New Jerusalem War Day Five

Death By Moonlight 1/2

by Sukh/MacCousin

September 8

The Orphanage in New Salem/Chateau

after Steve dies

Adam lay in the dark dorm room he shared with several boys his age, curled on the bottom bunk, and wished for his mommy.  The new headmistress was always kind, but something in her eyes made him scared, real scared.  The kind of scared that his Daddy had taught him meant run away to the nearest safe person kind of scared.

 

And the dark man that was here to supervise them at night, he was the kind of scared that the monster spray his Daddy had made scared off.  He was, Adam was very sure, a Boogieman.  Especially since some of the kids here were disappearing.

 

Adam closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep as the dark man slipped into the dorm room.  The man stopped, he smelt something that reminded him of meat mommy threw away because it smelt gross.  He opened his eyes as the dark man smiled, all white fangs, monster yellow eyes and laughing softly.

 

“Boo!” The Boogieman leaning over him said as he reached up and snatched his bunkmate from his bed and turned to carry his struggling friend off.

 

He wished really hard for his Daddy, his strong Daddy Mommy said had gone to Heaven.  Maybe he’d come back to help Adam if he wished hard enough.

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

 

Michael had trained himself never to dream.  Dreams meant he would see the carnage he caused by his enslavement to Section One. The few dreams that slipped by his steel barriers were of the years before he was sentenced to his covert hell, or the odd sensual dream of Nikita.

 

Tonight a particular hell visited him, his wife Elena and his son, the one thing that he had loved, Adam.

 

Adam was afraid, he was in a dark place, torn from Elena, and he was calling to Michael.  A dark monster hunted in that place and he needed to be released before he was taken by the demon that was there.

 

He slipped out of bed barefoot and walked down the hall.  The sun was going to be rising soon, and he followed his instincts to the room he needed.

 

Angelique tossed, her dreams restless, her bed increasingly lonely since she had banished LaCroix from it.  Perhaps she should ask him back, she could feel the connection between them pulling at her again.

 

A heartbeat sounded near her door.  Steady and strong, and the faint smell of a warm man.  He smelled of leather faintly, and of disturbing dreams.  His footsteps whispered over the floor as he approached.  Cleo growled faintly.

 

“Hello, Michael,” she opened her eyes and stroked the alert cat’s head to settle her. She sat up and looked at the mortal, so like Ciarán, as he watched both her and her cat.

 

“Adam is in danger.”

 

“Really?”  She knew he was a man who rarely asked for any assistance.  “What can I do?”

 

“Drink from me.”

 

Angelique’s eyes widened.  Earlier, he had been dead set against her touching him. “Why now?”

 

“For Adam.”  Michael took off his shirt and stepped closer to her bed.  Cleo growled again. He took of his pants and stood before her. As she watched his sex stirred, and started to rise from its dark nest.

 

“Cleo go.” Cleo slunk off to another room as Michael sat on the edge of the bed and tilted his neck to one side.  Angelique laughed at this silliness.

 

“Michael, it’s not like that.” She leaned to him, and turned his head to face her. She stroked the side of his face and his pale eyes closed.

 

Under the scent of his well-concealed fear, came the faint musk of need.  “I can make it pleasurable for both of us.”

 

“No.”  His eyes told her he needed to feel the control over this.

 

“But I want you to seduce me Michael.” She pronounced his name the French way, and whispered a faint please to him in the same language as she brushed her lips across his.  The tight tips of her breasts brushed his arms, a faint promise of sensual abandon.

 

He shuddered at the third pass of her lips and his hands pressed against the nape of her neck, his fingertips brushing the smooth back of her head, questing for something to tangle in, to draw her closer with.  His skin met hers as he pulled her to his bare chest, their flesh an impact of fire and ice.

 

He pulled back and looked at her, as he struggled one last time to resist her and to abandon his iron control. He needed to trust her, yet felt like a field mouse in the playful grip of a barn cat.  She could grow bored with him at any moment and kill him with as little care as the cat finishing off his terrified toy.

 

“Kiss me Michael,” She suggested in a hypnotic voice as his face lowered towards hers again.  He met her mouth and explored it, each stroke of his tongue seeking her frustrated need and stoking it higher.

 

The scent of his surrender was honey and wine, ambrosia as fine as any Roman emperor had served.  She drank of it, that trembling want and fear, all tangled in his rising excitement as his mouth tasted and teased.  The heat of his skin was like lying in fire, surrounding her with the pulse of the hot treasure in his veins.

 

His molten mouth had moved to her neck as she arched against him. He licked at her neck in a slow slide of tongue, arousing her hunger with each slow stroke.  His teeth scraped the nape of her neck and bit lightly.

 

She arched in his arms as an electric shock of astonishing pleasure pulsed through her. He was so close, she could smell the crimson wine so close to the surface of his flushed skin.  She felt as her fangs extended and she growled her excitement as his mouth enclosed one nipple in moist fire.

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

Ciarán moved silently through the hallway.  Another sleepless day, he was wrought with some amount of frustration.  First there was Nikita, and then there was Michael’s absolute refusal to lose control.  And how could he forget all the trouble Màire caused.  Then there was Angelique.  Ciarán closed his eyes, a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.  Perhaps she would be in the mood for some company.

 

He paused outside hearing a soft moan.  Michael, he could smell him in the room.  Apparently, Michael changed his mind about being in control.  Another moan echoed through Ciarán’s mind and he slid into the room.

 

Angelique flipped Michael over, straddling his waist, one had stroking the lovely satin length of him as she leaned in and ran the tip of her tongue across his smooth chest. The pulse of his blood teased her, it beat under her tongue and pulsed in her hand.

 

She lowered herself onto the steel length of him with a faint moan of the burn of him in her.  She held still, letting his hips buck, and leaned forward.

 

Ciarán drifted silently into the room and watched Angelique poised to strike.  Angelique was too involved in enjoying herself.  Michael was lost in the pleasure of her seduction.

 

She feathered her fingers across Michael’s neck, slick with the faint sheen of his heat.  His blood was calling, begging for her to taste it’s thick rich essence. Her mouth lowered as she started to slowly rock against his questing hips and found the pulse. Ciarán slipped into the bed and rubbed a thumb down Angelique’s neck.

 

Fingers touched her neck and she turned from her promised meal to find Ciarán behind her, his eyes Green-gold with the promise of shared pleasure.  Her lips curved into a welcome as she turned and went for the whispering enticement of Michael’s lifeblood.  A low growl echoed out of her as she pieced his skin.

 

Then it as there, the honeyed promise of the rich scents, the heady taste of his life flowed over her tongue.  Section, missions, killing, oh the killings done in the name of his job, she was heady with the rush of death and hunting.  Then she tasted Nikita in him. She tasted Nikita’s kiss, her skin, everything he had ever experienced with her. Then it was Angelique’s all the sweet and sour bits of his life before section. His blood was thick with the heat of passion, and the headstrong anger of youth.  Then the sweet voluptuousness of her touch and mouth was all she became as he began to climax with the erotic pull of her lips. He shuddered beneath her with a hoarse cry as she pulled her mouth away from him and arched into his bowed body.

 

Ciarán slid behind her. Ciarán’s mouth traveled down her neck, his hands coming around to cup her breasts in his hands as she bent back from Michael’s neck, his own fangs pierced her throat, drawing Michael’s essence into himself. She trembled there, suspended between one man and his doppelganger as Ciarán’s teeth pushed her into a white-hot sea of sensation.

 

As the menage on the bed reached an explosive climax, Green-gold eyes watched from a dark corner.  A displeased growl was drowned out by a hoarse male cry of completion.

 

Cleo watched LaCroix as he stepped from the shadows and slipped away.

 

 

New Slayer in Town

By Sukh

September 8, 1997

New ‘Salem

?

 

“Hello New Salem,” the girl whispered as she stretched out her cramped muscles. “Hit me with your best shot.” She walked towards the distant lights of the newly rebuilt Elysian Fields Hotel. She paused, and then kept going at a leisurely pace as footsteps followed her.

 

Ricze watched, then followed at distance as the dark haired teen moved through the streets with the arrogant stride of a killer.  She watched the dark streets, watching as people and other creatures moved past her, but didn’t try to interact. Two blocks from the hotel, he made first contact with the stranger.

 

He laid a hand on her bare shoulder, only to find himself on the street with the girl glaring down at him.

 

“Who the hell are you, and why are you following me?” She snarled as she pulled a stake out of her backpack.

 

Ricze stared at her and flipped himself out of her grasp and back on his feet. She grinned at him.

 

“Oh yeah, bring it on.”  Then she threw herself at him with a swift series of roundhouse kicks.  He blocked them easily and countered with his own kick and punch combination, yet the girl was able to avoid most of his blows.  She twirled her stake in one hand as she pressed her assault again.

 

“You’re a slayer.”  He stated as he defended himself, getting a nice scrape in the thick wool of his black coat.

 

“And your dust.” She told him as she found a vulnerable spot and drove the stake at his heart. The pain caught him by surprise and he sank to his knees.

 

She waited for the dust bomb. “What kind of wuss vampire doesn’t even turn to dust?” She growled as she kicked him in the chest and brought him flat to the pavement.

 

His vision was narrowing to a dark tunnel as she twisted the stake and he writhed in the pain then stilled as his blood leaked from the wound.

 

“You take all the fun of slaying.” She commented as he watched his pupils fix and dilate. She left him on the pavement as she stepped over his body and continued on.

 

Angelique stopped and grabbed at her chest as the pain pierced her.  She stumbled and Jet picked her up.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Ricze is gone.”  One blood tinged tear rolled down Angelique’s face as she stood up and dusted off her skirt. Then she walked off to her room.

 

 

Missy Bites the Dust

By Sukh

Sept 7, 1997

The Chalet

(During Ricze’s demise)

 

Missy fished through the last of the files and looked at Birkoff. “I’m taking a break.” She told him as she stood and pulled her hair out of her ponytail.

 

“Sure thing.” Birkoff didn’t even look up from his monitor.  Willow smiled and then went back to computer geek land.

 

“Losers,” Missy whispered as she walked up the stairs and into the hall of the chalet. She listened and sniffed the air, looking for a certain mortal scent before setting off.

 

Michael looked up from his Kata as Missy approached. He stopped and stood, legs part, hands loose in front of him, as she sidled up to him and wrapped herself around him. He tilted his head a bit and gave her a blank face as she stroked one bared bicep.

 

“Hello Michael,” She purred as she ran a finger up his neck. She stopped when she felt the small marked left by Angelique and hissed.  “That bitch.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Angelique.  You slept with her?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And you let her bite you?”  Missy stroked down his neck and tapped his chin with one scarlet nail. “You turned me down.”

 

“It was I, Missy.”  Ciarán walked into the room and stood, his arms crossed as she glared at him.

 

“You played me?” Missy looked at Michael and his double. “Why?”

 

“You were leaking intel to the other side through the computer.”  Michael unwrapped Missy and stepped back from her.

 

“You can’t prove it.”

 

“Yes we can.”  Jet walked in, Birkoff behind him and held up a small disk.

 

“Come quietly,” Jet took one arm and Ciarán the other, as they led her to the white room. She tried to pull away and managed to pull Jet’s sword from him.

 

“Don’t touch me, Ricze will kill all of you.” She swung the sword in a high arc around her as Jet and Ciarán leapt back.

 

She turned as Michael swung a sword off the wall, and block him.  Then she pressed her assault. She managed to hold his own as she hacked and slashed at him in a blind panic.

 

Then she crumpled slowly, her head wobbled then fell to roll to his feet. He looked up to find Nikita standing behind where Missy had been, a bloody katana in her hands.

 

 

What Dreams May Come (1/4)

by MacCousin/Sukh

September 8th

The middle of the day

 

Dawn struck the WARriors like a big, stalking thing.  In her wake, the tired made for their beds.   It was not to be a restful sleep for anyone…

~~~~~

 

(Angelique’s Dream)

 

Angelique grumbled as the noise echoed through the hallways.  “Throw me a frickin’ bone, people!” she yelled in frustration.  She’d never be able to get back to sleep.  There was work to be done anyway.  She got up and walked to the closet, running her fingers over her shorn scalp.

 

She opened the closet door and stared at the clothes, all in shades of silver and gray.  She pulled out a silver suit and a pair of matching silver sneakers.  It seemed quite strange, but the suit looked rather comfy.  She pulled on the suit; one leg at a time, thinking about the time her family made meat helmets.

 

Angelique stood in front of the mirror and smiled at her reflection.  Instinctively, she put a pinky finger to the corner of her mouth.

~~~~

 

(Ciaran’s Dream)

 

Ciarán was wandering through the forests of his childhood.  The green forest filtered soft warm sunlight to the ground.  It was a most beautiful relaxing scene, until he heard a cacophonous noise.

 

He came to a clearing and saw about dozen or so men dancing in the sun.  Men in tights and short shirts.  Ciarán was about to laugh until he noticed that he was dressed in the same green tights and shirt as the men in that clearing.

 

“There he is!” Schanke pointed at Ciarán.

 

Nick rushed over to his side.  “Will!  Where have you been?  We’re about to do the next big number before we leave to capture the Sheriff and the wicked King Lucien.

 

“Uh,” Ciarán was watching Micah chase Schanke away from the roasted lamb.  “I got lost.”

 

“Well get in line,” Nick told him.  “Little John,” Nick looked at Schanke.  “You start it.”

 

“A one, a two, a one, two, three, four,” Schanke counted off.

 

A song and dance number echoed through the previously peaceful glen.

 

“We’re men.  We’re men in tights!” The men chorused.

~~~~~

 

(Birkoff’s Dream)

 

Birkoff fell asleep as he did many nights.  The comfortable buzzing of the computer was relaxing white noise.

 

***Bbbring!!!!** An annoying phone woke up Birkoff.

 

“Huh?”

 

The phone pealed at him again, hopelessly cheerful.

 

“Birky?” MacCousin leaned over the cubicle partition.  The headset she was wearing looked odd.  “Are you okay?” she asked.

 

“Where am I?”

 

MacCousin laughed.  “The place we’ve had to be the last two years!  You know, Uncle Bill’s company.”

 

Birkoff stared at her blankly.

 

“Microsoft?”  MacCousin gently prodded him with her hand.  “Oh crap!  Ryan is on his way over!  Answer the phone!  I haven’t given him my excuse yet!”  She ducked back behind the cubicle wall and took her customer off hold.

 

Birkoff stared at the phone a minute.  And pushed the ready button.  “Thank you for calling Windows 98 support, my name is…Se…Birkoff.  How can I help you?”

 

Then the battle started.  A Dogbert doll bopped Birkoff on the head.  A foam football with a company logo hit him in the ear.

 

“Ow!”

 

Gilchrist and Duncan stood up and leaned over his cube, grinning.  Duncan threw a mini basketball at Gilchrist and dodged the foam bullet shot back at him.

 

“Would you guys cut it out,” MacCousin rolled her eyes at the three of them.   “I can’t hear a word this lady is saying!”

 

“I can’t get aol to open,” whined the customer to Birkoff.

 

Birkoff began hitting his head on the desk.

~~~~

 

(LaCroix’s Dream)

 

“Hey guys!” Joey jumped onto the couch in between Rachel and Phoebe.

 

“Mmmmmm, you’re chipper!” Phoebe grinned.  “You must have found a replacement roomie!”

 

“Yeah, I did,” said Joey.  “In fact he’s getting a drink right now.  He has the weirdest diet, but no one say anything.”

 

“No problemo,” Joey’s friends nodded and shrugged.

 

“Good evening,” LaCroix walked and took a seat at a small table across from his new roommate and his roommate’s buddies.  “Isn’t this…cozy.”  He directed a chilling glare across the short distance between him and the stunned group of chums.

 

Chandler’s gum fell out of his open mouth.

 

Rachel grinned and twisted her hair around her fingers, shyly.

 

Ross stared at Rachel staring at LaCroix and crossed his arms to pout.

 

“Ooo, chilly aura,” Phoebe wrapped her arms around herself.

 

“Everybody, this is LaCroix.  LaCroix, this is…everybody.”

 

“So uhm, where did you two meet?” Monica opted for small talk, wondering when Gunther started serving wine.

 

“It was so cool,” began Joey.

 

(Flashback to earlier that evening)

 

**Joey stands in front of a store window and is transfixed by running bathing suit clad women**

 

“It was you know, time for ‘Baywatch’ and I was on my way home from the store so I stopped in front of the Sharper Image and was watching it on the big-screen TV there.  All the sudden I felt a cold hand on my shoulder.”

 

(Back to Central Perk)

 

Joey’s eyes glazed over.  “Then I knew we’d be perfect roommates.”

 

“Yes, it is quite an entertaining little drama, isn’t it?” LaCroix smiled his mocking smile, and the rest of the pals scooted further away from him, piling up on the far end of the couch.

 

Everyone but Rachel, who nodded silently and scooted closer.  Rachel giggled.

 

“Let’s get some coffee,” Chandler snapped out of his shock and grabbed his best friend before Joey could disagree.  He dragged Joey over to the counter.  Gunther smiled and listened as he started to place bottles of LaCroix’s finest vintage in a small wine rack.

 

“What?” Joey pulled his arm from Chandler’s grip.  “Why don’t you like him?”

 

“Dude, that guy makes Eddie look perfectly normal!” Chandler told his old roommate.

 

“But he’s a great roommate.  And…you left me for Monica!” Joey frowned.

 

Rachel got up and walked over to LaCroix.  She sat opposite of him and smiled as she ran her fingernail in an invisible pattern on the table.

 

“Hello, Rachel,” He purred as she blushed.

 

(Later that evening)

 

“Another episode of Baywatch is coming on,” Joey told his new roommate.  Joey reached over the end of the couch arm and pulled a beer out of the ice chest.  “I have some of that wine you like in here.”  He offered LaCroix as the vampire straightened his collar.

 

“Actually, I have plans, if you want to watch that insipid show, I’ll leave you to it.” LaCroix replied.

 

“So where are you going?” Joey asked as he twisted around on the couch to get a look at his new roommate’s Armani duds.

 

LaCroix smirked and walked out as Joey waited for an answer with the usual confused puppy-dog look.

 

“I’m taking Rachel to the symphony tonight.”

 

“Rachel?  She hates classical music.”

 

“Yes, I know.  In fact, we’ll probably stop by later.  I’d appreciate it if you were gone then.”

 

Joey smirked.  “I get it.”  He raised his thumb for a thumbs up.  “You and Rachel.”

 

“Yes, well, you are always so quick on the uptake.”  LaCroix sneered as he turned to leave.

 

**quack quack**

 

“And take your zoo with you.”

 

“Hey!”  Joey jumped up.  “Leave my duck and chick alone!”

 

It was the last words the out of work soap actor ever uttered.

******

 

LaCroix woke up and walked over to a glass and bottle.

 

**Yeuch!** he muttered under his breath.  What a horrid dream.

********

 

(Jet’s Dream)

 

Jet looked at the American family leaning and smiling across the table at him.  He held two forks in a manner like chopsticks.

 

Buffy, as the middle sister, smiled nervously.

 

“Very clever dinner,” began Jet, yet his voice had become strongly accented.   “Appetizing food fitted neatly into interesting round pie.”

 

Xander, the annoying brother chuckled.  “It’s a quiche.”

 

“Oh, how do you spell it?”

 

“Well you don’t spell it son, you eat it.”

 

The family chortled, except for the old lady to his right.

 

“Dong has only been here in America for a short time.”

 

**Dong???** Jet thought to himself.

 

“Long Duc Dong is about your age, Sam,” the woman turned to Buffy and nodded.

 

Sam gave him a weak smile then turned to her family.  “Can I be excused?  I have a very important dance to go to, we’re being graded on it.”

 

“Wait a minute,” the grandmother smiled.  “Dong, would you like to go to the dance with Sam?”

 

Jet couldn’t help chortling.  Sam gasped.

****

(Buffy’s Dream)

 

“I still can’t believe you haven’t told your parents today was your birthday,” Willow said to Sam, shrugging at the sad assortment of freshmen and sophomores littering the dance floor.

 

Neither girl noticed the three freshman looking her way.”

 

“Let’s make ourselves available,” sighed Willow in resignation.

 

Sam walked toward the dance floor, nearly walking into Farmer Fred.  Her lip curled in disgust.

 

“Alright,” Farmer Ted grinned in what he believed was a seductive manner.  “I knew you’d come around.”

 

“Wh-whoo-whoo,” Farmer Ted danced around Sam in circles.  Sam stared over at Jake Ryan, who seemed to resemble Michael, as he continued dancing with Nikita.

 

At one point when Fred was blowing in her ear, Sam ran out of the gym.

 

 

((Freidrick’s dream))

 

He slowly opened the doorway, not sure of what to expect.  Knowing his luck, it would be something deadly that needed killing, or something even worse with a mind of killing him.  He was therefore surprised when he entered an incredibly lush and barbaric bedroom.

 

The walls were stone, each one laid precisely, and there were no windows.  Had he not been so tired, his mind would have recognized a change in setting that occurs with dreams, but as it was, his exhaustion allowed him to flow unquestioningly with the tide and where it took him.

 

Obviously, he was in a fortress, and one that he recognized.  This room had been the sleeping chambers of the old Gerfa of Darkenloft.  The bed that occupied one side of the room was canopied, and the curtains hid the occupant completely.  Walking quietly across the cold stone (for he was suddenly barefoot), he repressed a shiver (for he was suddenly wearing nothing but his breeches).

 

His hand reached forward and touched the sheer cotton drapes.  He stared at the contrast of color, his sun-darkened hand against the off-white of the curtain.  He felt suddenly as if he was sullying them with his touch.  After all, he was only a dirty barbarian.  No matter how long he lived off of Jonas, no matter how far he drifted away from his pack, and no matter how many baths he might take, he would always be an uncivilized barbarian.

 

That thought in mind, his heart sank when he pulled back the drape to see the figure lying still upon the bed.  As he let out a sigh, his anguish overwhelmed him.

 

Her raven hair was spread out around her, long enough to cover her still body.  He noticed immediately the warm glow of her pale skin, and noticed just as quickly that she was very much unclothed.  Her hair served as her only cover, and as he settled softly on the edge of the bed near her, he started to burn.

 

By all the forgotten gods, he had loved her from the moment he laid eyes upon her.  Her unconscious grace, her warmth of heart, her sureness of spirit, her will of iron…every moment of his existence he spent near her only made him love her, need her, desire her more.  And here she was, lying helpless and vulnerable before him.  No one would stop him from possessing her, from taking her as his.  The need within him built to a crescendo, and he was in the act of moving forward towards her to take her before he caught himself.

 

  1. Not this way.  She trusted him in a way she trusted no other, not even “HIM.”  He had never lied to her, never deceived her with half-truths, was always there to sacrifice himself in her place.  In all there lives together, the one constant was always that, should she need him, he would be there.  Betrayed by all others, he knew he couldn’t have her just because his need demanded he take her.

 

He moved back, and was rising to leave when she opened her eyes.  Their natural color varied with her moods, another detail of her he just loved to watch.  Too much though they held onto darkness, and echoed the hell that rampaged in her heart and soul.  For centuries it seemed to him that her eyes where black.  And for just as long, he had wished for the ability to repair all the damage around her, within her, and see those dark eyes clear again.

 

Her gaze settled upon him, and his heart leaped into his throat.  Her gaze was soft as she looked at him, her eyes a deep blue.  She must have noticed his sudden nervousness, for she smiled then, the corners of her lips turning up slightly.

 

He knew fear then.  What was he doing here?  With her naked before him on the….on a…..Oh shit!

 

“Don’t worry,” she soothed, her velvet voice but a whisper.  She reached a hand out towards him.  As her skin touched his, his senses were overwhelmed.

 

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

 

He lay beneath the thick, down-stuffed bedcovers, his arms wrapped around her sleeping body.  He never realized just how diminutive she was, until he held her in his arms.

 

They had made love for hours, tenderly, recklessly, even desperately.  For too long, they had both wanted and needed one another.  Denying themselves, their misery grew over the centuries.  Constantly together, they were never without a reminder of their longing.  And now, finally, they were freed.

 

As he dozed, near sleep, the door to the chamber burst open, and a rain of gunfire was surrounding them.  She lay perfectly still, calm and content in her sleep.  He moved her out of his embrace and was about to lung out of the bed when he was stopped by the muzzle of a gun at his temple.

 

“She’s mine, Dog-Boy, and you can’t have her!” Micah screamed at the top of his voice as he pulled the trigger…..

 

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

 

Freidrick bolted upright on the couch in shock.  Drenched with sweat, his breath came in gasps.  It took him a moment to calm down, realizing that it had only been another dream.  Another dream of holding her, loving her….and being punished for it.  More often than not, Jonas would be the one at the end that came to kill him for his desire.  But that was par for the course and expected.  But Micah?  Why Micah?

 

He knew about the brief “fling” they had, back when they had gone to L.A. and Starr had been Embraced.  But that had been the extent of it, one night, nothing more.

 

Puzzling over Micah’s appearance in his long-running dream, he didn’t notice the shreds he had made of the couch.  During the tension of his sleep, he had grasped at the couch, tore at it, with his claws.

 

He lay back, still thinking about the meaning of the change in his dream, as he sank back into sleep….

 

 

When Trouble Comes Knocking

By Hanna

Sept 8

Oscar Nash International Airport

around 10am

 

Erin Zosel climbed out of the helicopter after handing her headphones to the pilot.  Her only baggage was her field bag, complete with a few changes of clothes, tape recorder and plenty of tape, a few notebooks, and her laptop.

 

Hector Gonzalez climbed out behind her and proceeded to pull out three sturdy duffle bags and one large, metal case.  Erin grabbed on of the bags and slung it over her shoulder, and Hector struggled with the rest.  When they were clear of the helicopter, it immediately took flight, not daring to stay long.

 

“I feel like we’re in a fucking DMZ,” Erin muttered under her breath.

 

Hector naturally heard.  “Aren’t we?”

 

“Smart ass.”

 

“You volunteered sweetheart, so don’t get pissy with me.”

 

“Doesn’t mean I can’t feel like I’m a meat puppet.  Those things get one wiff and we’re a midnight snack.”

 

Hector mental thought about the crucifix he wore around his neck.  When he was called by the station at 2am that morning, he headed right to his church, and begged the bishop to bless it.  The bishop thought he was nuts, until he watched a repeat of the station’s broadcast of the security tapes from the mall in New Jerusalem.  Then he not only blessed the crucifix, he loaded him down with vials of holy water, communion wafers, and told him to by some garlic.  Hector laughed to himself as he thought about it.  The crucifix he believed in.  The holy water and wafers he accepted since they were blessed by Mother Church.  But garlic?  That was Hollywood hockum.  But then again, he shrugged to himself, vampires were supposed to be too.

 

Erin, on the other hand, didn’t care or believe in things like that. She simply wanted that Pulitzer she knew had her name on it.  A daring report, smack dab in the middle of a real “Vampire” city, would get her it, she just knew it.

 

They loaded up into the nearest taxi, their own thoughts making little room for conversation.  Neither cared for the other, neither was there for the same reason.  Erin wanted fame.  Hector was the only cameraman without a family.

 

“Where to?” the driver asked.

 

“New Jerusalem?” Erin replied.

 

“Only place you can go from here, sweetheart.  Any place you want to be dropped?”

 

She opened her mouth, ready to fume, when Hector interjected, “How about near a good hotel?”

 

“Good hotel?  Gotcha.  Put ya right next to the Glass Tower.”

 

“Glass Tower?”

 

“Yeah, thing’s been rebuilt over the years, modernized you might say, but it’s been in the center of the city for the past 200 years.”

 

“What’s in it?  Museum of some sort?  Business offices?”

 

“Nah, it’s a private building.  The people that owned it…” the driver stopped cold.  “You’re reporters aren’t ya?”

 

“What happened to the people that owned it?”  Erin countered.

 

“Listen honey, ain’t nothing you want to see here.  Let me turn around and take you back to the first thing that will fly you out of here.”

 

“Not a chance, and if you don’t stop with the sexist shit….”

 

“Give it up honey.  Nothing you say will make me shiver in my bucket seats.”

 

“Just take us to the city, friend.  We know what we’re doing,” Hector interrupted again, trying to cut out the fuming of Erin.

 

“Sure, whatever.  It’s your necks…and funerals.”

 

 

 

What You Wish For

by Hanna

Sept

around sunset

 

As sequestered from the world as New Jerusalem was, it would be hard for outsiders to believe there was an international airport that serviced the city.  And yet the Oscar Nash International Airport had thrived, almost since the advent of the airplane.  Some of the more enterprising vampires in the city had welcomed the idea of a “quick” escape, and one could always tell if there were major problems in the city by the massive increase in outgoing flights.

 

Not that it was anything like other airports.  A handful of the established companies had flights that came into the city.  No, most of it’s traffic comprised of private planes, with the occasional visit of a Concord or Lear jet.  This wasn’t one of those times however.

 

Delta Flight 347 made a brief stop on it’s way to Chicago.  By brief, only 5 passengers exited the plane.  Watching them was like watching mirror images, all moving together, all with the exact same clothing, hairstyle, and so on.  The local newsstand clerk watched them walk by, chills reaching around his spine and twisting.  It had been awhile since he’d seen a group of them, longer since he’d seen them move together in such “oneness.”  Usually, when called in from the outside, their programming wasn’t established until they reached their intended controller.  He would have picked up the phone and called someone, to warn them who just landed, only there wasn’t really anyone to call anymore.

 

Of course, what the clerk didn’t know was that these weren’t what he was used to.  The Sabbat occasionally created what were called Blood Brothers (whom he had mistaken these men for) created to wreak havoc with a singleness of purpose.  These men were quite different.  They moved together, acted together, but they were all capable of singular movements, of thoughts not connected to the whole.

 

One of the few taxi drivers almost approached them to see if they needed a lift into the city, but stopped cold when as he watched them walk purposefully down the road that led through the forest.  Insane.  Downright insane.

 

Of course, most of the population of the city, no matter how well informed, didn’t know about the mass slaughter of the Garou in the forest.  Or some of the other less than pleasant occurrences in the city.

 

However ignorant the inhabitants of the city were, these men were quite aware of what was happening.  Entirely too aware.  So they walked, without hurry, straight down the road that had been such a cause for terror previously, knowing full well that no packs of Garou would attack them.  Not that they would have worried much had the Garou still lived.  The walk would take them perhaps an hour, maybe two, though they weren’t in a hurry in the least.  Take their time.  Be thorough.  For once they started on their purpose, not a thing would move in or around New Jerusalem.  Whether living, dead, or otherwise…the end was coming, for everyone.

 

New Jerusalem War Day Four

Meet You at Lenny’s, I mean Dennys (3/4)

By Maccousin and Sukh

September 7

The Alleyway

12:00 am

 

Ciarán looked up a moment into the sky.  He stared across the street.

 

Màire was eavesdropping on LaCroix and that horrible mistake of a vampire when he came up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.

 

“What?” she growled.

 

“Did you hear it, lass?” he asked her, softly as he stared intently into her eyes.

 

“Hear what?” she rolled her eyes at him.

 

Nick flew in holding Cordy, several of the vampires and the three Immortals gathered around him.  The screeching tires of a Suburban grated against his ears.

 

Ciarán’s cell phone rang.  He opened it.

 

“Kevin.”

 

“Yes,” he said into the phone.  He hung up the phone.

 

Ciarán turned back to the gathering of Immortals.  He turned Cordelia onto her side and removed the tranq.

 

“Go to Denny’s,” he murmured.

 

The three Immortals took off running in that direction.

 

Ciarán removed his sunglasses.

 

“Where are you going?” asked Màire.

 

He turned back to look at her.  “I can’t say.  I just know where they took two of them.”  Ciarán turned and flew away.

~~~~

(Section One)

 

Maccousin woke up and shivered, still blinded from the effects of the sedative.  Cold air blasted from the vent above.  She tried to warm herself with her hands when she realized that she could not move.  Her vision cleared.

 

*Danger, Maccousin.  Danger! *  She let out a half-sob when she realized where she was.

 

The white room.

 

The door open and the Maccousin began to shake.  It was Madeline. Madeline always killed people in the white room.

 

Madeline smiled, or rather smirked at Maccousin and was about to open her mouth when she was interrupted.

 

“PLEEZE DON’T CANCEL ME!” wailed the Maccousin.  “You’re a TV character.  Everyone’s a TV character.  It’s all some weird cross-dimensional rift and I’m stuck in the middle of it with a laptop that has a mind of it’s own!  I don’t know anything!  I don’t know what’s going on!”

 

“Settle down,” Madeline reassured what she assumed to be a mental patient.

 

“You want August.  She’s nuts!  She wants to take over the world!” continued the ranting Maccousin.

 

“August?” asked Madeline, wincing at the high pitched squeals.  “Tell me more.”

~~~~

(Meanwhile Back at Denny’s)

 

Duncan, Methos and Gilchrist ran into Denny’s.  The manager was just getting up from her desk and noted the two kilted men.

 

“Hey!” she murmured sleepily, noting Duncan’s attire.  “Can’t you read the sign?  No Shirt.  No shoes.  No Service.”

 

Duncan passed by the manager without a word.

 

Buffy was waking up.  “Willow?” she murmured.

 

Sukh rolled onto her side into something wet.  She sat up and studied her surroundings and made a statement on them.

 

“EEWWWW!” she griped, realizing what she had rolled into. Xander had been drooling.  Half of his face was now covered in sticky, translucent goo.

 

“Thank God, you’re all right,” Duncan hugged her fiercely, trying to avoid the wet goo.

 

“Where’s Maccousin?” asked Gilchrist, looking nervously around.

 

“And where’s Willow?” demanded Oz.

~~~~

 

(Another White Room in Section One)

 

Willow woke up and noticed her hands were locked into place in the sides of a chair.  Michael was watching her from a distance.

 

“Why am I here?” asked Willow softly.

 

“You don’t know what you did?” asked Michael.

 

Willow looked confused.  She distinctly remembered Ciarán had a brogue, or at least when he was upset he had one.  This man sounded different and looked different.  Who in the heck was this guy?  “Who are you?”  Willow asked, her voice, querulous.

 

“That doesn’t matter,” said Michael, walking up to her.  “You, of course, realize what you did.”

 

“I played some spy game!” insisted Willow, beginning to wonder what really had happened.  “Did we hack into your computer?” she asked.

 

“Yes,” replied Michael.  “You did.  Do you remember how you did it?”

 

Willow shook her head vigorously.  “I was fixing Maccousin’s laptop,” she exhorted.  “It’s having personality problems.  Somehow we got into your site.  We all thought it was a game!”

 

“I see,” commented Michael.

~~~~

(Another part of Section One)

 

Operations studied the reports for the last mission.  He heard an odd whishing sound behind him and turned around.

 

“Michael?” he asked staring at the figure in black.

 

“I dinna think so.”

 

“Ciarán,” Operations nodded, trying to not show some amount of apprehension.  Enforcers made him slightly nervous, however he was able to cover it up.  At least he wasn’t dealing with the Ops in charge of the Enforcers.  “Are you keeping track of the situation with August.”

 

“Yes,” replied the Enforcer’s liaison to Section One.  “We called a bloodhunt on Divia as well.  However, I’m curious as to why two perfectly harmless mortals were brought in.”

 

Operations smirked.  “They hacked into our system.”

 

“Impossible,” laughed Ciarán.  He had met the Maccousin.  The woman couldn’t tie her own shoes.

 

“Au contraire,” replied Operations.  “The teenager is brilliant, from what I’ve heard from Michael.  I haven’t heard from Madeline yet about the other one.”

 

 

No Rest for the Weary

By Hanna

September 7

New Salem Cemetery

12:10 am

 

She screamed until her throat was in shreds.  She had a vague memory of previous damage to her throat that night, first a knife, then screaming, but they were vague.  All that mattered now was the pain.

 

It was hard for her to move at all.  Her flesh burned, caused by the hardening material around her.  Her senses reeled.  Had she been able to concentrate, she might have made out the scent of wet cement, but she was dominated by the pain.

 

And one other thing.  She was virtually bloodless, yet again, after almost a month of starvation.  She had a scant vision of tasting blood earlier in the night, but it was hazy, and she paid it no mind, since it had to have been a tortured dream.

 

She needed to feed, desperately, but the pain commanded her attention.  She tried to move again, and let out a hideous moan from her mangled throat.  She tried again, and had the same reaction.  It hurt too damned much for her to move.

 

Like Hell.

 

She had been bound for so long by those that thought they had the right.  She would show them that she was slave, and prisoner, to no one.  She struggled against the pain with a fury, biting her lip as she did.  A tiny taste of a trickle of blood, and the berserk in her awoke.

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

 

Paolo stood above the grave, a hideous grin on his swarthy face.  He could feel her struggle in the way only a Childe could feel the suffering of his Sire.  And it pleased him well.

 

The ground at his feet heaved, and the children behind him let out a few muffled screams.

 

“Bring one,” Paolo casually suggested, and everyone interpreted, correctly, as an order.  Those trying to please dragged several children forward, and Paolo randomly selected a weakly struggling little girl.  He drew her forward; ignoring her suddenly high pitched screaming.  With absolute indifference, he drew his sharp nails across her throat, and pushed her forward.

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

 

Leigh lay on the hard ground, trying not to cry.  She was hurt bad, but she couldn’t move.  She wished she had a mommy to run to, a mommy to make the bad men go away, to make the hurting stop, and to save her from that awful lady in the ground that she just knew was going to come and gobble her up.

 

She missed Mother, the old black lady with no eyes that took care of them at the orphanage.  She never let anyone harm them.  Until those bad men had come and burned her up in the street just like the other ones.

 

And then Marcus.  Marcus kept them safe while Mother burned.  Leigh remembered him crying out to Mother, crying out for his own children, and it made her cry.  No one ever asked Marcus about it, but all the children knew that Marcus lost his family to keep them safe.

 

She wished that Marcus was there to save her now, but she heard the snarling beneath her, and knew it was too late…

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

 

She could taste the blood as she tore her way upwards to freedom and feeding.  It gushed down the cracks of the imperfect cement, and she gulped it with relish.  Fresh, innocent and pure.  For some reason, she should have hated it, but she couldn’t remember why.  She didn’t care. To her, it was the sweetest taste in the world.

 

As she gulped, she could smell blood passing her by, and she snarled. NO!  She couldn’t lose any of it!

 

She dug harder and harder upwards, losing everything of herself as she tore out of the hardened earth, and crawled forward into the stale air of the cemetery.  On the ground beside her there was a small girl with blood all around her.  She hissed and was almost upon her when she smelled that her blood was almost used up.

 

No, no life to be had there, she snarled to herself as she turned and saw all the offerings before her.

 

A handsome man with dark, curly hair stepped forward and praised her, “Yes, my Goddess!  Only you could have risen from the grave of stone! Now come!  Take the blood offered to you!  Children, my Goddess.  The best, the purest, blood to be had!  All for you!  Only for you!  I give these gifts to you as a token of my praise, my willingness to serve!” He knelt before her, bowing his head in supplication.

 

A Goddess?  Yes, she must be.  Despite the pain and the hardness of the stone that held her, she has risen from her tomb.  Who else but a God or Goddess could have managed such a feat?

 

She motioned for the first to be brought to her, and the man motioned for a servant to bring the boy forward.  He was older than the others, and could give more blood.  She smiled a hideous looking smile, and fell upon him…

***********

 

The children couldn’t scream, so great was their horror at the figure before them.  The flesh was all burned and oozing, and there was a crazy, soulless look in its eyes.

 

The man that had brought them there talked to the figure, calling it a Goddess, and the children clung to each other tighter.  Charles was torn away from them, and placed before the thing, and it smiled, the skin around its mouth cracking open and bleeding.  They all screamed when it bit Charles on the neck, for him, and for the fact that they all knew they were next…

**********

 

Nick floored his Caddie towards the cemetery, the limo behind him holding those that couldn’t fit in his car.

 

Trapper looked over a him, her mouth open as if to say something, when a flash of lightning hit a destroyed tree beside the road.  She glanced at the tree, and almost felt it sigh as it died, happy to be free of the disease in the woods.

 

“We’ve got to hurry!” Marcus yelled from the back seat and almost went unheard; such was the noise from the car.  “I can feel the children! They’re screaming!”

 

“I’m trying!” Nick shouted in return, trying to make the Caddie go faster.

 

Devin glanced at Marcus, and shouted, “I can’t feel her!  I know she’s there, but the link is gone!”

 

Marcus nodded, and Evie along with him.  Whatever had bound them to Hanna’s call was gone, and none of them could guess what that meant.

 

Another crack of lightning struck the ground, nearer to the car this time.  Almost as if something were…

 

“…Trying to keep us away!”  Trapper shouted, NOT trying the use the Voice ™.

 

Nick only nodded.  He could feel the growing menace as well.  Whatever they were trying to do in the cemetery, they wanted to be sure that they weren’t disturbed.

 

“The trees are moving!” Evie screamed.

 

“What?!” many voices echoed as they looked in the direction Evie pointed.

 

“Those aren’t trees!” Devin shouted back.

 

“What then!?”

 

“Have you ever seen ‘Demon Knight?'”

 

Evie stared him, just a bit puzzled before Trapper hissed, “You aren’t serious, are you?”

 

Devin looked her dead in the face and yelled back, “Do I look like I’m joking?”

 

Nick didn’t need to see what was coming towards them, trying to head them off before they reached the cemetery.  Schanke had made him watch that movie a few years ago, and it was an experience he didn’t need to view anywhere close to reality!

 

He could hear gun shot coming from the limo and guessed that someone was trying to shoot the things.  He shook his head.  It wouldn’t work like that, but at least they knew that those things were out there…

 

 

Happiness is a Warm Gun

By Trapper

September 7

The Cemetery

12:15am

 

“I’m open for suggestions!” Nick yelled as he drove the Caddie toward the shambling mass ahead of them.

 

Devin pulled his gun and laser sight from his shoulder holsters and began fitting pieces together. “I think we can take out the majority of them if we make our shots count.”

 

The others in the car agreed and checked their weapons. Trapper cleared her throat.

 

“All right, Nick,” Devin said with a calm he didn’t feel, “we’re going to spin the car broadside when we get close. That will give us two windows directly facing these misbegotten things. The others can fire over the roof.” He checked everything one last time. “Remember, aim for their eyes. If I remember correctly, it’s the only way to kill them.”

 

Faces set in grim lines looked out at what they were facing. They didn’t hear Devin mutter to himself.

 

“Or was it the eardrums?”

 

 

Gore-rrific

by Devin Saceur

September 7

The Cemetery

12:17am, just after “…a Warm Gun”

 

Devin continued to fire as Anna moved over his shoulder and opened up with a volley of her own, sent out by the explosive, armored vehicle-stopping force of her .50 caliber Desert Eagle. An ear-shattering “BOOOOOOM!” burped forth from the weapon with each consecutive trigger-squeeze.

 

After a few shots, Devin pushed her back from the window. “Jesus Christ! Must you use such an obnoxious gun?!”

 

“Would you rather me use that chintzy little cap gun you have there? What is that, a .22?”

 

“It’s a 10mm…with recoil suppression and laser sighting, thank you.”

 

“It’s a cap gun! Don’t put your eye out kid…”

 

Kat intervened then, leaning in the window and trying to manage a serious tone. “Um, I think we’re trying to put the eyes out of those demons, you two. We could use your help, maybe…”

 

“Oh yes!” came the nearly synchronized reply…followed by a renewed barrage.

 

But their moment of arguing had been just enough to allow an opening for the approaching creatures…one of which dove through the window and proceeded to lash out with a grotesque, snake-like tongue.

 

Devin jumped back, desperately trying to get out of the way of the beast’s gaping maw. “You must be the skating waitress! All right then…we’ll have four chocolate malts and a hefty bag of seasoned fries!”

 

The sound that came forth in response was little more than an unintelligible “RARRRR!” as the creature bit into Devin’s arm, removing a sizable portion of his flesh as it pulled back. It snapped its jaws down repeatedly on the chunk as it lunged forward in search of more.

 

“Aaaaaa! I said seasoned fries, damnit! What kind of service is this?!” Without further ado, Devin plunged his fingers into the eyes of the thing and pulled its head further into the vehicle. He tossed and turned with it, mustering all of his strength in an effort to tug free the clumps of gelatinous mess between his fingers.

 

“Move your head!” Anna screamed just before emptying a round into the creature’s skull. Under the sheer force of the bullet, a flood of gore exploded through the vehicle, covering everyone. A pathetic dying squeal directly preceded the demon falling away from Devin’s grasp…only to be replaced by another.

 

Anna pulled the clip free from the Desert Eagle and searched for another in her bag. “We’re in trouble! How about getting us out of here, Nick?!”

 

As everyone scrambled to adapt to the quickly deepening circumstances, Devin engaged in another battle as the next creature in line plunged its head through the window. Knowing the situation to be grim, he kicked out in exasperation while sliding across the back seat. “Eat my boot!!!”

 

 

Back Up

By RavenKat

September 7

New ‘Salem

12:25 am

 

The sound of gunfire stopped them both in mid-flight. Kat and Vachon had decided to take the high road to the cemetery both because the Cadillac had been full and because they all agreed to try a little divide and conquer.  It was just too risky to have everyone together at all times.

 

Anxious at what they would find at the cemetery, neither had expected trouble on the trip over.  They were learning quickly that every moment was a chance for August (or Lux or Divia) to stir things up; The less likely the time, the better.

 

Without a word, Vachon pulled a straight razor out of his pocket and turned back in the direction they came. Kat followed suit, freeing her main gauche from her boot.  She desperately hoped they wouldn’t need firearms.

 

Cruising over the non-existent forest, Nick’s Caddie was in plain sight.  It had swerved, forming a sort of blockade with the limo attempting a similar maneuver along side.  Kat could see the determined faces of her friends in the flashes from the shots fired, but had yet to see what they were shooting at.

 

Vachon spotted the creatures first. “Madre mia!” he hissed, grabbing Kat and pulling her faster through the sky.  They overshot the vehicles and landed behind them, hopefully avoiding both the monstrous things advancing on them and the shower of gunfire.

 

Reloading, Evie caught sight of the new arrivals.  “Their eyes!” she yelled, tossing Vachon a spare Glock-17 through the back window.  Vachon jumped onto the hood of the 62 Cadillac and began firing.  Kat took the rear of the car and straddled it and the limo’s hood.  Any able-bodied thing that made it this far would have to see through Kat’s dagger.

 

 

Buckle Up

By Maccousin and Sukh

September 7

Monique’s Limo

12:30 am

 

Algernon held the door open for the rest of the WARriors, many who were helping the still groggy mortals aboard.

 

Angelique couldn’t help making a face at the prospect of riding with Lalor.  She sneaked a look at the waddling Lalor and turned away in disgust, hoping the plan would work.  It had to work.  She shuddered at the thought of Micah’s suffering.  She offered a hand to Sukh from within the limo.  Sukh took her hand and then sat down across from her.  Sukh appeared to have a clear viscous substance on her face.  Angelique glanced over to LaCroix on her right hand side.  LaCroix handed Sukh a handkerchief.

 

“Thanks,” Sukh took the handkerchief and wiped off the remaining Xander drool.  Duncan took a seat next to her and she leaned on his shoulder.  “Where’s Maccousin?” she asked him.

 

Duncan bit his lip and looked to Gilchrist.  “Don’t worry,” he told Gilchrist.  “I’m sure Ciarán will find Maccousin and Willow.”  Actually he wasn’t sure of that at all, but it was an assuring thing to say.

 

“Willow.”  Buffy sat up with a start, fully regaining her composure.

 

Gilchrist turned to Màire.  “Do you know where he went?”

 

She gave him a small shrug.   “He has his connections,” she replied reassuringly, knowing better.  “Ask Angelique, she knows his duties far better than I do.”  She turned away to help Oz into the limo.

 

Angelique nodded, still lost in her own thoughts.  “He works as a liaison for the Enforcers to another group.  He knows what to do.”  She lapsed back into silence, staring out the window, lost in thought.

 

Jenny and Giles were next, helping Xander into the limo.   Jenny led Xander to the seat next to her across from Angelique as Giles took the seat to the left side of Angelique.

 

Xander groaned as Lalor took the seat next to him.  “Hey!  Why do I have to sit next to the old, fat vampire!  Why can’t I sit next to her?”  He pointed to Angelique.

 

Angelique turned to face him and hissed, her eyes glowing in the dim lights.

 

“Okay,” squeaked Xander.  “I’ll sit next to the old, fat vampire.”

 

Angelique smiled as Cleo came to sit at her feet.

 

“Where’s Trapper?” whined Steve.

 

Benton carried Cordelia to the limo and placed her in the last seat.  Cordy snored slightly as she was placed in the seat.  Benton then turned to the red-haired vampire that had quietly come up behind him, holding up another mortal.

 

Màire helped Oz into the limo and then stared at the crowded conditions within the limo.  She looked over her shoulder at Algernon and then at Methos’ proffered hand to her right side.  Màire then turned back to Algernon, who was still holding the door for her.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said to Algernon, who shrugged.  As much as she would enjoy tormenting Lalor, being in such close quarters with Angelique would not be entertaining.  Despite the fact that Angelique had been rather quiet since that crazy vampire had blown up the building.  Màire almost felt sorry for her during the tape viewing.  Who wouldn’t?  Still, there were 12 people crowded in that limo as well as a rather large cat and as amusing as that might be, she decided that it might be better if she followed the limo.

 

“Perhaps another trip would be in order, Algernon,” Angelique noted.

 

“We can wait for Maccousin and Willow at Denny’s,” Benton suggested.

 

“Actually,” began Màire, “I’ll follow you,” she said shaking her head at the thought of waiting at Denny’s.  The smell of a grease pit just weren’t her thing.  She turned to Methos with a small smile, “Want a ride?”

 

Algernon closed the limousine door.  The Rays and Fraser started to walk across the street.

 

Methos turned back to her.  “You have a car?” he stared back at Màire.  “I’m not much of a flier.”

 

Màire watched the building burn a minute.  “I think my car is in the fire,” she stated, thinking of her nondescript Honda.  “However,” she turned and looked at a sleek black Porsche,  “there are alternatives.”

~~~~

 

(Meanwhile in the Limo)

 

“So isn’t Trapper coming with us?” whined the fat old vampire.

 

Xander and Buffy rolled their eyes.

 

LaCroix sighed and turned to look at Sukh and the Scooby gang.  “Exactly what happened in the restaurant?”

 

“Well…ummm,” Sukh stated at the same time as Oz and Xander.

 

“All I know is the service sucked!” Cordelia murmured with a sniff and a toss of her head.

 

“Fascinating.  I was not really wanting that information though.”  LaCroix lifted one eyebrow at Cordelia’s shrug.

 

“Cordy,” Xander started.

 

“What?  It’s not like that other guy isn’t going to rescue Willow and Heather,” Cordelia crossed her arms and glanced at LaCroix.  “Besides if he laid a finger on me, Buffy would stake him in a nanosecond.”

 

“Do you even know what a nanosecond is?” Xander asked.

 

“Yes”

 

“I’m very amused, but my question still hasn’t been answered.”  LaCroix’s voice held a edge to it.

 

“Let me,” Sukh spoke up.

 

“Ah, good little addict, do tell Nunkies.”  (Th-thump.  Th-thump)

 

Sukh fell into the whammy like Steve into the dumpster.

 

“We were hungry for patty melts and Methos gave us money.”

 

“Continue.” (Th-thump.  Th-thump)

 

“Willow offered to fix Maccousin’s laptop.”  Sukh paused momentarily.  “Then she started playing some spy game and Cordelia got a big plate of lettuce.”

 

“Fascinating.  Then what happened?”  (Th-thump.  Th-thump).

 

“A blonde waitress gave us refills and we fell asleep.”

 

“Is that all?” (Th-thump.  Th-thump).

 

“Section One.”

 

Angelique looked at Sukh, startled.  “Ops, that bastard.  Stealing innocents for his battles.”

 

Angelique breathed in the sweet smell of Giles’ blood.  She would have a long discussion with that mortal soon.

~~~~

 

(The Porsche)

 

“And this is the reason I never trust parking attendants.”  Màire chortled, sliding into Ciarán’s Porsche.  Both doors were left unlocked.

 

“Are you sure this isn’t going to get us both in some sort,” Methos paused, watching Màire settle herself into the black leather seat, “of trouble.”  He slid into the passenger seat.  Maire mechanically pushed the seat forward.

 

“Uhm…he’ll be grateful we saved his car,” stated Màire, sounding sure enough to almost convince herself.  She gripped the steering wheel.  “Okay, keys, keys,” she murmured.  She leaned over Methos, slightly brushing his thigh with her arm and opened the glove compartment.  “Sorry,” she smiled holding up the spare key and started the engine.  The Porsche roared to life.

 

“No problem.”

 

“Wow!  This is going to be fun!” Màire grinned wickedly as she shifted into first gear.  The Porsche began to buck and shudder before she pushed the clutch back in.

 

“How long has it been since you’ve driven a manual transmission?”  Methos gripped the dashboard.

 

“There’s a first time for everything,” the vampire grinned at him sweetly before taking off after the limo.

 

 

 

In the Forest they Play…

by Hanna

September 7

Cemetery

12:30 am

She tossed yet another child to the side, still famished, still insane. She was a Goddess, and these were hers by right of sacrifice.

 

She lifted her head at the sound of gunfire.  Gunfire?  Here?  Who dared to disturb her feast?

 

Paolo looked around, startled at the growing sounds of battle coming towards the cemetery.  He motioned with his head for his men to go look and see what was happening.  After they left, he turned to look for Guilford.

 

Guilford didn’t know what happened until his vision cleared, and the ringing in his ears stopped.  “WHAT THE HELL!” he screamed, holding his head tightly.

 

Paolo drew his foot back for another kick when she stopped him.

 

“Why do you do this?” she hissed.

 

He looked from Guilford, where he lay next to the now-naked child by the grave, back to Hanna.  “He was going to rape this dying sacrifice!”

 

“So?” she hissed again, her throat still full of blood.

 

Paolo took a moment to collect himself.  “She belongs to you, my Goddess.  She is yours to do with as you will.  He is nothing.  He

hasn’t the right to touch anything that belongs to you.”

 

She looked at him for a moment, the skin regenerating around her eyes as she watched him.  “You are most correct.”

 

Neither he, nor Guilford, could have seen her coming.  One moment, she was almost hunched over next to Paolo, the next, she was crouched on Guilford’s back, ripping out his heart through his back.

