Once Angelus was finally defeated, the Slayer ran away to LA, leaving her friends, a group of untrained and unpowered teens to protect and patrol the Hellmouth."
"At this time she was only a teenager," protested the Vice-President. "Selfish, yes. Immature too, but she was only young."
"Yes Mrs. Vice-President," Trenton agreed. "But the ones she left behind were her own age and without her advantages. Furthermore, she didn’t learn as I’ll illustrate."
"By all means," Palmer nodded.
"In early September ’98, she returned to Sunnydale. Around the same time her lover returned from hell and she risked the group’s lives by not staking and just hiding him. Eventually the vampire left as did Harris and Ms. Spenser," photos of the warrior god and the devastatingly beautiful brunette flashed up on the screen. "Like Director Archer I have a full history of the Slayer, but suffice to say, our analysts built up a psychological profile that indicates she is immature, narcissistic, arrogant, and hypocritical."
Palmer grimaced. Not the person you wanted in charge of a super-powered army.
"And the other leaders?"
The picture of a timid-looking red-head replaced Ms. Summers’ on the screen on the far wall. "Willow Rosenberg is Buffy’s best friend. She’s an exceptionally powerful witch, but she also has massive problems, she is insanely loyal to Ms. Summers, and has at turns an inferiority complex and a superiority complex. It was she that completed the Mass Calling, as well as the afore-mentioned resurrection of Ms. Summers."
A learned yet hard-looking man replaced Ms. Rosenberg’s on the screen. "The final member of the probable trimutive is Mr. Rupert Giles, a professor of ancient languages and mythology at Oxford University. Rupert Giles was born in 1954, into a family of Watchers going back several generations-."
"Excuse me Mr. President," Indy Jones interrupted. "I’ve attended a number of Mr. Giles’ lectures. The man is considered an absolute genius as regards linguistics, mythology, and ancient history."
"Unfortunately," Trenton continued, "initially Mr. Giles rebelled against his family expectations and dropped out of Oxford in 1975. He fell into a group experimenting with dark magics. In addition to a number of minor criminal offences, bar brawls, minor theft, and vandalism, a spell the group attempted resulted in a demon summonsing and the death of one of his group. If not for his family influence, he’d have probably ended up in prison, either that of the government’s or more likely, the Council’s. Chastened by his actions, Mr. Giles returned to his studies, becoming a respected lecturing professor at Oxford and librarian at the British Museum, in addition to being a Watcher. In 1997, the Council changed his status from Inactive to Active Watcher, and ordered him to move to Sunnydale to become Ms. Summers’ Watcher." Trenton turned the page in his notes before continuing. "Mr. Giles is a very talented man. As Dr. Jones mentioned he’s an accredited Oxford Professor in Ancient Languages and Mythology. In addition he has a vast knowledge of numerous subjects such as history, botany, demonology, and is an experienced fighter and a talented musician."
"Well that’s hopeful," commented his Chief Of Staff.
"Hardly," Trenton shook his head. "Mr. Giles has as I said a genius level of intellect and a personality befitting of a leader, Ms. Summers is his blind-spot."
"How so?" growled Walken.
"He dotes on her like a spoiled daughter and is willing to turn a blind eye to her flaws frequently at the expense of innocent life," Trenton explained. "There’s a number of instances detailed in his profile, and several other instances detailed of him turning a blind eye to her behaviour that fortunately didn’t result in anyone’s death."
"So the Council staffed with over a thousand low-level metas is run by a childish brat and her two sycophants?" the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff snorted. "Hardly inspiring."
"Given these profiles, what do you expect the Council’s short-term and long-term aims to be?" Palmer queried.
"Given the wiping out of the previous Council’s leadership, we expect them to continue a rebuilding of the Council. This rebuilding will probably include accessing the accounts mentioned earlier, recruiting people to replace the lost Watchers, and finding and enrolling the newly Called Slayers."
"Huh," Palmer’s fingers tapped out a thoughtful rhythm on the desk. "And now long will this take?"
