New Jerusalem War Prologue

Shiny, Happy Button

by Hanna Clay

Aug. 29, 1997

Toronto, Midnight

Tracy Vetter sat silently, perched on the spire of Toronto.  Dangerous, but she liked the danger.  She had been practicing for days, and now she had it down perfect.  She glanced to the right, noticed the helicopter heading her way.  “Ah, well.  Guess I’ll have to play birdie some more tomorrow.”  She flew down from her perch gracefully.

Where to tonight?  She flew above the precinct, smiling.  Her father had died a few weeks ago of a heart attack.  Well . . . at least that’s what was in the coroner’s report.  Not that they would know that the heart attack was caused by the sight of Tracy herself.  She hadn’t meant to scare him.  He just wouldn’t believe her when she told him that she was a vampire now.  So she showed him.  He keeled over the moment he saw the fangs.

She shrugged to herself.  Served him right for not believing me.

Her train of thought was broken suddenly.  She felt Vachon nearby, so she changed course.  Last thing she wanted was to listen to his poor excuse for lessons on how to be a vampire.  He bored her literally to death these days.  She had wasted her life trying to make other people happy: her father, her mother, Vachon, Nick.  Not anymore.  Tracy had eternity now, and she was going to make the most of it . . .

 

Redecorating

by Cousin Sukh

August 30, 1997

Toronto, The Raven

 

“So my Brother, how do you like being the new owner of the Raven?”  Angelique smiled as she watched the workers gutting the place.

“Well, I certainly need to make it more . . .  I don’t know,”  he was bent over the blueprints, frowning.

“Dark?”  Angelique sipped her glass with a small smile, “Gothic?”

“Classy.”  Micah moved over to the fabric samples and flipped through them.

“Witch alert,” Angelique whispered as she slipped off the bar and walked toward the back rooms.

Micah looked up to see Missy bearing down on him.  “Ra, no,” he groaned as she waved paint-chip strips at him.  Ricze was following at a distance, a smirk firmly planted on his face.

“Well I see you left the dance floor.”  Ricze strummed the heavy chains dangling from the ceiling as he wandered over to the DJ area.  “Angelique!”  He called to his retreating blood sister.

She turned to look at him.  “Yes?”

“We brought company.”  Five people stepped out from behind Ricze.  Buffy and friends, minus one vampire and plus one mortal.

Angelique felt a chill go down her spine.  “Welcome.”

“But Micah,” Missy was arguing with Micah on the color of paint.  “Black is expected.”

“One more reason for me not to use it.”  Micah looked up at the new arrivals.  “Buffy, what’s up?”

“Angel.”  Buffy looked so forlorn, Angelique moved closer.

Giles spoke up, “We have a problem.”  Angelique could feel despair roll off him in waves.  His eyes looked bleak.  “Angel has turned back.”  There was much more to this story than he was telling.

“And you need my help why?”

“We have traced it to some vampire clan called Setites.”

Isis help them.  “There are no more Children of Osiris.”

“Well,” Giles removed his glasses.  “We were hoping that with your knowledge of Egyptian mythology, you might be able to assist us.”

“I hate being a savior.”  Angelique stepped closer to the group.  “But if you need help,  I can do what I can.”

“I have this book I would like you to look over.”  He held an ancient tome in his hands.

“Follow me,” Angelique and Giles went to the back room.

“This place is so not happening.”   The new mortal girl was frowning at the chains around the dance floor.  “It’s so industrial.”

“Do you have a better suggestion?”

Cordelia wandered over to the bar.  “Well actually . . . ”

 

The Plot Thickens

By Cousin Sukh

August 30, The Raven, Night

 

Angelique sat down across the rich cherry wood desk from Giles.  Giles opened up his briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of papers and one ancient book.  She watched as he opened the book up.  Hieroglyphs flowed across the stiff, bound papyrus.  She reached out and touched it, feeling the faint warmth from the Egyptian sun in the aged document.

Giles watched her as she touched it, taken aback by the wistful look in her eyes as she caressed the pages.  “Here,” He moved it around so she could see the pictured writing.  “Feel free to translate.  I think I have been able to decipher part‑‑”

“This is the legend of Osiris and his brother Set.”  She frowned as she scanned the story.  “But it is not correct.”

“Really,” Giles stood and went over to look, leaning closer to see.

“This is actually a text that explains that Set was the one wronged by Osiris.”  She frowned again.  “This explains how to insure that Set will one day take over the world.”

She stopped as Giles reached out and pointed at a particular hieroglyph.  His warmth was seeping through the tweed jacket he wore.  Not now, she reminded herself, concentrating on the problem at hand.  “This looks familiar,” he said.  “Can you tell me what it means?”

“Well, this is the prophecy of him coming through the Earth and defeating this person.”   She looked closer.  “It also promises that all that are not one of his followers‑‑Wait, this means spirit not follower, will be destroyed when he, the master comes.”

“The master?”  Giles frowned and looked closer.  “This means spirit, you say.”  He made a thinking noise far to close to Angelique’s ear.  She could smell the bouquet of his blood, the faint spice of his wild youth and the richer, fuller promise of his maturity.  Her hunger started to pull at her.

“Giles?”  Angelique turned to look at him.

He stepped back at her yellow‑green eyes.

“I think I need some space.”  She smiled.  “You smell far to tempting.  I don’t think I want to be confronted by an angry slayer at the moment.”  She smiled at him.  ” Unless you want to.  After all, my kind are much different than the demon vampires you are used to.”

Giles flushed, then cleared his throat.  “I am sorry.”  He had been far too tempted by the beautiful creature.  The Giles of his youth was calling for him of rip off his tweed and pull her in to his arms to find out about the sweet rapture of her deadly kiss.  All this since Jenny had been murdered.  His controls were slipping, his anger and frustration were breaking closer to the surface of his icy control.

“Don’t be.”   She touched his hand.  ” I quite enjoy the body heat.”

“Perhaps I can be of assistance,” LaCroix drawled as he stepped into the room, a bottle and two glasses in his elegant hands.  “My dear?”

Giles could swear he heard a faint warning in LaCroix’s inflection.  He would have smiled if he was sure the Roman general wouldn’t rip out his throat.

“Please.”  Angelique took a glass and LaCroix filled it as he moved around to place himself between Angelique and Giles.  The scent of testosterone was beginning to grow heavy in the room.  Angelique smiled as she sipped the red wine and blood mixture.  Giles would have tasted much better.

“Interesting.”  He looked at the papyrus book as he drank.  “I never had the opportunity to learn to read these as well as I liked.”  He studied the document for a moment, then frowned.  “The children of Osiris?  Weren’t they all destroyed?”

“Except for one.”  Angelique set her glass down and looked at Giles.  “Called the slayer.  The direct descendant of Isis, sworn to wipe out the spirit of Set.”

Giles widened.  “My god.”

“Actually, it would be more of Angelique’s god.”  LaCroix smiled as he touched the back of her head.

They all looked at the door at a loud crash and Micah’s yell.  “Missy,”  Angelique and LaCroix said together as they started for the door, Giles following behind them.

The door shut and Angelus walked into the room, a small chilling smile on his face.  He walked over and polished off Angelique’s glass with a grimace.  “I bet ole’ Giles would’ve tasted much better.”  He murmured as he looked at the papyrus and the papers on the desk.  “Well, well,” he grinned as he scooped them up.  “I do think I’ve been found out.”  He laughed as he walked out of the office and slid through the shadows to the DJ booth, unnoticed in the commotion below.

He watched Buffy as a small, unwanted twinge of grief slid through his heart.  Then he smiled in the direction the dark vampiress Angelique.  She was sleek as a cat and just as dangerous. Angel wondered what the sound of her begging would sound like in her Egyptian accent.  Begging for his mercy.  He smiled again and hunkered down out of sight.  He could wait.

 

Fight Anyone?

By Kyrenea

August 30, The Raven, p.m.

“And what would a human child know of decorating a club?”  Missy glared at Cordelia and took a step closer to Micah.

“For starter’s the chains have to go.” Cordelia thumped a chain and moved toward the center of the dance floor.  “The black paint is depressing.  You should go for something with more character.  I don’t know, maybe…”

“Excuse me,” Missy hissed.  “Black happens to be a staple color in my wardrobe…

“You obviously don’t have any fashion sense,” Cordelia stuck her nose up a few inches higher.

“You little….”

“MISSY!”  Micah reached for the hot-headed little Spaniard and was knocked backwards by a backhanded thrust.

“That wouldn’t be such a good idea dear,” Ricze advised as he grabbed Buffy from behind and pushed her into Xander.  He snatched Cordelia from harms path just before Missy kissed the floor with a smack and slid a foot on her nose.

She came off the floor with a half grunt, half growl.  Micah picked himself up and charged her head on, hurtling her into a table.  A satisfied smirk crossed his face when she bounced off the floor and into another table.

“Stay!”

Missy crouched on the floor, glaring from Micah to Cordelia and her loving father behind the two.

“Please tell me you are leaving her behind this time.”  LaCroix came around the bar, Angelique and Giles close behind.

 

Uninvited

by CousinSuk

August 30

Raven

Night

 

Angelique sat at the bar, contemplating her glass, her troubles staring back at her in small crystalline fractures of blood red wine.  The music started, and she looked up.

 

Angel stood there, dressed in black on hand held out.  “One dance.”  He promised.  “I have things to tell you.”

 

Angelique stood, wary of the creature that had been on a personal vendetta against his former love.  “What do we have to say to each other?”

 

“Come to me and I’ll tell you.”  He smiled at her.  “After all we are the same.”

 

“No.  We are very different.  I am no demon come as a slave to the dark master.”

 

“I want my soul back.”  Angel looked at her with eyes dark with regret.  “I want Buffy back.”

 

“And I am you salvation?”

 

“Yes.  You have the key, the way for me to regain what I want.”

 

“And you think I should trust you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I know what you did to Giles.  That was callous, even for a vampire.”

 

He shrugged.  “It was for effect.”

 

“You killed the one woman that could have helped you. Then you set her cooling body in the bed of the man she loved, and who was returning the feelings.  That was far over the edge, even for Angelus.”

 

“I’m sure you have performed many a similar deed.”

 

“I have been cruel before, but I was never a student of the Marquis DeSade.”  She smiled.  “Of course I did tech him quite a few tricks.”

 

“See you aren’t all sugar and spice.”  He stepped closer. “Dance with me.  I find you very beautiful.  Much more beautiful than any of my type.”

 

The music looped and started over again.

 

“One wrong move and I will snap your neck.”

 

Alanis Morissette started to croon as he swept her into his arms.

 

The music was compelling her, she swayed against him despite her wariness.

 

“You are my key.”  He touched her back, stroking as he whispered into her ear.  “You have Egyptian blood in you.”  He pulled her closer, one hand threading through her loose hair.  “I always liked older women.”

 

Angelique closed her eyes, savoring the surge of heat that was snaking through her.  “I forget how young you are.”

 

His laughter had a hard edge to it.  “You could make me forget about Buffy.”  He slid his hands down her neck, his fingers curled, knuckles brushing her collarbone.  “For a bit.”

 

She looked into his dark eyes as his head lowered.  Then she pulled back and yanked him off his feet, dangling him inched off the ground.  “I would suggest you not try that again.”  She set him down and he stared at her, rage boiling, his features roughening to vampire.

 

“I am not impressed.”  Angelique pointed to the door.  “I suggest you prove you want Buffy back before I even try to help you.”

 

Angel stormed out of the Raven, shaking the door in its hinges as he stomped into the Toronto night.

 

 

I’m Too Sexy for my Shirt

by RavenKat

August 31

Washington DC

Night

 

She’d put it off long enough.  It was time to get back to Toronto.

 

“Sister?” Lux, noticing her apparent boredom with the festivities, leaned closer.  He held out the sterling silver straw, hoping to ignite her interest with some killer coke; No one could resist that.

 

“Time to go . . . ” she announced in a flat voice.

 

The young man next to her on the couch stiffened.  Kat turned, saw the barely‑concealed look of shock and disappointment on his face and said, “Oh! Not you, darling.”  She squeezed his upper thigh in reassurance, her long red nails digging slightly into

his leather pants.

 

Relieved that what he had bragged about would indeed happen, Lux began to usher out all the groupies and hangers‑on that followed wherever he went.  He had pulled all the strings he could find to get her here; If Sister Kat said it was time to go then it was time to go.

 

A lot of complaining could be heard, but once the guys in the band figured out what was going on, they helped to move the party elsewhere.  The enigmatic Sister’s appearance was a coup and if they blew it, Lux would never let them hear the end of it.

 

Eventually, Lux closed the door behind the last of them and paused to savor the moment before turning to see the tall, mysterious redhead gazing out the hotel window.  He’d heard a lot of rumors about this woman.  He counted on at least some of them being true.

 

Slowly, hungrily looking up and down her feline body, he relished the fact that Sister Kat was a class (or two) above the girls he was used to.  Certainly the same age as the sluts that lined up outside his dressing room night after night, she carried herself with a certain elegance.  There was a calmness about her, a confidence of movement that excited him.  At last, someone not enthralled by his fame.

 

Don’t get him wrong, Lux Interior thoroughly enjoyed the group gropes and the endless blowjobs afforded him by his current position on the charts; He was simply looking forward to a little something different tonight.  He smirked as he thought about how different Sister Kat might actually be.

 

 

I Can’t Get No

by RavenKat

August 31

DC

night

 

Reflected in the glass, Kat could see her self-assured host preparing for romance.  Tracing his image with one long, tapered finger, it occurred to her that with all that hair and in this dim lighting, Lux could almost be mistaken for . . .

 

“Ahem!”

 

The velvet clad woman sighed and turned reluctantly around.  Mr. Interior was lounging comfortably, shirt open and patting the couch cushion next to him invitingly.  Suddenly, going out this evening didn’t seem like such a great idea.  All she could think about were those damned vampires up north.

 

Everything she had used as an excuse to return home had been taken care of . . . but once here, she had begun to feel safe again.  DC was predictable: sneaky politicians and unbearable summers.  Canada, on the other hand, had been one surprise after another.  Only now, standing in front of this peacock did she realize that besides needing to go back, she actually wanted to go back.

 

Too many things had been left undone in Toronto.  That bastard LaCroix had yet to pay for attacking and abandoning her 800 years ago.  She wanted to get to know her ‘brother’ the detective.  And there was a certain conquistador that had extended an open invitation for her return.

 

“Hey!  Where are you going?” Lux yelled, spinning around in disbelief as she walked past him.  “Don’t you know who I am?”

 

“Yep. Sure do,” Kat said and smiled wickedly.  Reaching out and patting him maternally on the cheek, she quipped, “You’re Ira Herzoff from Dayton Ohio.”

 

The door slammed as Kat headed out for Ontario.

 

 

In the City of the Sea

by HannaClay

September 1

Venice, Italy

about 2am

 

For no reason that the locals could discern, the city of Venice was almost perfectly quiet.  Well, except for the splashing of the water and the occasional pedestrians.  The near silence was eerie.  And the Venetians that were superstitious quickly said their prayers, locked their doors, and jumped into bed.

 

Especially those who lived near St. Mark’s.  The lone figure that lounged on the steps outside the cathedral, dressed in black, said nothing to anyone.  He never responded to anyone that spoke to him, didn’t move an inch.  Some said he didn’t even blink.  The authorities had arrived to remove him, but a single glance into his dark eyes changed their minds.

 

So he sat, alone, not moving.  Not that he needed to move.  He didn’t really even need to eat or sleep.  Those things ceased to be a necessity over 5000 years ago.  Of course, it made him terribly uncomfortable, especially if he let himself starve to death.  That had happened to him once, long ago, and he would never repeat the incident.

 

And then the front door to St. Mark’s opened, and the man who hadn’t moved in two days finally stood up, turned, and stared at the emerging figures.

 

Strange that the seven of them would leave together.  Even stranger that they would choose this place for their meetings.  But then, this was a special case, wasn’t it?

 

One of the three men noticed him first.  Harrod, he thought to himself.  That would be Harrod.  The other six moved forward to intercept him, but the one called Harrod held up his hand and whispered something.  Then he moved forward alone to meet Methos.

 

“What is it you want?”  His voice was dry, raspy, almost like a snake’s coils as they moved.

 

“I think you know.”

 

Harrod frowned, a crease forming between his eyebrows.  “Games?  Aren’t you a little old for games?”

 

“Depends.”

 

“On?”

 

“What game you are playing.”

 

Harrod snorted.  “Nothing we have ever done has concerned you.  Why bother us now?”

 

“You’ve never played with her before.”

 

Harrod stopped cold.  If his heart still beat, it would have stopped at that moment.  This one had come for an explanation because of her?!

 

“Look, old man…@  A young-looking woman stepped forward, her long, black hair draped over her leather jacket.  “We don’t answer to you.  We don’t answer to anyone.  Now, you just be about your business, before we forget the reason Harrod asked us not to kill you.”

 

Methos= hand was out, clenched around her throat before the rest moved.  “I’ll kill her.  I’ll tear off her head before any of you can reach me.”

 

“Bastard!” she snarled.

 

“Quiet, Gwen,” Harrod commanded.  “Until now, we’ve let the lot of you live unmolested.  Not any longer.  You’ve crossed the

line, Methos. This will not be forgiven, or forgotten.”

 

“Cut the crap.  You’re supposed to be Hanna=s friend yet you=re defending those bastards?!  I’m sure she would appreciate how two‑faced you really are.”

 

“Oh please!”  One of the other men, dressed in a suit and looking quite oily, stepped forward.  “Tell me you aren’t here, risking life and limb, over that dreadful woman!”

 

“Etrius lives, Etrius gives, but when Methos takes, Etrius quakes!”

 

“Oh, shut up, Leandro!  No one wants to listen to you rave right now!” Etrius snarled at the final man who was, actually, quite insane.

 

Trying to regain control of the situation, Harrod interrupted Etrius before he could continue.  “Please try to understand, Methos.  She is our concern, not yours.  She has broken our laws.  That alone is enough to punish.  But because of her, hundreds of our kind have been killed all over the world!”