 

“NO!”  Paolo gagged in protest.  He had meant to make her cold, to bend her to his purpose.  But he had no idea she would have gone this far…

 

She munched on Guilford’s heart, draining it of blood, then tossing it to the side.  She ignored all the sounds around her, from Paolo’s

heaving to the children’s screams to the heavy gunfire.  She reached her hands around Guilford’s head and pulled until it came off in a wet, crunching rip.  The blood left from his body spilled from the wound, and she buried her face into it.

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

 

Paolo opened his eyes, and realized he was laying on the ground.  He rolled over, and saw no sign of Hanna, or the children.  All that was left of any sign of them was the torn-open grave, and Guilford’s mangled body.

 

“I passed out?” he whispered to himself as he got up on his knees.  He heard grunting and moaning and looked about in time to see a half-dozen grotesque looking creatures coming toward him.

 

“Bono Christo!” he hissed as he backed away.  He looked about, and saw a nearby mausoleum, one of the doors ripped of the hinges.  Several bodies, much like the things coming toward him, were lying dead in front of it.  He ran quickly towards the door, and almost had his head removed. The sudden rush of air warned him and he ducked forward into a roll.

 

“It is you.”

 

He looked up to see Hanna before him, guarding the door.  “What’s going on?”

 

She looked at him pointedly, and he added, “My goddess.”

 

“Those creatures tried to take my gifts.  I shall not let them.  The children are mine.”

 

He shook his head in dismay.  He really screwed up this time….

 

 

Jump, Jive and Wail

by RavenKat

September 7

New ‘Salem

12:30 am

 

A blue white bolt of lightening shot out of the sky, hitting the limo and killing several of the demons riding shotgun.  The stench of burning bodies, molten metal and ozone caused Detective Schanke to gag involuntarily – but his aim never wavered. One more devil bit the dust while Donny Boy swallowed back his dinner.

 

Kat was knocked off the back of the Cadillac by the force of the strike and landed on her back a few feet away.  Her vision cleared just as a pony-tailed monster dove in her direction. Yelling in frustration, Kat waited until the thing was on top of her, then she drove her parrying dagger into it’s leering left eye socket.  She rolled away but was covered in gore just the same.

 

Gunfire still erupted from the far side of Nick’s Caddie, even as half of its passengers jumped out of the back door.  The enemy was dwindling and one major show of force would end it once and for all.

 

Vachon stuck a hand out and pulled Evie up onto the hood with him.  She leapt onto the roof and took a wide-legged stance before she began firing anew. Trapper and Marcus ran past the fin, leaving Anna in the gap between the two cars.  She crouched to give her weapon the perfect angle into the creatures’ faces.

 

Kat stood and couldn’t help but notice the smoking rip in the roof of the limousine. The vampire sprinted toward the limo just as Freidrick emerged, a limp mortal in his arms.

 

All around them, creatures exploded in time with the barrage of gunfire.  Lightening continued to shoot dangerously from the sky and Hanna still needed their help.

 

“Pardonnez-moi,” he said, stepping out of the limo and callously over the werewolf and the stricken girl.  Freidrick barely noticed LeBeau, he was intent on Kendra.

 

The Slayer’s eyes were open but unseeing.  A vicious burn consumed the top of her head and most of her face.  Kendra was alive, but barely. Her heartbeat was weak yet frantic; it was only a matter of time.

 

“Where the hell are you going?!” Trapper yelled.

 

Remy responded casually with a genteel flick of his hand, “Dis does not concern me.”  He continued his stroll away from the massacre in the road.

 

Shaking her head in disgust, Trapper turned to more important matters.  She crouched beside the fallen Slayer and took her hand.  The new vampire could feel death pouring off the young Haitian woman.  Kat rushed up to join them.  She looked first to Freidrick, then Trapper.  They all knew the answer but Kat asked anyway, “We can save you, Kendra. Do you want us to?”

 

A creature catapulted across the ravaged roof of the limo right into the waiting and capable hands of Marcus.  Before the demon could even disturb the air around the group huddled on the ground, the Nosferatu  rendered him into so much goo.

 

Kendra struggled on a breath, her lips moving slowly.  Kat leaned in closer and Trapper squeezed her hand. “Kendra?” Freidrick asked the dying girl.  For the first time since being struck, Kendra’s eyes focused and she looked at Kat.  She stuck her chin ever so slightly out, turned her head away from the vampires and closed her eyes. They had their answer.

 

 

Meet You at Lenny’s, I mean Dennys (4/4)

By Sukh and Maccousin

September 7

Section One

12:35 am

“She’s harmless,” said Madeline to Operations and Ciarán.  “Delusional, but harmless.”

Michael walked in.  “She has no idea what she’s done.”

 

Ciarán chortled quietly.  “I told you as much.  Now can I take them back.”

 

“We need some more time with them.”  Operations turned away from Ciarán.  “We’ll drop them off when we’re done.”

 

“One hour,” stated Ciarán firmly.  He heard Operations’ heart speed up slightly and then slow back down to normal.  “Angelique will not be pleased if she is made to wait.”

 

Operations blanched slightly then regained his color.  He nodded his head.

 

Ciarán turned and began to walk away.

 

“It’s a true shame Willow is so young,” commented Operations.  “She has the makings of a great computer Ops.”

~~~~

(Meanwhile in another section of Section One)

 

Walter stared at the computer screen.

 

“Just your run of the mill system,” he commented to himself.

 

Walter sighed as he began to bring up files.  Nothing out of the ordinary here, he moved on to the Internet history files.  Harem?

 

Walter brought it up and started chortling then began to roll.  Tears slid down his weathered face and he wiped them away, shaking his head.  These women didn’t really know Michael, but they seemed to enjoy thinking about him.

 

Nikita would have to see this to believe it.

~~~~

(The Hallways of Section One)

 

Ciarán walked through the hallways with a small smirk playing at his lips.  An operative came down the hallway.  Ciarán stared at her momentarily, loving the seductive sway of the tall blonde’s hips cased tightly in leather pants.  Her blue eyes bespoke of compassion and she stopped to look at him as well.

 

Nikita’s mouth nearly dropped open when she realized that Michael was smiling.

 

“Michael,” she said, in way of greeting.

 

Ciarán realized she was speaking to him.  He straightened up and cleared his throat, willing himself to sound like Michael.

 

“Yes.”

 

Nikita shrugged her shoulders and offered him a small smile in return. “Let’s get a drink later.”

 

Ciarán nodded.  “All right,” he said.

 

Walter walked up to Nikita, his face contorting at the sight of Ciarán.

 

Walter halfway chuckled and tried to hide it with a small hiccup.  “Nikita, you’ve got to see this,” he began to drag her away.

 

“Okay Walter,” said Nikita.  She turned back to Ciarán.  “Later, then.”

 

Ciarán nodded, trying to remain aloof and somewhat serious.  He watched Walter lead Nikita away and turned on his heel.  He continued his way out of Section One.

~~~~

(Walter’s office)

 

“You won’t believe this until you see it,” said Walter as he opened the door for Nikita.

 

“Okay,” said Nikita.  “What is it.”

 

Birkoff was already in the room.  “Yes, I have to get back to the workstation.”

 

Walter turned the laptop and showed them a webpage.

 

The three operatives stared at the page for a moment and then looked at each other.  Then they began rolling across the floor.

~~~~

(Five minutes later)

 

The operatives were still cracking up.  The door opened and they all regained their composure.  Michael walked in.  Nikita’s lips puckered.  Walter made a funny sneezing noise.  Birkoff studied the desk, refusing to look into Michael’s eyes.

 

Michael stared at the three for a moment and then turned around the laptop. He glanced back at the operatives, who shuffled their feet and coughed.

Michael picked up the laptop and walked out of Walter’s office.  He closed the door behind him, but he could still hear the loud chorus of laughter in the hallway.

~~~~

(Michael’s Office, an hour later)

 

Michael clicked on the link to the ‘who’s in the harem’ page.  Thankful that these women seemed to know little to nothing about him.

 

He was impressed at the size of the harem.  Over 70 women professed their love and attraction for him.  At each new harem member, his smile grew wider and wider.

 

Nikita knocked on the door.  Michael closed the laptop as she walked in a leaned across his desk.

 

“Are we still on?”

 

“On for what?” he asked, staring at her unemotionally.

 

“Drinks.”

 

Michael’s eyes darted back to the laptop.

 

“Kita did you have any of the coffee or water in Denny’s?” he asked.

 

“No,” insisted Nikita.  “We made plans in the hallway before Walter came over to show me something.”

 

Michael stared at the wall behind Nikita for a moment.  “You must have made plans with Ciarán,” he stated.

 

“Who?”

~~~~

(Back at Denny’s)

 

Maccousin stirred in the booth and sat up, her eyelids still lowered.  Willow stretched as the waiter walked back to their booth holding coffee.

 

“Would you two like fries with that?” he asked with a smirk.

 

“Huh?”

 

Willow and Maccousin heard the sound of a limo in the parking lot and they got a clear view of Ciarán as he stepped out of the vehicle.  Within seconds he was at their side.

 

“What happened?” asked the Maccousin.  Willow shivered, despite the fact that she realized this was not the man who had questioned her for so long.

 

“I’ll tell ya on the way back to the mansion,” replied their escort.  He helped Willow out of the booth and turned to the Maccousin who was actively looking for something.

 

“Where’s my laptop?” Maccousin asked.

 

“The car.  I’ll tell you in the car,” Ciarán propelled the two of them toward the door.

 

 

 

 

This is the Road to Hell

By Trapper

September 7th

The cemetery

12:40am

Trapper held Kendra’s hand tightly as she felt the Slayer’s spirit ebb. When it was done, she placed Kendra’s hand gently on her chest and sighed deeply.

Kat squeezed her shoulder. “She made her decision.”

 

Trapper nodded and rose, wiping a stray tear from her eye. “I know.” Her eyes narrowed to slits as she looked out over the battlefield. “Let’s finish this,” she growled.

 

The two vampires waded back into the fray, leaving a trail of eviscerated, eyeless bodies in their wake. Nothing stood before this tidal wave of rage.

 

As they stood, surveying the carnage, the rest of the party came running to join them.

 

“Are you all right?” Nick reached them first.

 

“Yes,” Trapper smiled wanly. “But we lost Kendra.”

 

“She was a Slayer,” Marcus said without emotion. “She knew the odds.”

 

“C’mon,” Schanke said as he walked ahead. “We still have to find Hanna.”

 

“Up ahead,” Devin said. He peered into the gloom. “Look! It’s Remy!”

 

“And he has found her!” Monique cried. They all stopped dead in their tracks as they beheld the sight before them.

 

The few remaining terrors stood at the base of the mausoleum stairs, amid a pile of mangled corpses. Remy lounged, smirking next to a granite angel nearby. Paolo was frozen at the doorway, his expression shocked at what he saw. They followed his line of vision to the small woman, framed in the doorway. She was naked, save for a few rags of clothing that clung to her. Or perhaps it was her skin that hung in tatters down her legs. What unbroken flesh they could see was bathed in blood. The smell rolled across the ground to them, heavy, metallic, sweet with the innocence of childhood. Marcus fell to his knees as the full horror washed over him.

 

“Hanna,” he rasped, his voice rough with tears.

 

She turned her head toward them as they approached. There was no recognition in the mad eyes that stared back at them.

 

 

Duty Calls

by Sukh

September 7

New Salem

about 12:45

Angelique sat in the lime, the beating of mortal hearts echoing through her.  Giles was wedged between her and Jenny.  As the couple talked quietly planning her freedom from Set, Giles’s body heat seeped through her.  He smelled of books, knowledge, and things now ancient.  Learning was in his blood, and she could almost taste it.  The beast rattled through her and he eyes went green-gold.

 

Buffy glared at her from across the limo.

 

  1. Angelique wanted Lucien, to crawl into the cold comfort of his arms and pour her fears into him.  She looked at the smoke glass divider, not seeing Buffy and Oz as they watched a single blood tear spill onto her cheek.  Micah was still alone, still hurting and in the hands of the madwomen.

 

“Mea Amortea.,” Lucien’s voice whispered over her.  His finger wiped the tear away.  “We will get Micah back.”

 

“Don’t touch me,” She turned her golden-green eyes to him.

 

“Angelique,” LaCroix’s voice held a warning she felt no need to heed.

 

“I need to think.”

 

“I do not like this anger between us.”

 

“You should have though of that before you slept with Màire,” she hissed.

 

The limo became deathly quiet.

 

“You had Ricze,” rage colored his low whisper.

 

“Not in our bed.”

 

“Is that what this is about?”  LaCroix’s chuckle made her anger burn hotter.  She elbowed him.

 

“You knew I would find her in our bed.”  She growled.

 

“Actually no, I was planning on her being gone.”

 

“Why should I believe you?”

 

“Angelique–” He was interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone.

 

She fished it out of her pants and answered.  “Yes,” She nodded and looked at the Scooby gang.  “Willow and the Maccousin are safe.” She announced as she hung up.

 

“How did she hide that in her pants?”  Xander asked in teen boy awe.

 

“Was that Trapper?”  Steve asked, a hopeful look on his vacant face.

 

“No.”

 

“Sukh?”

 

She turned and looked at Gilchrist.  “What now?”

 

“My two dollars?”

 

LaCroix and Angelique both looked at him blankly, then looked at Sukh and Duncan.

 

“For the patty melts.”  Gilchrist clarified.

 

“Do I look like I have any cash at the moment?”  Sukh rolled her eyes.  Duncan fished a couple of bills out of his sporran.

 

“Here.”

 

“I don’t want your two dollar, it’s her that owes me.” He pointed at Sukh.

 

“This conversation has what bearing on rescuing Micah?” Angelique asked.

 

“It’s my money.” Gilchrist pouted.

 

“Cheap Scot,” Duncan muttered under his breath. Gilchrist glared at him.

 

“Can we do this later?”  Angelique muttered as she leaned over Xander to tap on the Glass partition.  Xander looked blissful until Cordy Elbowed him.

 

“Drool much?”

 

Xander didn’t dare talk to Angelique’s cleavage until she moved away.

 

“Yes, Mlle?”  Algernon asked as he kept his eyes on the road.

 

“I need out.”

“Are you sure Mlle?”  At her nod he slowed and pulled over.

 

“Angelique, what is this?”  LaCroix frowned as she crawled over to the door.  Xander looked dazed and far to happy for a teenage boy.

 

She turned at the open car door.  “Jenny, will you take care of Cleo for me?”

 

Jenny nodded and stroked Cleo’s sleek head.

 

“She is my beacon to the Chateau.”

 

She turned to the driver.  “Algernon, can you have another car sent to Denny’s?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.”

 

Then she was gone.

 

 

Paved With Good Intentions

by Evie

September 7

The cemetery

12:50 am

 

“This doesn’t look to good,” Schanke muttered.

 

“That’s the understatement of the week,” Trapper shot back.

 

“Oh, man,” came from Kat.

 

Evie, following up from behind with Vachon, stopped dead and stood staring, her jaw hanging slack, her eyes filled with horror.  Vachon stopped and looked at her, concerned. They’d all seen enough to send the average mortal off the deep end, it was a surprise more of them hadn’t lost it. But the woman seemed to recover quickly, scanning the area for danger. He turned away, relieved, before he saw her expression change to one of rage.  “YOU!”  she suddenly burst out.

 

Vachon turned back, surprised at the outburst.  Evie glared at Paolo huddling near the entrance to the Mausoleum.  Her eyes were narrowed into slits and her faced looked different – almost as though a bright light was radiating through her skin.  He had never thought to fear this particular mortal.  Standing there, he found he had second thoughts.

 

“You made her like this!”  Evie screamed, in a voice few had heard.  It was a sound of fury and rage and revenge that would not be denied.  She sucked in air and straightened  herself up.  Suddenly she looked much taller.  “Paolo.  You only thought you were dead. I swear, by everything I hold holy, when I’m done with you, dead you shall be.  This I vow.”

 

Trapper looked over to Kat and grinned humorlessly.  “Aspect and Attribute.  Gets ’em every time.”

 

“Oh.”  Kat frowned, both irritated and uncomprehending.

 

“She’s just sworn an oath, and she must keep it, or die.”  Trapper shook her head.  “Really wish she hadn’t done that just now.”

 

Remy gave a low whistle from where he stood near the angle.  “Les belles filles, I like ’em when they’re hot.”  He stepped towards them but froze, the grin sliding from his lips as his eyes met hers.  “Maybe not this hot.”  He crossed his arms and tried to look casual.

 

Schanke grabbed Evie by the arm.  “Hey!  Snap out of it.  Priorities – OK?  What do we do about Hanna? She doesn’t look exactly friendly right now.”

 

“You wouldn’t either, Schank, if you’d been through what she has,” Nick spoke softly. He stepped forward gingerly to try to engage the still-mute Hanna.  Evie reached out and touched his arm.

 

“Let me go point on this one, OK Nick?”  Evie’s eyes never left Hanna.  “She’ll either kill me or she won’t.  We shared a link once.  Let me try.”

 

Nick looked to Trapper, who nodded once.  “We’re with you, girl.”

 

Evie stepped out front.  “Hanna.  I know you’re in there.  I can feel it.  Talk to me, OK?”

 

 

Behind the Wheel

By Maccousin

September 7

Ciarán’s Porsche

12:51 am

The seat belt strained the motor hiccuped and Methos thought he was going to die.  He began to grind his teeth.

 

“Pull over.”

 

Màire was having a major disagreement with the clutch.  “Huh?” she asked.

 

“Pull the car over,” he repeated tersely.

 

“Why?” She shifted into third and turned back to the road.

 

“Because.”  Methos reached over her and released the parking brake.

 

“I knew I was forgetting something.”

 

Methos gripped her hand, as she was about to downshift.  “Pull over now.”  He stared at her then his tone softened.  “Please.”

 

Màire sighed and pulled over, the two switched places.  Methos made a face as his knees connected with the dashboard.

 

Màire allowed herself a small self-satisfied smile at that.  “Sorry.”

 

“I bet,” Methos gave her a sly smile.

 

“Well you did take all the fun out of ruining a perfectly nice Porsche.”  Màire smiled back, she turned on the radio and began flipping through the box of CD’s at her feet.

 

“What would be the point of ruining an exquisite automobile like this?”

 

Màire frowned.  “Because it would piss off the owner,” she stated.  “I hope you like opera.”

 

Methos rolled his eyes and twitched slightly.  “No, not opera.  Anything, but opera.”

 

“Ciarán MacKeracher isn’t known for his musical tastes,” replied Màire.  “But you’re in luck.  He has a Seven Nations CD.”  She placed the CD into the player and ‘Crooked Jack’ began to play.

 

Up ahead, the limo stopped momentarily.

 

“Oooo,” cooed Màire.  “It’s Angelique.”  A small smile curled its way across her mouth.

 

“Don’t even say it,” Methos warned as Màire snickered.

 

“But if you hit her, you can get extra points!”  Màire shook her head and stopped giggling.

 

“I like my neck intact.  Thank you.”

 

“Oh,” Màire laughed and sighed.  “You’re no fun.”

 

“I am too fun.  I would just like to make it to my sixth millennium.  You know, Màire, I wouldn’t have lived for five thousand years if I struck down every vampire in my way.”

 

Màire arched an eyebrow and said nothing.  “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier,” she said studying the CD cover.  She studied his neck for a moment.

 

Methos nodded slightly, “I imagine I would have reacted in much the same way if my door had ended up in the hallway.  But, apology accepted.  Now, tell me why you’re staring so intently at my neck?”

 

“I heard you mention earlier you were bit.  I thought I saw a scar,” she said.  “Just a trick of shadows,” Màire lied.  The truth was the smell of that ancient blood was rather intoxicating.  “I just hope…” Her stomach contracted and made a squeaky protest at being empty.

 

Màire reached to the floor for her purse before realizing her purse was back at the hotel, the purse with her spare provisions for an emergency.  She opened the glove compartment and sighed disgustedly.  “Thanks Ciarán,” she grumbled.  She pulled down her sunglasses and stared back at the road that ran through the countryside like a purple ribbon.

 

Màire could feel his eyes watching her.

 

“Sorry,” she turned back to meet his gaze and removed her sunglasses.  “You don’t have to worry about little ol’ me.  I won’t bite,” Màire paused as she leaned across the seat, a seductive smile played across her lips.  “Unless you want me to.”  She winked and pulled down her sunglasses.

 

Methos couldn’t help smiling a bit at that offer.  She was quite lovely.  “I’ll get back to you on that,” he said.

 

Màire twisted a long curl around her finger.  Things were just getting more interesting by the minute around here.  At least now there was a possibility of a pleasant diversion to the bloody mayhem.  She unconsciously moistened her lips.

 

 

Lament for the Fallen

By Trapper

September 7

The cemetery

12:58am

 

The atmosphere was charged with electricity. Silence had descended like a shroud over the field of combat. Hanna stood like a bloody statue at the door to the mausoleum, staring blankly at Evie. The rest hung back a bit, frozen in the rigid tableau.

 

Kat touched Trapper’s shoulder to get her attention. They moved smoothly away from the standoff to gain a little privacy.

 

“I hate to leave just now, but I want to get Kendra out of here.” Kat’s eyes slid sideways to where the Slayer’s lifeless body lay.

 

Trapper agreed. “She needs to be back with her own.” She looked bleakly at her gore-strewn surroundings. “And Gods only know what they might do to the body of a Slayer.”

 

Nick appeared from the shadows. “You can’t go alone, Kat.”

 

“It’s all right, Chevalier,” Vachon clasped Nick’s shoulder. “I’ll go along with her.”

 

Kat smiled her thanks at both of them.

 

“Are we flying?” Vachon asked.

 

Kat frowned. “I don’t know. It would be the quickest, but it feels, I don’t know, wrong somehow.”

 

Trapper stepped away for a moment. She returned with Monique.

 

“I’ve made a call to Larry,” Monique said quietly. “He’ll bring a car around to the gates of the cemetery. You can take her back to the chalet, to her friends.” She glanced over to Kendra. Her eyes pooled with tears. “Poor girl. She was just a baby; a candle flame that guttered out too quickly.”

 

They heard voices rising on the air behind them. Something was happening at the mausoleum.

 

“We need to go,” Kat said urgently.

 

Nick and Trapper hugged her.

 

“Gods speed,” Trapper whispered.

 

“Be careful,” Nick said.

 

“Thanks.” Kat looked over at Vachon. “Ready?”

 

He nodded, and they were gone into the shadows of the trees with their burden.

 

 

Gone for Good?

by Hanna

September 6

the Cemetery

1:00 am

 

She was vaguely aware of the group of mortals, vampires and “others” before her, but she ignored them.  They were of no importance.  She was a goddess, and only the faithful were worthy of her attention.

 

“…talk to me, okay.”

 

The plea was quiet inside her head, engulfed by the screams of her sacrifices, but she still heard it.  Her eyes moved almost mechanically towards the speaker as she approached her.

 

As Hanna’s gaze fell upon her, Evie felt the menace directed towards her, and she almost stepped back.  Almost.  She had a purpose, and Hanna was too much of a friend for her to let this go.

 

The others, however, did step backwards, except for Trapper, when she spoke.  Her throat, still not quite healed, produced a sound not fit for mortal ears.

 

“INFIDEL!  HOW DARE YOU CALL MY ATTENTION UPON YOU!?”

 

Devin groaned, “Great.  Now she thinks she’s divine?”

 

“SILENCE!”  The shriek was followed by a burst of power from her hand. Devin’s feet were pushed backward from under him, and he fell forward into the dirt.

 

Hanna laughed hideously.  “You do well to grovel before me!”

 

Evie stared at her in horror, tears welling up in her eyes….

 

 

Gathering Intel (1/2)

by Sukh

September 7

New Salem

1:00 am

Angelique knocked on the back door of the small store.

“Bonjour.”

“Come in.”  The small man let her in. “what can I get you?”

“I need something, a jacket a reds silk shirt and a cape.”

 

“Will this be on your brother’s account?”

 

“No,” Angelique flipped a platinum card out of her pants.  “Use this.”

 

“As you wish.”

 

Three jackets of supple black leather were shown to her before she decided on the one button long cut.  A wide lapel, red silk shirt and a mid calf length cape of the same black leather of the coat completed her power ensemble.

 

As the bill was being settled, she flipped out her cell phone and dialed.  “Henri,” She waited for conformation.  “24 hours assemble a team.”  She hung up and redialed.  “Ricze, 24 hours assemble a team.”

 

She scribbled her name on the bill and walked to the end of the alley.  The smoke from the blown hotel lingers in the air. She cocked her head for a moment, then pulled out the cell phone.  “Ricze when you can, look through the ruins of the hotel.  I think something we’re overlooking is still there.”  She hung up and started walking towards Denny’s.

 

Ciarán stood waiting by a black Caddie limo.  He walked toward her, taking off his sunglasses as he stopped before her.

 

“We convene in 24 hours.  Can section one handle it?”

 

‘Yes,” Ciarán nodded.  “Ops will not be pleased to see you.”

 

Angelique smiled.  “I don’t imagine he will.”  She shrugged as she watched Willow and Heather stir through the window of the Denny’s “Your mortals are waking.  I will contact you.”

 

Ciarán nodded and turned to the restaurant as Angelique took to the sky.

 

15 Minutes later she slipped on her sunglasses and walked into Operations office.

 

 

Over the River and through the woods…

by Maccousin

September 7

Outside Denny’s

1:10 am

Benton helped Willow step into the limo.  Maccousin was walking or rather twitching her way to the limo.  When Stanley offered a hand to her, Maccousin’s left eyebrow twitched several times, making her appear like she was rapidly winking at everyone.  It was kind of amusing actually.  Ciarán shook his head, inwardly smiling.  Section One’s drugs seemed to have different effects on everyone.  Willow edged away from him.  The resemblance was too much.

 

“I got it,” Maccousin said raising her arms in protest as she tried to step into limo.  She couldn’t seem to her legs to stop shaking.  She finally crawled into the limo.  Benton closed the door behind her and began to walk to the other side of the limo.

 

“We’re going to make a quick stop at the hospital,” he reminded the driver, Elton.  Then he turned to see Joe Dawson walking toward the limo.

 

“Do you need a ride?”

 

Joe took a quick look at the occupants.  Maccousin and Willow had lapsed back into states of semi-consciousness.

 

“No cancellation!  NO!” The Maccousin uttered.

 

“Just helping,” said Willow.  “Just trying to fix the computer.”

 

“They’re just delirious,” Benton assured him as he held the door.

 

Joe sat down and studied the occupants of the limo closely as Benton took the seat across from him.  A small red-haired girl sat next to Benton.  Ray and Stanley were sitting next to her.  A figure in black sat on the far side of the other woman, clad in some crazy outfit.

She snored and slumped onto his shoulder.

“She’s a prize isn’t she?” snorted the shadowy figure.

~~~~

(The Hospital)

Natalie Lambert watched the entrance warily.  A black limousine slid its way into the driveway.  Natalie sighed and smiled as Benton Fraser stepped out of the limo and began to walk toward the hospital entrance.  The light reflected off his polished buttons and nearly blinded Natalie.

 

“Ready to go, Doctor?” asked Benton.

 

She nodded as he took her arm and gently led her back to the limousine.

 

Natalie stepped into the limousine, somewhat disappointed.  Instead of being alone with a good-looking Mountie, she was stuck in a Rogue’s gallery.  Some crazy woman was mumbling something about cancellation.  Willow was talking about a man in black.  A strange vampire watched her momentarily, then turned back to his ringing cell phone.

“Where are we going?”

 

“Ughhhh….,” interrupted Maccousin, turning pale.  “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

 

Ciarán and Joe both scooted away from her, luckily for them; she lapsed back into semi consciousness.

 

“What have I gotten myself into?” Natalie wondered to herself.

 

Elton started the limo and the group headed toward the chateau.

 

 

Enemy Mine, part one

By RavenKat

September 7

New ‘Salem

1:15 am

 

Like a silver mist, a sleek 1959 Mercedes Benz floated up to the gates of the cemetery.  Not caring for pretense, Vachon opened the rear door before the chauffeur could get out and open it for them. Kat slipped in, a dead Slayer in her arms.

 

Recognizing both riff raff and vampires when he saw them, Larry kept his mouth shut.  His grimy passengers carefully arranged the corpse on their laps then settled back on the pristine leather upholstery.  Larry winced as he eased the 300D out onto the main road.

 

They rode in silence, heading away from town.

 

Lost in thought, Kat plucked stray twigs and grass from Kendra’s body. She smoothed errant hairs and tried to wipe away some of the worst damage. How strange to care for the body of someone devoted to your extinction. Vachon took Kat’s hand and held it, knowing no amount of fussing would make it better.

 

 

It Seems We’ve Stood and Talked Like This Before

By Trapper

September 7th

The Cemetery

1:20am (after Gone for Good)

 

Trapper watched as Kat and Vachon disappeared into the trees. She could tell that fall was on its way. The color change in the leaves was obvious to her vampire eyes, and she could smell that first sharp tang of death in the air.

 

‘All things die,’ she thought to herself as she turned to walk back up to the mausoleum. She raised one of her translucent, white hands into the inconstant moonlight. ‘Well, almost all things,’ she thought with a half smile.

 

A sudden unearthly shriek brought her out of her reverie and into a dead run up the hill to where her friends still stood in their standoff. She arrived in time to hear Hanna’s guttural roar and watch their little party flinch back at the sound. Trapper felt almost detached as she watched Devin fall at a burst of power from Hanna. She sighed and stepped back into the action.

 

“HANNA!” The word ripped the air between Trapper and Hanna like a hand through cheap silk, propelled by just a little of ‘The Voice’™.

 

Hanna trembled slightly and blinked at the feeling that had washed over her. She took an involuntary step back and turned her mad gaze on Trapper. Her eyes cleared for a moment.

 

“Trapper?” she whispered. She stretched her arm out toward the woman, but stopped to stare at it. The arm was dripping with blood, tattered flesh writhing as it mended itself. Hanna’s eyes grew wide as she realized what had happened. She fell to her broken knees and began to wail and rock.

 

Paolo looked up from his position in the dirt, realizing that his plans were disintegrating before his eyes. “No!” he began. “You are the Goddess!” But the force of Evie and Schanke jumping on him simultaneously threw his words back into the dust.

 

“So,” Devin said, brushing himself off as he rose to his feet, “is this a good time to wrap this up?”

 

“I think so,” Nick agreed. They moved in on the quivering bit of vampire that had so recently been their friend. Marcus threw a cloak over Hanna and they all moved toward the Caddie with their near-comatose charge.

 

Remy had watched the happenings with interest from his vantage point, leaning casually against an old cypress. He started to rise, intending to follow, but was met with a hand in the middle of his chest.

 

“Just don’t,” Trapper said, eyeing him narrowly.

 

He threw up his hands and gave her a sardonic grin. “What, cher?” I’m just keepin’ track of de action. I don’t want t’ miss anything.”

 

Trapper gave him a parting glare and walked off to join the rest of them.

 

Remy watched the retreat and followed at a healthy distance. “My, my Remy. Dis is getting more interesting by de minute, mais yes.”

 

 

Gathering Intel (2/2)

by Sukh

September 7

Section One

1:20 am

“Operations.”

Ops eyes widened for a split second as his worst nightmare stood before him.  Angelique, the Operations of the most feared of the covert groups, was here.

“How did you get in here?”  He stood and swallowed his fear.

 

“Mortal technology is nothing to us.”  She stood at the wide glass wall that overlooked Section One.

 

“What do the enforcers need with mortal business?”  He put on his glasses and attempted to recover his game face.

 

“We have a situation.”  Angelique motioned to the floor below the office window.  “I can brief you, but we need Section One for a liaison.”

 

“Mortals in vampire business?”  Ops frowned.

 

“The Sabbat has grown to be a bigger threat than we anticipated.”

 

“Ah.” Ops walked over and looked down to see Nikita and Madeline having a spirited conversation.  He kept his distance from Angelique, but was close enough for conversation.  “The Sabbat is not in your territory.”

 

“It is now.” Angelique took off her sunglasses to reveal her vampiric eyes.  “I have been attacked twice, my brother is a captive, four vampires have been killed to get to me, and the hotel I was staying in was blown up while I was there.  I will not tolerate this, and I WILL have your cooperation to bring August down.”  She hissed.  “We have mortals involved in ways that I do not wish, and the immortals are threatening us.” She turned and flashed her fangs at Ops.  “Then I hear you have taken two if my people.”

 

“They managed to hack Sections computer files. We had to make sure they were not a threat.”  Ops stepped back another step from the Enforcer leader.  “They were not harmed.”

 

“Then I guess you will not be harmed.”  She calmed enough for her eyes to return to the normal whiskey color and shrugged.  “I know you will cooperate with my Enforcers in any way I ask.”  She smiled at Ops and he had to resist the urge to run.

 

“One moment.” He sat at his desk and picked up his telephone.  “Briefing in one hour, Michael, assemble a team, take Nikita.”  He hung up and redialed.  “Birkoff, in my office.”

 

Five minutes later a very nervous looking young man with glasses and a buzz cut walked into Ops office.

 

“Birkoff, meet Angelique, she needs you to run through a SIM with her, she has the profile.”

 

Birkoff’s eyes widened.  “Yes, sir.”  Fear fought with young lust a moment as he looked at the regal woman.  She growled at him. He paled, then turned to the door.  “Follow me.”

 

Angelique followed, creating a wide wake as she moved behind him through section.  Nikita watched the leather clad woman as Birkoff took a disk and started a SIM with her.  The SIM looked an awful lot like a cave.

 

“Who is that?”  She asked Madeline.

 

Madeline was already watching Birkoff and Angelique.  “She is the Ops for the vampire enforcement.  She guarantees that the vampires remain a closed community.  If anyone leaks out information that vampires really do exist, they find them and dispose of them and the evidence.”

 

“What about us?”  Nikita asked.

“We have had to turn over indiscreet agents to her operatives.  As long as we keep their existence quiet we are seldom bothered, except for a few times for joint operations.”

 

Nikita’s blue eyes widened.  “She has power over section?”

 

“Yes, Her word is law, even here.”  Madeline looked up as Michael approached.  “Vampires control much more than you think.”

 

“Nikita,” Michael nodded to Madeline.  “We have a mission.”

 

Nikita pointed to Angelique “Does it involve her?”

 

Michael turned the direction of Angelique and Birkoff and watched impassively for a minute or two.  Then he turned to Madeline.  “Are we under the enforcers direction?”

 

“Yes, ” Ops walked up, looking a bit pale.  “She is getting full cooperation.  We brief in one hour.”

 

Michael watched Angelique as she and Birkoff worked.  “Michael?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“She is a problem?”  She asked as Ops and Madeline walked off.

 

“No, but she is nothing short of dangerous.  The enforcers operate much differently than Section in many ways.” Michael looked at Nikita.  ” They have free will, and they have lives that we are not allowed.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“The only thing driving them is to protect the vampire community. They are allowed to form attachments, to mingle and to be known in that society.”  Michael turned back and watched Angelique.  “When she comes here, that means that someone has stepped out of the vampire society to threaten us. ”

 

“And that is serious?”

 

“More serious than any threat we usually have to deal with.”  He continued to watch Birkoff as he assisted the vampire.  “If they turn on us, we all die.”

 

“But they don’t mingle with us.”

 

“They are here, everywhere.  They can hide in ways we can’t.  If mortals uncovered their society, there would be mass killings to rival the apocalypse. The vampires, they would retaliate.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“She is a vampire, she sees us all as less than her. This makes her even more dangerous.”  Michael watched as the woman shrugged off her leather cape and looked at him.  Her eyes widened and her face tightened.  Then she started toward Michael and Nikita.

 

Angelique looked up, not sure why, and noticed the black clad man.  Ciarán!  He was supposed to be with the others.  Wait, she checked herself as she took her cape off, something isn’t right.  Then she moved closer, drawn to something, a scent, and the promise of rich blood coursing through her.  Then she realized what was wrong; Ciarán had a heartbeat.  They stood a few feet apart and sized each other up, two great cats facing off.

 

Michael watched as Angelique started toward them, then checked herself to stand, watching them, as if studying her prey.  They were still engaged in the staring contest as they moved up to the briefing table.  They still stood at a distance, neither one of them willing to break eye contact first.

 

“You’re not Ciarán.”  Angelique looked wary, unsure that the man was not dangerous.

 

“No,” Michael took a seat at the table.  “I’m Michael.”

 

“Ciarán?”  Nikita murmured again.

 

“You saw Ciarán?”  Angelique was not pleased.  Ciarán was one of her lead agents, but he was in deep doo-doo at that moment. Playing at being a Section One operative was not allowed.

 

“Yeah,” Nikita’s voice wavered slightly.  ” I asked him out for a drink.  He made me think he was Michael.”

 

“Did he accept?” she asked Nikita.

 

“Yeah,” Nikita shrugged. Michael’s jaw twitched at that.  Angelique knew that Ciarán was in deeper trouble than he even dreamed.  “He’s a dead ringer for you Michael.  I thought it was you.”

 

Michael nodded as Ops and Madeline came into the briefing area.  Angelique stood at the head of the table.

 

 

Something’s Rotten in the State of…

by Maccousin

September

Porsche

1:30 am

 

Màire sniffed the air; there was an odd scent lacing the car’s interior.  She looked warily at Methos.

 

Methos turned to his right.  And sniffed.  He smiled at Màire as she leaned toward the car door, looking like she wished to sink into the floorboards.

 

*I smell rancid. *  Màire thought.  Màire had grown up next to one of the largest rivers in Ireland and the idea of smelling was intolerable.  *I’ve got to get out of these clothes. *  She wondered if she would be able to get the stench out.  She stared mournfully at her new clothing.  *Damn that stinky garbage. *  The garbage smell had seeped into the leather and was now infusing into the car’s leather seats.  Oh well, there was one good point to this and she chortled at the thought of Ciarán’s face when he discovered the stench.

 

“Have I missed something?” asked Methos.

 

“Nothing,” she said.  “Just wondering what the next few nights will lead to.”  Grateful he had not said more about the smell.   They pulled up to the chateau.   Methos parked next to the limo.  The limo riders emptied out and followed Algernon into Monique’s impressive home.

 

“Thanks for driving,” said Màire, preparing to open the door and step out of the car.

 

“Wait,” Methos turned off the engine and looked at her.

 

“Yes,” Màire said.

 

“I was wondering if you’d like to get together later.  Drinks?”  He was about to say dinner then paused.  “Whatever you’d like to do.”

 

“Why?” asked Màire.  She was slightly surprised.

 

“You’re entertaining.  You’ve made me laugh several times this evening and that hasn’t happened much in the last few days.”

 

Màire smirked.  “So am I like a clown to you?”

 

Methos grinned.  “Is that a yes.”

 

“Sure.”  Màire shrugged and pushed away some strands of hair.  “So I scored big with the bite joke.”

 

“No comment.” Methos chuckled and opened the door and walked over to her side of the car.  He opened her door and helped her out.  “Sometime later then?”

 

“Later.” Màire smiled up at him.

~~~~

 

“Algernon, could we talk for a sec?” Màire tapped his shoulder gently.

 

“Yes, Mademoiselle?” he asked, with a small sniff.

 

“You can smell the problem,” she stated.  “Do you think Monique would mind if I borrowed some of her clothing?  It’ll just be until I can get some new clothes.  I’ll order from a boutique in town or something.”

 

Algernon nodded.  “I can show you her closets if you wish.  I can send your clothing to the cleaners as well.”

 

“Thank you,” the petite vampire murmured demurely, sliding her sunglasses into her pocket.

~~~~

 

(later)

 

“Much better,” sighed Màire, sliding into a black silk dress.  It had a Chinese pattern and matching gloves that she left on the bed.  There was nothing quite as refreshing as clean clothes after a shower.

 

Màire had liberally doused herself with geranium oil, hoping it would ward off any stench as well.  She placed her other clothes in a small bag.  She walked out of her room and passed the bag to Algernon.

 

 

Not This Time

by Hanna

September 7

In Nick’s car…

1:40 am

 

Marcus and Freidrick surrounded her on either side, Nick already in the driver’s seat.  Trapper watched silently as Evie and Schanke dragged Paolo to the caddie, and she held the door open for them as they prepared to squeeze him inside.

 

“Wait.”

 

Nothing else could have caught their attention the way that one word did.  Not so much the word itself as the sound of it.  Her throat may have been healing, but Hanna’s voice sounded more like broken glass on a chalk board than Davistch’s did.  She leaned forward, worming her way past Marcus.

 

“Hanna?” he whispered, actually terrified for a moment.

 

“Let me be,” she whispered in response.  She climbed out past him as his face turned to Freidrick, and the two of them shared a puzzled look.

 

Nick and Trapper tried to ignore the blood and gore she left behind as she moved past them as well, but it was a task that made Nick’s stomach turn.

 

She avoided touching Evie and Schanke, since there was no point in making them even more disgusted then she was about to.  She simply gestured them aside with a tattered finger.  Schanke shared a look with Evie that almost mirrored Marcus and Freidrick’s, and they both moved back from Paolo.

 

He sank to his knees, barely conscious.  She wrapped her torn fingers in his hair and pulled his head back with a jerk.  His eyes were glazed, and he stared at her unseeing.  They didn’t see the slap, or most of them didn’t, but they heard it.  The force of the blow would have decapitated a normal human, but as it was, Paolo’s neck just missed being snapped.  His eyes flew open and she grinned.

 

“That’s better.  I want you aware of what I do, Paolo.  I want you aware of what I have chosen to become because of you.”  She pulled back his head further, forcing his mouth open.  In the same movement, she tore into her mangled wrist.  The blood dripped freely, and she gingerly held her wrist over his mouth, an audible “drip drip” breaking the silence. He struggled, as much as he could, but she allowed him only enough for him to appreciate the futility of the movement.

 

“When they forced me to make you, they encouraged me to bond you, to keep you faithful.  Naturally, I refused because I wished you to keep your freedom of choice.  I have seen what my mistakes have cost the world around me.”  She smiled again, almost blood chilling.  “It’s time to pay the price for my generosity.”  She forced her wrist to his mouth holding the two together as she counted silently, her lips mouthing the words, “One, Two, Three.”  She threw him back down to the ground with a callous laugh.  “You do serve me now, Paolo.  With every ounce of your soul.  I’ve left no room in that little brain of yours for rebellion. Your are mine as sure as I am the one that gave you this life.  Now, stand up.”

 

It was spoken simply, but everyone heard each word as if they were nails in a coffin being hammered home.

 

Paolo jerked up to his feet, staggering.  He looked at Hanna with eyes glazed over with love and a willingness to do whatever she commanded.

 

“Oh shit,” Nick whispered, echoed by Devin’s, “Bloody fricken’ hell!” Marcus’ eyes were spilling blood tears, while Freidrick sat in stony silence.

 

She turned back towards them, licking her wrist as she moved.  The movement, the turning, all of it could have been considered in sensual grace had it been any other time, or any other person.  Now, it just added more horror to the play.

 

“I realize that the lot of you ventured this way to rescue me, along with little Jenny, but as you can see, I am quite beyond redemption. Jenny, on the other hand, is still in need of assistance.  Now, if you like, you may follow where I lead.  Those of you who would rather not can take the children in the mausoleum back to the orphanage in the city.  Either way, it’s up to you and honestly, I don’t think it matters much to me anymore.”  She turned back to Paolo and said, rather loudly, “Come, dog.  Follow your Master.”  She proceeded on foot towards the airport, Paolo nearly falling over himself to keep up with her…

 

 

Balaklava, revisited

By Trapper

September 7th

The Cemetery

1:58am

 

“Let me be,” whispered Hanna as she worked her way back out of the Caddie. Nick and Trapper traded a glance and followed her from the car, as did everyone else.

 

The group watched in rapt horror as she bound Paolo to her.

 

Devin shook his head in disbelief. “I always wanted to see him as a mindless lap dog. But not like this.”

 

Monique’s eyes filled with tears. “Mon Dieu!” she whispered. “What has she become?”

 

Anna bit her lip and kept silent. She didn’t like the direction this was going at all.

 

“Come, dog. Follow your Master.” Hanna and Paolo began to walk toward the airport.

 

Freidrick looked at the rest of them. “Marcus and I will take care of the children. The rest of you had best follow her.”

 

Marcus looked around at the carnage. “We’d best be cleaning the cemetery up as well.”

 

Nick closed up the Caddie and the group began to follow Hanna and her lackey.

 

“So, now that Paolo’s…well, in the condition he’s in,” Schanke began as they walked.

 

“This changes nothing,” Evie hissed through clenched teeth. “I still want his heart.”

 

Trapper began, “Cannon to right of them,”

 

Evie continued, “Cannon to left of them,”

 

Devin picked up the thread, ” Cannon in front of them volley’d and thunder’d.”

 

Anna spoke up, “Stormed at through shot and shell,”

 

Monique added, “Boldly they rode and well.”

 

“Into the jaws of Death, into the mouth of hell rode the six hundred,” Nick finished the verse.

 

“Y’know, hanging out with you guys is always like a trip to the Twilight Zone,” Schanke shook his head and followed along, hoping that Hanna was leading them to Jenny.

 

 

The Briefing

by Sukh

September 7

Section One

2:00 am

 

“As you know, the Enforcers operate much differently then the rest of the agency’s sections.”  Angelique stood at the head of the briefing table and surveyed the operatives seated around the table.  “Our main goal is the protection of our vampire community.  This includes both mortal threats and rouge vampires.”

 

“What does this have to do with us?”  Nikita asked.

 

“There is a serious threat, not just to our community, but to the mortal community at large.”  She clicked a small remote at the clear screens dividing the table and August’s picture was there for all to see.  “This creature is our main target.  She and her associates are considered rouges by all the vampire communities.”

 

“How many communities are there?”  Michael’s French accented voice was deceptively soft.

 

“There are three of any number.  Smaller pockets of our kind exist in small groups, but they are disorganized and not of any consequence to this mission.”  Angelique paced as she talked.  “The first kind is our community.  We try to blend as much as possible, with small underground clubs to socialize in.  The specs are on your pads.”  Ricze and Ciarán’s pictures replaced August.  “These are my right hand men.”  Ricze was brought to full screen.  “He takes most of the Americas, while Ciarán,” Hi picture replaced Ricze’s. “Watches over Europe.  When word of our existence is leaked to the mortals, they eliminate it, both the source of the leak and the one who has threatened to expose us.  Sometime the mortal is safe with the knowledge of our existence, and can be used to the advantage of the community. ” She looked at the mortals at he table.  “If any of you leak the fact that we really exist to the mortal world in any way, you will be turned over to either one of those two, or me.”

 

Angelique began to pace again, something was thrumming through her, something not welcome at this moment.  Danger.  She forced it down, she couldn’t afford any display of overt vampire abilities at this moment.

 

“Now, these vampires are annoying, but rarely a true threat,” Spike and Dru’s picture came up.  “They have a young mortal, a slayer that tracks them down and eliminates them.”  Buffy’s picture came up.  “She has been trained by her watcher since childhood to take these demons in human form and keep the balance between evil and good.  One danger would be the fact that one bite might be enough to make you like them.”

 

“And a bite form you is safe?”  Nikita muttered.

 

“Actually, we require a more elaborate blood exchange to bring a mortal across, but that is not what I am here to discuss.”  The danger flowed through her again; her eyes went green-gold.  Damn.

 

“The third type of vampire is a bit more complicated.  They have an elaborate political behavioral system based on bloodline, or clans.  There are twelve clans and two major opposing political systems. ” She gestured to the information computer pads.  “The clan info and details on most of what I will tell you are there.”

 

“The Camarilla are the vampires that wish to blend into mortal society, they have what is called a masquerade. ” Angelique took a deep breath as the faint laughter of madness whispered through her.  ” The Sabbat are the vampires that want to rule society, using mortals mostly as blood sources. They are cruel and they like to flaunt their nature. ” A picture of August popped back up.  “She is one of these.”  Divia’s computer enhanced portrait popped up.  “She is one of us.  We have declared blood hunt on this one, and she is to be eliminated.  If at all possible, they are both to be eliminated.”

 

“Your part of this mission is to retrieve one, possible two hostages. ” Micah’s picture came up.  “This is the priority.  He is an Egyptian art dealer and he also is one of my main Intel sources.”  Jenny’s picture came up on screen. ” This one is a child, important to the relations of our community in Toronto.”

 

“A mortal Intel source and a child?”  Birkhoff blurted out.

 

“No, he is immortal.  She is the daughter of a mortal partnered with one of our communities more powerful vampires.”

 

“Vampire?”  Michael asked gesturing to Micah’s picture.  Angelique could almost hear the gears in his head grinding as he processed the Intel she was giving out.

 

“No, just immortal.  The details are there. ” She pointed to the slim black computer pads in front of each of them.  ” You will need special equipment, and I am to meet with your weapons specialist.”

 

Madeline stood.  “Nikita, take her to meet Walter.  I can finish up here.”

 

“Sure.”  Nikita stood and scooped up her pad.  “Follow me.”

 

Angelique slipped on her sunglasses, nodded to Madeline, and followed the lanky blonde.

 

 

Team Assembly

by Sukh

September 7

Section

2:00 am

 

“Hey Walter,” Nikita showed Angelique to the worktable, where an older, pony-tailed man was looking through a magnifying glass at an intricate electrical setup.

 

“Hiya Sugar,” The man turned to Nikita and stopped.  “I see you brought Ole Walter his dream gal.”  He smiled the natural flirt in his nature shining through.

 

“Not quite. ” Nikita couldn’t help smiling.  “This is Angelique.  She is using us as a liaison.”

 

Walter’s bright smile faltered for a moment, then he regained his mock leer.  “The enforcer Ops.  Should I be flattered or afraid?”

 

Angelique smiled, charmed in spite of herself.  “Flattered would be preferable.  I get tired of everyone being afraid.”

 

Nikita smiled at Walter’s laugh.  ‘She had Operations shaking in his shoes.”

 

“I’d pay to see that.”  Walter leaned against the bench.  So, Brown Sugar, what does the Enforcers need wit me?”

 

“I need some specialized equipment, built for detecting vampire body temperature. ”

 

“Sounds like a real challenge.”  Walter smiled and nodded.  ‘Any specifics?”

 

“Yes, you will be changing locations.  I will provide an assistant and a new workshop.”

 

“Changing location?”  Walter looked unsure.  “That’s unusual.”

 

“I don’t want Section to have access to my equipment.  I could prove a disaster to my kind.”

 

Smart girl.” Walter agreed.  Then he stood.  “I’m in then.  I sure do hope all your friends are as pretty as you are.”

 

Angelique slipped on her sunglasses and smiled.  “You won’t be disappointed, my mortal friend.”

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

 

 

“Oh come on!” Birkhoff cried as he heard the new mission plan.  “I can do the comm work from the section.”

 

“No.”  Angelique insisted as she walked into Michael’s office.  “I will not have Section monitoring my transmissions.”

 

Operations glared at Angelique. She glared back.  “Birkhoff is very valuable to Section.  I need him here.”

 

“No.”  She said again, and she moved closer to Operations.  “I need his to train my techs.”

 

“I have others that can do the job just as well.”

 

“I think Birkhoff needs to go.”  Michael spoke up.  “He knows our operatives the best and he can familiarize the enforcers techs wit hour equipment the fastest.”

 

“It’s not safe.”

 

“Are you implying that my people will try to harm him?”  Angelique growled.  Operations looked at her and swallowed.  “I assure you Birkhoff, you’re re safer there than here in this Viper’s nest.”

 

No one caught Michael’s small smile at the apt analogy.

 

“We can sedate you.”  Angelique gave Birkhoff a choice.  “Or you can go of your own volition.”

 

“I’ll go.” He sighed.

 

“Good.”  She turned to the silent Michael.  “Please have the team assembled in one hour.”

 

He nodded and Angelique turned to leave. She paused at the door.  “We need to be in place by sunup.”

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

 

“Walter.” Angelique approached the workbench, Michael trailing close behind.

 

“Hiya Brown Sugar.  What can I do you for?”  He turned and winked.

 

“I need a tracking device on me for Michael and his team to follow.”

 

“Sure.  Take off your boot.”

 

“Something Section can’t trace.”  Angelique handed Walter her knee boot.  He popped off the clunky heel and slipped something inside.  He handed Michael a slim monitor and glued the heel back to Angelique’s boot.

 

“Nikita used this once and it worked real well. ” He tested the strength of the glued heel and held it up.  “The tracker is activated by banging the heel.”  He nodded to Michael.  “Remember?”

 

“Yes, It saved Nikita’s life.”  Michael slipped the tracker in to the band of his snug pants.

 

“You’ll need it to find the base I’m using.  I need to leave soon to beat sunrise, but the staff will be expecting you.”  She sat, and held out one long, leather encased leg.  “Now about my Boot?”

 

Walter smiled as he slipped the boot on and replaced it.  “Anytime Brown Sugar.”

 

 

When she arrived to find Kendra dead in the Chateau and a Slayer/Vampire standoff —  She hit her boot against the couch leg and wadded into the fray.

 

 

Home Away from Home

By Maccousin

September 7

Chateau

2:00 am

 

Elton pulled up to the front door and the motor purred gently and then became silent.  He held open the door.  Natalie, the Rays and Joe walked out toward the door.

 

Willow and Maccousin watched them and then looked at the stairs leading to the door.  They both closed their eyes.

 

“Those stairs look…” Willow paused.  “Really high.”

 

“I don’t think I can make it,” Maccousin slumped in her seat.  “Besides, I’ve always wanted to sleep in a limo.”  She pulled an arm over her head and yawned.

 

“Yes, it is very cushy,” agreed Willow, her eyelids became droopy.

 

Ciarán looked at Benton and rolled his eyes.  Benton stepped out of the limo and pulled out Willow.

 

Ciarán sighed and picked up the Maccousin.  When he turned saw noticed a familiar looking vehicle parked next to another limousine.

 

“Màire, you radge.” he muttered.

~~~~

 

(Inside the Chateau)

 

“I’ve never been carried by a Mountie before,” Willow grinned and waved at Oz as Benton walked by and began heading toward the staircase.  “This is really cool.”  Oz shook his head and smiled, following them to get Willow tucked in.

 

“There she is,” beamed Gilchrist, pausing in his harassment of Sukh for his two dollars.  Duncan wandered back into the entryway holding a drink in his hand, still clad in just the bumblebee-colored kilt.

 

Natalie looked in his direction and a small wrinkle crossed her forehead – a small chortle escaped her lips, when Duncan turned to

glare in her direction.

