And You Thought . . .
Shayna tossed slightly as she dreamed of Warren, Immortals, and a sadistic vampire that liked to play with molten gold. When he started pouring it down the throat of . . .
She came awake with a start, and would have bolted upright in her bed, had it not been for the blankets that were being used to pin her down.
Four men surrounded the bed, two on either side, each one pulling down hard on the blankets.
A fifth man had quickly taped her mouth shut with duct tape, and then smiled sweetly.
“You lead us for quite a chase, pretty one. But the Mistress was NOT pleased with the way you left the game. She has some rather . . . interesting ideas for you. She isn’t quite finished with you.”
The four men wrapped Shayna tightly in her blankets, and she hoped fervently that her parents weren’t going to be harmed. Knowing these creeps, however, she started to cry. There was no way they would leave her parents alive, was there?
“Shh, sweet thing. She told us to play nice and leave your mommy and daddy out of it. Too bad you won’t get away so easily. And you thought you and were safe in your cozy little world!”
He laughed quietly as they dragged their “Shayna roll” out the door . . .
Just Another Manic Monday
by Kay & Sukh
Toronto Airport – in and around the Ladies room at customs
“Oh my God – did you see her eyes?! They were YELLOW! She hissed at us. It wasn’t normal! That woman had fangs.”
Fangs . . . yellow eyes . . . hissing?
Giles tried to get closer to the group of hysterical women helplessly clinging to the RCMP. If there was a vampire at the airport, he’d have to see that no one got hurt. But how was he going to dispose of it without the proper materials. He hoped that it was a nice vampire with a bad sense of timing.
““A”A”A”A”A”A”A”A”A”A”AA!” Giles found himself plastered against the wall outside the lady’s room as yet another woman came running out.
It had to be the same woman he’d seen crashing through customs, taking out three Mounties as she ran for the interior of the hallways. It had only taken him off guard for a moment when he saw her smoking.
“She came after me . . . I think I had a heart attack . . . Someone call 911(or whatever it is in Canada) . . . You’ve got to do something before she kills us all.”
The group of women hung behind as three Mounties came walking toward the creature’s sanctuary.
“Kill it I tell you . . . It is Evil . . . We will all be destroyed . . . ” A group had gathered around to see the removal of the demon from the restroom. Someone was going to get hurt before it was all over. Where was Buffy when she was needed?
“I’ll take care of this,” A Mountie carrying a blackout curtain and accompanied by a woman stopped the progressing.
Giles moved to the door and slipped in as the Mounties discussed who was going to go in and see what all the commotion was about. Keeping his back to the wall, he searched the room for any sign of the demon.
“The lady’s room is out of order.” A small woman with dark skin and flowing dark curls stepped away from the sinks. She studied him and her eyes narrowed to tiny slits. “You pervert,” she spat advancing toward him. “Nothing like middle-aged rapist for breakfast, but beggars can’t be choosers.”
“No wait,” Giles held a hand out, pulling his glasses off with the other. “I can explain.”
“Explain why a man is in the lady’s room at seven o’clock in the morning,” she smiled at him, showing just a hint of a fang. “My dear man, only a complete sicko would do that and I’m in no mood to deal with your sort today.”
The door burst open and the fourth Mountie and his companion came rushing in, closing the door behind them.
“Melissa?” The woman asked, approaching the severely pissed vampire.
“No, Melissa left. I’m just keeping the seat warm.”
“Miss Melissa.” Benton stepped forward and dropped the curtain to the floor. “I am Constable Frasier. Your friend Mr. Vlashmire requested that I help you get out of the airport.”
“Well it’s about time you got here.” She threw her arms in the air and feigned a helpless bat of her eyelashes. “Just one little problem.” Melissa pointed at Giles and sneered. “Mister Weirdo here is looking for a good time.”
“Um,” Giles turned to the Mountie and held out his hand. “Rupert Giles, sir. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“Yes,” said the woman. “I’m Dr. Natalie Lambert of the coroner’s office. I do this sort of thing all the time.”
“Really?” Giles arched an eyebrow.
“What Dr. Lambert means is that this poor woman needs our help getting out of the airport. She is um . . . ”
“Allergic to the sun,” Natalie shouted.
“That’s a good one,” Melissa snickered, rolling her eyes.
Giles moved toward the Mountie. “This my sound crazy Constable, but that woman is more than allergic to the sun.”
“Okay,” yelled Melissa. “Fun’s over. Let’s kill the pervert and then get out of here.”
“Constable I suggest you call my friend, Buffy Summers. She has experience in this type of work.”
“Buffy?” Natalie said.
“Yes, do you know her?”
“Yeah, she’s back at Casa Loma with the rest of our . . . friends.”
“Listen, everyone, I couldn’t care less about who knows whom. I’m hungry, tired and baking in this place.” Melissa glared at each human in turn.
“Very well,” Benton said. “Miss Melissa if you could just get into the blackout curtain and make like a dead person, Dr. Lambert and I will get you out of the airport.”
“I don’t do dead.” Melissa crossed her arms and glared some more. All four people jumped when the phone rang. “Yes,” she spat into it.
“Get in the damn curtain or stay there ’till sunset,” came blaring from the phone.
“Exactly what does a stiff do?” Melissa said, sitting in the middle of the curtain.
Nothing Hurts Like Your Mouth
Vampires occupied every available surface within Casa Loma Gifts. A lot of shifting and growling had occurred before any of them felt even remotely comfortable.
Vachon was currently sitting in one corner, knees up and head down; The sooner he succumbed to sleep, the sooner they would be up and searching for Tracy. Kat lay stretched out across some nearby boxes beside an elegant brunette vampire. It was either that or on the floor, cheek and jowl, with a scabby, leprous fellow.
Restless, Kat found herself staring at LaCroix across the darkened shop. Earlier, while everyone had been jockeying for the best sleeping arrangements, he had paid her a visit.
“Ahhh, Katherine,” he said, gallantly taking her hand and kissing it. She had to stifle the overwhelming urge to curtsey.
They were almost the same height, but whereas Kat appeared willowy, LaCroix had breadth and muscle. He was not a large man, simply a powerful one. The grip he had on her was deceptively light; He slowly and sensually rubbed his thumb across the tops of her fingers as he spoke to her.
“I’ve waited a long time for this moment,” he said. His gaze was direct and unforgiving.
“And why is that?” she responded coldly – battling anger, as well as, fear.
“Do I need to explain it to you? No, I thought not,” he added. There was no hiding her thoughts from this man, her maker.
Kat responded to the pressure of his grasp by increasing her own, “I meant, why the wait?”
“I wanted the occasion to be perfect.” LaCroix got closer to let someone pass, then used the opportunity to make their conversation more intimate. “But, more importantly, I didn’t believe you were ready to meet your family . . . until now.”
The rest of the room began to settle down and LaCroix stepped back. Without breaking eye contact, he brought her hand to his mouth but did not kiss it. Inhaling deeply, he nuzzled her palm, drinking her in.
“Sleep well,” he murmured before releasing her and returning to Angelique.
Conceding her need to rest, Kat reluctantly turned over – away from LaCroix and all of her unanswered questions. Instead of peace, she experienced a now familiar tug on her psyche.
Expecting LaCroix, or even Nick, Kat opened her eyes and was surprised to find her beautiful box-companion gazing at her. The woman reached over and tenderly touched Kat’s cheek.
“Beware, ma soeur,” Janette whispered before leaning over and kissing her passionately on the lips.
Friend Like Me (pt 1)
by Kay & Sukh
Airport, Road, Casa Loma
Benton and Giles lifted the bodybag/blackout curtain and shifted it around.
“Watch it,” came a hiss from inside. “I’m gonna kill someone for this.”
“Miss Melissa,” Benton said, “you have to act dead or this won’t work.”
Natalie finished doctoring the lady’s room and collected Melissa and Ricze’s bags before following the guys out the door. “Coming through,” Benton shouted.
“What have you got there, Constable?” a Mountie asked, coming toward the trio.
“Everything is under control,” Benton said. “Dr. Lambert is with the Toronto P.D. coroners’ office and has given us permission to move the body.”
“Body?” came a horrified cry from the gathered crowd.
“Yes,” said Giles. “A tragic accident. I’m afraid the poor woman was mad.”
“What do you want us to do?” the Mountie asked.
“Just make sure the crime scene stays clean.”
The trio moved out into the parking lot. Giles and Benton waited while Nat pulled the Caddy around. She popped the trunk and the guys rolled Melissa, curtain and all into the spacious interior. They shut the door. Nat yelled out to no one in particular. “You gonna be okay in there?”
“Yeah,” came a muffled reply. “Just don’t slam on the brakes really hard and I should be fine if I don’t suffocate.”
“Casa Loma, here we come.” Nat got back behind the wheel and the guys got in the back.
“Does the radio work?” Giles asked.
Nat flipped the switch and changed it quickly. “I see Schanke’s been using the Caddy,” she muttered.
Friend Like Me (pt 2)
by Kay & Sukh
Casa Loma Gift Shop
Nat pulled the Caddy into a quiet spot of the Casa Loma grounds and the three mortals got out and did a quick survey of the area. Everything seemed clear. Maybe they’d get lucky and wouldn’t have to fight anyone off to actually get inside.
Giles and Benton unpacked Melissa from the trunk and they went on to the stables, through the tunnel, down the halls until they came to the gift shop.
“Hey everyone,” Nat said, a little too perky for the group of vampires gathered in the shop.
“We found something rather interesting at the airport,” Benton said as he and Giles set the rolled up curtain on the floor.
“It seems there was an unfortunate accident in the ladies’ room,” Giles said, giving the bundle a little push to make it unroll.
Melissa came out of the curtain eyes glaring and fangs barred in her nastiest hiss – she was not a day person by any means. She stopped at the feet of a full slayer mode Buffy, stake in hand.
“You okay Giles?” Buffy said, keeping her eyes on the new arrival. She didn’t know who it was, but no one messed with her friends and got away with it.
“How cute,” snarled Melissa. “Guess I’m gonna get breakfast after all.”
She sprang into the air and went after Buffy, who sidestepped and sent a roundhouse to her head. Melissa stood shocked. Never had a mortal been able to touch her – who was this little bitch?
Every other vampire in the room just sat back with stunned looks on their faces – who had ordered the entertainment?
“Melissa,” barked a rather irritated male voice.
“YOU,” Missy screeched. She dropped Buffy like a bad habit and went after Ricze. He simply stood his ground and held out a palm. She hit it full force, snarling like a mad dog.
“I’m glad to see you too,” Ricze purred. “Not that I like your gratitude for getting you out of that witch hunt very much.”
“I wouldn’t have been there in the first place if not for you.” Missy tried to kick him but found herself sprawled on her butt.
“As fascinating as this is,” Giles interrupted. “Would anyone care to let me know what is going on?” He gave Buffy one of those you-are-in-Big-Trouble looks.
Buffy sighed. “Come on Giles. Willow and I’ll fill you in while the vamps settle in for the day.”
Benton and Nat found spots near the rest of the mortals as the vamps all returned to their places and went back to glaring at each other across the room.
“Bitch,” spat the dark haired child at the graceful Nubian beside LaCroix.
“Please,” Angelique answered. “I am above name calling.”
“Would that be the slut?” Missy hissed as Ricze pushed into a corner.
“Behave,” Ricze warned. “She may take you up on that challenge.”
Angelique turned and looked at Melissa. “I would watch your mouth, childe.” She growled, every word dripping ice.
“Promises, promises.” Melissa found a good spot next to an intriguing looking long haired male vamp. “Mind if I sit?”
“Feel free,” Vachon smiled as he made room for Melissa.
Casa Loma Gifts
Revealing more than she thought possible, Kat hoped her sister in blood could help put the pieces together. Janette opened up, as well, surprised by her own candor. They lay face to face, yet avoided each other’s eyes as they reflected on their humble beginnings.
The picture Janette painted was of a dominating and hedonistic Sire; She loved, admired and feared Lucien LaCroix – as much as her vampire sensibilities would allow. Although technically no longer LaCroix’s, she still regarded him as the head of their small family.
The third member, Nichola, was the favored son – the one who could bring their creator the most profound pain and pleasure. Their clashes had compromised Janette on many occasions. She made it clear to Kat that by no means did they spend every moment together. There had been decades where the three had separated, and not just for security reasons; Stagnation was enough to drive any vampire mad.
By coincidence or fate, the three would eventually make it back together, though. Hence the current situation.
“It is usually under better circumstances,” she added, referring to the little scene being played out by a new vampire to the group and a well-prepared teenage mortal.
Kat smiled as the uppity vamp was put in her place. Kat continued to smile, a wholly different breed of smile, when she noticed where Missy chose to sit her spoiled little butt.
Up to Speed
Casa Loma Gifts
This entire situation was giving Buffy the wiggins in a big way.
“So?” Giles followed Buffy as she and her group found a place away from the rest of the assorted creatures in the gift shop.
“Well, this is so Twilight Zone, Giles, why didn’t you warn me?”
“I told you‑‑‑”
“You didn’t tell me about immortals, or those . . . “ she pointed to Vachon as he dozed. “Vampires,” she whispered as Vachon opened his eyes and blinked at the small huddle of mortals. “I really wish you had let me read the Slayer’s manual.”
“I need to know exactly what is going on.”
“Well, that Duddly Do Right,” she said, pointing at Benton, “picked us up from the airport and took up to a Nick Knight’s place.”
“Yes, go on.”
“This Nick is a vampire, but he only drinks bovine blood, so I guess it makes him okay.” She took a deep breath. “Then these two men, a Scottish guy and an English guy plus two women, one a Xena look alike, came over and I find out they are Immortal.”
“You know about the game?” Giles’s eyes widened.
“You mean how they like to chase each other around and hack off heads after a swashbuckling sword fight?” Buffy snorted. “Been there. Heard that.”
Giles was frowning and adjusting his glasses.
“What?” Buffy hated it when he played with his glasses – that meant he was going to announce something not positive.
“Don’t forget the freak show tape,” Xander reminded Buffy.
“Tape?” Giles took his glasses off.
“Yeah, some third rate torture tape.” It had given Buffy the wiggins, especially when the one with the short, dark hair had died and come back to life. Way too Creepshow for her.
“No, you don’t. Spike was in it.”
“Then went to this place that was DejaVu of the bronze.” She pointed out the supermodel Egyptian and the over-the-edge guy. “Then he did some kind of magic trick and we ended up here. And some psycho chick named August tried to snack on our pristine friend Xander.”
“Then I showed up,” Angel announced, stepping into the circle.
“That one,” Buffy pointed to Ricze, who was busy cleaning a very major lethal looking gun. “Saved Xander’s skin. Angel just was for back up.” She grinned. “Then miss supermodel wanted a taste of virgin blood.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “She didn’t.”
“Then I showed up.”
Giles started at that voice, then turned around. “Fire?” He hadn’t seen her since his days at Oxford. Not since she had been accepted into her first assignment in another part of the spider like watcher society. She left him to deal with demons, personal and specter alone.
She smiled. “Hello Rupert.”
I Got the Itch
Casa Loma Gifts
Missy did an inconspicuous little wriggle and ended up touching the leather of Vachon’s jacket with her arm. Unfortunately, the long haired vamp with the 5 a.m. shadow had already fallen back into a deep sleep. Not only that, the food nearby was still chatting it up.