 

“Hundreds?!”  Methos was taken aback, but not enough to release Gwendolyn.  “But you must know that she didn’t do any of it!”

 

“Of course we know that!  But she is the reason!  And since we can’t stop the source of the killings, we can stop the cause!”

 

“You mean to tell me that you are planning to kill Hanna because August is murdering vampires?  That’s a little backwards, don’t you think?”

 

“Not really,” another woman, well dressed.  Arika.  “You see, if August learns that Hanna is dead, she’ll cease to kill the others.  She only does it to provoke Hanna.  Removed the symptom and the disease goes away.”

 

“Not by a long shot!  You people really don’t know what you are dealing with, do you?  August kills because she ENJOYS IT!  Oh, I’m sure that it started out as a way to get at Hanna, but that isn’t what it’s about anymore!  She loves the power, the feel of it.  She’ll go on killing, and the only thing you’ll end up doing it killing the one person that has a chance of stopping her!”

 

“Enough!” Etrius screamed.  “You have no say in the matter!  Ours is the will, ours is the way.  She dies at sunrise, and that is final!”

 

Gwendolyn slid out of his grasp, and he reeled backwards.  The others moved to attack, but Harrod shook his head.  “Let him go.  There is nothing he can do.”

 

They turned and left him there, and he sank to his knees, shaking his head.

 

Hanna!  I am sorry!…

 

 

The Prodigal Childe

by HannaClay

September 1

Venice

pre-dawn

 

“Quick!  Grab him!”

 

“He isn’t exactly light you know!”

 

“It’s almost dawn!”

 

“Like, DUH!  I wouldn’t have guessed!”

 

“Go to Hell, Starr!”

 

“You first!”

 

Together, they struggled to pick up the lifeless body of Methos.

 

“At least they didn’t cut off his head!”

 

Starr laughed.  “He’s going to wish they had when he wakes up from this one!”

 

Cash shook his head.  “You’re in a nasty mood, aren’t you?”

 

She glared at him.  “Are you happy with what they did to her?”

 

Cash thought for a moment.  “Not really.  I don’t like her, that’s sure.  But no one deserves that.”  He nodded towards the water.

 

“I don’t want to leave her there.  Not for another moment, let alone the whole day.  But it’s too late for us to do anything right now.  All we can hope is that the current isn’t strong enough to move that box!”

 

“Right,” Cash nodded.

 

They finished loading Methos into the car.  Starr looked at the water and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

 

They got into the car and raced the rising sun to safety…

 

 

Rolling Rolling Rolling

by RavenKat

September 1

Rochester NY

pre dawn

 

Kat knew if she didn=t pull over soon she would drop dead behind the wheel…literally.

 

Although the 1957 Chevy Nomad wagon had been outfitted especially for her, she couldn=t take any chances.  Waking up in an impound lot would only complicate things.  There was no way she could risk parking on the side of the road or at a rest stop, so, she took the next exit into the city.

 

In town, Kat chose the first underground parking facility she saw.  Pulling the black and white behemoth up to the gate, she snatched a ticket and headed for the deepest recesses of the garage.  It was pretty early still, but the structure was steadily filling with hardworking commuters.  Rochester was a bustling city; One more out-of-state tag wouldn=t attract any undue attention.

 

Crawling into the back, Kat wriggled in between some boxes packed for her new condo in Toronto.  In the three weeks home, she had (by phone) purchased and furnished a small place near Nick=s loft in the warehouse district.  He had seemed more than happy to help her – actually, to help Jan, her secretary.  Kat had only spoken to him once and that conversation had been so stilted and uncomfortable that she decided to relegate the house hunting to Jan.

 

No mention had been made of their mutual Sire and only a little had been said about the nightmare at Casa Loma.  The castle was being reopened to the public but Schanke=s daughter was still missing.  Neither vampire brought up the only other thing they had in common: Tracy Vetter and Javier Vachon.

 

Kat groaned and turned over.  At least that crazy bitch August is gone, she thought.  What she really needed now was a chance for some peace and quiet.  A chance to make up for centuries of lost time and to learn what it was to be vampire.

 

Tonight she would be with her own kind.

 

 

Land’s End

HannaClay

Sept 1, 1997

Venice

Almost dawn

 

She opened her eyes, and saw nothing.  Not that she expected to see anything, she knew where they had put her.  She was acutely aware of the sound of water lapping at the sides of the lead container.  She would have snarled, but her mouth couldn’t move.

 

She was terrified, naturally.  Since her childhood she dreamed her death, knowing always that it would be like this, trapped in a box, thrown into the sea, not being able to move and completely aware until the water eroded her body away.  That was the reason water always immobilized her.  She was terrified of her fate.

 

No more running now, she smirked to herself.  She had known that the Circle would become involved.  That they couldn’t allow the kind of horror that August created go unpunished.  She had even known that they would blame her for it, rather than looking for the source.  When it came down to it, Hanna was responsible for everything.  Maybe she didn’t start it, but she always felt responsible.

 

The hardest part about being sealed in the lead box was that she was ravenously hungry.  She hadn’t fed in days, since the Circle had imprisoned her in the holy water of St. Mark’s.  And then, once her sentence was passed, the brought in the lead box and welded it shut.

 

As she lay motionless, wish for all the world that she could feed, she heard the approach of a single man.  She reached out to him with her mind, and found a wall.

 

Of course, she snarled to herself.  Whomever they sent would be blocking her.  She listened carefully as he began to saw at the rope that suspended the box above the water.

 

So, this was it.

 

“Not necessarily!”

 

The sawing stopped as he turned upon the newcomer.  At the same moment, she reached out to him as well.

 

Methos!  At once, she felt almost relieved.  But then she caught the vision in his mind of the man the Circle had sent to finish her.

 

“NO!  Methos, RUN!” she screamed to him in her mind.

 

He looked to the box she was in, startled, and then sneered at the man, “A little contemptible, don’t you think?  Lock her up in a box and drown her, without giving her an opportunity to defend herself?”

 

“RUN!” she screamed again, desperate.

 

Before Methos could move an inch, the man was upon him.

 

“You should have listened to her!”

 

Methos struggled against the grip, his arm breaking of its own accord. He gasped in pain when it broke, and then again when he felt the teeth in his neck.

 

He dropped him when he finished with him, and Methos sank bloodless to the ground.  He stalked over to the box and whispered to her, “Anyone else you want to bring to dinner?”

 

“Heinrich, stop!  Don’t do this!”

 

“Too late, little Hanna.  Too late for you.  Too late for him.  Say hello to all the little fishies!”

 

The rope snapped, and she sank, screaming in her mind, to the bottom of the sea…

 

“Moths touched by flame repeat their fatal game

Forever and eternally

The cliffs around the crashing sea

Unsolved and endless…

Wait for me.”

 

Land’s End

Siouxsie and the Banshees

 

 

A Stranger in Town . . .

by Devin Saceur

September 1

New Jerusalem, Massachusetts

Early Morning

 

He exited the vehicle quickly, turning his head only to mutter a clipped “thanks” to the driver.  As the Mustang sped away toward the interstate on-ramp, Devin looked to the streets before him.  It was quite late, he noted with a brief glimpse at his aging pocket timepiece, and he would soon need to take his rest.  The first rays of dawn were fast approaching.

 

As he strolled, undetected, from street to street, he felt a strange sense of emptiness here . . . of being completely alone, though he felt the warmth and the presence of mortals within the surrounding buildings.  But where were his Kindred?  Amused that he was disturbed by his feeling of isolation, he realized that its power was borne of the fact that he had been in no city over the past century that had not at least one vampire in attendance.

 

He had always been among his kind . . . and the sudden absence set him on edge.

 

Perhaps there had been a Garou storming of the town that had destroyed the vampire populace.  Then again, he mused with a grin, this is Massachusetts.  The possibility of some holy uprising could not be discounted either.

 

Why had he been sent here, anyway?  Of course, because THEY had asked him to go.  “Something has happened in New Jerusalem that needs looking into . . . ” they’d said without further explanation.  “Go there and learn what you can.”

 

“Very well,@ he said out loud.  Upon finishing a slow circle of the town, eyeing every inch of the place closely, he wondered just what it was that might have happened.  The place seemed quaint and quiet, without a hint of disturbance.

 

“I’m here . . . now where to begin is the question.”

 

 

And in the Beginning . . .

By HannaClay

September 1

New Jerusalem, Massachusetts

Jefferson Carter Memorial Library

 

Marc Fowler sat quietly at the checkout desk.  It was only natural that he sat quietly, since it was a library after all.  A rather special sort of library at that.  Though it contained much of what was in any “normal” library, it also contained an entire wing devoted to books that could be found nowhere else in the world.  Since the city, from it’s founding exactly two hundred years ago, was designed to be a “Kindred” city, it was only natural that the library, named for the founder of the city, catered to the Kindred population.  The wing included everything from special Tomes that the Tremere searched for, to books that were supposed to have been destroyed at the Great Library in Alexandria.  It even contained a special copy of the Abarat, the original long since destroyed, that could only be reached through the blood of the vampire that had sealed it in the wall it was in.

 

Marc smirked to himself at that thought.  “He’s probably dead too,” he whispered to himself.  He shook his head sadly, trying not to remember the bloodbath that had occurred almost a month ago, which had claimed the lives of every vampire in the city, including the Prince.

 

Not that Marc minded them being gone.  With the exception of a few individuals, he despised vampires as a whole.  They were leeches, parasites that fed off the species that gave them birth.  They polluted Gaia with their presence, and he wasn’t sad to see them go.

 

What bothered him was the disappearance of individuals that did matter to him: Marcus, the Nosferatu Primogen, disgusting though he was, Marc really did like him; Jocasta, the Brujah Primogen, who had tried to “deflower” him, even though she was a vampire; John, the Mummy, who ran the Taboo and Jocasta the best he could.  Most of all, he missed Hanna.   The last time he had seen her was when he was only a child, just reaching puberty.  He hadn’t even made his first change yet, but a vampire who had owned the local comic shop had recognized that he was an adolescent Garou and attacked him.  Marc ran to the forest with both arms broken from the wrists up, having no idea what to do.

 

And then she was there.

 

His angel of mercy.  Who was already in the process of saving someone else when she came across him.  It had been twenty years at least, but he remembered it as if it just happened . . .

 

***************************************

She looked at his arms and noticed in anger that they were both broken from the wrists up.  She placed Avriel on the ground as the boy stopped and stared at her.

 

“Don’t worry.  I am a friend.  I won’t hurt you.”

 

He looked from her to Avriel and back at her again.

 

“I’m trying to save her from a monster.”

 

He seemed to notice then the vial which hung around her neck.  It was made by He‑Who‑Walks‑With‑Bone, the caern leader, for her husband, in which he placed some of his blood and gave to her before he disappeared.  He nodded.  Only the friend of the Garou would wear such an item.  Yes, it was okay.  He could trust her.

 

She followed his glance down to her necklace, and smiled.  Jonas and Freidrick had been right to insist she wear it.  She knelt down slowly, and the boy followed suit.

 

“I am called Hanna.”

 

He winced in pain as he sat down.  “Um . . . I’m Marc.”

 

“Marc?  Here, let me see your arms.”

 

As she spoke, arms like tentacles encircled him, and August peeked around his shoulder, smiling wickedly at Hanna.

 

“You have a prize of mine, lovely.  Give it back.”

 

“No.”

 

“Give her back to me, my sweet one, or I’ll take the boy instead.”

 

Her heart sank.  She desperately wanted to save the girl who had been doomed since she came to New Salem and caught the eye of the boy‑Prince.  Yet now, to do so, she would have to sacrifice the life of a living child.  She bowed her head in anguished defeat.

 

“Take her then.”

 

She looked up only moments later, and both August and the damned Avriel were gone.  She turned a sorrowful gaze upon Marc, blood tears in her eyes.

 

“A sad passing, my Childe.”

 

She turned quickly upon the speaker, and stopped dead cold.  He was large, at least seven‑feet‑tall, His dark hair curling down to His waist.  To any other, He would appear to be a vagrant, perhaps even a hippie, but she knew Him on sight, for she had seen Him once before, and then only in a book.

 

“Sire,” she said in a half‑strangled voice.

 

“I had such hopes for you, my little one.  Hopes that have come to naught.”  He speech was halting, for He was unaccustomed to speaking to anyone at all.

 

“What do you mean, Sire?”  She whispered, full of fear.

 

“You had almost reached the pinnacle of peace, my Childe.  Golconda was within your grasp.  But no longer.”

 

Incredulity shone across her face.  “What do you mean, ‘no longer’?”

 

“You sacrificed my gift when you sacrificed my Childe.”

 

“What?!”  Realization dawned on her suddenly.  “You are saying that because I traded Avriel to August for Marc, I have lost all hope of redemption?”

 

“Yes.”  The word was mournful, full of weeping for one who no longer wept.

 

“But . . . He’s a living breathing child!  Wouldn’t it have been less humane to have traded him instead?”

 

“Yes.”

 

She stared at Him in concentration.  “You mean to tell me that either way, I was damned?”

 

He paused before answering, as if He could feel (and He could) the heart within her breaking.

 

“Yes.”

 

Her blood began to boil in rage, and she would have lashed out at Him, had she not been calmed by a sound coming from behind her.  She turned and found Marc crying, the tears spilling down his young cheeks as if they were a river.

 

“Oh, Marc!”  She fell down on her knees beside him, wrapping her arms around him, pulling his head to her breast.

 

“I’m sorry, Hanna.  I didn’t mean for it to happen.  I am so sorry!”

 

“It’s not your fault, dear.  You have done nothing wrong.”  She turned to glare at Him, but He was gone.  Wonderful.  Pass the sentence and leave before any rebuke can be given.

 

Marc cried for a quarter of an hour, and as he dried his tears, he turned his head to her.  “Who was that man?”

 

She sighed as she finished the braces she had made for his arms, which she had set while he cried.  “He was our Sire.”

 

“Yours?”

 

“No.  All of ours.”

 

“I don’t understand, Hanna.”

 

“That was Caine, Marc.  The First of my Kind.  And the only one with the power to damn me as He just did.”

 

“What is Golconda?”

 

She sighed again, this time in misery.  “It is the state my Kind exist in when they no longer feel the need to feed, or to kill.  When the Beast is completely controlled, so there is nothing left but peace.  I tried all of my existence to attain it, never killing unless absolutely necessary, always trying to be helpful and humane without any thought of gain.  I only wanted peace.  And He has denied me.”

******************************

 

“Excuse me?”

 

The voice shook him out of his tortured memory.  He looked up to see a young woman with a stack of books, waiting patiently.

 

“Sorry.  Daydreaming.”  He moved to check out her books as she smiled in an understanding fashion.  As he scanned each one in, the heart within him continued to break under the memory of his one and only meeting with his Angel.  And he wished fervently that she had not perished like the others . . .

 

 

The Mummy Weeps

by HannaClay

September 1

New Salem

the warehouse district

 

A solitary figure stood on the sidewalk in front of the large open space.  The only reason this space seemed so odd (to those that didn’t know what had stood there) was that it was surrounded by warehouses.  But it meant so much more than empty space to the man on the sidewalk.

 

He stared blankly at the scorched earth.  That was all that was left of the three-story building that had been here.  The rubble had been removed.  But nothing would remove the rubble left in his heart.

 

He missed his club.  He had owned the Taboo for so many years that he equated his life in the New World with it.  He had owned it since the city was founded, though it had been called the Wary Traveler then, and certainly didn’t have a Chevy Bel-Air crashed into the front of it.  No, the car, the music . . . that all came later.  With Jocasta.

 

Her father had been the owner of the Bel-Air that ended up serving as the entrance to the Taboo.  Her father, who had been a vampire hunter, and who killed himself when he learned that his only child had become that which he hated enough to hunt down restlessly.

 

In her grief, the teenage Jocasta had turned to him, and he had been her friend long before they became lovers.

 

And now she was gone.  Murdered along with the others in the blaze that had consumed the Taboo.  Murdered during the eradication of the vampire populace of New Jerusalem.  Murdered by the minions of August . . . to spite Hanna.

 

John shook his head as he moved up to the secret entrance to his private rooms.  They had been hidden in what would have been a chimney . . . a very large chimney . . . along with the private rooms used by the Kindred in the city.  So many of the decisions that ran this city were made in those secret rooms.  Not anymore.

 

He chanted quietly as he removed the grime from the door.  With his touch and his words, the warding spell bent enough to allow him in.  He lit the nearby candles, then descended into his home.

 

 

Confrontations

by CousinSuk

Sept 1

Angelique’s Warehouse

moments before sunset

 

The low feline growl woke Angelique.  LaCroix stirred and sat up, groggy from being forced awake before the sun was fully set.  Angelique pressed a finger over her mouth and laid a hand on LaCroix’s chest to push him back into bed.  She then slipped into her red silk robe with the Chinese style tiger on the back. She crept down the stairs, making sure the blinds Nick had recommended to her were shut.

 

“Cleo, Lucius, come here.”  She called to them, Cleo slunk toward her, but Lucius still was growling at something in the living area.  She moved further down the stairs, slow and cautious, scenting a human in her home.  A 2000‑year‑old vase came flying at her, she ducked as the clay shattered behind her.

 

“I don’t take kindly to intruders.  Show yourself.”

 

Buffy charged out of the darkness, aiming a punch at her head.

 

“Why?”  She growled as she tried to kick at Angelique.

 

“Why what?”  Angelique deftly avoided Buffy as she pressed her attack, ending up against a wall.  Buffy pulled out a stake.

 

“Why Giles?”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Why did you suck Giles’s blood?”

 

“I did no such thing.”  Angelique shoved Buffy off her and straddled the furious Slayer.  “Listen child, some things are not to be explained to you.  A man that has been through what he has  needs to forget his pain for a time, to find solace.”

 

“I don’t believe you.”

 

“Do you think that after living for 4000 years I would be so stupid as to risk the wrath of the slayer?”  Angelique’s eyes shone green‑gold in outrage.