 

The Maccousin had one arm wrapped around Ciarán’s neck as he carried her into the Chateau, and was singing an odd little ditty.  “Pursued by a woman whose name is Pearl; an evil gal who wants to rule the world.  She threw a few things in her purse…” she paused and stared at Ciarán for a second.  “Sweetie, how does the rest of that gooo?” she slurred.

 

Gilchrist chortled.  “Want me to take her up?” he asked the burdened gentleman.

 

“No!” slurred Maccousin.  “G’christ’ll take me up.  Won’t ya?”  She beamed at Ciarán blankly and then continued her raucous rendition.

 

“Please, no more singing,” grumbled Ciarán as he glowered at a smirking LaCroix.

 

Màire walked in to the entryway, curious at all the noise.  She shook her head and smiled at the ‘relaxed’ women.

 

“I’ll be a-wanting words with you later,” Ciarán growled over his shoulder at Maire.  He headed for the staircase.

 

Duncan sniffed the air noisily.  “My, you are a tad ripe,” he commented.  Methos caught her eye and raised an eyebrow.  Màire shrugged.

~~~~

(Elsewhere inside the chateau)

 

Steve was lost when he heard a strangely familiar wail drift through the chateau.  It actually gave him goose pimples to hear it.  Despite his abilities he was lost in an unfamiliar place and was feeling his way along the walls (instead of using his vampiric abilities – this we might expect from a vampire who is convinced he can’t fly).

 

“Owwww,” he cried as he hit a doorknob, not realizing what it was.

 

“Shit! That’s my fretting hand!” Steve bellowed as he touched a splinter from the door.

 

He reached out along the floor and then jumped back up.  “Uh oh…moving!” he tried to run to the other side of wherever he was and ended up tripping on his own feet.  “TRAPPER!!!!!”  He called out.

~~~~

 

(Upstairs)

 

Benton turned at the noise that echoed down the hallway.  He handed over Willow to Oz and turned to go back down the hallway.

 

Willow waved to Oz, with a silly grin.  “Gee, honey.  You’re so strong,” she cooed.

 

Oz grinned back at her.

 

Benton took the Maccousin from Ciarán before anyone else had a chance to do anything.

 

“Whee!” The Maccousin squealed.  “Let’s sing the Lumberjack song!”

 

Curious onlookers began to follow the singing duo upstairs and down the hallway.

 

Màire smiled and shook her head.  “I’m going to get a snack.  Care to partake?”  Her moist lips were an invitation.

 

“Perhaps later.”  LaCroix kissed her forehead and walked into his room.

 

Màire sniffed the air, wondering if she still smelled. She turned away and started to go downstairs.

 

“And where do you think yer going?” Ciarán blocked her path to the stairway.

 

“I’m going to get a drink,” stated Màire, “not that it’s really any of your business.”

 

Ciarán pushed her to the wall, his hands on her shoulders.  “I imagine you’re responsible for my Porsche’s whereaboots?”

 

“Actually I am responsible for that,” said a voice over his right shoulder.

 

Ciarán turned to stare at the Immortal behind him.  “I see, yab,” he said coldly.  He released his grip on Màire.

 

“You should thank us,” said Màire, moving away from the wall toward Methos.  “We saved your car from the fire.”

 

Ciarán laughed.  “Màire you only would help someone if it meant helping yourself.” He watched as the twosome stood next to each other.  “Oh I see where this has gone.  Take my word for it.  She won’t be worth it.  You’re just lucky.  I have a date with a lovely young mortal tonight.”

 

He walked away.

 

 

Enemy Mine, pt2

By RavenKat

September 7

Chateau Monique

2:05 am

 

She had handled many a corpse in her extended lifetime, but never one designated a Slayer.  Kat didn’t know the history, had never heard the legend, but still felt the young girl’s body should be treated with respect.  Concurring, Vachon gently lifted Kendra and carried her from the car.

 

Monique’s manservant had apparently seen his share of bodies, as well. When the two vampires appeared on the doorstep, he ushered them to a bedroom in the back without so much as a second glance. Their surroundings were opulent, dark and secluded, but Kat and Vachon barely noticed.  Laying Kendra’s body out on the beautiful duvet, Kat stood over her and fussed needlessly.

 

“I’d get my hands off of her, if I were you, dead girl,” Buffy growled from the other side of the room.

 

Kat turned and saw the Slayer and her entourage filling the doorway.  Angel reached out and placed a hand on the teenager’s shoulder.

 

“Buffy. She’s dead,” he said softly, intending to stifle her burst of anger.  It only made things worse.

 

“That’s it.  Good vampire or not, you’re going down!”  Buffy grabbed a stake from her ruck sack and advanced on Kat and Vachon.

 

Cordelia stepped up defiantly.  “Excuse me, Slayanator, but Kat is not a vampire.”  Xander raised an unbelieving eyebrow at her.  “A little stuck in the eighties, maybe…” she continued.

 

The redheaded vampire stood up and faced her accuser. She was a full head taller than the Slayer but knew that size wasn’t always important – Buffy had lots of training and righteous indignation on her side. Kat didn’t want to fight but her eyes flashed gold and her teeth grew in response to the threat.  She held her hand out to keep Vachon on his side of the bed. This would be between the two women, if it happened at all.

 

Noticing the distinct eye change, Xander jerked his head in Kat’s direction. “Uh, Cordy?!” he said, indicating her mistake.

 

“Ooops!  My bad,” Cordelia quipped and stepped back into the hallway.

 

Kat moved smoothly away from the bed and spoke to the entire group when she said, “Look at her.”

 

Buffy, disgusted at the suggestion, lunged toward Kat.  The vampire, quicker than the revenants Buffy was used to slaying, knocked the stake to the floor and grabbed the girl by the shoulders. “Look at her!” she almost yelled, and spun Buffy in the direction of her dead companion.

 

Struggling, Buffy finally focused on Kendra.  Her brow creased as she took it all in.

 

“No vampire did this,” Vachon said from the other side of the bed, challenging her to disagree.

 

Buffy shook off Kat’s loosened grip and slowly approached Kendra’s body.  “What happened to her?” she asked quietly.

 

 

The Woods are Full of Shining Eyes

By Trapper

September 7th

The woods

2:10am

 

“Where do you think we’re going?” Schanke asked of no one in particular. They could see Hanna up ahead, striding purposefully through the thickening woods. Paolo was a shambling wraith stumbling along behind her, his mind full of nothing.

 

“Beats me,” Evie shrugged. “I just hope it ends up leading us to Jenny, so you can go be a family again.”

 

“Yeah. It seems like forever since I’ve been with her and Myra. It’ll be nice,” he sighed. “I don’t mind telling you though,” he said, pulling up his collar, “I don’t like these woods. They give me the creeps.”

 

“That’s an understatement, Schanke,” Nick said quietly. “The forest, as damaged as it is, almost seems to be watching us.”

 

The group unconsciously moved a little closer together, as if by their numbers they could ward off the creeping miasma of evil that hovered in the woods.

 

“Nice pick up on the Tennyson, everyone,” Trapper said, trying to lighten the mood. “I had no idea this was such a well-read crowd.”

 

“Actually,” Devin said as he carefully stepped over a fallen tree, “the old boy was a bit of a bore. But he did write well.”

 

“Do you think so?” Monique interjected. “I always felt he was terribly morbid, myself.”

 

Anna smiled. “Ah, but you should have seen him after a few drinks. He could be quite a charmer.”

 

“Really?” Devin raised an eyebrow. “I had no idea you were so close to Alfred, my dear.”

 

“A woman needs a bit of mystery, Devin.” Anna and Monique traded glances and a chuckle.

 

Devin found himself suddenly a bit nervous.

 

Behind the bantering group, just far enough to go unseen, Remy glided along, watching their progress. He wasn’t sure what they were after, but he was determined to use whatever it was to his best advantage.

 

 

Curiosity Killed…Them All?

Devin Saceur

September 7

The Woods

2:15am

 

“Oh Hanna…” Devin moved forward quickly, past the others, toward the shady form of the woman ahead and her puppy that followed. “Might I have a quick word with you?”

 

As he approached, Paolo turned to face him. The expression he wore was one of anger, for he seemed intent on defending his newly-discovered mistress from harm. Stepping forward to meet the oncoming vampire, Paolo extended his arm, almost instinctively.

 

Devin had been paying little attention to Paolo until he felt the tight grasp on his shoulder. Without shifting his gaze from Hanna, who continued to move ahead, he spun past the apparently mindless lackey and snapped a kick into the back of his knee, dropping him to the ground.

 

“Hanna!” Her lack of attention had become more than a little annoying to him. If he was to go along, possibly to his final death…he’d be damned if he wouldn’t know to what hell he and the others were heading. As he closed to within a few feet of her, he shouted “speak to me…now!”

 

She turned, a clear rage boiling over onto her features. “Away from me, Devin!”

 

His first thought was just how comical this seemed. Though he was quite disturbed by the evening’s turn of events, he let out a faint chuckle as he looked down to the pint-sized cauldron of enmity that stood, looking up at him through some infernal gaze. Thinking it strangely proper – not to mention, amusing – to lower himself, as if in supplication to the tiny deluded Goddess, Devin kneeled down to eye level with her.

 

A sardonic smile lit up his face as he splayed his arms out wide. “What are we doing here, Hanna?! To what fate are we foolishly following you?”

 

 

Mourning

by Sukh

September 7

Monique’s Chateau

2:25 am

 

Angelique watched as Kat defused the anger in the young Slayer.  The girl sat next to the body of her comrade and looked back at Kat and Vachon her blue eyes rimmed with unshed tears.  “What did this to her?”

 

“I would like to know that myself.” Angelique let her presence be known, stepping up to the bed after activating her tracker.

 

“We had a bit of a problem at the cemetery.”  Vachon started to explain.  Kat cut him off…”We could have used you in the cemetery, where were you?”

 

“I had Enforcer business to attend to.”  Angelique stood behind the seated Buffy and looked at damage Kendra had sustained.  “Is everyone else safe?”

 

“Well–” Vachon started to explain, everybody turned off by the sound of off-key singing in the hallway.

 

“You left them didn’t you?” Angelique shook her head as the singing stopped in a high pitched giggle.  “I hear the limo has arrived from Denny’s”

 

Kat looked at Angelique then made a small head motion towards the mortal Scooby Gang.  “Perhaps I can explain elsewhere?”

 

“Yes, maybe you can help me check out the new comm center for the mission.  I think perhaps these friends needs some time alone to mourn.”

 

Kat nodded.  “Let’s go.”  She walked by and tugged Vachon behind her by his leather jacket sleeve.  Vachon stumbled then followed the women out of the bedroom, leaving the Scooby Gang to say good-bye to Kendra in privacy.

 

 

Meanwhile back in the Hallway

By Maccousin

September 7

After Home Away From Home

2:30 am

 

“Thanks,” grinned Màire, rubbing her shoulders slightly.  Ciarán’s grip on her had been rather rough.

 

“He’s a charming lad,” said Methos.  “Ex boyfriend?”

 

“Ex-husband,” clarified Màire.  “He came here to fetch me home to safety I suppose, being the poor little culchie I am.  But he got caught up in Enforcer business.  Ciarán’s just cheesed off, because I came here.”  She shrugged.

 

Màire heard activity downstairs and curiosity got the best of her.   “Hmmm,” she grinned.  “I can’t ignore all that noise.  Let’s go check it out.”

 

 

Plug it in, Plug it in

by Sukh

September 7

Chateau

2:35 am

Kat, Vachon and Angelique stopped in the hallway and watched the procession.  One put-off looking Ciarán was carrying what appeared to be a drunken Maccousin up the broad stairs; Willow was being carried by a Mountie, Oz in tow.  Angelique groaned, neither of the teens knew about Kendra.

 

“Oz.”

 

The shaggy-haired teen stopped and looked at Angelique with one raised eyebrow.

“Yeah?” he asked, attentively watching Fraser carry his girl up the stairs.

“We have a bit of a problem.”

“Really?”

“Kendra is dead.”

 

Oz looked startled.  “What?”  He narrowed his eyes at her.  “She wasn’t sucked dry by some hungry vamp was she?”

 

“No, something else killed her.  Can you tell Willow?”

 

“Yeah, does Buffy know?”

 

Angelique nodded and pointed to the room the body was in.  “She is in there with her, as are your friends.”

 

“Thanks.”  He walked into the room.

 

“That was too easy,” Kat grumbled as the rest of the silly patrol straggled through.

 

Màire wandered by, Methos in tow.  Now, what was a hag like her doing with a world class man like Methos?  Angelique smirked and wandered by, looking straight at Màire and making a delicate sniff with her nose.  Then she turned to Algernon.  “I think we need some air freshener.”

 

“That was unkind of you Goddess, ” LaCroix drawled as her descended the stairs.

 

Màire looked like she’d been slapped.

 

“Since when do I care what you think?”  Angelique turned to Kat and Vachon.  “Algernon was kind enough to make a briefing area of sorts, shall we?”

 

LaCroix just gaped as Angelique turned her back on him and wandered off.

 

 

Vampire Tracking Activated

by Sukh

September 7

In  big Black Suburban

2:30 am

 

“I have a signal.”  Michael pulled the cell phone sized tracker from his waistband and flipped the small device open.  He handed it back to Birkhoff and made a left turn.

 

“Wow.”  Walter commented as they passed through the burnt out remains of the Hotel. A long-haired male, and a young Hispanic woman sifted through the rubble.  Michael stopped.  He pulled out another tracker and rolled down the window.

 

“Ricze Vlashmire?”

 

The long-haired man looked up and his eyes narrowed.  “Who are you?”

 

“Angelique sends you a message.”  He tossed the tracker to Ricze.  “Tomorrow night at the latest.”  At Ricze’s nod, he rolled up the window and continued to the source of the signal.

 

Day had just broken when they arrived at the Chateau.

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

 

At Section, Operations smiled at the tall black man sitting across from his desk. ” I believe we could do business, Mr. Tricks.”

 

Tricks smiled. “I knew you would see the big picture.”

 

 

Og and Fang?

By Maccousin

September 7

Chateau

2:30 am

 

Ciarán walked back to his room, catching a glimpse of Màire rubbing her arms.  He opened the door and pulled out his cell phone.  Time to call in the troops.

 

He dialed a number and waited.  The phone was picked up on the second ring.  No one answered.

 

“Og, I mean Jerry,” he corrected himself.  Once a long time ago, Màire had come up with nicknames for his team, rather uncomplimentary ones at that.  Since then he had subconsciously referred to the two rabbit-fanged Enforcers as ‘Og’ and ‘Fang’.

 

“Yes…” the voice hissed back at him.

 

“I need you and Ben to come down here,” he began.  “The August problem has come to a head.”

 

 

Trench Duty

by Kay

September 7

Elysian Fields

2:35 am

 

“What happened?”  Missy stood staring at the hotel, or what was left of it.

 

“Internal explosion of some sort.”  Ricze stepped through the debris, stopping from time to time.

 

“And the others.”

 

“Safe. Angelique has something up her sleeve.”  He continued searching the debris.

 

“What are you looking for?  And why does that horrible sister of yours always get you into this crap?”  Missy stood in the street, hands planted on her hips.  He foot tapped out a nervous tempo as she watched Ricze shift through the material outside the hotel.  “So much for going home,” she muttered to herself.

 

Why did Angelique and this damn Enforcer crap always come between them.  If not for the Enforcers and the Agency, Ricze would be hers.  The two only fueled his paternal instincts.  It was a good thing he’d never been able to reproduce, he’d have driven any biological child insane with his over protectiveness.

 

Missy returned to the borrowed Viper Ricze had secured for the trip around town to help her recover and freshen up.  Sitting on the hood, she twirled a lock of hair about her finger.  How to get Ricze out of New Salem and away from Angelique.  She knew the bitch had slept with him.  She could smell her all over his clothes, in his hair.  Not to mention he was more distant to her advances than normal.  That only happened after a good lay.

 

A black suburban turned onto the street and slowed as it approached the hotel.  Missy’s eyes narrowed.  Ricze watched the vehicle with deadly stillness.  Well, if she wasn’t going to get lucky, at least she could kill along side him.

 

The suburban stopped and the driver side window rolled down.

 

“Ricze Vlashmire?” A dark-haired man with a French accent asked.

 

Ricze looked up and his eyes narrowed.  He walked toward the vehicle.  “Who are you?”

 

“Angelique sends you a message.”  The man tossed a small black device to Ricze.  “Tomorrow night at the latest.”  At Ricze’s nod, he rolled up the window and the suburban pulled away from the hotel.

 

“Who was that, and what has Angelique gotten you involved in.  There were mortals in that car?”  Missy stormed across the ground, stopping in front of Ricze, feet apart, fists planted on hips.  “You always answer when she shrieks.”

 

“Melissa, jealousy is a very ugly outfit on you.”  Ricze turned away from Missy and stepped into the lobby of the hotel.  Nothing outside of interest, but something wasn’t right.  Cash may have blasted the place, but something else was nagging at his conscience.  Things just didn’t fit.

 

“Ricze.”  Missy whined from the street.  When he didn’t answer by the third cry, she came into the lobby.  He glared over his shoulder and she stayed where she was.  Just as well, a computer genius she may have been, but if she broke another nail digging through rubble, he’d go deaf listening to her wail.

 

He moved to the center of the lobby and stood.  Blocking out Missy, he centered himself and sent his senses outward.  Each floor had exploded, the concrete reinforcements preventing the structure from collapsing.  Internal fire systems had calmed the flames, preventing the inside of the hotel from smoldering.  Not much would be salvageable, but at least the structure remained intact.  It was safe to proceed further up.

 

His senses caught an unusual arrangement of concrete, metal, steel and rock.

 

“Did you hear something?” Missy whispered.  Ricze came out of the trance.  Looking up the central stairs, he listened for what Missy had heard.  A soft cry, a moan, a rustling sound.

 

“Follow.  Be careful.”  He started up the stairs, checking to see if Missy was making it past the rubble without much trouble.  The evacuation stairs connecting the floors were intact, making the trip up through the building an easy one.  As they neared the Collinwood suite, Ricze felt a shift in the energy fields swirling past him.

 

“Stay here.”  He thanked the gods that Missy obeyed.  Someone was messing around with magic.

 

He entered the suite, passing through the barrier that had been erected around the rooms.  The inside remained unharmed from the blast that had destroyed the rest of the floor.  In the center of the room, Kay sat, huddled in a ball, rocking side to side and crying softly.  The source of the energy field surrounding the room was coming from her.

 

 

Questus Interruptus

By Trapper

September 7

The Cemetery

2:40am

“Hanna?” Devin continued to kneel in front of the filthy, blood-encrusted apparition. His arms were still outflung and one eyebrow was cocked in wry amusement.

 

With an effort, Hanna stopped before him. She squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her tiny fists, looking like a petulant child who has been told it’s bedtime. “What do you want of me?” she rasped through gritted teeth. Glittering beads of pink sweat were forming on her forehead. It was taking all of her strength to control herself. “I said, away from me, Devin.” Her eyes flew open and fixed on the dapper vampire before her. “I don’t want to hurt you!” she said with a tortured expression.

 

“Then don’t, Hanna.” Devin rose and took one of her little fists in his hand. “Just tell us where we’re going. Where are you leading us?”

 

Hanna looked around wildly, her matted hair falling in her eyes. “I…Jenny…” She rubbed her forehead with her free hand, leaving grimy red trails across her face. “I…” She wrenched her hand back, pulling Devin off-balance. “Leave me alone!” she screamed through her raw throat as she spun away from him into the deeper woods.

 

They all began to run after her, trying to keep her in their line of vision through the thickening forest. Then, suddenly, in a flash of moonlight, she vanished.

 

Devin stopped so suddenly that Schanke plowed into him at full speed, taking them both to the ground.

 

“What happened?” Schanke said, through a mouthful of brocade coat.

 

“For starters, you’re on top of me.” Devin was mumbling into the ground.

 

Nick and Trapper pulled Schanke to his feet, and Monique and Anna did the same for Devin. Evie stood back, keeping a baleful eye on Paolo, who had crumpled to the grass with Hanna’s disappearance.

 

“Gone…” he muttered. “The goddess is gone.”

 

“What’s with him?” Schanke said as he brushed himself off.

 

“I think his life support’s been turned off,” Evie said sarcastically.

 

“More like his sanity,” Trapper said, waving an arm in front of Paolo’s staring eyes.

 

“Not like he had a lot before Hanna bound him,” Nick added.

 

“So what do we do with him?” Schanke looked around. “And what happened to Hanna?”

 

“I think we should just kill him and be done with it,” Evie growled.

 

“Ah don’ t’ink dat’s a good idea, cher,” Remy drawled as he sauntered up to them. He pulled up Paolo’s head by a hank of hair and stared into the unblinking eyes. “He be bound, so he’s no threat.” He dropped the vampire’s head and wiped his hand on his slacks. “I t’ink we should take dis one back to d’ chateau. The tite chat can track ‘im through d’er bond.” He turned to face the rest of the suspicious group. “Ah don’ know ‘bout you, but ah don’ want dat one mad at me, mais non!”

 

“I hate to say that Remy’s right,” Devin began.

 

Nick nodded. “But this time, he is.”

 

Evie pulled her backpack open. “Fine, but we’re tying him up and he rides in the trunk.”

 

“Allow me,” Nick said, whipping his handcuffs out of his pocket.

 

Schanke did the same, and soon Paolo was cuffed, hand and foot.

 

“Let’s get him back to the car and head out to the chateau,” Nick said, turning back toward the cemetery.

 

“Oui,” Monique said, scanning the sky. “The dawn is only a few hours away. I can smell it.”

 

They trudged off toward the Caddie, no closer to finding Jenny, but with something that might lead Hanna back to them. It was their only chance of finding Schanke’s daughter.

 

 

After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

By Maccousin

September 7

Château

2:45 am

Màire stared at Angelique.  The shock on her face apparent.  She turned to stare at LaCroix who appeared to be even more appalled than she was.

 

Wordlessly, she walked toward the door.

~~~~

 

The lone figure stood outside the walled garden.  It was still dark.  The figure’s eyes flashed red momentarily.

 

“No one says I stink!” griped the figure to the world.  “How far did she live from the river.  Much further than I did!  If I ever hear ‘dirty or stinky Irish’ again, I’ll…”

 

Màire snorted angrily, thinking of Angelique’s haughty smirk.  Well she’d be sorry soon enough.  A wicked grin spread across Màire’s face, and then sadness overcame it.  She had been having so much fun she’d nearly forgotten why she’d shown up in New Salem.

 

An Irish curse on August was about to come from her lips when she decided to say nothing of it.  August would get hers soon enough.  Then Màire could have revenge for the poisoning, the pain and most of all the humiliation.

 

Enough of those unpleasant thoughts; Màire got down on her hands and knees and began to sort through the plants growing through the garden.  Sive’s voice echoed through her mind.  Hard to believe that was over 1,400 years ago.  She hoped the memories could guide her.

 

Màire paused and tried to remember those long-gone lessons.

~~~~

(Beal Atha an Fheada, Ireland 561 AD)

 

The Druid’s worn hands selected the plants carefully, much more carefully than her niece did.  The healer pushed back a strand of gray hair and smiled at Màire.

 

“You need to select carefully.  You have intuition.  Feel the plant’s force on your fingers.  Let your body tell you what to pick, hoping her niece’s so-called Christian relatives would leave her alone this afternoon.

 

Màire shrugged and sighed, closing her eyes.  She lay down next to the plants and slid the leaves across her face.  She felt a tingling

sensation and began to dig up the roots.

 

“Well done,” Sive nodded, green eyes sparkling.

 

Màire continued happily picking until cold brushed against her hands.  She shivered and moved away from the plant.

 

“Deadly Nightshade,” nodded her aunt.  “You can tell with the black stems and green berries.  Some have strong reactions to it.  In a proper form it can be useful.  If it bothers you don’t pick it.

 

“Don’t worry I won’t,” Màire assured her and moved on to a patch of geraniums.  The smell of the oil lacing the plants was invigorating and intoxicating.  The flowers had no real health benefits; they just smelt good.

 

Màire stared momentarily at the mistletoe, lining the graceful oaks in the grove, wondering if they could be used for anything.

 

Sive laughed.  “Sacred Mistletoe is never to be used.  It makes us dizzy and weak anyway.”  She pointed out foxglove.  “Beware of that as well.  Now let me show you these.”

~~~~

 

Màire jerked back into reality with the cawing of a bird.  She opened the first bag and found the deadly nightshade once again.  She selected nearly four dozen green berries.  She looked at the fallen acorns from the Black Oak and placed them in a bag, the Chokecherries were placed in another bag.

 

She stopped to study the Rhubarbs and gathered plenty of the leaves.  Màire paused to look at a plant she had not seen in years.  The Piper shrubs had taken to the environment well.  She smiled as she began digging up the roots the natives had called Kava-Kava.

 

“Lose something?”

 

Màire had been so lost in thought she had not heard him come up behind her.  Methos leaned over her shoulder.

 

“Damn, you scared me,” she murmured.

 

Methos snickered.  “That’s a rather odd statement for a vampire to make.”  He became serious.  “Are you all right?”

 

“Yeah I’m fine,” she turned back to her work.

 

“Now do tell me what does all of this do?”

 

Màire gathered all the bags into her arms with a small grin.  “That is a secret, I’ve been sworn not to tell.”  She stood and dusted off her knees.

 

The Immortal took a bag from her hands.  “Deadly nightshade?  That’s not for my drink later, I hope.”  He leaned closer to her.

 

“Deadly nightshade is a misnomer.”

 

“Oooooo…Kava Kava root.  Now that I hope you’ll mix into my beer later.”

 

Màire snatched the bag away from him, smirking.  “Now did I say it was for you?”

 

Strong warm arms wrapped around her.  “Would you be surprised if I said I wouldn’t need it?” he whispered into her ear.

 

She leaned into his arms.  “Actually these herbs are going to be used in a bath,” she stated.  It was a half-truth.  The juices from the

berries and leaves could be mixed into herbal oil.  The same wicked smile crossed her face.

 

“Another bath?  Why do you even care?  You”

 

Màire sighed.  “I’ve been called dirty and stinky many times.  It hurts no matter who says it.”  She smiled.  “I guess I’m hypersensitive on that.  Although I’m not as bad as some, the last time someone referred to Ciarán as a stinky Scot, he tore that man’s right arm.”  She dusted off the black silk of her dress.  “Later, rún.”

 

Methos watched as she practically flew back to the chateau.

 

“Never a dull moment with that one,” he chuckled to himself.

~~~~

(45 minutes later)

 

Màire walked up to the masseuse and switched out the vials of oil.  While Angelique was gone getting her massage, the leftover portion of poison could be placed in the bottle of bloodwine in her room.

 

Màire watched as the bottle of oil left and turned on her heel.  Soon, Angelique would have the surprise of her unlife.

 

She pulled a strand of her hair and sniffed it.  Maybe her hair was keeping the smell.  She then sniffed her arms carefully.  She sighed wondering if Monique kept tomato juice and ginger around.

~~~~

 

Three cups of ginger had been poured into the tub.  Ginger was great for drawing out poison and toxins, Màire hoped it would work as well on the stink.  Two empty cans of tomato juice lay in the garbage can.  She had rinsed her hair with it earlier.

 

The ginger made the hot water even warmer.  She heard a knock on the door to the bedroom and sighed.

 

“Come in,” she yelled.  The front door opened and closed.  Her sapphire colored eyes closed, allowing her other senses to come to the forefront.  A small smile slid over her features and she called back to her guest.

 

“Give me a few minutes,” she reached for a black silk bathrobe.  She wrapped her wet hair in a towel.  She heard the sound of glasses clinking and then liquid sliding into the glass.  She wiped the ginger sticking to her skin and walked out of the bathroom, shyly.

 

Filling in the Blanks

By RavenKat

September 7

Chateau

2:55 am

 

Kat winced and eased away from the elder vampire.  If Angelique was offended by a whiff of garbage, surely the stench surrounding Kat and Vachon would make her sick.  The mixture of burned corpse and ruptured supernatural being would bring tears to even the unbreathing.

 

“Tree creatures,” said Angelique flatly, resuming their conversation.  Her pace slowed as she scanned the wood paneling lining this side of the hall.

 

“Demons,” Kat improvised, “I think.”  She looked to Vachon for support. When he merely smiled in response, Kat glared at him.

 

“Relax,” the Egyptian said, now running her hand along the wall.  “I don’t disbelieve you, I’m simply trying to make sense of it.”

 

Reassured, Kat continued their tale of adventure in the cemetery.  She fought the feeling that she was a soldier reporting to a superior.  Kat began to appreciate why this woman would make an effective Enforcer.

 

They were almost to the main staircase when Angelique noticed a crease in the paneling.  “Stand back,” she warned, then pushed on the panel nearest the crease. The wood came back into place and silently, a door sized pieced of wall opened under the stairs.

 

“Very good,” she commented to herself. “Just where he said it would be.”  She turned to Kat and Vachon, her cape flowing with each movement, and waved her arm toward the hidden room.  “After you.”

 

The room was large – bigger than one would expect to find hidden beneath a grand staircase in a chalet.  Angelique nodded in approval as she inspected the makeshift comm center.  Although there wasn’t much in terms of electronics, there was the capacity for more. Next to two decked out personal computers and a multi-line phone were several jacks and some crates waiting to be unpacked.  Boxes with files and floppy disks were lined up on the desk in the corner.

 

Larry stepped in, flipped on the lights and addressed Angelique. “I hope this is up to your satisfaction.  Your coworkers will be bringing more when they come.”  He purposely avoided looking at the two bedraggled vampires; He would speak to them momentarily.

 

“Yes, thank you,” said Angelique.  “Can you let me know when they arrive?”

 

“Certainly.  Let me show you to your room,” he said graciously.

 

When Vachon cleared his throat in an attempt to get Larry’s attention, the manservant answered brusquely, “There is an extra room off the main dining area,” then led Angelique into the hall.

 

“Okay…” Vachon said dryly, “looks like we’re relegated to the kitchen.”

 

Kat continued to snoop into boxes as Vachon came up beside her. “Man, I thought I was on top of this cyber stuff, but…  I’ve never seen this before have you?”  She held up an impossibly small laptop with no visible means of operation.

 

“No, but that isn’t saying much,” he said, taking the futuristic object and putting it back in its box.  “We don’t have much time. Are we heading back to the cemetery or are we trusting Nick and company to take care of themselves?”

 

 

Something Not So Wicked This Way Comes

by Kay

September 7

Elysian Fields

3:00 am

 

“Kay?”  Ricze approached the girl slowly, speaking softly.  She looked up, her blue eyes glazed over and shinning.  A gold and green pendant hung around her neck, glowing and pulsating with the energy fields in the room.

 

“Ricze?”  She sat up on her knees, cocking her head to one side.  “RICZE,” she shrieked, coming to her feet and sailing across the room.  She landed in his arms with a thud, squealing with delight.

 

He sat her on her feet and studied the amulet around her neck.  He reached out with his left hand, but something made him stop.

 

“Where’d that come from?”

 

“The necklace?”  Kay lifted the stone from her breast and cupped it in her palm.  “I found it the day I got that stupid book.”

 

“What happened in here?”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“The rest of the hotel exploded, why didn’t your room?”

 

“I didn’t do it,” she wailed.  “I swear I had nothing to do with the hotel exploding.  It just.  I can’t find Sukh.  I looked, they’re all gone.”  She slumped to the ground, the sobs starting all over again.

 

“Cash blew-up the hotel.  You didn’t cause the explosion.”  He knelt beside her, tilting her head up.  “What were you doing when the explosion happened?”

 

“Here.  Everyone else went to help Jenny Calendar.  I thought I could find something to help save Micah from that devil Divia.  I heard the blast and *poof* this thing starts glowing.”

 

“Melissa,” Ricze shouted.  He pulled Kay up to her feet.  “We need to get Kay back with the others.  Come on.”  He led both women back through the hotel and out to the Viper.  After some complaining and shoving, he got both in the small car and headed out of town.  Ignoring the speed limit and navigating by sense, they soon caught sight of the black suburban.  As day began to break the sky, the pulled up outside a small chateau.

 

 

Beggars can’t

By RavenKat

September 7

Le Chateau

3:00 am

 

“I’d be able to tell if they were in trouble, wouldn’t I?” she asked him hopefully.

 

Letting Kat precede him into the hall, Vachon said, “Knight maybe, but you yourself said that this place messes with your radar.”

 

They paused beside the stairs as Kat considered her options. Sr. Vachon was deferring the decision to her and she was grateful that he gently played the Devil’s advocate – frustrated but grateful.

 

“They said they’d meet us here,” she stated definitively, although she didn’t feel it. Vachon waited in silence, sensing her hesitation.  After another minute of consideration, Kat tugged on the younger vampire’s leather and forced a smile. “Let’s go check out our digs.”

 

Sauntering toward what he assumed was the dining area, Javier snuck in, “Knight would feel better knowing you were safe, anyway.”

 

Kat smiled for real this time. “Oh, HE would, would he?” she laughed and caught up to him.

 

The dining room was large and unused.  Sheets draped over a banquet-length table and accompanying high back chairs. Kat figured this room would be well oiled and sparkling by the time any mortal saw fit to feast.  Portraits lined the walls; Although they spanned eras, they were all of one woman.

 

“Ughhh,” Kat shivered, “someone has some issues.”

 

 

Lost in Her Mind?

By Maccousin

September 7

Chateau

3:15 am

 

A light rain misted over the chateau like a dusting of sugar.  However it was still loud enough to wake Maccousin and her bladder.

 

“Rgrhgh,” growled the Maccousin, sliding out of her bed.  She hightailed it down the hallway for the bathroom, forgetting that there was shared bathroom in between her room and Sukh’s.

 

Unfortunately for the Maccousin, the door to the room shut behind her.

 

Maccousin sighed as she walked out of the bathroom, relieved.  Then a new worry clouded her already foggy mind.

 

“Where’s my room?” she asked piteously in a half cry.

 

The doors to the rooms closed into the hallway.  Maccousin couldn’t tell where the door ended and the wall began.

 

“A little help?” she asked the walls.  “I’m Lost!!!  Help!!!!” she called into the hallway.

 

Michael heard her lament and walked to her side.  “What’s the problem,” he asked the teary-eyed Maccousin.  LaCroix walked into the hallway and saw his addict wandering aimlessly.

 

“I can’t find my room!” she wailed.

 

Michael sighed.  “Who are in the rooms next to you?”

 

“Gilchrist and Sukh,” Maccousin sniffed.

 

Michael sighed and rolled his green eyes.  “It’s two doors down to the left.”

 

“Which way is left?”

 

“How did you get into my harem?” grumbled Michael, walking Maccousin to her room.

 

Nunkies came up behind them.  “I adore my addicts idiosyncrasies,” he stated.

 

Maccousin beamed at LaCroix.

 

Michael stared at LaCroix for a moment.  “I suppose she can stay in the harem then.”  He opened the door for Maccousin and she walked into her room.

 

LaCroix looked at his shaky addict.  “Maccousin, why did you leave your room?” he asked.

 

“I had to use the facilities,” stated Maccousin, hearing the sounds of splashing and laughter from the direction of Sukh’s room.

 

“Well there are facilities right here,” LaCroix pointed out the door to the bathroom.

 

Maccousin sighed and rubbed her forehead.

 

Michael shook his head and began to walk out.  “I’d suggest you get some rest,” he told Maccousin.  “We need everyone’s help tomorrow.”

 

“Yes I have a cunning plan,” began Maccousin.  Michael and LaCroix exchanged glances.  “I’ll tell everyone about it in the morning or whenever.”

 

The black-clad operative left her room and LaCroix followed him out.  He walked back into Angelique’s room.

 

“Yes,” repeated the Maccousin.  “A cunning plan.”  She giggled and slid under the covers, trying to not hear the sounds of splashing water and Sukh and Duncan’s laughter.

 

“I wonder if Immortals get pruney?” Maccousin asked herself.  She didn’t have time to think about that plan.  She was snoring happily a few seconds later.

 

 

Revenge is the Best Revenge

By Maccousin

September 7

The Chateau

3:20 am

 

Màire walked out of the bathroom and paused, feeling slightly embarrassed at appearing in a robe and turban.  She crossed her arms

  1. The scents of blood and wine slid across the room.  She was hungry.

 

“You’re certainly full of surprises,” she said, taking a sip of her drink.  She sat down and crossed her legs and motioned for her guest to sit.

 

“Well you did say we would meet for drinks,” Methos took the chair across from her.  He raised his glass.  “Cheers.”

 

A smile played across Màire’s lips.  The glasses clinked together.  “Cheers.”  She gulped down the bloodwine and sighed softly.  She looked away, somewhat sadly.

 

“Whatever happened to the good-time party girl?” asked Methos, taking a big sip of the black stuff.  “And why is she so concerned with some other woman’s thoughts and words.”

 

“She…” Màire paused, staring at her feet.  “Gets tired of being used as a tool.  LaCroix and the princess fight, he ends up in my bed and then leapfrogs back into hers.”  She gulped down the rest of the wine and poured another glass.

 

“Any particular reason why you let him do this to you?”

 

Màire brought up her knees to her chin in the chair.  “Sometimes, because it feels good to take her down a notch,” she said softly with a small smile.  “And she’s called me stinky for the last time.”  She was about to tell him her plans when a ruckus interrupted her.

 

“Oooo, more mayhem,” Màire sighed as Methos opened the door.  The two poked their heads into the hallway.  Angelique was pushing LaCroix into the hallway.

 

“You arrogant Roman Ass, get out of my room!” She yelled as she flung open the door.

 

“Angelique–”

 

She shoved him into the hall.  “You want sex, go find that Irish slut of yours.”

 

LaCroix turned and glared at the busybodies in the hallway.

 

Màire turned away from LaCroix and walked into her room.  Methos closed the door and walked to her side.  Màire stared at the window, silently fuming.

 

He gently rubbed her shoulders.  “Imagine that, a free floor show with the room,” he said.  The turban slid away and her thick hair slid across his fingers; smelling of tomatoes.  A few seconds later he heard a chuckle.

 

“Would you like to hear my cunning plan?” she asked.  Now facing him with her wicked smile.

 

“Only if I’m not implicated.”

 

She said nothing, but continued smiling.

~~~~

(The library)

 

“Are you sure Monique would have the supplies I need here?” she asked Methos.

 

“I’m nearly positive,” he replied, beginning to open desk drawers.  He found some engraved paper and passed it to Màire, along with a black pen.

 

Màire took the pen and some paper, trying to think of what to write.

 

She began to write, ‘Gift Certificate entitles you to a free massage.’  She added the number for the downstairs extension and stared at the flowing script.  She realized that Angelique probably had seen her handwriting on many occasions.

~~~~

(Outside the library)

 

Giles walked to the library, hoping to find a book to console himself with.  He wondered if he would get any sleep.  He turned the knob.

~~~~

 

“Crap, it’s Giles,” whispered Màire, sniffing the air, recognizing his scent.  “If he knows what I’m doing he’ll tell Angelique.”  She stood up and pushed Methos onto the library table over the notes, her lips locking with his.”

 

Giles walked in and blushed.  “Dreadfully sorry,” he said, practically running out of the library.

 

The kiss lasted longer than Màire thought it would, his arms wrapped around her.  She pulled back, with regret.

 

“Where do you think you’re going?” Methos asked.

 

She smirked and took his right hand, and brought it to her lips.  She kissed a finger playfully and then slid her tongue down his wrist into his palm.  Her eyes became amber and she traced her fangs against his palm.  She heard an intake of air.  “Methos?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I bet you have beautiful handwriting…”

~~~~

 

Màire slid the gift certificate under Angelique’s door and walked into her room.  She smiled as he took her in his arms again.

 

 

This Room’s Taken

by Sukh

September 7

Chateau

3:20 am

“What are you doing here?”  Angelique turned from her windows.  Her face was a tight mask of rage.

“I am sleeping of course.” LaCroix started to unbutton his black silk shirt.  It was torn in a few spots and had dust from the hotel streaking it.  “I abhor being this filthy.” He commented as he moved towards the bathroom.

 

“Why do you think you are staying here?”  Cleo was twining around Angelique’s legs growling softly.

 

“Mea Amortea, we always are together.”  His tone suggested she was a small child needing an explanation.

 

“Not anymore.” She moved closer, her mouth thin with anger.

 

“Are we still on this tiresome subject?”  He sighed.

 

“How dare you!” She slapped him, snapping his head back.

 

He stood for a moment, stunned into silence, a dark shadow of her hand marring his pale face.  “You will pay for that.”  He whispered between narrowed lips, his eyes gold-green.

 

“You deserve that.” Angelique’s eyes reflected the same green-gold as his eyes.  “I’m tired of your mind games.  I’m tired of your arrogance, and I’m tired of seeing you with Màire.”

 

“I am tired of you throwing yourself at every man that crosses your path.”  He growled as he straightened to tower over Angelique.  “For thousands of years I have been made to fawn at your feet, begging for any scrap of your attention.”

 

“I have watched you mistreat and bully those closest to you.  Look what you’ve done to Nicholas.”

 

He cocked an eyebrow.  “Do go on.”

 

“You’ve pushed him, you’ve threatened him, you’ve played cruel tricks on him, for what?”

 

“Nicholas has what was coming to him for throwing back the gift I gave him of this life.”

 

“Please, spare me the outraged Father bit.”  Angelique snarled.  “You couldn’t stand to be alone, to think about what you did to Divia.  Nicholas was a diversion, the son, the companion, that she would have been, had you not killed her in that tomb long ago.”

 

His eyes narrowed, and then he lunged at Angelique his rage past words.  Cleo met his lunge and they rolled on the floor for a moment snarling and tearing at each other.  Then he shoved Cleo into the wall, stunning the ebony cat.  He stood and stalked to Angelique, grabbing her by the hair and holding her against him.

 

“Do you think I liked watching that tape?” He yanked her hair as she tried to turn from him.  “Do you think I liked having that entire room know what a sick child I produced?  Do you think I enjoyed watching her do those depraved things to Micah and hear her call my name?”

 

“I–”

 

“Angelique, I know what it did to you to watch that tape.”  His tone was void of anger.  “You love your brother more than anything, even that wretched Cleo.”   He pulled his hand out of her hair and stroked her face.  “When I am with you I remember where I came from.  I can fall into your arms and forget about Divia, about the endless nights of being alone, of her looks, her touches, of thinking that I should have given in and done what she asked.”

 

“Lucien, as depraved as you can be, that would have destroyed you.”  The anger drained out of her at the pain in his rich voice.

 

“Like my forcing Nicholas to do my bidding turned him into what he is?”  His eyes were clear blue again, ancient and troubled.

 

“Nicholas was always too much the Catholic not to feel guilt.”  Her lips curved into a small smile.

 

“True.”  His lips brushed over hers, then he moved away from her.  “If you wish, I can take another room.”

 

“I need to be alone this day, I need to start figuring out how to rescue Micah.”  She closed her eyes.  “His pain echoes through me, and I have to get him soon or he will be nothing more than an Immortal vegetable.”

 

“I should have done as Divia had bidden me.”

 

“Never, My Lucien.” She put her arm around him.  “Never give in to become a total beast.”

 

“An elegant monster is much preferable?”  His laugh was harsh.

 

“No being free is better than being the slave of someone else’s needs.”  She turned and looked out the window at the filling moon.   “The full moon is soon, after then, we can go after him.”

 

“Until then?”  LaCroix slipped up behind her.

 

“I am subject to the whims of Set, until Jenny Calendar can release me.”

 

LaCroix kissed the top of her head.  “Then I will leave you to your thoughts.”  He brushed his knuckles over her cheek.  “If you need anything Dark Goddess–”

 

“I can’t drag you into Set’s clutches.”

 

“Goodnight then.”  He stopped and smiled.  “Would you like the honor?”

 

She turned and frowned.  “Of?”

 

“Throwing me out.  I do know how you like a show.”

 

“All right.”  She motioned to the door.  He stood and waited until she was right next to him and nodded.

 

“You arrogant Roman Ass, get out of my room!” She yelled as she flung open the door.

 

“Angelique–”

 

She shoved him into the hall.  “You want sex, go find that Irish slut of yours,” she growled, then winked at him as she slammed the door.  He stood, dusted off and ambled down the hall, oblivious to the open doors and gaping faces watching him walk off.

 

 

Nine and a Half Minutes

By RavenKat

September 7

Le Chalet

3:30 am

 

“Elegant dark-haired lady on a horse. Dark-haired lady by a window. Pre-Raphaelite dark-haired lady…” she listed, describing each portrait as they passed. Finally reaching the end of the formal dining room, Kat added, “Dark-haired lady in hieroglyph.”

 

With that last description Vachon turned to look, then realized she was joking. “Lady in cave art,” he said, joining in. Kat laughed aloud. Running her hands through her short and dirty hair, she groaned, “Yeah. I’m tired.”

 

Javier wrapped his arm around her shoulders and led her toward the doorway in the corner. “Our pantry awaits,” he announced, maneuvering her down the narrow hallway. Just before the throughway turned into the kitchen proper, an open door on the right revealed a small chamber.

 

“Comfy,” Kat commented sarcastically, referring to the freestanding sink and single bed. Staring, unimpressed at their accommodations, Vachon asked, “Kitchen?”

 

Leaning her head on his shoulder, she answered quickly, “That’ll work.”

 

Arm in arm they made their way to the back of the chalet. They entered the kitchen and stopped. Squinting against all the chrome and stainless steel surfaces, Kat tried not to be overwhelmed; A kitchen this enormous could easily service a mid-sized restaurant. They took a tentative step forward.

 

“Ahhhh,” she sighed loudly, disengaging herself from Vachon and heading toward the sink. She immediately began to disrobe, asking Vachon to look for dish towels. His eyebrows went up, he blinked then began to open cupboards.  By the time he came upon linen table cloths, Kat had turned the water on full blast and was climbing over the edge.

 

It was a double-sink, big enough to hold a large pot, but not enough to hold a tall vampire.  She wriggled around and ended up with her rear in one sink and her feet in the other.  An alternate faucet was a shower type nozzle, suspended from the ceiling on a springy hose. She yanked on it and doused herself, spraying hot water several feet in every direction.

 

Vachon dropped the linens on the butcher block table and deftly maneuvered around the impromptu shower. Hanging his leather on the back of a chair, he grabbed a couple of wine glasses off the nearest dish rack. He paused, in awe of the redhead in the sink; She was unbelievable.

 

“You’re next, you know,” she called from beneath the spray.

 

“I’ll wait until we get a real bathroom, thanks,” he replied, pulling the first of many refrigerator doors in search of dinner.

 

“What?!” she asked loudly.  Kat had lathered herself up with some dish soap and was presently scrubbing her face with a sponge.  When Javier didn’t repeat himself, she looked up at him and instantly flinched.

 

“Damn!” she spat, fumbling for the nozzle. “I’ve got soap in my eyes…ow!”  Turning her head away, one hand went out, blindly grasping for something, anything, to wipe her face with.

 

Vachon put the glasses down and rushed to her with a linen napkin.  “Here,” he said, placing it in her outstretched hand.

 

Kat’s fingers closed around his and she began to smile.

 

 

A Short Stop on the Way to Morning

By Trapper

September 7th

On the road to the chateau

4:00am

 

Hanna’s merry little chase had led them some distance from the cemetery. The trek back to the car with a resistant Paolo had taken some time. He had insisted on remaining in the woods, certain that his “goddess” would be coming back for him. After a short struggle, they’d finally gotten him into the trunk of the Caddie, and were on their way to the chateau. The forest seemed more ominous as they sped down the winding lane, the branches reaching out to scrape the sides of the car.

 

Trapper leaned over the seat. “Are we close?”

 

“Oui,” whispered Monique. “It’s just past that stand of trees.” She strove for control, but she could feel the approach of false dawn. It made her skin feel as though she stood too close to a fire. Her teeth ached with it.

 

Devin looked sideways at her, startled by the uneven sound of her voice.

 

A sheen of sweat stood on her forehead as she stared intently at the road ahead. As he looked at her, Devin realized what the problem was. She had always been terrified of being outdoors close to sunrise. He patted her hand awkwardly and was rewarded by the tiny glimmer of a smile.

 

“You remember,” she murmured.

 

“How could I forget?” he chuckled.

 

Monique heard a huff of exasperation coming from just beyond Devin, and felt an uncharacteristic pang of guilt. She leaned over her former lover and touched Anna’s hand. The other woman looked at her, startled by the sudden contact.

 

“I have a phobie, a phobia of being caught outside at daybreak,” she explained. “Devin has always found this amusing. When we get to the chateau, remind me to tell you of the hide-and-seek in the Valley of the Kings.” She colored at the memory. “It was most embarrassing.”

 

Anna smiled at Monique’s attempt to be friendly. “I’d like that,” she replied, glancing at Devin to see if the exchange was making him nervous. It was.

 

Nick glanced into the rearview mirror. “Monique? Is there anything with the chateau? Some outbuildings, perhaps?”

 

Monique furrowed her brow as she thought about it. “There is a barn, and a small family cemetery on the grounds, with a crypt. Why?”

 

“Perfect,” Nick said, as they turned in at the drive to the chateau. “I don’t want our uninvited guest inside the main building, so I was wondering where we could leave him for the day. The crypt sounds ideal.”

 

Nick stopped the Caddie at the end of the driveway, where two rusty iron gates stood guard at the entrance to the burying grounds of whoever had originally owned the property. “You go on ahead. We’ll take care of Paolo.”

 

Devin, Anna and Monique made their way through the tall grass to the chateau. Nick watched as Remy unfolded himself from the seat and followed them.

 

“That’s going to be interesting,” Nick said softly.

 

Trapper followed his look and crooked a smile. “I’m suddenly very glad they’ve gone ahead. I don’t want to be near the explosion.”

 

The four friends wrestled Paolo from the trunk and into the narrow crypt. After securing him in the one vacant sarcophagus, they hopped back in the Caddie and drove around to the front of the main building.

 

Evie yawned. “I don’t know about you, but I could really use a nap; preferably an eight hour nap.”

 

“I’m with you,” Schanke said as they exited the car.

 

It had been a long night, not totally fruitless, but frustrating beyond belief. Now for a little peace and quiet. They hoped.

 

 

Nine and a Half Minutes, pt 2

By RavenKat

September 7

Le Chalet

around when the crew gets home

 

Besides needing to be helped out of the cramped and slippery quarters, Kat thought the whole sink experience a success. Both vampires were moderately clean and, in theory, ready to sleep under the draped banquet table in the dining room. The only thing left was dinner.

 

Shirtless and damp, Vachon finished tablecloth drying his long locks and dragged a chair out to sit on. Kat improvised an outfit from a chef’s apron that covered all the important parts, and almost met in the back; She was just happy to be clean.  Carefully choosing a few bottles from the chateau’s vast collection, Kat set them in a row on the stainless steel counter.

 

“Close your eyes,” she told him, spinning around and blocking the bottles from view.

 

“No.”

 

Hungry, he waited for Kat to stop playing and pour some blood.  When she crossed her arms and refused to budge, Vachon sighed loudly and closed his eyes.

 

Kat turned, poured one vintage in a glass and approached Vachon. “I want you to tell me what this is.”

 

He squinted and peaked at her from beneath his heavy lashes.  Kat whipped the glass around him and set it on the table out of sight.

 

“No cheating!” she admonished him. She quickly snatched a fancy napkin off the table, opened it and made it into a blindfold.  Vachon resisted briefly then accepted his fate.

 

Taking the glass, Kat slowly swirled the ruby contents around, enjoying its texture and aroma.  “Ready?” she asked needlessly. Javier remained silent. Kat leaned over him and held the glass beneath his nose. Sensing her nearness, Vachon quietly sniffed the air.

 

 

He opened his mouth and Kat put the edge of the glass on his lips. As one, he tipped his head slightly back and she tilted the glass toward him. The chilled blood caressed his tongue and he let the sensations of life flow through him.  Bottled blood, especially mixed with wine, was less active than live blood.  This vintage was pure and fresh, on a par with LaCroix’s most expensive.  He knew almost instantly who had donated this glassful.

 

“Pouty, ignored wife of a Wall Street tycoon,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Too easy.”

 

As Kat pulled the glass away, he deftly found it and took it from her. Downing it in on gulp, he handed it back to her. “I’m hungry,” he smiled.

 

She chose a new glass and another vintage.  After pouring a sample she returned to Vachon. His hair was still wet and she watched a lucky droplet as it trailed down his chest and stomach.  Getting in close, Kat dipped her finger into the blood and held it under his nose.

 

Vachon opened his mouth and was surprised when only a single drop landed on his tongue. Artist, was his first thought. “Not enough,” he said sternly; He was getting into it now.

 

Kat dipped her finger again and gently traced his mouth. Vachon licked his lower lip, catching a drop before it ran down his chin. “More,” he insisted softly. She put her bloodied finger on his lips and he opened his mouth to receive it.

 

Pulling softly on her finger, encircling it with his tongue, Javier felt a familiar ache in his canines. He wanted more than anything to take her into his arms, but knew instinctively to keep his hands down.  Kat began to moan softly and crawled into his lap. She nuzzled his chest while he sucked forcefully on her finger.

 

“Ahem!” Algernon cleared his throat and looked distinctly away from the two vampires.

 

“Miss Monique would like to apologize for the mix-up in accommodations….”

 

 

Little Boy Lost

by Sukh

September 7

At the Orphanage

After the children were returned

“Well, well, well, what have we here?” Tricks rubbed his chin and smiled at the small, frightened faces hovering around him.

Madeline smiled at the children, false reassurance.  “Hello, children.”  She looked at one small, dark-haired boy in particular.  “I’m your new caretaker, since the mean people came and got your old one.”  She pointed to Tricks.  “This nice man will help me take care of the rest of you and tell you stories at night.”

 

The children looked happier.  “The bad men won’t come let the scary lady eat us?”  One of them asked.

 

“No.”  Tricks smiled and put his arm around Madeleine’s waist.  “We’ll keep you safe.”

 

“But I have a Mommy.” The dark-haired boy piped up.

 

“Really?” Madeline cocked an eyebrow.

 

“My daddy is dead, but I still have a Mommy.”

 

“What is your name?” Madeline asked, knowing the answer already.  This child was why she was sent here. He had been taken from his home and filtered in with the terrified orphans that had survived the horror of the Cemetery.

 

“Adam.”

 

“Well, Adam, perhaps we can help you find your Mommy.”

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

(Section…)

 

Operations walked into the white room with a smile.  Power undreamed of was just in his grasp.

 

The Indian woman in the chair glared at him.  “Where am I?”

 

“We have Adam, Elana.”

 

 

Night’s Candles Are Burnt Out

By Trapper

September 7th

The chateau

4:30am

She could not see it, as she stood at the leaded glass window, staring into the inky dark beyond, but she could feel it. Daybreak. Her eyes could catch the faintest glimmer of false dawn in the distance. At sunrise, she must be gone. She wrapped Rupert’s dressing gown tighter around her as she continued her solitary vigil.

 

“You’ve still a little time. Come back to bed.” Rupert Giles stood behind Jenny and enveloped her in strong arms.

 

She leaned back against his chest and sighed. Nodding, she allowed him to lead her back to the warmth of the featherbed. “But just for a moment,” she whispered against his chest as she burrowed in next to him.

 

They lay for a time in the comfortable silence of love while he stroked her hair.

 

“Remember, Rupert, it’s only for a little while, and I’ll be of far more use on the other side.”

 

“I know,” Giles voice was a raspy echo of its usual timbre, “but it doesn’t make it any easier to let you go.”

 

“When this is over, I’ll be in Sunnydale waiting for you.”

 

He pulled her up and kissed her. “I’m counting on it.”

 

As she dressed, they went over the plans to bring Micah back. She had just finished pulling on her boots when the knock came at the door.

 

“I’m expecting someone,” Jenny said in answer to Giles’ puzzled expression.

 

She opened the door to let Buffy and Angel in.

 

Giles frowned. “You were expecting them?”

 

“Unfinished business,” Jenny said. She approached the pair and took Angel’s hand.

 

“I’m sorry,” he began, but she stopped him with a fingertip against his lips.

 

“No. You weren’t responsible. I just wanted to tell you that I forgive you. Don’t carry the guilt anymore.” She smiled. “As you can see, I’ve gotten over it just fine.” She kissed him on the cheek and hugged Buffy. “Now get out of here before the sun finishes rising. I’ll see you back in Sunnydale.”

 

The door shut again, and she turned to Giles with outstretched hands. “It’s time, Rupert. Give me a kiss before I go.”

 

They held each other for a long moment, and then, as the sun began to silver the edges of the clouds, Jenny drew away. She walked to the window and threw it open. Her arms stretched out into the morning, and she turned back to look at Giles one last time.

 

“I love you,” she said as the sunlight began to glitter against her skin.

 

As the sun continued to rise, the glitter overtook Jenny’s body, turning it to a thousand dancing motes of light that drifted out of the window and were gone.

 

“I love you, too.”

 

 

The Morning Fog

By Trapper

September 7th

The Chateau/Chalet

4:30am

 

As they approached the front of the house, they noticed the activity. Monique’s eyes widened at the sight of several sinister looking vans parked in the circular drive. People she had never seen before bustled in and out with equipment in their arms. It looked suspiciously like a command center.

 

“Mon dieu,” she breathed. “What is this?”

 

Algernon met them at the front door, looking haggard. “I’m glad you’re back, Miss Monique. We’ve been worried.”

 

“Merci, Algernon,” Monique nodded as they walked in. She gestured back outside. “What is going on here?”

 

He shrugged. “Angelique brought them. She seems to think they can help find her brother.” As he scanned the entourage, he suddenly stopped in shock. Unthinkingly, he grabbed Monique’s arm, his eyes gone white with shock. “Madam!”

 

Monique turned an icy, irritated glare on him, pointedly looking at his offending hand.

 

He hurried to let her go. “But, but, you have that Devin person with you! And he’s still alive! What will everyone think?”

 

“‘Dat was my question, too, Al,” Remy drawled from where he stood on the porch, smoking a Gitane.

 

Monique clenched her teeth and spoke in cold, measured tones. “Everyone will think that we have a truce, Algernon. Or, perhaps, that we have ironed out our differences temporarily.” She stared at Remy. “Not that it’s anyone’s business.” Her blackest look she reserved for her servant. “I am unused to being questioned by you. Has something changed in my absence?”

 

“No, Miss Monique,” he stammered in reply. “It simply caught me off guard.” He looked nervously around. “Shall I prepare rooms for everyone?”

 

“Oui,” she replied shortly, as Nick, Trapper, Evie and Schanke trailed in. “We will all need refreshment, as well. Did Kat and Vachon arrive safely?”

 

Algernon gulped. He’d been dreading the question. “Well, yes.”

 

“And they have been accommodated?”

 

“Well, Mistress, Larry put them next to the kitchen. Their clothes were in quite a state, and…” his voice trailed off as he realized the condition of all of them. Only the Cajun appeared to have come through unscathed.

 

“WHAT?!” she shrieked. “You will move them immediately into better quarters upstairs!” She strode toward the main staircase. Halfway up, she paused and turned back. “The Cajun is not to be allowed in. He may find his quarters in the garage. There is a crazed vampire locked in the crypt that I want a guard posted on for the day.” She took a breath to calm herself. “And you will send Larry to my room. Do you understand all of this?”

 

Algernon mutely nodded, grateful that he wasn’t in Larry’s shoes.

 

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

Nick and Trapper walked out of the shower in a cloud of steam. A carafe of lattes and a bottle of “Bessie” stood on the nightstand.

 

“Mmm,” Trapper murmured around her latte as she fell into the featherbed on the four-poster bed. “Just what I needed.”

 

“I’ll second that,” Nick said as he poured himself a glass and lay down next to her. “A perfect end to a harrowing night.”

 

Trapper raised her eyebrows. “Perfect?”

 

Nick nodded. “We’re still alive. We’re together.”

 

“Perfect,” Trapper agreed as their glasses slipped to the floor and they slipped beneath the covers for a hard-earned day’s rest in the comfort of each other’s arms.

 

 

Comfy Quarters

by Devin Saceur

September 7th

The Chateau/Chalet

4:40 am

He’d listened to the exchange between Algernon, Monique, and Remy with little surprise. What could he say? “From the bottom to the top of the list in short order, old boy…’tis amazing how no degree of peripheral turmoil can sway the desire for blood-letting.”

 

Anna heard his mumblings clearly and sent a sharp punch to his shoulder. “If I were you, Saceur, I’d sip a cup of Earl Grey…make simple, polite conversation with the host…and go swiftly to my rest like a good boy. Remember where you are.”

 

“How could I forget. This place has been conjured from the very peak of my years with our good host. Almost a tribute, I would imagine…were I any more inclined to arrogance.” A faint grin slid across his lips as he continued toward the porch, where Remy could be seen tugging away absently on a smoke, his back turned.

 

Anna shook her head. “There are none more inclined than you, my love. So just get over your simple self before you get into trouble.”

 

“Of course, I shall be…polite.” He thought briefly of the gravity of this situation. With Monique, his once dear friend and comrade-turned pursuer on one side of the equation…and Remy, the pandering hyena waiting diligently for some scrap to fall from the table. Indeed, Devin could display little more than cordiality, lest he bring his own downfall around his shoulders.

 

As it happened, he opted for his best behavior.

 

“REMYYYY!” A sharp slap upon the back sent the vampire into an immediate battle stance…his hand tight upon some hidden blade within his overcoat. But Devin stood calmly before the man, his arms outstretched in a show of benevolence. “Please calm yourself, m’lord. I only wished the pleasure of a smoke with you.”

 

Slowly bringing himself down from that height of primal tension that had threatened to send him into frenzy, Remy laughed faintly through his fangs as they retracted. “Sure. Whatever. You need one?”

 

Devin rummaged around for a few moments before withdrawing a gold-trimmed case. “Ahh. No, I seem to still carry this, though I rarely indulge these days.” His eyes settled upon Remy as he slid one from the case and struck a match. “We smoke the same brand, old fellow.”

 

“How many are there to choose from…barring American shit?”

 

Anna stood across the porch, nearly merged with the shadows of the early morning, as Devin swayed casually in the breeze before Remy. The two appeared as malevolent hunters to her eyes, silently challenging one another over the right to roam a derelict, useless spread of earth. Even Devin, who had come so far and learned so much since his exit from the Black Hand, seemed besieged by some desperate animalism…barely restrained behind a civilized facade.

 

“Yes sir. It is little more than a decision of what degree of yellow we wish for our teeth, is it not?”

 

Remy’s eyes flickered a pale tint of red momentarily as he closed to within a few inches of Devin’s face and exhaled a great volume of smoke. “Is there a point to dis conversation?”

 

“None whatsoever, bon ami.” Flicking the half-burned cigarette into a wide arc away from the porch, just past Remy’s face, Devin turned to walk into the chalet just as Monique stepped outside and quickly looked over the two men.

 

Measuring the intensity in the air took little time. “Gentlemen, this is my residence. You will, at the very least, act civilized while you are here.”

 

Remy casually tossed his smoke aside. “Perhaps you should stress dat to your man there.”

 

Choosing to ignore the childish air consuming her porch, Monique smiled and reached out to Anna, who stood quietly by the door. “Come inside, dear. The maturity level is a bit higher.”

 

Devin made an exaggerated gesture as a semi-sincere frown brought him down to earth suddenly. “W-What did I do? I was simply enjoying the breeze.”

 

As he practically knelt for forgiveness, he heard Monique call out over her shoulder: “You can enjoy all the breeze you like…and you can share the garage with the Cajun.”

 

The enraged reply came in unison. “WHAT?!” But the collective howl fell on deaf ears as Monique slammed the door in their faces.

 

Remy jerked out another cigarette quickly, tapping his foot absently in part annoyance, part concern. Across the porch, Devin crossed his arms and tried to appear as carefree as possible.

 

“What I don’t understand…” Remy began, lighting his smoke with a jet engine-like butane instrument, “is how SHE has managed to look like a saint in dis whole thing. Wasn’t she first to come after your pathetic hide?”

 

“Classic female trick. We’ll just call it ‘Comparative Absolution’.”

 

“Compara-what? Make sense, Saceur!”

 

“Compared to us, she’s made amends – however temporarily – for her previous actions. Me, I’ve made an ass of myself this evening. You…well, you’re just an ass at heart.”

 

“This is gonna be a long day.”

 

Devin looked to the garage where they were to make their haven for the day. “You know, friend…I have a long-standing habit of waking roughly an hour before dusk.”

 

From behind a thick cloud, Remy grinned anxiously. “Great.”

 

“So how much do you weigh, anyway?”

 

 

Black Celebration (A Flashback)

By Maccousin

5:00 am

1570 in Prague

 