“We CAN hear you,” she snapped in their general direction. Despite her heroic attempt, the mortal whispering continued.
Using her indignation, she inched closer to Javier. Feigning sleep, Missy was about to lay her head on his shoulder when she felt him stirring. She “woke up” and flashed her best innocent look until she saw that he was still out of it.
Vachon moaned softly then languidly opened his eyes. He had a sexy little smile on his face but he was directing it at a vampire draped over a cardboard box a few feet away. The redhead was smiling just as steamily back at him.
Whatever, she thought, rolling her eyes.
Just as she was snuggling in for some real shuteye, something skittered across the top of her foot. Missy jumped slightly, kicking it away. A few moments later she felt something else, racing along her arm. She swatted frantically at it. Annoyed, she waited, wide-eyed, for the next roach to dare and touch her. Nothing.
She began to drift off when one bug crawled up her back – under her clothes – and another bit her on the tush.
“Hey!” she shouted and jumped up, brushing at the dirty little things. Missy fidgeted, trying to dislodge the roaches, or whatever they were, from her person. “Thanks, but no thanks,” she hissed, leaving a confused Vachon in her wake.
Kat slept quite well that afternoon.
Back to The Future
Giles pushed his glasses up, then adjusted his tie and ran a finger around the collar of his shirt.
“Fire, it has been a while. You look well,” he commented, wondering why she hadn’t aged a bit. Plastic surgery did wonders these days, he supposed.
Fire ran her hand across the back of his shoulders, as she came around to face him. “Still chasing vampires, I see.” Fire glanced at Buffy. “So this is The Slayer.”
She slowly circled Buffy, doing a head to foot scan. Buffy’s eyes followed Fire with a look that told her to back off. “Hmmmm. I heard there was another Slayer besides yours.”
“Not this again.” Buffy rolled her eyes heavenward. “Once and for all. I am the real slayer. The other one is just a back up.”
Giles cleared his throat, “Yes, well, ummm, we have already established that Buffy.”
Buffy’s gaze met Giles’. “Is this a friend of yours?” she asked, pointing to Fire.
Giles looked at Fire, then Buffy. “Yes. We knew each other at university. It was a long time ago.” A long time for him to carry his burdens from the past.
Buffy’s eyes grew big. “Like . . . your friend from the magic shop?”
“He wasn’t a friend any longer.”
Fire shook her head, and chucked Giles under the chin. “He was never your friend.”
“Yes, well that doesn’t pertain to the situation at hand.”
Xander & Willow looked at each other and Xander replied, “It works for me.”
“I suggest we take some time to regroup. Shall we?”
Fire grinned. “Yes, shall we?”
Buffy looks at Giles & said, “I hope she’s a little more stable than your last friend.”
Giles looked at Fire and Fire smirked. “Let’s hope so.”
Sundown in the Garden of Good and Evil
Evie slowly started to wake. She stretched the occasional stretch, hating the fact that she had to sleep on stone. It always caused so many aches and cricks and so on.
She suddenly realized that she had woken up on her own, and that Hanna had not said a word to her. Since they were in the maintenance room, she fumbled around for a couple of seconds and found a flashlight. It flickered terribly, meaning the batteries were about dead. But it was enough for her to see Trapper and Nick sleeping peacefully. Then she shined the light on Hanna, and wished she hadn’t.
“H”NNA!” she screamed, loud enough to stir Trapper and Nick. Evie kicked open the door as the batteries died, and got just barely enough light into the tiny room.
Trapper sat up as quickly as she could, her eyes searching out Evie and Hanna. Her mouth dropped open with shock and surprise.
Nick whispered Hanna’s name, then swore to himself.
“What happened?” Trapper asked in a strangled voice.
Evie shook her head. “I don’t know. She told me to sleep for a little while, and that she would wake me so that I could assume guard duty. But she never did.”
“I don’t see how she could!” Nick snarled, then swore again.
She, of course, heard every word they said. And saw everything they did. But there was nothing she could do. The sun was just setting, and she could feel her control of Jonas slipping away.
“What, did someone come in here, drain her, and leave us alone?” Trapper asked, curious as to why Hanna showed all of her near‑thousand years. Despite the skin and hair, she really did look like a thousand‑year‑old animated corpse!
And then those lips moved, and a rasping near‑whisper came. Evie leaned over, trying to hear.
“Danger,” she whispered with effort.
“Danger from what? Hanna, who did this to you?” Evie implored.
She wanted to shake her head, tell them there was no time, but she didn’t have the strength. So she said one more word, and hoped they would get her meaning.
“Jonas did this to you? Hanna? Hanna?”
She, of course, couldn’t answer. Her strength was gone.
At the same time, there began a rather bone‑chilling howling that sounded a lot more like a scream. The wind picked up and tore at the mansion, the trees cracked and branches flew.
Trapper looked at Evie, and they both looked at Nick. “What the hell is going on!?”
Poor Little Button
She hung loosely in the manacles that held her to the wall. And her mind was hardly coping with her ordeal. In the beginning, she had held up valiantly. But it was just too much to deal with.
So, as she hung there, she sang aloud weakly, “Tracy Vetter is in fetters. Tracy Vetter is in fetters. Tracy Vetter is in fetters . ”
She didn’t notice it when Horton left the room to go check on Amanda . . .
Horton hummed to himself the tune that Tracy had been singing the past few hours. He found it quite lovely that the little mortal had lost her mind! Just wait until her vampire lover got her back! What a handful she would be!
Of course, he wouldn’t keep her long; August wouldn’t allow it. They would both die instants after they were reunited. She had seen to it. The door to the tower room Tracy was in was ensorceled with some of Vachon’s blood so that, when the Spaniard walked through the door, the room would explode.
He loved it!
He entered the opposite tower through a secret passage, knowing that the others were up and about now, looking. He opened the door to the room that held Amanda and smiled.
“Hello, my ancient pet! How do you like my toy?”
She didn’t answer. She couldn’t, since he had long since cut out her tongue and ate it. He didn’t doubt that it would grow back, if she was given the time. Unfortunately for her, she wouldn’t have the time to find out if it would or not.
Had she had her tongue, she still wouldn’t have been able to answer, since she was in that brief limbo that all Immortals passed into when they were mortally wounded.
Horton had her hooked up to a machine with a wire that he had inserted into her heart. It wasn’t very large, so it wasn’t that hard for him to do. And he hadn’t needed to worry about cleaning up too much, since her Immortal healing process eventually closed the wound.
He was quite proud of his device and hoped that he would be able to test it on MacLeod one day. Quite simply, the electrodes that were attached to the heart sent out enough shock that it caused a massive heart attack. Since Amanda was Immortal, he would shock her to death, let her revive, then do it all over again.
Oh, how he loved to watch her jump about when the shock hit her. To see her eyes bulging and the blood running out of her eyes, nose, ears and mouth! He licked up the blood every time it came, and then waited patiently for her to come around again.
She awoke yet again, spitting blood. He was about to hit her with the shock, when he heard August in his head. She was telling him where he could find Hanna that she would be unable to fight him and that he should take her out to her husband. Jonas was currently in a frenzy and wouldn’t be able to keep himself from killing his wife.
He laughed happily at that idea. Oh, but wouldn’t Jonas be dreadfully unhappy with himself!? Horton couldn’t wait! He hit the button and electrocuted Amanda one last time for good measure before he ran off to find the “Mighty Midget.”
Under a Blood Red Sky
- Feed. Hurt! Feed!
“No. Later. Feed now, die.”
NOW! Pain. Feed!
He awoke shortly after dawn. His belly was tight and his head throbbed in agony. All he could think of was to feed; Blood would make it better.
And then that voice in his head latched onto him like a vice and wouldn’t let go. Every time he tried to claw his way out, that voice would hold him back. It wouldn’t let him move so much as a single inch out of his grave.
The voice refused to let him go. Every protest of hunger was met by a loud thrust in his head, and it hurt too much to fight it.
As sunset approached, the voice grew steadily weaker. Until the point where it could hold him no longer.
“All right. Feed now,” it whispered as it vanished.
He didn’t hesitate.
The earth erupted as he crawled out of the hole. As he pulled himself completely out, lightning crashed around him. He snarled at it, and the wind echoed him.
Lifting his head, more dirt and rock fell from his form. And then he smelled it. The roaring in his ears became deafening and he could see only crimson. He heard the heartbeats and moved toward them so quickly that none saw him coming, not even the others like him.
But they felt it.
The first Watcher/vampire he came across was drained and dead before he hit the floor. The second barely caught a glimpse of the horrid, dead-looking thing that was covered in dirt before he shared the fate of the first.
One of the Immortals in August’s employ was next to go, his head being torn from his body BEFORE being fed from.
He ripped the door from its hinges as he entered the building. He killed yet another Watcher/vampire before he was struck by sudden confusion.
Which way should he go?
This way, he could hear the lapping of water, and feel the presence of three . . . no four . . . no FIVE others. But this way . . . yes! This way would be it! He could feel the presence of many of his own kind, as well as hear quite a few mortal heartbeats.
Feed! He cared about nothing else.
Not the fact that the first one he met upon entering the gift shop was his longtime friend, Friedreich, whom he had known for well over 1500 years. Friedreich had felt him rise from the earth and immediately posted himself at the door to protect the others, knowing that his death would prepare them to deal with the frenzied Jonas.
?Zara? looked around the room as Friedreich moved to the door. Something was terribly wrong and she knew something disastrous was about to happen.
Kat, with her preternatural gifts, knew death was coming for them all.
Buffy inserted herself between her friends and the door, sensing the danger that Friedreich had felt.
Angelique heard the others as they died, and her eyes met LaCroix’s the instant Jonas burst through the door.
However prepared they all might have been, they were all still shocked by the sight of him. He was covered from head to foot in dirt, with blood caking it onto him, and bits and pieces of his other victims still clinging to him. He grabbed Friedreich by the throat, and the Garou couldn’t so much as move to save his own life.
He had almost drained him to the point of death when he felt strong hands all around him, trying to separate him from his prey. He almost latched onto one of them, but the putrid blood kept him away. And for once, Marcus was profoundly glad that his blood was poisoned to anyone who wasn’t Nosferatu.
Unable to latch onto any in front of him, he used the limp body of the Garou as a battering ram, and knocked them all aside.
LaCroix, Marcus and Vachon struggled to their feet in time to see the ravening vampire latch onto Angelique.
As before, he drained the life, trying to appease the hunger in him. The hands once again tried to dislodge him, but not THIS time! He was going to feed, and by the Great God, nothing was going to stop him! Until he felt the sharp blow across his face and reeled from the pain. He shook himself once, then returned to appease his hunger.
But the neck he found wasn’t the one he had just had. And the blood was quite different. Quite.
Starr didn’t know exactly why, or how, she had done it, but when she slammed the chair leg she had broken off against Jonas’ face and dislodged him from Angelique, the only thing she could think of doing to keep him from killing her was to insert herself in his pathway.
Methos, Micah, Zara and Duncan came into the room at a full run, having been warned by the death of the Immortal that something was up. Micah reacted instantly, slammed Jonas on the back of the head with the butt of his hilt. Starr fell from his grasp and landed near the fallen Angelique.
“Stop him!” LaCroix screamed as he cradled Angelique in his arms.
Methos and Duncan stopped. The only way to stop him would be to kill him. And they both knew Hanna entirely too well to want to deal with her, were they responsible for the death of her husband.
“Kill him!” LaCroix screamed even louder. No one was going to attack HIS Angelique and get away with it!
Micah raised his sword, preparing to strike. Not really for his sister. She was a big girl, and she would recover. But because he had seen Hanna as Nick and Trapper helped Evie carry her to the gift shop. And he knew what had done that to her.
In a sweeping arch, his Katana removed Jonas’ blood-drenched head. And he felt much better.
Of course, that’s what happened in his mind.
In reality, as he swung, he dropped to his knees in pain.
August’s harsh laughter entered the room, “I don’t think so, my pet. You’re mine! The two of you are too delightful as my toys! I certainly can’t have you killing each another!”
The two men vanished, and Micah’s Katana fell to the ground.
At the same moment, Evie entered the room, with Nick and Trapper right behind her. And between them, they carried the bloodless Hanna.
The room was in shambles, though the furniture was mostly intact. LaCroix was in the state of hysterical wrath. Angelique was recovering a little from the infusion of blood he had given her. The mortals in the room escaped, incredibly, unharmed. The others were a little battered and bruised, but nothing that wouldn’t heal.
Except Friedreich and Starr. Both clung to life only barely.
Vachon moved instinctively to Friedreich, since he was still mostly mortal. He would have given the Garou his blood, to save his valiant life, but Marcus grabbed his wrist as he raised it to his mouth.
“But he’ll die!”
“Then he dies.” He said it quietly, full of grief. But everyone in the room was overwhelmed by yet another shock.
“You’re just going to let him die?!” Zara shouted at him.
“We have no choice,” Marcus whispered, holding the hand of his longtime friend.
“Why not?” Buffy, too, was outraged. These creatures took life at will, and made others like them when it suited. But to let one of his supposed friends die when he could do something about it?! Yes, they were every bit as evil as the others!
“He is Garou.” He said it simply, not offering anything more.
“What has that got to do with anything?” Evie was outraged herself – from what had happened to Hanna, and the fact that someone that was important to her was about to die.
“He is Garou,” Methos responded, knowing that Marcus couldn’t bring himself out of his grief any longer. “To Embrace or bring across a Garou is forbidden. Such a being is an Abomination to both Garou and vampires. Was Friedreich saved, he would be hunted every day, for the rest of whatever life he might have, by not only his own kind, the other Garou, but by every vampire as well. And they would have to do it, even the ones that loved him or thought the death sentence was wrong. Should they refuse, they too would become hunted and destroyed, just as he would be. He would not welcome it anyway, since he would no longer be himself. He wouldn’t be able to change his form, sidestep into the Umbra, or visit the spirit world. For a Garou, for one that was born a wolf, this is unthinkable. Friedreich would welcome death before welcoming such a fate.”
They all looked at each other, taking in the grief on Marcus’ and Methos’ faces. There was nothing to be done.
Angelique listened with little interest. What occupied her mind was the fact that Starr, that little traitor, was laying almost bloodless and ready for killing right next to her. She could do it, and no one would notice. No one . . .
It’s About Time
Warren crawled into the gift shop on his hands and knees.
He was in pain. Not physical, his pain stemmed from his mind and his heart; He was so confused, so muddled and lost. But, he was beginning to see things so much more clearly now. He knew what he had done, and he knew his selfish reasons for it. And now the people he had come to call friends were dying because of his delusions – his darkest hopes and notions. Those things that should have stayed buried deep in his subconscious, but had been yanked out by something.
He knew that it wasn’t entirely his fault, yet, he had allowed it to happen. He had used the weak energies that enveloped this planet to fuel his delusions. As he brought his head up, his serene, intense blue eyes now a swirl of blue, gold and crimson, surveyed the effect of his slip . . .
Hand of Kindness
Trapper looked around at the carnage and grief-stricken faces that surrounded her. “Correct me if I’m wrong,” she began, “but since Friedreich is Garou, why are you all so worried?”
Marcus and Vachon looked at her, stunned. “What!?” they almost shouted in unison.