"Fortunately for Mr. Giles, a number of surviving Watchers are believed to have been already in contact with him. In addition, a number of Sunnydalers are also working with the Slayer," Trenton replied. "However considerable damage was done to the Council, and possible Watchers and Slayers are spread throughout the world, so we’re looking at a minimum of a year."
"And once the Council is up and running?" queried the Speaker of the House.
"It’s part of a Slayer nature to want to hunt, they actually physically need it," commented Indiana Jones. "I’d expect them to begin systematically wiping out the demons in the localities they’re based in."
Palmer scowled. "And what about them interfering in the greater world?"
"Mr. President, the Council has never openly interfered in the world outside their sphere, preferring to limit themselves to diplomatic pressure usually through family connections," Indy replied before adding a caveat. "However, there’s only ever been one or at the most two Slayers before."
"Very well." Palmer’s fingers continued to drum out a thoughtful beat on the desk before him. "Mr. Ryan, I want you to come up with a stand-by plan that would simultaneously take all three of the Council’s leaders off the board and cripple the Council’s capacity to make war."
"Yes sir," John Ryan blanched at the thought of having to deal with the supernatural but nodded anyway.
"Bear in mind, I don’t want you to concentrate on just possible termination of the Council’s leaders, but crippling their effectiveness to function as an organisation, removing their finances, discrediting their leaders publicly," Palmer added.
"That’s great sir," Indiana Jones chirped up. "But I imagine states such as China and the Vatican will keep any Slayers that occur within their numbers to themselves, they could become weapons for their own use."
"They have vampire-fighting operations?" queried the Vice-President.
"Yes Mrs. Vice-President," Jones said. "But I was also thinking they might use the Slayers that are Called in their countries in more ‘mundane’ operations, assassination, sabotage, industrial espionage, that sort of thing."
President Palmer bit back a groan. Problem piled on top of problem.
FIC: MC 71. May ‘03 – Protector (14/14)
"Bloody hell." Paperwork, he’d always hated it. Well that wasn’t strictly true, he loved the nitty gritty of research and translation, but he loathed administration with a fiery passion he normally reserved for yank sports.
Giles sat back in his chair and pushed his glasses up his nose as he
struggled to decide the deathly important matter of just how many toilet rolls
to order for his ever-growing group. "Well, there’s a discount for a -."
BRING! BRING! BRING!
"Oh goodness gracious, saved." Giles muttered as he lunged for the phone like
a drowning man leaping for a life raft. "Hello, Rupert Giles?"
"Oh," his enthusiasm for the phone call died before it had truly bloomed,
"and how can I help you, assuming I’d actually want to?"
"I need to speak to Buffy."
"About what?" They’d just gotten rid of Spike, there was no bloody way he was going to sit back and allow Angel to re-insert himself in their lives.
"I’ve found out who Mithras is." The vampire paused. "Well I’ve known for a while but I thought Buffy wouldn’t want to know," Giles grimaced, he was right about that, "but last week I found out that Mithras had started a Branch in LA, within my group, and I think with her new Slayers, it’s something Buff-."
"You can’t tell her," Giles interrupted.
Giles briefly enjoyed the rare note of shock in Angel’s voice. "I’m the head of the Council, I got beaten up by Mithras. Of course I bloody know you wally." He’d only kept several of the Watchers from mentioning it to Buffy by pointing out if they drew Xander’s attention to them, they might not survive a second attack. Fear could be a most potent motivator.
"Well what are you doing about it?"
Giles chose to ignore the challenge in the vampire’s voice. "Well mostly hope we don’t do anything to annoy Mr. Harris."
"You can’t be serious!"
"You’ve no idea have you?" Giles shook his head. "If Buffy finds out what Xander is, she’ll demand he gives her command of his forces. When he refuses, and believe me he will, she’ll go after him, and he’ll kill her!"
"Oh come on," Angel let out a rare laugh. "Xander-."
"What do you know about the Brotherhood?" Giles demanded. "Do you have any idea just what the Brotherhood is? What they’ve achieved? Who their allies are? Who’ve they’ve defeated?"
"I’ve heard rumours," Angel grunted.