 

“But Giles‑‑”

 

Angelique smiled at the embarrassment on Buffy’s face.  “My dear still waters run deep.”

 

Buffy groaned.  “Please, I didn’t want to find out that much about Giles’s sex life.”

 

“”I don’t believe I mentioned that either.”  Angelique sat up releasing Buffy.

 

“Look I’m sorry.” Buffy shrugged.  “Its just that I’ve been trough so much.”

 

“I saw Angel.”

 

“What?”

 

“He wants his soul back.”  Angelique stood and wrapped her robe tighter and LaCroix descended the stairs in a black silk robe with a wolf nursing two small children stitched on the back.  “And he wants you back.”

 

Buffy looked stricken then anger flashed across her face.  “Not after Ms. Calendar.”

 

“This child broke in?”  LaCroix spoke from the kitchen as he brought a glass of red blood wine into the living room and handed it to Angelique.  “You have become too complacent in Toronto.”

 

Buffy scrambled away form LaCroix.

 

“I was told by Giles to let you know that tomorrow is a meeting with Nick, Vachon and some friends, and your brother and some of his friends.  He said you would know what it’s about.”

 

“Indeed.”  LaCroix didn’t look happy as he stroked Lucius’s head.  “I do hope your brother got that espresso machine installed.  I have a feeling he may need it.

 

 

Plumbing the Info Pipes

by Devin Sacuer

September 1

New Jerusalem

Downtown, early evening

 

“I don‑n‑n’t knowwwww!!!!!” came the choked reply.  “AHHHH GOD!”

 

“Unfortunately no, friend…though I hold doubts as to whether God would improve your situation were he to arrive in splendor.  Now you say that you know nothing of her…only that she was an ancient.  Anything else?”  He was fast tiring of this cliche torture and extraction tactic that had nonetheless brought results in nearly every questioning in his vast line.

 

He’d employed such a practice with near surgical precision during his years with the Black Hand; cutting through to the metaphorical “heart” of a matter had long been his specialty.  Two hundred years of service to the sect and the resulting ennui of his violent existence had dulled his incisive inquisitions very little.  His targets always spoke…

 

Nothing else sufficed.

 

But now he served the Inconnu, didn’t he?  He left the Hand in a literal “blaze of glory” and left in his wake a small army of destroyed vampires.  The Inconnu had leapt up in his defense, eager to get their hands on one with such a wealth of knowledge on the opposing sect.

 

However, in exchange for his relative asylum from the Hand pursuers that trailed him as best they could, Devin found himself, nestled in his new brotherhood, committing similar atrocities to those he had perpetrated while still sleeping in the camp of his enemies.

 

But no…he was on the side of good now, right?  Somehow, convincing himself of the benevolence of his new friends became more and more difficult with each “mission” they sent him to complete.  The culminations of his assignments had always been for the better, but the means by which he had to arrive there had set him at odds with himself like never before.

 

Nevertheless, business, as it has been said all too often, is merely business.  Take no pleasure in it.  Grind your teeth through it if you must…but get the job done.

 

He focused on that thought alone as his boot pinned the broken vampire beneath him to the floor.  He knelt  down slowly, exerting ever more of his inhuman force upon the nearly crushed larynx of the man, whose mouth issued forth a draft of blood between each sentence.  “Anything else I should know of, child?”

 

As the boot lifted slightly from his throat, the man spat “Hanna, I think!!!  I heard the name, but I do not know her!  Please…I know nothing more!”

 

Hanna…?  Hanna Clay?  Not possible.  Hanna was many things, at least from Devin’s perspective.   Arrogant . . . ruthless . . . intelligent . . . loud‑mouthed.  But a mass‑murderer of her own kind???  Not likely.  Perhaps…

 

  1. Where there was Hanna, waging the eternal war to reconcile her soul, there was sure to be August.  Undoubtedly, August had been the veritable thorn of Hanna’s existence.  Their private conflict had gone on for as long as Devin had known of them.  Apparently, it was not so private anymore.

 

As he stood and moved across the room, pondering the news, the young man who had already taken more than his share of punishment gathered his remaining strength to make a break for the door.  His feet were shaky, but carried on by his extraordinary vampiric speed, he closed the distance between himself and the door in less than a second.

 

But as he pulled it open and rushed into the hall, his abuser stepped from a shadow along the wall before him and planted a solid fist into his sternum.  The force of the blow shattered most of his rib cage on impact, sending the man back into the room and across the floor, where he ended in a pitiful heap against a desk.

 

“I’m about to do you a favor, my young informant.”  Devin paced his steps as he sauntered into the room and closed the door with a light brush of his hand.  “You have heard the name of an ancient and powerful vampire who will destroy you, given that you know of her.  Oh…and you can be sure that she is aware of your knowledge ‑‑‑ and how you have spoken to me this evening of it.” He was on the verge of laughter as he spoke the words and thought of Hanna . . . of how she would claw his eyes out for what he was saying.  Not to mention what he was thinking.

 

“I will spare you the horror of her wrath…”

 

 

Entrances

by CousinSuk

September 1

Raven

9:00 p.m.

 

Micah sighed as he watched the new velvet covered benches in the booths being installed along the walls of the club. They were draped by sheer panels that gave an illusion of privacy to the soon to be patrons of the remodeled club.  The walls had been painted with hieroglyphs that not only looked damn good, they kept Osiris’s blessings on the various denizens of the club, human or not.

 

He looked around at the change in the bar, a small smile gracing his lips.  It was like home; Egyptian influences, but with a gothic feel, dark and light, candelabra and a huge painting of Osiris and Isis on the wall behind the bar, over the new copper espresso machine.  The machine was for him, most of the patrons wanted some of LaCroix special vintages.

 

“Looking good.”

 

Micah turned to see Duncan MacLeod slide up to his new bar.  A smile lit up his face.  “Hey Mac, what’s up?”

 

“Smelled an adventure in the air.”  Duncan smiled back as he shook Micah’s hand.  “I see you kept the chains.”

 

“Yea. The place looked naked without them.”  Micah leaned his elbows on the bar.  “What some coffee or espresso?  I got a new machine.”

 

“Sounds good.”  Duncan nodded and watched as Micah started the espresso process. “So what is Buffy Summers and her friends doing in Toronto?”

 

“Angel.”  Micah set the concentrated coffee in front of Duncan in a small cup.  “Its going to get rough Mac, maybe even rougher than last time.”

 

“Why?”

 

“August has Shay. And Nick’s partner=s daughter.”

 

Duncan paled at that.  “I think I need a shot of something stronger.”

 

Micah poured some Drambouie into Duncan’s espresso.  “The big meeting is tomorrow night.”

 

“I’ll be there.”

 

 

Spiked Punch

by HannaClay

September 1

caves outside of New Salem

early evening

 

She paced across the floor, chewing on her thoughts.  She barely glanced at the two girls that were tied together and left on the floor.  The others would come looking for them, and she didn’t want to make it too easy.  So she had kept Shayna and Jenny drugged the moment they reached the caves, almost a month ago.

 

“She’s taking ‘er time, isn’t she?”

 

She ignored him as well.  She never really understood why Spike had decided to join her, but it didn’t matter to her.  He was simply more bait.  For the one that did matter.

 

Why didn’t she come?  That was the question that bothered her the most. Hanna had a weakness for innocents.  Threaten one, and you would have her in the palm of your hand.  But now, when two innocent girls were being held by her hated enemy, undoubtedly to be tortured, she did not make a single attempt to save them.  And it had been almost a month.

 

“Where are you?” she whispered to her prey.  Everything she had done, from the massacre of the vampires around the world, to the murder of Jonas, to taking two young girls . . . it had all been to get at her.

 

“She’s not going to take the bait, August,” Spike sneered as he leaned up against the drugged Shayna.  “Can I play with one of ’em then?  I don’t really fancy this one ‘ere.  She’s too old.  But this young one,” he leered at Jenny, “she suits me just right.  The younger they are, the easier they scare.  So, can I play with ‘er?”

 

She shot him a withering look, then walked into a separate cave, where she kept the urn that contained yet another she loved to torment.

 

Spike grinned.  It was time to blow this popsicle stand!  August was stuck in a rut of worrying, but Spike wanted action.

 

He cut loose the bonds that held Jenny and Shayna together.  Then, slinging the unconscious child over his shoulder, sauntered out of the mouth of the cave . . .

 

 

Prelude

by Trapper

September 1

Toronto

11pm EST

 

Even at ten p.m., the ground shimmered in the September heat. Trapper noted this as she gazed out the window to watch the plane make its final descent into Toronto International Airport.

 

“The city looks like Faeryland at night,” Evie commented, as she leaned over the blonde woman to look at the twinkling skyline.

 

“Hmm,” Trapper nodded. “But we know better, don’t we?” she said, turning away from the scene and lowering her shades to flash a toothy grin and gold eyes at her friend.

 

“Stop that!” Evie swatted Trapper’s arm. “You KNOW that still creeps me out a bit.” She looked around nervously. “I sure hope there’s an espresso stand in the airport.”

 

“Me, too.” Trapper snickered as she began to gather up her belongings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

It had only been a few weeks since they’d last seen Toronto. The city was the same as when they first saw it. They, however, were not. They had been left permanently changed by the experiences of their last visit. Their drummer had been brutally slain by a madman; Trapper had become a vampire.  They both had been hardened by the slaughter and mayhem they’d seen and participated in. Now here they were, returning to where it all began, to start on another quest.

 

After wrapping up the episode at Casa Loma, they discovered that Schanke’s daughter had been kidnapped. Unfortunately, by the note that had been left, it wasn’t just a “simple” abduction. She’d been grabbed by a particularly vicious vampire known as Spike. Since there was nothing to be gained by running headlong into certain danger, they had all decided to take the next few weeks to clean up their loose ends and prepare for the hunt. Trapper and Evie started by catching up with their errant band members, and persuading them to take the van home. Speed was of the essence now, and speed was the one thing that their van did not possess.

 

Nick had taken them to the airport to catch a red-eye back to Seattle when their planning session at the loft was finished. He handed them each a slim folder from his breast pocket. “I’ve taken the liberty of putting you both on retainer to the Foundation,” he began. Trapper and Evie looked at him, puzzled. “It seemed like the best idea. You aren’t independently wealthy,” he shrugged, “and you need money for expenses. This will see to it that you can take care of business, and get back here soon.” He wrapped them both in a fierce bear hug. “And I need you back here as soon as you can.”

 

“No problem,” Evie said, and planted a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you for this,” she said, as she put the folder in her bag.

 

He nodded and turned to Trapper. “I mean it. Come back soon.” His farewell kiss left no doubt as to his sincerity.

 

“I will.” Trapper clasped his hand in both of hers and raised it to her lips. “You have my word. We’ll be back as quick as thought.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

She touched her mouth and smiled, remembering the kiss as the plane taxied in. They’d been true to their word, and blown through Seattle like twin hurricanes, getting business taken care of. School had to be arranged for Evie’s son; house sitters compensated; cats mollified; and they were back in Toronto again.

 

The plane shuddered to a stop, and a metallic voice reminded them to take their bags and proceed in an orderly fashion to the exit.

 

“You know,” Evie said as she stretched and headed for the door, “I could get used to first class.”

 

“I think that’s the idea,” Trapper returned. She stopped halfway out the door. A smile blossomed on her face. “He’s here.”

 

“Huh? How do you know that?” Evie continued up the hall from the plane into the airport.

 

Trapper followed. “I don’t know. I just do.”

 

They emerged into the harsh fluorescent lights of the terminal. Nick and Schanke were waiting just beyond the rope. Schanke looked rumpled as always. He’d lost weight and was biting his fingernails as he looked for them in the crowd. Nick stood next to him, one hand on his shoulder. They’d sent Myra off to her mother’s right after Jenny had been snatched. This had left Nick to watch over him. In his other hand, Nick held two red roses. His grip tightened on them and his eyes brightened at the sight of the two travelers.

 

“Schanke, ” he shook Don’s shoulder gently. “They’re here.”

 

Schanke looked up hopefully. “Oh, man, thank you, Jesus. Now we can get some action going.”

 

There were hugs all around, and everyone spoke at once as they made for the baggage claim area. They were here. It was time to move.

 

 

Home Sweet Home

by RavenKat

September 1

Toronto

11:30 p.m.

 

It was a beautiful piece with a faux marble case and skull papers on the lid.  Kat ran her hand appreciatively along the cool edge of the Flemish Single harpsichord.  Coming slowly around the elegant instrument, she spotted a card resting on the keys.  It read, AWelcome Back to Toronto, Nicholas de Brabant.@

 

Smiling at his generosity, she pondered how he knew about her love of the Baroque.  Perhaps vampire >families= made a habit of keeping track of each other=s tastes.  Maybe she had let it slip during her early morning conversation with Janette in the Casa Loma Gift Shop and then she had passed it on.  Kat made a mental note to ask Nick when she saw him next – after she thanked him, of course.

 

Eager to try it out, Kat pulled the tiny bench beneath her and plucked a few notes.  Her abilities were rusty but the instrument played wonderfully with a bright full voice.  It had been a few hundred years since her last recital; She hoped her new neighbors wouldn=t object to a little music now and again.

 

Before she got up, it occurred to her to look for a motto.  Every harpsichord had one, chosen by the owner as a personal touch.  On the flap was the Latin phrase, >Si Sic Omnes= – If Only This Could Last Forever.

 

 

Midnight Snacks

By Trapper

September 2

At Nick’s loft

midnight

 

“So, I think if we take Queen E. Way around,” Nick pointed at the map stretched out on the table in the loft, “we should be able to cross the border into the States at Fort Erie.”

 

Evie looked across at him with a weary smile. “Eerie. Now THAT’S appropriate.”

 

Everyone chuckled and went back to perusing the map. They had come straight to the loft from the airport. With pleasantries out of the way and food gotten, they had decided to figure out the best route to New Salem. Nick sat, nursing his usual wineglass of cow’s blood. Trapper had a super‑deluxe‑jumbo‑sized triple latte, with extra foam and fang marks in the lid. Evie had opted for gyros and Schanke was munching on his trademark souvlaki with extra aioli sauce.

 

Schanke leaned over the table to gesture at a spot on the map.  “Actually, partner, I think it would be better if…” His train of thought was derailed by aioli sauce hitting the map with a loud splat.

 

Nick sighed. “Well, there goes Niagara Falls.”

 

Evie laughed and leaned over to wipe the map off. “Well, after Fort Erie, we should be able to pick up I‑90  and go all the way to Boston with it.” She looked up. “What then? Take a sharp right?”

 

Nick nodded. “Basically.” He was distracted, watching Trapper devour her drink. She met his eyes, and he watched her effort at turning her yellow eyes back to their usual brown.

 

Evie looked from Nick to Trapper and back again as she finished her Diet Coke. “Schanke! Feel like some dessert?”

 

“Hey, yeah! I knew I forgot to pick up something.”

 

“Kewl!” Evie grabbed her jacket. “Let’s go.” She glanced back as they headed for the door. “Can we get you anything?” There was no answer. “I didn’t think so.” She muttered as she and Schanke opened the elevator door, “Rabbits.”

 

As the door closed, Schanke could be heard. “I know this great place by the station. They’ve got egg creams, real ones!” The door closed, and there was silence in the loft.

 

Without a word or conscious thought, Nick reached out to caress Trapper’s hair. She leaned across the table and their lips met.

 

********

They rested together in a close embrace. Nick had burrowed into her hair. “Missed you,” he murmured through the blonde mane.

 

“Mmm,” Trapper purred with contentment. “Missed you, too.”

 

“Whatever happened to your boyfriend?” Nick tried to sound nonchalant as he asked.

 

“Oh, it didn’t work,” Trapper replied absently. “He’s a vegetarian.” She watched Nick’s shoulders shake with laughter.

 

He raised his head. “Seriously?” She nodded. “Well,” he began nuzzling her neck. “He doesn’t know what he’s missing.” Trapper began to laugh, and he raised his head to look at her. “You know, I have to say that I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in, oh, about 500 years.”

 

As he moved to kiss her, they could hear the unmistakable sound of Schanke’s car pulling up. They leaped out of bed, dressed with preternatural speed and were back in their chairs as the elevator stopped at the loft.

 

“Like I was saying,” Nick pointed to the map. Trapper grimaced at the cold dregs of latte in her cup.

 

“Miss us?” Evie said, walking into the room. “You don’t expect me to believe you two have been sitting here all this time, do you?”

 

“What?” Trapper turned wide, innocent eyes on Evie. Nick attempted to do the same and failed.

 

Evie sauntered behind her. “You know, that still doesn’t work. Besides,” she smirked, “your T‑shirt’s on inside out.”

 

“Oh, damn!” Trapper said, as Nick collapsed in laughter onto the table. “Our cover’s blown.”

 

Schanke walked into the middle of the laughter. He was holding two egg creams and a latte. “Ok, Evie, I think that’s everything.” He looked around. “Did I miss a punch line somewhere?” Everyone shook their heads, too helpless with laughter to speak. He set everything on the counter. “Hey, Traps, I got you a latte.” He glanced over his shoulder at Nick. “I would’ve brought you something, partner. But, well, we weren’t near the slaughterhouse.”

 

Nick smiled and beckoned to Schanke. “It’s ok. C’mon. Let’s figure out what we’re doing here.”

 

 

As We Dance

by HannaClay

Sept 1, 1997

Toronto

midnight

 

“Are you ready?”

 

Freidrick glanced up at the grotesque man standing before him.  His skin looked as if someone had an accident with a beaker of acid, and on his face, there was a particularly loathsome purple growth that stretched from his right cheek, all the way around the back of his head up to the top.  His two index fingers were as long as the middle ones, and they all oozed a corrosive gore.

 

Freidrick shook his head, “Whatever possessed you to drop your mask, Marcus?  I thought you liked looking like your old lovely self.”

 

Marcus shrugged.  “Being pretty was good when I was on top of the world.  But now?  I don’t need the publicity.  That was always the problem with Jonas and me.  There are too many damned statues of us from when we were breathing, and we both still look almost exactly the same.  Well,” he smiled a nasty grin, “I do when I feel like it.  Besides, it’s too hard to keep the mask up indefinitely.”