Buffy remained where she stood, arms crossed, surveying the situation. ‘Now THAT’S a cold one,’ she thought to herself.
Trapper looked over the top of her shades at them. “He’s a werewolf. I thought only silver could kill a werewolf, no matter which form he’s in. This doesn’t look like silver damage to me.”
Marcus gave Trapper a withering look. “You’ve read one too many horror stories, lady. That silver thing was a Hollywood movie creation. To the point, silver, to a Garou is poison. Period. And like any poison, that has an antidote that is, the damage can be healed if properly treated. But a Garou is almost like any mortal being. You shoot it in the heart, whether the bullets are silver or not, and it will die, like any mortal. Drain him of blood, and he will die. Cut off an arm or a leg, and it won’t grow back. They are stronger than most mortals, and are a bit longer lived. The shape changing is always helpful. But they aren’t Immortal in any way. The only reason Friedreich has lived for 1500 years is that he imbibed Jonas’ blood on a regular basis. So, for all purposes, he’s a Ghoul. Which is the only reason he is breathing at this moment. Now that is frowned on enough as it is, considering who and what he is. And if anyone else had done it other than Jonas, they both would have been destroyed.”
He took a deep breath and tried not to notice Buffy as she stared at him, absorbing every word. “I would explain the whole Wyrm scenario to you, the Warriors of Gaia and what not, but there isn’t any time. Maybe you’ll learn . . . if we all manage to get out alive that is.”
“Easy for you to say,” LaCroix snorted. “You don’t have to worry about anyone draining you, since your blood would be poison to them. And you can make yourself look like any of them, so escape is easy. The rest of us have to stay and deal with this situation. You can run and take cover whenever you like.”
Marcus glowered at him. “You honestly believe that I would leave, when three of my oldest, dearest friends are in this much danger? Forgive me, Lucien, we are not all selfish, uncaring bastards, such as yourself.” He then promptly turned his back on him, showing that the conversation was finished, whether or not LaCroix chose to retort.
Trapper stepped to Marcus, and placed a tentative hand on his shoulder. He half-turned toward her as she spoke. “You have my deepest apologies for my ignorance and seemingly uncaring remarks. It’s not that I don’t care, since I happen to like Friedreich. But, it is my nature to try to dispel bad situations by making light of them.” She bowed. “Again, my sincerest apologies.”
“Accepted,” he replied. “I could have been a bit . . . kinder, but that is not my way, and . . . “ He looked down at Friedreich. “I’m dreadfully worried that he will not survive.”
Trapper followed his gaze to the comatose Garou. “Would an ordinary blood transfusion help?” He looked at her, puzzled. “Dr. Lambert’s here, and I’m sure she has medical supplies.”
“Thank you for that thought,” Marcus said. “I’m not sure. Perhaps I should talk to her.” He cast another look at Friedreich and went off to look for Natalie.
Trapper wrenched her gaze away to look at Starr. “Then there’s this one.”
Angelique pulled back from her murderous contemplations with an effort to look innocent.
Nick stepped up. “She looks bad.” He looked around. “I can spare some. How about the rest of you that are able?” He looked pointedly at Buffy and her group. “Mortals, of course, excepted.”
The vampires that were able began to feed the stricken ones. Starr came to rather suddenly, her eyes snapping open to focus on Trapper. “Whoa! What have you got in there?” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
“High-test.” Trapper responded smiling. She patted Starr’s hand and went to check on Hanna’s progress.
Evie was bandaging her wrist. She shrugged at Trapper, who was gazing down disapprovingly. “So, I’ll take some extra iron next time I think of it. Hanna needed it.”
It was true; the tiny vampire was looking much better for the infusions she’d had. She was still comatose, though, and this worried all of them.
Nick slumped against the wall. “That took a little more than I expected.”
Trapper snuggled up to him, pulling her hair to one side. “Help yourself,” she breathed. “I’ve eaten, remember?”
“Mmm.” He needed no further encouragement to sink fangs into her throat.
Willow was wide-eyed. “Gee! Would you look at those two?” She went red with embarrassment. “I mean, . . . uh, he must be hungry.”
“Yeah, right, hungry,” Xander said, trying not to stare. Buffy elbowed him in the side.
LaCroix placed a hand on Nick’s shoulder, and was met with a muffled snarl. “I do hate to interrupt, Nicholas.” Trapper glared in irritation. “But, might I have a word with you?”
Nick and Trapper both sighed as he kissed her wounds shut. He rested his forehead against hers, murmuring, “Thank you, my steel rose. I’ll be right back.” He kissed her lips with his redder ones and turned. “All right, LaCroix. What’s so important?”
“I need to speak to you.” LaCroix moved in the direction of the far wall. “Walk with me.” He glanced up at Kat, who stood speaking quietly to Vachon.
Trapper watched them go and sighed.
“Would you stop it?” Evie said, good-naturedly. “You’ve got feathers all over your mouth again.”
“Mmm. I suppose I do.”
“Agh! No more! I’m getting nauseous!” Evie nudged her friend. “By the way, how COULD you drink that entire thermos of lattes?!”
“I couldn’t help myself.” She looked slightly rueful. “Sorry.” She picked up her pack. “I have instant espresso,” she offered helpfully.
“It’ll have to do,” Evie replied. “I’ll try to find some water in the back room.” She took the travel cup Trapper offered and went off to the back room, leaving Trapper to keep watch over Hanna.
smack dab in the middle of Hands of Kindness
“Nice to meet you,” she commented under her breath. Kat’s dry humor was not lost on Angelique, who was equally as uncomfortable. Accepting help from strangers was not an everyday occurrence.
Because the combined loss was so severe and the remedy so dear to them all, it was decided that a little blood from everyone would be best. It would do the most good for Hanna, Angelique and Starr, and cause the least harm to the rest of them.
LaCroix watched silently and protectively over his dark Venus as she drank the life Katherine offered. He looked from one beauty to the other, noticing how physically similar they were. Lean and lithe – feline and feminine. He smiled, contemplating how distinctive their characters were.
Angelique was as smooth and cold as a priceless black opal. Shining darkly, her strength and wisdom emanated from deep within.
Although he never intended to feel anything for his little trump card, Lucien found himself admiring her tenacity. She was proving to be a captivating gem in her own right. A newly cut ruby, Katherine was intense and colorful, if not a little rough around the edges.
Bringing an abrupt end to LaCroix’s musings, Vachon came over to the small group and crouched down. He gently lay a hand on each woman as the infusion ended. Angelique looked much improved and a relieved Javier squeezed her leg reassuringly before walking away with Kat.
Casa Loma gift shop
Angelique leaned closer to Starr. It would be so easy to end this little thorn in her side. She looked up to see Trapper moving toward her.
“Don’t even think about it, ” she hissed as she leaned over Starr.
Angelique drew back, closer to LaCroix and looked innocent. “Don’t worry, there will be other chances.” He whispered in her ear as he stood to talk to Nick.
Trapper looked at Angelique, then scooted her glasses down to see her better. “Since she saved you worthless life, the least you could do is make a donation to help her recover.”
Angelique glared at the other woman and thrust out her wrist. “I hope she chokes on it.”
Ricze laughed from behind her. “Ignore her, she is just pouting because you caught her.” He held out his wrist. “Here, have some of mine. I’m not as wiped out as most of the others.”
Angelique found a place by the door. Her hunger was beginning to surface and the scent of the young mortals was bothering her. She’d have to get out of here and feed soon.
A hand touched her arm.
She turned and looked into Warren’s tortured eyes.
In the Eye of the Storm
Casa Loma Gifts
“So, Nicholas,” LaCroix began, as they walked the perimeter of the room, “You have a fledgling.” He looked at Nick speculatively. “Although, perhaps that isn’t the proper word for this one. She’s an interesting choice, perfectly suited for our . . lifestyle, it seems.” He spoke wryly as he looked away. “I honestly didn’t think you had it in you.”
Nick listened, looking from the floor to LaCroix, and back again as he moved along, hands in pockets. “I don’t suppose you’d believe me if I told you it was an accident.” He stopped to face LaCroix.
“The thrill of the moment? Oh, come now, Nicholas. That would assume that you still have the passion of a vampire.”
“Nevertheless, LaCroix.” Nick looked directly into his maker’s eyes. “It is the truth.” He looked across the room to where Trapper stood, talking with her friend, Evie. “I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s . . . different.”
“That’s putting it mildly. Although,” he shrugged, “I obviously don’t have your . . . ah, intimate knowledge of her.”
Nick looked back at LaCroix and allowed a smile to cross his face. “Good.”
LaCroix appeared slightly taken aback. “My, my. Is that protective jealousy I hear?” His voice dropped to a whisper as he leaned closer. “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t dream of coming between you.” He followed Nick’s gaze to Trapper. “Besides, she seems quite smitten by you.” He watched Nick’s faraway smile. It was time. He had a mild twinge of regret at what he was going to do to Nick. But, he really needed to keep the younger vampire in line, didn’t he?
“Well, if that’s all, LaCroix.” Nick began to pull away. “I would like to get back.”
“No, Nicholas,” LaCroix touched Nick’s sleeve lightly. “There is something else.”
Across the room, Kat had finished her conversation with Vachon and approached the pair.
Problem Childe, 2
by Sukh and Kustenhin
An apology seemed so woefully inappropriate. But it’s all that came out . . .
“I’m sorry Angelique.” Barely audible, raspy. He was so tired of being sorry, or insane, or a hero or a villain. He just wanted to be done with this whole sorry business. So, he couldn’t go back to Terra, and now . . . he really didn’t want to. Not when . . .
Warren blinked heavily, momentarily catching the attention of Vachon. Vachon’s gaze slid away from Warren’s, a brief flash of unease in the Spanish vampire’s eyes.
The Mage shook his head and gazed at his master. TH”T sad story didn’t matter now . . . Putting one slightly wavering hand on the Egyptian priestess. She turned into his touch, on dark hand brushed his cheek.
“I’m so so so sorry.” His not quite bur got thicker in his distress. “I ‑ I ‑ Don’t know what . . . why . . . Oh hell, I was insane with loss. I know you’ll never understand. You probably watched your family die, or knew of their deaths over time. But it was TIME. A natural progression. I’m cut off from my home and my family . . . ”
“What’s left of it anyway,” he mumbled under his breath.
Angelique stroked the side of his face, a tender, comforting gesture. “Warren, my childe, all will be better. First you must earn back the trust of the rest of these people.” Her arm swept over the room. “Besides, the danger for you is not over. Shayna is not safe, even in her home.”
“Liberate Tutemet ex Inferus”
Micah opened his eyes slowly. His head hurt. It felt like it was being compressed between two cinder blocks. He would have thought that all the blood had rushed to his head, but he was under the distinct impression that he was recovering from a death that had occurred due to blood loss.
And he distinctly remembered Jonas doing the draining.
He tried to scan the room, but his head hurt too much for him to look around.
He heard a voice whisper. It was a terrible, grating noise; harsh, like broken glass. He looked for the source, despite the pain, and when he found it, he almost screamed in horror.
“Tace!” it came again, sharper this time.
It wasn’t until that moment that he realized that it was Latin he was hearing. “Tace”‑‑”Shut up.”
He tried to nod, and thought better of it. Instead, he made an exaggerated visual display of closing his mouth, so that it would be understood that he agreed to keep quiet.
“Bene habet.” It is all right. At least, that’s what he thought it meant. He tried to swallow, but his throat was too dry. He stared at the man, wondering what had happened.
He looked him over, struggling to figure out how it was possible for a creature to be alive like that. And then he realized with a start why this being still lived.
By all the Gods! He almost swore aloud.
They both hung upside down, though Micah was certain that was the extent of the similarities of their situation. Where as Micah was bound by leather straps, Jonas was bound by concertina wire. It was wrapped around him completely. His arms and legs were bound in coils of it. His face was wrapped in it as well, with one strip over his eyes and mouth respectively.
His eyes! By the Gods! He swore to himself again. Whomever had done this to him had removed his eyes. They were either clawed out, or dug out with a fork or some other object.
He scanned down his body, which was really upwards, and almost gagged. Had he been present when Urs was found, he would have recognized the handiwork. His chest had been opened up, the skin peeled back and held away from him with meat hooks. His internal organs were pinned away as well, so that if one got close enough, one could see the interior wall of his back. Well, Micah was definitely NOT getting that close!
Looking still further, he noticed that his hands had been removed, though it looked like they were either sawed off or…eaten off?! He noticed the gnawing marks on his flesh, and guessed that someone had purposefully allowed something…or someone…to chew his hands off! He looked to his feet quickly, and noticed that they too were gone. He followed the concertina wire back down to his face, but stopped when he noticed that he had been castrated as well.
He couldn’t help himself. He gagged, then threw up, glad that he was hanging upside down.
The leather bonds that held him loosened, and he was helpless to brace himself against the fall.
If his head didn’t hurt before, it sure as hell did now!
When he could, he struggled to his knees, ignoring the fact that he was covered in his own vomit.
He looked at the thing that was Jonas and realized that he was speaking to him mentally. There was no way he could speak around the wire. Even if there was, he no longer had a tongue to formulate words with.
He was using what little strength he had left to transfer his thought to Micah, so Micah moved closer, so he could “feel” that he was listening.
Save yourself? Micah blinked in surprise. With his ebbing power, Jonas had freed Micah from his bonds, and he expected Micah to just leave him here?!
“Liberate tutemet…ex inferus.”
He couldn’t breathe. There were footsteps approaching, but he couldn’t move.
“Liberate tutemet ex inferus.”
The voice dwindled away, and what essence he had left was gone. As he watched Jonas die, his body found its motivation, and he hightailed it out the door.
He had to get to the others. This wasn’t some sick, twisted man’s exercise in power, or even a madwoman’s excess in revenge. This was evil, pure and simple. And none of them were safe.
As he ran down the corridors, heading back to the gift shop, Jonas’ final words echoed through his aching head.
Liberate tutemet ex inferus.
Save yourself from Hell . . .
LaCroix nonchalantly turned his back on the redhead and pulled Nicholas aside.
“What do you think of Katherine?”
Nick pulled free of his master’s grasp. “Please, not this again.” He began to walk away and instantly changed his mind.
“What would you like me to say? That I’m glad you have a new plaything?” Struggling to keep his voice down, he continued sarcastically. “She’s very beautiful and I’m sure you’ll be very happy together. Now, if you will excuse me?”
Raising an eyebrow, LaCroix smiled at his wayward and impetuous son. “You really should spend some time with her Nicholas. You might find you have a lot in common.”
Groaning in disgust, Nicholas walked away.
“Later, perhaps,” LaCroix added quietly.
Up to Here
around 10:00 p.m.
The world slipped.
Vachon wrapped a supportive arm around Kat to keep her from falling. Secretly grateful, she laughed and half-heartedly pushed Javier away.
“It was better with you, honey,” she quipped flatly. The corner Javier had chosen that morning was the perfect skulking spot. She
reclined casually against the wall and crossed her legs at the ankle.
Refusing to be put off by her sudden callous attitude, he leaned next to her. Vachon knew this behavior much too well; He had driven people away with it, himself, many times – people he cared about.
“You didn’t have to help them, you know. No one would have held it against you,” he offered.