"Well thanks to the Council and my own resources, I’ve heard considerably more," Giles snapped. "I trust you’re familiar with Sun-Tzu?"
"Know your enemy, a wise chap Sun-Tzu," Giles continued over the vampire. "In California alone, there’s a trio of Mithras Branches, one in LA, one in San Diego, and one located in San Francisco. Should you attack the LA branch, the two California branches will immediately come to their aid. That’s somewhere in the region of fifty experienced demon hunters. Do you have the resources to battle them? And there’s another twenty or so groups through the US. alone, and the minimum of another dozen groups throughout the world. And that’s just what I know about."
"You’re making my point for me." Giles was pleased to note the uncertainty in the vampire’s voice. "These forces should be-."
"Then there’s Xander’s allies," Giles continued on. "You’re aware of Blade?"
Angel let out a long-suffering sigh. "I’m a vampire of course I know of him-."
"He’s worked with Xander on at least three occasions I’m aware of," Giles
warned. "It’s also rumoured that Faith personally saved the life of the current
"As in United States?"
"No of Pampers, of course the United States you great pillock." Giles shook his head at the question. "I trust you’ve heard of the Sorcerer Supreme and the Charmed Ones?"
"Yes," now Angel was racing past uncertainty and plunging into bemusement. "Of course. The Sorcerer Supreme is the most powerful magician in the world, and the Charmed Ones aren’t far behind-."
"And both are friends of Xander’s group, as are the X-Men." Giles ignored the vampire’s shocked grunt. "Then there’s what the Mithras Quartet themselves have actually achieved." Giles paused as he gathered his memories before continuing. "I trust you’ve heard of Bathory, Dracula, De Rais, Glint, LaFitte brothers, Lucis, and Comte de Saint-Germain?"
"They’re all Master vampires."
"They all were Master vampires," Giles gleefully corrected. "Note the tense as in past. Those and others were slain by Xander or Faith."
"Buffy’s bested plenty of vampires-."
Giles rolled his eyes. Good lord, but it was evident Buffy hadn’t dated Angel for his brains. Mind you, it was clearly obvious the vice versa was true. "You remember the Watcher’s Council? Of course you recall the Order Of Takara? Have you heard of Il Lumison Legatus? These and other organisations have been forcibly dismantled by the Mithras Quartet. They’ve taken out voodoo priestesses, a Wolf-God, demonic overlords, fallen angels, Chaos Lords, and god only knows what else." Giles paused. "Understand this, if you attempt to set Buffy against them, you will lose. And even if by some fluke you don’t, their friends will ensure you don’t live long enough to savour your victory."
There was a long pause. "I won’t say a word to Buffy about Xander."
"I think that’s a very wise decision."
* * *
"I’m so sick of that bitch!"
Rona grinned sourly at Colleen’s hiss. "Preachin’ to the choir." In the months they’d been in Sunnydale, they’d gotten well and sick of the bossy Slayer, not to mention her disgusting behaviour with the vampire. It was her not so humble opinion that bleach had rotted BOTH of their brains. "But we’re Slayers now too."
"So?" Colleen shook her head as she glanced towards the shut room, the four of them cramped into Vi’s room. "Nothing will change, she’s in charge."
"Oh it’ll change, we’ll have to patrol as well as do ALL the chores," Colleen groused.
"There’s rumours she’ll split all the Sunnydale Slayers up and make them lead teams," Shannon added.
"Like hell," Rona defiantly hissed, her shoulders slumping. "But what can we do? Even if we’re Slayers, she’s still got the Council backing her." That might not mean as much as it had in the old days, but Giles was now the Council’s leader, and any surviving Watchers were all firmly behind Summers, meaning he had all the Council resources.
"What about Xander?" Everyone looked towards Vi who predictably blushed at the attention. "He might have told us to stay quiet about knowing him for his and our sakes, but he never said anything about us not joining him."
"We can carry our weight now," Colleen added.
"Yeah," Rona agreed. "But we don’t know where he is."
"Then we wait until we do, then join him," Shannon commented.
"And until then put up with the Princess," Rona scowled.
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