 

Freidrick nodded in understanding.  He knew the reasons, but it was something to talk about.

 

Marcus sat down beside his old friend and looked into his eyes.  “Look, I know it’s hard.  But you’ve got to let it go.  We all knew that this day would come eventually.  They’re both gone, and no matter how much it hurts, we’ve got to get on with things.”

 

“But they aren’t both gone!  It would be easier if it were that simple. Fine, Jonas is dead.  Again.  That I can deal with.  But Ha…”  His throat closed and he bowed his head.

 

Marcus sighed.  “I know.  It would have been kinder to kill her.”

 

They sat there for a few more moments, nursing their grief.  And then they both stood, nodded to each other, and were on their way.

 

 

Lassie, find Jenny!

By HannaClay

Sept 2, 1997

woods outside of New Salem

just after midnight

 

Marc trotted along, his tongue lolling out of his open mouth.  He didn’t need to run, so he took his time, his paws loving the feel of the damp grass beneath him.

 

He was close to the caern, relieved to be calling it a night. Everywhere he looked, he kept seeing Hanna, and it was driving him nuts.

 

He howled to his nearby pack, letting them know that he was coming, and that something was amiss.  After a few voices answered him back, his ears pricked to another sound.  A human sound.

 

The cries of a child.

 

He instantly changed his course and headed towards the sound.  It was definitely a child, a girl if he wasn’t mistaken.  And she was calling out for help.

 

He could smell her and held tight to her trail.  Almost as if by magic, she materialized before him.  A young girl, not even in her teens, her long, dark hair matted with blood.

 

He stopped when she saw him.  Her eyes grew wide with terror, but she couldn’t scream.

 

“Daddy,” she whispered in a voice that hurt Marc’s ears.

 

Marc lay down on the ground, his face pressed to the dirt.  He whined a little, trying to let her know that he wouldn’t hurt her.

 

There was more rustling nearby, and Billy Idol jumped through the trees.  Marc shook himself mentally.  No, it wasn’t Billy Idol, but it sure as hell looked like him!

 

“There you are you little bitch!” he snarled, reaching for the child.

 

Marc growled, his ears laying back flat.

 

The man stopped for a moment and glared at him.  “Don’t get involved in this, dog boy!  She’s mine!  Jenny here is going to be my pet.  She’s been a bad girl, slipped her leash.  But not again.  Spike is going to take care of her good this time.”  He reached for the girl again, and as she cringed away, Marc struck.

 

He leaped at Spike, snarling, knocking him to the ground.  He had caught him off‑guard, so he got in the first couple of good digs before the vampire started to fight back.  And then it was all claws and fangs, each one tearing into each other like there was no tomorrow.

 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, thunder crashed.  Then rain started pouring out of the sky as if someone had turned on a faucet.  When lightning struck, it hit the tree nearest the two opponents, the sparks causing them to leap apart.  They were both dripping flesh and blood, their teeth and claws bearing the blood and skin of the enemy.  Snarling at each other, ready to start again, they both seemed to notice something.

 

Jenny was gone.

 

 

Round Two

by HannaClay

Sept 2

New Jerusalem

12:45 a.m.

 

The fire smoldered a little before the rain vanquished it, and neither Spike nor Marc moved.  Both were bloody, both were in pain.  And neither wanted to do anything more that rip the other to pieces.

 

Nearby, there was a warcry that came as a howl, and Marc’s ear prickled at the sound.  The one cry was joined by others, and Marc answered with one of his own.

 

Spike looked around nervously, knowing his goose was cooked.  “Maybe next time, puppy!”  He took to the air and was gone.

 

The warriors of the pack arrived and whined a little in disappointment. They loved nothing more that ridding Gaia of Wyrm‑spawn, and one had gotten away.  They reached their wounded brother, nudged him into motion, and guided him back to the caern.

 

First to be healed.  Then they would look for the Wyrm‑spawn that was polluting their woods…

 

 

Here We Go Again

by HannaClay

Sept 2

Jefferson Carter Memorial Library, New Salem

just after midnight

 

No one knew who she was.  Gutterscum, a few policemen, some locals . . . none knew who the girl was.

 

The pieces of her that were left were scattered all over the books she must have checked out that night from the library.  One of the rookie cops that had come along exited quickly to throw up.  There was the overpowering stench of blood and bile, but there was also something more.  Something putrid.  Something that smelled of years of decay.  Only the strong stomached (or low morality) people remained to watch the clean up.

 

One of the detectives looked at the titles of the books, an eyebrow raised.

 

“What is it?” his partner asked as he watched the coroner’s team finish packing up the pieces.

 

“Funny language.  Looks like one of those Arab things.”

 

His partner, having been born in Saudi Arabia, tried not to be offended.  “Let me see,” he said as he held out his hand.

 

He looked the book over carefully.  “No, not Arabic.  Perhaps one of the Indian dialects.  Maybe Sanskrit.  But look here,” he pointed to a phrase, Athis is very bad Latin.  ‘Re carere pernicies’.  Like someone just looked it up in a Latin dictionary and pieced it together.  To be free from . . . curses?  Banes?  Something like that.  Doesn’t matter really, since all the other pages have been torn out.”

 

They both shrugged, tossed the book on the pile of others, and turned back to watching the clean up.

 

 

Romeo in Black Jeans

by RavenKat

September 2

Toronto

12:15 a.m.

 

Halfway up to the organ loft the acoustic accompaniment changed from generic rock >n= roll to classical Spanish.  While the modern stuff had been good, it lacked the fire and the passion Vachon was breathing into the more difficult piece.

 

Using her unique ability to sneak up on even the most sensitive vampire, Kat stood in the corner and watched him play.  Javier=s eyes were closed as his fingers worked the strings; His head moved with the intricate themes of the music.  Too soon the music ended – its echos floating through the abandoned church.  Kat began to clap softly.

 

Vachon flinched, surprised that Tracy had come in without his knowing it.  At last he would get a chance to talk to her, to help her adjust to her new existence.  She obviously resented him but he had only done it to save her life.

 

*****

Rushing forward, he gathered Tracy in his arms, tearing the manacles from the wall.  He felt her heart faltering and begged her quickly, AYes or no!?@

 

Her lips barely moved, AYes…..@

******

 

Relieved Tracy had forgiven him, he looked up and saw instead, a beautiful, red-haired vampire with a wry grin on her face.  In one second his shock turned to delight.  He set the guitar down and nonchalantly stated, AYou=re back.@

 

Leaning against the wall, Kat crossed her arms and replied, AYou=re alone.@  They were both smiling fiercely but neither wanted to make the first move.  After a few moments of silence, Vachon acquiesced and walked slowly in her direction.

 

AAre you staying downtown?@ he asked although his thoughts were elsewhere.

 

Suddenly, she was painfully aware of every swirl and eddy in the air caused by Javier=s unhurried approach.  Kat was sure she would scream before he ever got near; The smell of his breath, his hair, his blood was overwhelming her.

 

He was standing directly in front of her when she finally found the strength to say, ANo.  I have a place off of Spadina, now.@

 

The darker, younger vampire automatically responded, AUh huh.@  He tentatively touched Kat=s bare stomach – exposed between her tiny shirt and low-riding jeans.  His fingers trailed lightly around, circling her belly button.

 

She grabbed his wrist.

 

Vachon looked up into her golden eyes and felt his own hunger growing.  In one fluid movement he encircled her with his free arm and pulled her tightly against him.  They kissed deeply and passionately.

 

This was the last thing Kat had expected when she decided to pay Vachon a visit, but it was everything she had hoped for.

 

 

Bedtime Stories

by RavenKat

September 2

Vachon=s Church

Just before dawn

 

She was sitting up and lost in thought – totally unaware that she gingerly ran her fingers over her mouth.  His blood had actually singed her lips.  It had been a delicious sort of burn that ignited her as no mortal blood ever had.

 

AIt=s almost gone,@ he said.  With her bare back to him, Vachon caressed her right shoulder blade.

 

AHuh?@

 

But before he could repeat himself Kat said, AOh! The tattoo.@  She turned to look at him lying next to her on the makeshift bed.  AThey only last about a month.@

 

AMmmm,@ he responded, reflecting on their unique physiology.  Tightening his grip on her shoulder, he pulled her gently down beside him.  She nestled in the crook of his arm.

 

ATracy doesn=t know what she=s missing,@ she murmured.  Kat lazily outlined the different parts of Vachon=s upper body.  He smiled slyly.

 

Realizing how she had been interpreted, Kat added kindly, AWell, that too…but what I meant was – I would have killed to have someone with me when I crossed over.  Someone to guide me, teach me.@  Laying her hand down, she continued, AI learned everything the hard way….the blood, the sun, all of it.@

 

Vachon could feel Kat begin to tense but remained silent knowing that nothing he could say would ease the pain of her memories.

 

AI don=t get it.  He kept Janette and Nick….@ her voice trailed off.   AHell, the way Janette tells it, LaCroix=s possessiveness borders on the maniacal.@  Kat pulled away but lay there looking up at the shadowy rafters.  AWhy leave one childe to fend for herself?  To live in a fucking cave, petrified of what she had become?!@

 

There were no answers here – she didn=t expect any.

 

AMaybe it was a mistake,@ Javier offered.  Although, from what he knew of the Roman General, the chances of an accident like this were remote.

 

AWhat? Like he didn=t know? Please!@  Kat voice got increasingly louder.  AHe=s the one that lured me to Toronto to begin with. He=s the one that said that I was finally ready to meet my family.@ The irate redhead got up and began to hunt for her clothes. AMade a mistake? Damn straight he made a mistake!@

 

AHere,@ said Vachon, holding up Kat=s wrinkled top.  As she reached for it he added, ALook, the sun=s about to come up.  You can=t do anything about this now.@

 

ADamn!@ Kat struggled with her shirt as she looked through a crack in the old church=s roof.

 

ACome here,@ the conquistador said calmly.  Sitting up, he took the shirt from her and began to help her on with it.  After her first arm went in he kissed it on the inside of the elbow.  After the second arm, he kissed that one too.  Kat began to smile.  He pulled the T-shirt down over her head but kissed each breast before covering them up.

 

AYou=re incorrigible,@ she chided him, her anger forgotten.

 

AThat=s what they tell me,@ he said and pulled them both down onto the bed.

 

 

Little Girl Lost

by HannaClay

September 2

New Jerusalem

sunrise

 

Jenny ran away from yet another monster, this one dressed in red and driving a carriage.  Was it a carriage?  She didn’t know.  She really couldn’t tell anything at the moment.  She hadn’t slept in forever, or eaten for that matter.  She didn’t even know her own name.

 

Few things held in her mind.  The sight of the wolf that fought that man that took her was one.  She didn’t know if the wolf was still alive, but he had been badly hurt.  And for her.

 

She remembered cookies.  Warm cookies being taken out of the oven, and play fighting with her daddy over who was going to get to eat them.

 

Her daddy.  She couldn’t remember his face.  Not right now anyway. Sometimes, she could almost see him, hear him, feel him nearby.  And then she would blink and he’d be gone again.

 

She remembered teeth.  The teeth of that man who took her.  His teeth and her blood.

 

She tripped over a fallen branch and almost screamed.  She had to get away from what ever the red monster was.  He’d hurt her too.

 

She struggled to her feet and into the arms of a woman.  Did she know her?  She didn’t think so.  She wasn’t a woman, was she?  She wasn’t any bigger than she was.  Maybe she was a lost kid too.

 

“Going somewhere, dear?”  Her voice was smooth, almost like honey.

 

“He’s going to eat me!” she whispered urgently.

 

“I know, I know.  He’s like that.  Why don’t you come with me, where it’s safe.  I promise, he won’t eat you if you’re with me.”

 

She almost cried in relief, and then fainted into the woman’s arms.

 

August snarled as she picked Jenny up.  She would have Spike’s neck for this!  She turned her head as she heard someone approaching, then quickly blended into everything as she moved away.

 

 

Filling in the Empty Space

by HannaClay

September 2

New Salem, Downtown

Sunset

 

Davistch smiled to himself as he ascended the tall, glass building.  The elevator was empty, except for himself.  All his servants awaited his arrival upstairs.

 

This moment had been coming for 200 years, and his hands itched in anticipation.  The Sabbat would finally control New Jerusalem.  Something that he had tried to bring about for a very long time.  When the city had been founded in 1797, the Camarilla had sent a former Justicar to do the deed.  They had wanted to be certain that they established the foothold on the New World first.  And so Jonas Clay, with his little group of retainers and what not, set up a permanent Camarilla stronghold.  And for 200 years, it was virtually impregnable.  Until now.

 

When the vampire population was wiped out, whatever power had allowed them to control this city for so long vanished.  And the Sabbat was quick to move in.  This place was a focal point of much power.  It was one of the easiest places to enter the Umbra for one thing.  It was even said that a direct path to the gates of Hell was just around the corner.

 

Davistch didn’t know if he believed any of the more “implausible” stories about the place, but he did know that it was a place of intrigue and power.  And he wanted it.

 

Now, it was his!  All his to control.  And he couldn’t wait to start playing…

 

 

Fond Sleepers Awake

By Trapper

September 2

Nick’s Loft

dusk

 

Trapper had been having the most delicious dream. She was back in Toronto, in Nick’s loft. The dream felt so real: the languid morning and afternoon spent between cool black satin sheets with the striking blonde vampire. They had shared their fierce passion, becoming one heart, one soul, one blood as the day waned. She stretched lazily and began the long swim out of the fog into reality. A hand was delicately teasing the hairs on her arm, tiny electric kisses brushed the nape of her neck, and she opened her eyes to a blood‑red sunset through the windows of the loft.

 

Her breath hissed through clenched teeth as she felt fangs touch her throat. Her heart sped up and the room was suddenly hot, charged like the air before an electrical storm. She rolled over and looked up into Nick’s smiling blue eyes.

 

“I was watching you sleep, and I just couldn’t resist.” He kissed her forehead and buried his face in her hair. “I opened the shades so you could see the sunset.”

 

Trapper murmured as she burrowed into the little hollow between Nick’s shoulder and collarbone. “Mmm. I thought you were a dream.”

 

“A good dream, I hope?”  Her hands began making slow circles on his chest. He gasped and grabbed both of her wrists. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He looked into her mischievous brown eyes. “Far be it from me to stop this lovely wake up, but Schanke and Evie are meeting us back here in about an hour.” Trapper groaned in response and tried to dive back under the covers. “I know, I know.  But…”

 

“I know.” She wrapped him in a bear hug. “Duty calls.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

True to their word, about an hour later, Schanke and Evie were heard driving up in Schanke’s car. The sounds of polka music drifted up through the open window.

 

“I sure hope they brought coffee.” Trapper finished pulling on her boots and leaned back into the couch.

 

Nick sniffed the air by the window. “I’d say that’s a yes.”

 

The door from the elevator opened.

 

“Come on, Evie! Tell me! Did you really have four aces, or were you bluffing?” Schanke trailed after Evie, pleading from behind the large bag he was carrying.

 

“Nope, I’m not saying another word.” Evie crossed the room to hand Trapper her usual latte. “We were playing poker this afternoon, and he’s pissed that I beat the pants off of him and his buddies.” She turned to Nick. “Are we going to the Raven? Schanke tells me that LaCroix sold it.”

 

“Yeah, we should go down to see who else is planning to head to New Salem.” Nick sat next to Trapper. “He sold it to Micah. Don’t ask me why. I don’t ever presume to understand LaCroix’s motives for anything.”

 

Trapper crumpled the drained latte cup. “Who’s hanging at the Raven these days?”

 

“The usual suspects: Micah, Angelique, Buffy and company, Ricze. Oh, and Missy’s still there.”

 

Evie rolled her eyes. “Oh, joy and rapture. If Vachon and Kat show, this could get exciting.”

 

Trapper rose to get her coat. “Oh my, yes! Kat food.”

 

They all laughed and made for the door. It was going to be a long night. They might as well get started.

 

 

Rescue 911

by HannaClay

September 2

Venice

An hour after sundown

 

“That should do it!” Cash exclaimed.

 

“I hope he appreciates this!  I almost gutted that Watcher that wouldn’t help us!” Starr snarled as she cleaned up the last of the blood from the IV.

 

“You know how they are.  They aren’t supposed to interfere.”

 

“Tell that to everyone Horton and his crew killed!”

 

Cash looked at her, his head cocked slightly to the side.  “That was a special case, and you know it!”

 

“No excuse!”  She tossed the empty blood bags into the trash.

 

“When did you become such a cynic?”  He finished straightening the new clothes they had found for Methos.  “No wait!  Let me guess!  You’re getting cranky in your old age, right?”

 

“Smart ass!” she muttered under her breath.

 

With a gasp, Methos opened his eyes, then jerked upward.

 

“Whoa there, boyo!” Cash tried holding him down, doing his best to avoid the broken arm.

 

Methos struggled a little longer, until he noticed Starr watching him with fascination.  He lay back on the bed, trying to relax his reflexes.  “What’s so interesting?” he whispered.

 

“Oh I don’t know.  I’ve never really seen anyone come back to life. AIt’s kind of…weird.”  She walked to the window suddenly.  “Oh shit!”

 

“What?” Cash moved quickly to her side.

 

She pointed out the window at a dark figure hovering across the street. “Harrod.”

 

Cash uttered a few choice expletives then turned to Methos.  “We gotta get out of here!  Let’s go, boyo!”

 

Together, they picked up the recovering Immortal, ignoring his near howl of pain when they moved his arm.  They rushed out the door to the car where, to their chagrin, Harrod awaited them.

 

“Bastard!” Methos whispered harshly.

 

“I’ve been called worse,” Harrod shrugged.  “Let’s get you out of here.”  He opened the car door for them.

 

“No way!” Starr started pulling them away.  “You don’t honestly think we’re going to trust you after what you did!”

 

For an instant, Harrod let his masque fall, and the three of them gagged in revulsion.  Marcus was revolting enough.  Harrod added a whole new meaning to the word “grotesque!”