“Are you kidding?,” she responded bitterly, “The way I see it, I’m related to half the people in this room!” Kat wrapped her arms around herself in a protective gesture. “It’s almost over anyway,” she added cryptically, pulling away from her perch.
Their small blood sacrifice was the least of her worries. “I’m suffocating in this place!” she blurted. Reaching the end of their domain in four paces, Kat turned and retraced her steps in an attempt to walk off her malaise. There was too much going on and not enough
time to sort it out.
Friedrick, a valiant man who had saved her life by simply being at the right place at the right time, had almost died because of an arcane set of rules. Rules that she had been unaware of, rules that could have gotten them both killed had she done what she thought best. What else didn’t she know? How many other countless rules had she broken in her solitary existence? Did she even care?
Just a few meters away, Knight and LaCroix ended their conversation. Kat had no doubts about what they had been discussing. The Detective’s feelings for her were obvious – he had none. It was the elder vampire that she couldn’t fathom; What he said and what he did were two different things.
“Why am I here, anyway?” she demanded angrily. “Can you tell me that?” The question was meant for the two men across the room but it was flung at Vachon.
He was beginning to wonder about it, as well. Not about why Kat was here, specifically, but why they were here. August obviously knew where they were – it was just a matter of time before she came to kill the rest of them.
Down in It
Casa Loma Gift Shop
Just as he had successfully changed mindsets and was focused on his delightful new companion, Nick was interrupted again. He sighed in frustration, ready to castigate LaCroix, but was relieved when he saw it was Janette that wanted his attention.
“Nicola,” she said as they kissed each other on both cheeks. “I need to speak with you.”
“I want to talk to you, too, but can it wait?” He was eager to get back to Trapper and eventually to begin the search for Tracy Vetter.
“It’s about Katherine,” her voice dropped considerably when she mentioned the other woman.
Nick laughed angrily, “Not you, too.” He leaned in close as if divulging a secret, and remarked, “LaCroix already tried to force her on me . . . it didn’t work.”
Surprised by his callousness, Janette asked, “Do you know anything about her?”
When he failed to answer or even appear interested, she continued, “She has led a life that you have only dreamed about.”
Momentarily dropping the cavalier attitude, he turned his attention from his desired companion to his current one. “I don’t understand,” he replied, searching Janette’s face.
“Mlle. Canelle has spent her entire vampire existence alone.” The notion was so alien that Janette attempted to elaborate. “She met the first of her own kind only days ago.”
Nicholas turned and stared at Kat, expecting to see something, anything, that might set her apart. “What about LaCroix?” he whispered, as what Janette was telling him began to sink in.
“He savagely attacked her then left her to die,” the former prostitute continued, her outrage surfacing. “Only now, after several hundred years, does he even acknowledge her!”
Speechless, Nick searched out LaCroix with his eyes. The always cocksure vampire appeared to be in his element, dispensing advice and lording over his peers. Images flashed – 800 years of LaCroix as his sire – the good, as well as, the bad. De Brabant couldn’t be sure if he felt sorry for the ‘young woman’ or if he envied her.
Attempting to Breathe
Envy was the most appropriate thing to feel, Nick decided. It was an impossible dream; to have spent the last 800 years without LaCroix always there, his constant and never-changing shadow and tormentor. He shook his head to free it from the dream and came back to the present.
“Janette,” he began, “are you sure that it wasn’t some kind of accident?” He stepped up next to her that he might keep his voice down. “I mean, doesn’t it seem rather odd to you, that he would make another of us, only to abandon her? Where’s the sport in that?” His mouth twisted at the bitter memories that always lurked just beneath the surface. “LaCroix willingly lose someone else to torture?”
Janette reached a gloved hand to stroke his cheek.
“Ah, Nicola,” she whispered softly. “You are living in the past again. I can see it in your eyes.” She dropped her hand at his lack of reaction and continued. “I thought it rather strange myself. Perhaps it was an accident, as you say. But, he seems so . . . familiar with her; as if he’s always known.” She looked once more at the redhead, who had moved back to Vachon’s side.
“And he has been a vampire for so long. Is he capable of making such a mistake? I don’t know.” She gazed at Nick for a moment, and moved off across the room.
Nick watched her go, lost in his own dark thoughts. Every time he thought he had LaCroix all figured out, something new would crop up. It was time he got back to Trapper and Evie. They needed to search for Tracy, before it was too late.
As he approached, Trapper looked up. His heart was instantly warmed by the welcome in her eyes, and he banished his demons to the past, for the moment, where they belonged.
Hanna opened her eyes slowly, stared up at the ceiling. She was in a daze, and the world spun about her.
She heard voices in the background, knew some of them, but could put no names to them.
Where was she?
And then she remembered burying Jonas, then locking herself in the supply closet with Evie, Trapper and Nick. And…what then? Oh yes, Jonas had awaked too early, and she had damaged herself in the attempt to keep him in the ground until sundown.
She sat up slowly, looked about the room, and could feel the damage he had done.
Friedreich was still prone on the floor, though he had received some transfusions courtesy of Natalie.
She noticed that Starr and Angelique had not escaped unharmed either.
And then she felt a tiny “string” within her snap. She gasped in shock, and caught the attention of everyone in the room. But she paid them no mind.
The line was severed. She could feel it.
He was gone.
Trapper’s eyes turned yellow as her fangs extended. She snarled and gulped down the tepid instant espresso Evie offered her.
“You’re welcome,” Evie said dryly.
“Sorry,” Trapper said, abashed. “It’s this vampire thing. I HAVE to do that when I drink it. Don’t worry, it’ll get better as I get used to it.”
Evie looked askance. “I certainly hope so. How ARE we going to explain it otherwise?” They looked at each other and burst into laughter.
“Did you get enough caffeine for now, by the way?” Trapper asked, still giggling and wiping the tears from her eyes under the shades.
Evie nodded, “Yes, thanks.” She tilted her head in the direction of Nick, LaCroix and Kat. “So, what’s going on there?”
Trapper shrugged. “Search me. LaCroix said he needed to TALK to Nicholas.” She spoke with her best LaCroix imitation.
Evie slapped her lightly. “Stop that. They might hear you.”
Trapper snorted in response. She glimpsed movement, and noticed that Nick had pulled himself away from LaCroix and was stalking in her direction. She allowed herself a little sound of disappointment when she saw that he’d been collared by Janette. It was a brief but heated exchange. Janette moved off across the room, and Nick continued his progress to them.
Trapper smiled at his approach. Without a word he swept her into a hug and buried his face in her hair. She returned the hug, caressing his cheek with hers.
“OK?” she murmured.
He nodded, burrowing deeper into her hair, his hunger evident as he found her neck with his questing lips.
“Hungry?” Trapper asked lightly, trying to keep the tremor from her voice.
“Mmm,” he growled. “Need coffee!”
At that, all three of them began to laugh. Nick pulled his head up to wipe the tears of mirth from his eyes. “Oh, it feels good to laugh!”
A sudden sound stopped their laughter. Hanna’s breathing had changed. It was coming in quick gasps now, as if she were trying to wake up. She opened her eyes, and slowly sat up. Looking around, she assessed her situation and whereabouts.
Evie was about to ask her how she was, when Hanna gasped in shock. Every head in the room turned at the sound.
“Hanna?” Evie began.
The woman stared blankly off into space and said softly, “Gone.”
Call of the Muppet
So Jonas is finally dead. Good. Less for me to worry about. But Hanna . . . She’s going to have one hell of a time getting over that.
And the rest? If I don’t figure out a way of getting them out of here soon, they’ll all be dead in short order. That bitch and her pet psycho are going to paint Toronto red with their blood.
This is all my fault . . . Dammit!
No no, no sense angsting about it. I’ve heard LaCroix lecture Nick too much . . . I don’t need that now . . . No . . . I need a plan . . . I need to boost my magick. I won’t be able to fend off August and Horton. Too weak now. I need . . .
Everyone was clustered around Hanna now, checking her, trying to get her to talk . . . But that’s not what caught Warren’s attention. A pamphlet meant for tourists, sitting in a neat stack on a far display. LaCroix and the woman that seemed to make him uncomfortable . . . or just not himself was standing next to it, but were focused on Hanna.
The Mage, his mental health improving in leaps in bounds, strode over to the thin tri‑folded paper and took one. He eagerly read, letting snippets of Gaelic proverbs role around in his mind, and he stared, his mouth agape, at the pictures . . . A flush of pink gave his cheeks color – lighting his eyes with recognition. A flash of relief, pain, regret, happiness and comfort coursed through him. His cool eyes, so long radiating evil, had regained their intense, clear blue color. If any of the others had seen his expression at that time, their thoughts would have reflected the one all encompassing thought that shot like electricity through his mind. HOME.
In Toronto . . . Ontario . . . Place. They had pieces of his home. Not earth . . . but HOME. And if he couldn’t ensure that August and Horton got the slow, painful death they deserved, then he could save the weary souls that had taken refuge in the gift shop. But he needed to be sure. Only three people could determine the accuracy of the pictures in the pamphlet, Himself, Shayna . . . who had researched and written them into his home in the first place, and Elmo simply because he was a product of Warrens magick.
By the goddess and all that is good, I can fix this! But, I’ll have to rely on Elmo . . . He’s the only one on the outside who can see if it’s still there . . .
I’ll have to call him.
Using the one-way, extremely weak telepathic link he had been able to conjure, Warren called out to the little Muppet.
Elmo sat on the bar in the Raven. A bottle of the house special in one small hairy paw, and a red crayon in the other. The bald man was dirt now and Elmo was all alone in the club. He didn’t want to go back to the scary castle, so he had come back to the Raven. He knew that his pet Warren could take care of things. And that the Hanna Lady and the one with the poofy eyebrows would take care of the bad lady.
But Elmo was bored. He didn’t have anybody to talk too. So he decided he would decorate the bar. It was far too dark in the club, so Elmo thought the ‘oix man would like it if Elmo colored his long table with pictures the same color as Elmo’s fur.
They were pretty pictures that told about all the adventures they had the past few days. Right now he was finishing a picture of a snow globe next to his red cow . . . Cow man would like that one.
“He he he!!! Elmo will be an artist when I grow up!” Elmo squealed in delight and took another monstrous gulp from the ‘wine’ bottle.
Which came crashing to the floor when Elmo heard his pet’s voice…….
Explanations to the Slayer
Buffy sat in the corner of the room her friends had chosen to occupy, trying not to listen to Giles as he got “reacquainted” with his old friend. Xander and Willow sat quietly, leaning against the wall, trying to stay as far away from the “good guys” as possible.
She glanced over at the tiny vampire they called Hanna. And wondered.
Used to vampires being evil creatures, she found herself in a situation that not only forced her to accept that there were vampires that weren’t evil per se, but that some of them had a higher degree of humanity that most mortals.
She shifted her gaze to watch Marcus as he approached her. He, at least, gave her the creeps!
“You look . . . disturbed,” he said as he knelt down beside her.
She laughed. “That surprises you?”
He shrugged as he answered casually, “You are the Slayer. You should have some degree of familiarity with these things.”
“You forget the vampires I deal with are evil. Plain and simple. No I don’t want to be like this or I don’t want to kill mortals or anything like that. Just evil.”
“Don’t be misled by Nicholas over there. There are still a few of our vampires that are evil as well.”
“Fine. I can accept that LaCroix . . . well, he may not be evil, but he surely isn’t nice!”
“Granted.” He looked at her closely. “So, if the shattering of the illusion that all vampires are evil is not what has you upset., then what, may I ask, is it?”
“I’m not upset. Just puzzled.”
“Puzzled? About what?”
“Take her for instance, ” she indicated Hanna with a nod of her head.
“Ah, Hanna. Do not judge the rest of us by Hanna. She is . . . an entity that exists on a level we can only attempt to reach.”
She looked at him strangely. “What do you mean by that?”
“Take what was happening when we arrived here for instance. She had traded herself, mind, body and soul to the one person she hates most in the world, and for what? To save a handful of innocent children. It was sheer luck that she persuaded Warren to leave so that she could make use of Evie, before her husband had found it necessary to kill her. And you saw what she looked like when they brought her in at sundown, after Jonas . . . she did that to herself.”
She gasped involuntarily, which caught Giles and Fire’s attention. “She did . . . but . . . why?!”
“Simplicity. Jonas awoke from the attempt to break the bond shortly after dawn. I felt him myself. According to what Evie and Trapper have to say, she left only enough of herself behind in the room they were in to guard them. The rest of herself was required to keep Jonas underground until sunset. Otherwise, he would have died the moment the sunlight touched him.”
He paused for a moment, and Buffy thought that, considering the damage “Jonas” had done when he had attacked everyone, Hanna should have let him die.
Marcus smiled knowingly at her, and she blushed. “I know. She should have let him die. That is what you were thinking, yes?”
She nodded silently.
“It’s all right. I’m sure Friedreich feels the same way at this point. But you see, it wasn’t so much Jonas that she was saving. The risk was for Evie, Trapper and Nick.”
“Had she concentrated on Jonas completely, she would have been fine. But she divided herself and became subjected to the strain of her efforts. She almost killed herself to be certain that the others came to no harm.”
Giles moved over and sat next to Buffy, Fire sitting close beside him.
“So what does she hope to accomplish by this?” Giles asked as he struggled with the idea of humanity in a vampire. “What does she gain?”
“Gain?” Marcus looked at him, slightly confused. “Oh, I see. You believe she does this for some sort of reward.” He sighed. “It seems I have further to go than I thought.”
“All right, within all of us, mortals and vampires alike, there is what we call “The Beast Within.” We all have a “dark” nature, but most of us, especially mortals, try to pretend it isn’t there. When we become what you call vampires, that beast is drawn out, and only a strict control keeps it in line. Sometimes, the beast escapes, and what happened earlier with Jonas is often the result.”
“Now, quite a few of us struggle to maintain a grasp on our humanity, simply because we do not wish to become monsters . . . at least not any more than we already are.”
“Yeah, but you feed of mortals! Your own kind!” Xander inserted suddenly.
Marcus looked at him coldly. “You eat hamburgers, yes? You kill animals to feed yourselves. We take the blood out of mortals, or in Nick’s case, bottles of cows’ blood. We don’t always kill. In fact, quite a few prefer not to. I don’t, because there is something in the blood of those who are of clan Nosferatu that . . . poisons all our victims. So we are very selective with how many we make, and how often we feed.”
“What about her?” Fire asked, pointing at Hanna. “What about your paragon? How many does she kill in a night?”
“To my knowledge, Hanna has killed perhaps a few hundred men over the centuries. And only those that are violent in nature, and usually only if she catches them in a crime.”
“Oh, isn’t that just righteous of her,” Fire added bitingly.
“So, fine, she kills criminals. What about their families? What happens to them when dad doesn’t come home for the night?” Buffy asked, goaded by Fire’s disapproval.
“You mistook what I said. When she kills, she kills men that no one would miss. Rapists, murderers, child abusers. If these men should happen to have families, she makes certain they are provided for.”
“You mean, she finds them and kills them too?” Xander asked, not thinking.
Marcus smacked his hand against his forehead. “No! She either establishes finances for them, or helps the children to an education. That sort of thing.” He gave Xander a withering look. “‘She finds them and kills them too.’ She is incapable of “digesting” blood that does not come from a violent man.”
“Now TH”T is unusual,” Giles muttered.