~~~~

Let’s have a black celebration

Black celebration

Tonight

 

To celebrate the fact

That we’ve seen the back

Of another black day

~~~~~

 

The screams echoed through the grand house.  She was lost, drifting away on her thoughts.  The poisonous tang of Garlic lacing her lips and tongue.  Holy water burns on her arms, throat and torso.  She tried to stay away from the constant drip of the garlic-laced holy water from the ceiling above, but that was nearly impossible.

“Eyes wide open, and yet forever shut,” a voice cackled to her.  Her mind grasped at the sounds but was too weary to comprehend.

 

“I have a gift for you, Marie.  Or it is Mael Muire isn’t it?” the alchemist whispered into her ear from behind.  Her chilled skin,

goosepimpled, not from the ice in his voice, but her fear.

~~~~

 

I look to you

How you carry on

When all hope is gone

Can’t you see?

 

Your optimistic eyes

Seem like paradise

To someone like

Me

~~~~~

 

Her brain took in Witter’s words and she found her voice.  “I haven’t gone by that name since I was mortal.  What could you possibly have that I would want?”

 

“A trinket from your past,” Witter walked in front of her.  His nearly black eyes sparkled with mischief.  He held a small golden gimmal ring in front of her.

 

Locked in the cage made of crosses, Màire stared at the ring blankly.  Who had given her the ring?  Ciarán?  LaCroix?  Some other lover from within the past century or so, she just could not remember.

 

Actually this ring had not meant that much to her.  Her personal jewelry was somewhere at home.  The silver knotted ring from Steaphan, the Pictish wedding band from Ciarán, her aunt’s faerie knot pendant, her father’s penandular and cross, a pair of glittering earrings made from Indian gold and pearls from LaCroix.  A millennia’s worth of memories stored in a small silver box.  She turned away from Witter.

 

Witter stared at the bottled blood at her side.  “Not hungry?” he asked.

 

“Not if it’s as tainted as the others.”

 

Witter stared at her, anger lacing his features and kneeled down now to her level.  “Shall I give August what she wants.”

 

Màire laughed.  It was a sharp, crackling sound.  “Why not.  It will lessen my pain.  Shall I kneel, Henry?  It will make it so much easier for you” She got on her knees and leaned forward, her matted head nearly touching the bars of her prison.

 

“Why couldn’t you just do as I asked?” Witter asked.  His hands stretching through the bars, for a moment he touched the flame-colored tresses.  “Do you remember how well I treated you, monster that you are.”

~~~~

 

I want to take you

In my arms

Forgetting all I couldn’t do today

~~~~

 

“To ask me to bring the ancients of my kind here, for you to use for the blood and as your tests.  Does August do that for you?” she asked, horrified, knowing that August would.  “What does she get in return?”

 

Witter watched her carefully.  He had felt her stretching her powers over him many times.  It seemed so futile, when the stone offered unlimited power, without the restraints of a vampire’s false immortality.

 

He reached for the cord that would release the barrage of holy water on her shoulders and neck.  Her eyes sparkled, like sapphires and he sighed.  “Don’t make me do this.”  He felt her power seep away from him.

 

“Because,” began the shrill voice from the corner.  August joined Witter and smiled her cruel smile.  “I want true immortality as Henry does.  To be Immortal as the Gods and Goddesses,” she answered.  “The Philosopher’s Stone offers that.  All I need is our kind’s precious blood and bodies.  I offer him your kind and mine that displease me.”  August laughed, and tugged at a long rope.  “A dark-haired vampire came into the door and collapsed at her feet.

 

“Siona,” whispered Màire.

 

Siona looked up at the sound of her master’s voice.  Her richly hued eyes were gone, leaving nothing now but cavernous holes.  “Màire?” she whispered.

 

Màire reached through the crosses, her arms now burning, for Siona.  Their wails echoed through the small room.

~~~~

 

Black celebration

Black celebration

Tonight

~~~~~

 

“Ah…ah…ah,” August pushed away Màire’s arms.  She stroked Siona’s hair.  Siona stiffened.  “This is your punishment for trying to bring in the Enforcers.”  She dragged Siona into another cage under a large cauldron holding the garlic and holy water mixture.  August walked away from Siona and nodded to Witter.  He was about to pull on the cord.

 

“No, what do you want?”  Màire begged from her crouched position.

 

August laughed.  “There’s not much else for you to give, little one,” her voice grated on Màire’s ears, “other than your head.  However, we will spare your child’s life if you tell us where Ciarán is.  He will lead me to Angelique.”

~~~~

 

To Celebrate the fact

That we’ve seen the back

Of another black day

~~~~

 

Màire paused.  “I don’t know where Ciarán is…” she paused again.  “I don’t know,” she cried.  “I haven’t seen him in over fifty years.”

 

Witter pulled her to her feet, through the bars of the cage.   Rage coloring his features.  “How else would you know the Enforcers?”  He asked.  “Why did you want to betray me?  I gave you so much!”  He turned and pulled on both cords, sending the barrage of holy water and garlic onto Màire and Siona.

 

Siona’s skin bubbled.  Flesh melting with her clothes.  Her screams drowned in the burning flesh.  She was only a century old.  She would not be able to take much more of this.  Màire’s resistance was better, but that did not stop the burns from welting into painful blisters.  Finally, her strength wobbled and she screamed, hearing only Siona’s burbles.

~~~~

 

I look to you

And your strong belief

Me, I want relief

Tonight

 

Consolation

I want so much

Want to feel your touch

Tonight

 

Take me in your arms

Forgetting all you couldn’t do today

 

Black celebration

I’ll drink to that

Black celebration

Tonight

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

 

Màire woke up, screaming for Siona.

 

The keening wails woke up Methos.  He wrapped her up in his arms and began to rock her back and forth.  The sobs subsided and she grew quiet and looked up at him.

 

“Nightmare?” he asked, wiping away the stray red tears.

 

“No,”

 

He stroked her hair.  “Tell me.”

 

She shook her head.

 

“Who is Siona?”

 

Màire sighed softly.  “My child.  August killed her.”  She briefly told him how she and Witter had met and how she had been captured, drugged and nearly died from his and August’s attentions.

 

“What happened in the end?” Methos asked her.

 

Màire slid in closer to him, her head resting on his chest.  “Nick, LaCroix and Ciarán found me.  I had been singing for Siona and LaCroix sensed me.  They killed and burned Witter and his house.  August escaped.”

 

Methos stroked her hair and gently kissed her forehead.

 

“Please hold me,” she whispered.

 

Methos did not answer her, just pulled her in closer.  Exhausted, she fell back asleep.  The demons from the dreams disappeared for the moment.

 

 

A Day in the Place of Rejoicing

By Trapper

September 7th

the “other side”

5:00 am

Light streamed in through the high, slitted windows of the Temple of Isis. It flowed like liquid metal, gilding the brazier stands on its journey. The Great Isis watched from Her throne, a small smile of amusement gracing Her sculptured face.

 

“What have You brought Me now, Father Ra?” She murmured.

 

The sparkling rays of light began to move together, as if in answer to Her question. Twisting and twining upon themselves, they finally merged to pool at Her feet in a glowing column. A bit breathless, Jenny Calendar stepped out.

 

“Ah, Jana,” Isis glided down from Her throne and took Jenny’s hands. “You have returned to Us.” She looked into Jenny’s dark eyes. “But not to stay,” she continued. She looked past the young woman to some point in the darkness of the temple. “This is about My Brother Set, is it not?”

 

Jenny nodded as the Goddess let go of her hands. “Yes. I thought I could be of more use on this side of life right now.”

 

“A wise notion, child. I know that Set troubles the children of My heart.” She stepped away and raised a hand. “I realized that My Sisters could help in this, so I’ve asked Them to join Us.”

 

Two figures approached from the nether reaches of the temple. Veils of incense smoke gave way as Sekhmet and Bast stepped into the light.

 

“Sister,” They said together in their musical voices.

 

“And you are the Jana mortal,” Sekhmet said, inclining her head slightly and gazing upon her with velvet lion eyes. “You have the ka of a warrior, little one.”

 

“We have come up with a plan,” Bast said, jingling Her earrings as She flicked Her cat ears. “it should trick Our Brother and cause Him no end of annoyance.” Mirth was plain in Her voice as She grinned, showing Her fangs.

 

“It involves the Lalor mortal,” Sekhmet began.

 

“Certainly expendable,” Jenny murmured.

 

“Indeed,” agreed the lion-headed Goddess. “But, a ka as weak as his would not tempt Our Brother.”

 

“So,” Bast said, picking up the thread, “We have come up with something that will.” She gestured, and a slender, golden warrior in a white kilt appeared. “This is Our child’s pet, Lucius.”

 

“Ah,” Jenny smiled, beginning to figure out the game.

 

Sekhmet ruffled the young man’s yellow and black hair. “He wishes to help his mistress, so he has agreed to Our little game.”

 

Isis clapped Her hands. “Well thought, My Sisters. Come, let us spend the day in Our planning, with some refreshment as We greet the dawn.”

 

She held a shimmering hand out to Jenny and the group of Goddesses and mortals walked through the temple and out into the garden.

 

 

Comfort

by Sukh

September 7

The Chateau

5:30 am

~~Spend all your time waiting, for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay

There’s always some reason, to feel not good enough, and it’s hard at the end of the day~~

After LaCroix left Angelique stood by the window again, lost in the silver reflection of the moon.  Centuries were rising up to haunt her, and she let it come.

~~I need some distraction

Oh beautiful release

Memories seep through my veins

And maybe empty and weightless

And maybe I’ll find some peace tonight~~

 

She fell into her memories, reliving the first time she met the mortal Lucius, the first time they have been together. The terror of Vesuvius, the betrayal of her blood sister.

 

~~You are brought from the wreckage of your silent reverie

In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~

 

 

“Excuse me,” Larry’s voice sounded from the other side of the door.  “The rest of the group is here.”

 

“Thank you Larry, ask Michael to meet me here.”  Then she turned back inward.

 

~~In the arms of the Angels, fly away from here

From this dark, cold hotel room

And the endlessness that you fear~~

 

For a century she had been locked into a tomb, unable to leave unable to feed, hunger had been an agony, nearly driving her mad.  Then Micah had found her, released her and let her feed off him.  It had been a repeat of his first feeding, except her brother had revived faster than the first time she had fallen on him, ravenous for blood.  He had been her companion through out the Middle East, letting her be his sister, protecting her from the Sheiks and small rulers of the forming Muslim states that had wanted her for their harems.

 

Michael stood in the doorway.  “Yes?” Asked as he entered, taking in the room and the half full glass of bloodwine in her hand.

 

“I want you to oversee the comm center assembly.  Tonight at Ten p.m. we have our first briefing.  ALL the people that are in the chateau will be attending.”

 

“Yes.”  He nodded, then paused.  “Do we have a mission profile?”

 

“Not yet, we need to train my people.  I will work on the profile while training is being done.”

 

“Very well.”  Michael turned to leave.  The door clicked softly behind him and she finished off her glass of bloodwine.

 

~~So tired of the straight life, that everywhere you turn there’s vultures and thieves at your back

The stone keeps on twisting, keep on building the lies, that you make up for all that you lack~~

 

Forty years after Vesuvius, She and LaCroix met again, along the banks of the Nile, spending their nights hunting and reveling in their vampire natures.  Her brother had been battling his own, gathering strength with each quickening.  Micah had tolerated LaCroix, until LaCroix had taken on of the women Micah had been seeing. He had not loved the mortal, but had been frightened by the demonstration of LaCroix’s growing powers.

 

They had ended up in India after a few centuries of living the gypsy life, and she had become a part of her brother’s Houri, safe from the daylight, and desires of all the surrounding Marharishi’s.  She had taught his courtesans well, and had her pick of men for company.

 

Then LaCroix had turned up in India.  She had welcomed him into her bed, spending day and night with him, all under the not so happy eyes of her brother.  LaCroix had brought his new childe with, a dark temptress named Jeanette, and she had set her sights on Micah.  Micah had understood what she was and welcomed her to his bed.  Then the Muslims had begun to invade India, and they had finally left as the Crusades had been started in Europe and the Middle East.

 

LaCroix had gone to Paris, and Micah had gone to fight on the side of Egypt.  Angelique had retreated to the Indian Jungles, and found company in the ruins of the great Temples and palaces of the Raja’s she had outlived.

 

Micah had found her there and stayed with her after the defeat of Jerusalem, taking comfort in the local women and gathering strength.

 

~~Don’t make no difference

Escape one last time~~

 

She lay on the rich comforter, trying to sleep, to escape the image of her brother, the pain and fear she could feel from him hovering in the back of her head.

 

~~It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness

This glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees~~

 

She closed her eyes, dawn had come and the faint heat on the other side of the blackout curtain seeped through and caressed her.  If she wanted she could take that faint warmth and see her beloved Egypt, in the golden light of day.  It shimmered like beaten gold, her home, the white walls reflecting the sun to the sand and magnifying the delicious heat of day.  For centuries, she had seen nothing but cold silver moonlight reflect of the sands, reminding her of what she had turned her back on. Light, warmth and the chance to find love.

 

~~You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie

In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~

 

She drifted off, sleeping for a few short hours before waking up screaming.  She huddled in the big bed, bloodsweat dripping from her brow and curled into herself.  Micah’s eyes had been her eyes, she had seen what had been done, not just the pain from Horton’s abuse, but the pure evil that Divia had been inflicting on her brother.

 

He wasn’t going to last much longer, and she had to get him out. Before they both lost their sanity.

 

~~In the arms of the Angels, fly away from here

From this dark, cold hotel room

And the endlessness that you fear~~

 

 

Dangerous Liaisons (NC-17)

By Maccousin and Sukh

September 7th

5:45 AM

Before ‘Rude Awakening’

 

Màire closed the door behind herself, with a heeled shoe.  She backed away, leaned against the door and gave Methos a smile.

 

That moment she reminded him of a very pleased, impish leprechaun, with several millennia of tricks up her sleeve.

 

“Why exactly are you doing this?” he traced the line of her cheekbone with a fingertip.

 

“Because, I…” she paused and continued with the petulance of a child, “it’s fun!”

 

“Annoying an ancient vampire is fun?”

 

“Extremely,” she said.  “The danger involved makes it all the more worthwhile.”  She slid out of her shoes. “You should try it sometime.  It’s quite the rush.”  She brushed her lips against his.

 

“As I said before,” Methos murmured into the kiss.  “I like my neck where it is.”

 

She nibbled his lower lip, playfully.  “Sounds like someone is so worried about the future, he’ll never have fun in the present.”

 

“Danger and fun shouldn’t have to be synonymous,” Methos replied.  He pulled away momentarily.  “I don’t think you should carry this out.  I’d hate to see you disappear as quickly as you appeared in town.”  He ran his fingers through the now-dry curls.

 

Màire smiled, leaning into the caress.  “Don’t worry,” she said.  “It would take a lot for anyone to get rid of me.  Fifteen hundred years has taught me where to draw the line.”  She slid her fingers up under his sweater, her fingers brushing over the pulsing of his blood beneath his skin as she caressed his broad chest.  The heat of him throbbed under her hand, she could almost taste the rich experience in his ancient blood. One gentle tug and she pulled his pulled up his sweater and tossed it to the side.

 

He nuzzled her neck, getting another whiff of tomato juice.  He slid one hand down her back; his hand searching for her smooth bare flesh as he explored her throat with his mouth.  He found the zipper and put one large hand over it, running his fingers along the edge of the on the back of her dress.

 

Her fingers ran down his back, the warm skin of his spine heating with his arousal.

 

She felt air hit her back as the zipper slid open.  The black dress fell to the floor and she stepped out of it and kicked it to one side.

Methos smiled at her as she stood before him, in nothing but Victoria’s Secrets best silk panty set.   He reached out, one finger tracing the edge of the black material that covered the rise of her breasts; then through the shadow of the valley of her chest and on up her neck to her chin.

 

Methos wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him in a gentle motion. She met his lips, parting his lips and slipping her tongue

inside to stroke the heat of his mouth. The kiss became harder, deeper, as the heat burned higher, and soon they had to break for air.

 

Màire’s eyes now reflected gold, matching the thin strands of gold lace interwoven in her panties and bra.

 

A soft hiss passed through Màire’s lips as Methos dropped to his knees and pressed a series of burning kisses down to her navel, his big hands around her slender hips, pressing her closer to his questing mouth.  She leaned back, her hands tangling in his short, dark hair, her knees quivering at the moist press of his lips and tongue across her cool skin.  A small giggle escaped her lips as he hit a certain spot near her navel.

 

“Ticklish, are we?” Methos looked up at her, eyes twinkling with amusement and rubbed his thumb around the edge of her belly button, and she giggled again and shivered.

 

The door banged open.  The two lovers froze; Methos turned his head, resting the crown on her belly as he glared when an all-too-familiar voice assaulted their ears.

 

“Hey have you two seen Trapper?” Steve Lalor stumbled into the room, leering again at Màire.  Methos got to his feet, looking none too pleased at the interruption.

 

Màire snarled.  She began to head toward the table, that had several beer bottles on it.

 

“Oh that’s it,” Methos grabbed his sword and began pushing out Steve, who moved back slowly like a tortoise.

 

“Hey if I can’t find Trapper, can I at least sleep on the floor, man? I’ve spent all night trying to find my way out of the basement.”  Seeing only resentment in the sword wielding, Immortal’s eyes, he turned to what he hoped to be a kind and gentle face.

 

A pair of golden eyes locked with his.  Màire then threw an empty Guinness bottle directly at Steve, Missing him by inches.

 

“I believe that’s our answer,” replied Methos.

 

Another bottle whizzed by Steve’s head, grazing him.

 

“Owww, what kind of crazy, freaked out chick are you?” he whined to Màire.  Steve took off running for the door.

 

Methos locked it behind Steve.  “Remind me never to cross you on a bad night,” he said.

 

Màire looked at the glass covered floor and took a careful step forward.

 

“Don’t move closer, you don’t have any shoes on remember.”  Methos picked her and carried her over to the bed.  “I hope that didn’t kill the mood,” he whispered into her ear.  “I’d love to find all those ticklish spots.”

 

“Didn’t kill a thing,” she murmured as she curled into his warmth and ran the tip of her tongue across his collarbone.  Màire nipped his shoulder, greedily licking the tiny trails of blood that slid down his chest, catching sensations of five millennia’s worth of memories.  It was a heady experience; she became lost in his thoughts and desires.

 

Methos sighed as her cold tongue traced its way to his ear.  He felt her pause momentarily, warming fingers trailing down his back.   Her eyes closed, as he slid a finger under a bra strap.

 

Màire tensed, a funny smirk settled on her face.

 

“Ticklish here too, hmm?” Methos murmured, sliding the strap off her shoulder.  He continued his path downward, lips traversing her shoulder, he continued down her stomach.

 

Màire hissed again, twitching slightly but still arching into his kiss, nerves quivering at the movement of his mouth at the edge of her lace edged panties.  He edged back up as her fingers stretched for his belt.

 

“Oh no, you don’t,” he pinned her arms above her head.  “Not until I’m ready.” Methos silenced her protest with another deep kiss. He tossed her bra to the left side of the room, his hands crossed over her rosy hued nipples.  He lowered his head to tease the nipples with his tongue.

 

Her cold arms clamped around his neck, her eyes swirled in bright amber, the color of a well-aged scotch, as she could feel warm, wet caresses on her exposed flesh.  Hands slid under her ribcage, lifting her to meet him.  A slight growl passed her lips as Methos ran his thumbs around her nipples, teasing her again.

 

Methos closed his eyes for a moment, lost in the sensations until sudden movement rolled him onto his back.  His own eyes opened for a moment and he found himself staring into Màire’s eyes.  She smiled, inwardly enjoying the surprise. Màire leaned forward, kissing the delicate skin behind his left ear, the feverish pulse pounded through her senses.  Warm fingers trailed up her thighs.  It had been ages since she had felt that kind of warmth…

 

Since…

 

Màire paused and tore her mind away from those thoughts leering in the background.   The raging, pulsating fire beneath his skin brought her back, she ignored her hunger, for the moment, sliding down his stomach, her long hair brushing against him.  She gently stroked him through the cloth of his pants.   Methos stared back at her, eyelids lowered.  Màire unzipped him, and stroked him again, loving the look of pleasure cross his face.

 

He couldn’t take it anymore.  Methos rolled her back over.  She arched an eyebrow, pleasantly surprised as he nearly ripped off her panties.  Methos inhaled sharply as he pressed into her, at the same time pulling her up into a sitting position.  Màire moaned, wrapping her legs around him and pressing herself to him, losing herself in the intense friction, her nails digging into his back.  She felt pressure began to build and then he slowed down, teasing her again.  She nipped at his neck, lapping at the sweet trails of blood again.  Màire tightened herself around him.  Methos moaned as she contracted herself around him.  He leaned into her shoulder as the pressure built up again.

 

As he climaxed, he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder that lasted a mere millisecond.   The pain was replaced by intense pleasure and

then…everything.  The smell of the sacred grove, the cold feel of the ancient stones, then the images and sensations sped up at rates and he could longer able to comprehend them.  He felt Màire arch over him as she climaxed.

 

A few seconds later Màire leaned against his shoulder, watching in amazement as his body began to heal.  Methos lowered them back into bed.

 

Màire smiled up at him for a moment.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

 

“Shouldn’t I thank you?” he twirled a thick red curl in his index finger for a moment.  Methos smiled back.

 

Màire looked at him wistfully.  “I already told you LaCroix sleeps with me to exact revenge.  Ciarán,” she sighed.  “He sleeps with me because of the memories and probably to get even on some level with LaCroix.  You slept with me because you wanted to.”  She kissed him and a fearful look crossed her face.

 

“Am I a one night conquest?” Màire asked softly.  “She had found no traces of anything like that in the blood, but she was still afraid.

 

“Do you want to be one?” Methos asked in return.

 

She smiled.  “I think you know the answer to that.”

 

“I’ll be here tomorrow night when you wake up and as long as you’ll let me stay here,” he replied.

 

She curled into him again and smiled.  “I must say I’m quite jealous of Dru though.  Although, she didn’t have much time to enjoy you I’m sure.  Blood is one thing that truly improves with age.”

 

They kissed again and within ten minutes were both snoring.

 

 

Rude Awakening

By Maccousin

September 7

The Chateau

Around 6:00 am

Trapper stretched in the midst of sleep.  Nick turned away from the windows, nuzzling into her hair.  There was nothing to disturb them in this little oasis.  Or so they thought…

 

They didn’t hear the door open.  They didn’t hear the clunking of footsteps or the hovering, but the next thing sent them reeling out of

their dream world.

 

There was a huge whomp.  The bed caved in toward the center.  Then they heard that voice.

 

“TRAPPER!!!!!” Steve was relieved he had found her.  The last couple he had interrupted were not amused.  In fact they chased him out, one wielding a sword, the woman flinging beer bottles at Steve over her head.

 

Trapper, exasperated got up and threw Lalor bodily from the bed.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?”  Trapper was not happy unless she had her coffee.  Nick watched the action and could not help smiling at the way Lalor cowered in the corner.

 

“Babe, what’s the problem?” Steve grinned at Trapper in a way he hoped would be disarming.  “I don’t have a room and there’s plenty of breathing space here.”

 

Trapper’s eyes grew red.  “You could be on one side of the planet and there still wouldn’t be breathing space!”

 

Nick grabbed Steve before he could respond, and tossed him out the open door.

 

Suddenly there was pounding against the door and walls and the loud wails of ‘Trapper!  Let me in!  Trapper!  Let me iiiiiiinnnnn!’

 

The person in the neighboring room let out a frustrated yell of his own and rushed out into the hallway.

 

Gilchrist had been resting peacefully when he heard Lalor’s whines.  He ran out into the hallway, grabbed Lalor by the throat and said in a low, angry voice, ‘Old man, if ye dinna shut yer trap, I will pound your skull in.”  He was not a morning person either.

 

Nick and Trapper opened the door and saw Steve being thrown down the hallway by a grumpy Scotsman.  Steve landed and nearly saved himself from falling down the staircase (nearly being the keyword here).  He mistakenly took a clumsy step backward and started a long, noisy trip down the stairs.

 

“Oooowww!  Whatchya do that for?”  Steve called out his misery for all to hear.

 

“Stupid, never has been, vampire, wannabe hippie,” grumbled Gilchrist under his breath.  He stomped back into his room and shut the door.

 

Trapper collapsed back in bed, as Nick locked the door.  Both of them hoping Steve would get lost in Monique’s Chateau once again.

 

 

Rude Awakening, Take 2

By Trapper

September 7

The Chateau

6:00 am

Evie had staggered out of the bathroom and fallen face first into the overstuffed bed. It had been a delicious sink into oblivion from the moment her head hit the pillow. Across the room, Schanke snored peacefully from the depths of a similar bed.

 

Now, as the sun began its slow ascent into morning, her sleep was bothered by a sudden “whomp”. She frowned, trying not to let it wake her up. ‘Earthquake?’ she thought. When there were no further tremors, she allowed herself to go sliding back toward dreamland.

 

“TRAPPER!!!”

 

That one deliriously shouted word was enough to splash the cold water of wakefulness all over Evie. She sat upright, her eyes still closed in protest, and listened. She could hear Trapper’s voice snarling in reply. She smiled and fell back over. It was being handled.

 

The door slammed shut. She could hear Lalor’s loud whines, followed by an angry Scottish voice from yet another room. She pulled the covers up over her head. The crashes and thumps that followed Gilchrist’s tirade were enough to cause Evie to crawl out of bed and open the door a crack.

 

The sight of the overweight musician flying through the air and careening down the stairs assaulted her eyes. She winced at the sound of the bumps and closed the door again.

 

She began to drift back to sleep. A loud, insistent knock at the door stopped that process in its tracks. Evie squeezed her eyes shut.

 

“EVVVVIIIEEEEE!! Let me in! I need a place to crash for the day!”

 

“That’s it!” she growled as she threw the covers back again. Her eyes felt like she’d been caught in a sandstorm, her brain suffered from sleep deprivation and lack of caffeine. She spied Schanke’s 44 Magnum on the small table by his bed and snatched it up.

 

Flinging the door open, Evie grabbed Steve’s collar with one hand and shoved the gun into his face with the other.

 

“Look, Lalor. I’ve had just about enough of you. It’s been a long night, and I get really cranky when I don’t get my sleep. If you don’t shut up and get out of here, I’m going to stick this gun up your nose and blow your sinuses back to Seattle. Kapish?”

 

Steve nodded.

 

“Good. Now, beat it!” She flung the hippie vampire away from her and slammed the door. As she pulled the covers back up, she could hear Lalor taking another long fall down the stairs. She smiled and was off to dreamland.

 

 

Now, Where Were We?

By Trapper

September 7th

The Chateau

6:15 am

 

Nick crawled back under the sheets and wrapped an arm around Trapper. “I’ve locked the door this time,” he whispered tenderly into the pillow covering her head.

 

“Mmph,” she mumbled, pulling the pillow tighter.

 

“He’s really gone this time.”

 

She peeked out from under her shelter. “Are you sure?”

 

Nick nodded as he cocked an ear to listen to the silence.

 

Trapper smiled. “Ah, blessed silence.”

 

“Has he always been this obnoxious?” Nick asked with a grin.

 

Trapper rolled her eyes. “He only seems to have gotten worse since he was brought across.” She rested her head on her arm. “I can only hope that someone puts him out of our misery.”

 

“My opinion is that we find something more pleasant to occupy ourselves with.” Nick snuggled closer.

 

Trapper’s eyes widened and turned to gold as he pressed up against her. “I see what you mean.”

 

As Nick sank his fangs into her throat she murmured, “Mmm. Better than coffee.”

 

She bit him in return, and they both vanished beneath the covers.

 

 

Fresh Meat

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

Dawn

 

Two pair of black silk pajamas had been laid out on the enormous feather bed, finally convincing Vachon to surrender his leather. Algernon, infinitely more diplomatic than his counterpart, had no reaction to the armload of odiferous laundry handed him.  He merely nodded and said, “These will be ready for you by dusk, as well as, new clothing if you desire.”

 

“Merci, Algernon,” Kat replied, crawling onto and sinking into the down mattress. She could feel the sun rising and was in a hurry to sleep.  “A bien tot,” she added before closing her eyes.

 

Vachon shut the door behind the manservant, locked it and made his way wearily to the bed. Stretched out, arms behind his head, Javier let the coming day sap any remaining energy from his undead body. He pushed all images of Lux, Tracy and Hanna from his mind; it was the only way he’d be able to get any rest today.

 

Just as he crossed over into unconsciousness, a low rumbling could be heard from outside. It grew steadily louder, rattling the shuttered and draped windows of the sleeping vampires’ room.  Roaring once before stopping, it left a palpable silence in its wake.

 

Both Kat and Vachon, on autopilot, said aloud, “Harley.”

 

Someone had arrived.

 

 

Together Again

By Trapper

September 7

The Chateau

6:25 am

 

Steve picked himself off the floor and dusted his tweed vest. His “I Flash Daily” button had gotten lost during his flights down the stairs. He shrugged, knowing that he had a box of them back in his room. He knuckled his eyes and yawned. ‘Boy,’ he thought, ‘being a vampire takes a lot out of you. I’m exhausted.’ Steve smelled Algernon before he saw him. ‘And, I’m hungry!’ he thought.

 

Before he could try putting the bite on Monique’s valet, Algernon grabbed him by the collar, sensing what was going on. He hadn’t lived with the mistress for as long as he had without learning a few things.

 

“If you’ll permit me, sir,” he said smoothly. “I think you’ll find that the drawing room will be quite unoccupied for the day.” He propelled Steve in through the sliding doors. “There’s a sidebar with refreshments that should be to your liking. Good day.” Algernon pulled the doors together and locked Steve in. There’d be no more trouble to disturb the mistress and her other guests.

 

Steve looked around the room until he found the bottles of “Mindy” and “Amanda”. Tucking one underneath his arm, he uncorked the other and took a long pull on his way to the chaise lounge.

 

“Much better,” he said to the empty room, and let a satisfied belch echo around the perimeter. “I could get to like this.” Something caught his eye as he put the bottles next to the couch. “Mary?” he said with suppressed excitement. “Is that you?”

 

He waddled rapidly over to a guitar stand and found that, yes indeed, it was his beloved guitar. All thoughts of sleep banished now, he lovingly tuned the old Martin and began to play a plaintive love song.

 

 

Death Dreams

By Trapper

September 7

Best Western Hotel

6:30 am

Lux lay, tossing and turning on the sweat-soaked sheets. When he’d shown up with his white hair, mumbling incoherently, Spike, Dru and Tracy had wisely given him a wide berth. He’d decided that he didn’t need them anyway. He’d be given the great plan and then he’d show everyone.

 

Which was how he’d ended up at this hotel on the edge of town, trapped in his own skull.

 

“Hey, baby,” the warm voice purred in his ear.

 

The hairs on the back of his neck stirred. He felt a tingle down his spine at the touch of an ice-cold hand. Lux rolled over, his eyes still shut.

 

“Mmm. Better,” the voice murmured as a wet mouth nuzzled his throat.

 

Questing hands explored under the sheets, bringing a sudden gasp from Lux as they found what they were searching for. His eyes flew open.

 

“Remember me?” the red-headed vampire grinned.

 

“Sister Kat?” Lux spoke with a sleep-rusted voice. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He blinked once, twice, but the vision stayed the same. Sister Kat was plastered to his chest like a wet T-shirt, fondling his willing cock and pressing her lips to his neck. He gulped as he felt his heart beating against her lips.

 

“What? How did you know where to find me?”

 

“I know everything,” Kat breathed. “Now, shut up. You talk too much.”

 

“Wait just a fucking minute!” Lux snarled, and reached up to grab her. At least he tried to.

 

He couldn’t move, and as he looked from side to side he realized why.

 

Wrists and ankles were artfully bound to the four corners of the bed, in such a way that the slightest movement served only to tighten them. He gasped with what little breath was left in his stretched torso.

 

“Now to work,” Kat smiled, her fangs gleaming in the dim light seeping in through the curtains.

 

She hummed as she slowly dragged her long, red nails down his chest. The deep scratches welled up with blood immediately. Lux was too shocked to even scream. When she reached his stomach, she looked up from beneath her hair, grinning maniacally. Without a word, she plunged her hand into him. Lux shrieked and bowed his back as she dug out a handful of intestines. Licking her fingers, she wriggled up his tattered body to plant a bloody, coppery kiss on his lips.

 

“Save your strength,” she said. “This is only the appetizer. We haven’t even gotten to the main course.” She stood up and began draping bloody body parts around the bed. Flexing her dripping claws, Kat reached for his cock.

 

Lux fainted.

 

He came to with a scream of pure terror. Sitting up, he looked wildly around the room. Twilight was beginning to seep in around the corners of the draperies. Puzzled, he checked himself out.

 

His chest was smooth and unbroken. The sheets were damp with sweat, but there was no sign of blood. He fell back onto the bed, shivering with relief.

 

‘It must be a sign,’ he thought to himself. He levered himself off the bed and scooped his clothes off the floor. He headed off to the shower, humming to himself. Everything was going to be all right. All he had to do was find Sister Kat, and kill her.

 

 

Like a Virgin…

Maccousin

September 7

Chalet

6:45 am am

“My isn’t this cozy.”  Natalie looked at the huge brocade covered bed and smiled.  “I am so tired, I could sleep for a week.”

Deif was sniffing around the room as Benton checked the doors and closet.  ‘This looks secure.”  He smiled at Natalie and went over to her.  He gave her a hug and a brief kiss on the forehead.  “I’ll go now.”

 

“Go where?”  Nat hugged him harder, refusing to let him go.  “This room is for both of us.”

 

“Well, then,” he looked nervous, then smiled.  “I’ll sleep on the divan over there.” He extracted himself from her arms and moved a few steps away.

 

“Why?”  Nat motioned to the bed.  “It’s big enough for two.”

 

Nat, really, I’d prefer to sleep over there.”

 

Nat’s hopeful look crumbled.  “It’s me isn’t it?”

 

“No.”  Benton went to her, taking her in his arms and setting her in his lap as he sat on the edge of the bed.  He touched her face, brushing her curls out of her face.  “It’s just that I was raised to a gentleman.”

 

Nat leaned into his hand.  “It’s just that Nick would never…well…you know…” She trailed off as Benton started to blush.  She squirmed in his lap and settled into a more comfortable position.  Then she smiled.

 

“No, Nat, it’s not that.”  He touched his lips to hers, a small comforting kiss.  “I find you very desirable.  I just think you need your rest.”

 

“No, I don’t.” Nat cupped his chin and looked into his blue eyes.  “I need to feel like an attractive, desirable woman.”  She wiggled her bottom and tilted her head.  “I know you want me, it’s not like you can hide it.”

 

Benton turned bright red.  “Nat.”  He whispered as he stilled her squirming.

 

“Ben, you’re a grown man.  It’s not like you’ve never–” She stopped and her mouth gaped.  “You’re a virgin aren’t you?”

 

“Yes.”  He ducked his head.  She took his chin and forced him to raise his face.  He looked up into Natalie’s beatific smile.

 

“Ben, I don’t care, really.”  She touched the gold buttons of his dress reds.  “In fact if find it kinda sexy.”

 

“Nat-” He started to say more, but he ended up kissing her instead.  Their mouths fused, and he took charge of the kiss in a very unvirginlike manner.  She pushed against his chest and he fell back into the soft bedding.

 

“Let me teach you.” She took off his hat and frisbeed it to land on the divan.  Then she started to unbutton his dress red tunic.  He looked a bit panicked as she undressed him, so she paused halfway down his chest. She reached up and brushed her lips across his mouth again, nipping at his bottom lip and curling her hand into the opening of his jacket.  She pressed against the material of his thermal knit undershirt, and pulled on it.

 

“Nat wait.”  Benton’s voice had gone low, into a raspy growl.  He sat up, leaning into her kiss, his arms around her.  “Let me.” He took her hand out of his jacket and stood.  She watched as he took off his scarlet tunic, the boots, and the jodhpurs.  He neatly folded them on the divan, laid his hat on top and put Deif into the bathroom.  He turned to her in his thermals and looked like a high school boy in his prom night.  Hopeful yet frightened, with desire shining in his blue eyes.  “Are you sure?”

 

She sat in the bed, on her knees, her long hair over her shoulders in a wild, pre-Raphaelite tangle.  She smiled and beckoned with one finger, as she unbuttoned the top few buttons of her blouse.  “Come here Ben.”

 

He crawled on the bed and stopped in front of Nat.  His eyes were dark, his pupils swallowed the pale irises with his need.  He reached out and touched her, running one hand down her neck, his hands a bit unsteady.  A rosy flush spread under his heated hands and he smiled as he finished unbuttoning her blouse.

 

She reached for his undershirt and slipped her ands over his smooth flesh.  He trembled, then stilled as he brushed across a nipple.  She grinned at him then peeled the undershirt off in a dramatic tug. “Oh Fraser,” She whispered as she skimmed her hands over his taut muscles. “You’re beautiful.” She leaned in a laved one flat male nipple.  He made a deep rumble in his chest as he mouth worked up his body to his collarbone.

 

Her blouse fluttered to the floor, and a small, groan slipped out of him as she slid her arms around his neck. She found his mouth and they got lost in the taste of each other once more.  He slid one hand up he back, then he trailed his hot mouth down her throat He stopped as his hands found the generous weight of her breasts and rubbed his thumb over her nipple, through the lace of her bra.  He head fell back as he released the front catch of the lingerie, spilling her breasts into his waiting hands.

 

“Pretty good for a virgin.”  Nat stilled at the wet warmth of his mouth suckling her contracting Nipple.

 

Ben looked up at her a very wicked smile on his face.  “Just because I’m a virgin doesn’t mean I don’t know my way around a woman.” Then he stroked the hardened tip of her breast with his mouth.

 

“Point taken,” Nat bent her head over his head, her cinnamon hair caressing his back in tiny feather tips, her hands buried in his short hair.  His mouth moved further down he soft welcoming body, and she sank closer to the mattress as her legs went liquid with the heat Ben was stoking as he laved her bellybutton.  Her stomach contracted at the soft brush of his lips, the moist heat of his tongue as he explored her inch by torturous inch.  He slipped one hand under her skirt, and trailed his long fingers over her thigh.

 

“Benton.”  His name was a low groan as he pulled her skirt down and stripped off her hose.

 

“Sshh…” He soothed her as he cupped her, feeling her liquid need.  “I’ll stop if you don’t want to.”

 

“God, no.” She hissed as he skimmed his mouth along the edge of her panty line. ” I want to touch you.”  Her hands traced a restless pattern across the ridges of his back.

 

“Next time,” He whispered as he moved up to her ear, his warm breath making gooseflesh dash across her neck in a pleasant tingle. “This time I just want to lose myself in you.”

 

She bowed into his touch as he skimmed his palm aver her taut nipple, and groaned. A light sheen of moisture was pearling her skin and he bent his head and tasted her. She was clean and salty, a faint taste of strawberries lingered on her creamy flesh.  He slipped on finger under the elastic band of her panties and burrowed into her slick arousal. His finger found the nubbin of nerves and flicked it.  Nat arched off the bed with a moan.

 

“Do that again,” She begged as she found his nape with her mouth.

 

“Yes, ma’am.”  He repeated the move.  Then he withdrew.  He pulled of her panties and stopped.

 

“Ben?”  She looked at him.  He looked up at her, a smile of pure pleasure and awe on his face.

 

“Nat, I don’t know if I can wait much longer.”  He moved up her body and pressed his rigid sex to her liquid heat.

 

“Then don’t.”  She smiled.  “I want you now Ben,” She kissed him and he lost the bottom of his long johns. “The drawer.” She whispered as she pressed against him in a restless wanting.

 

Ben reached out and pulled a box of condoms out of the drawer.  He ripped open the package and handed her the foil packet.  “You a have the honors.”

 

She smiled as he opened the packet and positioned the tip of the condom over him.  She slid it over him slowly her finger lingering over the silken steel of him.

 

Then he was over and in a breathless push, in her. She arched under him, having him inside her was like joining a missing part of her.  He stroked into her, at first hesitant, then at her urging making deep, long thrusts.  Each stroke took her higher and higher into the white-hot realm of nothing but the feel of Ben in every pore of her.

 

He whispered something to her in Inuit, then he found her mouth as she felt herself free falling into the carnal abyss of Ben as he climaxed, and they found each other in the golden light.

 

“Than you kindly,” He whispered as she opened her languorous eyes.

 

She stretched and smiled.  “No, Ben, thank you.”  He pressed a sift kiss to her forehead then withdrew and discarded the condom.  She snuggled into his arms and grinned.  “But next time, can you wear the hat?”

 

“I’m yours to command, Natalie,” his voice was soft. He watched her fall asleep as small smile playing on his lips.

 

 

O.G. (original gangster)

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

7:00 am

 

The black man in black couldn’t appreciate the luxury of his room at the chalet – he had a job to do. Tired from his night-long ride, he sat on the edge of the four poster bed and propped a boot on the dainty step stool. He needed to stay awake just a little bit longer.

 

One by one, pieces of road-dirty leather landed on the dais near the fireplace.  He untied the strap holding his hair, letting the long thin dreds swing freely, then rummaged purposely through his saddle bags.  He only needed three things: black jeans, a well-worn pair of Doc Martens and a stiletto.

 

Soon dressed and ready for his appointment, Nelson paused at the minifridge.

 

“Come on,” he coaxed, “Daddy’s thirsty,” and flung the small fridge door open with a flourish.

 

“Oh hell yeah,” he said, grinning.  Nelson grabbed a bottle and began to drink. He stood, kicked the tiny door closed with his heel and dropped the cork into a nearby trash can – all in one fluid movement.

 

It was time to find Dawson.

 

 

Meeting Up

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

7:20 am

 

“Wake up old man,” he said loudly, his lips pressed up between the door and the sill. Nelson didn’t want the rest of the chalet to get out of bed – just Joe Dawson.  Kicking in the door seemed extreme, but he’d be damned if he was going to wait until sunset to get the scoop on his newest Immortal.

 

Nelson decided to knock on the bedroom door – firmly, steadily, and unceasingly. Maybe he could drive the bastard insane in the process, he thought happily.

 

Two doors down, a clean-cut young man in starched pajama bottoms and a Stetson hat stepped into the hallway.

 

“Mr. Dawson has had a long night. Maybe you should come back after he has gotten some rest,” he stated politely. If Benton Fraser was surprised to find a large, tattooed man with a mohawk full of dreadlocks pounding on his neighbor’s door, he didn’t show it. He knew better than to jump to conclusions based on one’s appearance. Dief, who judged only on his senses, appeared at Benton’s side and began to growl.

 

Sighing loudly, Nelson turned to the half-dressed Mountie and the wolf. “Thanks. I’ll do that. Now go back to bed, Dudley,” he said archly, never slowing down his barrage on Dawson’s door.

 

At the same moment the confused Mountie returned to his room and locked his door, Joe Dawson stomped angrily up to his own.  Grumbling loudly, he pulled on the door. “What the hell?” he asked – Nelson shoved him into the room and quickly shut the door.

 

 

Insomnia

By Evie

September 7th

The Chateau

7:30am

In her dreams, she always played brilliantly.  Plucked, individual strings, cascading like water, each note a golden bead, falling one after the other in ecstatic celebration.  In her sleep, her fingers twitched in sympathy, and she was quite suddenly awake.

 

Evie rolled over and buried her face in the pillow, seeking re-entry to the dream.  But it eluded her. Flipping over on her back, she found herself staring hopelessly at the ceiling.  “I need a guitar fix,” she muttered to herself. “And I know just the guy to set me up.”

 

Evie padded down the hall in bare feet, jeans and a T-shirt, which read – appropriately enough – “Why am I out of bed?”. She paused for a moment, catching a faint sound of music coming from the drawing room downstairs.  She frowned and continued to Joe Dawson’s door.

 

Evie tapped on Dawson’s door with one fingernail before opening it slightly.  “Joe?” she hissed, trying not to wake the entire chalet.  Seriously hoping she wasn’t going to be intruding on anything fun and exciting, she opened the door and stepped through it, closing it behind her.

 

“Joe, I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to borrow your gui…” her jaw dropped as she turned to see Dawson glaring at a really big guy with dreadlocks, who was facing him with crossed arms.