 

“Childe, you forget who you are!  Since you were Sired by one whom I hold dear, I will allow your disrespect this once.  It will not be tolerated again.  Now, put him in the car!”

 

Starr opened her mouth to protest, then thought better of it.  They moved forward and helped Methos into the car.

 

Harrod motioned Cash to get in the back with Methos, then he held the front driver’s door open for Starr.

 

“You want me up front with you?”

 

“It will keep you out of trouble.”  He didn’t wait for her to get in. Instead, he moved to the passenger’s side and got in.  “Time is wasting, and we are losing her.”

 

Realizing that he meant Hanna, Starr climbed into the driver’s seat. “Hang onto your fangs!” she warned no one in particular.  Starting the car, she took off like a bat out of hell, straight for the docks.

 

When they got there, she was started to hear Harrod cursing,  At least she thought he was cursing.  She couldn’t understand a word of what he said.

 

“Turn around!” he commanded.

 

“Not a chance!  I’m not leaving her there!”

 

“Look!” he snarled at her.

 

She glanced ahead, and slammed on the brakes.  The dock was literally crawling with vampires.  Young, old, Justicars and Circle members.  All there to prevent any rescue.

 

“Shit! Motherf…!”

 

“STARR!” Cash cut her off.  “Get us out of here!”

 

She ground the gears putting it in reverse.  As she slammed on the gas, a handful of the vampires on the dock took to the air to follow them…

 

 

The Council Gathers

by CousinSuk

September 2

Raven

9:00

 

Micah grinned at the stunned look on Angelique’s face as she stared at the small reproductions of her infamous bust scattered around the tables ringing the dance floor.  They were exquisite, in full color with her amber cat eyes.  “You like?”

 

“I don’t know what to say.”

 

“I think they are magnificent, Dark Venus,” LaCroix whispered into her ear, then kissed her neck at the pulsepoint.  “I want one for myself, to put at my bedside.” He purred as Micah set a bottle and two glasses in one of the dark booths along the Raven’s wall.  “Then again, I would much rather have you.”

 

“How cozy,” Missy stepped out of the shadows, “and I thought he had taste.”

 

Angelique glared at Ricze’s fledgling.  “I see you father has not taught you proper respect of your elders.”

 

“Do you really think I care?”

 

“You should.”

 

“Now, now, Ladies—”

 

They both turned vampiric eyes on Duncan.

 

“Perhaps,” Duncan suggested to LaCroix as he took Missy’s arm.  “You would like to keep me company for awhile?”

 

Missy simpered, “of course.”

 

“That was close,” Micah joked.  ” I was hoping you would at least wait until Kat showed.”

 

“Kat?” Angelique’s smile made LaCroix pause.  “It will be my pleasure to help her take Missy down a peg.”

 

Micah’s cell phone rang as Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow and Cordelia walked on to the dance floor.

 

“Ohhh,” Cordelia breathed as she looked at he exquisite decor.  “This is so nice.”

 

“Much better than the Bronze.”  Buffy noticed Giles watching Angelique and LaCroix share a glass of special vintage.

 

Angelique turned from LaCroix to Giles with a look that could scorch asbestos.  Giles looked away, a  small smile playing on his face as LaCroix glared at him.  Buffy realized she’d have to watch the old blonde vampire around Giles.

 

“Fraser, we’ll meet you in New Salem then.”  Micah slipped the phone into his jacket as Nick and his gaggle wandered in.  He smiled at the rapturous look on Traps face at the espresso machine.

 

 

Walk Like an Egyptian

by Trapper

September 2, dark of the moon

The Raven

About 10:15pm

 

They stopped just inside the door of the Raven, as if by an invisible wall. Trapper lowered her shades; Nick looked for anything vaguely familiar; Evie shook her head and smiled; and Schanke just stared.

 

“Whoa, Nick,” Schanke craned his neck to look up and around. “Are you sure we’re in the right place?”

 

“It still says “Raven” on the door, Schanke,” Nick smiled at his partner and slapped him on the shoulder. “Come on! Let’s go have a look around.”

 

Evie fingered the black and silver chains hanging from the ceiling. “Nice to know some things never change.”

 

“Oh, and some things change for the better, Evie! Look!” Trapper pointed across the room as her fangs began to show. “A nice, shiny espresso machine!”

 

“Stop. Stop now.” Evie grabbed Trapper by her collar. “Let’s finish looking around first, shall we?”

 

Trapper sighed and reluctantly dragged her eyes away from the lovely copper coffee device.

 

She walked to where Nick was standing; looking at the gossamer draperies that divided the areas into illusions of private chambers. “A nice touch, don’t you think?” He laid an arm across her shoulder as he pointed at the far wall.

 

“Yes,” Trapper replied, sidling closer. “I like the alabaster wall sconces. They light the room, but give nothing away.” She gazed around, drinking the room in. “The draperies are interesting. They’re quite a bit like the bed draperies of Queen Tiye.”

 

“Yes, they are,” a male voice came from behind them. “But how did you know that, child?” Micah came around to stand before them, arms crossed. “Good evening, Nick; Trapper.”

 

They both nodded in return. “The same way I know that, although the frieze of Isis and Osiris is quite beautifully executed in the tradition of the Middle Kingdom, the portrayal of Hathor on the far wall is far too Ptolemaic. It jars the senses.”

 

Micah raised his eyebrows and his eyes widened slightly as he looked from her to the far wall. “You’re right. I hadn’t noticed it.”

 

She shrugged and smiled as Nick tried to maintain his composure. “Egyptology has always been a passion of mine. But, I see you have none of MY Gods represented.”

 

“Your Gods?”

 

“The Triad of Elephantine: Sait, Khnum and Anqet.”

 

“Aren’t WE the dark little one.” The softly accented voice preceded Angelique into the room, followed by LaCroix.

He had followed the little exchange and grinned suddenly in Nick’s direction.

 

“My, Nicholas. You know, the more I see, the more I think you’ve really outdone yourself.” He reached out to cup Trapper’s chin and was met with bared fangs and a low growl. He would really have liked to see her eyes, but, as usual, she was wearing reflective shades that gave up nothing. “A bit feisty,” he pulled his hand back quickly, “which is rather a departure for you.”

 

“Thanks for your critique, LaCroix,” Nick returned dryly. He rubbed his hands and looked around. “So, are we all here? Is anyone missing?” He put his arm back on Trapper’s shoulder. “We’d like to get done here and get away. We plan to leave in a few days for New Jerusalem, and would like to get some . . . sleep. The trail’s cooling as we speak.”

 

LaCroix raised his hand, and spoke with some amusement. “Ah the impatience of youth.” Nick snorted in response. “I thought you’d forgotten all about that type of diversion, Nicholas. But, I see not. I’ll make sure of our attendees, and then we can begin.”

 

Nick watched LaCroix move out through the draperies and to the back of the bar. ‘He’s back in his element,’ Nick thought to himself as he observed. “I’d say that’s our cue.”

 

“To get some coffee?” Trapper brightened immediately.

 

“Yes, to get some coffee, and the other refreshments they offer here.” He looked back over his shoulder at Micah. “You DO still carry the “other”, don’t you?”

 

Micah nodded his head at Angelique. “She wouldn’t have it any other way. I even carry your variety.”

 

Nick mouthed his thanks as Trapper dragged him in the direction of the bar.

 

Schanke and Evie were already there. Wordlessly, Evie handed Trapper a latte. Schanke was telling the crowd that had gathered, about his daughter, Jenny.

 

“And she was wearing jeans, rolled up at the bottom like the kids do, and, a..a..sweatshirt. Myra said it was one of my Metro PD shirts. Nick, you know,” he looked over to Nick with eyes full of pain. “That one we both signed for her.”

 

Nick nodded and stared at the floor sadly.

 

“No shoes were missing, so she must be barefoot.” Schanke wiped his eyes with his pocket‑handkerchief. “It happened in the middle of the night. Myra, that’s my wife Myra, found it. Well, I mean, didn’t find her, but the room was all torn up. Normally you see, my Jenny’s really tidy. So she, I mean Myra, knew that something was wrong right away. Everything was smashed up. Even the picture,” his voice broke, and he took a drink of water before continuing. “Sorry. The picture of Jenny and me. See? It was just like this one.” He held up his wallet to show the picture of the two of them. “And there was a note.” He fished it out of his pocket. “It=s, uh, written in blood. I had Nat check it, and at least it’s not Jenny’s. I can’t read it. It still hurts too much. I’ll just leave it on the bar.” He began to step down. “Anyway, we’re pretty sure that Spike’s hanging with August. So, we’re going to New Jerusalem to find her.”

 

Schanke stepped away from the bar. Everyone gathered around to see the crumpled note. He had carried it with him since Myra handed it to him. It seemed like forever ago.

 

The note read:

There once was a man named Don

Who stuck his nose where it didn’t belong

Oh what a shame

He’s the only one to blame

That his little daughter was gobbled all gone!”

 

And the note was signed, “Spike”.

 

LaCroix leaned over the bar to read the note. “His meter is dreadful. But his rhyming is good enough to get the point across.”

 

 

And What Lurks Behind Door #2?

By Kay

September 2

The Raven

around 10:30 p.m.

 

“Oh just wait,” came a soft chuckle from the shadows.

 

Angelique turned to glare at her blood brother.  He simply smiled even wider in return.  That look could only mean one thing . . . Missy was up to no good.  He should have a talk with her.  Then again if he made her shape up, all the fun was sure to end.

 

“Do you know something of importance?” LaCroix asked, raising an eyebrow when he spotted the squirming body bag behind Ricze.

 

“Besides that Spike is a little off kilter and his girlfriend is several light years past  the point of insanity.” Ricze picked up the body bag and carried it into the middle of the gathered group.  “Ya’ll might want to stand back.  I don’t think our latest guest is going to be happy when the bag is unzipped.”

 

“Who’s in there?”  Cordelia asked, sticking her head between Duncan and Micah to get a better look.

 

“An old friend of Buffy’s.”  Ricze grabbed the zipper and yanked it down with hard a tug.  He reached inside the bag and pulled out a very pissed off, dark skinned teenage girl who was bound and gagged with duck tape.   With a quick jerk, he peeled off the gag and snapped the binding at her wrists.

 

“I’ll kill ya for this, ya bloody monster.”  She spat in a Carribean accent.

 

The girl leaped forward as if to attack the vampire that had unwilling brought her to Toronto.  He danced sideways, dodging her advance.  She toppled into a chair, splintering it against the bar.

 

“Not my new stools,” Micah growled.

 

She grabbed the crude stake as a weapon and turned to find her capture.

 

“Kendra, no.”  Buffy shouted.

 

“But he’s a vampire,” Kendra responded.

 

“Yes, I am.  Glad you noticed.” Ricze smirked.

 

“He’s a good vampire, Kendra.” Buffy put herself between the unconcerned vampire and the second slayer.

 

“That’s what you said about Angelus,” Kendra sneered.

 

 

Reality Check

by Kay

September 2

The Raven

around 11 p.m.

 

“Hind sight is twenty/twenty,” Giles interjected.  Buffy turned to him a produced one of her hurt puppy dog looks she was a pro at.

 

“You should have let me kill him when I had the chance,” Kendra said.  “Now he is working with the other two.  Perhaps Buffy should give up her position as Slayer if she is unable to handle it.”

 

“Now wait just a minute,” Xander shouted.  “Buffy’s doing a great job as Slayer.”

 

“Yeah,” Cordelia seconded.

 

“If she was doing such a great job explain the mess you all seem to be in.”  Kendra glared at Buffy to add emphasis.

 

“Before you go off and have Buffy lynched, why don’t you try looking at things from her direction.”  Missy left her position beside Duncan to take a stance with Buffy’s friends.  “Besides, from what I hear, Buffy is ten times the Slayer you’ll ever hope to be.”  Missy flipped her hair over shoulder and put a hand on her hip.  It was the perfect I’m‑right‑your‑wrong‑do‑something‑about‑it pose.

 

“What’s your point, Vampire.” Kendra raised her stake at Missy.

 

“Wrong answer,” Ricze growled, stepping in front of Missy and lifting Kendra off the ground.  “I suggest you give serious thought to who threaten, little one.”

 

“You don’t…….

 

A bright flash of light exploded from the center of the dance floor.  The group of vampires, mortals, and immortals turned to see two buxom red heads standing at ground zero.

 

“Oh My God,” the shorter one shouted.  “It worked, Kay.  That weight loose spell really worked.”  She did a little happy‑happy‑joy‑joy dance and threw her arms around the other girl.  “I’m thin again!” She squealed.

 

“Damn,” Kay said.  “We’re also a little more endowed.”

 

“Kewl.”

 

“Umm, Sukh.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Where are we?  I don’t remember you living room having chains.”

 

They both turned and scanned their surroundings.

 

“NUNKIES!!!!!!!”  Sukh squealed at Richter rating 10.

 

LaCroix raised an eyebrow when he realized she was pointing at him and bouncing.  She kiltered over and landed with a thud in a puddle of drool.

 

“Exactly who is that,” Angelique asked.

 

“No one in particular,” LaCroix replied. “Just an addict.”

 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole

by Kay

September 2

The Raven

about 11:15

 

“Is she OK?” Duncan asked walking over the stuporous woman.  She was still on the ground moaning, “Nuuuunnnnnnkiiiiiieeeesssss.”

 

“Oh My God.” Kay hit the ground with a hard thud.  “The hallucinatory effects must be kicking in,”  She giggled.

 

Evie walked over and smiled.  “Afraid not.”

 

“Damn!” Kay reached over and smacked Sukh.  “Duncan MacLeod at 12 o’clock.”

 

“WHAT.”  Sukh jerked to a sitting position.  “Duncan MacLeod! Where?”

 

“Over her, lass.” Duncan reached to help her up.  She grabbed him by  the back neck and laid a deep kiss smack on his lips.

 

“I’ve always wanted to that,” she breathed heavily.

 

“The pleasure was all mine,” Duncan drawled accompanied with one of his thousand watt smiles.

 

“Lucien, how fickle you addicts are.” Angelique purred.

 

“Perhaps she’s just disoriented.” LaCroix answered with a frown.

 

“Yeah right,” Ricze choked “and Missy’s ‘Miss Congeniality’.”

 

“Hey,” Missy shouted.

 

“Excuse me,” Kay stepped toward Ricze.  “Aren’t you a figment of my imagination?”

 

“Nope,” Ricze smirked.

 

“Who are these people?” Cordelia asked.

 

“Evie.  Trapper.”  Sukh noticed her friends from Bridging.  “What’s going on?”

 

“Welcome to Wonder Land,” Evie smiled.

 

 

Reality Check‑addendum

By Trapper, with apologies to Kay

September 2

The Raven

right after Reality Check

 

A bright flash of light exploded from the center of the dance floor.  The group of vampires, mortals, and immortals turned to see two buxom red heads standing at ground zero.

 

“Oh My God,” the shorter one shouted.  “It worked, Kay.  That weight loss spell really worked.”  She did a little happy‑happy‑joy‑joy dance and threw her arms around the other girl.  “I’m thin again!” She squealed.

“Damn,” Kay said.  “We’re also a little more endowed.”

 

Trapper turned to Evie and sighed. “Why don’t MY spells ever work like that? Remember the last one?”

 

Evie nodded sympathetically.

 

Nick looked puzzled. “What happened?”

 

“It was a spell for thinner thighs. Well, it worked, sort of. I got thinner thighs, but instead of the excess going to my bust, like Kay and Sukh . . . ”

 

“Well?” Nick said anxiously.

 

Evie turned to him as Trapper sighed. “Line backer shoulders. It was really sad.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Trapper put her head against Nick’s shoulder. “And it took three days to reverse it.”

 

 

Play Nice

by RavenKat

September 2

The Raven

11:30 p.m.

 

Four weeks ago she could have sauntered in here wearing little more than two band‑aids and some shaving cream without causing a stir.  Tonight, though, Kat was glad she had chosen a simple black dress; The new management had definitely made some major changes.

 

Vachon, heedless of any new dress code, headed straight for the bar.  After only a few strides he turned fluidly around and took Kat by the elbow. Pleasantly surprised by his gallantry, she took no notice of Missy standing with Duncan across the room.  By the time she did, Kat was surrounded.

 

To everyone’s surprise, she began to wave frantically at her former combatant.

 

“Oh Duncan!” she cooed.  Putting her hand up to her mouth and pointing behind it at Missy, Kat whispered loudly, “Good choice!”  She finished off with an exaggerated thumbs up gesture and started to laugh.

 

Forcing a smile that looked more like a grimace, Duncan responded, “Ha ha.”

 

 

Band on the Run

by HannaClay

September 2

Venice

11:45 p.m.

 

“All right.  I don’t mean to be snide or anything . . . well, okay, I do mean to be . . . ”

 

“Starr!” Methos sighed, exasperated.  She was going out of her way to annoy Harrod . . . again.

 

“What?  He got us into this mess!  I want to know how he’s going to get us out of it!”

 

“What makes you think it’s his responsibility?” Cash added, trying his best to keep the Nosferatu from noticing him too much.

 

“What makes you think I care?” she snorted.  “This is all his fault!  He should have backed her up to begin with!  In fact,” she moved forward, staring hard at Harrod, “I’ll even bet my life that she expected him to.”

 

Harrod looked away from her, not intimidated, but shamed.  She was right, of course.  But he would not give the Childe the satisfaction of admitting as much to her.  He tried not to think about the look of absolute betrayal in Hanna’s eyes when they lowered her into the lead box.  She had counted on him, and by all rights, he should have helped.

 

“So?  I’m not going to ask you why you betrayed her.  I don’t want to know, because you’ll just lie anyway.  I want to know what you’re going to do to make up for what you did to her.”

 

Harrod thought about it for a moment, then decided.  It was worth a shot, at any rate.

 

“Go.  The both of you.  Leave the Immortal with me.  Go to the city . . . her city.  Find the others.  We will follow you shortly.”

 

“We?”

 

“Never mind.”  Starr opened her mouth to argue, but the look he gave her would have withered stone.  “Go, while I still have patience with you.”