“As I said, she exists on a level we others only hope to achieve.” He looked at her, carefully noting the changes he could sense taking place in her. “Back to the point. There are many among our kind who believe in something called “Golconda.” It is something akin to Nirvana, at least for us. It is the state of being that a vampire reaches when they not only don’t hunger for blood, they no longer need to feed to survive. It is supposed to be the perfect balance between humanity and the Beast. Of course, only a few actually believe in it enough to try to attain it. And then, when they start to believe, it’s after they’ve lived a few hundred years of decadence.”
“So, it’s harder to reach the longer you live?” Buffy asked, her mind working much quicker than Xander’s . . . as usual.
“Not quite. It depends upon the state of being. If you commit atrocities, it becomes further out of reach. If you basically “do good,” it’s a bit easier. But not by much.”
“Oh, so you mean it’s like going to Heaven?” Xander asked, trying to prove that he wasn’t really all that dense.
“In a manner of speaking.”
“So Hanna is trying to reach Golconda, and that’s why she sacrifices herself for innocents and the like,” Willow finally added her two cents.
Now they were perturbed. What was he telling them this for anyway?
“You see, she has had a unique existence from the start. She had a Sire whom she was married to for ten years before she could talk him into Embracing her. When he did, he gave her back enough blood so that she wouldn’t frenzy, and so that the Beast wouldn’t gain a foothold on her. When the Inquisition raged, she risked her life many times to save others of our kind, as well as other Garou, Mages, even mortals, just because they needed saving. Whenever there was an innocent in danger, and she could do something about it, she did. No matter what it cost her.”
“Okay, so I think we’ll all agree that she’s a nice person to have around if you’re in trouble and you need saving. But what has this got to do with anything? Why are you telling us this?” Giles asked for them all.
“Because, I want you to understand something when it happens. Now, let me finish, and I will tell you what that is.”
Giles huffed a little, but then was silent again.
“Now, a little over seventy years ago, August,” Xander shivered at the name, “had Jonas murdered. When that happened, we almost thought we lost “our” Hanna. But she remained true to herself, and ignored her grief, because others needed her. About twenty years ago, in New Jerusalem . . . ” He paused for a moment, the faces of his dead Childer suddenly before him. Twenty‑three. So many had died. He shook himself, then continued, “August reared her ugly head, and tried recruiting followers. Hanna “crashed” her party, and rescued a fledgling from her. As she tried to escape, she came across a young boy, a Garou that was just reaching puberty and the “change,” that had been attacked in the city. Both his arms were broken. So Hanna, being the person she is, set her unconscious rescuee down, and tended to the boy. At which time August caught up with her, and made her choose. Either she could save the life of the fledgling, or the life of the boy. And Hanna chose the living boy. Now, although this seems the right decision, she was still punished for sacrificing a life.”
Buffy looked up at Marcus, her brows furrowed. “What do you mean ‘punished’?”
“You see, until that point, our Hanna was on the verge of obtaining Golconda. She had found that balance, that peace. But when she gave up the life of another being, the balance was lost. Actually, it was taken from her.”
“Taken? By whom?”
Buffy thought about it for a moment. “You mean, as in ‘Cain and Abel’?”
“Yes. Caine was the first vampire. Cursed with the eternal lust for the blood of his ‘brother’.”
“But why would he . . . ”
“I told you. She trades a life, no matter how justly that trade may seem to us, the powers that be made no distinction between the two lives. They still considered it the loss of one life to benefit another. And she paid for it, knowing the cost.”
Buffy looked away from him, her eyes turning to Hanna.
“You see, Golconda can be achieved only through great pain and suffering. And now that she has lost it . . . been forbidden it, she can never return to it. So she bears the pains, endures the suffering, sacrifices herself, because that is who she is. Not because she gains anything. But because she cares that much.”
They all had turned to look upon the tiny woman. She certainly didn’t look like the saint that Marcus had made her out to be. In fact, she looked quite the opposite. She looked . . . evil?
“But . . . ?” Buffy didn’t know how to continue.
“Ah, so you do see it. She is changing. For almost a thousand years, she has been as I described her. But now, look at her.” They all continued to do so. “She is not who she is.”
“What happened?” Willow asked, remembering the way that she had appeared when they first laid eyes on her. So sad, so lost. But not like this.
“He has died. Jonas. Her husband and Sire. I doubt that he can be resurrected. From what I sense in Hanna, he is gone. The bonds in both Friedreich and Starr are broken, the bonds that he created. This only happens when the Regent dies . . . or the way they tried earlier with Jonas. So, he is dead.”
“Okay. So why is she changing now though? I mean, if she’s been through it before?”
“That’s why,” Buffy answered herself, seeing the answer in Hanna’s black eyes when they met her own. “She’s been through it before. She’s been through it all. And she’s had enough.”
“Exactly,” Marcus added quietly. “She hated August before. Enough to kill her. But killing is no longer enough. Not after this. Not after all the atrocities.”
“So what will she do?” Giles asked in a hushed voice.
“Become what she hates.”
Horton’s Last Repose
Micah rounded a corner, and as he started down the hallway, he heard a weak voice.
- And definitely a woman’s.
He moved cautiously, his Katana in his hand. When he found the open door, he slowly peaked in.
Amanda hung loosely in her chains, wires growing out of her chest.
What the Hell?
And then he froze when he heard THAT laughter. HIS laughter.
Horton leered at Amanda from the controls to his device. “That’s right, sweetie, beg for them. Before I make you pay again!”
Micah saw himself running forward and hacking Horton into tiny pieces. But he couldn’t make his limbs obey him.
“Oh, I love to hear you beg!” He pushed a few buttons, and Micah watched as Amanda had a massive heart attack.
It wasn’t until Horton moved forward and started to lick the trickle of blood from her eyes and ears that Micah was able to move.
Horton turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps. When he saw who it was, he laughed happily.
“Oh, my pet! How I have missed you! I know you missed me, Micah my sweetling. I’m certain that sweet ass of yours has missed me too!”
Red, blinding rage descended over Micah as he looked at Horton’s gleeful face and the woman he was tormenting. “I see you managed to find some other innocent to play with.”
“Innocent?” Horton snorted. “None of you freaks are innocent.”
“Your a vampire.” Micah let Horton approach, wanting to lull him into a false sense of security. “Who’s the freak now?”
Horton looked at Micah, his face twisting in anger. Then he charged. Micah stepped back, and sliced his arm open to the bone. The familiar calm of a coming battle settled in on him, dispelling the red film over his eyes and dulling his anger.
Horton looked surprised as he stared at the healing wound on his arm. “The pup has a bite.” He smiled, and Micah suppressed a shiver of fear. “I love it when they fight back.”
Horton came at him again. Micah extended his Katana like Duncan had shown him so long ago and sliced through Horton’s stomach. Horton fell to his knees, holding his intestines together until the skin closed again.
“You think I’m going to make it easy?” Micah’s voice was a harsh whisper. All the torment, the indignities, the humiliations he had endured at this insane pervert’s hands flooded back like snatches of a nightmare.
He sliced at Horton again, hacking at a leg. Horton howled in pain. “Hurts don’t it?” He watched Horton’s thin vampire blood pool on the floor as he sliced Horton’s other leg to the hip joint. “It’s like carving meat.”
“Your dead.” Horton growled. “When August shows.”
Micah laughed at that, a laugh LaCroix would have shuddered at. “Where is you precious partner now?” He sliced off both of Horton’s legs and popped the fly of his pants. He used the tip of his sword to remove Horton’s pants. Then he bent over Horton and grasped his genitals. “You won’t be needing these any more.” his smile was maniacal as he yanked and sliced in a deft move.
Horton’s scream of agony echoed through the entire complex of Casa Loma.
Then Micah held up his glistening prize. Then he stuffed it into Horton’s open mouth muffling the scream of agony. “Just like a lollipop.” He watched the fear in Horton’s eyes as he carved his Cartouche into Horton’s chest. “Never mess with a Pharaoh.” Then he carved a cross under it. Horton writhed as Micah worked.
The Immortal with the wires made a small groan as she came back to life. “Just a sec.” Micah turned and looked into the woman’s eyes. “Amanda?”
He spent a few minutes extricating her from the wiring and setting her on shaky feet.
“Nice work.” She looked at what was left of Horton squirming around on the ground like a spider without legs.
“Thanks.” He looked at Horton. “I’m not quite done yet, though.” He pulled a stake out from the small of his back and lifted it high. “See ya.” He plunged it through Horton’s chest, then hacked off Horton’s head.
He held the head, genitals stuffed in mouth aloft and yelled his ancient battle cry of victory. A minion of August’s burst in, fear in his eyes.
Micah tossed the head to him. “Make sure August get this. And tell her Merneptah sent it.”
Elmo crawled through the ventilation ducts of Casa Loma.
Warren had sent him to check out Ontario place. It had an exhibition of ancient Celtic art on display and his pet had recognized something . . . something pretty. At least it would be once Warren put it to good use.
Elmo was proud of himself because he knew what it was and because Warren wouldn’t have to leave the little store to get it. Elmo was smart. Elmo had gotten the mask – the old, dirty, delicate thing – into his soft, gentle hands.
Warren would be so proud of how much Elmo knew from ‘talking’ to his pet’s brain.
He knew that the dragon etched on the forehead of the mask was just like the one that was embroidered on most of Warren’s clothes. He knew that the spirals were supposed to be the path Warren was expected to follow, and the eye – the little triangle that was supposed to be the nose – was the eye of Draconis, Warren’s protector and progenitor.
Elmo was very smart and Elmo would make Warren happy.
A Good Cop
10:00 – 10:30 p.m.
Schanke nosed about the grounds of Casa Loma, feeling a slight chill in his bones. This place wasn’t anything like the way it had been when he, Myra and Jenny had come to look at it, back when it was a tourist attraction. There was something creepy about it. Something that made him feel the same way he did whenever Knight listened to that “Nitecrawler” creep.
No matter how creepy he felt, someone in this place knew what had happened with those kids. And he was going to find out!
He crept inside the place, since the door had been ripped off the hinges anyway. He had found three bodies already, and each one was so mangled that he almost lost his donuts.
He heard voices coming from what used to be the gift shop, so he cautiously headed that way.
When he came through the door, it was just in time to see his partner with F”NGS! extended, nuzzling the neck of a blonde woman with sunglasses on, latte foam on her upper lip, and F”NGS!
He ducked back outside, shaking his head. Man, Don, you gotta switch to decaf!
He peeked back around the corner, and heard everything some guy in the corner was telling a group of teenagers and two “adults” about the tiny chick that everyone else was bothering with. And the guy kept bringing up “feeding” and “blood.” It was too much for Schanke.
“Schanke!” Natalie shouted when she saw him peeking in the doorway.
All eyes turned to the doorway, and the ’70s flashback cop hanging around in it.
“Come in, Detective,” the tiny woman whispered in a velvety voice that made his knees turn to water.
He walked forward slowly, his eyes darting this way and that.
“Schank!” Nick shouted, trying to think of a way to get his partner out of there before he got killed.
The tiny woman walked up to him, wrapped her arms around the back of his neck, and pulled his head down. Gently, she softly brushed his lips. “That,” she whispered, “is for saving the children.”
She let him go, and Nick had to catch him as he started to fall.
Oh man, he thought to himself. Myra honey, I promise, I’ll take you on that vacation . . .
It was all she could say. He was gone. And that was it.
That was it.
No. It wasn’t.
She ignored Marcus telling her life story, though she could hear every word. Had she been herself, her naturally modesty would have made him stop. But she ignored him.
She ignored Evie and Trapper, though both women hovered nearby, trying to see if she was all right.
Oh, I am fine, she whispered to herself.
She felt the eyes of the corner group on her, and she looked over and met the eyes of the Slayer.
That was it.
SHE wanted me to be mean and nasty.
I am more than happy to comply.
Slayer SHE wanted. Slayer SHE would get.
And somewhere in that decision she heard, “SCHANKE?!”
She turned her head and saw the man that had taken her children to safety.
She rose from the floor, walked over to him, and kissed him.
“That is for saving the children,” she whispered before letting him go.
Then she walked out the door…
Say The Secret Word
“That is for saving the children,” she whispered before letting him go.
Then she walked out the door.
Evie had watched the little scene play out. As Hanna left the room, Evie exploded. “God damn it, Hanna! Wait just a minute!” She bolted in pursuit, muttering curses all the way.
Meanwhile, Trapper and Nick reacted instinctively, each reaching out to stop Schanke from hitting the floor. They did manage to catch him, but in the process cracked their foreheads together. Shaken, they both recoiled to land heavily on the floor, still cradling an oblivious human between them. Blinking, they managed to lay their burden down before they tried to regain their bearings.
“Oww! That’s one hard head you’ve got there, Detective.” Trapper rubbed her forehead and winced. Nick smiled wanly in return, gently checking his own damage.
“Nick,” Trapper began. “Do you ever get the feeling that we just landed in a Keystone Kops movie?”
Nick snickered and nodded, stopping with a twinge of pain. “Yeah. I’ll bet Evie REALLY feels that way, being with all of us.” He looked up, suddenly puzzled. “Speaking of Evie…” his voice trailed off as he realized where she had gone. “She’s gone after Hanna!” He began to rise, helping Trapper to her feet as he spoke. “We’ve got to go after her! There’s no telling what danger Hanna could inadvertently put Evie in!” He looked over at the group of mortals that had been speaking intently with Marcus. “Excuse me,” he looked pointedly at Giles. “Do you think that you could take care of Detective Schanke until I return?”
Giles took off his glasses and peered up at Nick from where he sat on the floor. “Uh, well…of course, Detective. We can see to this.” He turned to the blonde at his right. “Right, Buffy?”
“Yeah, no sweat.”
Nick and Trapper breathed their thanks and raced for the door, to find their friend before anything else could.
She heard Evie yelling at her as she moved down to corridors.
Damned if she couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Hanna stopped and turned slowly and looked Evie in the eyes. She had always liked her, which made it even more a shame. Friends were hard to come by, especially now August had seen fit to murder all but a handful of them. But she wasn’t going to get her hands on this one.
So, with the last bit of “herself” she possessed, she made certain that Evie would come to no harm.
She looked her dead in the eyes, her normally violet eyes dark black with absolute rage, and poured all the hate and anger into the look. With the last bit of “herself” she possessed, she pushed backwards at her only mortal friend, besides Friedreich.
“Turn around, Evie. Go back to the others. You do not want to know, or see, what I am going to do. And after this, I absolutely guarantee that you will not wish to know me. Now, go. Protect your friends. From her. And from me.”
She turned away.
Though Evie felt for all the world that Hell had just brushed over her, she was almost tempted to pursue Hanna. This wasn’t like her.
“Do not make me kill you now to get my point across,” Hanna’s voice came back at her, echoing down the hall.
The person she had been would have hated herself for the necessity of it. But the person she had become didn’t care. If she had to kill Evie to get to August, she would. Without hesitation.
Which is why she commanded her away.
Buffy looked at Marcus. “That explains your type.” She looked over a LaCroix. He looked back with a smirk and a wry arch of one pale eyebrow. “He looks way too much like Spike for my comfort level.”
Xander watched as the sinister man stopped and started to talk with a hot looking redhead. “I think he could take old Spike.”
Buffy shuddered. She was getting the wiggins again. “I do too.”