 

“Whoa, am I interrupting something?” Evie grinned disarmly at the two men as they faced her. Joe looked alarmed at her presence, the stranger merely narrowed his eyes in a mind-your-own-business stare.  Looking into his eyes, Evie found herself contemplating the virtues of the lightning-swift exit.

 

“Oh, man,” she muttered to herself. “And I thought I had good timing.”

 

 

Insomnia 2

by Evie and RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

7:40 am

The disarming smile was wearing thin, and Evie was thinking furiously.

 

“Evie, hon, why don’t you come back another time,” Joe spoke slowly and deliberately, keeping his eye on the stranger.  “Right now I need to talk to my friend here.”

 

“Yeah, sure,” Evie stepped toward the door uncertainly. “I’ll stop by later for the guitar, if you don’t mind.”

 

“Hey, wait a minute,” the stranger growled.  He turned to Joe.  “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”

 

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Joe replied grouchily.

 

The big man turned toward Evie. He towered over her.  “You play guitar, like my man Dawson here?”

 

She put her hands on her hips.  “No.  He plays much better.  And who’s asking?”

 

To her surprise, a fleeting smile passed his lips and he stuck out his hand.  “They call me Nelson. You’re Edie?”

 

“Evie,” she corrected, shaking his hand.  “Nice to meet you.”  “I guess,” she added silently.

 

“So,” he turned back to Joe Dawson.  “You gonna fill me in, or what?”

 

“Don’t know why I should,” Joe replied, obviously still cranky.  “You bang on my door, waking half the chalet I might add, and damn near knock me over when I’m foolish enough to open it!”

 

Nelson’s grin was all teeth.  “It worked, didn’t it?”

 

“Oh, hell,” Joe grumbled, limping over to the sitting room.  “Sit down and have some coffee.  That’s what *I’m* going to do.”

 

“Hey, since you’re asking so nicely,” Nelson quipped, sliding his six-plus foot frame deftly into a chair.

 

“Well, I guess I’ll be going now,” Evie said, quite loudly, obviously forgotten at the door.

 

“No – Come join us,” Nelson insisted, waving her to sit with them.  “Gramps needs some time to get himself together,” he said, indicating Joe with a toss of his head.  “So, you and Joe close?” he added innocently.

 

Evie narrowed her eyes suspiciously, arms crossed.  “What exactly do you mean?”  Joe put his head in his hands, muttering something unintelligible.  Raising his head, he glared at the ‘younger’ man.

 

Nelson felt the stare, but ignored the warning. “Like, for instance, did Joe ever tell you what he does for a living?” He grinned, reveling in making Dawson uncomfortable.

 

Evie laughed, obviously relaxing as she started to understand the dynamic between the two men. “Oh, that.  Well he didn’t quite tell me, but I understand a bit about his ‘business’.”  She walked over and patted Joe gently on the shoulder.  “Don’t worry, dear.  I won’t mention that little b&d scene the other night.  Now where’s your coffee?”

 

Joe’s expression changed from hostile to confused as Nelson raised an eyebrow in his direction. Evie whistled innocently as she searched for the coffee, enjoying the game.  “Much better than sleep,” she hummed to herself.  “Hey!” she shouted.  “How come you get a kitchenette?”

 

Joe rubbed his face, off balance and short on sleep.  “Algernon suggested it. I, uh… don’t sleep well.”  “Even without people banging

on my door,” he added, his lips twisting into a reluctant smile.

 

“The old war wound?” Nelson’s face was unreadable.  Joe nodded.

 

The microwave hummed, heating cups of water.   “Joe?” Evie shouted from the kitchen alcove, “you want milk & sugar?  Nelson?  You want coffee or tea?  We have both.”

 

Joe suddenly looked at Nelson, who looked back, inscrutable.  Dawson wondered how much the punk Watcher going to reveal to Evie.

 

“Neither, thanks. I’m still vibrating from my trip up here,” Nelson said and began to unlace the brace on his left wrist.  The old brown leather needed oiling and was chafing his wrist and the tattoo underneath.

 

Evie suddenly appeared at the table with two cups.  She handed one to Joe.  “You can doctor it yourself.”

 

“Thanks,” Joe replied.  “I take it black.”

 

“Well?”  Evie looked at Nelson expectantly. She had been around the new and improved Trapper long enough to know what she was dealing with.  “Don’t worry about me – I know a few…unusual people.”

 

Nelson shook his head and lowered his gaze to Dawson.  I’m losin’ my touch, he thought to himself, tiredly.

 

“Hey, don’t look at me,” Joe spread his hands in the air.  “You’re the one who invited her.”  Seeing her expression, he added hastily, “Not that I mind.”

 

Sighing, Nelson brought the subject around to the business at hand. “Word is, I got me a new assignment by the name of Lux

Interior.”

 

Nelson looked at Evie and, seeing her reaction, smiled. “You know him,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, elbows on knees.

 

“Oh, yeah, you could say that.”  Evie sat, her hands wrapping around the coffee cup. “If he had an ‘Indian’ name it would be Scum-That-Walks.  Or maybe Psycho-On-The-Loose,” she added thoughtfully.

 

“Yeah, I figured it was bad, if they called me,” Nelson said, his voice growing colder. He stood, brace in hand and headed for the door.

 

“Wait a minute,” Dawson interjected, “Remember you’re just here to observe.”

 

“Uh huh,” the bigger man said, turning to face his boss and comrade.  “Does he have to be observed right this minute or can I get some sleep first?”

 

 

Did I Hear Coffee Break??

By Trapper

September 7

Chateau

7:50 am

 

Trapper and Nick lay in the darkened room, curled together in contented slumber. No noise disturbed the quiet, save the occasional shallow breath from the bed.

 

Suddenly, in the dark, Trapper’s eyes snapped open. They were gold. She raised her head to sniff the air, and noticed that her fangs were fully extended. A soft growl escaped her throat as she caught the scent that had awakened her. Easing carefully from the bed, she quickly pulled on her tights, boots and her torn Harley T-shirt.

 

Nick opened one eye. “I smelled it, too. Don’t be long,” he murmured.

 

“I won’t,” she smiled as she kissed his cheek. Then Trapper moved to the door. The hunt was on.

 

****

Evie finished pouring her coffee and leaned against the counter to listen to the conversation. She’d no sooner gotten settled when an insistent knock sounded on the door. Sighing, she picked up her cup and walked to answer it.

 

As she opened the door, a hand snaked out and snatched the cup from her.

 

“YAAAAH!” she shrieked and fell back.

 

Trapper stood in the doorway, eyes blazing as she raised the cup over her head to drain the last drops. When she finished, she licked her lips and looked around with a sheepish grin. “Sorry,” she shrugged as she helped Evie back to her feet. “I’ve just got to stop doing this.” She handed the cup back. “Is there more?”

 

Evie laughed as she walked back to the coffeepot. “There’s always more, Traps, but I’m never going to get used to the way you drink it now.” She looked at the small chips around the rim of the cup where fangs had met china and suppressed a shudder.

 

Nelson raised an eyebrow at Joe. “Now, I know I haven’t been around lately, but did I just see what I think I saw?”

 

Joe nodded.

 

Evie looked over her shoulder. “It’s a long story.”

 

 

Coffee Continued

by RaventKat

 

“Hopefully I’ll be around long enough to hear it,” he aimed at Joe in the form of a question.  The last thing Nelson wanted was to get leathered up again and go in search of a crazed Immortal.  He had several people to catch up with first. Besides, if these two were any indication of the ladies in New Salem, Nelson planned on sticking around awhile.

 

“It’s beginning to look that way,” Joe commented wryly.

 

Evie handed her famished friend a new cup of coffee. “We need to be getting back to bed, too,” she said, smiling. Trapper was putting in a concerted effort NOT to gulp her breakfast.

 

“You see, we’ve only had about an hour of sleep,” Joe said, ushering Nelson closer to the exit.

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the long-haired Watcher laughed, “I get the hint.”  He opened the door then turned toward Dawson. “Tonight, then?”

 

“Yes,” Joe growled, “Tonight.”

 

As Nelson stepped away, leaving the door ajar, he heard Joe yawning, “You still want the guitar?”

 

 

Comfort, II

by Sukh

September 7

Chateau

Noon

Giles drifted back into a fretful sleep.  When he work at noon, he reached for Jenny, his hand met empty pillow.  Gone, she was gone from him again.  He sighed and sat up, raking his hand through his neatly trimmed hair.  “Jenny, I miss you already.” She spoke at the empty place in his bed.

 

~~You’re in the arms of the Angels, may you find some comfort here~~

 

Her laughter echoed in his head.  <“I’m still with you English,”> Her voice was clear in his head.  <“But someone needs your help.”> She spoke to him from the other side as he began to get dressed for the day.

 

“Really? Who?”  He asked as he shaved in the steamy bathroom.

 

<“Micah’s sister. She needs a shoulder, and someone to help her find the strength to free Micah.”> Jenny sounded pensive.

 

“You want me to go to a vampire?”  Giles frowned as he nicked himself. The blood was bright against the contrast of his shaving cream.  He watched it bead up, wondering how far he had to take comforting Angelique.  He had a brief disturbing vision of Angelique, naked and wet from the shower behind him, bending his neck to the side and licking the thin trail of blood off his cheek.  Heat shot through his body.  “Jenny?”

 

<“It’s okay Rupert.  Isis wants you to do whatever it takes.  Remember, I can feel you through her, through Angelique.”>

 

“Why, when I love you do I want her so badly?”  He finished shaving with a less than steady hand.  He moved to the other room and put on his blue shirt.

 

<“She is a beautiful creature, and we have a bond.  You sense me in her and are trying to touch me through her.”>

 

Giles slipped his cream suspenders over his shoulders and reached for a cream tie.  “I see.”  He knotted his tie, then looked at his jacket, before shaking his head.  “First, I have a funeral to plan for Kendra.”  He walked out without his jacket.

 

<“Buffy should help.”>

 

“If she was awake, yes.”  Giles stopped in front of Angelique’s door.

 

<“She needs you more right now.  Kendra can wait until Buffy wakes.”>

 

He took a deep breath and knocked softly.  No answer.

 

<“Go in.”>

 

He opened the door, and found Angelique curled into a ball, her face streaked by crimson tears.

 

~~It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness

This glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees~~

 

“Angelique?”  He knelt at her side, his hand brushing her hair out of her face.

 

She looked at him, not quite seeing him.  “I can feel what they do to him.”  She reached out and grasped his forearm, nearly cracking the bone.  “Make it stop, please, ” her voice was small, and he sat on the bed and let her curl into his lap and cling to him.

 

~~Don’t make no difference

Escape one last time~~

 

He held her, rocking gently, stroking her hair.  “Ssshhh, it will be all right.”

 

She melted into the comfort of his warm chest, and listened to the soothing beat of his heart.  “I can feel myself coming apart, and I don’t know what to do.”  She stroked his bicep through the cotton of his shirt, a gentle rhythmic brush.

 

~~You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie~~

 

 

“Remember when Buffy ran away.  I thought I’d go out of my mind with worry.”  He whispered, revealing his private fears, hoping they could help Angelique.  “I blamed myself, her mother blamed me, and the rest of her friends did her job.”

 

“You don’t understand,” She sighed.  “It is my fault.  I wanted LaCroix for myself, and instead of seeing Divia’s sick attraction, I festered her desires for him.”

 

“Its not like you took her into bed with him and had her join along.”

 

“Actually, I let her watch Lucien and I.” She shuddered at the memory.  “At the time, in Rome, it wasn’t such a perverse thing.”

 

~~ may you find some comfort here~~

 

The fact she lived through the glory years of the Roman Empire made his historian heart falter.  “No, not then.”

 

“Then she betrayed me, because I was going to claim Lucien for my own.”

 

“Why are you telling me this?”

 

“You understand what it is like to have the one thing you want, you care for yanked from you.”

 

Jenny’s dead body in his bed flashed through his brain.  “Yes.”  He frowned and stroked her cheek.  “But LaCroix is still here.”

 

“Physically, yes.”  Angelique laid her head on Giles’s shoulder.  “But he is smothering me.  It always ends up like this. Together for a few hundred years, then we part.  Then we meet again and begin the dance all over.”

 

He said nothing, just stroked her cheek again, and then pressed a kiss to her forehead. She smiled then sank back into his warmth.

 

“Be glad he can come back.”  He put his arms more firmly around her, and laid his chin on the top of her head.  “And be glad you have the resources to find Micah.”

 

“If only you were less afraid of the computer, I could have you help me with the profile for Micah’s rescue mission.”

 

“I can help, with the magic.”  Giles smiled against her hair.  “Just make sure Willow is on the computer, and not on the magic team.”

 

“I will.”  She turned her body to press against him.  “And what about Oz? The full moon first night is tomorrow.”

 

Giles groaned.  “I’ll asked Larry to find a safe room.”

 

“Giles?”

 

“Call me Rupert.”

 

“Rupert?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“You make me feel safe.” Angelique smiled.  “I don’t feel that way often.”

 

“My pleasure.”  He pressed his mouth to the top of her head, then eased out of her embrace.  “I have to see about Kendra.”

 

~~In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~

 

“If you need anything, let me know.”   Angelique stood and stretched, catlike, full of dark feline grace.

 

He felt the rush of desire, and watched her eyes widen as she caught the scent of his attraction.

 

“Rupert, I’m flattered.” She teased as she stalked closer.  “Did you know I spent almost one hundred years in a Raja’s Houri?  I was the head courtesan.”  She walked around him, her hips swaying.  “Anytime you wish a demonstration of my skills.” She leaned over and nipped at his lower lip.  “Just ask.” Then with a bright laugh, she stepped into the bathroom.

 

Giles fled to the kitchen, looking for a soothing cuppa as Buffy and her group stumbled in.

 

 

It Is Unto This Fire That We Travel

Devin Saceur

September 7th

All Day

The Garage

It was an uncomfortable day.

The garage gave little convenience…and even less actual shelter from the raging flood of sunlight, which had the two vampires constantly searching for a new position to sleep in.

 

They’d struggled, in those last waning moments before dawn, to cover all of the building’s abundant windows. A torn strip of canvas here, a makeshift tower of paint cans stacked on a shelf there, a collection of Realtor’s yard signs tacked up wherever they could manage…the futility went on until the first beam of searing light shot through the window and flash-roasted Remy’s hand, sending Devin into a roaring fit of laughter.

 

But only minutes later, as they prepared their bedding behind a shelf covered with the remaining canvas, Devin’s amateurish yard sign barricade gave way. The resulting blast of ultraviolet rays rushed into him with the force of an explosion…hurling him across the garage, over the shelf they had so painstakingly covered, and hard into the wall. His skin and clothes immediately caught fire as Remy returned the favor of laughter – until, in a fit of fire-dousing anxiety, Devin fell upon the man and set him to flame as well…

 

The rest of the morning and afternoon had, fortunately, gone by without further incident. Not pleasant, of course…as they spent most of their normally restful hours shifting to and fro in an effort to escape the occasional ray that would slip through a hole in their canvas as the sun moved across the sky.

 

But it was at least “safe”. That is, until Devin woke at his usual time.

 

He found quickly that, although hardly rested, his custom of waking before dusk had become so ingrained to his existence that he could not force himself to return to his slumber. This was made even more painful by the fact that he could do little more than wander between the myriad beams of dust-choked light that seemed to await his every move and promise that, with a simple misstep, the cleansing fire would visit him once more.

 

Gone were the comfortably filtered windows that allowed him a peek at the slowly descending sun. Gone, it seemed, were all traces of the civilization and technology that he’d become far too accustomed to through his lavish, spoiled existence. And as the seconds dragged the mortal world ever so slowly towards night, so too collapsed all mental walls separating him from his personal demon.

 

When fear found him, it was the fool spirit that would invariably rise to meet the flood. Rage had always been too quick and sloppy for his taste. Panic was as alien to his consciousness as the notion of failure or defeat. But folly…oh, folly was as royal silk to him, likened so to his nature as to be the very marrow of his bones. No depth to which he could fall would ever supplant the malicious jester in him that beckoned to break the frustration of any and all moments beyond his control.

 

So without further ado, Devin snatched up the ankles of the peacefully sleeping Remy and began dragging the vampire across the worn concrete floor of the garage. The man snorted and twisted momentarily, causing Devin to stop short and produce a conniving grin in the event of an awakening. But a minute slipped by with no further movement, and Devin returned to his task.

 

Upon reaching the entrance, he set Remy’s feet down gently and twisted the handle to the garage door, lifting it slightly before moving over to kneel down at the man’s side. Readying himself for the shock of sunlight, he mustered his strength and proceeded to shove the man out into the open air and close the door behind him.

 

As he listened, giggling, with his ear to the door…Remy woke. Seconds after that, the two vampires were rolling on the floor in battle.

 

 

It’s Just a Small Glitch

By Sukh

September 7

Basement of the Orphanage

3:00 pm

 

Mr. Trick stared at the computer screen, a sly grin spreading across his face.  As he watched the words scroll down the screen, he picked up the phone and dialed.

 

Four men in black suits, dark sunglasses and ear comms appeared in a silver blur.  “Where are they?”

 

“I’ll show them to you, don’t you worry,” Mr. Trick stood.  “First, you might want to meet a few more people.”

 

Madeline stepped out of the dark stairwell.  “Hello, gentlemen,” She stood next to Trick.

 

“Your show also?” they men looked dismayed.

 

“Tell the powers that be that both Operations and I stand behind them.  The TV reality must be preserved.”  Madeline cocked her head at the numbers scrolling down the laptop screen.  “We both wish to be back in our Nikita reality.”

 

Deep in August’s cave, Divia looked at the computer screen and smiled.  “Not so fast, TPTB, August has something to say about who controls reality.”

 

She picked up the cell phone and dialed August.  “I have something interesting for you.  I found it on the computer, of all things.”

 

She nodded her head, “I understand, but instead of just controlling the Sabbat and New Salem, how would you like to control an entire reality?”  She laughed.  “I thought so.”

 

 

Drunch?

By Maccousin

September 7

Chateau

4:00 p.m.

 

Buffy was being shaken, rather rudely.  She grumbled incoherently to herself and then threw the comforter over her head.  She wanted to escape, escape from Kendra’s brutal death.  Sleep was the easiest escape route.  However, she had not been able to escape until mid-morning.

 

“Buffy!”  Willow shook her friend once again.

 

“What time is it?” growled Buffy.

 

“Nearly four in the afternoon,” answered Willow, her stomach growled.

 

Buffy rolled out of bed, her eyes slightly bloodshot.  She rubbed away some dry tears, hoping there would be no nasty black rings around her eyes.  “I’ll be down in a few,” she told Willow.

 

Willow nodded and began walking out of the room.

 

“So how is she?” Xander asked Willow, falling into her stride.

 

Willow shrugged.  “Give her some time,” she advised softly.  Oz slipped out of his room and joined the twosome.

 

Cordelia joined them on the staircase.  “I hope this place has better food than Denny’s,” she grumbled.

 

“I can’t believe you’re worrying about food at a time like this,” said Willow, softly.  How could anyone be that callous was beyond her.

 

“We both think better with full stomachs,” replied Xander.  Buffy stepped out of her room and silently joined the others, a determined look on her face.

 

The others quickly became silent.  “I’m going to get whatever did that to her,” Buffy said, flatly, not that they didn’t expect to hear this again.  “It will be nothing but a bit of blood on my shoe once I’m finished with it.”

 

The Scooby gang reached downstairs and walked into the kitchen.  Giles was waiting for them, a haunted look in his eyes.  He nodded to them, as he continued speaking on the phone.  Larry took a glance at the situation and decided that since they had rested, food was in order.

 

Buffy took a seat at the large kitchen table, the others took the chairs near her.  They noticed the Maccousin drinking a rather large cup of coffee, staring into space, ignoring everyone, hoping this hangover would depart soon.

 

“Larry, could I have some eggs?” asked Buffy.

 

“But, wouldn’t you prefer a sandwich or something more filling.  It is four in the afternoon after all.”

 

“But we missed breakfast,” pointed out Oz.  “Now you want us to have Drunch?”

 

“Don’t you mean linner?” asked Xander.

 

Smiles flickered briefly then faded as Giles hung up the phone.

 

“I just talked to Mr. Botos, Kendra’s watcher,” began Giles.  “He feels we should bury her here near where she died.”

 

The Scooby gang nodded.

 

“Is there a cemetery nearby?” Giles asked Larry.

 

“Yes, there’s a small cemetery on the grounds.  You could have a proper burial there,” he answered.

 

“We’ll take her there then,” Giles looked over the kitchen table at everyone.

 

 

Feathers II

by Sukh

September 7

Caves

4:00 pm

 

He had once been a mighty warrior, Pharaoh, God-King.  Now he was chained, naked and shivering in a moist cell, one thin ray of light his salvation from the daytime tortures that the demon creature Divia could devise.  His mind was numb, detached from the torment that the she-devils were inflicting, the girl and her sexual perversions, all done while calling to her father. The same father that had thought her dead to him these past two thousand years, that had killed her rather than give in to her twisted demands.

 

The same man that was his sister’s lover.

 

He had seen her, his goddess of a sister a few nights, or was it last night?  Time had lost its meaning for him.  She had offered herself to Set, to free him.  He was past any care about the petty teasing of Set, he was in the hands of evil as his Egyptian soul could never have imagined. The evils of August and Divia.  And he had thought being Horton’s blood puppy was bad, Divia made him look like a tender lover.

 

Micah wanted death, nay, he craved it.  Death was his, for too brief periods of time, then he awoke into the nightmare of his captivity.  At least he had the day to himself.  Days, he remembered things then, the beauty of hot desert sands, the soft caress of egret feathers, the touch of a woman, not the perversions of his captors, but true tenderness.  The scent of vanilla, the soft abrasions of a brush on his flesh. The gentle tickle of feathers filled him, calmed him, made his capture bearable.  He would curl up into a tight ball and close his eyes.  Then he could set himself free from the rusty chains binding him.  He knelt, his strength gone, his body bowed and watched the weak light dance on the smooth cave floor.

 

The thin ray of light increased, the brightness filled the tiny room and caressed him with gentle fingers of warmth. Then to his amazement, a woman materialized from the sunlight.  A dark-haired, cat eyed gypsy woman.

 

Jenny Calendar looked at the man. He was a tall man, broad shouldered and still well muscled, despite the cruel wounds that crossed his torso and legs.  His arms sported half-healed fang marks and his neck was a red raw wound on one side.  His hair was limp, obscuring his face, streaked with gray.

 

“Mernptah, son of Ramses the Great?”  She inquired, knowing the answer.

 

He looked up, he was aged, not the youth he was when he had been first revived, but older.  His dark eyes burned from his under his arched brows, pain, rage, and fear congealed into his hot gaze.  “Who, are you?”  His voice was raw from the half healed vocal cords, strained from the screaming he had done, the vain begging for mercy.

 

He had been so handsome once, a masculine thing of beauty.  Now he was a cruel caricature of his eternal youth.  Jenny came closer, bending to where he rested on his knees, too weak to even have the defiance of being on his feet.  She reached out to him, wanting to stroke the hair out of his face.  He flinched from her fingers, turning his head, a shudder of fear trembled through his big frame.

 

“Micah, shh, I won’t hurt you,” she soothed him as she pulled his hair from his face.  “I’ve come from Isis to give you strength.”

 

“For what?”  He allowed her to stroke her hand over his hair.  Her hand was warm and comforting.  “My hell is more then even the great Goddess could comprehend.”

 

“All will be over soon.  Your sister is planning your rescue, even now.”  Jenny touched his face and stroked the lines away, restoring his smooth Immortal flesh, imbibing him with the strength that he had been losing.  The wound on his neck started to heal and the fang marks disappeared.  “Set will no longer be able have your Ba.”

 

“I am past caring.”  He sighed and leaned into her touch; soaking in Isis’s energy.  His hair thickened, it’s glossy sheen returning, and the wound on his neck began to shrink.

 

“No, you aren’t,” Jenny smiled as Micah surged to his feet and held out a manacled hand to her.  “You have to hold on to the fact you will be out of here soon.”

 

Micah put his hand on the collar around his neck, the chains clinked and rattled against the heavy gold circle.  The blood crusting his neck was gone, the chafe wound healed with the speed of his immortal system.  His torso was clean also, free of all but he battle scars he had acquired before his first resurrection.

 

“Tell me, how is my sister?”  He ran his hands down his stomach, glad that the marks of his torment by Divia were gone.

 

“She is very troubled.  She took the news of your capture badly. She and LaCroix have parted company, driven apart by their ghosts.”  Jenny smiled as he pressed his lips to her palm.

 

“Well, that’s some good news.”  Micah dropped her hand after pressing the gentle kiss to her hand.

 

“Her soul hurts,” Jenny’s voice was heavy.  “And she has no comfort.”

 

“What about Giles?  I know he was yours. But maybe she needs someone more stable than that old General right now.”

 

“Giles?” Jenny looked horrified, then her expression turned thoughtful.  “Hmm, perhaps.”

 

“How’s Kay?”  Micah vaguely remembered a peach and vanilla scented bath and a warm willing body with him.

 

“Her magic grows stronger.  She misses you.”

 

Jenny stepped back as the sounds of footsteps echoed through the caves.  “Have strength, it will be over soon.”  Then she melted into a thousand points of sunlight and was gone.

 

One of August’s lackeys held out a dinner tray.  “Here eat.” He set the tray just out of Micah’s reach, and ran away laughing.  Micah lunged out to the full length of the chains and hooked his toe over the edge of the tray, dragging it toward s him.  He fell on the food, past caring about manners, hungry as a starving zoo animal.

 

He looked up as feathers started to fall around him, caressing his skin and cushioning the cold floor of the cave.

 

 

 

Mother Courage

By Trapper

September 7th

The Caves

4:15 p.m. – right after Feathers

 

The feathers continued to fall thick and fast around Micah, piling up in soft, warm heaps around his small prison. He knelt with closed eyes, the remains of his meal momentarily forgotten as he luxuriated in the sensation of the feathers against his skin.

 

As he knelt, breathing in the quiet, he slowly became aware of a faint fragrance. It was tantalizingly familiar and he frowned in an effort to drag it from his memory. Where had he smelled it before, and how long ago? The scent grew in strength until he smiled in recognition. It was sandalwood and lotus. His mother had always worn it. Had Jenny returned, or was this comforting smell just one more kindness from the Gypsy woman?

 

Micah opened his eyes and beheld his mother emerging from the slowing cascade of feathers. He was mute with surprise. Had he gone truly mad?

 

The small, smiling apparition approached him with outstretched arms. “My little bull,” she said softly, “how I’ve missed you!”

 

She looked as he had always remembered, from the dainty feet shod in gold sandals, to her black perfumed braids that hung in a shining wave to her waist. Lotus blossoms adorned her hair and the belt that kept her pleated gown in place. Her dark eyes gazed on him with pure, simple love. Micah collapsed in tears.

 

“Oh, Mernptah, my golden child, why do you weep so?” She was instantly at his side, stroking his hair and shoulders.

 

He clung to her, losing himself in the curtain of her hair, breathing in the smell of her, sobbing out the grief that had not been released in over a millennium.

 

“How can this be?” he said hoarsely, gazing up at her. “You’ve been gone for so many lifetimes.”

 

“You needed me,” she said simply. “So I came.” She sank to her knees and drew his face level with her own. “Best beloved son of Ramses and my heart, I come to bring you courage and hope. Know that your father and I love you and watch over you always.”

 

Micah grasped her narrow shoulders. “How can I have courage, my mother, when my heart is breaking with pain?”

 

She touched the collar around his neck. “This will all pass, my son. You shall walk free to rejoin your sister.” The collar fell suddenly to the ground, pitted and cracked with age. “My small gift to you, son of Pharaoh.” She drew him to his feet as she rose. “Never forget who you are, my son. Never forget that I love you. Someday, you will join us in the blessed realm, but for now, have courage.” She reached up and kissed his cheek. “The Goddess tells me that I must go, but I leave you with a present and my love.” She touched his hand and turned away.

 

A sparkling mist had formed in the room. Still smiling at Micah, she stepped into the mist and vanished. He thought he caught a glimpse of lotus gardens and high white buildings as the doorway faded.

 

Micah stood, staring at the place where his mother had been. Had it been a dream? The collar of his slavery lying at his feet spoke the truth of the visit. He looked at the hand his mother had touched.

 

Lying on his outstretched palm was a silver Ankh.

 

 

Not So Random Madness

by Hanna

September 7

New Salem

5:00 p.m.

 

He raised his head slightly at the hint of a breeze.  After Divia’s “goodnight” kiss, his skin burned quite literally, and any amount of coolness was welcome, however small.

 

Small was it entirely.  After everything that had happened to him, to her, he never honestly expected to lay eyes on her again.  He wasn’t really sure he had ever wanted to, only his heart raced inside of him as she glided along the shadows to him.

 

She was too far away and yet, when she reached forth her hand, the shadows responded and caressed his damaged cheek.  His cheek stung suddenly, and as he blinked, he realized his eyes were spilling tears.  His cracked lips mouthed her name and she smiled.

 

His eyes widened as she neared him, covered with blood and worse.  He almost drew back as she reached to touch him again.  Her eyes, almost warm, turned hard and she looked down.

 

“We haven’t the time, Micah, to play ‘I am offended by you.’  You are in need, and I am the only one here to help you.  I can only do it now, while I have the…strength.”  She nearly choked on the word, and he couldn’t understand why.  Shaking herself, she knelt beside him.  “Tell me you will accept my aid.  Of your own will and with no regrets.”

 

He said nothing, only stared at her as if she were one of the hooded cobras that used to slither through his father’s palace.  Own will?  That sounded too much like the old vampire lure and he knew better.

 

She shook her head as if she knew what was in his mind.  In a way, she did.  Theirs was a special sort of bond, forged by the fires of his “Holy Ground” Quickening, the blood she took from him after saving Starr, and the love they had shared, if only for that one night.  She had given herself to August to save him and the others at Casa Loma, and part of what she was now had come from that.  He trusted her.  He had to.  Didn’t he?

 

He nodded once, and she stroked his cheek once more before beginning.  Slowly, she removed his bonds one by one, then lifted him to his feet.  Lifting a vial to his lips, she whispered, “Drink, and you will be able to walk out of here on your own two feet.”

 

He smelled it and wished he hadn’t.  Steeling himself, he looked at her as he drank.  Something was familiar about the taste, and he couldn’t tell what.

 

She smiled again.  “Yes, you might know it.  I borrowed it from an old friend.  My life is yours, however briefly, Micah.  My strength I give to you.  Your wounds are no longer yours to suffer.”  She bit into his wrist, taking only a mouthful.  “As I take you into myself, so you receive me.”

 

He passed out.  That was the best he could figure.  Only when his eyes opened, he was sitting in an abandoned part of the airport.  Everything that had hurt, didn’t.  He looked down at himself and his skin was like new, as if he had been completely healed.  What the hell?!

 

Remember the way back, Merneptah.  You will remember.

 

He stood up, trying to find a way back.

 

“Don’t be stupid.”

 

He spun around ready to kill.  And his hand dropped.

 

“John?”

 

“None other.  Who else would be able to give her what she used for you?”

 

“I had forgotten what you were…are…”

 

“No matter.  Even having been Pharaoh once probably doesn’t prepare you for actually confronting ‘our’ afterlife.  For all that we had once believed, very few of us actually attained this state of being.  And of us all, I am the only one left who still practices the old … tricks.”

 

Micah simply nodded.  He should have been this way, the way John was now, only he had become a different type of Immortal.  At first, he had worried about his Ka, Ba, and the damage to the rest of his essence, but he knew better now.  He…

 

“Wait one damned minute!  Don’t try to distract me!  We can’t just leave her there in my place!”

 

“I don’t need to try to distract you, I did it.  Now let’s go.  Nothing can be done for her now.  She chose, you accepted, and you have to live with it.”

 

“And Hanna?”

He sighed, “Will get her revenge.”

 

Micah looked back at the crack in the wall, carefully hidden from unknowing eyes.  August was there, along with Divia.  And Jonas’ silent ashes were in another urn in there as well.  He nodded to himself.  She was where she needed to be.  Where she had always needed to be.  Locked away with her only master, and her greatest enemy.  Her right to exist would be determined by whatever happened now.  Either August would destroy her, proving that she was worthless to begin with, or she would triumph over both the monster and her fear of her husband.  Micah didn’t want to think about the consequences of either event, but he knew that, not matter what, he would be there to see it.

 

He turned and walked off with John, determined to head back to the city and make certain that the others made it here as well…

 

Today, We Gather

by Sukh and Maccousin

September 7

Chalet

6:15 pm

 

Buffy stared as Giles, Xander and Oz finished shoveling the dirt onto Kendra’s final resting-place.  Mortals and Immortals both looked over the scene, with silence.  The small contingent stared as Giles put a small cross over the fresh mound of dirt.

 

Gilchrist, Sukh, Maccousin, Duncan, Willow Cordelia, Methos and Joe stood to the side.  Angel stood by himself under a tree, barely escaping the deadly rays of the fading sunlight.

 

After the cross was raised, the contingent stared at each other.

 

“Something should be said,” began Giles.

 

“Or sung,” murmured Sukh.

 

“May your heart and soul find true peace,” whispered Buffy, wiping away a tear.  The contingent became silent again

 

Maccousin rubbed her eyes; they were still sensitive to the light.  “As high as the moon and stars and as wide as the sea,” she whispered.

 

“You will not be forgotten,” finished Gilchrist. He noted how badly the Maccousin looked to shake and nodded to the rest of the mourners.  He turned and began to lead Maccousin back to the chateau, noting how querulous her knees appeared to be.  They reached the edge of the graveyard when a voice started to sing.  It wasn’t a voice like Trappers, but it could hold a tune.  The first verse to Amazing Grace trembled through the graveyard as the couple moved towards the chateau.  A masculine voice joined the female as they sang Kendra to her rest.

 

The Maccousin began to cry silently.

 

The pair stood at the threshold to the graveyard and Maccousin wiped away her tears and looked one last time at the funeral procession turning away from the small, sad grave to return to the chateau.

 

“Don’t worry, things will work out,” Gilchrist promised, vaguely.  He hoped he sounded surer of himself than he thought he did.

 

They walked into the chalet, leaving the others to their grieving.

 

Buffy looked in shock as Giles joined Sukh in the traditional hymn.  Then she began to sing softly.  Soon the entire group had finished the song.

 

“Come Lass,” Duncan wiped a tear from Sukh’s face and started to lead her off. “That was beautiful.”  Methos trailed them inside, then wandered off to find Màire.

 

“At least I’m not doing it over Kay’s grave,” She perked up a bit as they walked into the chateau.  “Man, I’m hungry all of a sudden.” Duncan smiled, then his smile faded. He got a closed, unhappy look, his lips tight around the edges.

 

Michael was standing in the doorway, the usual unreadable look on his face.

 

“Maybe not.”  Sukh sighed.

 

 

Boys Will Be Boys

By Trapper

September 7th

The Chateau

Sunset

Dust clouds roiled through the garage like the aftermath of a desert sandstorm. Nothing was safe from the grit that settled everywhere, from Monique’s freshly polished limousines to the formerly sparkling windows. At the eye of the storm, two vampires continued their wrestling match.

 

Language and the intelligence to use it had gone by the wayside at least an hour before. Guttural animal cries and snarls echoed off the walls in evidence that the two combatants possessed no humanity whatsoever. Their Beasts were completely in charge.

 

A sudden change in the air pressure went unnoticed by the pair. The smell of blood, however, brought them both up short. Red-eyed, they looked to the open garage doorway. The sun had set, with only the slightest tint of crimson lining the horizon. Algernon leaned casually against the doorframe, with raised eyebrows and a smirk of superiority. Two bottles of “Toni” stood on the floor in front of him.

 

Their battle momentarily forgotten, the mangled, disheveled twosome snatched up their dinner and began to drink noisily, blood running down their chins.

 

Devin was the first to turn a clear-eyed stare on Algernon. “Sunset?” he mouthed.

 

“Yes, Mr. Saceur, sunset indeed,” Algernon said condescendingly. “I can’t imagine what possessed the Mistress to allow you here in the first place, let alone him,” he continued, staring pointedly at Remy. “But, since you are here, you should really come in and get cleaned up.” As he turned to go, he looked again at Devin. “I think you’ll find some of your clothes hanging in Miss Anna’s room. They’re probably a little dusty from storage, but Ms. Monique couldn’t bear to throw them out. Not that you’ll notice,” he said under his breath as he marveled over how filthy they were.

 

Remy wiped his mouth off with a grubby hand. “Hey, Saceur! ‘Dat was some fun! Too bad I won, eh?”

 

“You what?” Devin sputtered. “I beg to differ, you ego-inflated waste of fang! I almost managed to fry your ass!”

 

“I think not,” Remy replied as he leapt toward Devin.

 

As the battle raged anew, Algernon walked back to the chateau, rolling his eyes heavenward. “I will be so happy when the hotel is repaired,” he muttered.

 

 

Misplaced Nostalgia

By Trapper

September 7

The chateau

Sunset

Monique stood at her dressing table, staring at a small packet of papers. She had never thought she’d look through them again, but here she was, sorting through each yellowed piece of parchment, scribbled serviette and card. A soft knock at the door brought her from her daydreams.

 

“Oui?”

 

The door swung open and Anna walked in, muffled in a long, terry-towel robe and drying her hair with a towel.

“I wanted to thank you. The room is lovely, and after last night, the shower felt exquisite.”

“You are most welcome.”

“Any word of the dynamic duo?” Anna asked, grinning.

Monique returned the smile. “I sent Algernon down to the garage with some refreshment, and to make sure they had not killed each other.”

 

Anna noticed the papers strewn on the small table and stepped closer. “Catching up on correspondence?”

 

Monique laughed. “No. These are old papers from Devin. I don’t know why I took them out. Perhaps I’m just trying to sort through things.” She picked up a card and handed it to Anna. “You would appreciate this. It’s a Valentine I received from him, shortly before our final falling out.” Seeing Anna’s expression, she smiled again. “Go on and read it. It’s very Devin.”

 

Anna took the card gingerly, and began to read:

 

FRONT COVER

 

“I’m no poet,

But when I look into your eyes,

I see every dream I’ve ever had.

I see the sun rising and the moon shining.

I see all my tomorrows

captured in a single moment.

But, most of all, I see…”

 

INSIDE

 

“…ME!

Yeah, I can see me

Right there in your eyeballs!

And damn, I’m lookin’ good!

I’m hot, I tell ya’!

I’m really…oh, yeah, sorry,

I was supposed to be talking about you.

So, okay…

Dreams and sun and all my tomorrows

Blah, blah, blah…

Anyway, love those eyeballs!!

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

 

Anna burst out laughing. “You’re so right! It’s just like him!” She handed the card back. “Tell me. What could you possibly send him in return?”

 

Monique smiled slowly. “What else? A pair of eyeballs.”

 

 

Back in Action

By Trapper

September 7th

Nick and Trapper’s room

Sunset

 

The two blonde vampires lay curled together in each other’s arms, gazing out the gauzy draperies. Trapper had opened the heavy curtains to watch the sunset. The ruby light spilled through the window onto the bed, bathing them in the sun’s dying glow. Nick sank a little lower under the covers.

 

“Mmm. I could stay like this forever. Couldn’t you?” Trapper said softly. “Nick?”

 

“Still a little bright for me,” Nick murmured from where he’d retreated, under the covers.

 

“Oh, come on!” Trapper said, playfully pulling the covers off. “Don’t go all creature of the night on me now!” She reached down and tickled him.

 

“Agh! Stop!” Nick writhed. “OK, you win! I’m awake! I’m here, watching the sunset! Yes, it certainly is one!” He grabbed her wrists and they both collapsed, laughing, on the bed again.

 

“You’re right,” Nick said as he raked his fingers through her hair. “I could stay here forever. But, we should probably get up. We’re needed.”

 

“Thank you, Steed,” Trapper said with a smirk as she got out of bed. “So, what shall it be tonight? Saving the world, perhaps?”

 

“Perhaps, Mrs. Peel,” Nick responded, playing along as they walked into the bathroom.

 

Trapper spoke up as she turned on the shower. “You know, the weirdest thing happened this morning.”

 

“That’s not exactly how I’d describe it,” Nick said as he got into the shower.

 

“Funny,” Trapper said as she soaped his back. “No, really. It was just after you bit me.”

 

“Mmm. A little lower, please. Yes?”

 

“I could’ve sworn I heard a Harley pull up outside.”

 

 

A Family Affair

By Renie

September. 7

The Chalet

Sunset

Vachon awoke to the setting sun, as the chateau returned to life for the evening. The vibration of a nearby family member rippled over him. Taking care not to wake Kat, he reluctantly slipped out of bed to investigate. A neatly folded shirt and pair of pants lay on a chair.  Vachon dressed quickly and with a last longing glance at the sleeping form, ventured out into the hallway.

 

Following the connection, he made his way to a room a few doors away from his own. The door was partially open, so he peered inside. Vachon sensed two vampires, but he could only see one. The woman stood sipping a glass of “Abigail.” Her long auburn hair spilled over her shoulders and down her back. She looked a little over five and a half feet tall, but the black leather, over the knee boots sported high heels. As she titled her head to look at him, he noted that her eyes were the same emerald green as her suede jacket and mini skirt.

 

“Hi.” She said casually. “Please, do come in.”

 

He tried to look sheepish as he entered the room. “Hi. I didn’t see you here last night. Did you just get in?”

 

“We barely made it before sunrise. There was so much activity when we got here, I doubt anyone noticed our arrival.”

 

He stuck out a hand and gave her a friendly smile. “Javier Vachon.”

 

“Camille Marquette.”

 

Vachon took her hand and brushed her knuckles with his lips. He was about to say something when he saw the other vampire.

 

“Ah mierda.” he growled.

 

Francois Bourbon stood at the other side of the room. His dark blonde hair was longer, and tied back. He still wore a scabbard on his hip, but instead of his Rapier, a shorter sturdier weapon rested at his side. His long black coat would conceal it nicely.

“Such language.” Bourbon admonished, “And in front of a lady yet.”

 

“What the hell are you doing here?”

 

The former Musketeer stared at his master. It seemed odd that, in nearly a century, Vachon had not changed. “You know how I love a good fight. I should have known I would find you here.”

 

“First Saceur, now you. This just keeps getting better and better.”

 

“Devin is here?” the younger vampire asked amused, “And yet you remain. Would you like to borrow my cutlass?”

 

“We’re not after each other’s heads this time. Well, not yet, anyway.”

 

“Where is he? Perhaps I shall give him my regards.”

 

“He’s around here somewhere, so watch it.”

 

 

Picking up the Pieces

by Devin Saceur

September 7

Chateau

Sunset

 

Up from the blood and tattered clothing came the two…egos and expressions of frustration still intact. Remy, struggling to regain his composure and appear casual in doing so, spat a tangle of blood and hair onto the ground as he reached for a smoke. “Can’t ya just die already?!”

 

Devin stood slowly, cradling a left arm which had been rendered little more than a pulpy mess during his renewed conflict with the creole. “By the hand of an amateur assassin? I think not.”

 

But the wound said otherwise, as Devin painfully discovered upon attempting to will the appendage to heal. He grunted and moved toward the remaining bottle of vitae resting on its side across the garage. But as he did so, Remy noted the item of his concern and rushed to retrieve it first. “You’ve had yours, Saceur! De last bottle was mine!!”

 

Charging into yet another entanglement, this time over the coveted decanter du divinity…dispenser of the glorious – and yet readily available elsewhere -blood…the two miscreant vampires tugged and kicked in their foolishness. As if to spite the very truth that they’d exhausted themselves in discovering, the men wrestled over the bottle…raging, it would have seemed to all onlookers,

against the very notion that neither could claim any sort of victory.

 

But as it would happen, Fate, apparently annoyed by the tedium of their ongoing scene, stepped in to play the final card. As feet flailed and claws shredded flesh in the ridiculous battle, the bottle abruptly flew from their hands and across the garage. As they watched in shock, mouths agape, the thick glass shattered against the wall…

 

No less than five minutes of incredulous stares followed as the men finally decided that enough, apparently, was enough.

 

“What now, bâtard…?” Remy asked, falling back against the wall.

 

“I don’t know about you, but I’m going to get healed of these minor injuries.” Kneeling to fetch his severed hand from the floor, Devin set out on what was sure to be a painful stroll to the chateau.

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

Algernon, to his displeasure, found himself tending to the men as they regenerated from their grievous wounds. Against his ongoing wish to hurl the two into the nearest inferno, he set about the chores of selecting suitable clothing and bringing them more and more blood as they voraciously consumed the contents of each bottle. For whatever reason, the Mistress had asked that they be treated with at least a small degree of civility…and Algernon, in his respect for her, would act in accordance with those wishes.

 

“AAAAAAARRRRGHHH! Pain be damned!” Remy looked to a large hole in his ribcage that seemed more than a bit unwilling to heal. “What were you thinking, Saceur?!”

 

Devin grinned as he watched the dead skin and muscle of his wrist re-assert its claim over the hand that had been removed during their little battle. “My intent was to tear your heart out and crush it with my boot as you looked on in horror. Unfortunately, I missed.”

 

“Oh, how very civilized of you, hon.” Anna stepped into the room slowly, sipping from a cup of coffee and gauging the general dynamic with a pair of darting eyes. Monique entered a few seconds after, arms crossed.

 

“Apologies, Anna. If I’d known of your presence…” Devin wiped blood away from his face absently, leaning back further in his chair.

 

“You needn’t play this game with me. I know you far better than you would feel comfortable being aware of.”

 

Monique set her cup down gently on the counter. “Have we solved our problem, gentlemen?”

 

The two men looked to each other and then to the table between them. “For now,” Remy chirped, his fingers sliding into his cigarette case.

 

“We’ve shown little improvement in our relationship…” Devin smiled across the table as Remy smirked through a haze of fresh smoke, “but I don’t think that we’ll be doing battle again anytime soon.”

 

“So good to hear,” Monique nearly fell into laughter as she surveyed the blood soaked kitchen. “I was…”

 

Devin raised his hand suddenly and stepped toward the door. “Whose voice is that?”

 

Monique looked slightly confused. “What are you talking about, Devin? Oh…I always forget just how good your hearing is.”

 

“I hear Javier, but the other voice sounds strangely familiar.” Without pause, Devin opened the door and proceeded down the hall. As he rounded the corner, the voice began to take shape in his mind. From the past came yet another…but how would this one greet him?

 

He was laughing when he entered the room. “Francois! Veuillez être un ami, parce que j’ai assez d’ennemis.”

 

 

To Walk Among Friends (1)

Devin Saceur

Mid-November, 1820-ish

Early evening

A keep roughly thirty miles outside of Paris

 

They milled about the courtyard, determined in their anxiety to find some shred of interest in the beauty around them.

Anything to kill what seemed an endless wait.

 

But they had seen it all a thousand times, and though it was indeed a picture of Eden, the serenity of the gardens could bring little peace to them as they struggled with the certainty that something was terribly wrong. To make matters worse, their orders had stipulated that they were to wait for the return of the search party, which had been gone for far too many hours already.

 

Now, with the sun well below the horizon, things were looking ever more grim. The feelings of concern were unanimous among the young soldiers and seemed an unyielding haze over the entire estate. Each man felt at least partially responsible for the present situation.

 

“Riders approaching!” called the watchman from the crossbrace above the gate. He followed his exclamation with a series of staccato whistles as he pulled his musket from its stand and reached into a powder bowl by his side.

 

Francois Bourbon rushed to the gate and opened the view port. “They are too far out. Tower!”

 

In the tower above, a soldier removed the cap from his flint glass and focused on the oncoming riders. Though the darkness gave him scarce read, he was able, as they moved in closer, to make out some detail of import for his lieutenant. “The forerunners bear the crest, sir!”

 

“Very well. Open the gate, but keep muskets at the ready.” As he watched the iron before him rise through the sounds of metallic strain, Francois signaled for his throng to ready themselves.

 

As the riders neared the keep, one of them ushered his horse far out ahead of the pack, splitting the night with a shrill cry that

slowly took the form of words. “….a hot bath, Francois!!! Prepare a hot bath!”

 

Looking up to the horse as it stormed past him and through the gateway, he saw the Lady Cecilia sprawled across its back…with Javier Vachon holding her fast to secure her against the jarring ride. Francois jumped, began barking orders in rapid succession, and sent the soldiers in all directions. Henri and the others flooded through the entrance just then and quickly set about helping the men secure the keep against the cold, seemingly impenetrable darkness of the outside they had just escaped.

 

Vachon, upon bringing his horse up to the keep’s antechamber, quickly leapt from its back and with a careful hand, drew the Lady down and into his arms. At the door waited a servant girl, who guided him quickly through the various corridors and into a well lit chamber, where other attendants were pouring hot water.

 

Lowering her into the water, Javier brushed back a lock of blood-matted hair from Cecilia’s face and kissed her forehead gently. The feeling of relief expressed by the attendants he shared also, but concern and rising anger took hold of the vampire as he confirmed his fears with a quick glance to her throat.

 

“Out!” he screamed to the gathering women, “Out! I will tend to her!”

 

Francois moved against the tide of the servants as they hurried out of the chamber. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

 

“Come in! Close the door behind you.”

 

Doing as he’d been asked, Francois came to within a few feet of his immortal father. “How fares the Lady?”

 

Javier turned to the man, revealing eyes that burned with the golden tint of vampiric rage. “She is not well. She’s been nearly drained of her blood.”

 

Stepping over to turn the woman’s head to the side, Francois looked upon the clear markings where the fangs had pierced. Lines of blood ran out in rivulets from the wide holes, down the length of her neck, and on into the water. “But this cannot be so. I know of no vampires in this region other than ourselves…”

 

“Do not be so naive. Vampires travel where they wish in territory not held by the Camarilla.”

 

The younger man did not understand the reference, but he chose let it pass for now. The seriousness of Lady Cecilia’s condition demanded it. “What can we do…bring her across?”

 

Vachon suddenly appeared twice his age in mortal years. “No. But I must feed her some if she is to survive.”

 

“You…” The shock on Bourbon’s face was all too evident, though he struggled to maintain a calm expression.

 

“Yes, she is bound to me through my blood. We have been lovers for some time now.” Bringing his sword across his wrist with a swift, semi-circular motion, Vachon moved toward the unconscious woman. “She knows all of me, as I would have it with one so beautiful, so integral to my existence. My blood runs with hers…and through it I will lift her up again.”

 

As he placed his wrist over her mouth, the strength of his vitae rushed into her. Seconds passed with her lying still in the cooling water. Then, suddenly enlivened with the essence of immortality, Cecilia’s eyes opened and lit with a vibrancy and preternatural hunger unlike anything Francois had ever witnessed.

 

Vachon, feeling the closeness and deep interest of his youngest progeny, turned to face the man as Cecilia continued to draw the blood from his wrist. “Yes. You do not remember, but you were every bit as vigorous. But the circumstances, of course, were somewhat different.”

 

The woman fell away abruptly then, and Javier slid down from his kneeling position at the side of the large tub. The wound quickly sealed as he motioned to Francois. “Bring one of the servants in,” he mumbled as he struggled to restrain the mounting demands of his flesh…

 

 

To Walk Among Friends (2)

Devin Saceur

Mid-November, 1820-ish

After midnight

A keep roughly thirty miles outside of Paris

“I knew it was you…” Javier still knelt beside the bed where he’d placed Cecilia. The woman rested soundly, recovering from her wounds, and he had decided to stay near her. But in the back of his mind, he knew that the attack on his lover had been no random act. The vampire would find her again.

 

And here he felt the presence, entering the room upon a slithering fog that had passed through the cracks in the door.

 

From a corner shadow, a voice responded. “You are mistaken. It was not I who assaulted the lady…” The voice was at once vibrant and dead. It lingered on each word as though to do otherwise would strip the moment. Every syllable came wrapped in detachment and – it seemed to Vachon as he lowered his hand to the sword resting in his belted sheath – a sense of reluctant isolation. If it had been any other, Javier would have sworn that the voice embodied little more than abject sorrow. A slow, inexorable and unquenchable pining for some loss buried forever beneath a carefully fashioned façade.

 

But he had been educated, painfully, to the contrary. The man behind him was a murderer, an assassin whose very reason for existence rested on nothing more than the upholding of some long-dead vampiric ideal. Javier knew that this one would not relent. That somehow, no matter the cost to himself, this monster would always find him.

 

With his sword clutched tight, he readied himself for the inevitable attack, even as he held to his kneeling position by Cecilia’s

bed. But as the silence lingered to the point of becoming unbearable, it was finally broken with the wet thud of something hitting the stone floor next to the bed.

 

Javier turned slowly, believing the thrown object to be a diversion, and then stopped suddenly as it came into his view. “Jean-Lumiere?” he whispered, as though he believed the words would land only on his ears.

 

But the solid, steady voice from the shadows responded with the next beat. “I never thought that such a man would cry out so

horribly while having his head removed.” The voice almost lilted now, conveying grotesque amusement over a fond recollection. “One would imagine that such a brutal soul would spit and curse unto the very last. But this one…no. This one cried and kicked and screamed like a beaten child. I almost feel remorse for having matched his fury far past his ability to endure.”

 

Vachon recoiled from the terrible expression upon the face of the head that had been laid out before him. Jean-Lumiere had been a

particularly malevolent vampire among the Parisian circle for some time. None had more than a superficial knowledge of the man, though it was generally agreed that only the most wretched and foolish undead in the city would dare associate with him.

 

Evidently, the man had decided to travel the countryside, away from the prying eyes of Paris. Somehow – and Vachon cared little for the details – he had found his way to the forests around the keep. It seemed plausible enough at that moment. “Why, Devin…?”

 

“You need not worry…” the cold edge returned as Devin stepped from the shadows. Just past the reach of his long coat hung a scimitar, tapping lightly and then dragging noisily on the floor as he approached. “I did this not for you, but for my own enjoyment.

 

“You see, I recently learned of your presence in this keep, and during my journey here, I stumbled upon Lumiere in the midst of attacking the young lady. To be honest, I simply found it too easy a kill to let slip away.”

 

Vachon stood and drew his sword as the man before him closed to within a few feet. “How convenient for you.”

 

“Indeed…and for you also. Your lady would be dead otherwise. Lumiere was never known for his restraint.”

 

“Why would you care about Cecilia’s fate?”