 

She opened her mouth to retort, but was blocked by Cash’s hand covering it.  He pulled her reluctantly out the door.

 

“And now?” Methos asked when they were alone.

 

“It will reside with Paolo.”

 

 

Doesn’t Anyone Like Her?

By HannaClay

September 3

Venice

Midnight

 

Harrod and Methos waited quietly in the atrium of an old Italian palazzo.  The murals were as old as the house, and as well kept.

 

Methos studied one of them carefully.  The face of the woman . . .

 

“Isn’t that . . . ?”

 

“Hanna.  Yes.”  Harrod joined him at the mural.

 

“She looks so . . . happy.”  He thought about it for a moment.  “No, not happy.  Innocent.”

 

“This was painted before all the troubles started . . . ”

 

“Before all hell broke loose, you mean!”

 

They both turned to face the man that interrupted them.  He was of medium height, with dark eyes and dark, curly hair.  His dusky skin had paled slightly over the years, and his eyes were hard.

 

“Good evening, Paolo,” Harrod volunteered politely.

 

Paolo smirked.  “Not until she’s dead it won’t be.”

 

Methos stared at him, astonished.  “You hate her so much?”

 

“I will hate her, however you are, long after she and I are both dead and gone.”

 

Harrod shook his head.  “I don’t understand why you still blame her! You know she didn’t cause it to happen.”

 

“No, but she had the power to stop it and she did nothing!”

 

“That isn’t true either!”  Harrod was exasperated, and his voice began to take on a thick accent.

 

“Oh, that’s right!  You and the other members of the Inner Circle, along with that hell-spawned husband of hers, ordered her to do nothing.  Because you were afraid that Savonrola would follow her lead back to you!”

 

Harrod opened his mouth to retort, but Methos held up his hand.  “All right, enough.  You blame her for something she couldn’t do anything about.  The same as the Inner Circle has blamed her for all the vampire deaths in the world.  So be it.  I’ve grown used to the fact that, despite all that she tries to do, the whole lot of you will hate her for eternity.  We came to you to see if you might help us free her.  But I already see that was a mistake on our parts.”  He turned to Harrod. “Let’s go.  There is nothing for her here.”

 

Harrod looked sadly at Paolo, then turned to follow Methos.

 

Paolo turned from them in disgust, only to find himself staring into her eyes.  He looked at the mural, then asked sadly, “Do you know that Botticelli painted this?”

 

They stopped in the doorway and looked back at him.

 

He reached out a hand and touched her hair.  “This was his first commission.  Jonas had him paint it for her birthday.”

 

Methos looked to the mural again, trying not to glance at the centerpiece, which was Hanna.  He saw that it was terribly complex, with much activity in the surrounding figures.  One part of it was a daylight scene, with children and animals playing freely in the surrounding forest.  The other half was nighttime, with spectral figures haunting the same woods.  And in the center, joining both worlds, was Hanna.

 

“He was in love with her.  You can tell by the way he painted her.”  Paolo touched her face and whispered, “Hell, we all were.  Laurenzo, Leonardo, Pietro.”  He turned to them quickly.  “Nothing impure, understand?  She was . . . she . . . healed us all.”  He turned back to the mural.  “And then Savonrola came.  Right after they forced her to Embrace me.”

 

“Forced?” Methos asked quietly.

 

“That . . . monster she calls a husband had the others hold her down.  Then he cut her wrist and put it to my mouth.  So yes, they forced her.”

 

Methos glared hard at Harrod, who only nodded sadly.

 

Paolo looked again into her eyes.  After a tiny pause, he turned to them.  “What is it you want me to do?”

 

 

Pow Wow

by Sukh

September 2

Raven

Midnight

 

“Now that we have everyone here, I shall begin,” Giles looked around the room.

 

Buffy, Xander, Willow and Cordelia were in one corner with the girls that had appeared out of thin air.  Kendra was holding a stake in one hand and was watching the vampires like a cornered cat.

 

The Vampires were on another side, still glaring at each other and very uneasy at being forced into such close quarters.  Angelique had her pets with her, both zeroed in on separating Missy and Kat.  Kat had her back to the younger vamp, and every time Missy even thought if moving any closer to Kat, one of the ebony cats would growl low in their throats.  It would be amusing if it wasn’t so important that everyone work together.

 

Micah, Warren (late but not too late) and Duncan sat together – indifferent male heaps about the table.  Buffy was drooling at the three handsome immortals, in a discreet manner.  Schanke was sitting with Buffy and friends, clutching a photo of his daughter.

 

“As you know, August is back to her nasty tricks.  My group has been having their own trouble in Sunnydale.”  He glared as he heard someone hum a few bars of Pleasant Valley Sunday.  “Angel has reverted back to pure evil and is running with Spike and Drucilla.  They have managed to kidnap Detective Schanke’s daughter.  Not to mention that August has destroyed the entire town of New Jerusalem.”

 

“Can we get to the point?”  Missy snapped as Cleo growled at her again.

 

“The point.  Well, yes, it is this.  At first we could find no connection to our problems and yours.”  Giles frowned.  “The book that connects events for us has come up missing.”

 

“Interesting.”  Ricze crossed his arms over his chest.  “And how does that involve us?”

 

“It holds the key for re‑cursing Angel.  Right now Angel is under the influence of a clan of vampires called Setites.”

 

Micah sucked in a breath.

“Its seems the Set, or Seth, is wanting to rule the world.  He has his minions out to create enough chaos that he can slip out and take over.”  Giles took of his glasses and started to pace.  “The was another cult, the children of Osiris that were descendants of Isis, committed to destroying the Setites.  The Setites managed to destroy all the Children of Osiris except one female.”  He looked at Buffy.  “She is now the Slayer.”

 

“But there are two slayers.”  Buffy pointed out.

 

“Usually another slayer takes over when the current slayer dies.”

“And Buffy was dead, but isn’t anymore.”  Micah frowned.  “Were you reinstated?”

 

“Yes,”

“Ah.”  Micah grinned.  “What a dilemma, two slayers.  I’m thinking we have twice the firepower.”

 

Giles shrugged.  “I guess you could consider that.”

 

“But,” Xander supplied.  “I hear a but.”

 

AWe need that book.”

 

“Too bad I have it.”  Angel flung the door open and slouched on the frame.  He pulled the book out of his jacket.  Cleo went for him in one ebony blur of muscle.

Angel grabbed the cat out of midair and flung her back against the far wall.  She hit with a loud thud and lay senseless on the floor.  “Bad Kitty.”  He laughed as Angelique struggled out of LaCroix’s grip.

 

“I’m going to kill you, for this,” Angelique snarled.  “When you least expect it.”

 

“Yeah right,” Angel looked at Buffy and blew her a kiss.  Then he tore the book in half and tossed it in the air.  “See ya,” he laughed as he blended into the Raven’s dark dance floor.

 

Nick was bending over Cleo; He and Trapper were checking her over.  Angelique struggled out of LaCroix’s grip and knelt, taking Cleo’s head in her lap and stroking her, crooning in Egyptian to her.

 

“I think she’ll be okay,” Nick whispered to Angelique, “But she needs some blood to heal.”

 

Angelique pulled off her Ankh and put the sharp edge to her wrist.  “Drink, sweet baby,” she encouraged Cleo as she opened her wrist.

 

Buffy cringed.

 

“Gross.”  Cordelia darted out of the room, followed by Xander and Willow.  Kay and Sukh watched as Cleo fed from Angelique for a moment then left the room at a slower pace.

 

“So,” Sukh looked at Kay.  “I guess we are going to New Jerusalem.@

 

“HOW is the key here.”  Kay sighed.  Warren wandered out and stopped at the two surprise guests.

 

“How did you get here?” he asked.

 

“Umm, magic,” Kay explained.  “But we don’t want to jinx the weight loss spell.”

 

“Well, I might be able to help.”‘  Warren thought about it for a moment.

 

 

Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

By RavenKat

September 3

The Raven

12:30 a.m.

 

It was approximately 500 miles to New Jerusalem ‑ which meant a good eight-hour drive from Toronto.  Since neither Kat nor Vachon felt very comfortable traveling with the others, they needed to get moving soon if they wanted to make any headway before dawn.  Going to an unfamiliar city negated the possibility of flying ‑ they might end up needing the Nomad for protection from the sun once they got there.  But Kat wanted to thank her benefactor before everybody split up..

 

Keeping her back toward Missy and hence, her mind off of her as well, Kat walked up to Nick and Schanke.  They were deep in conversation so she continued on to Trapper and Evie by the espresso machine.

 

Behind mirrored shades and a tilted coffee cup, Trapper raised her eyebrows in greeting.  “Hey,” Evie said, smiling, “We meet again.”  The three women were barely acquainted but the nightmare at Casa Loma had forged a bond between them that would very likely end up as friendship.  They were at ease with each other immediately.

 

“Where’s Tracy?” Nick asked.

 

Any catching up was cut short by the hard edge in his voice.  The women turned and saw Nick and Schanke bearing down on Vachon.

 

“Beats me,” Javier replied as he sauntered past them.

 

De Brabant put his hand on Vachon’s shoulder and spun him around.

 

“Are you telling me you don’t know where she is?!” the older vampire demanded.

 

“She’s a big girl,” Vachon responded coolly, eyeing Nick’s hand.  Once free, he started toward Kat again.  Genuinely glad to be reunited with Trapper and Evie, he nonetheless used their presence as an opportunity to blow off Knight.

 

“You have a responsibility to her,” Nick said, exasperated with Vachon’s carefree attitude. He stepped in front of the long‑haired vamp.  “You can’t just drop her every time someone new comes along . . . ”

 

Vachon’s eyebrows went up.  Nick realized he had spoken rashly, out of concern for his ex‑mortal partner.  He hadn’t intended to insult Katherine but, the words were out.  There was an uncomfortable silence as Kat moved closer to the two men.

 

“Apparently Ms. Vetter wants nothing to do with Vachon,” she announced, her voice controlled.  “And I’m guessing she doesn’t want anything to do with you either, Detective, or you wouldn’t be so concerned about her whereabouts.”

 

Nick looked to Vachon.  The younger vamp shrugged his affirmation.  “I haven’t seen her since her father died.”

 

 

The Second Coming

by Shayna

September 3

Some where in Toronto

Around Midnight

 

It was unusually breezy this night.  No one noticed, after all, it was Canada in the fall….and besides, who knows how far El Nino’s influence stretches.

 

Warren kept it to himself; Though he knew what was going to happen.  Someone else was coming over…he just wished he knew who and exactly where. It was a good sign though, it meant Shayna was alive in New Jerusalem.  And conscious enough to attempt bringing someone else from Terra.  Warren hoped it was from Terra – Who knew what other strange worlds lived in that girls head.

 

Somewhere in Toronto

 

The wind picked up.  It howled with a ferocity that would make modern man believe in the wrath of the old gods and goddesses again.  And, in a way, that was who was responsible…a very old goddess from a world that had righted some of the most tragic wrongs.

 

The wind howled, foretelling the arrival of something important – some ONE important. Very important…very powerful….Very……pissed off

.

Being ripped from your reality, your home, the center of your universe was no picnic.  Not that Cedric Macbeth was in the mood for a picnic anyway, but it was a nice way of explaining. And explanations was what Macbeth dealt in, back home.

 

See, back on Terra, he is the Father Druid. The most powerful Mage in the world, and the spiritual leader of hundreds of thousands of Celts. Not to mention older than dirt, although he appeared to be no more that fifty years old. But after he landed on were ever it was he was being taken, he was sure that would take a few years off of him.

 

When he landed.

***************************Back at the Raven just before going to the Airport**************

 

“It looks like he’s in a trance of some sort.”

 

LaCroix shot Micah’s bartender a chilling look, before approaching the ‘entranced’ Mage.  Warren was simply sitting in one of the privacy booths staring off into the ether. When a waitress stopped to take an order he didn’t even so much as spare her a glance.

 

This was good from LaCroix’s perspective, because every time Warren went into one of these dazes he remembered more of who and what he was, and matured considerably, even thought he still appeared to be no more than eighteen years old. Well, at least he’s stopped following Angelique around like a lost puppy, she was beginning to enjoy that a bit too much for LaCroix’s tastes.

 

“Is there something wrong, Warren?”

 

LaCroix’s velvet tones always brought him out of his trances, mostly through their bond though, after all LaCroix was Warren’s master now, and Warren took such things as that very seriously. Warren blinked, rubbing his eyes for effect.

 

“Huh?, Oh, sorry LaCroix I was just…..” Warren frowned. His electric blue eyes flashing crimson briefly. He took a sip of the ‘house special’ from his wine glass, resting his forehead in one hand.

 

LaCroix pushed a stray lock of  dirty blonde hair behind his fledgling’s ear.

 

“You need to feed more, Warren. I’ll not have you starve to death now. It’s really not in your best interest. Especially if you are going to accompany us to New Jerusalem.”

 

Warren winced “Yes, I will… As soon as Joe gets here. He’s coming in from Seacover, in fact he should be here any second.”

LaCroix made one of his patented distasteful faces at the mention of the Watcher, one of his least favorite mortals.

 

“Why should we wait for that weak old man?”

 

“Because, for the time being, he’s Shayna’s legal guardian.”

 

LaCroix arched a quizzical eyebrow. “I thought the girl had parents in….Oklahoma was it?”

 

“No, Texas. But, not anymore….Her…parents were killed, murdered actually. As far as the police are concerned it was most likely burglars…really blood thirst ones…but… Anyway, some of those policeman overlooked a few things and put in a report that Joe was her only blood relative, and that she was over a friends house when the murders took place. And that she had been notified of the murder. But I know that was when she was kidnaped, by August…bitch.”

 

“That policeman being a watcher himself…”

 

“Yea…they=re all over the place it seems.”

 

LaCroix shifted, sensing Warren’s anxiety. “Well, how fortunate for your cousin. But that is not what’s bothering you is it?”

 

“No not the only thing…..”

 

LaCroix simply waited…then prompted. “And….”

 

Warren looked up at his new master, blue eyes not entirely seeing him, almost haunted looking….

 

“Some ones coming LaCroix. Some one from Terra. But I don’t know who…”

 

 

Accidental Tourist

by Shayna

September 3

Toronto

1:00 a.m.

 

By any standards, modern or otherwise, Cedric Macbeth was not a remarkable looking man. He was 5’11, average height and his voice was a deep tenor, not a brusk baritone. The way he was currently dressed, he looked like a common street bum. But underneath was quite possibly the most powerful Celtic Wizard since Merlyn.

 

Of course, the population of Toronto could not have cared less. After all, wizards weren’t real.

**********

 

What was she doing in Toronto?

 

After that incident with Walker Smith, Amy had promised herself that she would file for a nice quiet research job far, far away from the field.  But Joe had jetted out of Paris like a bat out of hell, and he was the Senior watcher of her cell . . . and her Father.

 

So what was she doing in Toronto?  Looking for him obviously.  Why?  Because even after being lied to her whole life about whom her father really was (she had realized early on that the man her mother had her call Daddy was not), she found that she wanted to get to know him better, wanted to close that twenty‑something year-old gap between them.

 

And she was very curious as to what would get Joe to leave Paris so suddenly.

 

The look on his face when he had got that phone call had apparently reason enough to assume that something cataclysmic had happened. Or at least that’s what Jimmy had told her.

 

Amy bunched her black trench (standard Watcher apparel) closer to her, warding off the cool Toronto night. She puzzled over the whole situation, not paying much attention to the bum walking toward her, paying an equal amount of attention to the young woman walking toward him.

 

The bum looked up, Amy looked up. But neither of them could change course in time, colliding in a flurry of excuseme’s and pardon Lass’s. The collision jarred the hat off the bum=s head revealing long wavy red hair. Amy stopped brushing her self off and stared at the bum. His hair looked like fire, a braided strand fell over one frozen eye.

 

His eyes glowed with a warmth she had never seen, but the color was of winter-kissed water, crystalized to sky blue perfection. That color, his gaze should have been cold and unforgiving. But it wasn’t. That inner fire made them twinkle. Although he did looked confused. Lost.

 

“I’m sorry ’bout tha’ lass. I should really look where I’m goin’.”

 

Yep. Defiantly Scottish. Although Amy’s only frame of reference of things Scottish was Duncan MacLeod (whom she had only met once briefly when he had wandered into a Paris bookstore looking for Joe), there was no mistaken that accent. It was quite possibly the deepest Scottish brogue she had ever heard.

 

Macbeth bent to pick up his hat at the same time Amy was about to do the same for him. His hand brushed hers slightly and in that touch was a flurry of images, past and future.

 

Putting on his hat, not bothering to tuck his hair into it again, he smiled a thousand watt grin.

 

“Not the exact person I was lookin’ fur. But close enough for now. I take it yur looking’ fur ’em too?”

 

“Who?”

 

“Yer da lass. Yer Father, I mean. It was written that I seek out one Joe Dawson, Watcher at large.”

 

“It was written? By who?”

 

“Aye, but tha’ will take some serious explaining. For now we seem to be headin’ the same way.”

 

Macbeth reached out to push up Amy’s left sleeve to reveal the tell tale tattoo.

 

“Aye, like father like daughter.”

 

 

Just Peachy! Part One

by CousinSuk

September 3

after leaving the Raven

before dawn

 

“Thanks Buffy for letting us crash with you.”  Kay wandered around the luxurious room that Ricze had provided the Slayer patrol.  “Oh a mini bar!”  Kay opened up the fridge and riffled through the contents.

 

“No prob.”  Buffy switched on the TV and proceeded to cruise the cable offerings.  “Anyone want to watch a movie?”

 

“As long as there are no vampires involved,” Sukh sighed as she flipped through a room service menu.  “Is Ricze paying for everything?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Sukh grinned.  “Kewl!  I want something from the twenty-four-hour menu.  All this magic stuff makes a girl hungry.”  She picked up the phone.

 

“Order lots of fries.”  Buffy found a rerun of Grease and stopped.  “And popcorn would be really nice.”