“Let me explain.” The supermodel spoke with a mellow African accent with a hint of Arabic.
“As long a you don’t snack on my friends, feel free.”
“I understand the vampire you fight are demons, yes?”
“My vampire is neither looking for entrance to Golencenda(Sp?), or are we demons. We are creatures of the night. Predators. We need blood to survive, although we can exist off of non‑human blood, it lacks the rush the human blood give us. We are the silent manipulators of history, we are the quiet vigilantes, we can be good,” she pointed to Nick. “Or bad.” She pointed to LaCroix. “but we are beyond redemption and we can never be brought back to mortality.”
“I heard that there was a book‑‑‑” Giles started to argue.
“Gone. He,” she pointed to LaCroix, “burned it.”
“And how did you become a vampire?” Buffy asked.
“I was seduced from all I loved by the whisper of revenge. I am as far as I know, the oldest living vampire of my kind that is still alive and sane.”
“And how old are you?”
“I am over four thousand years old. I am the daughter of a Pharaoh.”
“Ramses II.” Giles did a quick mental calculation. “My God.” He whispered as he looked at her Sekhmet pendant.
“I guess you and that other guy, the hottie who poofed, are related?” Buffy asked.
“He was a foundling placed into the royal nursery and raised as a prince.”
“An Immortal.” Fire had heard enough. “The one who’s watcher is lost in this maze somewhere.”
All motion in the room stopped at the undulating, ancient victory cry that echoed through the hall.
Angelique smiled, she had heard this cry after many a victorious battle of her fathers. An enemy vanquished. She responded with a Xenalike call of her own.
“And that was for?” Fire asked.
“Victory.” Angelique walked away and left the room, eager to find her brother. The first guard that tried to stop her was decapitated then drained. The next was eviscerated. The third ran as he saw her coming.
“Angelique?” Skye rounded a corner and slid to a stop. “What in Hades?” She looked into the room Angelique was paused at. Angelique was speaking an unfamiliar tongue to someone in the room.
“The God‑King Triumphs.” She smiled as she spoke in the Egyptian of her youth to her brother.
“Yes.” He held out his bloody trophy then shoved it at a minion of August.
Revenge is So Sweet
Ricze stopped his careful inspection of his newest toy to scowl at his sister. Had she just suggested he was insane? He rose and began making his way toward her.
Then he heard it. The ancient cry of victory.
Angelique responded in proper fashion and disappeared out the door.
He rushed after her – silent and invisible to all that didn’t know better.
He watched her take out two of August’s minions and scare the piss out of a third. She definitely hadn’t lost her touch.
A tall, strong framed women with dark hair and green eyes stumbled from around a corner. “What in Hades.” The curse died on her lips as Angelique entered the room and yet another minion came running out with Horton’s head held at arms length.
“Skye, I presume?” Ricze eyed the Watcher as he walked past her into the room.
“Seems your new charge has done well,” Methos placed a hand on Skye’s shoulder.
“Methos, you old bastard.” Ricze acknowledged his life long friend.
“Vlashmire. What are you doing here?” Methos pulled Skye out of the vampire’s reach. Never hurt to be safe – this guy had an evil streak the size of Eurasia.
“News flash everyone.” Ricze yelled for no apparent reason.
“Was that necessary,” Angelique and Micah turned to stare at the Enforcer. Maybe he had gone insane?
Nah. He was just a good actor – but she didn’t have to know that just yet.
“While you were out gaining revenge,” Ricze stared down Micah, “Hanna has risen and she looked just a tad past raging insane.”
It was all closing in on him. He stared at Ricze. “Hanna has to fight her own battles.” He motioned to the charred torso of Horton. “Like I had to fight mine.” He ached to help her, but she had to have the satisfaction of August’s death on her own hands.
Methos put a hand on Micah and he shrugged it off. “Please don’t touch me.” He looked into Methos’s concerned face. “I need to clean up. Then I’ll help find Evie.” He brushed past Skye, Zara and Methos to stop at his sister’s side. “Come, walk with me.”
Angelique nodded, then they turned to leave the room. They stopped at the gift shop.
“Horton is gone.” Micah announced to the rest of the W”R party.
“Gone as in?” LaCroix inquired.
Micah held up his blood stained Katana. “As in headless. You would have been proud General.”
“Micah?” Starr watched, she was close to recovered, as Micah turned and walked out of the gift shop.
“Damn,” she muttered under her breath. He wasn’t the same laughing guy that had hefted her over his shoulder at the Ren Faire last year. He might never be that Immortal again. This was a Micah that was feeling the weight of his years and starting to buckle under it. She got up and followed at a safe distance.
Angelique walked with Micah, a silent companion as he lead the way to the pool. She sat at the edge of the clear water, dangling her feet as he stripped out of his filthy clothes. Then he stretched like a magnificent jungle cat and dove into the water. He erupted from the water inches from her feet, slicked back his long dark hair and draped his strong arms over the edge of the pool. “Man, I need a woman.” He groaned as he looked at his sister.
“Don’t even think it.” She looked at him sideways. “That sort of thing isn’t done nowadays.”
“Come on, you know we aren’t actually related.” He started to slide one hand up her leg.
“Micah‑” She splashed him to get him to stop touching her.
“You know, we were supposed to be married.”
“Except that I turned up a vampire.” She leaned over and wiped some moisture from his face. “Those days are long past. Indulging in pleasures of the flesh won’t help take the pain of what may happen to Hanna away.”
“I want to help her, but I can’t. I can’t stop her.” He stared into the water. Hanna hated water. “And she is going to die.” Too bad Hanna hated water, he could have taught her sometimes water can be good. Then he groaned, that thought was very counter productive.
“She is doing what she feels is right for us.” Angelique shrugged. “Perhaps this Caine will have mercy on her after this.”
There was a low growl and a muffled curse. Angelique stood as Cleo appeared, herding a pissed off looking Starr. “Well it seems that the Gods are smiling on you Micah.” Angelique pulled Starr to the edge of the pool. “Here is that woman you wanted.” And she shoved Starr into the pool.
Then she turned and walked off, Cleo at her side.
The enthusiastic screech assailed everyone’s ears, and caused Giles to go into a light fit of cursing. He wouldn’t be getting much use of his glasses, considering the pitch of the squeaky screech cracked both lenses down the middle.
Shortly after the sound, came the action. That being a red and brown blur on a collision course for Warren’s neck.
“Man, that guy’s gotta be the weirdest out of the bunch. Should we even forgive him?” Xander wondered out loud, but no one paid much attention to him. They were too appalled by the site of a foot tall vampire Muppet latching itself to the neck of an insane Mage, who had put everyone’s lives at risk not less than a few hours ago.
As Elmo drank his fill from Warren’s veins the Mask fell into Warren’s waiting hands…
“Oooo PRETTY LIGHTS!”
“What do you mean pretty lights?”
Giles got up and move next to Elmo, who had taken up a perch on a glass counter. Normally Giles would want to know why a beloved children’s program character was walking, talking, and had golden eyes and fangs…But in present company…well, you know.
Elmo tugged on Giles’ collar to get his attention, the watcher had suddenly become, as had everyone, transfixed on the ancient artifact in Warren’s hands.
The symbols of Draco and the Mighty Draconis were etched in the dirty face of what was one a beautiful bronze mask. Which was quickly becoming a beautiful bronze mask “NEW….the centuries and layers of sediment were falling away to the floor and the bright iridescent bronze of the metal was emerging.
Elmo knew what was going to happen, his pet’s brain had told him. Had shown him pretty pictures of Warren’s home when it was a long time ago, before even Mr. Hooper was born.
Things began to change and Elmo smiled. Everyone for a brief flash of golden light was young again. Buffy and Willow and Sanders in diapers. And everyone else looked as they looked at the age of 18.
Just as quickly as the illusion had fogged the gathered’s minds…it faded and everyone was as they were before.
Everyone except a young kid standing in shining silver and black armor, Warren’s armor. He was standing there his midnight black hair spilling over the glistening bronze mask. His intense blue eyes stared though the mask with the confidence and belief of immortality of youth.
And with one simple introduction they all knew he, they, and their situation had changed, for better or for worse.
“I am Warren Casey.” His pleasant mixed accent colored his words. “And I’d like to know if yer friend or foe.”
As if showing just to answer his question, Angelique and Cleo came through the door, looking just as confused as Warren felt.
I make my journey through eternity
I keep the memory of you and me inside
Fulfill your destiny
is there within the child
My storm will never end
My fate is on the wind
The king of hearts, the joker’s wild
But we don’t say goodbye
I’ll make them remember me
‘Cos I have found a dream that must come true
Every ounce of me must see it through
But you are my only
I’m sorry I don’t have a role for love to play
Hand over my heart and I’ll find my way
I will make them give to me
There is a vision and a fire in me
I keep the memory of you and me inside
and we don’t say goodbye
Micah watched his sister as she walked off. He could almost see the smirk on her face. Then he realized Starr hadn’t surfaced yet.
He dove for her, grabbed her shirt and pulled her above water. She came up sputtering and glared at Micah. “I could’ve done that myself.”
He looked at her. “Sure, little hellcat.” He swam toward the edge of the pool.
He stopped. “Yeah?” When he turned, she was within touching distance.
“I’m sorry about Hanna.” She reached out to touch him. He flinched away from her, his dark eyes radiating fear and anger.
“She has to follow her own path.” Micah’s face hardened. “I’ve been down that path already.”
“Horton is dead now.”
He gave a bitter, brittle laugh. “But his legacy lives on.” Micah seemed to age before her eyes. “By his actions.”
“You need to exorcize that demon.” She touched him again. He shuddered, his skin twitched like a nervous colt being broken in.
“I don’t know if I can.” His eyes were hollow. “You don’t understand.” He started to speak, then he shut his mouth with a faint click of teeth.
“Tell me.” She stroked his shoulder, feeling the muscles tense under her hand.
“I can’t,” it was a soft pained sentence.
“Micah, look at me,” she commanded. He turned in the warm water, his eyes so hollow it hurt to look into their obsidian depths.
“When I met you, you were a strong person. You couldn’t have let Horton break you like this.” Starr touched his face. He tried to pull away form his touch, she tightened her grip on his chin. “You have to tell someone, or it will fester until you do finally snap.” She used her other hand to stroke is wet hair. “Please let me help.”
“I‑‑All right.” Micah took a deep breath. “But you won’t like me much after what I tell you.” He looked at her again. “And it can never leave this room.”
“You know Horton tortured me.” Micah looked inward, past the rage. “Most of it was sexual.”
Starr listened, her heart breaking at the expression in his eyes.
“There was a point,” he paused, his voice shaky. “Ra give me strength,” he whispered as he struggled to tell her. “When I . . . found pleasure in what he was forcing me to do.” He wrenched out of her arms and turned from her, his entire body shaking with the conflict of his emotions.
He turned at the pain in her voice. She moved and pressed herself against him. “I understand.”
“No one could ever understand.” His arms came around her.
“He’s dead now and you’re still here.” She tilted her head up at him. ” And I think you still like women.” She rubbed herself against him, smiling as his body responded. “Yep. You still got it.”
He lowered his head, his warm breath brushing her lips. “Got what?”
“The drive for women. No one can change that, not even Horton.”
“Good.” He kissed her, seeking her taste, the sweet warm taste of woman. His mouth explored hers, the spark of heat running through his body erasing the last sore wounds of Horton’s torment. Healing, teasing, waking his need again. His mouth trailed down her neck, and he felt the echo of a soft moan against his mouth as he explored her throat.
The pool had heated her flesh, the water beading and running off her pale skin, his hands were a dark contrast as he touched her. He slid her shirt off, seeking the soft pillow of her breasts.
Perhaps, just maybe, Hanna would understand. Then he lost himself in Starr.
Trouble, Right Here in River City
by Kay, Kat and Sukh
“Well Warren, that is an interesting trick,” Angelique sighed, she was feeling far too upset about her brother. “You could make a killing in Hollywood.”
Warren just stared at her. “And you are?”
Angelique rolled her eyes. “You don’t know me?” That would mean many things. Some of them good, some of them bad.
Her heart ached for a moment, he sounded just like Sion, her last childe lost to her forever. Of course, if Warren was a child again, he was lost to her too. That hurt more than anything. “Do you know what Breila means?”
He nodded. “Dark rose.”
“Someone I knew used to call me that.” She felt a part of her break off at the familiar accent, yet different voice calling her by that nickname.
“May I?” The young Warren asked. “May I call you that?”
She looked at LaCroix, his eyebrows were furrowed in concern, his full mouth thinned.
“Perhaps when you are older.” She tried to smile and failed.
“Hey!” Vachon’s yelp interrupted them.
Kat’s eyes shone, her incisors lengthened to lethal points. “I would suggest you not touch him,” she hissed at the cause of Vachon’s outburst.
“And who is going to stop me?” Missy sneered. Vachon backed away from her like she was on fire.
Kat and Missy turned to glare at Angelique.
“Stay out of it, bitch,” Missy turned back to Kat with a hiss. The sound was cut short as she waslifted off her feet and slammed into a wall, causing the plaster to crack. Missy came off the wall snarling.
The rest of the group, mortal and vampire alike, scrambled to the far side of the room and stood there, mouths agape.
Missy launched into Angelique, slipping as the other woman snatched her hair, yanking her backwards. Twisting Missy’s hair around her hand, Angelique raked her long nails over the young vamp’s face. Missy screamed with fury and punched at Angelique’s chest, landing a lucky shot.
Angelique fell back for a moment. She lashed out with her claws and laid a set of deep scratches across Missy’s arm and stomach.
Missy stumbled backwards. After regaining her footing, she attempted a sloppy roundhouse kick, but found herself in midair when Kat took advantage of the moment. Grabbing Missy’s ankle, Kat flung her into a glass case. The case shattered; Shards of glass showered outward as Missy flipped herself out of the case, charging toward Angelique with a screech of fury.
The older vampire planted a side-kick in the center of her stomach. As Missy doubled forward, Kat pulled her head back and cut her cheek open with a nail. Missy twisted her body and lashed out, catching Kat across the stomach with her nails.
Angelique reached out and snatched the gloating youth by the collar of her shirt and twisted her around. She dug her nails into the flesh behind Missy’s ears and proceeded to bounce Missy’s face off her knee.
Missy crumpled forward but never made it to the floor. Kat stepped up, grabbed a handfull of curls and swung the young vampire in an arc that landed her in another display case. Missy bounded off the floor and, using Kat as a vault, went up and over – colliding with Angelique in mid-air.
The duet crashed to the floor, snarling obscenities at each other. Wrestling, they rolled about scratching and pulling hair. Angelique clutched Missy by the throat and straddled the young vamp. “I’ll rip your head off for this.”
“I think not.” Buffy stood near Missy’s head, poised for action.
“Try to stop me, Slayer and you will suffer the same fate.” Angelique looked up at Buffy, her eyes yellow-green and fangs showing.
“As if.” Buffy caught Angelique under the chin, knocking her off the younger, less experienced vampire. Missy then lunged forward as the older vamp went for Buffy.
“Enough!” Angel yelled, his face ridged as he went into vamp mode. Rushing into the fray, he pulled the two female vampires away from Buffy.
Missy and Angelique paused.
“Nice,” Missy sneered. “Glad I don’t turn into Quasimodo.”