 

“Because I did not care enough at the time to prevent Isabella’s…”

 

Stunned at the sudden return of the memory, Vachon drew himself away further at the mention of his deceased love, whom Devin had inadvertently killed while attacking him in the streets of Madrid years back. “You bastard! You dare to…”

 

“I meant you no anguish, no torment. It was my task to destroy you outright…not to leave you haunted. Others may have wished it so, but I did not.”

 

The rage consumed him all at once, and Javier rushed in to slash and thrust his sword as quickly and violently as possible. He had heard Devin all too clearly, but with the emotional resurrection of all that had occurred between them, and the pain that followed, there could be neither forgiveness nor even a separate peace as the Beast rose to the surface.

 

The air split with the exceedingly fast and powerful cuts as the two brought their blades together in a flurry of motion. Vachon, seeing a brief opening, brought his leg up and past his opponent’s defensive swipe. The force of the kick sent Devin crashing through the mahogany door and out into the hallway.

 

But he was up immediately…and in the span of a few rapid strokes, he had managed to slip through one parry after another, until his scimitar finally found its way cleanly through Javier’s hip. The passage of the blade cleaved muscle, tendon, and bone alike. As it cleared its way through, a deluge of blood followed, painfully depositing the man to the floor.

 

Devin listened, past the cries of pain beneath him, to the sounds of soldiers clamoring their way up the stairs. He knew that his time was short and raised his blade to make the final strike. “It pains me that you have suffered, sir, for I know all too well the unshakable pain of loss. But ultimately, this is where we are…where we have been since our first crossing of swords. I must finish th…”

 

The last word came out in a gurgle. Devin’s hand suddenly lost all control and the scimitar fell away as he moved to clutch at his throat.  From a clean new slice just below his jawline, a liberal flood of his vitae poured out onto Javier and the floor. As his hands met with the stinging wound, he could feel the extent of the gash, which had nearly decapitated him.

 

Turning around, Devin saw a smiling Francois Bourbon standing before him…long sword poised for another strike. Through the

haze threatening to render him unconscious, Devin returned the smile half-heartedly as lines of blood ran out of his mouth, down his chin, and into the gore already covering most of his upper torso. “Touché…” he managed to finish before dropping to the floor and dissipating into a thick fog.

 

Bourbon had never witnessed such a thing. It wasn’t clear to him whether the vampire had been destroyed, or was in fact escaping the scene.  “What is this?”

 

Javier, dragging himself up slowly, waved his hand sharply at his friend. “You will not catch him. Quickly now, we must cover all

evidence of what has happened. Send the men out to canvas the compound…” he said as the first man, Henri, cleared the stairs and moved over to the two.

 

Henri looked more than a little confused. “What has happened here? Señor Vachon, are you all right?”

 

“I’m fine, Henri. It is a small wound and not worthy of your attention.” He regained as much composure as was possible, given that his damage had not yet healed entirely. “Go with Francois and I will make certain that Cecilia is safe.”

 

“Very well,” the man agreed, though he still wore the bewildered look plainly upon his face…

 

Out in the surrounding forest, just beyond the walls of the keep, Devin found himself barely conscious and lying upon a bed of ferns. Though he had managed to will his deeply sliced throat to heal, the accompanying pain and exhaustion kept him pinned to the ground for many hours thereafter.

 

As the sun slowly crept above the horizon and he began the agonizing descent below ground to sleep through the burning hours, he could only think, over and over…”This is becoming too costly.”

 

 

Fire and Ice

by Renie

September 7

The chateau

After Sunset

 

Bourbon and his master sized each other up remembering strengths and weaknesses from a shared past.

 

“So what have you been up to this last century?” Vachon asked.

 

“Oh this and that.” Bourbon replied with an irritating smirk.

 

Camille watched the exchange with interest. After seeing him through her lover’s blood, it seemed strange to finally meet Vachon.

 

As they began to discuss current events, a disheveled vampire approached them, laughing as he did so.

 

“Francois! Veuillez etre un ami, parce que j’ai assez d’ennemis.”

 

“C’est evident.” Bourbon laughed, “Vous semblez terrible.”

 

“What the hell happened to you?” Vachon asked more than a little amused.

 

Devin brushed at the dirt and drying blood. ” A minor disagreement. I found myself in the rather unsavory position of sharing the garage with Remy today.”

 

“I’ll bet that was a real scream.” Vachon snickered. “I hope he looks worse than you.”

 

Devin’s reply was casual. “The gaping hole in his chest cavity should be healed soon.”

 

A delicate hand held a glass out to him. “It sounds like you’ve had quite a day.”

 

The fiery hunger that had been briefly forgotten at the sound of Bourbon’s voice began to gnaw at him.

 

“My thanks.” he said with a nod as he took the glass and quickly drained the contents.

 

Bourbon knew the look he saw in the elder vampire’s eyes as he watched Camille. Moving to her side, he possessively draped his arm around her shoulders. Ignoring the jealous posturing, she smiled and turned to Devin. Fighting the urge to elbow her lover in the ribs with bone crushing force, she waited for Bourbon to introduce her.

 

Devin looked impatiently from Vachon to his protégé. Turning on the charm, he flashed his most disarming grin.

 

“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I’m Devin Saceur.”

 

Stepping toward, she offered her hand. “Camille Marquette.”

 

He placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand and held it in his for a moment.

 

Gazing into his dark, expressive eyes, she was struck with the impression of great age. She guessed him to be at least a thousand

years old. Never having met one so old before, Devin was fascinating. It surprised her when, for a moment Camille found herself

hungering for his ancient blood. She could almost taste the knowledge and the power she would find in his veins.

 

Quickly dropping her gaze before her vision turned gold, the young vampire drained her glass.

 

 

Tame as ever…

by Devin Saceur

September 7

Chateau

6:00 pm

Watching himself slip away, as though from some more exalted perch above, Devin was reminded of those refinements often lost to a moment. Taking his eyes from Camille, he drained his glass of its contents and set to pouring himself another. The thought of some small talk briefly crossed his mind, as Javier stood across the room, his own thoughts apparently unoccupied. But his eyes unconsciously tracked themselves to the woman once more as her lover stepped in to deliver a purposeful kiss.

 

Camille was young. She could not have been more than a century in age to Devin’s senses. The soft glow of her skin had not yet given way to the cold stillness and indifference of time. The eyes sparkled with fervor and joy, while the weight of immortality lay far from her shoulders. Waiting…as it would likely be for some time to come.

 

In the soft muscular contours of her hands he could discern the lasting impressions of a mortal life given equally to both honest work and play.  Not an overburdened young woman, by his estimation, but certainly accustomed to tending to herself. In her sinewy, graceful stance he saw a strength and utility that would have lent itself to any of a hundred occupations, had she been relegated in life to the requirements of the commoner. He believed she had not.

 

As the imbibed vitae settled in him and his eyes lingered on her form, a sudden teasing in his soul promised of the deeper pleasure he would know were he to slip his teeth past her immortal flesh. Further still, he traced the outlines of her legs and imagined the warmth and comfort of her beneath the sumptuous dress she wore. How pleasurable perhaps more in the fantasy of it than the action itself to slip into her, pinning her beneath his forceful thrusts as he satisfied his every desire even as he quickened the blood from her veins and assimilated into his soul the depth and beauty of her youth.

 

A quick and perhaps violent domination of her would be the way…as a girlish acquiescence on her part would do little more than play to his own petty vanity – not the demands of the Beast. The forced subjugation of another’s will was that which would forever play the greatest to his desires…

But as the fangs leapt forward into his mouth, biting into the flesh of his lower lip, he willed his eyes to see, just as he silently damned the rushing tide of depravity that coursed through him as surely as the blood from his exhausted glass. As he reached for the bottle yet again, Camille and Francois suddenly started for the door, apparently hearing something of interest down the hall. They both turned and gave a polite, quick nod and smile to him, as though unwilling to press any other interaction. Vachon remained a moment longer, his gaze hanging on Devin as he read the man’s surface tension all too easily. “It would appear we have ourselves yet another moment of fury unfolding. Should we investigate?”

 

Under any other circumstances, Devin would have heard what it was that had startled them into action. With extraordinary clarity he would have gathered each sound with his heightened senses. But now, in that state somewhere between protocol and feral awakening, his senses could scarcely discern the breaking points from one stimulus to the next. The sudden pierce of Javier’s voice entered slowly into his consciousness at first, and then flooded in to capture his attention at last.

 

Recalling the question posed to him, Devin smiled to the man, who mirrored the gesture knowingly. Beyond, he could now hear the frenzied Remy LeBeau, tallying wager after wager on the outcome of some noisy battle. He smiled again. “An investigation is certainly in order, my friend…for it would appear that the two ancients are engaged to the final death this time.”

 

Setting the glass gently onto the mantle, Devin joined Javier, a sparkle of interest leaping into his face at the thought of such a fray between the elder women. His mind slipped quietly away from the earlier thoughts, the Beast apparently satiated, for the very first time…with nothing at all.

 

 

Pamper Me

by Sukh with a tad of help from Maccousin

September 7

Chalet

6:00 p.m.

Angelique sighed and rubbed her eyes as the red hues of the sunset graced the sky.  There was no rest for her tonight.  She stood in the shower the warm water doing nothing to warm her skin and let her thoughts tumble through her head.

 

Micah was still gone.  LaCroix was off looking after his own interests. The anger with him had faded into a dull throb of agony at the pain he was feeling knowing Divia was loose. Angelique dried off and donned a black terry cloth robe.  There was the big meeting this evening with her team from section one.  Everyone was needed for the plan to go like clockwork.  If only Lucien were here to help, but the fury between herself and him and not been resolved.  Angelique’s thoughts were interrupted.

 

A note whispered it’s way across the floor.  She picked it up and read the contents, how kind of Monique to offer the services of her staff.  A massage was definitely in order. Perhaps she could better face the trials of this evening after a rubdown.  She closed her eyes and had a brief flash of the pampering she had received as a princess of the house of Ramses, and shivered in anticipation. Cleo looked out the window at the fading sun, and growled softly.

 

“Poor pet,” Angelique stroked Cleo’s black head as she watched the mourners depart from the graveyard.  She sent a silent prayer to Anubis to find Kendra’s heart worthy to pass on.  She was a brave warrior against the darkness.  The light faded completely, and she turned to the door.

 

‘It’s time to feed, my sweet.” She opened the door and waited for Cleo to stand at her side. She stalked down the hallway, Cleo in hand, knowing that the Carouche was in the mood to hunt.  On the way to the stairs, she heard doors open and voices chattering, glasses clinked as vampires toasted the new night and hoped for the best for their plans.

 

These noises were nothing but mild annoyance to Angelique.  Micah’s pain and Set’s trickery were at the forefront of her mind.  She made a face at Steve, lying face down in the hallway next to the staircase.   Disgusting, that he was family.

 

Angelique walked to the front door and released her pet.  Cleo took loped into the night.  She turned and walked into the kitchen looking for Algernon, Larry stepped to her side. She handed the card to the servant.

 

“Send the masseuse to my room,” she told him crisply, leaving before Monique’s servant could draw a breath.

 

Larry stared at the card.  Monique gave a great many gifts and amenities to her guests, however he could not remember her ever giving out cards as gift certificates.  Larry shrugged and picked up the telephone.  Alex was Monique’s usual masseuse.  Larry dialed a number; Alex picked up on the first ring.

 

(10 minutes later)

 

Angelique paced inside her room thinking about he upcoming briefing.  She tried to arrange her thoughts into a logical pattern, sipping at her bloodwine, as a quiet knock sounded against the wooden door. Angelique opened the door to allow the well-muscled immortal inside.

 

“I’m Alex.”  He started to set up his portable massage table.

 

“Hello Alex.” She sipped at the drink again and smiled.  He was a handsome young man.  “Call me Angelique.”

 

He set out some oils and towels.  “I’m ready.”  The scent of Sandalwood and Jasmine enveloped her in a relaxing, sensual fog as she dropped her robe and walked toward Alex. Alex grinned and shook his head as she lay face down on the table.  He covered her rear with a towel and poured out a measure of the oil.

 

 

Down Comes the Night

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

6:30 pm

 

The sun had been down for awhile before Kat opened her eyes. She awoke suddenly and knew instantly that she had overslept. Turning her head to the empty pillow beside her, she closed her eyes and focused on locating Vachon. He was nearby and apparently not in any danger; she relaxed.

 

Oversleeping was a rarity for her, unless she was gravely injured and attempting to heal herself. Kat hoped it was an anomaly; traditionally, her safety depended on being up and aware for as many hours as the sun would allow. Perhaps the proximity of so many family members had given her a subconscious sense of security.  She’d have to be careful – not everyone in her newfound family was as interested in her well-being as Nick and Trapper were.

 

Stretching and letting her senses explore, she found all those she expected and a few more. The Chalet was a much clearer environment than downtown New Jerusalem, hopefully she wouldn’t be caught unawares again.  Tonight was the night to rescue Detective Schanke’s little girl and Kat didn’t want any psycho rock singers sneaking up on her.  Lux deserved his own special time.

 

She got out of bed and saw her clothes in a neat pile on the dresser. Kat’s parrying dagger lay nearby, hilt out as if ready for use. She smiled as she realized that the beautiful weapon was approximately the same age as her Conquistador lover.

 

Jeans on first, Kat held out her shirt for inspection. It looked clean, but the lanky vampire cautiously brought the T-shirt close to her face. She inhaled deeply and was overwhelmed by images of the burned slayer, as well as, desiccated forest demons.  Scowling, she thrust the offending item away.

 

“Time for something new,” she announced and began to rifle through the dresser drawers.  Hopefully Monique wouldn’t mind if she snagged one of these old undershirts.  The hint of mothballs had a cleansing effect and Kat reveled in the softness of the ancient thing. She slipped it over her head.

 

Before leaving to meet up with her family and friends, Kat stooped down in front of the fireplace and stuck a finger into the ashes.  She smudged a little black around her eyes, yanked on her boots and headed into the hallway.

 

Two things struck her as she lay foot on the expensive runner.  Duncan MacLeod was coming down the passage with his mistress and somewhere near, Angelique was screaming bloody murder.  Quickly closing the door behind her, Kat couldn’t decide which was more distressing.

 

 

Lie Down In Darkness

by Renie

September. 7th

Chateau

6:30 pm

 

Bourbon did not like the exchange he saw between Camille and Devin. She was young, less than a hundred and fifty years across. Of course, a vampire as old as Saceur would draw her attention. She held Devin’s gaze for just a little too long. He thought he saw gold flecks in her eyes as she emptied her glass in one swallow.

 

Had they been alone, Francois would have offered her his neck. For obvious reasons he pushed that thought from his mind. Wrapping his arms around her, he settled for a passionate kiss. Dragging his tongue across the tips of her fangs, Bourbon allowed her to savor just a few precious drops of his blood, a taste of things to come.

 

As they slowly broke the embrace, he tried to ignore the jealousy that urged him to protect what was his. If he caused a fight, Devin was likely to kill him. If he got back up, Camille would surely kill him again. ‘Cherchez la femme.’ He told himself. It had been a fight over a woman that caused him to become a vampire in the first place.

 

– Versailles, France 1664-

 

The Sound of angry voices broke the relative quiet of the early evening. Two men faced each other, rapiers drawn. Both wore the clothing of the King’s Musketeers.

 

“I do not like you, sir.” The older of the two men stated. “I never have, but your father was a good man. I have honored his memory by tolerating your foolishness and arrogance. Were it not for him, you would not wear our crest.”

 

“I am here by my own merits.” Bourbon replied angrily.

 

He was in deep this time. Philippe was his superior in rank and also eleven years his senior.

 

It was a fact of life that any man who wore the uniform of the Musketeers could always find a willing female. Had he known the fair

Genevieve was Philippe’s sister, Bourbon may have thought better of enjoying her favors. To say Philippe was angry was a gross understatement. If Francois was to die for his indiscretions, he would die smiling.

 

“If you believe your father had nothing to do with your rank, then you are a bigger fool than I thought. Henri was a loyal advisor to our King. Why would his Highness ignore your wish to serve him?”

 

It was the truth, but Bourbon would not admit it. Besides, he felt he had more than proven himself in battle.

 

“You needn’t worry about my association with Genevieve. I did not sully her. Your sister’s virtue was taken long before I met her.”

 

The snickers from the crowd that had gathered around them were silenced by a venomous look from Philippe.

 

“Liar!”

 

Another man may have walked away from the confrontation with that small victory, but Francois let his anger get the better of him.

Grinning broadly, he addressed the crowd.

 

“You know I speak the truth. I would wager there is not a whore in Versailles, perhaps even Paris that possesses as much skill in the art of pleasing a man.”

 

That did it. The gasps from the onlookers and the fury in Philippe’s eyes removed all doubt.

 

“Filthy pig! I shall kill you where you stand!”

 

A movement that was almost too quick for the human eye to follow blocked his strike.

 

“You may try, but I assure you, you will not succeed.”

 

The clang of swords as they crashed together rang through the courtyard. Despite his opponent’s hacking and slashing, Francois drove him back with quick parries and a little brute strength. Ducking a wild swing, he caught the other man’s wrist with his free hand and slammed the ornate gold and silver basket hilt of his sword into Philippe’s face. Blood flowed liberally from his broken nose, staining the crisp white and vibrant blue of this tunic.

 

Had anyone been looking, they might have noticed the unearthly glow of the vampire’s eyes. Watching the scene with interest, hidden from immediate view was a nearly 160 year old Spaniard. The hunger burned brightly with the smell of spilled blood, but he could not tear himself away from the battle to hunt.

 

The combatants were a flurry of fists, elbows, swords, and boots. Both were sweating from exertion and bleeding from various injuries, but the cocky grin scarcely left Bourbon’s face. They snarled and cursed as their blades clashed together.

 

When he tired of their game, Francois took the offensive to end the skirmish. Aggressively swinging his rapier, he drove the older man back. With incredible speed, his sword twisted in a wide arc against the other, disarming Philippe. A quick kick to the knee sent him sprawling on the ground, the tip of his own sword against his throat. Bourbon smiled down at him with traces of blood on his teeth.

 

“My thanks for the sport, old man. It was most entertaining.” Instead of delivering the deathblow, he brought his blade to his face and gave a nod, then dropped the older man’s weapon beside him. He offered his hand, but it was angrily refused. “Now, I believe we have other matters more worthy of our attentions.”

 

Francois heard the warning cry as he turned to disburse the group of men that had gathered to watch them. Shock registered on his face as he felt the bite of cold steel. The sword entered between his ribs and came out his back. Several men gasped in horror as their friend fell to the ground. As they started toward him, Philippe waived his rapier madly at them.

 

“No! Leave him!” he growled.

 

Bourbon began coughing blood from a punctured lung.

 

“Francois.” Gaston whispered, and rushed to his friend’s side, only to be slashed by his killer.

 

“I shall kill the next man who crosses me! Let him die like the dog

he is!”

 

Vachon waited until the men were gone before leaving his hiding place. He had found himself thinking the brash young fool would make a good vampire. Companionship was a comfort he’d been without for some time. This Bourbon seemed almost a kindred spirit. No. That would complicate his life immensely. The Hand was already hunting Javier. A fledgling would be a weakness he could not afford right now.

 

Without realizing he had moved, Vachon was suddenly at the dying man’s side. Amazingly, his heart was still beating. He didn’t have time to think about it. If he wasn’t crossed now, the young mortal would die. Before he had the chance to ask himself why he cared, Javier drained what little blood was left, tore his wrist open, and held it over Bourbon’s mouth.

 

As the darkness began to lift and his strength returned, Francois became aware of a battle raging in front of him. He was at a river.

No, a lake. A man in strange clothing was swinging an odd weapon at someone. It was a man in heavy armor holding a pike. The fight was long and fierce, neither man willing to give up until the other was dead. They both lay dying when the sun set. A vision of a woman, then blood.

 

Bourbon’s senses exploded in a haze of red. Rage. He wanted to see Philippe’s blood spilling onto the ground until there was not a drop left in his miserable body. His eyes snapped open to view a scene tinged with red. Blood. He was drinking blood.

 

Too quickly the source of nourishment was gone. He could feel his wound closing. There was no pain, only hunger.

 

“Who are you?” He asked, looking at a familiar face. It was the man in the armor, but he was dead. Wasn’t he?

 

“Javier Vachon.” He said, helping the new vampire up.

 

“Am I dead?”

 

His benefactor laughed at the question. “Would you believe me if I said yes?”

 

Bourbon thought for a moment, then nodded and grinned. “Yes. I think I would.”

 

Vachon smiled back at him, amazed at how well his fledgling seemed to accept the change. “We must feed before the sun rises”

 

“Yes. I am very hungry. Perhaps you could explain what has happened to me?”

 

“I will answer all your questions when we are safe. We should leave now, before someone finds us here.”

 

“There is something I must do before we are gone.”

 

Shortly before dawn, Philippe’s body was found. His throat had been cut, and his own sword pinned him to the earth through his heart. Only the hilt was visible. The entire length of the blade had been driven into the ground below him. His body was lying in the exact spot Francois Bourbon was said to have died only an hour before.

 

 

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

By Maccousin (with Sukh’s help)

September 7

Chalet

6:40 pm

Màire sat in her room, contemplating the dusky hues of a burgeoning Indian Summer sunset.  The fiery colors lit the sky into a virtual rainbow of reds, yellows and even a strip of green near the horizon.  She sipped her glass of bloodwine delicately.  Algernon had brought several bottles to her room, along with several boxes from a local store.  She appeared calm for the moment, however underneath her cool exterior she literally bounced with anticipation.

 

She had wondered briefly if the dream last night may be a bad omen for this evening’s activity, but she decided it was merely a sign of nerves, nothing more, nothing less.

 

After she woke up, she had selected a black stretch velvet minidress and she decided to forgo the heels for the moment, just in case.  She looked away from the sunset as she heard some activity in the hallway. Was Angelique awake yet?

 

She paused in front of the door and opened it carefully and peeked out.  The mourners had returned and she smiled as Methos came to the door.

 

“Are you still planning to go through with this?” he asked as she shut the door in behind him.  He frowned at her, hoping to dissuade her from her little plans.

 

Màire laughed as she waved a razor and scissors at him.  “I’m always prepared for fun,” she chortled.  “Oh come on.  Please help me, Methos.”  She slid her fingers up his chest, then slithered gracefully next to him.  “I’ll be ever so grateful,” she purred, fluttering her eyelashes at him playfully.  She pressed her cold lips to his neck, feeling the thrum of blood under the skin.

 

He had planned to let her go in on this alone, but after last night…

 

“You are nothing but trouble,” he murmured, leaning in for a kiss.

 

Màire laughed quietly.  “You are so right on that,” she replied.  “But everyone needs trouble once in awhile, don’t they?  You can’t say that I’m boring to be around, now can you?”

 

He sighed softly, shaking his head.  “I can’t argue with that,” he replied.  He couldn’t help smiling as she literally bounced in his arms.  A small frown creased his features; he knew what Angelique would do to her, if she found out.  Maybe as soon as Màire realized what could happen she would turn away from this insanity.

 

They heard movement across the hallway.  Cleo growled softly as Angelique continued with the big leopard down the hallway.  Angelique had been too busy with her own thoughts to pay attention to noises nearby.

 

“There she goes,” Màire took Methos’ hand, grinning wickedly, “let’s go hide in her closet.”

~~~~

 

Alex wandered down the hallway to Angelique’s room and knocked on the door.  A busy familiar buzzing overcame him as he saw another Immortal and a redheaded vampire walking toward him.  The twosome stopped.  The Immortal looked him over and the vampire came up to his side and smiled.  Her blue eyes were the color of a sparkling blue sea and they overwhelmed Alex.

 

Màire smiled, glancing at the floor for a moment, allowing Alex to regain his senses.  “Look at me,” she murmured softly.  When Alex returned to his whammy state she continued, “You won’t remember me or him.”  She told him.

 

“Won’t remember,” murmured Alex in return.

 

“You won’t sense him in the closet.”

 

“Won’t sense…”

 

“Very good,” Màire nodded to Alex.  “Carry on.”  She smiled over her shoulder at Methos.  “Let’s go hide in the closet.”

 

“Someday, I want you to teach me that,” Methos followed her into Angelique’s room.

~~~~

(Angelique’s closet  — 15 minutes later)

 

“This is ridiculous,” Methos whispered, within the darkness.

 

Màire hushed him, hoping Angelique would not hear them.  Angelique was probably too distracted to notice anything amiss.

 

Màire crossed her arms and gave him a small smile.  The door opened.  Soft voices were heard as the masseuse walked into the room.

 

Not five minutes later, there was a loud clunk.  The masseuse dropped to the floor.  Soft murmurs came from Angelique and then silence.

 

Màire did an odd kind of dance as she nearly skipped back into the room.

 

“Will they be all right?” Methos looked worriedly over her shoulder.  He had a very, very bad feeling about all this.  Màire seemed joyfully oblivious to his discomfort.

 

“They’ll be fine,” Màire assured him, dragging the immortal away from the bed.  She handed Methos a long rope and scarf.  “Be a love and bound and gag him,” she said, flipping Angelique unceremoniously over onto her back, rather like a large sack of potatoes.  Màire gathered her scissors and razor.

 

“Màire, please wait,” Methos hedged.  He finished tying up the Immortal and dragged him to the closet.

 

“What?” said Màire, giving him an innocent grin.

 

“Please don’t,” he said.  “You’ll infuriate Angelique and she will kill you.”

 

Màire rolled her eyes.  “As if,” she began, “She’ll never be able to tell it was me.  Besides that, if she found out, LaCroix would protect me.  I may not be his favorite, but I’m still his child.”  She held the scissors, poised over Angelique’s scalp.

 

“Let’s be honest, Màire,” Methos began.  “You and I both know that there is only one person here who has fought with Angelique recently.”

 

“August could be responsible,” shrugged Màire.  Methos was beginning to bring her down.  Damn, why was he so sensible?  The worst part of this was that he was right.  She would be a suspect, probably the only one.  However, her curiosity got the best of her and to Methos’ horror, she cut a bald spot in Angelique’s hair.  It was beautiful.  This was probably going to be her best joke of the century.  Even better than the time she and Janette had switched Nick’s bottles of moo juice with LaCroix’s own private stock.  The sheer look of disgust on LaCroix’s face had made the women giggle about the occurrence for nearly a decade.

 

A wicked grin spread across her face and another of Angelique’s locks landed on the floor.  A mad fury took over Màire and she continued throwing hair across the room.  She became oblivious to everything else.

 

Methos looked on at the scene, aghast.  Before he could think of anything else to say one word escaped his lips.  “Fock!!!!”

Màire giggled and continued splitting hairs.  Angelique’s long tresses were now littering the bed, pillow and floor.

 

“Are you insane?” Methos grabbed Màire’s hands before she could cut Angelique’s hair again.  “What the hell is damned funny about being so self destructive?  Angelique will take great pleasure in ripping you to shreds.  You’re far too old to be this risky.”

 

Màire pulled away.  “As I said before, there is a line I will not cross.  However, I have to do this.  It’s a matter of pride.  I never got back at her for stealing my…”

 

“Stop the Irish pride crap.  This is life and death,” Methos insisted as he watched her begin cutting Angelique’s hair again.  More bald spots were showing up.   Damn her, she was infuriating and now ignoring him completely.  Angelique would stomp Màire and cut her into a thousand pieces.  Why had he ever gotten involved with that crazy vampire?  One look at her and he knew why.  Màire Moran was fun.  The most fun he had had in months and he wasn’t going to let her kill herself.  There was just one thing to do.  Find LaCroix, he could talk Màire out of this self-destructive act.

 

“I have a better pair of scissors,” he said.  “Let me go find them.  It will make this go faster”

 

“Yeah, sure,” murmured Màire, she continued spreading the hair across the pillow and table.

 

Methos stormed out of Angelique’s room and saw LaCroix’s tall imposing form heading for a room.  He was about to say something, when Joe grabbed his shoulder and began dragging him toward the staircase.

 

“Birkhoff needs anyone with computer experience to help in setting up all the workstations,” Joe explained.

 

“But I’ve got to talk to…” Methos began.  LaCroix closed the door behind himself.

 

“Talk to him later,” Joe told him.  “I doubt he’ll disappear and there’s not much time.”

 

“But…”

 

Joe stopped and sighed, with Nelson’s unexpected arrival, he had lost much of what was left of his patience.  “What is it?”

 

Methos was about to say something and then thought better of it.  “Nothing,” he said.  “It can wait.”

~~~~

 

Màire smirked as she stared at the long black hairs littering the room.  Amazing how hair that had taken years to become as long as Angelique’s was gone in a few minutes.   She was as bald as a billiard ball.  Màire laid the last lock of hair on Angelique’s forehead so it lay in the middle.  She had left a long lock of hair down the left side of Angelique’s head.  Quickly, she plaited the hair and had super-glued a perky pink ribbon into the braid.

 

She stared at the artwork a moment and then gathered her tools to wash them.  The razor would go into the trash bin in the bathroom at the end of the hall.  The scissors would be placed in the library where they belonged.  She deliberately smeared the fingerprints on the ornate design and walked out of the bedroom and began down the hallway, head down so her smile would not give her away.

 

Then she bumped into Trapper and Nick literally.

 

“Oops, so sorry you two,” Màire mumbled under her thick veil of hair in a vain attempt to hide her smile.  She hurried past them, shielding the scissors from view and continued down the stairs, noting the new WARriors that had wandered in.

 

Nick and Trapper glanced at each other, worriedly.  Nick knew Màire well enough to know that something was up.

 

“What’s going on?” Trapper asked Nick.

 

“I don’t think I want to know,” grumbled Nick, he then chortled.  “Unless it means Steve ends up in the dumpster again.”

 

Màire dashed into the library; grateful Giles was not tottering about and slid the scissors into the drawer.  She passed through the entry to the staircase again, and slid into her room.

 

It was just a matter of time now.

 

 

Shit Hits the Fan

by Sukh and Maccousin

September 7

Chalet

7:10 pm

The warmth of the sun radiated through the brick walls of the house.  Sun spilled through the windows as the gentle massage continued over Angelique’s shoulders down her back.  Soft voices speaking in Egyptian whispered to her.  She tried to respond, but she couldn’t open her lips to speak.

 

A pair of gentle hands began cutting her hair.  Her attendants giggled quietly to themselves, it was slightly annoying, but she could not find the strength to reprimand them.  Something was wrong about this, but she found herself too tired to move after the massage.  Angelique could not open her eyes.  Giggles continued as the serving girls left Angelique’s side, their soft footsteps echoing through her father’s house.

 

Hair tickled the edge of her nose, and Angelique awoke with a start.  Some joker had braided her hair and the offending braid with a pink bow now hung across her face. She pushed it aside and ran her fingers through her hair, and she was horrified to feel clumps of hair in her hands.  Angelique opened her eyes and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

 

LaCroix heard the scream. He stopped in his tracks and then he took off at top speed. He burst through the door of Angelique’s bedroom to find he standing in a pile of her hair, shaved off braids clutched in each fist.   Her eyes had gone red.  Her head was smooth shaven, except for a youth forelock on one side of her head, topped off with a bright pink bow.

 

“Angelique?”  He moved closer to her and she growled.  He stopped.  “What happened?”

 

“My hair.”  She was whispering over and over.  “This can’t be.”

 

LaCroix wasn’t moving any closer.  A sharp gasp sounded behind him and he whirled to find Sukh, Duncan, Trapper, Kat, Nikita and Nick staring at Angelique through the broken door. “Go!” he hissed as Angelique made a sound behind him.  “Find Larry.  Now.”

 

They withdrew as Angelique looked at LaCroix and with a sob went to her knees.

 

“Why?”  She stroked the hair on the floor.  “Why?”

 

“Angelique, don’t fret,” LaCroix knelt next to her. “It’s not a bad as you think.”

 

“That’s easy for you to say,” Angelique hissed.  “You don’t have a meeting in less that two hours.”

 

“They’ll never notice.  We’ll find you a wig.”

 

“No, there isn’t time to get to town and back.”   Angelique got back to her feet, her eyes still golden.  “I want to find out who did

this.”

 

“We will, my dark Venus, we will.”  LaCroix touched her smooth head.  “And they will pay.”

 

Larry showed at the door.

 

“I need to have this youth lock removed.” Angelique stated to the goggling servant.

 

“ANGELIGUE!”  A familiar voice sounded down the stairs.

 

“Micah?”  Angelique started to run out the door, but LaCroix restrained her.  “You may want to make your self more presentable, my dear,” he remarked at her reminding her of her towel clad figure.

 

Micah appeared at her door, sword drawn, and his eyes bright with the fire of battle.  He saw LaCroix and silently charged him, sword drawn.

 

“What did you do to her old man?”  He raged as he went for the dodging LaCroix. He swung at the ancient vampire and LaCroix dodged as he leapt on the bed in a rather undignified crouch.

 

“I did nothing.”  LaCroix tried to retain his dignity as he slid on the satin coverlet.  “It was not my fault.”  His hand found a sword,

and he pointed it at Micah.

 

“Micah,” Angelique stopped the brewing fight.  “He didn’t do it.  But I can guess who did.” Angelique eyes flamed red again as she sniffed the air.  She noted the faint tang of tomato juice.  Maire. “And she will pay, as soon as I get dressed.”  She nodded to Larry as she sat on a low stool.  “I forbid any fighting until after I kick that Irish whore’s ass.”  She glared at her brother and LaCroix in the Mexican standoff on the bed.

 

Ten minutes later she was in a sleek body suit of latex and clunky boots, ready for business.  The forelock was gone and her scalp was sleek as a marble, murder burned in her eyes.

~~~~~

 

Màire was laying on the bed, running her fingers over Methos’ chest as her mind wandered over what she had done in the last thirty

  1. She examined her nails carefully then she raised her head.  Màire chortled softly to herself when she heard the scream from down the hallway.

 

She sat up and waited tensely as Methos leapt to his feet.  “Oh, fock!”  He growled as he grabbed his sword and took off.

 

“Coward!” She called after him as she stretched into the heat left in the bed by his rapidly exiting body.

 

 

Ending the Suspense

Hanna

September 7

New Salem

7:15 pm

 

Marcus lay sleeping, snug in his unusual bed.  Mother, the old Primogen of the Malkavians of the city, had given it to him as a gift for helping her set up the orphanage.  At first, he had thought it was some Malkav joke, and accepted in good, if a bit puzzled, humor.  That had lasted until it was installed in his subterranean lair, and he lay in it for the first time.

 

The bed had been made of an almost solid gel, but one that accepted the body to it like a woman cradling a child in her womb.  The moment Marcus sank into it for the first time, he felt almost safe, protected.  And he proceeded to fall asleep almost instantly.

 

Because of the absolute calm of the bed, he only slept in it when there was trouble, and his mind was distressed.  Since he returned, he slept in it every morning.  Only the peace it promised couldn’t reach him. The horror of the past two months was something that he, in all his years, had never dealt with.  No, that wasn’t entirely true.  He had dealt with similar problems over the past three millennia, just not all at the same time.  And Hanna.  Seeing her come out of the mausoleum, skin in bloody tatters, eyes full of madness…and then bonding Paolo almost as an afterthought.  Through all the hells he had seen her deal with, she had remained the bright-eyed, almost innocent women he had always loved.  Surely, she had her moments of downright bitchiness, but she had for the most part remain kind and gentle.  Even her enemies knew her to be fair and just.  But now?

 

His nightmares of Hanna passed to the poisoned forest, the desecrated Caern, the slaughtered Garou.  Why?  August never cared enough about the Garou to waste her time on them.  Even the first time she tried murdering Hanna, when they first settled New Jerusalem, she didn’t bother with them.  Marcus had always assumed that she considered them beneath her notice.  Lesser creatures that weren’t worth the trouble to destroy.  Why had that changed?  He knew enough about Infernal magic to know that the effort used in destroying the forest, sending that force towards the city, would have wiped her out.  And August couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have, done it alone.  Which meant that even Divia had consented to the risk, and helped.  Why?  What did they gain?  Divia was

  1. Her hatred of her father/Childe’s favorite lover, Angelique, made it simple enough.  But only in the kidnapping of Micah.  What else would have led her to consenting?  Nick?  Yes, she hated LaCroix’s favorite Childe with a vengeance.  And destroying the forest, damaging the city, would affect Nick, since he could not abide the suffering of innocents.

 

But why would August consent to helping Divia?  Ah yes.  Angelique again.  He had heard from Jonas once that Angelique had been one of the handmaidens of the Priestess of Isis, Ptolemy Cleopatra.  Angelique had taken the position because she had enjoyed the companionship of the girl, and when Cleopatra became Pharaoh, Jonas as Caesar had persuaded the still young woman that Angelique would be the best advisor she could hope for, besides himself naturally.  Though Angelique was millennia older than either of them, she enjoyed their company, for their wit and intelligence she felt was an equal for her own.

 

And then Lamech came, and everything changed.  Cleopatra was Embraced, and then she Embraced and bound Caesar to her.  And something within her died.  Like so many others of her kind, she took to believing that humanity existed to serve her needs.  Seeing the germ of evil budding within her, Caesar broke with her, staged his death and then vanished. Of course, she had her own problems to deal with, and Mark Antony, her devoted Ghoul, was a cause of a good deal of them.  Deciding that Angelique was in his way, he arranged to have her murdered, not knowing that she too was Immortal.  Angelique, in her fury, helped Augustus to bring both Antony and Cleopatra down.

 

So there is the reason for August’s tolerance of Divia, Marcus thought as he tossed in his sleep.  Cleo still wanted revenge for Angelique breaking with her.  But there had to be more.  Hanna, of course.  It always came back to Hanna.  August destroyed the forest and the Garou because they mattered to Hanna.  She took the girl, Jenny, because Hanna was fighting to keep her safe from harm.  He knew that the destruction he had seen at the cemetery, the damage to Hanna, was a punishment for saving Jenny.  Not just, of course.  Paolo had a crazy idea of making Hanna like him, of binding her to the Hand, and that whole thing at the cemetery had been part of it.

 

He started waking up a little, and fought against it.  He started rolling over, and couldn’t.  His eyes opened, and he tried again.  What the hell?!  The bed, which normally cradled his body was actually holding him down!  He started to pull harder, and the hold of the bed increased.  And then he noticed that with each struggling move, the bed pulled him down further, almost like quicksand.  Panic seized him, and he fought hard to be free.  The gel swelled up around him, almost as if it were eating him.  As it oozed over his face, he felt a hard jolt, heard a roaring.  The bed at once let him go.  Reaching and clawing, he pulled himself out of the muck frantically.  As he rolled out of the bed, he almost landed on Mark Fowler.  The Garou reached out with his one good arm, helping Marcus to his feet.  A discarded lighter and aerosol can lay at his feet, and he grinned.

 

“I keep all sorts of little toys in my backpack.  You never know what you might need, or when it’ll come in handy.  I saw that bed…eating you and figured one of my toys might help.  I hit it with a little fire and POP! out you came!”

 

Marcus smiled ruefully.  His bed was useless now.  He doubted he would have been able to sleep in it again after today, but it had been a present from Mother, the only thing he had left of the old, black woman that reminded him of the “Aunt Jemima” commercials.  He shook his head.

 

“It’s all right, Marcus.  I don’t think it did it on its own.  It’s, after all, just a bed.”

 

“No, it was August.  I was dreaming of her, and she used it.  She could sense me through the dreams, and used it.”  He cursed at himself.  “I usually guard my dreams, especially from her, but with all the strain lately…”

 

“Tell me about it,” Mark sighed.  He almost gestured with his useless left arm.  He looked at it and sighed again.  Marcus had saved him from the “ooze” that devoured the forest, but not before it had gotten his left arm.  It looked almost half digested, as if someone had pulled it out of a vat of stomach bile and reattached it.  Marcus had bandaged it up, but it still hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

 

Just then, a sewer lid was moved, and they both froze.  Only a handful of people knew how to open the sewers: Marcus, Hanna, Jonas and…

 

“John!” Mark exclaimed as the mummy moved forward into Marcus’ domain. Behind him followed the missing Micah who, despite everything he had endured in the past two months, looked remarkably well.  Even the extreme aging that had come upon him during Horton’s torture had been reversed.  He looked whole and hale, though extremely pissed which wasn’t surprising.

 

“Micah,” Marcus nodded to him.  “I trust you’re feeling better?”

 

“Smart ass!” Micah snarled.  Marcus raised an eyebrow in surprise, and Micah exploded.  “Don’t look so surprised you bastard!  You let him bring her to me, so she could get me out and then take my place!  She’s trapped with those two psychopathic bitches, and you let her do it!”

 

Marcus looked from Micah to John and it dawned on him what Micah was saying.  “You took Hanna to get him out!?  You stupid bastard!”  His eyes flamed red, his fangs bared as he flew at John.  Before he could reach him, Micah had him by the throat, pinned against the wall.

 

“Don’t pretend you didn’t know about it, Sewer Scum!”

 

“I didn’t!” Marcus snarled back.  “The last time I saw Hanna was in the cemetery, when Paolo tried to…tried to ‘initiate’ her.  She was a mess.  And then she vanished.”

 

“Vanished, huh?  Why don’t I believe you?”  He squeezed Marcus’ throat tighter.  “You better think of a way to make me believe you, or I’m going to do to you what Horton did to Jonas!”

 

Marcus’ anger flared, and Micah saw white nothingness as he hit the other wall.  No one had known exactly what happened to Jonas, only that he was really dead this time.  And now Micah was bringing it forward again.

 

“ENOUGH!”

 

Mark and Marcus turned in surprise to John.  The mummy was perpetually calm, having broken only when his beloved Jocasta had been murdered. And now he was a towering fury.  Micah rose to his knees and stopped when he saw John.

 

“I’m glad I have your attention!  Now, Hanna came to me on her own!  She begged me to help her free Micah!  Begged!  I could not refuse her.  I could never refuse her.  She told me that though she lost her beloved husband, she wouldn’t lose him,” he said this, pointing harshly at Micah, “as well.  So I helped her.  I gave her to her chosen fate, because it is what she wanted!”

 

They all looked at each other, their sorrow and grief shared.  Why did it all have to be so hopeless?

 

“But still,” John croaked, his voice full of emotion.  He cleared his throat then tried again.  “We have more work to do.  More work that she wants us to do.  We’ve got to save the girl.  We’ve got to stop that menace headed to the city.  We’ve got to make certain that the others are all right.  And we’ve got to make certain that if Hanna doesn’t kill August herself, that we finish her ourselves.”

 

“Then let’s go,” Marcus whispered.

 

Micah rose to his feet.  “Yes.  Let’s go.”

 

Climbing out of the sewers, they headed out to find the others, relying on Micah’s sense of his sister to show them the way…

 

 

And in this corner (with translations)

By Maccousin and Sukh

September 7

the Chalet

7:30 pm

Màire sat, with a small self-satisfied smile on her face, pulling away from the warmth surrounding her in the bed.  She pulled a large dirk from her bags and sat in one of the chairs by the table.  Her hands rested on the dirk, knowing that Angelique would bring a weapon of some sort with her.  Even if not, better safe than sorry.  She heard more voices down the hall.

 

Màire glanced down at the hilt of the dirk and studied the clan badge momentarily and ran her fingers over the gilded edge.  She pulled the blade out partway, the cool crisp surface glinted in the light, and her reflection gazed back at her.  She tested the blade’s edge with her fingertip and found it to be in excellent condition, or at least enough to withstand an attack.  She took a second look at the dirk, trying to remember the last time it had been in use.

 

She heard Micah call for his sister.  Hmm, when did that come about?  Voices reached a crescendo and a sword whistled.  She glanced at the bottle across from her and took a quick swig of courage.  Monique’s help arrived once again in Angelique’s room.  She waited, patiently for the door to slam open.

~~~~

 

(Down the hallway)

 

Ciarán caught himself shiver at the howl of utter rage as it echoed down the hallway.  He heard the sound of quickened footsteps scurry around the corner and he saw Methos take off for the stairs, sword in hand.  A small smile crossed Ciarán’s face.  He had been waiting to hear from his team, who were supposed to arrive with the dusk of the new night.  However, Ben and Jerry could wait for a few minutes.  A group of mortals and Immortals dashed back downstairs, no doubt having been shooed away by LaCroix.

 

He walked up the stairs to see Larry walk into Angelique’s room, holding a pair of scissors.  Angelique appeared herself a few minutes later, bald, absolutely quivering with fury and flanked by LaCroix and Micah.  There was no doubt in his mind who was responsible for Angelique’s appearance.   By Bhadhbh, Màire always took her tricks too far.  He sighed and took off in the direction Methos was heading.  Maybe the two of them could help keeping the Angelique and Màire from tearing each other into little pieces.

 

“And where do you think you’re running off to?” He stepped in front of the door Methos was about to open.  He leaned against the door, raising an eyebrow.

 

Methos sighed.  “I was trying to leave before Micah comes after my head.  Angelique is bound to think I had something to do with this.  I couldn’t stop her.”

 

Ciarán sighed.  “Well it will take at least two of us to pry Màire and Angelique apart.  LaCroix and I have had to separate the two of them before and I have a feeling that it will take more than just him and me this time.

~~~~

 

“That slut is going to be in so much pain,” Angelique raged.  She stomped over to the outer door, pulled it aside and then kicked the inner door off its hinges.

 

She walked into the room, with a look that might send a younger vampire running into the sunlight.  “Pouffiasse, I’m going a to rip off your head and piss down your throat!” she growled.

 

LaCroix and Micah glanced at each other as Màire chortled.  Several WARriors hearing the confrontation filled in and stood behind the two men.

 

“Nice do, báitaí,” Màire laughed.

 

Angelique growled, grabbed Màire neck and pulled her out of her chair.  She then began shaking the younger vampire like a rag doll.

 

Remy whistled in the back of the crowd.  “Awrigh!  Catfight!  One hundred on dat bald chick!  Go chere!”

 

“Oh mercy!” Màire coughed with a smile.  She couldn’t help laughing.  After a small amount of initial pain, she would heal and end up unharmed.  “Oh, hurt me,” she laughed again, noting Angelique’s wrath mounting at this discovery.  She decided she would have to make a move and punched Angelique in the mouth.

 

Vachon grinned.  “I’ll see that.  One hundred on the crazy redhead.”

 

Remy shook his head and grinned.  “The way dis is goin’, I may have to bet on dem bot.”

 

“I’ve fought with Angelique before,” said Kat.  “I’ll put my hundred on her.”

 

“You’re in the want of a good funeral,” Màire grumbled as she picked herself off the floor, but still managed to get kicked in her left shin.  Angelique pulled back her hair and proceeded to kick her opponent in the neck.  It left her opponent dazed momentarily.

 

“Hmmm,” Duncan murmured to himself as he and Sukh wandered their way over to Remy.  “Angelique has the upper track, but Màire is a Celt.  She’ll be pissed if she finds out I didn’t bet on her.  But Micah would be pissed otherwise.  One hundred on Angelique.”

 

“Who dat?” asked Remy.  “Is she dat bald one?”

 

“Yes,” sighed Duncan.

 

Gilchrist wandered up with a crisp hundred-dollar bill, and gave it to Remy.  “Me own mother was a redhead, and never gave up in a fight.  Besides that, I have to support the Gael.”

 

Maccousin punched him on the arm.  “How come you didn’t give us that money last night?” she asked.

 

Màire meanwhile got up, tripped Angelique and managed to kick her in the stomach, once.  Then her opponent grabbed her leg and pulled her down.

 

“Morue!” screamed Angelique, punching her opponent in the stomach.

 

“Pogue mahone, báitaí!” retorted Màire.

 

The operatives wandered inside.

 

“Michael,” Nikita murmured, looking at the carnage within the room.  “Are they going to kill each other?”

 

“I doubt they could do that,” Michael replied calmly.

 

“All right a catfight!”  Walter jumped past Nikita and Michael to get to Remy.  He placed his bet and then began taking pictures as he cackled. “C’mon Brown Sugar, turn around a bit.  Hey Red, could you look at the camera?”

 

Michael shrugged as Nikita and Birkoff continued staring at the two vampires. Ciarán and Methos arrived and moved to the forefront of the crowd.

 

Angelique and Màire had gone to opposite corners of the room and Methos jumped between the two of them as they prepared to go at it again.

 

“Ladies, stop this, you both look ridic-” The two women growled and started running toward each other.  Methos was pushed aside and hit the wall.

 

“Ní morán thú!” screeched Màire.  Angelique had grabbed her by the hair.

 

“Pouffiasse, you are going to be wishing you were dead!” answered Angelique, kicking Màire swiftly in the side.

 

“I’ll put a hundred on Angelique,” said Bourbon.

 

Camille shrugged, finding the scene a tad over the top.  “I’ll put one hundred on her too.”

 

Duncan helped Methos to his feet.  “Angelique is going to want your head if she finds out you had anything to do with this.”

 

“I tried to stop Màire.  She wouldn’t listen.  It reminded me of trying to give you advice sometimes.” Methos grimaced, rubbing his left temple.  “You and her both never listen to my sage advice.”

 

Màire screamed in rage, as Angelique stepped on her stomach.  Angelique began pulling out Màire’s hair.  “I’m going to tear out your hair, one strand at a time, bitch.”

 

LaCroix quietly came over to Remy.  “One hundred on Angelique.”

 

Nick and Trapper glanced at each other.

 

“Don’t look at me,” began Trapper.  “I’m saving my money for espresso.”

 

Schanke grabbed Nick by his arm.  “Nicky-boy, you know both of the ladies.”  He glowed in excitement.  “Who are you going to bet on?”

 

Nick sighed and then saw LaCroix over by Remy.  “One hundred on Màire,” he passed over a bill to Remy and felt LaCroix’s stare on his back.

 

“Hmmm,” said Schanke, looking over his shoulder at Evie.  “Who are you putting your money on?”

 

Màire leapt onto the Egyptian vampire’s stomach and was hitting Angelique’s head against the floor. Angelique grabbed a vase and swung at Màire, hitting her in the jaw.

 

“Oh,” Monique looked close to tears.  “That was a very rare Ming vase.”  She noted Màire heading for a chair.  “No, please that is a

Louis the Sixteenth…”

 

Evie stared at the fight for a moment, as the chair became kindling.  “I’m putting my money on Angelique,” she said.

 

Buffy walked in.  “Somebody has to stop this,” she reached for a stake.

 

“Buffy, wait,” Giles took her by the arm.  “Let them finish this.”  He looked at the scene disapprovingly.

 

“Man, this makes last night worth it!” Xander jumped to the forefront.  He couldn’t take his eyes away from seeing Angelique using a headlock on Màire.

 

“Xander!” Cordelia tried to get his attention.

 

“Huh?” asked Xander, not taking his eyes away from the scene.

 

Màire elbowed Angelique in the stomach and then kicked her in the stomach.  The two began rolling across floor, screaming incomprehensibly at each other in different languages.

 

“Teigh I dtigh an deabhail!” Màire tried to pull away from Angelique’s grip on her hair.

 

“Morue, you’re going to wish you’re in hell by the time I’m done with you,” growled Angelique as Màire scratched her face.  Màire rolled away and grabbed her dirk.  She laughed as she wiped blood from her face from Angelique’s scratches.

 

Meanwhile, Ben and Jerry wandered into the room, shocked to see the head of the Enforcers rolling around the floor with their team lead’s ex-wife.

 

Lalor tried to get through their blockade.  “Hey!  I can’t see the fight!” he whined.

 

Angelique grabbed her brother’s blade and the two women faced each other, red-eyed and snarling.

 

Michael and Ciarán walked to the front of the room.  Michael shot several bullets into the ceiling.

 

“Ladies,” Ciarán began, snarling back at them.  “You dinna want us to separate you.”

 

Michael and Ciarán were pushed aside as Angelique and Màire faced each other off again.  The clangs of metal meeting metal were becoming louder.

 

“That’s it,” Ciarán growled.  He found LaCroix and Methos.  “We’re going to have to pull them apar’ afore they hurt themselves or someone else.  LaCroix, you and Michael take Angelique to her room.”  He turned to Methos.  “We’ll take Màire to the bathroom to cool off.”

 

LaCroix and Michael grabbed Angelique from behind.

 

“No,” she growled.  “I’m going to kill that morue!”

 

Methos and Ciarán picked up Màire and dragged her kicking and screaming into the bathroom.

 

“Báitaí!” she raged.

 

“Ohhh, too bad,” laughed Remy.  “Dis is a draw, dealer keeps all de cash!”

 

“What!” the WARriors growled.

 

“Now, now,” began Ben.  He stepped to the center of the room.  “Nothing more to see here.  Move along.  Move along.”

 

“Does anyone need medical attention?” asked Natalie, looking around the room. Everyone seemed in fine shape, except possibly Remy, who was trying to outrun most of the WARriors.

 

 

Brothers

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

7:48 pm

 

The dredded vampire noticed that the ruckus was quickly changing course and casually stepped out of the line of fire. All attention previously centered on the two women fighting was shifting to the retreating Cajun.  Nelson groaned at the familiarity of it all. As if on cue, Jerry and Ben stepped into the room. They rushed by Nelson without so much as a smirk; he was pleased to see that the two enforcers had learned their lessons well

 

Searching the crowd, Nelson spotted a familiar bandanna. Navigating the diminishing crowd, he quickly stepped up behind the other man and placed a firm hand on his shoulder.

 

“O si yo,” Nelson said, his voice deep and resonant.

 

The grey-haired man turned and smiled broadly. “Ho wa!” he replied in kind and shook Nelson’s hand in the brotherhood grip.

 

“Do hi tsu?” Walter asked, pulling back to get a good look at Nelson. Long separated, Walter was happy to find that both his old friend and his Overhill Cherokee were in serviceable condition.

 

“Still kicking,” Nelson replied heartily. He tugged at the camera around Walter’s neck and teased, “Special surveillance?”

 

“You know it!”

 

 

A Shower Scene

By Maccousin

September 7

Chalet

7:48 pm

Birkoff watched as the two vampires were dragged away from each other. He turned to Walter.  “That’s it?” He was clearly disappointed.