 

“I feel like something peachy all of a sudden,” Sukh frowned.  “Oooh, Tiramasiu”

 

“Count me in on that.”  Kay found some Naya and pulled out a couple of bottles.

 

“I’ll get ice!”  Willow scooted out the door.

 

“Me and Willow are diet coke kinda girls.”  Buffy caught the Coke’s Kay tossed at her.

 

The order for large amounts of junk food, peach cobbler and Tiramasiu was made, willow returned with ice, and all settled onto beds to watch Grease when the pounding started.

 

“Cordelia.”  Buffy and Willow sighed, the Buffy got up and opened the door.

 

Cordelia flounced into the room.  “I can’t believe I have to stay with her.”  Cordy pointed to Kendra trailing behind.

 

“Come on in Cordelia,” Kay muttered at the dark-haired girl as she flung herself into a chair.

 

“Well, Cordelia, you can hang here for a while,” Willow offered.

 

“Really?”  Cordelia looked mollified.  “What’s on TV?”

 

“Grease.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Sukh was feeling odd, very odd.  She had the overwhelming urge to don a toga and wander the streets of Toronto.  She had to check her email.

 

“Willow?”

 

“Yes,”

“Um can I use your laptop to check my email?”

 

“Sure.”  Willow opened it up and booted it.  When the AOL menu popped up, she turned it to face Sukh.  “Here.”

 

Sukh checked.  There was an urgent message for the NA High Priestess.  It was WAR.  The UF was also trying to get her attention.  This was a dilemma.  She had led the UF last WAR, and the Mountie raid was her coup.  But Nunkies was calling her with his silken voice and his firm thighs.

 

“Sukh?”  Kay was watching her, frowning.  “What is it?”

 

Sukh put on her jacket.  “WAR, Fic list style.  Nunkies needs me, uh, us.”

 

Kay smiled.  “The Jeweled Peach.”

 

“Yes, my evil twin,” Sukh smiled.

 

“Umm, we gotta go.”  Sukh and Kay gave each of the other girls a hug.  “Tell Giles and Trapper and everyone we go to fight for Nunkies.”

 

“Isn’t LaCroix going with us?”

 

Sukh and Kay stopped.  “Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that.”

 

“Maybe they have an extra Uncle left over form the last WAR,” Sukh explained.  “Uncle could cleverly disguise the other as himself, freeing the real Uncle for New Jerusalem.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Sukh and Kay left, singing the NA battle cry.

 

Just Peachy (pt 2)

 

Kay and Sukh wandered into the shrine, picked up a drool cup and headed for the video room.

 

“I want to go to New Jerusalem,” Kay was explaining until she noticed the episode of FK running.  “Ohhh, BMV,” she cooed as she stood swaying, building up to a Nunkler meltdown.

 

Sukh appeared with two plated of Tiramasiu.  “Here eat this, grab an anatomically correct Nunkies pop and we are back to the hotel.”

 

“But ladies, you haven’t even seen Lucius on Repose yet,@ a familiar, silky voice purred behind them.  LaCroix smiled with that blood-freezing smirk.  Angelique was behind him shaking her head.

 

“I can’t believe you even tried to do that to Dr. Lambert,” she chastised him as she watched the TV.

 

“That was just to tease Nicholas, I assure you.”

 

“Uh Huh,” Sukh snickered.  LaCroix gave her a withering look.

 

“Ladies, you are needed in New Jerusalem.  I suggest we head back to the hotel and get ready for tomorrow night=s flight.”

 

“But what about?” Sukh trailed off as another Lucius walked in.  “I want a clone too,” she said as she snagged a handful of stray Nunkies pops and circled the second LC.

 

“Perhaps, if you serve me well in New Jerusalem, we can get you one.”

 

Kay and Sukh started to melt, until Angelique tossed V‑8 on them.  “Girls, not now.”

 

Kay and Sukh trailed out behind LC and the Egyptian vampire, Nunkies pops stuffed into every pocket.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey Sukh!  Kay!  Just in time!!”  Buffy opened the hotel door and ushered them in.  “Mel’s coming on and the food just got here.”

 

 

Meanwhile Back in New Salem

by CousinSuk

September 3

On a highway in Massachusetts

Sunrise

 

“Stanley?”

 

“Yeah Fraser?”

 

“Stop.”

 

The car screeched to a halt with an impressive show of smoke from the tires.  Fraser bounded out, dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans and his leather coat, Dief right behind him.

 

“I hate it when he does this,” Ray groaned as he slipped out the back seat and set off after Ray.. er Stanley.

 

Fraser jogged through the woods, pausing to look at something and to let the other two men catch up.

 

“I sure didn’t miss this part of being your partner Benny,”  Ray moaned as he drew his gun and followed his ex‑partner into the still dark woods.  Stanley paused and put his glasses on, then rounded out the group trooping through the New England countryside.

 

Dief passed up Fraser and disappeared into the underbrush.  Ray and Stanley stopped beside him and paused for a breath or two.

 

“Could we get an idea of what is going on?”  Stanley asked as he struggled for breath.

 

“I thought I saw someone.”  Fraser frowned as Dief started barking ahead.  The three of them took off at in the direction of Dief’s bark.

 

“Oh dear,” Fraser breathed as he looked at the pile of rags Dief was standing over. The rags moved, revealing a frightened, teenage girl.

 

“Ma=am are you okay?”  He bent on one knee at her side.  She shrank away from him.

 

“It’s okay, I’m with  the RCMP.” She looked blankly at him.  “Can you tell me your name?”

 

“I don’t know.” She sobbed, then broke and ran.  Dief barked once, Fraser signaled for him to leave and he took off.

 

 

One Way or Another

by RavenKat

September 3

US Highway

5:00 a.m.

 

He almost drove right past her.  Over the crest of the hill she had pulled over,  but he was so tired and so intent on his mission that he nearly missed the Nomad as it hid behind a motel.

 

Yawning, he made a U‑turn and pulled into the Motel 6 parking lot.  Thank God, he thought, I can get some rest.  He parked a dozen spaces away from the old‑fashioned station wagon and hunkered down.  He’d wait while she got a room ‑ then he’d take a catnap himself.

 

“That bitch!” he said aloud when he saw Sister Kat and her boy‑toy crawl into the back of the car instead of getting out.  His anger kept him awake for awhile but, eventually, when the windows didn’t steam up, he succumbed to sleep.  At some point he had to open the window; It still got pretty warm at midday.

 

He couldn’t chance leaving for food or to use a bathroom, so he grabbed some change off the dashboard.  After using the woods to relieve himself, he purchased a lovely assortment of pretzels and Mallomars for his lunch.  He couldn’t believe what he’d been reduced to because of her.

 

Following Sister Kat had been harder and more interesting than he had ever expected.  She was supposed to have gone straight home after the Big Tease at his party ‑ instead, they were half way through Pennsylvania before he realized she wasn’t just drying to drop his tail.

 

His plan had been to follow her home, ambush her at her door and then give her a chance to make up.  So what if she was beautiful?  So what if she was the infamous Sister Kat?  No one, especially a high and mighty cunt like her, said ‘No’ to Lux Interior.

 

The sun was going down.  Out of frustration, he almost got up to knock on her windshield.  He didn’t want to confront her while she had company.  Why had she chosen that other guy over him? Didn’t she know how much Lux adored her?  He had wanted to be with her ever since he was a teenager and read about her in Jim Morrison’s diary.  She was his inspiration; The powerful and ageless witch that only a chosen few knew about.

 

As if summoned by his thoughts, she suddenly appeared behind the wheel.  Lux was so surprised that he just sat there staring.  Luckily, she started the car and pulled away without ever looking in his direction.  He waited a minute or two before picking up the trail.  Turning on the CD player, he put in Daisy Chainsaw’s latest and greatest.  Man, he would never get tired of listening to himself sing.

 

 

Run Away! Run Away!!

By CousinSuk

September 3

New Salem woods

near Sunrise

 

Ray and Stanley nearly plowed over Fraser as he stood stock still, his head cocked to listen for something only he could hear.

 

Benton’s Fathers ghost was there, unbeknownst to the other men.

 

“Son, you need to leave now.”

 

Deif growled, barked once, a staccato angry bark, then was silent.

 

“What is it Benny?”  Ray asked in a low whisper.

 

All the hairs on Benton’s arms stood up, as well as the one’s on the back of his neck, as Deif came tearing at them, passed them by and kept running.

 

“Go,” he whispered as he turned and ran back for the car, his partner s closed behind.  He had heard that laugh.  He would never forget the laugh he had first heard in Toronto, at Casa Loma.

 

 

They made it to the car as the sun broke over the horizon.

 

 

Dream Sequence

By Trapper

September 3

Nick’s loft

Late afternoon

 

The sky was black. It was oppressively humid. Lightning shattered the sky into thousands of obsidian shards. Trees stood out in stark relief, skeletal sentinels in the strobing lightning flashes. She ran, barefoot. Her feet were bleeding. The smell of her blood rose on the air, rancid with her fear. She could hear her own breathing, ragged gasps full of pain. Her lungs were on fire, every cell screaming for rest. Her jeans were filthy and torn by branches. Someone, something followed her. His footsteps were louder than the thunder, and she could hear his hysterical hyena laugh behind her. She needed to be faster, but the air was like molasses and her feet were lead. His hands! She could feel his hands, the icy chill of his fingers, the scrape of his claws. His nails touched her shoulder! They hooked into the collar of her sweatshirt. He had her! He yanked her back to him with one swift, choking motion that brought tears to her eyes. The moon shone on his bloody fangs! She screamed!

 

“Shhh. It’s all right.” Strong arms held her. She was safe, Trapper realized as she slowly woke up. Her heart still pounded in her throat, but she was safe. She clung to Nick, her life raft in a nightmare sea. He stroked her hair and laid his cheek against hers. She shivered uncontrollably. He pulled the blankets up and held her more tightly, rocking her gently in his arms.

 

“It was horrible,” she whispered. “The woods, the dark.” She squeezed her eyes shut, as if to block out the sights of the dark dream. She stiffened with a sudden realization. “Nick.”

 

“It’s okay. You’re safe.”

 

She raised her head to stare at him, her eyes all pupil and wide with fright. “No, you don’t understand.” She gripped his shoulders. “I don’t know how, but it was Jenny. Spike’s playing with her, and she’s scared witless!”

 

Nick gathered her to him again, holding her face close to his. His eyes narrowed and his mouth was set in a thin, grim line. They had to leave for New Salem. Tonight.

 

 

The Ripper

by CousinSuk

September 3

Toronto/Giles’s room

Sunset

 

It was happening again.  He struggled out of the dream, trying not to follow the petals up the stairs, trying not to see her, so pale, so beautiful laying in his bed.  He had been burning to see her there, in his bed, in his arms.  Then he had touched her and shattered the rest of his life. 

 

She was dead.

 

Giles came up out of the bed with a horrified gasp, his forehead filmed with sweat.  He groped around on the bedstand until he found the light switch and clicked the bedlamp on.

 

Someone was sitting on the end of the bed.  He put his glasses on and Angelique came into focus.

 

“Well, hello,” he was for some reason, a bit uncomfortable with her presence.  Perhaps it was the small tails of the dream clinging to him.

 

“Hello, Rupert.  I see my blood brother has been providing well for you and the rest of your party.”

 

“Yes, Why are you here?”  He asked as he sat up against the headboard.

 

“I had a visit from the slayer.  Somehow she managed to find my lair.”  Angelique frowned.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes, She also had something to tell me.”  She smiled.

 

She really was a beautiful creature, for a soulless monster.  “What was that?”

 

“She was under the impression we had been…Let me see how to phrase this…intimate.”  She reached out and caressed his foot through the blanket.

 

“How odd.”  He should have never indulged in anything with this dark goddess.  The Roman vampire would have exacted his vengeance in a far to slow and painful manner if he ever caught wind of their liaison.  However brief and non-intimate it had been.

 

“My question was how did she find out about our little kiss?”  Angelique was moving closer to him, crawling catlike up his body.  He felt trapped, yet a strange surge of heat was simmering through him at the aggressive contact.  “And how do we stop this information leak?”  She was inches from his face, her whisky eyes focused on his mouth.

 

“I, well, did Buffy say how she had been informed of our indiscretion?” he tried to move away from her full mouth, only to find her cool breath washing over his lips.  it was like liquid fire, burning and freezing all at the same exquisite moment.

 

“A note.  Someone left her a note telling her I had drunk from you.”  Her lips brushed his chin.

 

“But I didn’t permit…” he trailed off as she put a finger over his mouth.

 

“Shhh.”  Angelique crooned as she kissed him.  He tried to resist, a feeble attempt to deny the need that flowered at her proximity.  “I won’t hurt you.”  She pressed her mouth against the corner of his, and ran her finger across his lower lip.  Then Angelique drew off his glasses and placed them on the bedstand.

 

He drew her finger into his mouth, his wordless surrender, and sucked it for a moment.  Then he threaded his hands through her dark hair and took over her mouth in a rough possessive kiss.  She tasted like a dark forbidden fruit, fire and ice together in one obsessing texture.  He let go of her mouth and trailed down her dark throat, smiling against her flesh at the purr when he nipped her.

 

Then she cupped the back of his head and reclaimed his mouth.  She blazed a trail down his throat with small fiery licks, then stopped at the curve of his throat.  “I can feel your blood under my tongue, Rupert, and smell it.  You smell a bit like a good book, but under that, I can scent something dark, something a bit wild.”  She inhaled and pressed her mouth to the accelerating pulse in his neck.  “‘You don’t have to hide it from me Rupert.  I like the dark bit of you hidden deep, locked away.”

 

He looked at her, knowing the darkness she wanted was clawing far too close to the top.  “I cannot.”  He watched with fascination as her eyes changed from Brandy colored to yellow-gold.  The Ripper wanted free, to sample the wicked delight she was offering; He would have risked the wrath of LaCroix for one sample of her black delights.

 

“You can.”  She smiled, baring her fangs.  “You just don’t know it yet.”  She raked her fangs across his collarbones as he hissed at the pain/pleasure.  “You need your dark side to battle August.”

 

She was right.  Only the Ripper could tackle the nightmarish creature that had wreaked so much havoc in Casa Loma.  “You are right,” he smiled as he let the Ripper free.  With a small growl he flipped himself over so he had Angelique pinned under him.  “But first I get you.”

 

Angelique smiled as she unbuttoned his pajama top.  “Just this once.”

 

Outside the room, Angelus smiled and whistled as he walked away.

 

 

Not a Happy Camper 1

by CousinSuk

September 3

Gile’s Room/Angelique’s Lair

Sunset until about 8

 

“Rupert?”  Angelique slipped out from under him and sat up.  He followed her, his mouth exploring her shoulder with delicious intent.  He lifted up her hair and set to work on the nape of her neck, she purred again and stretched like a great dark cat being petted.

 

“Mmm?”  His warm breath, hot against her back sent a ripple of liquid pleasure down her spine.

 

“We shouldn’t, you know.”

 

He stopped his delightful exploration of her back.  “What?”

 

She turned to face him.  He was frowning slightly and looked none to happy.  “Someone is feeding information about us being alone together.  This will be very bad for you if Lucien finds out, or Buffy.”

 

He reached for her and pulled her against his chest.  His heart was beating heavy and fast and she wanted to taste him so.  “I want you Angelique.  I can’t deny that.  But I also know that something about this situation profoundly disturbs me.”

 

“Maybe wanting me will help you understand what Buffy feels for Angelus.  He is bad, yes, dangerous, but she still cares for him.”  Angelique sucked in a breath as Giles kissed her shoulder.

 

“I understand Buffy’s situation more and more every second.”  His voice was gentle as he slipped out of the bed and slipped his pajama top back on.  “Maybe it’s Jenny.  I loved her, and I can’t do this, it’s like profaning her memory.”

 

Angelique smiled, a small knowing smile. ” I think it’s less that than the fact I’m a vampire.  Your wild side finds being with me a very potent high, but the regular, watcher you knows you are sleeping with the enemy.”

 

“Buffy cannot respect me if I throw in with the demons.” Giles slipped on his glasses and squatted at Angelique’s knees.  He set his hands on her thighs.  “Although you are very different from the Sunnydale vampires, you are still a monster.  You are a very beautiful predator, like your pet Leopards. Being with you makes me wonder if you are going to drain me one time.”  He sighed and pinched the Bridge of his nose.

 

“You feel inferior?”  She asked, her smile fading.  “Giles, I’ve had human lovers before.  I get very tired of the egos of the vampires in my community.  I don’t see them as any less than me.  Unlike Knight, I have learned how to take without killing.”

 

“That’s just it.  I am uncomfortable with you taking from me at all.”

 

“Well, then, I guess I should be going.”  Angelique stood up, her face a tight disappointed mask.  Don’t forget to be at the airport at 9:30 sharp.”  She moved to the window and Giles followed her.  He took her in his arms and pressed a brief kiss to her mouth.

 

“Don’t be angry Angelique.”

 

She touched his face.  “Worried I’ll get you in the night?”

 

“No.  The time isn’t right for this.  Not yet.”  He smiled.  “Actually I’m more worried about LaCroix coming for me in the night.  He has a strong claim on you.”

 

“Yes, he always has.”  Then she took off with a soft whoosh.

 

Angelique landed in her bedroom.

 

Lucien’s soft voice, chill with anger came from a dark corner.  “Been slumming again, Angelique?”  He stood and moved toward her, fury in his every step.  “I can smell that Liberian on you, so don’t deny it.”

 

“That is my business.”  Angelique moved into the room and headed for her changing room.

 

Lucien caught her by the shoulders and spun her around.  “Really?”  He lifted one eyebrow and opened her trench coat.  “Then why are you wearing so little?”  He ran his hand up her stomach.  “Did the mortal enjoy it?”  He growled as he flicked down one shoulder of her lace camisole strap.  “Did you enjoy him?”

 

 

Not a Happy Camper, II

by CousinSuk

September  3

Angelique’s Lair

9:00 p.m.