Angel’s eyes flashed red. “I’ll finish you myself.” He reached out and grabbed Missy by the throat just as Ricze came bursting through the door, followed by Micah (wet & naked), Starr (wet & clothed), Nick, and Duncan.
“What the hell?” Ricze’s eyes narrowed into gold slits as he zeroed in on Angel squeezing Missy’s throat. An animalistic snarl passed his teeth and in the next instant he was standing before the baby of a vampire.
“Shà.” Angel’s jaws slammed shut as his head snapped back. He lost his grip on Missy as a slicing upper cut sent him flying into the back wall. His limp body slid down the wall leaving a smear of blood.
“Angel,” shouted Buffy, as she started after Ricze. She soon found herself on the floor in a heap, with Giles, Xander and Willow holding her down.
Kat and Angelique lunged for Missy at the same time. The intended victim screeched, kicked and slashed with her arms and began to scoot across the floor on her butt.
“Someone get her out,” Nick shouted, rushing into the fray.
“It’s a bloody massacre,” Duncan reached for his Katana.
“Stay out of it,” Ricze hissed. Next thing Duncan knew the flesh of his palm began smoldering. He dropped the burning weapon to the ground with a curse.
“Bastard.” Ricze glared at Angel as the younger vamp picked himself off the floor and was foolish enough to try a full frontal attack.
With very little effort, Ricze caught Angel by the throat and hurled him over the top of his head. He snatched Nick from the pile now atop the three original pugilists. Flinging Nick, and any others he encountered, across the room, he began wading through bodies in an attempt to get Missy out of yet another mess.
Ricze came up, holding her under the arms; She was kicking at his shins and scratching his arms. LaCroix emerged with a thoroughly pissed off Angelique as Vachon pulled Kat out of the pile.
“Let go of me,” Angelique snarled, twisting in LaCroix’s grasp.
“Angelique this is enough,” LaCroix tried to soothe the enraged Egyptian as she writhed in his arms.
“Nubian bitch,” Missy spat across the room. She stuck out her tongue at her opponents and smirked as LaCroix glared at her.
“Shut up, you little whore.” Kat struggled against Vachon. Vachon was showing signs of taking on Missy personally as he struggled to contain the redhead in his arms.
“Make me,” Missy taunted the other female vamps as Ricze found a good choke hold on his errant childe.
“Shut up, Missy, or I’ll let Angelique have at you again,” he hissed, squeezing enough to still her.
A shrill whistle sliced through the air.
“Excuse me,” Trapper shouted, “has everyone gone out of their freakin’ minds?”
The entire group paused to stare at her in dumb silence.
“In case no one has noticed, Hannah, Evie and Tracy are still missing. We might want to go look for them. Of course, we could stay here and kill each other. I know it would make August’s day.”
And in THIS Corner…..
Casa Loma Gifts
after the fight, before naked people
Duncan shook his head, an exaggerated look of disappointment on his face. “Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.”
Although she was still being restrained by Vachon, Kat sensuously licked her lips and blew the Scotsman a kiss. She felt great! Not even Dunce MacLeod could get under her skin after that skirmish.
Vachon felt her relax but only loosened his grip slightly; He wasn’t sure if her change in attitude was genuine. Kat leaned her head back onto her handsome captor’s shoulder and whispered, “Just what the doctor ordered.”
Looking to make sure that the other parties were under control as well, he slowly released her. She turned, met his gaze and nodded. Trapper’s words had hit home – it was time to get Tracy.
When Normal Was Normal
He had no idea where he was. One minute he was in the center of Giant’s Ring just meditating and the next he was standing in the middle of a group of Vampires and Humans. Then, three women just broke out into a fight. Well, this was just FINE.
Fine because he just KNEW he was lost in time “G”IN, but Douglas and Macbeth hadn’t sent him here, because they would have warned him. And what was probably worse, he was wearing the mask of Draconis, which meant he was on E”RTH not Terra and he was in some deep shit if he didn’t figure out how to get back.
“WELL THIS IS JUST GREAT. JUST FRAGGIN’ GREAT!”
He took a step forward about to pace, when an annoying high-pitched voice addressed him, “Ha Ha Ha THAT tickles!”
Warren looked down and discovered he had stepped on a red furry toy with a very annoying disposition. The young Mage picked it up and stared into its lifeless plastic eyes.
Trapper noticed Elmo in Warren’s hands and saw that the furry red Muppet was no longer alive. She was about to ask Warren what had happened to Elmo, when Micah and Starr burst into the room . . .
“Oh My!” Willow’s shocked gasp brought all eyes to her. She flushed bright red and stared at Micah.
Micah looked at everyone as they slowly started to smile.
Buffy grinned. “I’m impressed,” she murmured right before Giles covered her eyes.
Then he realized he was feeling rather chilled. On body parts he defiantly shouldn’t be showing 17-year-olds.
“Let me,” Ricze zapped a pair of unbuttoned, faded button fly jeans on him.
Willow fainted into Warren’s arms.
“And Cordelia missed this.”
Angelique doubled over laughing at the flummoxed look on Micah’s face. “It’s not every day you get to see a naked Pharaoh,” she giggled as Kat started to laugh with her.
“Pharaoh?” Giles looked up as Willow opened her eyes. “Which Pharaoh?”
“Thank you, Merneptah for the anatomy lesson,” Trapper snapped. “Now we have people to find.”
“Perhaps a shirt would be in order.”
“Nah, Giles, we need something to enjoy while we are looking for Evie and Tracy.”
“Buffy, if don’t think–”
“Tracy Vetter’s missing? Man oh man, the commissioner’s gonna hit the roof,” Schanke mumbled as he toward Nick. He clapped Nick on the back. “So partner, let’s roll.”
Trapper had just finished delivering her blistering ultimatums to everyone, and Schanke was well on his way to make it out the door. If he could manage to save the Commissioner’s daughter from certain death . . .
And certain death walked through the door.
There wasn’t a sound in the room, save for the scuffle of very tired feet.
She could barely remember how to walk. And she still hadn’t worked out what her name was. Did she have a name? She must have.
Duncan turned a rather shocking shade of white when he saw Amanda walk through the door into the gift shop. At least, he thought it was Amanda.
Her flesh hung loosely on her, all the shock had caused so much damage that her muscles couldn’t remember exactly what shape they were supposed to be holding. Her eyes were sunk into her skull, and the whites were distinctly a burned sort of yellow color. Her hair fell out in clumps as she moved, and blood oozed freely from her nose, mouth and ears. Her lips quivered, though not to speak. She didn’t believe that speech was possible, if it had ever been.
Schanke took one look at the living dead woman, and decided that if he didn’t save Tracy Vetter soon, and she ended up going back to her father looking like TH”T, there would be Hell to pay!
So This is Goodbye
She entered the room where it had happened. She could tell because of the blood on the floor. Still fresh. Still wet.
She knelt down, ran her hand through it, brought it to her lips.
And saw it all.
She knew she was weeping, and that the others would be warned by the sound. But she couldn’t help herself. For someone like Caesar to be so humiliated, emasculated, tortured to death. It was tragic.
For someone like Caesar.
Her tears stopped.
What was wrong with her? It was HER husband that had been killed in this way. It was HER Sire that had been humiliated and tortured. And after nearly a thousand years and his final death, she disassociated herself with it all.
Caesar indeed! Whatever happened to Jonas?
She moved on a bit further, noticing the bloodstains here and there. His torture had taken place in here as well.
She came across one of August’s vampire/Watchers, and he was dead with a glance. She merely looked at him, reached inside with her mind, and boiled his blood.
Such a simple thing, really.
There was a handful of vampire/Watchers in the next room, busy packing.
A sudden shock nestled itself in her brain. She reached out, searching for her hated nemesis, and could find her nowhere.
Fury has it’s uses, but not when information is needed.
When she attacked the vampires in the room, she killed all but one of them with the same detachment she felt about Cae…Jonas.
The last one she grabbed by the throat and inserted her thoughts into his.
Yes, August had left. After Micah had made his escape. After Horton had been killed.
She had taken the body of Jonas Clay and burned it, yet again. And confined the ashes to yet another urn.
- Another 80 years in a tiny tomb.
At least there was hope.
She shook her head as she extended the claws of her gloves. No. Jonas’ body may be reformed. He may yet live again. But there was no hope.
She casually ripped the heart out of the last of the vampires, and searched the rest of Casa Loma.
There the others are, still in the gift shop. There are two Immortals and one vampire guarding the door to Tracy’s booby‑trapped tower. And nothing else.
August must have taken what was left with her. If we haven’t killed them all that is.
Well, she knew where August had gone, and she would follow. She would follow her into Hell if necessary.
She turned to leave, and found Evie standing in the doorway, a look of sick fascination on her face.
“I would never have believed you would do anything like this.”
She shrugged slightly. “I am not who I was.”
“So who are you now?”
She shimmered slightly as she melted into the shadows. “I am Vengeance.”
She moved along the shadows, and was almost out the door when she whispered back to Evie, “Tracy is in the second tower. It is guarded by two Immortals and a vampire. Do not allow Vachon anywhere near it, since August has rigged the tower to explode the moment he crosses the threshold. She has left, and I pursue. The others can worry about healing.”
“Where?” Evie swallowed, then started again. “Where did she go?”
“Home. Tell Marcus to stay away. This fight is mine.”
Evie nodded to herself.
And the shadow was gone.
Okay, so Marcus couldn’t go. But she didn’t saying anything about the others, did she?
Casa Loma Gift Shop
All laughter was cut short as Amanda shambled into the room and stopped. She shuddered and collapsed, her long frame bending on itself.
Micah watched Duncan as he rushed to her side. That could have been him; He could have been as broken physically as he was mentally. Micah glanced at Starr. She had been the one to keep him from the abyss. She had pulled him kicking and screaming into the first part of himself that might begin to heal.
Except Starr wasn’t Hanna. His sweet Hanna. She was gone, in spirit, if not body by now. Perhaps Hanna had sent Starr. Hanna had known what he had needed.
Duncan and Methos were bent over Amanda, talking in whispers. Skye leaned in and whispered into Duncan’s ear, then pointed to Fire, Warren, Ricze and Angelique.
“Angelique?” Duncan’s voice was a raw whisper of desperation. “Can you help?”
She looked at Ricze, then nodded. “I can try.”
“She has something in her chest,” Micah spoke up. “It will need to be removed first.”
Natalie stepped forward. “I might be able to help with that.” She shrugged. A I mostly dissect dead people, but I have knowledge of the body.”
Methos was murmuring something to Amanda. She looked hopeful and nodded. “She agrees.”
Methos looked at Zara. “Get a blanket and a pillow, please.” She nodded and left.
“We need something to operate with.”
Benton produced a Swiss army knife. “Will this help?”
Nat nodded and smiled up to him. “My, you are quite the boy scout.”
Buffy pulled some sheets off a couple of intact display cases. “We can make bandages out of these.”
Nat nodded as she examined Amanda. Angelique waved over Warren, Ricze and Fire. “Warren, I hope your magic is still good.”
Warren blushed. “Um, yes ma’am.”
“Fire, can you do healing, or are you an elemental only?”
“I can help.”
Fire went to Amanda and knelt at her head. She placed a hand on either side of Amanda’s head, over her ears. Fire closed her eyes and concentrated. The bleeding stopped and Amanda’s eyes started to clear. Amanda closed her now normal eyes and her body relaxed. Zara slipped a pillow under Amanda and Natalie went to work as Fire chanted in a soft sing song to relax Amanda.
Pink Haze (not cool enough for Purple)
Casa Loma Tower
She was holding on tight but the world kept spinning. Beautiful lights sped by and calliope music filled the air; Tracy loved carousels.
Fanciful creatures rose and fell on their endless circular journey – each one impaled on a shining silver bar. None were as majestic as the steed Tracy rode. His Palomino head was held high and his mane was frozen in intricate eddies and whirls. Next to her, on a saddled ostrich, was Tracy’s daddy. The music was blaring – too loud to hear what he was saying to her- but she could see his tears.
Round and around. Up and down.
Up ahead Tracy’s mommy was barely staying on, even with one arm wrapped around her wooden lion’s neck. One moment she was laughing and the next she was screaming in abject terror. Each action was punctuated by a swig from her ever-faithful whiskey bottle.
The ring! Tracy saw the ring go by!
She leaned out, seeing how close she could get. Fun House mirrors and demented caricatures flew by her outstretched hand. Eventually, the spot with the prize ring came around again. Tracy screamed. In its place hung a battered and half-naked woman. This sailed by as quickly as everything else had, but Tracy had seen it with amazing clarity: the dried rivulets of blood, the crusted lips, the dead gaze in the poor woman’s eyes.
Turning to follow the grotesque image, she saw two men sitting behind her. Amid dozens more bobbing carousel creatures was a high-baked chair. It was painted blood red and was elaborately carved. Lounging on its austere bench seat, laughing and conspiring, were Nick Knight and Javier Vachon. They appeared to be having a wickedly good time.
Tracy closed her eyes against it all and let the cheerful organ melody wash over her.
Casa Loma Gift Shop
“Stay with us, darling,” Duncan whispered as Fire’s hands moved to cover Amanda’s eyes. The cadence changed in Fire’s voice to a slow steady rhythm.
“Fire, Ricze, Nat & Angelique are going to help.” Duncan grasped Amanda’s hand in an effort to will his energy into her body. But as an immortal he knew this was not possible. He could only hope the others would be able to save her.
A circle formed around the group working on the battered body of Amanda. Fire had temporarily stopped the bleeding, but the device had to be removed before they could go any further. Duncan recognized the grim look on Nat’s face. This wasn’t going to be easy.
“Duncan, I need to pull the wires out of her heart.” She looked up and met his eyes. “This will kill her again.”
“Do what you have to.” He looked down into Amanda’s relaxed face. His voice was rough, his burr pronounced. “She”ll not be gone for long.” His mouth twisted in a parody of a smile.
Nat took hold of the first electrode wire. “Horton was one sick puppy,” she mumbled as she tugged it out as gently as possible. Amanda’s body arched and blood spurted from the ragged hole on her heart. “I’m sorry Amanda,” she whispered as Benton donned surgical gloves from Nat’s black bag and handed her a makeshift bandage of cotton sheeting.
“You have a steady hand,” Benton encouraged Nat as she pulled out the wires and reached the small machine that Horton had implanted on her heart.
“Are you sure she can recover from this?” Nat frowned as she looked at the device. “This is going to really tear up her heart.”
Duncan nodded to Nat. “She will recover. After all she has already died.”
The New Crusade
Evie entered the gift shop just as Nat was finishing up with Amanda. She almost changed her mind about entering.
“Evie!” Trapper snarled as she moved to her friend and held her close for a moment, then yelled at her, “Where have you been?! I was afraid you were lying dead somewhere, and I couldn’t get any of these bozos to budge!”
“Hey!” Xander started to object to being called a bozo, but the look Traps gave him over her sunglasses caused him to close his mouth . . . tight.
“Sorry, Traps. It was Hanna.” Marcus looked up at her intently from where he was attending the awakening Friedreich. “I followed her, even though she told me not to. She kil . . . killed all the other vampire/Watchers. I’ve never seen her so . . . deadly. She said that August is gone.”