“Don’t worry,” laughed Walter, holding his camera.  “I’ll make you a copy.”

~~~~

 

“Báltaí!” Màire raged as they half-dragged, half carried her into the large bathroom.  She kicked and struggled against the vampire and Immortal who pulled her out of her battle into the bathroom.

 

“Let me go!” she screeched, trying to free her fists from Methos’ grip.

 

“Not until you calm down,” Ciarán said rationally.  He was used to her temper tantrums regarding Angelique.  He sighed as she began yelling in her native tongue.  “There’s no need to insult my clan.  At least my family managed to not kill each other.  There’s only one thing that will calm her down.”  He said to Methos.

 

“Don’t you dare!” Màire growled.

 

Methos noticed Ciarán staring at the bathtub.  They tossed her into bathtub and turned on the shower.  She screamed and pounded her fists as cold water plastered her hair onto her face.  The black velvet dress became a second skin.  The struggle lessened and the men let go of her.

 

Màire stared at them balefully.  She scowled as Ciarán leaned over her.

 

“Are you going to behave?” Ciarán asked her with a smirk.  “This is your own fault, you realize.”

 

Màire glared at him, her arms crossed over her chest.

 

“Ah, good.  I see we’ve moved on to the silent treatment portion of our semi-annual conniption over Angelique.  Speaking of which, I’m going to check on her.”

 

He nodded to Methos.  “Later, old man.   Make sure she behaves herself.”

 

Ciarán walked out.

 

“Are we done?” Methos turned to the sulky wet woman in the bathtub.

 

Màire stared angrily at wall.  “Infuriating jackass,” she grumbled.  “Sometimes I wonder how I managed to stand being married to him.”  She looked at Methos.  “I suppose I will have to listen to a lecture from you now.”

 

“Oh it’s a bit more than that.  Thanks to you, I have Angelique after my head now.”

 

“Why would…?”

 

Methos clamped a hand over her mouth.  She looked up at him, shocked. “Mmmm!!!” She murmured angrily.

 

“Will you let me finish a sentence now?” he asked her calmly.

 

She looked at him and Methos pulled his hand away from her mouth.  Màire sighed impatiently.

 

“Did you not hear me say that this childish little game of yours would be trouble?” He asked.  “Angelique is understandably upset.”  He got up and walked to the other side of the bathroom.  “She will want revenge on anyone involved in your dangerous little game.  That means her brother, who is probably mentally unstable right now from everything he’s gone through will be all too happy to act in her behalf.”

 

Màire stared at her feet.

 

“Are you even listening?” Methos crouched down next to the bathtub.

 

“Yes,” she sighed.

 

“Do you normally do things like this for fun?” Methos asked sarcastically.  “Quite frankly, I thought someone your age would know better.”

 

“Give me a break,” Màire returned the tone.  “Before the sun came up, you were ready for fun.  Why did you even follow me if you didn’t want some fun.”  She wiped some water away from her face.  “Why did you even come back.  You could have at least stayed and given me an alibi.” Màire turned away from him.  “Or wasn’t I even worth it?”

 

“It was great, but not worth getting killed over!”

 

“Excuse Me?  You seemed to enjoy yourself earlier today!”

 

She sighed and turned away.  “I’m sorry, I just really enjoy tormenting her that’s all.”

 

“That’s all the excuse you have for pulling a crazy stunt like that?”

 

“It wasn’t a crazy stunt,” she ran her hair over her wet hair.  “It was just revenge.”

 

“Revenge,” Methos sighed.  “I gave that up a long time ago.”

 

“Revenge,” Màire replied.  “I could never give it up.  That’s why I am what I am,” she smirked.

 

“Has anyone told you, Màire that you are a pain in the ass.”

~~~~

(In the hallway)

 

 

Ciarán had all the intentions of going to Angelique’s room, but he got distracted.  That blonde goddess, Nikita was following the two other operatives down the hallway.  He sighed softly to himself.

 

Nikita must have heard him.  She stopped to look at him.  The man stopped at her side.  Ciarán smiled, head tilted.  He held out a hand.  Ciarán did not notice LaCroix exiting Angelique’s room.  Michael followed LaCroix a few seconds later, wanting to give Angelique and her brother some privacy.

 

“I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself,” said Ciarán.

 

“Oh, but I know who and what you are,” Nikita stared at him then looked over his shoulder momentarily, noting Michael.  She took his hand.

 

Ciarán brought it to his lips.  “Ciarán MacKeracher, of the Clan MacKeracher.”

 

Nikita couldn’t help smiling.  She covered up a girlish giggle with a hand.

 

“Oh so you do smile,” Ciarán replied.  He noted the way Nikita’s blue eyes moved and caught a scent of Michael.  “I thought all section one operatives were automatons without emotion.”  He couldn’t help smiling at Nikita’s smirk.

 

“We aren’t all that way,” Nikita smiled, she couldn’t help but notice the way Ciarán’s hair appeared to be nearly red in the light of the corridor.  He continued to hold her hand, and she let him.  “At least we don’t kill indiscriminately.”

 

“It appears Operations has been at work spreading lies about my kind,” said Ciarán.  “And could you honestly say he is any better than us.  I don’t suppose you would still want a drink.”

 

Nikita looked over Ciarán’s shoulder once again.  Michael stared at her, blankly, as if he was daring her.

 

Nikita took Ciarán’s proffered arm.  “Why not,” she answered.  They began to walk down the hall together.

 

“We could drive somewhere,” Ciarán mused.  “My car, thanks to our friend, Màire is here.”

 

Nikita paused in step, midway down the stairs.  “Will she and Angelique be all right?”

 

Ciarán laughed.  “The problem with Angelique and Màire is that they both regenerate too quickly to please the other.  I imagine they will make a compromise sooner or later.  They hate to admit it, but they have similar goals and don’t you dare tell either one of them this.  They are alike in many ways.”

 

Nikita nodded.  “I’m not sure I’d be able to handle going up against either.  They won’t have a problem with this, will they?”

 

Ciarán opened the door for Nikita as they stepped into the night air.  “I doubt it.  Angelique is going to be preoccupied with Micah’s return.  Màire is having too much fun tormenting Angelique.  My own maker told me once; Màire has Fey in her and would be nothing but trouble.  At the very least, she is entertaining trouble.   Although I had no idea Màire would have scalped Angelique.  She’d be all too happy to ignore me at this moment.  If anything she’d probably tell you that you have her pity.  Besides that, there’s someone else to enchant now.”

 

Ciarán walked to the car door and opened it for her.

~~~~

 

LaCroix walked into the room silently, hearing the voices echo down the corridor.  He paused outside the bathroom door, hearing Methos continue to lecture Màire on behaving like a grown-up.  He could not agree more.

 

He paused outside the door before walking in.

 

 

Perfect Circle

by Renie and RavenKat 😉

Sept. 7

the Chalet

7:50 pm

 

“I saw a friend of yours shortly before I left.”

 

Vachon cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? Who?”

 

After giving Camille a look that said, watch this, Bourbon winked at her and leaned toward his master before replying, “Uncle Pachaqui.”

 

The Spaniard closed his eyes a moment and sighed heavily at the mention of the Inca. “No. Do NOT tell me he’s going to show up here.”

 

“The last I heard, he was on his way to Europe.”

 

Around the corner, a tall, lithe redhead appeared. She stepped silently up behind Vachon and snuck a finger into one of his belt loops.  Javier was too preoccupied to notice.

 

“What did he want?” Vachon asked cautiously.

 

“Your whereabouts, what else?”

 

Kat tugged, doing her best not to intrude completely, yet let him know she was there. She was concerned that this might be a private conversation. Vachon turned, smiled distractedly then returned to questioning his offspring.  “And you told him…?” He paused, waiting for Bourbon to answer.

 

“Oh, I gave him the exact address of this chalet and precise directions to New Jerusalem! What do you think?” he replied sarcastically. Nodding briefly to acknowledge the elder vampire, he continued, “I told him nothing.  As far as he knows, I haven’t a clue where you are.”

 

“Good.” Vachon visibly relaxed. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and August will take care of him before he can find us.”

 

Camille shot him a look that was a mixture of disbelief and genuine amusement.

 

“That would end your game of hide and seek,” Bourbon teased. “Then what would you do for the rest of eternity?”

 

The conquistador pulled Kat around beside him. “I’m sure I’ll think of something,” he said.

 

The two men exchanged knowing grins. For most of Bourbon’s undead life, they had played the same game. Vachon would run, settle, then run again when the Inca found him. Pachaqui, and his agenda, was an eternal pain in the ass.  Vachon’s Inca ‘brother’ took everything too seriously, including himself.

 

Javier watched the former Musketeer grow increasingly uncomfortable; there was something he wasn’t saying.

 

“What?” Vachon asked, hoping to get whatever was bothering him out in the open.

 

“Nothing.”

 

The Spanish vampire leaned against the wall, letting go of Kat and crossing his arms. “I’m just wondering when you’re going to tell me what’s really on your mind.”

 

“Okay – he told me Urs and Screed were dead. I didn’t believe him, so I called her private number at the Raven.” Bourbon set his jaw and looked away for a few seconds. The look on his face made it clear that he already knew the answer, but he asked anyway. “Is it true?”

 

Vachon nodded grimly, the scene fresh in his mind. “I found their bodies at the church I was living in. By the time I got there, it was too late.” He paused, not sure whom he was trying to convince. “There was nothing I could do for either of them.”

 

“It was bad,” Kat added solemnly.  She gently took her lover’s arm, as much for her own reassurance as his.

 

Bourbon’s voice turned steely.  “How?”

 

“August…or Horton.”  Vachon didn’t elaborate; he didn’t want to think about the scene that greeted him that night.

 

The younger vampire met his eyes. “He already told me who. I got a crash course in their sordid histories from a friend in Seattle. What I want to know is how Urs died.”

 

“No,” Kat interjected, “you don’t.”

 

Refusing to acknowledge her, Bourbon closed in on Vachon. “Tell me.”

 

“Urs and Screed are dead. Let’s just leave it at that. We know who’s responsible – I’ll take care of it.” Vachon moved away from the wall and stepped around Bourbon.

 

“You?!” Bourbon demanded, stopping his master with the tone of his voice.

 

Vachon turned and faced his old friend. “Is there an echo in here?” he replied harshly. “This isn’t your fight.”

 

“Isn’t it?”

 

“Urs was mine, Bourbon. I am the one who made her.”

 

The swordsman flinched inwardly. “Perhaps, but I loved her. Does that make her any less mine?”

 

Vachon shook his head. Urs should never have been brought across. She was too kind, too sensitive. She eventually became used to being a vampire, but she could never accept what Vachon had done for her – to her.  He had wanted to give her the love and protection she didn’t have as a mortal. Shortly before her horrific death, Urs told him she understood that.

 

In the beginning, she had refused to hunt with them, choosing instead to take the odd murderer, rapist, or wife beater. Upon her nightly returns, she made a habit of bathing, as if she herself had committed her victim’s crimes. On the many occasions when she couldn’t bring herself to kill, Bourbon had let her take his own blood. Then, when alternate sources had become more available, Urs was happy in the knowledge that she would never have to kill again.

 

Vachon hadn’t approved of the blossoming romance between his children. He had wanted Urs for himself. Eventually, he realized there was nothing he could do to change the situation, and it wasn’t long before he purposely found other diversions. Twenty-five years after that, Urs ended the relationship, and Bourbon left.

 

Bourbon found Camille only thirty years after that. She was beautiful and delicate, as Urs had been, and only a few decades older. Unlike Urs, she was happy with who and what she was.  Francois allowed his thoughts to be interrupted as Camille edged closer and placed a calming hand on his back.

 

“I’m really sorry,” she told him softly.

 

Vachon sighed, “Getting yourself killed isn’t going to bring them back.”

 

“I owe her this,” Bourbon said, “Screed too.” Smiling a little at the memory of the old sailor, he continued. “Did he tell you about the last time we saw each other? We met in Las Vegas about a year ago. He had conned some uptight old vampire into paying him to find explosives in the tunnels under Toronto. He must have had at least $5,000.”

 

“He told me he lost it all in four days.”

 

Camille looked at the woman with Vachon and smiled. Kat leaned forward, stuck her hand out and said loudly, “I’m Kat, and you are?” The redhead threw a look at the men that let them know which courtesy had been overlooked.

 

“Camille,” she responded, laughing. “Nice to meet you.”

 

“Bourbon,” Francois said, bowing slightly.

 

The two shook hands – Kat didn’t need to touch him to realize that he was one of Vachon’s family.  It was one thing to overlook a lie when caught up in a lover’s embrace, but quite another when the lie was right in front of you.

 

She returned to Vachon’s side, a smile frozen on her face. “Just Urs, huh?”

 

 

…A Dish Best Served With Distinction

by Devin Saceur

September 7

Chateau

7:50 pm

Following the bout, everyone anxiously moved to tend to their business once more. Devin noted, as he read the faces and body language of those assembled, that the situation was looking ever more grim. Initial alliances had turned to rivalries and even open feuding on various levels. As he looked to his still aching hand, that had only minutes ago managed to realign itself with his

wrist after being removed during his battle with Remy, he realized that he’d also fallen prey to the social collapse inherent to idle time among what would otherwise be warring parties.

 

Shrugging his shoulders in resignation, he moved over to where Anna and Monique stood, chattering excitedly like mother birds examining a new nest. As he approached, the object of their attentions became clear, and he found himself instantly engaged.

 

In Monique’s hands rested a hard laminate-sealed Studio di Nudo sketch, one of the first from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel preparations. “Monique!” he gasped, “where, pray tell, did you manage to obtain this…? You know I have been searching for many, many years.”

 

“I know,” she managed an awkward smile as he looked over her shoulder at the finely preserved work. “That was, in part, my reason for securing the item to my estate. You and I had many points of…rivalry, shall we say…and it seemed the logical choice to lock this beauty away when the opportunity presented itself.”

 

He wanted to scoff, badly, at her petty admission, but the sheer beauty of the study captivated him. Without so much as an acknowledgement, he reached out like a mesmerized child to hold the work in his hands. A faint expression of asking crossed his features, and to his delight, Monique conceded the piece to his uncharacteristically gentle embrace. “Oh, it is beauty…” he weakly uttered as his index finger traced light circles upon the pure, clear laminate.

 

The two women grinned to each other as Devin stepped over into the bright bath pouring from a focused overhead light. It was as though the vampire’s aura had changed ever so slightly. Standing in relief against the backdrop of his more common disposition, he appeared as an enraptured angel, staring into the benevolent face of his god.

 

As they stepped away to give him the full range of available light, a silent telepathic exchange developed between them. “This should prove interesting,” Monique mused.

 

“You should have told him, maybe…” Anna replied as a devious smile lit up her face and she rested a hand on Monique’s.

 

“How could I? He was so enthralled with the very prospect that I couldn’t get a word in…”

 

“But you led him to believe…”

 

“I allowed him to lead himself. Nothing more.”

 

Anna giggled as she looked to the stern shoulders of her lover, his head tilted in a strange pose as he ran his fingers along the laminate surface as if reaching for an artifact lying just beyond his reach. She could clearly read from his thoughts that he longed to open the casing. “He has a keen eye, you know.”

 

“I should hope so, dear. For if not, he will be most embarrassed.”

 

Both nearly keeled over in laughter as they stepped further away and out into the hall. Behind them, Devin stood firm, intently analyzing the delicious beauty and personality of the figure. It was, if he recalled, the fourth draft in preparation for the Creation of Man fresco. Adam lounged, his right arm nestled gracefully upon a rock as the other stretched out, almost languidly, to touch the glory of God…surrounded by a host of Cherubim. Off to the side, the hand of God could be seen, but only partially so. The area seemed bleached by time and the cuts of the pencil ended at the tattered edge of the page.

 

He turned the casing over and over in his hands, examining the finely brushed vellum and tracing the worn edges. The thought of probing for inconsistencies was the furthest from his mind, as he knew well of Monique’s wealth and resourcefulness. She had certainly found this great work, and out of spite for him had shoved it away, probably deep in her dusty collection…never to be seen

by him.

 

But somehow, Fate had brought them together again and through the circumstances, he’d managed to partially iron out the old resentments. Perhaps reconciliation was at hand and he could profit from it. A wide smile set him into motion and he briskly strutted out of the room and down the hall, certain of himself and his goal.

 

“Mon…?” he chittered, floating into the kitchen on a portable cloud. “I am, of course, most impressed with your acquisition. In fact, I am more than a little envious.”

 

Monique didn’t need to look to Anna. All was being communicated in thought. Each laugh stifled as it begged to rise to the surface, they nonetheless allowed themselves small smiles, which Devin seemed to draw no meaning from. Stirring her cup of Oolong, Monique looked absently to the table. “You really shouldn’t be, Devin. ‘Tis but a trifle. I must apologize for having kept it interred for so long amid my other objects of little personal affection.”

 

Devin shook his hand in the air before him. “Oh no, no…not at all. Your reasons are understandable,” he tilted his head slightly, as though trying to choke back the inevitable follow-up, “if a bit…beneath you.”

 

Monique took a quick sip from her tea and sat down to the table. “Perhaps you’re right. We both said and did many things during those years that brought us low.” She seemed distant, pulled back in time to the days of their love, and the last days before Maman’s death. A sharp edge rose to her face, but quickly died back as she let loose another carefully checked smile. “Contemptible things. But nonetheless, we must forgive and forget…yes?”

 

Moving forward to take a chair across the table from her, Devin maintained a solemn but graceful poise and demeanor. “Absolutely, ami.” He was watching the moment fade into recollection…an unfavorable set of conditions for his present aim. “But let us not dwell on such things. We are here, now. Both of us are doing well by ourselves.”

 

Anna wanted terribly to jump from her seated position on the counter, shake her lover by the lapels of his long coat, and command him to speak his mind immediately. It was clear to each of them where he was leading, but the jabbering harlequin just…wouldn’t…get…to…the…point!

 

She knew the end result all too clearly. Nonetheless, this simple and yet grand play between the two former lovers had an oddly amusing quality to it, and Anna intended to watch it pan out, even to the chagrin of the man she loved. Such simple and harmless moments of revenge come few and far between. They must be appreciated when they arrive. In Anna’s estimation, Monique had earned it.

 

So she let Devin prattle on, weaving his way through one fond memory after another, calling up days of mirth and adventure in the late-night Parisian streets and taverns…of times spent in the company of their old jester friend Flavio, an insane vampire who had met with a suitably comedic end in the jaws of a crocodile on the banks of the Nile in Al Fayyam…and of the many evenings of “collections” along the Mississipi River plantations when it seemed that one party led into the next, as did the killings…

 

When Devin finally noted a favorable shift in the air, with Monique seeming more open to whatever he might say, he proceeded to bargaining mode. He gently ran his fingers over the laminate, obviously anxious to go beyond it with each lingering touch. “Monique. Have you ever considered the value of this work? You have stated its insignificance to you, but I can assure you that others will appreciate its beauty.”

 

Exuding the aura of a skeptical matriarch, Monique shifted ever so slightly in her chair, holding her cooling cup of tea in a pristine, ivory hand. “Others such as yourself, I presume?”

 

Devin huffed in an exaggerated manner, his hands coming up to brush gently down the breasts of his coat. “Well, you know of my affinity for Renaissance art, of course.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“And as I am expressing obvious interest in this piece, you are undoubtedly aware that I intend to support the interest with an offer.”

 

“I would expect nothing less of you, Devin. Your fervor for the acquisition of art antiquities rivals even that of the national museums. I am actually amazed that you have never staged a pilfering of the Musée du Louvre.”

 

“Actually,” Devin grinned as he withdrew a cigarette from his breast pocket, “I once managed to secure a trivial item from Brueghel’s early works out of our national gallery. A sketch…but a magnificent specimen nonetheless. Give me time, Mon, and I will someday arrange a larger take.”

 

The mask fell momentarily and Monique let out a healthy laugh. “So nothing is beyond the grasp of the Boy Wonder…”

 

“I pray not. Which brings me back to this piece.” He tugged long from the cigarette, weighing in his mind how far he was willing to go, should she press. “What price would satisfy your requirements for sale?”

 

Monique leaned lazily across the table, resting her beautiful hand upon his for a brief moment before sliding the work over to herself. “I’m not sure, actually. It is quite a handsome image, though I am not an adequate judge of art. What are you willing to pay?”

 

“One-hundred thousand.” He said plainly, without hesitation.

 

“Oh, indeed.” Monique shot a glance to Anna, who gave nothing in return but a thought: “You are wicked…,” to which Monique responded: “so is he.”

 

Devin tried to subdue his enthusiasm, but it was quickly overwhelming him. “Do we have a deal, Mon?”

 

“I think not.” She set her cup on the table and ran her hand gingerly over the surface of the casing. “Given the haste of your response, I am led to believe that this object is worth far more. Admittedly, my knowledge of the market for such works is scant, but I will not let you simply walk away with it…laughing at my folly as you trot off to sell it at some ridiculous profit. Try again.”

 

“But I’m not going to sell it at all. You know me. My collection is mine alone. No bids taken.”

 

“If you are still interested, I would suggest you present a more realistic offer.”

 

“Fine. Name your price. I will give it quick and fair consideration.”

 

“One million.”

 

“What?!” He fell back in his chair and ran it over in his mind, tugging strongly on the cigarette until it singed his fingers. “It is but a single piece, Mon. It is NOT the Codex Leicester!”

 

“No it is not. But it IS a quality piece…and even I am versed enough to know that the Codex sold for over thirty million to one William Gates of Microsoft Corporation. Surely you can part with a measly one million for the privilege of owning the work of an even more exquisite artist.”

 

“That point is open to debate…”

 

“Come now, Devin. You are not exactly living at poverty level. So surrender up the meager sum, like a serious collector, and then you may drool at your leisure upon this glorious item.”

 

Anna burst into laughter at the remark, nearly falling from her perch atop the counter. Noting the look of irritation on Devin’s face was all that kept her from carrying on. She choked back another laugh and set to pouring herself more coffee.

 

After a moment spent absently hammering his fingers on the table, Devin smiled generously and moved to Monique’s laptop, which sat atop the far counter in silent amusement with itself at the dancing, pulsating geometric screen saver patterns trailing across the screen. “Francs, I presume?”

 

“Dollars, Devin. American dollars.”

 

He grimaced as his fingers skipped across the keyboard, transferring the sum from his accounts with a methodical precision …unwilling to even think on the matter any further. After a few minutes of waiting …waiting …waiting for the transmission to go through the ponderously slow Internet connection, he turned back to the table and snatched up the piece. “Deal. Your funds should be updated…”

 

“…No later than two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. I know, darling. It was…a pleasure.”

 

Devin smirked. “I’m sure. Now, if you ladies will excuse me,” He moved over to plant a slow, gentle kiss on Anna’s lips. “I have some admiring to do…”

 

With that, he exited, awkwardly pouring hot water into a cup and a snagging a canister of Earl Grey loose-leaf on his way out.

 

Anna looked to Monique in utter shock. “Oh…my…God,” she mouthed, a silly smile rapidly consuming her face. Her thoughts communicated the rest. “Who did you say that was again?”

 

“Pierre Larmand,” Monique giggled, nearly spilling her tea down the front of her dress. “Quite an accomplished artist in his own right, and a great admirer of Michelangelo…but NOT ‘the real thing’. That work was part of Pierre’s early drawings, when he was attempting to gain a better understanding of the human form. He chose the Sistine Chapel studies as a point of reference. Very good

emulation, I might add. But if Devin’s eye had been as sharp as his greed, he would have noticed that the hand of God was not in the original work by the Master. Pierre added it as an afterthought.”

 

“I can’t believe you actually allowed the deal to go through…”

 

Monique put a soft hand to Anna’s shoulder as she relayed her next thought. “My dear…that man owes me far more than he will ever admit to. Perhaps not in money…but money will do. He may never even realize the deception, but if he does, let him rant and howl his way into acceptance. For I can assure you, he is smart enough to realize just how fortunate he is that I’m willing to exact

my revenge in such a harmless manner. His bank account will survive.”

 

 

I Will Remember You

by Sukh

September 7

Chalet

7:50 pm

 

Angelique had fallen ominously silent as LaCroix and Michael dragged her to her room, Micah followed behind, looking for something as they got her into her room.

 

Angelique shook off Michael and LaCroix and glared at them.  “How dare you?” Her voice was low, sibilant.  “How dare you drag me off like a common street walker.”

 

“It was time to end it.”  Michael stood his ground, his face an impassive mask.

 

“I should have killed her.”

 

Michael blinked, then took a breath before answering.  “What good would that have been to the mission?”

 

“He’s right.” LaCroix stood to one side of Michael.  “She does have skills that are needed.”

 

“Operations might interpret your tantrum as a weakness.”  Michael folded his hands in front of his coat.  “I don’t think you want that.”

 

Micah came in from the bathroom, frowning.

 

Angelique watched as he approached, her face cracking out of the furious mask.  “Micah,” she breathed as she walked over to him.  Everything else was forgotten as she silently thanked Isis for his safe return.

 

He stopped, the frown deepening as he went on one knee. “My queen,” he whispered as he bowed his head, his dark hair falling over his face like a silken waterfall.

 

“No, Micah, it’s your sister.”  She bent to look at him, tilting his face up with her hand.  He looked as whole as the last time she had seen him in Elysian Fields.  “You look well, so well considering–” His eyes were curiously glassy, not quite focused and so much older than they had been a few weeks ago. The fire was gone, leaving a dull onyx emptiness.

 

“Considering LaCroix’s sick daughter’s abuse?”  He showed Angelique the Ankh around his neck.  “This saved me.”

 

Angelique let the silver pendant lay in her palm as she looked at it. “It looks just like mother’s,” she breathed as she stroked it with a trembling finger.

 

“It is, she came to me in a dream.”  He looked at her, then ran one palm over her smooth head.  “Remember how she used to sit and tell you stories as the slaves smoothed your head?”  He ran a knuckle across her cheek “I used to think you were the most beautiful creature in all of Egypt, besides mother.”

 

Pink tears spilled out of her eyes.  “Micah, Oh Micah, I’m so glad to see you.”  She pressed her lips to his forehead.

 

He buried his face in her neck and closed his eyes.  “Hanna set me free.  She’s going to die.” A single tear wet her shoulder as he rested for a moment.

 

“How touching.” LaCroix’s voice shattered the moment.  “I have other things to see to.” He brushed past the statue still Michael and left the room.

 

Micah watched LaCroix go, rage filled eyes burning into the elder vampire’s back.  “He’s going to pay for what happened to me.” He growled.  “And so is that Methos for helping to insult my sister so.”

 

Angelique could see a glint of madness and it frightened her more than she could admit to herself.  “It is nothing. Methos was taken under the Irish witches spell, that all.”

 

“To insult a member of the Royal house of Egypt is punishable with death.”  Micah growled.

 

“We have other duties for now, we have to rescue Detective Schanke’s girl from Divia and August. Do you want her to be treated like you were treated.”

 

Micah looked at Angelique fear was stark in his face.  “Never.”  Then he shook himself and stood.  He looked around, his eyes stopping on the ever silent Michael.

 

Michael stared back, any reaction to the information he had just been privy to about the Head of Operations for the Enforcers, carefully hidden.

 

Micah looked at Angelique. “So what’s Ciarán doing here instead of with Màire?”

 

Michael either grimaced or smiled, Angelique wasn’t quite sure.

 

 

Add It Up

by RavenKat

September 7

the Chalet

8:00 pm

 

Vachon looked at Kat, unsure of how to react to her comment.  He hoped she was kidding.

 

Camilla both felt and saw the tension building between the other couple.  She gently tugged Bourbon away even though he was intent on finishing the conversation with his master. “What?” he demanded, unaware of the situation.

 

The point Kat was making was moot between vampire lovers – she knew it, yet couldn’t stop herself.  Lying was an impossibility; the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, was in the blood.  Vachon could no more lie to her than she could to him.  So why was she acting like a jealous mortal?

 

Javier wondered the same thing.  He knew she understood what he had meant the night of Urs’ death.  Urs was the only vampire he felt protective of, the only one he had brought across solely as a means to save her from pain.  There had been others, but they had been companions, lovers and friends.  With Urs he actually felt the title of father.  Javier saw Kat’s hesitation and waited for her to go on.

 

She knew why she was on the verge of making an ass of herself…up until this moment, Kat had had Vachon to herself.  All of his past loves and lovers were either dead or otherwise occupied. His attraction to Tracy Vetter had never concerned Kat, either.  She knew that Vachon’s interest in the girl had died when she did.

 

It was obvious that she wanted to keep the feeling of security as long as possible and that she didn’t want anything to interfere with her first vampire relationship. But it would be absurd to let Bourbon, a rebellious young vampire, rile her to feelings that were alien to her. She released the tension in her shoulders and sighed deeply.

 

“You know what?” Kat said, smiling.

 

Vachon raised an eyebrow in response.

 

“Nevermind,” she said, laughing at her own stupidity.

 

 

Payback’s a B**ch

By Sukh/MacCousin

September 7

Chalet

8:00 pm

 

“Micah, meet Michael Samuelle, my liaison from Section One.”

 

“Damn, that’s scary.”  Micah walked closer to the stone-faced mortal.  “He’s a dead ringer.”

 

Michael’s mouth twitched then settled into a thin line.  He tilted his head up a bit to look Micah in the eye.  “You need to be debriefed.”

 

“So I do,” Micah turned and looked at his sister, a sly grin on his face.  “French?  What is it with you and French guys?  LaCroix…no wait he’s Roman… Then Nick…but that was a few hundred years ago.”

 

“Michael is here in a professional manner only.”  But the power in his blood was drawing her like a filing to a magnet.  It was there, under his iceman exterior, a dull pulse of electric fire.

 

“Liar.”

 

Michael watched her for a moment, like he was reading a resting great cat.  “I will help you debrief.” His eyes flickered with heat, then banked like chips of green ice.  “30 minutes, in the basement.” It wasn’t a question.

 

“Yes, and inform the others that the big briefing will be pushed back two hours to reevaluate the mission profile.”

 

Michael nodded and left.

 

“Well, well, my sisters been busy, hasn’t she?”  Micah pulled out his sword and swung it.  It wasn’t the scimitar he was carrying earlier this month, it was an ancient Egyptian broadsword, gold plated and etched with Hieroglyphics.  She recognized the sword from when he had been pharaoh.  It had been in a trunk left behind in airport storage.

 

“Oversight wants me to take Operations out.”

 

“Have fun.  I have to find a certain immortal with a yellow streak.”  Micah was gone before Angelique could try to dissuade him.

 

She muttered an ancient curse in Egyptian as she rushed to find Duncan.

~~~~~~~~

 

LaCroix walked into Màire’s room, and knocked on the bathroom door.

 

Màire sighed and put her head in her hands.  It looked like she would have to sit through one more lecture.

 

Methos noticed her change in posture.  “What’s wrong?” he asked.

 

“LaCroix is here,” she whispered, “and he’s furious.  I can sense it.”

 

Methos watched as her face became drawn.  “You may as well open it,” she said.  “There’s no putting this off.”

 

“You really didn’t think this through, did you?” he asked.

 

Màire shrugged.  Methos stood and opened the door.  LaCroix took a step inside; his eyes focused on his daughter in the tub.

 

“I’ll leave you two alone,” Methos stepped into the bedroom.

 

LaCroix and Màire stared at each other a moment.

 

“A word, my dear,” LaCroix began quietly.

 

In a strange way this made Màire worry all the more.  She knew when her master was upset, he quieter he got, the more dangerous the situation was.

 

LaCroix continued, “I had no idea you were so talented with a pair of scissors.”  He sat down on the closed toilet seat and handed Màire another towel.

 

“Do we really have to go through this?” Màire asked as she stood in the tub.   “Angelique plots against me.  She takes the one man that I loved then away from me.  Why can’t I have my revenge?”

 

LaCroix’s eyes became red and he hissed.  “A woman who plots such revenge keeps her own wounds green.  How many times I have spoke of this to you.  Who do you think I was speaking to that night?  Of course what am I to expect.  Your entire existence has been about revenge.  Revenge on your family for allowing your cousins to have sport with you.  Revenge on Witter for Siona, and now revenge on Angelique, even though you know your years with Ciarán were numbered and the two of you have played out this scene

1,000 times before.”  His voice raised for a moment as he stared at her.   “It’s always about you isn’t it?”

 

Màire was about to turn to walk out the door.  She angrily bit her lower lip to keep from responding to his verbal baiting.

 

“Don’t you dare walk out,” her master hissed.  “Without me, you would have been nothing.  A mere Hibernian fool who would have died at her family’s hands.  Now, because of you, your lover will have to fight for some little joke of yours that you were wholly responsible for and will die at Micah’s hand.”

 

Màire sniffed and stared back at her master.  “Are you done berating me?  I thought you saved this abuse for Nicholas.”

 

LaCroix rushed to her side and hissed into her ear.  “Don’t tempt me, Mael Muire.  Your life was nothing.  I should have never brought you across.”  He turned and started out of the room

 

“You brought me across for your own reasons,” said Màire.  “I remember you had a falling out with Angelique.”  Màire turned and hissed at him in return.  “You couldn’t care less that your foster daughter was tortured.”

 

She turned and walked past him.  “Where do you think you’re going?” LaCroix hissed.  “We aren’t done discussing your childish behavior yet.”

 

“What do you care?”  She left and headed for the staircase.  Hearing a clang of metal she flew out the door.

 

LaCroix watched her for a moment, his fury abated.  He began to follow her downstairs.

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

 

“Duncan!”

 

Duncan paused, his sandwich halfway to his mouth.  “Angelique?”  He was still startled by the stark beauty of her newly shaven head.

 

“Micah has gone after Methos.”

 

The sandwich was forgotten as he started toward the door; Sukh was left gaping like a fish for a moment before running off.

~~~~~~~

 

“Gilchrist!”

 

Gilchrist came flying around a corner and skidded to a halt in front of Sukh.  The MacCousin was right behind him, she slid into his back with a muffled thump.

 

“Micah’s gone after Methos.”

 

“Bullocks!  Which way did he go?”  Gilchrist swung his head around at the sound of metal striking metal.

 

“Too late,” MacCousin breathed as Micah came into sight and swung his Egyptian sword at Methos. Methos blocked the swing and went on the defensive.

 

“Oh man, this is not good.”  Sukh muttered as Angelique and Duncan appeared in the opposite end of the hallway.

 

“Micah!”  Duncan called.  “Don’t do this!”

 

Micah turned and looked at Duncan, his lips curled into a vicious hiss, his eyes endless rage.

 

“Do something!” Angelique hissed.

 

“I canna,” Duncan watched Gilchrist on the other end of the battle getting the same response as he did.  The two immortals on the sidelines exchanged sorrowful looks, knowing it was too late.

 

“Why not?”

 

“One the battle has been engaged, no other immortal may interfere.”

 

“Oh Isis, Micah will take his head.”

 

“Aye.”

 

The metal clanged against metal, sparks flew.  As the WARriors looked on in horror, Màire rushed downstairs, still wet from her recent shower.  LaCroix followed her in a more dignified manner.

 

Màire stopped with the rest of the WARriors and then began nervously pacing about.  The two Immortals continued across.  Micah took another set of swings at Methos.  The impact nearly threw Methos into a wall.  He managed to get back up and ducked another one of Micah’s blows.  Methos saw Micah’s eyes glaze over momentarily.

 

“You’ll never have a chance to humiliate my sister again,” Micah growled, at Methos’s lunge.

 

Màire looked up from the floor.  “Micah,” she began, “I did it all.”

 

“As if that matters now.  He still knew,” Micah turned back to cutting his opponent’s defenses down.  Micah knocked Methos over with the sheer force of the next thrust.

 

Methos looked up to see Micah standing over him, the cold steel of the Egyptian blade rested against his neck.  Micah paused.

 

“If you’re going to do this, do it quickly,” Methos told him.

 

Micah tilted his head to look down at him.  He raised the blade and looked over his shoulder.  Many of the WARriors had turned away.  Màire had her hands over her eyes and had turned to the wall.  The blade fell back and the flat of the sword, touched Methos’s neck, his eyes were still clenched shut.

 

His eyes blinked open to see Micah offering a hand.

 

“Don’t ever do anything like that to Angelique again,” said Micah quietly.  “I don’t need to warn you what will happen if you insult my sister, and as difficult as it is, please don’t let Màire do anything like this again.”

 

“I don’t know if I can promise that,” Methos looked at Micah warily.  Something was definitely off about him.

 

“You can turn around and uncover your eyes, Màire,” LaCroix tapped his daughter on the shoulder as he watched Angelique and Micah join each other in the middle of the room.

 

LaCroix turned away and then passed her a handkerchief, noting small dots of tears on her lower eyelashes.

 

“Thank you,” she murmured, hurrying away into the shadows.  She hated to let people see her cry.

 

The WARriors surrounded Micah and Angelique.  Then Micah pulled away from the others, seeing Màire begin back upstairs.

 

He followed her.  “Màire,” he called.  She stopped in the hallway.  She turned; a touch of fear graced her.  Methos was right; Micah’s eyes were glassy.  “Yes,” she said quietly.

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you scared before,” Micah rested against the wall.  “Except for the time you found a cobra in your bed.  Maybe it’s just – It’s been awhile, but it’s kind of entertaining.  You have my warning.  I know better to expect an apology from you.  Behave yourself.  Although I’m sure LaCroix has been severe enough with you.”

 

Màire nodded her head ever so slightly.  Then she looked up and met his eyes.  “I’m sure your sister will have her revenge.”

 

Micah nodded and turned away, passing Methos in the hall.

 

“I hope she was worth nearly losing your head,” he murmured in passing.

 

 

Going Slightly Mad

by Renie

Sept. 7

le Chalet

8:10 pm

 

“Well, that was entertaining.” Bourbon said with a wide grin as the room began to clear.

 

Camille glared at him. “That was awful.”

 

“Oh come now, cherie. He didn’t take his head.”

 

“No. He didn’t. It was still not an easy thing to watch.”

 

He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “What could you have watched with your eyes closed?”

 

“I didn’t think you noticed,” she said, a little smile tugging playfully at the corners of her mouth.

 

They each felt the hand that landed on their shoulders as a blonde head appeared between theirs. “What a fight, huh?”

 

Francois spun around. “Gunther, you yellow bastard. Where have you been, hiding in the cemetery?”

 

“No, but a little caution never hurt anyone. You would do well to remember that. Have you forgotten Bulgaria?”

 

“Do I need to be reminded of that?” He rolled his eyes as his friend continued.

 

“That angry mob staked me!” It was clearly a not a pleasant memory for the immortal. He and Bourbon had been marked as vampires and left out in the open to greet the sun.

 

“They didn’t exactly welcome me into their family, either. The wood didn’t harm <you>. I’m just lucky they missed my heart.”

 

“But they staked me like a common bloodsucker. And, if you recall, had I not given you my blood, you never would have made it to shelter before sun rise.”

 

“Had you not started that fight in the tavern, we would never have been in that situation.”

 

“I wasn’t the one who bared my fangs and growled like an animal in front of half the damned town!”

 

“I got hit with a chair. Do you have any idea how much it hurts to have splinters in your head?”

 

Gunther only laughed. “Serves you right.”

 

Camille was thoroughly amused by the friendly bantering. She had, of course, heard the entire story on several occasions, but it was still funny to hear them go on about it. She had known Gunther Hardraade for almost as long as she had known Bourbon. The immortal had quickly become a good friend. He was the only one of his kind she had met.

 

“Given what just happened, it would probably be in my best interest to return to Seattle.”

 

“You don’t have to go.” Camille sounded almost disappointed as she reached out and laid a hand on his arm.

 

He smiled at her and covered her hand with his own. “There’s too much buzzing going on here.”

 

She slid her hand down his arm until they no longer touched. “I think there’s some kind of truce among the immortals here.”

 

“Just don’t get on anyone’s bad side, and you’ll be fine.” The vampire informed him. “Of course with your penchant for irritating people… Well, there is holy ground nearby.”

 

“Do not press me, my friend.” His tone was serious. He’d had enough of his friend’s casual insults. “You have seen me fight. I did not live to be older than your master by running away, and you know that I have not spent my life hiding on holy ground.”

 

“Touchy, aren’t we?”

 

“Mind your tongue, or you’ll find yourself enjoying the sunshine.”

 

“Then where would that leave mon cher Camille?” Bourbon asked as he caught her eye and traced the line of her jaw with his fingers.

 

Gunther suddenly grabbed her in a fierce hug. “Don’t worry about the lovely Camille. I shall care for her.”

 

“I don’t need to be cared for. And how could you protect me during the day?” she inquired with a coy little smile.

 

“I would not leave your side.”

 

She laughed and broke from the embrace. Gunther was always a terrible flirt, but she enjoyed the attention.

 

“And what makes you think she would share your bed?” Bourbon questioned.

 

“What makes you think she has not done so already?”

 

With a cocky grin, he answered. “You’re not her type.”

 

 

Still a Little Off

by Suhk and Heather

September 7

Chalet

8:10 pm

 

Methos watched Micah stalk away and rubbed his neck.  The bruise from the flat edge of the sword was fading.

 

Twenty minutes later, Micah, Duncan and Gilchrist felt the pulses of a quickening. They charged outside to find Micah on his knees in the midst of the quickening. He was on the edge of the Cemetery, where the holy ground stopped.

 

They watched in shock as Micah absorbed the power of the masseuse.

 

“Happy?” Duncan looked at Methos. “He died for Màire’s little stunt, which you helped her pull off.”

 

“Sorrier that you’ll ever know.”

 

“My word, that was incredible.” They whirled to find Giles watching in stunned fascination.

 

“This goes no further, Mr. Giles, or you could be in danger.” Duncan warned the Slayer’s watcher.

 

“I understand. But it was an incredible show.” Giles nodded to the other immortals as he went back inside.

 

“Well, his being a watcher will make it easier for him to find out what it was he saw.” Methos frowned at the other two.

 

“Great!” Duncan snorted. “I hope you can keep Màire in control, before more innocents die.” He ground out as he left, Gilchrist shot Methos a sad glance as he turned and followed Duncan toward the chateau.

 

“Hello mate, having a bit of a problem?” a blonde young man in a leather trench coat watched as Micah got to shaky feet and stalked toward the cemetery.

 

“Who are you?” Methos didn’t like the vibes this one was giving off.

 

“Spike.” He pulled a cigarette out and stuck it in his mouth, then pulled out a pack of matches. “I want to see the slayer.” He lit the match and sucked the cigarette to life. “I want to get that nutty singer out of the way.” He blew out a column of smoke. “He’s taking up too much of my Dru’s time, and I don’t like that.”

 

Methos sighed. “Follow me.”

 

 

Oh What a Lucky Man He Was

by RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

after the fight, before/during Micah and Methos

 

“I’m getting a little hungry,” she commented, straightening the hem of her borrowed T-shirt.  She tucked her head, brought her right shoulder close and took a deep breath, trying to cleanse her mind with the fading scent of moth balls.

 

Vachon scanned the room for some nonliving nourishment.  Much of the crowd had dispersed – separating along battle lines or betting lines – although a mixed group of humans, vampires and immortals still milled about.  How had the rescue party grown so big, he wondered? Vachon didn’t recognize half of these people.  He turned to Kat and said, “I’ll get a bottle and we can find someplace quiet until the meeting.”

 

The redhead nodded absent-mindedly in his direction until she noticed a Tiffany panel that had somehow survived the brawl between Maire and Angelique. She stared at the small miracle, her brow creasing.  The beautiful purples were placed perfectly to depict an overloaded and sprawling grape arbor. Kat was looking but she wasn’t truly seeing the glasswork.

 

“Just one?” she asked mildly, her eyes still fixed on the artwork across the room.

 

Javier blinked. He was baffled by her question. One what?

 

“Just one bottle, Vachon?  Are you sure?” Kat swiveled her head slowly, aiming her frown at the conquistador.  “Is that your final answer or would you like to get some help from the audience?”  Her tone grew increasingly sharp and she placed her hands on her hips.

 

“What exactly are you talking about?” he asked, in spite of the fact that he was beginning to understand.

 

Another battle had begun at the far end of the hall, drawing among others Duncan MacLeod.  Kat didn’t even flinch when he passed by.  Vachon began to feel a little uneasy.

 

“I know this happened 3 weeks ago,” Kat said, growing more and more agitated and pacing in a tight little area.  “I know I should have dealt with this the second I tasted the truth – but damn, I was lost in the moment okay?!”

 

Kat was obviously speaking her thoughts aloud more than she was addressing Vachon.  He leaned against a decorative piece of furniture and waited for his turn to speak, assuming he ever got one. Down the long hallway, some immortal crisis had been averted and Monique’s house-guests began to disband yet again.

 

“Conveniently forgetting to mention Bourbon and a couple of tarts is technically a lie, true?” She looked at Vachon yet answered her own question immediately. “True. Does that make you a heartless monster like LaCroix? Hardly.”

 

Javier nodded at the answers and raised a questioning brow at the questions; at least he could look like he was participating in this conversation. The redhead apparently needed to work this out right here, right now – so be it.

 

She saw his reactions to her argument and purposely chose to not interpret them in a poor light. Kat sighed loudly and stood next to Vachon.

 

“We both know you lied.  Do it again and I’ll eat you alive.”  She patted him on the shoulder with good cheer and added, “Let’s go get that bottle of wine.”

 

Javier shook his head sharply, as if clearing his ears then looked at his companion closely.  He would have to assume she meant what she said.  He pushed himself away from his leaning spot and accompanied Kat on her search for nourishment.

 

 

Anytime, Anywhere

by Sukh

September 7

Chateau/Chalet

8:20 pm

Methos groaned.  “You’re the bloke with the psychotic girlfriend.  That creature knocked me for a good loop.”

 

“Dru, that’s my girl.”  Spike stopped at the door leading into the building.  “You first.”

 

“Oh no,” Methos shook his head.  “You first.  I’m not going to be knocked out by another enraged female anytime soon.”

 

“Whatever,” Spike yanked open the door, took two steps inside and was knocked flat on his back.

 

Buffy crouched over him, a stake held in one fist. “Looks like my lucky day.”

 

“The sun’s down Buff,” Xander commented as he waited for his bud to dust the bleached blonde vampire.

 

“My night then.” She started to thrust the stake at Spike, only to have her hand halted halfway by the dull edge of Methos’ sword.

 

“Hey!”  Buffy glared at Methos.  “He’s my kill.”

 

“He wants to talk to Angelique.”  Methos watched as the rest of the Slayerettes gathered around Buffy looking like a teenage thundercloud.

 

“I don’t think Angelique would want him to die before he imparted his limited wisdom on her.”  LaCroix stepped into view, his arms crossed over his chest.

 

“Buffy, he’s right. Angelique is quite volatile right now and I don’t want her to have any excuse to get angry at you.”  Giles attempted to gently rein in Buffy wit his calm words.

 

“I can take her.”

 

“I’d like to see you try,” LaCroix voice had softened dangerously.

 

“I could take you too, old man,” Buffy sneered at LaCroix.

 

LaCroix gave a short derisive bark of laughter.  “Better than you have tried and failed young lady.”  Then he turned and walked down the hall to find Larry.

 

“Chicken,” she called out to his retreating back.

 

He stopped, stiffening, and turned.  In a flash he was next to Buffy and the Slayer jumped back at the fury in his eyes.

 

“I don’t like to kill children anymore.  Don’t force me to do something I find distasteful,” he told her in a deep growl as he put a hand to her throat and stroked it.

 

She shivered under his hand and her eyes widened.  The stake fell from nerveless fingers, yet she continued to stand her ground.  He ran his thumb over her jugular and then withdrew.

 

“You always taste better after a fight,” he whispered.  “Richer, sweeter, like honey and wine.”  He leaned closer and pressed a dry kiss to her neck, right under the ear. He closed his eyes and inhaled her bouquet, the scent of a youth her peak, on the edge of womanhood.  Then he withdrew and walked off, leaving six stunned people in his wake.

 

 

The Gates of Hell Reopen

by MacCousin

September 7

the Chalet

8:20 pm

“Hello Elena.”

The Indian woman looked at Operations, then did a quick scan of the room.  “Where is Adam?”

 

“He’s safe, if you cooperate with us.”  Operations showed her a small portable video of Adam on a playground.

 

“Who are you?”

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

 

“Hey Birkoff, I think I found that thing you were looking for.”  Willow turned as Birkoff leaned over her shoulder.  Behind them, Oz thumped against the steel door of the small room, growling.

 

Birkoff studied the digital image for a moment, then his eyes widened.  “Oh shit,” He picked up a cell and dialed.

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

 

Nikita’s cell went off, breaking the tense silence after the sword battle.

 

“Nikita?”

 

“Yeah Birkoff?”

 

“We have a problem.  I need you down in Comm.  Don’t tell Michael.”

 

“On my way.”  She hurried off before anyone would notice her missing.

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

 

“What’s up?”  Nikita came up behind Birkoff and Willow.

 

“This.”  Birkoff punched a few keys and the video feed he was getting from Section One was on the big wall screen.

 

“Oh God.”  Nikita watched as Sections told Elena about Michael’s faked death and his involvement with the plot to kill her father.  “He forgot to mention he was the mastermind, not Michael,” Nikita muttered.

 

Angelique and Michael appeared at the stairs.  Birkoff shut the big picture down.  Michael turned to Birkoff.  “Turn it back on,” His voice was quiet.

 

Birkoff turned to look at Nikita. Michael was behind them, and punched the key to bring back the white room video.

 

“Who has Adam?”  Michael asked as he watched Operations compromise his entire life at Section One.

 

“We don’t know,” Nikita looked at Michael as he closed his eyes.

 

“Find him, Birkoff.”  Michael turned and looked at Angelique, his eyes flat, his face blank.  “The profile is being changed.  The priority has been changed for the mission.”

 

 

Room Service?

by MacCousin

September 7

le Chalet

8:25 pm

Ciarán pulled Nikita to the side after the video showing Operation’s further treachery against his operatives.

“Drink?” he asked with a smile.  “We both need to get away from all this.”

 

Nikita looked at Michael across the room a look of determined ice-cold fury lay underneath his handsome features.

 

“If anyone needs a drink, its Michael,” murmured Ciarán, following her gaze.   “However, after the results of Màire’s escapade I need a drink”.  He pulled Nikita away as she began to voice a protest.

 

“We should really help with the mission profile,” objected Nikita.

 

Ciarán smiled a most un-Michael grin.  “We have a few hours before the big meeting.  I need to get away from here to think straight.  I’m leaving regardless, but I still would like to buy you a drink.”  He leaned into the wall, looking into her eyes.

 

Nikita smiled for a moment, unlike his look-alike, this man knew how to charm.

 

“Please,” Ciarán tilted his head for a moment his smile nearly disappeared.  “Before something else blows up?”  He leaned in closer.

 

Nikita smiled, his cold fingertips slid down her left cheekbone.  “Where to then?” she asked.

~~~~

 

Ciarán and Nikita walked down to his Porsche.  Ciarán grumbled to himself in Gaelic as he opened the unlocked driver’s side door about how some ex-wives were far too much trouble to be concerned with.  Nikita opened the other door and sat down, closing the door behind her.

 

Ciarán and Nikita looked at each a second then they both jumped out of the car.

 

“What the hell died in there?” Nikita gasped for breath.

 

Ciarán grimaced and then looked up to the second story windows.

~~~~

 

Màire had been staring out at the stars, drumming her fingers against the window frame.  She had not seen Methos since the Micah killed that unfortunate masseuse.  At the very least there was an apology in order.

 

A glance into the window itself showed her worried reflection.  She then glanced down at her damp clothing.  She sighed.  Time to change again.  She turned to her boxes and she noticed two small figures by Ciarán’s Porsche.

 

Màire shook as Ciarán looked up into her windows, his lips forming the words of a Gaelic obscenity; his eyes glowed into the night.  Màire laughed and then started to wheeze as Ciarán’s gaze burned across the lawn.  She began to shake and tears formed at her eyes.  She continued shaking for over three minutes.

~~~~

 

Nikita watched the two ancients stare at each other in silence.  One shaking in furor and the other shaking in utter glee.

 

Ciarán snarled and turned back to her.  “That witch is going to pay for the fumigation and I’m going to start adding things to her drinks so she’ll behave.”

 

His face became calm in thought again.  “There’s a bar inside, why not get a drink there?” He offered Nikita a hand.

 

Nikita smirked and took his hands, her warm fingers closing around his cold ones.

~~~~

(The hallway)

 

Natalie and Benton walked down the hallway.  Natalie sighed, quietly disgruntled that a perfectly wonderful evening had been interrupted by such chaos.  First that catfight, then the battle between the Immortals, now a meeting.  She straightened, thinking of Jenny and Michael’s young son, but there was an hour for the meeting.   She glanced over to Benton as they passed by an empty storage closet; she grabbed him and ran for the closet.

 

“Natalie, what are you…?” Natalie silenced Benton with a deep kiss, closing the door behind her.

 

“There’s plenty of time,” Natalie practically pulled the button’s off Ben’s shirt.  “Just uhm…leave your hat on this time.”

 

“Whatever you say, ma’am,” Ben smiled.

~~~~

 

“What the hell is that?” Cordy grumbled as she and Buffy walked down the hallway.  Xander hung behind a moment hearing a great deal of coughing echoing in a room nearby all the thumping.

 

He opened the door to see Màire coughing and shaking.

 

“You okay?” he asked.

 

Màire turned and nodded, still coughing.  She sighed.  “Sorry, I got carried away,” she smirked at Xander.  “I do so love annoying Ciarán.”

 

Xander nodded noting the still wet velvet dress.  Màire noted the stare and sniffed the air.  “Someone at least is having some fun.  Now if you don’t mind, I need to get ready.  Goodbye…uhm…” She had turned to pick up some boxes.

 

“Xander,” piped up Xander, as he picked up the last box and handed it to her.

 

“Thanks, Xander,” replied Màire, wondering to herself if it was teenage boy lust that permeated the hallways or just mortal lust.  She heard the rhythmic thumping and snorted to herself.   She turned back to her surprise guest.  “Bye, Xander,” she said, pushing him out.