 

He pulled Angelique’s face up to his, pinching her chin between his fingers.  She tried not to wince when the bone cracked “Answer me!” he hissed as he pulled off her trenchcoat and flung her on the bed.  He straddled Angelique, his face inches from her’s, red flecks in his eyes, fangs bared.

 

“I did nothing.”  Angelique looked him with a steady yellow‑gold gaze.  She refused to let him see her fear at his blatant display of displeasure.  Fear was submission and she never submitted.

 

“Did you?”  LaCroix bent over, inhaling her and licked her neck.  ” I can taste him on you.”  He pulled her camisole off.  “You are mine.”

 

“I belong to no one.”  She growled as he pushed him off her.  “I am not you slave, your Nicholas to cling to for 800 years.”  Anger burned in her eyes.  “I will not be treated like your chattel.”

 

“Really?”  He captured her in his arms, smiling at her struggle as he pressed rough kisses over her shoulder.  ” Is there no place on you that is not tainted by that mortals drool?”  His kissed rained over her nerves like sparks, heating under her skin like a small wildfire.  She fought the need, she wasn’t about to cave in to his sensual onslaught.

 

“Get out Lucien!”  She pulled away from him and grabbed the comforted to cover her bared chest.  “I say when and I say where.”

 

“I do hope you lose that attitude by New Salem.  I have arranged a very plush suite for us, my pet.”  He smile at her, that smug smile that made her want to backhand him.

 

“I’m not your pet.”  She turned and glared at him.  What I do is none of your concern.  Our arrangement is not exclusive.”  She started toward the closet.  “Especially after you and Vachon in New Orleans, fighting like stags.”

 

“You slept with Vachon to spite me.”

 

She laughed at his presumptuousness.  “Actually I slept wit him because he is an attractive, non‑possessive vampire.  And I don’t remember storming around threatening you because you were chasing that mortal that was more interested in Joe than you.”  Angelique flung the hangers around on the bars, a small smile of satisfaction at the screech of the hangers against the metal bar.  As he rejected her clothes she flung them out of the closet.  “Then there was that Strega.”

 

“You need not go into that.”  He watched as he finally brought an armful of clothes out and slipped on a Mandarin collared, red silk vest with a Chinese embroidery in gold, and slipped on matching flared red silk pants.  She hoped her got an eyeful, because until he swallowed his damn Roman pride that was as close as he was going to get to her.

 

“Forgive me Angelique, I am jealous by nature.  You of all people know that.”he watched her pull on her boots.  “The though of anyone else touching your satin skin, tasting the nectar of you kiss, drives me into quite a rage.”

 

He slipped up behind her as she wound her hair into a top knot and secured it with lacquered chopsticks.  He slid his hands across her arms and nuzzled her neck.  “Feel free to play with the Liberian.”

 

“She smiled at Lucian in the mirror.  Triumph.  “Thank you love.” She turned and pecked him on the mouth.  “Don’t you have some people to meet in the Hotel?  A Pilot perhaps?”

 

He fingered a stray lock of her hair.  “Yes,” He cupped her chin again and brought his lips to hers in a slow, lascivious exploration of her mouth.  He broke off when she purred deep in her throat.  “To remember me by, Mea Amorta.” He  chuckled as he  slid out the window and into the Toronto night.

 

 

White Line Fever

By Trapper

September 3

Syracuse, NY

About 10pm

 

Nick eased the Cadillac into a parking spot. Leave it to Schanke to know an all-night Greek restaurant. The brilliant neon screamed at them “Yanni’s Souvlaki Palace! We Never Close!”

 

Trapper and Nick traded a look as Schanke bounced for the door. “You guys are gonna love this place! Best souvlaki for 500 miles!”

 

“Mmm. I can’t wait,” Trapper smirked as she slid for the door handle. Nick shook his head as he got out of the car.

 

They’d made good time so far. Having two cops in the car made the line at the border a breeze. Nick figured that they should be in New Jerusalem with enough time to find a place to hole up before dawn. That is, of course, if anything was still standing. What little news they had gotten about the devastation in New Jerusalem had been grim.

 

Schanke stood on the sidewalk, waiting for them. “Ahh!” He took a deep breath, savoring the air. “You can smell it all the way out here!”

 

“Yep. Hot, spiced grease. MY personal favorite,” Evie smiled as she stuck her hands in her pockets and followed him into the brightly-lit restaurant. Nick and Trapper were close behind.

 

“Donnie!” An exuberant peroxide blonde came hurtling at them, arms outstretched, from behind the Fifties’ style counter. She clasped him in a meaty embrace. “Long time, no see!” She stood back then, holding him at arm’s length to look at him. “I can tell, you’ve been away too long. Your color=s not good.” She wagged an ample finger at him. “You’ve been too long in Toronto, not getting any sun!”

 

“Hey, nice to see you, too, Verna,” Schanke replied. “My friends and I,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder, “got a long drive ahead of us, and couldn’t go another minute without some of your souvlaki.”

 

“What else would you be here for?” She nudged him in the ribs suggestively, grabbed four menus and herded them to a table in the back. Even at this late hour, the place was packed. As they sat down and opened the grease-stained menus, Verna continued to pepper Schanke with questions about Myra, Jenny, work, you name it.

 

“Delightful,” Trapper said as she gingerly closed the menu. “I’ll have a very large Greek coffee,” she smiled ingratiatingly at the waitress.

 

“Me, too,” Nick agreed. “You can always use another one, right?” He grinned at Trapper.

 

Verna took their orders and left for the kitchen.

 

Nick looked across the table at his partner. “One thing I’ll say for you, Schanke. It’s never dull when you’re around.”

 

Schanke shrugged. “Hey, only the best for my friends.”

 

Verna returned in short order, laden down like a cargo ship with platters of food. She set the two coffees down and looked at Nick and Trapper disapprovingly. “No wonder your color=s not good.” She rested her hands on her hips. “If all you have is coffee, well, it’s just not healthy.”

 

Evie leaned over and patted Verna’s hand. “They’re on a very restricted diet.” She lowered her voice. “Food allergies, you know.”

 

“Oh,” Verna clucked sympathetically, shook her head and walked off.

 

“Thanks,” Trapper said, between mouthfuls of coffee. “That’s going to have her wondering for weeks.”

 

“Just be glad I didn’t mention your “liquid” diets,” Evie returned.

 

Nick raised his cup of coffee. “Here’s to good friends, a quick journey and a safe return.” He sipped a tiny bit of coffee to seal his toast.

 

Schanke put down his fork, wiped his mouth and raised his glass. “And to Jenny,” he said.

 

“To Jenny,” they all said solemnly, hoping there would be a happy end to this journey.

 

 

Ruminations, I

by CousinSuk

September 3

On the way to the Airport

Night

 

Angelique watched as Micah’s black Grand Cherokee stopped in front of her building.  Mac slid out and snagged Angelique’s luggage, as he leaned over and gave her a brief kiss on the cheek.

 

“Don’t look so down, sweetheart.”  He admonished her as he put her luggage in the back and opened the front passenger door for her.

 

“I have much on my mind, Duncan,” She sighed.  The aftertaste of her fight with LaCroix lingered like a rotten piece of meat.

 

“Spill it,” Micah told her as he drove through Toronto to the airport.  “You look miserable.”

 

“I am having a problem I have not encountered for over 20 years.”  Giles was, as usual of late, at the root of it.

 

“Really? What?”  Duncan asked from the back seat.

 

“I think I may be in love with a mortal.”

 

Micah and Duncan sucked in a breath.

 

“Not…”  Micah trailed off as Angelique nodded.

 

“Yes, with the Slayer’s watcher.”

 

“I hate to think LaCroix might find out.”

 

“I think he may already know.”  Angelique turned and looked out the window, watching the lights.  “The sad thing is that I met Giles once before.”

 

Micah swerved as he gaped at her, running over the median, then ended back on the road with a sharp turn of the wheel.  “What?!”

 

“I’ve met Rupert Giles before, in London.  He was nicknamed the Ripper then.”

 

 

Vampires, Vampires, everywhere

by CousinSuk

Toronto morgue

Sept 3

Night

 

“Dammit!” Nat slammed the phone down and looked at the body on the table. “A fine time for you to flake off on me Nick.” She grumbled as he stood and pulled on her surgical gloves.

 

The dark haired boy on the table was giving her the creeps, she just wasn’t sure why.  She turned his head and looked at the bite marks.  She blinked and looked closer.  One of the bite marks was peeling.  She touched it and it came off on the finger of her glove.

 

“What the hell….” Her voice trailed off as the corpses eyes opened.

 

“Surprise!”  Angelus growled as he sat up and grabbed her.

 

***a bit later in the evening***

 

“Dru I brought you something.” Angel grabbed Drucilla by the waist and swung her around in a wide waltz circle.

 

“Goodie!!” Dru’s eyes gleamed as they danced around the hideout.  “Where is it?”

 

“Here!”  They stopped in a dark room.

 

Dru’s face roughened into vamp mode as she moved closer to the woman tied to the chair and gagged.

 

“But.”  Dru stooped and looked back at Angelus.  “You can’t kill her yet. We need her for later.”  He smiled.  “But you can play with her.”

 

Nat’s eyes widened as Dru approached her.

 

 

Yeah, Yeah, we’ll get there

by CousinSuk

September 3

Toronto airport

10:00 PM

(if this doesn’t flow it’s because I cut out any and all references to Shayna and Elmo)

 

Missy’s voice drifted over.  “Can we get on board already?”

 

Ricze walked around to where Missy was tapping her foot.  Buffy and her friends were looking at the plane, Xander seemed the most impressed.  Kay and Sukh were laughing at something with Willow, the comment about boys and toys was made.  LaCroix and Joe were standing off to one side, deep in conversation.

 

Giles was off to himself, deep in thought, watching LaCroix.  The older vampire turned briefly and gave the watcher a look of pure malevolence before being interrupted by the arrival of Micah, Angelique and Duncan.  Angelique had her two Black leopards in Lapis and gold collars with thin Gold leashes that were more for show than restraint.

 

Angelique gathered the leashes of Cleo and Lucius and started after the gaggle of mortals.  LaCroix stopped her.  “I think you should sit next to me, Angelique.”

 

She glared at him, then looked at Giles’s retreating back.  She nodded as she fell into step beside LaCroix.

 

 

Born to be Wild

by RavenKat

September 3

Highway 95

10:30 p.m.

 

“Floor it!”

 

Kat didn’t necessarily want to get to New Jerusalem any sooner, she just wanted to get the hell out of here.  The deep Massachusetts forest was beginning to close in around her.  She didn’t need to see any glowing eyes to know that they were being watched from the recesses of the woods.

 

Vachon was afraid the old car would disintegrate if he pushed it any harder, yet he was spurred on by the urgency in her voice.  As soon as the speedometer reached 70 mph, Kat reached over and flipped a tiny toggle switch on the dashboard.  Shooting ahead, the Nomad achieved 90 with ease.

 

“Sneaky,” he admired under his breath.

 

Checking the side view mirror for their ever‑present friend, Javier was disappointed to see the sport truck’s headlights appear behind them ‑ albeit much farther back.  The Spaniard felt constricted by these mortal conventions; He wanted to stop the car, fly over to the fool following them and rip his/her throat out.  All this earthbound travel was driving him nuts.

 

Closer to town they slowed to a respectable speed and eventually, the highway became New ‘Salem’s Main Street.

 

“This place is a tomb,” Kat said softly.  She was accustomed to towns without vampires but this one had a different feel.  Although there were mortals, the emptiness was enormous; Last month’s massacre had left a sort of vacuum in New Jerusalem – A gaping void waiting to be filled.

 

 

Mile High Club

by CousinSuk

September 3

In US airspace

Night

 

“Getting angry will do not good, Dark Venus,” LaCroix admonished as he continued to touch her leg.  His hand slid from her knee to her thigh.

 

She turned and gave him a look of pure fury.  “Do not touch me in that humiliating manner in front of mortals,” She growled as she shoved his hand off her leg.  She stood and forced her way to the back of the plane.

 

“Trouble?”  Duncan grinned as she stopped at the small bar next to him.  Joe looked at her and grinned too.

 

“I hate that vampire sometimes.”  She groused as she took a bottle of Chateau Louis out of the minibar and poured a glass.

 

“Is he feeling threatened by a mortal?”  Duncan still had that humored beyond belief smile plastered on his face.

 

“What mortal?”  Joe asked, as he watched her down half a glass.  Something was really rattling her cage.

 

“It seems, ” Mac whispered in sotto voice.  “She has a tender spot for the other watcher.”

 

Joe’s eyebrows shot up.  “Rupert Giles?”  He shook his head.  “Man you have a death wish, Angelique don’t you?”

 

“Shut up.”  She hissed as she finished off her first glass and poured a second.  She pulled out a bottle labeled Wolf and stomped into the private room in the back of the plane that her cats were in.

 

She stopped short at the sight of Giles on the bed, petting a purring Cleo.

 

“Hello.”  He looked up at her entrance.  “I think we need to talk.”

 

“Pray LaCroix doesn’t find out you’re back here.”  He looked far to comfortable with the usually vicious Cleo draped across his lap.  She’d give quite a bit to be there herself, right now.

 

“I’ll watch you wacky kids, don’t worry.”  Buffy stepped out of the shadows, Lucius at her side.  He padded toward Angelique, drawn by the scent of the blood in the open bottle.  “I watched you two eye each other all flight.  You almost set the plane on fire.”  Buffy grinned.  “Look, I think your cool Angelique.  You and Giles, I can see it.”

 

They were both looking at Buffy like she’d grown a second head.

 

“Thank you Miss Summers for the insight,” Angelique stuttered as she looked at Giles.  “But we have a basic problem of him seeing me as a demon.”  She poured blood into her pets bowls so they would stop twining around her legs like overgrown house pets.  “Which I’m not?”

 

“Tell me about what being a vampire like your kind is like.”  Giles asked in a soft voice.  “Then I can understand.”

 

Angelique started to pace.  “Imagine living in a world where you cannot ever see the sunrise.  I cannot tolerate any food.  I have never tasted chocolate, except if my victim has recently ingested it.  I can drink liquid, but it is usually tasteless.”

 

Buffy came and sat next to Giles.

 

“I have lost all I love, my country, my family, except for Micah.  I was a Pharaoh’s daughter, I saw my entire way of life conquered by the Romans.  I lost he favor of many gods with being brought across, and the most precious thing of every Egyptian, the kiss of Ra, the sun, the very life for my people, I have been denied for 4000 years.”  Angelique stopped pacing and knelt at Giles’s feet.  ” I have lost lovers and friends.  I can only taste through others blood, feel through others’ blood.  When we drink we taste that persons life, experiences, fears, hopes, loves, hates.  Lovers seek us out not for love, but to gain immortality.  Then if the secret goes out at large, our enforcers show up to keep the secret of our kind safe from discovery, usually by killing the offending party.”  She looked into Giles’s hazel eyes, seeing acceptance and curiosity.  “Our vampire family usually cannot stand being as old as LaCroix or I, so our protege also die or are killed by humans.  There are few vampire older than 2000 years.”

 

“So you’re not demons in corpse’s bodies?”  Buffy asked.

 

“No.  We are the same eternally from the moment we are brought across.  All wounds heal, any sickness or injury suffered is cured.  Only defects you were born with remain.”

 

Giles reached out and stroked Angelique’s cheek with his thumb.  “It sounds quite lonely.”

 

“It is.”

 

“LaCroix is a comfort to you, something you know will not change in a world were people leave you often.”  Angelique nodded as Giles fiddled with a stray tendril of her hair. “Then why does he feel so threatened by me?  I will eventually become too old for you.”

 

“It’s a matter of possession.  He doesn’t like to share.”  Angelique touched Giles’s knees to steady herself as Cleo brushed by her to get to Giles.

 

“Well, Giles, you could take Cleo here,” Buffy teased as she watched the black cat settle at Giles’s side.

 

“Actually, she doesn’t like LaCroix as much as she likes you Giles.”

 

“Really?”  His smile was wistful.  “Well, that’s a step in the right direction.”

 

 

Ga Ga

by RavenKat

September 3

Elysian Fields

11:45 p.m.

 

Sharon refused to check her watch again.  It hadn’t been midnight the last four times, what made her think it would be now?  Besides Jerome, uh ‑ Mr. Battles, always arrived at 11:55 on the dot.  And, he wasn’t here yet.

 

The soft classical music piped into the lobby was about to drive her nuts.  Just once she’d like to slip in a cd of real music ‑ something loud and fast ‑ shake this place up.  But, with her luck, the second she did a customer would show up.  Nope, she wasn’t gonna lose this cushy job for a little rock `n’ roll.

 

School had only been back in session a few days now and already Sharon felt behind.  Okay, she promised herself, not as much partying this year.  Mr. Battles made it real clear that if she pushed it again this semester, he would find another undergrad who needed a part‑time job.

 

The front door opened.  “Finally,” she sighed as she turned to grab her purse.  Turning back, keys in hand, she realized she had a customer.  Without putting down her stuff she asked abruptly, “Can I help you?”

 

“Yes,” he replied, hiding behind the brim of his baseball cap.

 

This guy looked like a student; There was no way he could afford to stay here.  Trying to get rid of him without taking up too much time, she said, “Rooms start at $250 a night.”  Mr. Battles would have a seizure if he could hear her blunt approach!

 

“Oh,” he said.  Pulling out his wallet, they both saw that he only had a hundred and 3 twenties.  “Um, is credit okay?” he asked, handing her a card.

 

“I’ll have to call it in,” she said, hoping to scare him off.  When he didn’t react, she went to the credit check machine ‑ grumbling the entire time.  “Fine!  Mr…..” she looked at the name on the Platinum card.  Slowly, she turned her head to get a closer look at the customer.  He was dressed in all black and had his hair bunched under his hat.

 

“Oh my god!” she breathed.  Trancelike, she stepped closer.  “No way.”

 

Lux peeked at the girl behind the front desk.  Something was wrong.  She was staring at him and her hands were shaking.

 

“No way!” she yelled suddenly.

 

Ah, this may just work out after all, he thought, slipping into rockstar mode.

About Kristi Deming

RAFO

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