Xander breathed a sigh of relief. His neck still prickled from the feeling of her fangs.
“Where?” Marcus asked, rising.
“Can’t tell you,” Evie said as she shook her head. “Hanna specifically said you couldn’t go after her.”
Marcus laughed, which caused the hair on the back of Buffy’s neck to rise. “So it’s New Jerusalem then?”
Evie raised an eyebrow. “How do you figure that?”
“She wouldn’t want me there because all of my Children are dead. Because of August. If I went there, I would be obliged to rip her to pieces, in which case, Hanna would have to kill me . . . for stealing her prize!”
“You think that’s funny?” Friedreich snarled weakly.
“Not in the slightest bit,” Marcus laughed, wiping away blood tears. “I find it tragic that our dear, sweet little Hanna has become a cold‑blooded monster.”
Methos, Micah and Duncan all looked at each other sadly. They had all loved her in a rather special way, and the last thing they wanted was to see her perverted.
Zara couldn’t stand the silence. It made the room feel like a tomb, which was the last place she intended on ever being again! “So? Now what?”
Evie took a deep breath. “She said Tracy is in the other tower.” Vachon moved forward at that, but Evie moved in his way. “You can’t go.”
“Why the Hell not?” he yelled at her as he tried to push her out of the way.
“Because she said that August has rigged it against you. If you cross the threshold, it will explode.”
He stopped dead in his tracks, tears in his eyes. He lost Urs. Did he have to lose Tracy as well?
“Don’t worry,” Kat smiled as she touched his shoulder. “You may not be able to go, but we all can! We’ll get her out!”
“Hanna said that there was a couple of Immortals and a vampire guarding the tower. I guess Horton was supposed to be, but Micah took care of that, it seems.”
He smiled viciously at her, and she was very glad that it hadn’t been her at the other end of his sword.
“What about Spike?” Angel asked.
Some of the others jumped. He had been so quiet that most of them forgot he was even there.
“She didn’t say anything about him, so I assume he is in either the room with Tracy or he left with August.”
“He went with her,” Marcus added.
“How can you be sure?” Buffy asked.
“Because, however much she might pretend otherwise, August is terrified of Hanna. And rightly so. She would never go anywhere without a bodyguard, especially if she knew that Hanna was following right behind.”
“Oh, and one more thing. She said that August has Shayna with her.”
Those in the room that had known her tensed. Warren was moved from his contemplation of Angelique by the sound of that name, though he had no idea why.
“Okay. I’ve heard enough,” Trapper responded coldly. “Here’s how it’s going to be: Kat will lead the way for Tracy’s rescue. Schanke will go with her, that way, when you do find her, he can take her home to her father. It’ll look great on his record.”
Nick smiled at his partner, who looked suddenly tense under the attention of so many vampires.
“Vachon will stay below, guarding the exit . . . just in case. But under no circumstances do you go in that tower, got it?!”
He nodded morosely.
She looked at Marcus carefully.
“Forget it. She wouldn’t welcome anyone’s interference. And even if you did go, how would you get there? It isn’t exactly easy to find, and there are only three people in this city that could show you the way: Friedreich, who is no condition to go; John, who isn’t even in his body yet; and me, and I can’t go.”
“I know where it is at, Marcus,” Methos added quietly. “I’ve been there a couple of times, remember?”
“Great!” Evie shouted triumphantly.
“Shit!” Marcus snarled at himself. Damned Immortal pain in the ass! He’s going to get whoever goes with him killed!
“Okay,” Traps began again, “so who is going with Methos to New Salem to help Hanna?”
All vestiges of otherness slipped away as she approached the two detectives. Next to her, Vachon tensed slightly – surprised, yet again, by her ability to suddenly change like that.
“Skanky, is it?” she asked, turning to Nick for confirmation.
“S-C-H-A-N-K-E. The C is hard, the H is silent,” Don replied, stepping up to greet her. He took her hand and shook it firmly. Her hand was cold but, she didn’t look like a … she looked okay. Tall but okay.
Nick smiled back, relieved at her attempt to normalize the situation for his partner. “This is Kat….”
The two shaking hands paused, waiting for the rest of the introduction. When none came, Kat improvised. “I’m a friend of Tracy’s.”
Schanke chuckled; He couldn’t picture Nick’s straight-laced temporary partner hanging out with the likes of this girl. Kat would eat her alive. And how about that “Rebel without a Clue” boyfriend standing next to her?
“You want her to lead the search?” Schanke was all for women’s lib, but she was just a kid. “Uh, no offense,” he added as an afterthought.
“None taken. I know where Tracy is being held, that’s all. We could definitely use your expertise, Detective.” The man reeked of garlic! If anyone was going to be safe around a group of vengeful vampires, it would be this guy.
By RavenKat,Trapper, Evie, Hanna
After Gearing Up
“This is the only way in or out,” Kat instructed in a hushed tone. “And the last step is a doozie,” she added, referring to the final three guards stationed in the tower. Nick and Don pulled their service weapons, easily falling into sync. Schanke shook his head and wondered what the hell he was doing here, in the middle of the night, when he could be at home, snuggled up next to Myra.
Unpleased but resigned, Vachon stood in the shadows of the tapestried main hallway. In addition to eliminating any blood-triggered explosions, he was strategically positioning himself to catch any fleeing thugs. He hoped he would get the chance. He fluffed his hair back over his collar to give himself a better view of the proceedings.
Evie glanced admiringly at the Spanish vampire (oh that hair!) as she dropped her sport bag to the floor. Efficiency combined with unconscious grace as she pulled the shortened katana from the bag and tucked it it through her belt. OK, she thought – time to see if she’d learned anything from Duncan. She slung the bag behind her back and followed the others.
Nodding to his partner, Det. Knight approached the circular stairwell. Suddenly it occurred to Kat that she should probably ascend the stairs first, in an altered state. She reached out and placed a hand on Nick’s shoulder….
***She was in no pain, yet he pulled his hand away bloodied. LaCroix was so proud, she could see it in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak. “Your first solo kill was a fighter, I see…”***
The blond vampire spun around. The nightmare images stopped as soon as the contact was broken. “What?!” he whispered urgently. Schanke shrugged and gestured in Kat’s direction. She was a little off balance but managed to verbalize her intentions. After a moment’s consideration, the detectives agreed, although the mortal one didn’t completely understand what was about to happen. Nick tried with difficulty to focus on the problem at hand. LaCroix smiled to himself from his vantage point.
Kat focused on the reflective shades of Knight’s female companion and tuned herself down even farther. An image of the mortal Trapper had been, only days ago, flashed in Kat’s mind. The ghost of Kat smiled because nothing significant seemed to have changed about the other woman….
Trapper smiled back, having seen the slight change in Kat’s ghostly features. She calmed her mind and opened her senses, looking for anything the others might have missed. Evie stood next to her and did the same, casting her mind forward ahead of Kat, looking for danger.
Kat’s fading wasn’t too impressive for those who watched her – she simply got less substantial. Upstairs, though, she was not expected and would likely infiltrate their lair unnoticed. As she half-floated, half-walked up into the tower, she crossed her fingers. They needed whatever luck they could get.
She only had a minute or so before the cavalry arrived, so she quickly and cautiously appeared at the top of the stairs. One immortal was asleep and the other was arguing with the neophyte vampire guard about what had happened to Horton and the rest. Tracy still hung, a lifeless doll, against the far curve of wall; Her rescue would have to be now if they wanted her to live.
Kat bit her lip as she looked at Tracy. She could still sense life, but the spark was so faint. She turned and went back down the stairs to explain the layout to her companions.
Evie slid her sword silently from its sheath and whispered to Trapper as they carefully climbed the stairs. “I think that the vampire is the last one of the bunch that killed Dennis. Can you feel it?” Trapper lips thinned to a pale line as she nodded in reply. She prepared to use “The Voice”ä if necessary. It would be messy, but brutally effective in eliminating the opposition. She just needed to direct it so it didn’t take out Tracy at the same time. Evie sensed her mood and placed a restraining hand on Trapper’s arm. “Try not to kill them too dead, ok?” she whispered. Trapper’s answering smile was a grimace.
Schanke glanced back at the two women following and frowned. Civilians involved with police work usually came out much worse for the wear, in his experience. He elbowed his partner and nodded toward them to indicate the problem. Nick, to his surprise, just shrugged and grinned. Schanke shook his head, despairing for his partner’s sanity more and more.
The remaining vampire guard heard the noises down the stairs indicating Tracy’s friends were on their way. Instantly he leapt for the young, blonde woman hanging in fetters.
As they came through the door he smiled wickedly, drawing his straight razor across her throat. The life that was left in her spilled quickly from her body. He knew they would not let him live, but then…neither would She.
Vachon heard the screams of protest from everyone above and knew what had happened.
“TRACY!” He screamed as he flew to her. Stone shattered everywhere as he rose upward, then burst through the wall of the tower.
Rushing forward, he gathered Tracy in his arms, tearing the manacles from the wall. He felt her heart faltering and begged her quickly, “Yes or no!?”
Her lips barely moved, “Yes…”
He tore open his wrist and as he lowered it to her mouth, he bit into her neck. They sucked desperately at each other, both fighting for the same thing: for Tracy to live.
Conglomerate: The Aftermath
after Conglomerate, parts all.
The force of shattering stone threw the inexperienced vampire guard back as Vachon burst through the wall above his head. “Shit!” His angry curse was cut short by a large chunk of granite.
“Owww!” he moaned as he struggled to free himself. ‘I thought things were supposed to get easier as a vampire,’ he thought to himself. ‘This whole gig has been one major pain in the ass!’
Across the room, Javier gently lowered Tracy to the floor. He was disengaging her mouth from his wrist when his shoulder was roughly grabbed from behind.
“How could you do this!” Nick snarled at Vachon as he spun the younger vampire around. “Why did you do it?”
With an effort, Javier willed himself to calm. “I thought I was saving her life.” He backed out of Nick’s grasp and shrugged his jacket back into shape. “Besides, what’s the problem? It’s not like I didn’t ask.”
Tracy giggled drunkenly from where she sat. She looked like some abandoned, broken doll, with her legs splayed out in front of her. The ghastly extra smile she wore beneath her chin was almost healed, with only a few telltale smears of blood remaining.
Javier gestured at Tracy. “Look, man. She was dying! I just gave her a choice, ok?”
Nick nodded mutely and turned away, a stricken expression on his face. Schanke was waiting for him, wide-eyed.
“Oh, man! Nick! How do we explain this to the commissioner?” He pointed at Tracy. “I mean, she’s a bloodsucker now, right?” Nick looked up from his reverie. “Oh, sorry partner,” Schanke said, abashed. “No offense.”
“None taken, Schanke. Could you keep an eye on them?” Nick patted Schanke’s shoulder and moved past him toward the entrance to the tower. He noticed Evie cleaning her blade after neatly slicing off one Immortal’s head. She was humming some wordless Irish tune to herself as she worked. The other Immortal had been unfortunate enough to run headlong into Angelique, who was amusing herself with him as she methodically ripped him apart. Kat was slowly rematerializing, much to Javier’s relief. The rest of them were wandering the tower, picking their way through debris and marveling at the devastation. “Where is Trapper?” he thought to himself. He heard a low growl and turned in the direction of the sound.
Trapper reached down through the rubble and yanked the vampire free. As he opened his mouth to thank her, she slammed him into the far wall. She stalked to where he lay and stood above him, staring down with mirrored eyes, clenching her taloned hands. He threw up his arms in supplication. Trapper batted them away effortlessly and tore his throat with a flick of her hand. He lay, gagging on his blood. “Perhaps,” she whispered as she bent down to him, “you have a small idea of what Dennis felt like, as that molten gold trickled down his throat and choked him.” She widened the slash. “Hmm? Can’t speak?” She reached for his head. “Pity,” she hissed as she pulled his hair to arch his neck. Her free hand found the straight razor he had dropped. The grim woman slowly dragged it across his throat, ignoring the scarlet spray, intent on her work.
When she had separated head from body, she stood and stretched. Nick came up behind her and took her shoulders. Trapper leaned back into him and sighed quietly. Tears seeped from under her glasses.
“Shhh,” Nick soothed. “It’s done. That was the last of them.” Trapper nodded and turned to bury her face in his chest. They stood, clutching each other, finding strength in the embrace.
For the moment, there was peace. Time held its breath while the battle-weary rested in the tower…for the moment.
The Long Way Home
getting on towards morning
They staggered down the winding stairs from the tower as best they could. All were in the same state of exhaustion and hunger. Evie narrowed her eyes as she noticed Angelique edging closer, a predatory look in her eye.
“Don’t EVEN think about it!” Evie snarled, one hand on the hilt of the katana she wore. “I need food; I need coffee; I need sleep! What I DON’T need is to feel like the main course at a smorgasbord! Got it?!”
Angelique stepped back from the human, momentarily nonplused. LaCroix glided to her side and placed his hands on her shoulders. “There, there, my dear. We’ll be back at the Raven shortly.” He steered Angelique away from the rest of them, and into the Great Hall.
“Why doesn’t he just put her on a leash,” Evie muttered. She heard a stifled giggle, and turned to see Nick, smiling and trying to smother his laughter.
As they entered the Great Hall, Duncan strode to meet them. “Well, I must say that you all look a bit the worse for wear,” he said, shaking his head at their condition. He nodded in Tracy’s direction. “Mission accomplished, I see.”
Trapper nodded. “And we took out some more of August’s crew at the same time.” She looked around, to see Methos and Micah in what was obviously a heated discussion. “They haven’t left yet? Good.” She turned to look at Nick and Evie. “So, are we going with?”
“Definitely,” Evie said. “We’ve just got to make sure that Michael and James have a way home, and that everything’s still standing back in Seattle.”
“Why don’t you leave them the van?” Nick asked. Evie and Trapper both looked at him questioningly. He shrugged, “I’ve got vacation coming, and I’ve never been to New Jerusalem. We can take the Caddy.”
“Works for me,” Trapper said. “What about Schanke?” She raised her chin in Don’s direction. He had stepped away from the crowd and was pulling out his cell phone.
“I can’t imagine he’s going to want to do anything but go home to Myra and Jenny,” Nick said. “Speaking of home, why don’t we go back to my place? We can get cleaned up, grab a bite,” Trapper smiled. “of FOOD,” Nick continued, “and get a short rest before we leave.”
“Oh, sounds great!” Evie said, stretching. “I could really use some dinner!” She called out to the roomful. “Hey! Anyone up for takeout?” She was answered by a weary but enthusiastic chorus.
LaCroix waved as he and his coterie stepped in the direction of the door. “Why don’t you all come back to the Raven later, and we’ll discuss strategy?” There was a general agreement from all present. “Fine.” He glanced at the group. “Nicholas, Trapper, Javier, Kat,” he raised an eyebrow. “Evie,” he continued. “We’ll see you shortly.” The door opened; there was a rush of wind. They were gone.
“Nick,” Javier, Kat and Tracy moved closer. “We’re going to make sure that Tracy’s okay, and then we’ll meet you.” They made for the door.
“Shall we do likewise?” Trapper said.
“Sounds good to me,” Nick took her arm.
“Me, too,” said Evie. “But, could we use a bit more conventional means of travel?”
They all laughed and went to retrieve Schanke. They didn’t realize the new wrinkle that awaited them across the room.