 

She pulled out a pair of leather pants out of a box.

~~~~

 

The thumping continued down the hallway, bringing forth many more WARriors.

 

Sukh and Duncan wandered by.  Sukh grinned, “I want in there next,” she giggled.

 

A few minutes later, MacCousin stumbled down the hallway under a large mound of books and posters.  She grumbled to herself about semi-useless Immortals who had left when they were needed to be pack mules.  It was the natural order of things after all.  She rolled her eyes at the sounds emanating from the closet and turned away.

 

Trapper and Nick walked by the closet.  Trapper giggled at the sounds.  Nick stopped for a moment and paused, he grabbed the door and opened it.

 

“Wait, Nick,” protested Trapper.

 

Benton turned around as the door opened.  He and Nick stared at each other horrified for what seemed like several minutes.  Their jaws slackened.  Benton was in his long johns and hat and Natalie was even less decent.

 

“Nat?” queried Nick, semi-horrified.

 

Trapper closed the door before anyone else could say anything and started giggling again.  In a few seconds Nick joined her and they continued laughing down the hallway shaking their heads.

 

“I guess she got over you,” Trapper said as they began downstairs.

 

The thumping paused and then started again.

 

Màire walked out of the room and smirked as she walked down the hallway.

 

“Oh, get a hotel room,” she chortled.

 

 

Filling Time

By RavenKat

September 7

Chalet

8:25 pm

 

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are too many people in this place for me to feel safe.”

 

Kat stepped through the doors of the lounge area, into the darker, more intimate surroundings.  Walking beside her, Vachon steered her to a private pair of chairs near the farthest wall and sat down. The redhead followed suit.

 

Easing the velvet drape beside her away from the window, she noticed an electrical glow briefly illuminate the trees on the outskirts of Monique’s property.  Kat recognized that phenomenon, even though it had been almost two centuries since she’d seen it last; Somewhere outside an Immortal had been relieved of his head.

 

“All we need is one psycho with a relatively keen eye and we’re toast.”  She let the curtain fall back into place.

 

People were beginning to fill the small room – vampires, immortals, humans – Kat was having a hard time comprehending the mix.  She was glad she had been broken in to this reality at the Raven, otherwise she would be miles from here, solely for self-preservation.  Eight hundred years of vampire avoidance had become habit and it was tiring for Kat to be on guard all the time. In her world, she was the only predator, so she slept easily during the day.  Here, enemies were cordial and all the rules Kat thought she understood went right out the window.

 

Noticing the bartender was busy with other guests, Vachon went to the bar and sneaked an open bottle off the nearest tray.  When he returned, Kat was smiling.  “You do that a lot, huh?” she joked.

 

“I can take it back…” he taunted, pulling the bottle away from her outstretched hand and stepping backward.

 

“No no, that’s okay!” she laughed.  “This isn’t a business establishment, this is a home,” she reasoned.  With no glasses available Kat put the bottle to her lips and drank.

 

“And Monique would want us to help ourselves,” Vachon continued her train of thought before taking the proffered bottle.

 

“Such class,” Kat said wryly and winked.

 

The two passed the unknown but tasty vintage back and forth between them in silence.  The chalet was bustling with activity and Kat simply wanted to let the energy of the place flow through her.  She could sense both Nick and LaCroix some where in the house, and to some extent Trapper.  No one in her family was in danger so Kat felt herself relax a bit.

 

 

Debriefing

By Sukh

September 7

The mission basement

8:25 pm

“Where is your brother?”  Michael checked his watch and looked at Angelique.

She started to say something as Micah wandered into the underground hive.

‘Sorry, I got caught up.”  Micah flipped a chair around and straddled it. “So what’s on your mind?”

 

Angelique sighed.  She knew Micah was trying to get Michael’s goat.  “Be serious, brother dear, we need to know what we are up against.”

 

Micah closed up tighter than a nunnery under siege by satyrs.  “It’s bad, real bad.”

 

Angelique captured Micah’s gaze and started to whammy him.  “Tell me what we need to do to defeat August and Divia.”

 

“Too strong…her magic is too black…Hanna…Hanna monster..Hanna will defeat August.”  Micah twitched.  “Divia is easy…LaCroix must defeat her…then dispose of her for good…must scatter her ashes over long distance.”

 

“Thank you…we will keep Divia from you..”

 

“Divia bad…she hurt me…she made me do things…”  Micah grimaced and arched shuddered.  “Things that girls shouldn’t know about.”

 

“Micah, listen to me.  What Divia did, it was all just a horrible dream–”

 

“Never happened…”

 

“You fell asleep and the smoke from the hotel explosion made you hallucinate the entire Divia thing.”

 

“Not real…”

 

“We need you to help us find Michael’s son Adam.  Can you do that?” Angelique brought him out of the trance.

 

“So you need me to help make the profile or help Birkoff run Tactical?” Micah asked Michael as the Section operative stared at Angelique like she had sprouted a second head.

 

“That is a very interesting technique,” Michael commented before turning to Micah. “What I need is for you to assist Birkoff with the setup and equipment check.”  He looked at Angelique.  “You sister and I will set the profile. Then you, Birkoff and Willow can run a SIM for us.”  He turned and watched Willow bustle about for a few moments, the turned back to Micah.  “Willow will need to be trained for SIMS.”

 

Micah stood.  “I’m on it.”  He moved to where Willow and Birkoff stood over a piece of equipment, checking the programming. Willow smiled at Micah as he joined them.

 

“We need Nikita and Ciarán for this to be executed properly.”

 

“Tell me what you have in mind.”  Angelique sat at the briefing table, Michael sat next to her.

 

“I need Ciarán to be me to get into section.  He can get to Adam without being killed.”  Michael paused for a breath.  “Like when he extracted Willow and The MacCousin.”

 

“Well, let’s find them, then.”  Angelique frowned as Larry approached.

 

“Miss Angelique?”

 

“Yes, Larry?”

 

“You have a visitor upstairs.  I believe you need to greet him ASAP, as Buffy will not be pleased to see this person.”

 

“I see.”  Angelique turned to Michael.  “Start the specs for the profile, I’ll find Ciarán and Nikita while I’m upstairs.”

 

“Fine” Michael nodded then turned on his computer.

 

 

Killing Time

by Trapper

September 7

Chalet

8:25 pm

 

Monique stood at the open French doors and stared out into the night. There were so many people, so close by. She shivered as she wrapped her arms around herself. It was a rare moment of privacy and she didn’t want to waste it thinking about all of the lives and unlives that she could sense in her home.

 

She stepped out onto the balcony of her room, one more silent shadow under the moonlit sky. A flash of movement in the darkness caught her attention, and her eyes narrowed as she searched for it.

 

A figure detached itself from a stand of trees below and made its way to where the cars were parked in her driveway. The front drive looked like an exclusive car lot, there were so many expensive and unusual vehicles in it. She raised one perfect eyebrow and smirked as she watched the punk trying doors.

 

“Fool,” she thought to herself as her vision narrowed to a scarlet tunnel.

 

Without thought, Monique leaped from her balcony, floating to the earth as silently as a raven’s feather. She landed behind the young man, close enough to smell the nervous sweat on him. She placed one small, white hand on his shoulder.

 

Manuel spun around, his eyes widening as they took in the sight before him: a young woman, pale as the moon, staring at him and smiling. He watched, fascinated as a snake’s prey as her mouth widened to show the long, sharp fangs.

 

Monique took Manuel in her arms as tenderly as she would a child. With exquisite slowness, she leaned down as if to nuzzle his chin…and tore his throat out.

 

Dinner was served.

 

 

Howdy Stranger

By Renie

Sept. 7

The Chalet

8:27 pm

Gunther sat on the leather couch snickering at the pages of the book on this lap. Ignoring the odd looks he was getting from passers by, he was on the verge of laughing out loud when someone cleared her throat beside him. Startled, the immortal leapt to his feet, the copy of Crichten’s “Eaters of the Dead” forgotten.

 

“Kristen. What the hell are you doing here?” Gunther asked.

 

“What do you mean, what am I doing here? I’m your watcher. Where else would I be? Nice of you to tell me your were leaving Seattle, by the way.” The young woman responded crossing her arms in front of her chest.

 

“How did you find me?”

 

“I have my sources.” At his raised eyebrow, she continued. ” Watchers. You know, you’re not the only immortal in this world.”

 

The Viking grinned at the way the golden-haired watcher looked at him. “I did notice that. I can hardly walk into a room without feeling it.”

 

“You certainly chose an interesting place to vacation. Your aren’t planning to take up permanent residence here, are you?”

 

“Oh I don’t know. It has a fascinating local culture. Wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“It gives me the creeps.” She rubbed absently at the goose bumps that suddenly appeared on her arms. Something was just not right about New Jerusalem. Of course, Gunther wouldn’t notice. She’d seen the people he hung out with.

 

“Well if it bothers you so much, you could always go back to Seattle and wait for me there.”

 

“Nice try.” Kristen said dryly. “No, I think I’ll be staying for a while. I thought you’d be happy to see me.”

 

“You know I am. It’s just not safe for you to be here.”

 

“Why not? Gunther, what’s going on?”

 

The mortal woman knew enough to believe him when he told her she was in danger. At least, he believed she was. Gunther was a little overprotective at times, but he meant well.

 

The immortal began to pace. What mattered most was Kristen’s safety. She was in more danger than she could know. Gunther wasn’t about to point out every vampire in the area. The last thing he wanted was for her to end up on someone’s evening menu.

 

Their meeting three years earlier had been an accident. Bourbon had sensed a heartbeat nearby, and found Kristen hidden in the shadows. Even without revealing his true nature, the vampire had still managed to scare her half to death. Gunther felt so bad, he’d caught up with her later to apologize.

 

He should have just ended all contact with his watcher after that night. That would have been the best thing for them both. There was just something about the vibrant, often head strong woman that attracted him to her. It was a dangerous game for them to play. His last watcher had died under mysterious circumstances. Although they had never admitted to anything, he suspected Bourbon and Camille had something to do with it. Luckily for Kristen, she wasn’t much of a resistor.

 

The Viking sighed heavily. “I’m not sure myself.” He admitted. “I really don’t have all the details. Just do me a favor?”

 

“Okay. Sure. What do you want me to do?”

 

“Go home. Get on the next plane out of here.”

 

“What? Hey listen, I…”

 

“Please.” He interrupted. “It will be a lot easier if I don’t have to worry about your safety.”

 

Kristen’s look softened. “It’s nice that your care about me, but I can’t leave. Where you go, I go. Those are the rules.”

 

He wanted to say, ‘ To hell with the rules.’ They’d broken enough of them just by being friends.

 

“I’ve got to meet with another watcher. I’ll see you later. Okay?”

 

He nodded and grabbed her hand as she began to walk away. “Be careful, Kris.”

 

“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I can take care of myself. Besides, I’ve got you watching out for me, and you’re not easy to get rid of.”

 

“Neither are you, apparently.” He said pulling her into his arms. “I really am glad to see you, but you shouldn’t be here. ”

 

“And you know why I had to come.”

 

“I know.” Without breaking his hold on her, the Viking stepped back and looked into her eyes. “Promise me you won’t leave this Chateau without me. You’ll be safe here.”

 

“I’ve already got a suite at the resort just outside of town. With all the security it’s got, it should be a bank not a hotel.”

 

“We’ll get your things in the morning. From now on, you only go outside during the day. If you absolutely have to go out after dark, you go nowhere without me.”

 

“I’m not a child!” The young woman said incredulously. Moving just beyond his reach, she glared at him from behind her glasses. “I don’t need a chaperone, and I don’t take orders from you.”

 

“Kristen, you are going to have to trust me on this one. If you want to stay alive, you’ll do what I ask.”

 

She sighed and glanced at her watch. “I’m going to be late if I don’t hurry. You and I are going to have a very long talk when I’m done.”

 

Gunther smiled. He knew he had won, at least temporarily. “If I’m not here when you get back, wait for me. I’ve got a meeting of my own to attend.”

 

“I’ll see you later then.”

 

She wasn’t happy with the immortal trying to control her every move, but until she knew why, she would have to go along with him. After a quick kiss, she headed off to find the other watcher.

 

 

Fly Away Home Little Birdy

by Hanna

Sept 7

New Salem

8:28 pm

 

Jenny sank to her hands and knees, exhausted.  She barely lifted her head as the urn rolled away from her and came to rest near the stairs that led upwards, out of the underground dwelling.  The screams kept echoing from far behind her.  Normally, she would have become panicked, fearful that the others were close behind her again, but she knew that it was just the formation of the caves that allowed the sound to flow for so long.

 

She tried not to think about the tiny vampire she left behind in her place, but she couldn’t help but to think of everything August had told her about what she had done to Hanna, and what her final plans were.  All those that had been killed over the past two months, the past thousand years, all out of the hatred of one for the other.  Because one couldn’t understand the need for love, compassion or goodness, and the other couldn’t forget it.  Of course, the man between them was part of the cause, and he knew it.

 

“Perceptive, little one.”

 

Jenny lifted her head and glanced about her in fright.

 

“Nothing to fear.  I would never harm a child such as yourself.”

 

The voice was warm, deep and soothing.  Jenny didn’t want to listen for the simple fact that it made her think of being home, safe and warm in her bed, while her father was off saving the world from all the bad guys.  Tears began to flow down her dirty cheeks.

 

“Hush now,” the voice soothed.  “There will be time for your grief shortly.  Now, you must rise, Jenny.  Climb the steps before you, and race on your way to the safety of your father’s arms.”

 

Her eyes glinted across the urn.  Now she remembered what August had told her about keeping Jonas bottled up and under control.  Poor guy, it must be cramped in there.

 

“Don’t worry about that now,” his voice answered, as if he was reading her mind.

 

Of course!  He was just dust in there!  He could only be talking to her in her own mind!

 

“Very good.  You are clever, which is to our benefit at this moment.  On your feet, little one.  I shall explain to you along the way.”

 

She tried rising, and sank back down, her knees too weak to carry her.

Another scream echoed the sound of her knees hitting the dirt.

 

“There is no more time, Jennifer.  Her sacrifice will mean nothing if you do not reach safety.  From the moment she freed you from the Prince’s tower, she has paid the price to keep you alive.  She hasn’t failed you yet.  You must not fail her now.”

 

The next scream brought Jenny to her feet.

 

“Good girl.  Now let’s go.”

 

She picked up the urn and muttered, “Pushy creep.”  He chuckled lightly, then continued to give orders.

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

 

Just at the point where the road through the forest enters the city, a taxi stopped and let a homeless looking girl out.  He wasn’t paid, and he didn’t care.  He was going home anyway, and he felt sorry for the kid.

 

She watched the taillights as they disappeared down the street, then headed towards the nearest manhole cover that had a bright yellow “X” spraypainted on it.  Marcus may not be home, but he would feel the intrusion into his dwelling.

 

She walked along the underground dwelling, ignoring the signs of blood on the walls.  Jonas had mention what had happened to those that had live here before, what August had done to them because she knew that Hanna gave them value.

 

She stopped suddenly when she heard a noise up ahead, but the pitiful whimper relaxed her.  Walking slowly, watching everything, she approached the form on the ground before her.

 

“Jenny!?” it, no he, moaned.

 

“Do I know you?” she asked, backing away a bit.

 

“The forest.  The wolves…” he groaned and pulled his arm to him.

 

She faintly remembered running from Spike, and a wolf saving her.  And there were the Garou in the…no, she wouldn’t remember that.  Not right now.

 

He watched her squeeze her eyes tight, and knew what she was thinking about.  It hurt him too, but mostly because he hadn’t been there to help his pack.

 

“What happened to you?” she asked, kneeling down.  He could have killed her before, and he was hurt.  And Jonas, with his whispering, told her that Mark was Hanna’s.  What he meant, she didn’t want to guess.

 

“It got me too…what killed them.  But Marcus grabbed me before it ate all of me…too bad it doesn’t quit eating…”

 

She noticed his leg and saw that it had suffered much in the same way the Garou had.  It was almost as if the limb was being eaten from the inside, a little at a time.  She looked at his face, and grimaced at the pain he had to be in.

 

“You got away again…”

 

She nodded slightly.  “Hanna freed me.”

 

He groaned at the name.  “She has a nasty habit of doing that…”

 

 

Silence

by Renie

Sept. 7

The Chateau

8:30 pm

Wanting a few moments of quiet reflection to center himself, Bourbon retreated to the solitude of the room where he’d slept the day. There was still nearly an hour before the meeting Vachon told him to attend. Alone in his thoughts, he couldn’t help but see Urs.

 

Francois had felt her terror and the abrupt loss of their connection. Even if he didn’t want to admit it, he had known that night that she was gone. That had been the real reason he’d come to New Salem.

 

He had feared this day would come, but always thought Urs would die by her own hand. It seemed only a matter of time, perhaps another few decades, before she walked into the sun. Urs was dead, really dead. No one would have wanted to die the way she had. Had she still wanted to die? Was it something she had welcomed, or fought? The depth of the pain he now felt surprised him.

 

With a heavy sigh, the vampire sat on the bed and leaned his head against the wall behind him. He closed his eyes as the memories washed over him in waves of emotion. He could almost feel her golden hair and see her gentle, sad, smile.

 

Swallowing against the lump rising in his throat, Bourbon downed the glass of “Chantal” and refilled it from the bottle at his side. The well-aged cognac that was mixed with the human blood made it a particularly good vintage. Raising the glass in a private toast, his eyes fixed on the crimson fluid.

 

“Au revoir mon amour. Repos dans la paix, Urs. Je m’ennuierai de tu.”

 

She wouldn’t have wanted him to take revenge for her death, but he was bound by honor. He hoped she would have understood. Could he have saved her if he’d been there? Probably not. Most likely, he would be dead as well, but what if…?

 

“Forgive me.”

 

He had to chase away the ghosts. This was not the time or place to grieve Urs’ loss. He suddenly didn’t feel like being alone anymore. As Francois drained half the glass in a single swallow, there was a soft, hesitant knock on the door.

 

“Entrez.” He said absently, although he already knew who was there.

 

Camille opened the door and smiled timidly. “I know you wanted some time to yourself, but I’d hoped you changed your mind.”

 

She knew without being told that he had. Half a century of sharing blood had forged an interesting bond between them. The resulting bloodlink they now shared was one not unlike that of vampire families. Each was aware of what the other was feeling.

 

Without waiting for a response, Camille sat beside him, laying her hand on his thigh.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine.” He smiled thinly as she brushed back a few errant strands of his long, pale, hair.

 

“Maybe you should talk to Vachon. Urs and Screed meant a lot to him too, and you are his child.”

 

“Child?” He laughed at the thought. “Javier Vachon creates companions, not children. No. I told you, I’m fine.”

 

As if to prove it, Bourbon took her in his arms and kissed her. As he playfully nibbled her neck, she reached behind him and gently removed the tie from his hair. Arching her neck to him as his fangs scraped her skin drawing small drops of blood, she shuddered with pleasure as he slowly licked the wounds. With wild abandon, her hands roamed her lover’s cool, muscular body.

 

“Perhaps I should cut it,” he murmured as Camille ran her fingers through his silken tresses.

 

“Don’t you dare.”

 

 

Loverman

by RavenKat

September 7

New ‘Salem

Night

 

There’s a devil waiting outside your door

(How much longer?)

There’s a devil waiting outside your door

It is bucking and braying and pawing at the floor

And he’s howling with pain and crawling up the walls

There’s a devil waiting outside your door

He’s weak with evil and broken by the world

He’s shouting your name and he’s asking for more

There’s a devil waiting outside your door

 

God, he loved this song!  He sang the slow and sultry lyrics to the decimated forest surrounding him. From deep within the woods, cries of unknown horror joined in the crooning, adding a chilling touch to the total effect. Lux made a mental note to incorporate those sounds in the next album – if he lived long enough to record a next album.

 

He strode purposefully down the highway, his hair blowing about his face in wild, albino strands.  The strengthening moonlight allowed Lux to catch furtive movements in the corners of his sight.  Things crept and crawled in the blackened, almost liquified forest, but left him untouched. Whatever ‘Jim’ had done to him was apparently keeping the dying creatures in the forest from even noticing him. So much the better.

 

Lovermaaaaaaaan! he yelled in his best rockstar voice – stopping momentarily to strike a pose.

 

Since the world began

Forever, Amen

Till end of time

Take off that dress

I’m coming down

I’m your loverman

Cause I am what I am what I am what I am

 

Lux had no idea where he was headed, except to find and butcher Sister Kat.  “Jim Morrison’s” long range plan was everpresent in his mind, but some things just had to come first. Lux wasn’t sure why he had to walk every where, but for once walking wasn’t pissing him off.  Maybe it was some sort of a test, to see if he had the proper amount of respect for It. He didn’t know and he didn’t care – Lux felt great!

 

The dead feeling inside was fading, as was the creepy talent to see inside of people.  Even his face muscles began to loosen up. Hell, he might even be able to smile as Sister Kat bled to death in front of him.  Lux was mildly disappointed to be losing the ability to see the reality of a person, though.  He would love to be able to turn it on and off at will; It could definitely come in handy.

 

L is for LOVE, baby

O is for ONLY you that I do

V is for loving VIRTUALLY all that you are

E is for loving almost EVERYTHING that you do

R is for RAPE me

M is for MURDER me

A is for ANSWERING all of my prayers

 

Rounding a curve on the highway out of town, Lux spotted a scarecrow propped up on the side of the road.  At first he blew it off as one of the dying things in the forest, but it seemed to be looking right at him – waiting for him.  The closer he got, the less it looked like a scarecrow and the more it looked like a baglady in nasty old clothes.

 

Still singing, the last letter in the chorus died on his lips, “N is for KNOWING your loverman’s going to be the answer to all of yours….”

 

It, uh she, had no eyes. There was a big stitched X over each empty socket. Lux looked away, squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to clear them then looked back at the baglady.

 

“Sandy?” he whispered.  The scarecrow baglady was actually a grungy girl – his grungy girl.

 

“Hey Ira,” she called happily and stepped out into the road.

 

“Sandy?” he asked again. How had he mistaken Sandy for a stuffed bag of straw with no eyes?  “What are you doing here?”

 

He looked up and down the deserted road as if anything he might see would explain why his dead girlfriend from high school was here in New ‘Salem.

 

“Coming to see you, dillweed,” she said happily and slapped him playfully on the arm.

 

Loverman!

Till the bitter end

While empires burn down

Forever and ever

and ever and ever Amen

I’m your loverman

So help me, baby

So help me

Cause I am what I am what I am what I am

I’ll be your loverman!

 

Lux scrutinized Sandy for a long moment, waiting for the scarecrow/baglady to come seeping through.  When it didn’t, he turned and continued on his journey along the blackened forest road.  Brushing her off had become such a habit that he did it now automatically, even though he was pretty damn sure that Sandy was just another fucked up apparition.

 

Sandy ignored being ignored and skipped a few steps to walk along side him. Something in the woods gurgled in pain.

 

“You killed me,” she reminded Lux in a chipper voice.

 

Lux kept moving. “Yeah, so?”

 

“You killed me and now you’re getting all bent outta shape over this other girl – and you’re gonna kill her.”  Sandy kept pace with Lux, her steps bouncy in contrast to his determined stride. She always was too damn peppy.

 

He refused to look at her. “Again I say, ‘so?'”

 

“So…” his dead girlfriend said, taking his arm and stopping him in the middle of the road, “you accomplished nothing by killing me and you’ll accomplish nothing by killing her.”

 

A vision of holding Sandy under the bath water while they were both tripping their brains out flashed briefly through Lux’s mind.  She had kept her eyes open the whole time; it had been incredibly unnerving and Lux had dreamed about it quite a few times since that night in high school.

 

“I got you off my back, didn’t I?” he replied snidely. He pulled his arm free of her tiny grip and stepped away from her. “I thought I had, anyway,” he groused.

 

“Big deal, Ira,” she retorted, “you offed a pregnant druggy.”  Lux shook his head in annoyance and resumed walking.  ‘I don’t need this shit,’ he thought to himself.

 

“Nothing like the easy ones, huh, Mr. ToughGuy?”

 

He froze momentarily, registering the change in voices.  This one was fresher, but just as dead. Lux knew he was being sucked into some mind game and he was letting it get to him.

 

“I didn’t kill you,” he stated calmly.

 

“Well, technically, no,” his new companion said, “but you helped.”

 

Lux didn’t want to turn around and see Marla.  Sandy had been a waste of human flesh, so listening to her condemn him had been no big deal, but Marla had been his friend.  He hadn’t gone to her funeral last year for the same reason; Marla shouldn’t be dead – couldn’t be dead.

 

Marla began to sob behind him, replaying the conversation they shared the night before she was killed in a car accident. “I need you Ira…please come over…” her voice cracking through the tears.

 

“Don’t do this,” he intoned to the woods around him.

 

“Just come talk to me,” she moaned, following a few feet behind.  “Sing me my song, hold my hand, something…” she whimpered, “I need you tonight, Ira, it’s really bad.”

 

“Don’t DO this!” he yelled at Marla, at New ‘Salem.

 

“You said you’d come no matter what. You said….” Her voice wound down to nothing.

 

“I know what I said, Marla, but I had a something to do!” He stopped walking but refused to turn around.  “I told you I could come over the next day! I had to go to that goddamn party!” Lux’s voice began to crack with unearthed emotion.

 

“What the fuck do you want with me?!” he screamed in the night.

 

Marla stopped crying instantly and sidled up to Lux, causing him to flinch. He gazed at Marla, resigned to seeing her again.  She leaned in conspiratorially and said, “Killing Sister Kat is so minor league, Ira. You gotta think big.”

 

Loverman!

Here I stand

Forever, Amen

Cause I am what I am what I am what I am

Forgive me, baby

My hands are tied

And I got no choice

No, I got no choice at all

 

 

Happy Hour

By MacCousin (with an addition by Renie)

Sept. 7

The Chateau

8:30 pm

 

Màire walked down the stairs after the snickering Nick and Trapper and paused at a dark doorway.  The heady smell of expensive wine, brandy and whisky infused the area like a thick cloud.  She sensed Methos moving around upstairs and moving towards the stairs.  She wasn’t ready to face him yet.  Apologizing to him would be hell.  She walked into the comforting room and breathed in.

 

Màire took a seat by the bar.  Colin sighed as she walked in.  Yet another of Miss Monique’s guests with a demand.  What would this one want?  He placed a wineglass in front of her.  She licked her lips expectantly.

 

“Give me something young, saucy and not too smart.  Brittany Spears comes to mind.”

 

Colin poured a small sample and she raised the glass in a silent toast.  She gulped down the drink.

 

“It’ll do,” she murmured.  He refilled her glass.

~~~~

 

(Meanwhile downstairs)

 

“Brittany Spears???” Xander’s eyes popped open.  “Brittany Spears, where?”

 

“Xander, were you paying attention at all?” asked Giles.

 

Cordy’s nostrils flared and she shoved the drooling Xander’s arms off the table.  Without support, Xander’s chin hit the table.

~~~~

 

(The Bar)

 

Ciarán led Nikita to the bar.

 

“Crieche,” he mumbled, pausing at the door.  He could sense Màire.

 

“What’s the matter?” asked Nikita.

 

“Nothing,” he said, he began pulling her upstairs.  There was a small mini-bar in his room. That would work.

 

Nikita got a small peek of a woman sitting in the bar, humming to herself.

~~~~

 

“I’ve been the wild rover for many a year, and I’ve spent all my money on whisky and beer.  An’ now I’ve returned with gold in great store, and I never will play the wild rover no more…”

 

Màire paused and then continued humming, lowering a finger into the glass of blood and then raised it to her lips.

 

~~~~

(Com. Center)

 

MacCousin sat at a computer and grinned.  This would be perfect for the meeting tonight.

~~~~~

 

‘Damn that infuriating woman.’ Gunther thought to himself as he strode purposely to the bar.

 

“Chevas Regal 1971 if you have it.” He said before the bartender could speak.

 

As the glass was placed before him, the immortal became aware of a very attractive redhead humming at a nearby table. She was sipping a deep red liquid, wine or blood.  Judging by her pallor, he guessed it to be a mixture of both. Flashing her a friendly grin, he turned his attention back to the leather drawstring pouch in his coat pocket. The old stones felt cool and smooth against his fingers.

 

He had come to New Salem to help his friend Bourbon. Gunther cursed his foolishness. How could he have thought Kristen would stay out of it? She had no idea what she had gotten herself involved in.

 

Bourbon would be happy to whammy her into thinking she was urgently needed in Miami. That wasn’t a bad idea, but only as a last resort. The immortal recognized the need for such manipulation, but he hated to tamper with anyone’s memories, especially hers.

 

The Viking took a sip from his glass and, with ease brought by centuries of practice; he cleared his mind and prepared to listen to Odin’s runes. They gave him guidance and a feeling of peace during times of hard decisions. He set six stones in a circle in front of him, followed by a seventh in the center.

 

Drawn by curiosity, Màire stood and edged closer to the bar. It had been quite a while since she had seen these symbols. She knew the man was an immortal. He felt about the right age, and his features were Nordic. Satisfied that he was indeed a Viking, Màire began to interpret the runes.

 

Gunther felt the vampire approach as she peered over his shoulder.

 

“Thorn and Eolh.” She observed. Those were the runes of strength and protection. If she was reading it correctly, the problem involved the fear of not being able to protect someone. Interesting.

 

The immortal looked up, surprised.

 

“But this,” she continued as she tapped a perfectly manicured nail against the blank stone. It was in one of the two advice positions. “This means you are not meant to know the answer to your question. It’s Wyrd, the rune of fate.”

 

“Odin’s runes speak to you as well.”

 

“I’ve learned a few things over the centuries.  May I?” she asked staring at a nearby barstool.  “I don’t want to interrupt you.  I suppose I’m avoiding thoughts of my own.”

 

Gunther smiled, eyes flashing momentarily to the deep red liquid inside the glass, he turned his eyes back to the vampire and gestured toward the barstool next to him.

 

Màire sat down and looked at the runes again momentarily.

 

“I’m Gunther Hardraade,” Gunther placed a warm hand on her cold one.  He looked into her eyes for a moment.  They glinted back at him like cold pieces of sapphires.  It was somewhat discomforting to look into them.  She had the appearance of an innocent young woman.  The eyes though were hard and steely and seemed to stare at him with knowledge of things both horrible and ancient.  They told of a very hard life before and after she became a vampire.

 

It made him wonder in if in a millennia, Camille would look as cold and hard.

 

“Màire Moran,” she murmured in reply, relishing the warmth in his hand as well as his eyes.  If only vampires could enjoy such warmth on a permanent basis. The Viking noticed her eyes dart to the bar.

 

“Where did you learn to read runes?” he asked.

 

Màire kind of shrugged.  “I lived in Dublin when the Vikings conquered a great deal of Ireland,” she paused, with a bit of an impish grin.  “I don’t suppose you were there.”

 

“That was a bit before my time,” Gunther couldn’t help laughing a bit.  The vampire’s smile widened at his chuckle.

 

“Yes,” she answered.  “A friend of mine taught me the basics, divining from other things was much harder.  I guess you could say my aunt taught me divining.”  Her face became guarded again.

 

“Who are you avoiding?” asked Gunther.

 

“Hmmm?” asked Màire taking another sip.

 

“You had the look if you were hiding from someone.”

 

“I don’t give great apologies,” she said.  “I imagine you missed much of the fight and aftermath.  I didn’t see you betting on the turnout of the fight between Angelique and myself.”

 

“You want to apologize to Angelique.”

 

Màire nearly spit out her drink.  “Good Gods, no,” she laughed.  “A new friend I guess you could say.  Although he probably rather stay away from me now.”  She turned back to her drink. “I should give him time before the meeting.”  She examined the runes again.  “However, at least I don’t have to deal with the issues you’re obviously going through.  It’s very hard to protect mortals, from what we deal with.  They sometimes seem to believe they are as immortal as us.”

 

Gunther turned back to the runes, “any suggestions?”

 

Màire smiled at the fair-haired immortal, she didn’t look as old and hard when her face softened in a smile.  “Tell her the truth, that’s all you can do at this point,” she said, nodding towards the runes.  “Sometimes I think I should take my own advice more often.”

 

“Kristen,” sighed Gunther, “is stubborn.  Sometimes it seems like the truth is never good enough for her.”

 

“Gunther, in the past…uhm seven centuries, have you known a woman who isn’t?”

 

“Good point,” he replied.

 

“If she doesn’t want the truth,” Màire paused for a moment.  “If she doesn’t want the truth, you can’t force her to leave.  She can only make that decision.  You should take it as a compliment that she’s putting her life on the line for you.  A mortal has never done that for me.  Consider yourself a lucky man.”

 

“But I don’t want her to put her life on the line,” stated Gunther.  “She should go home for her own good.”

 

“Ahhhh, I see,” Màire purred.  “You want her to be a good girl and go home.”   She sighed.  “You are far too old to underestimate a woman’s determination.  It never ceases to amaze me,” she paused taking a sip of her drink.  “No matter how old a man is…” she stopped.  “Forgive my male-bashing, you just sound an awful lot like Ciarán.”

 

“And that’s not good,” asked Gunther with a sly grin.

 

“He means well, he’s just…” Màire stopped.  “He’s just a tad overprotective I guess.”  She turned back to her drink with a small frown.  “So what brought you and her together?” she was tired of thinking about herself.

 

“She’s my watcher,” answered Gunther.

 

“Now that, must be an interesting relationship,” mused Màire.  “Tell me about it.”

~~~~

 

(Ciarán’s room)

 

Ciarán poured Nikita a glass of white wine and sat across from her in a chair.  “So when did Section One take over your life?” he asked.

 

“Sorry,” Nikita shook her head with a smile.  “It’s still rather unsettling to see Michael’s face on you.”

 

Ciarán snickered.  “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe he has *my* face, Mhurin?”

 

Nikita’s eyes widened for a moment.  She looked like she believed him.

 

“I was only kidding,” Ciarán looked at her for a moment, concerned.  He wondered for a moment what it must be like to have your life dictated by a group that could do nearly anything.

 

He raised his drink.  “Sliante,” he murmured.

 

Nikita smiled and the glasses clinked.

 

“I don’t know what to toast to,” she said.

 

“Us?” Ciarán leaned moved closer to Nikita.  A small smile played against his lips.  He moved closer to her.  His fair a few centimeters from hers.  He pulled away, a sensuous playful grin played across his lips.

 

Nikita shivered slightly.   She couldn’t tell if it was from fear or anticipation.

 

Ciarán leaned toward her again as there was a knock from the door.

 

“Mr. MacKeracher?”   Larry’s voice echoed through the door.  “Miss Angelique wishes to see you and Miss Nikita.”

 

Ciarán ran a hand through his hair and grimaced for a moment.  He turned back to Nikita, the small sensual smile returned.  He slid a cold finger down Nikita’s neck and paused at a throbbing pulse point.

 

Nikita released a shaky breath.  She felt herself drifting away in Ciarán’s eyes.

 

“Cinnamon and cloves,” he murmured softly, loving the scents that enveloped this beautiful woman.  He stood.

 

“We better go,” began Ciarán, helping Nikita to her feet.  Nikita shook herself out of her trance-like stupor.  “Angelique doesn’t like to wait.”  He started toward the door.

 

Nikita watched him warily as they exited the room.  She slid a cautious finger over her throat.

 

Ciarán glanced back at her and grinned.  “I behaved,” he said.

 

“I just don’t like being out of control,” Nikita replied, cautiously.

~~~~

 

(The Bar)

 

“Maybe you could tell Kristin that she’s needed in comm. or something?” suggested Màire.  She hated the sterility of the computer lab, but it was safer than what would be going on outside. “Besides that, she’ll have several operatives, several vampires, and some of the slayer’s friends to watch her.”

 

Gunther raised his eyebrows.  “That may just work,” he replied.

 

 

Better late than Never

by Sukh

September 7

Chalet

8:40 pm

LaCroix stopped as Angelique appeared in the doorway of the basement area, dressed in a black patent leather hip length jacket with a wide lapel and black knit cigarette pants.  Her head was still smooth, and he remembered when they had first met, and she had worn wigs over that same smooth, bewitching scalp.

 

She looked at him as she passed and paused as she followed Larry, locking eyes with him.  Fury still burned low in them, but the loneliness burned brighter.  She still needed him, he was sure of that as he watched her face.  Alas, the time wasn’t right just yet, she was distracted by this odd attraction to that mortal Librarian.

 

Funny, he thought she would be more attracted to the mysterious Michael, the spy from the Covert operations.  Perhaps he was too much like Ciarán.  Angelique left the room and he stood where he was for a few more minutes, looking for the way to repair the broken bond between and his dark goddess.

 

Angelique stepped into the drawing room and meshed gazes with Lucien.  He looked so hungry the way he was looking at her and she repressed a shiver of pleasure.  He missed her, how interesting.  Truth be told she missed him too.  He knew her better than anyone, always willing to be with her, the attraction explosive at times.  What they had went beyond the volcanic they shared in the bed, it was two parts of another coming together.

 

She wanted it back.  But the time wasn’t right yet.  She had OT get this mission done, find Jenny and make sure her blood sister Divia was destroyed for eternity.

 

His eyes, those glacial blue eyes, were so full of longing as she passed, she almost reached out for him.  Larry paused and cleared his throat and she turned and followed him, leaving Lucien behind for a few more hours.

 

“Miss Angelique?”  Larry was trying to talk over the pounding on the front door.  “This gentleman, claims to be her for you.”  He turned on the electronic camera at the front door.

 

Jet was there, looking quite angry, his long hair queued back.

 

“Let him in, please.”  Angelique stood as the door opened.

 

“What the hell took so long?”  Jet growled as he stepped up to Angelique.  He smiled and gave her a hug, then a very, very friendly kiss.

 

She returned the kiss and the hug then stepped back. “We have a serious problem and I need you to debrief, now.”

 

“What? No hello?”  Jet laughed.  Then he sobered.  “I heard you have Section One involved.”

 

“Larry please find Ciarán and Nikita and tell them they are needed at the command post.”

 

“Yes, Miss Angelique.”  Larry nodded and left.

 

Jet watched the interchange and sobered.

 

“I do.”  Angelique finally answered him and bid him to follow her towards the Mission basement.

 

“Then it’s really bad then?”

 

“Yes, Ricze and Missy are out looking at a bombing site.  I expect a report in the next two hours.  This will take most of out resources.”

 

“It’s August isn’t it?”  They started down the steps.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Oh man.”  Jet looked around at the activity.  Birkoff and Micah were watching a large wall screen scroll numbers.  A small redhead was at another monitor, punching in commands.  Walter was in his spot, wire and other electronic odds and ends on neat piles on his worktable.

 

Michael was in a separate spot, typing into his computer. He looked up at the new arrivals, then stood.

 

Jet smiled. “I like.”

 

Micah looked up and grinned at Jet. Willow called to the immortal and he waved as he went to see what she needed.

 

Something flung itself at a large metal door and snarled.

 

“What is that?”  Jet asked.

 

“That’s Oz, Willow’s boyfriend.”  She pointed to the redhead.  “He’s be fine in a couple of days, he’s a werewolf”

 

 

Up to Speed

by Sukh

September 7

Chateau/Chalet

8:50 pm

Michael walked slowly toward Angelique and her new companion.  Looked at Jet, anger burning low in his expressionless face, and then turned to Angelique.

 

“Who is this?”

 

Angelique turned as the acrid scent of anger surrounded her.  Michael stood, in his vampire-like still manner, and waited to have his question answered.

 

“Michael, this is Jet Chou, he will be helping my enforcers.”  Angelique watched as Michael looked at Jet.

 

Jet matched his stare.  “Is there a problem?”  Jet was not please to be inspected like this by a mortal.

 

“No.”  Michael looked at Angelique one more time then turned to walk back to his desk.

 

Jet watched him go.  That one, although mortal, was as dangerous as any elder vampire had encountered.  “I’ll bet LaCroix loves that one.”  He whispered.

 

Angelique looked at him and a short burst of surprised laughter broke out of her.  “Actually, he and Michael circle each other like wary Leopards.  I find it quite entertaining.”

 

“Where ‘s Cleo?”  Jet looked around for Angelique’s pet.

 

“Hunting.”  They started to walk towards the conference table.

 

“I see.  So what’s with the do?”  Jet reached out a smoothed his palm over her hairless head.

 

Angelique stiffened for a moment and her eyes flashed red. “That whelp of LaCroix, Maire.”

 

Jet laughed.  “So we have two deadly battles on our hands.”  He grinned.  ‘And if Ciarán is around, it’ll be like the Fourth of July.”

 

“I’m sure we can manage to amuse you, as long as we get the mission objective accomplished.”

 

Angel appeared at the top of the basement stairs, Spike dangling in his grip.  “We seem to have a new Intel source.”  Angel growled as he dragged Spike into the main room.  Buffy and Giles followed behind, then Methos.  Ciarán and Nikita walked in as Angel threw Spike at Angelique’s feet.  Spike glared up at her from his heap at her feet.

 

Jet grinned again.  “This is going to be fun.”

 

 

Unpaid Bills

By Trapper

September 7th

The chateau basement

8:55 pm

 

Angelique pursed her lips as she gazed down at Spike. Thoughtful, she stroked one long, red fingernail over her mouth as if gesturing for silence. “To what do I owe this…” she began, softly.

 

“Pleasure?” Spike grinned as he levered himself up to his elbows to leer at her.

 

The elegant vampire smiled in spite of herself at the impudent young vampire at her feet. “Hardly,” she said, arching one perfect eyebrow. “I was thinking of you more as an interruption.”

 

“I’m crushed,” he said, rolling over onto his back and clutching at his chest in mock despair.

 

Buffy and Angel rolled their eyes up in unison.

 

As Angelique stood over Spike and tried to decide what to do about him, a shiver suddenly ran its icy fingers up her spine. She turned to see what it was, but nothing was out of the ordinary behind her. She frowned, puzzled.

 

“Up here,” the soft voice spoke from somewhere over her head.

 

Giles, hearing it, looked up as well, and gasped as he saw his Jenny lying on top of some cabinets, her chin propped on her hand. He reached up for her.

 

Jenny leaned over to kiss him. “We’ll have all the time in the world back in Sunnydale, Rupert. Right now, I’ve got to finish what I came to do.” She turned to look at Angelique. “We need to do this now. Set won’t wait much longer. He wants either you or Micah, and it’s all Isis can do to hold him at bay.”

 

Micah turned from the wall screen and looked narrowly at Angelique. “Sister, what have you done?”

 

“It is nothing, dear brother. Go back to what you were doing.”

 

Jenny looked across the room. “She saved you by trading her soul for yours to Set. Now, he wants to collect.”

 

“WHAT?!” Micah roared as he charged across the room. He took his sister by the arms and shook her. “What were you thinking?”

 

One red tear broke free and rolled down her cheek. “I was desperate when I couldn’t find you. I would have done anything.”

 

He clutched Angelique to him and moaned. “But this!”

 

Jenny cleared her throat. “We have a plan, but it has to be tonight.”

 

Giles held her hand and looked up at her. “When tonight?”

 

“Oh, now would be good.”

 

 

For a Loop

by Sukh

September 7

Chalet

9:00 pm

“The briefing is in one hour.”  Michael stared up at the woman in the filing cabinet.

 

Jenny looked down at the handsome man, looking through the flesh to see the pain he kept so well hidden.  “Adam will be safe.”  A son he couldn’t see, and a shadow life in a place that demanded a robot-like blind obeisance to orders.  Yet in his pain there was a small thread of defiance, one too small for others to see.

 

Michael looked at her and tilted his head.  “How do you know?”

 

“I’m keeping an eye on him for you.”  Jenny looked at Giles.  “Rupert and his charges are just as good at saving people as your Section.”  She smiled at the surprised light in Michael’s green/gray eyes.

 

At that moment, there was a horrible commotion at the top of the stairs.

 

“Crap!” echoed out and a body came tumbling down the stairs to and at Micah’s feet.

 

“Hey man,” Steve mumbled as he stood up and tried to brush off the indignity of his arrival.  “What’d I miss? ”

 

Jenny and Angelique smiled at each other.

 

“Michael, why don’t you, Nikita and Ciarán brief on extracting Alana?”  Angelique suggested.  “Larry will call as soon as Missy and Ricze show back up.”

 

“The briefing?”  Impatience showed in Michael’s eyes.

 

“We’ll have plenty of time.”

 

 

Protective Coloration

By Trapper

September 7th

The chateau basement

9:07 pm

 

Jenny continued to hold Rupert’s hand as she leapt from her perch atop the cabinets. She wrapped both arms around him and pulled him into a tight embrace.

 

“I’ve missed this,” she murmured into his throat.

 

“As have I,” he whispered into her hair, breathing in her subtle perfume.

 

With difficulty, they pulled far enough apart to look at each other.

 

“What can I do to help?” Giles looked at her over the tops of his glasses.

 

“Behind the chateau,” Jenny began as she led him to one of the tiny basement windows, “there’s an old stone chapel. It’s at the edge of the cemetery, by the woods. I need candles and incense there, as soon as possible.”

 

“Consider it done,” Giles said.

 

“I’m in,” Buffy said.

 

“Me too.” Angel nodded and stepped up to Giles. “We should probably get started.”

 

Giles nodded. “You’re right, of course. I’ll meet you in the upstairs hall.”

 

Jenny hugged him again, and leaned in close to whisper in his ear. “If this works, I think I’ll have time for one more steamy goodbye.”

 

Giles smiled. “I’m counting on it.” He kissed her quickly and climbed the stairs to join his charges.

 

Jenny watched him go. When she heard the door at the top of the stairs shut, she turned to Angelique. “It’s time for part two.”

 

The air around the young Gypsy woman seemed to thicken, until she was lost to sight in a swirling fog. Angelique stepped back and made sure that Steve Lalor was between her and Jenny. They both watched raptly until the fog settled and out stepped…

 

“Trapper!” Steve’s face lit up. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere, babe!” He staggered to his feet.

 

Trapper/Jenny smiled at Steve and stretched out her arms.

 

“I knew you’d come back to me,” he said as he staggered toward her.

 

Angelique watched the proceedings with mild revulsion.

 

“If this continues for very long, I’m going to be quite ill,” LaCroix said quietly behind her.

 

She nodded in agreement, and watched as Trapper/Jenny led Lalor toward the stairs. “It begins,” she said. “Come.”

 

 

LIVE!

by Hanna

Sept 7th

le Chalet

9:10 pm

 

“….once again, we interrupt this broadcast with a live report…”

 

“…night, nearly a two hundred shoppers were maimed, wounded or killed

by horse-riding psychopaths….”

 

“….images from the security feed…”

 

“….young children should not be watching…”

 

“…eyes don’t deceive you ladies and gentlemen…”

 

“…vampires….”

 

“….live in New York…”

 

“…back to our regularly scheduled programming…”

 

Freidrick’s jaw hung open as Nick and Trapper walked by him.

 

“You okay there, sport?” Nick ventured, looking slightly puzzled.   “Oh shit…” was his only answer.

 

 

A Reunion

by Hanna

September 7

Monique’s

9:13 pm

 

No one paid much attention to the tiny knock on the front door, or the doorbell ring a few moments later.

 

Leading Lalor off to whatever plans Jenny Calendar had in store for him made them miss the butler opening the door and letting in a young girl who looked like she had just journeyed through wherever Lalor was headed.

 

She walked slowly towards the procession, terrified at the sight of so many vampires.  She could smell them now, after so long with August and the others.  They had a definite, underlying decay to them…something you’d never notice unless you learned to dread it.

 

No familiar faces, there wouldn’t be.  Not unless Nick or her father were here…but that would be too much to hope for.

 

“Say something to them,” his voice whispered in her head.

 

She trusted him, that voice that belonged to the ashes in the urn she carried.  The journey out of the hell of the caves that ended her had taught her to trust him.  So she spoke.

 

“Ex..excuse me…”

 

The procession stopped, and all the eyes of the predators were focused upon her.

 

Using what little courage she had left she braced herself, and spoke again.

 

“I am looking for my father.  My name is Jennifer Schanke.”

 

 

A Study In Scarlet

by MacCousin and Renie

September 7

Monique’s Chalet

9:15 pm

 

Entwined in a lover’s embrace, the two vampires rested on the rumpled satin sheets. Bloodsweat from their recent encounter lingered on their skin, glistening in the pale moonlight. Francois lovingly stroked Camille’s hair as she rested her head on his shoulder. Reluctantly, she began to move from the shelter of his arms. With a low growl, Bourbon pulled her on top of him, kissing her hungrily. She smiled down at his golden eyed leer and felt him hardening against her thigh.

 

“We really should get downstairs. The meeting starts in an hour, and we should feed before we spend time in a room with so many mortals.” She reminded him.

 

He groaned dramatically in response.

 

Camille laughed a little and kissed him again before slipping out of bed. She took a long and appreciative glance at her lover. Bourbon smiled at her as he lay there naked, unabashed, with one arm resting behind his head. His long hair spread wildly across the pillow. Both vampires wanted nothing more than to lose themselves in each other again.

 

Camille sighed softly, running a finger down a smooth supple lock of Francois’ hair.  His eyes met hers with a hunger.  She smiled and stood.

 

“I get the unique impression one does not keep Angelique or her Enforcers waiting,” she grabbed a towel and headed toward the shower.  “Last one in is a….”

 

A whir easily glided by her.  Francois laughed as she joined him.  “You were saying?” he chortled, turning on the warm water.

********

(Upstairs)

 

“I guess it’s time to face the music,” Màire sighed, looking at the clock above the bar.  She gave Gunther a wan smile and slid off the barstool.  “Guess I’ll see you downstairs in a bit.”  She paused.  “I don’t know what will be worse an encounter with Angelique, or trying to make apologies to Methos.  Then again,” she smirked.

 

“You could be in my shoes,” Gunther grinned. “On the other hand, want some company until then?”  Kristin had headed off to meet with Joe and the others.

 

“Why not.”

 

They started downstairs.

****

 

(The Comm. Center)

Xander yawned visibly as Cordelia studied her nails.

 

Birkoff, Willow and MacCousin, oblivious to the boredom circling the area, kept typing.

 

Cordelia pulled out an emery board and began to file down her nails.  After a few minutes the grating noise got the best of Xander.  He got up and left without saying a word.

 

(A Few Minutes Later)

 

Màire and Gunther looked through the Comm. Center.

 

“Ugh, cold,” shrugged Màire.

 

“And dull,” sighed Gunther.  He would never be able to understand why someone would spend their free time typing.

 

Gunther shrugged and sat down next to Birkoff to help.

 

Màire sidled over to the MacCousin.

 

The MacCousin leapt nearly five feet in the air from a sitting position at the cold touch.

 

“Sorry,” Màire pulled away.

 

“You know you’re a real sidler,” grumbled MacCousin, shielding her top-secret plan.

 

“It goes with the territory,” Màire chortled.  “You know, vampires have to practice their intimidation skills.  What’s the big secret?” She tried to peer around the MacCousin’s meager blockade.  “There sure is a lot of green…”

 

“Sshhhh!” MacCousin shushed the elder vampire.

 

“Hmph!” Màire turned away.  “If I was Nunkies-poo, I bet you’d show me the plan.”

 

“That’s right.”  MacCousin turned back to her monitor.

 

Màire snickered and walked back into the foyer.

*******

 

Camille wandered out of the bedroom, leaving Bourbon behind to dress.  She walked out to the foyer pulling on a black leather jacket.  She turned to see Xander watching from a distance.

 

She stopped and turned gracefully.  “Hello,” she said.

 

Xander looked about for a moment to make sure the beautiful vampire was not speaking to anyone else.

 

“Uhm…hi,” he said.

 

“Young lust. Hmmm. My favorite vintage.” Camille purred under her breath.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Oh nothing,” Camille sauntered to Xander’s side and slid a finger playfully down his arm, loving the way his scent tripled in potency. “My name is Camille. And you are…?”

 

“Xander. Xander Harris.”

 

“Yes.” She said with a slight nod of approval. His heart and breathing quickened. “It suits you well.”

 

This vampire was driving him insane. He knew she could sense his heart pounding as a small voice inside his head warned of the danger.

 

The warning voice whispered and stopped in a sigh as Camille smiled up at Xander.  She slid her fingers gracefully to his shoulder.

 

“So, Xander Harris, tell me about yourself.”

 

“Uhmmmm,” Xander found words but could not find the strength to say them.  He was caught in Camille’s eyes.  He leaned forward and caught her lips briefly with his own.   The mere whisper of her cold lips against his made him forget all about the inner warnings.

 

The vampire pressed her body against his and opened her mouth to his probing tongue. She wanted his complete surrender, to possess him totally. This was a mortal to be savored. Perhaps she would return to him again after he recovered from their encounter.

 

Camille could smell his arousal as it burned through his blood. His kisses became fierce, urgent. His breathing quickened as he awkwardly attempted to remove her jacket.  Xander suddenly began kissing her sensitive neck and nibbling his way down. Unable to control the urge, Camille nipped the skin above his jugular sighing at the brief taste of the nectar in his veins.  A thin trickle of sweet, young blood flowed from two shallow cuts on his neck. She was almost drunk with the taste of the young man. It was like the hot apple cider spiced with cinnamon and cloves that she enjoyed as a mortal.

 

Poised for the strike, the vampire was interrupted by something between a command and a snarl. She turned golden eyes to the door that had been flung open, and the glowering form of another vampire.

***********

 

As Bourbon closed the door to their room, he paused to locate Camille and sensed the bloodlust rising within her. A smug grin began to cross his face as he thought of the reason his lover was now so ravenous. Perhaps they would hunt together after the meeting.

 

Francois suddenly realized that she was already hunting, stalking her prey in a deadly game of passion and desire. Camille could get a bit carried away at times, but surely she wouldn’t be so careless as to take a mortal under the noses of the enforcers and a slayer. Still, he sped off in the direction of the vibration, moving so quickly that the mortals he passed never noticed him.

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

 

“What do you think you’re doing?”  Màire stared at Camille and Xander.

 

No longer under Camille’s spell, Xander jumped and backed away. He was just beginning to wonder what was going on, when he caught sight of the female vampire next to him and bolted for the door.

 

“Xander,” Màire’s grip on his arm was like steel.  Xander opened his mouth to call for help, Màire caught his eye and locked onto his heartbeat.

 

“You will be silent,” she murmured softly.  “Don’t go anywhere.”

 

“Leave us!” the younger vampire commanded, “There won’t be any killing here.”

 

With a soft whoosh, Bourbon halted behind the very old and very cross Màrie.  The glassy eyed look on the mortal teenager’s face was not lost to him. Nor was the scent of fresh blood.

 

“Foolish child! I am not concerned about his wellfare.”

 

“What is this?” Francois asked as he stepped between the two women.

 

“She is busy hunting,” Màire hissed angrily.  “As if this were the time or place.”  She nodded toward the oblivious Xander.

 

“He’s only a mortal. Since when do either of you care about them?” Camille sniffed.

 

“Are you mad?” Francois demanded. “He is with a slayer!”

 

“Do you expect me to be afraid of one mortal girl? Besides, He wasn’t a meal, just a light snack. He wouldn’t have suffered any permanent damage.”

 

“Mortal girl?” questioned Màire.  “She is more than that.  What if he’s a resistor?  Did you even think your actions through?”

 

Bourbon raised an eyebrow at Màire.  “You’re not exactly one to think through things yourself.”

 

“This isn’t about me, this is about your responsibility.  You brought her here,” she put her hands on her hips.  “She is your responsibility to watch over and make sure she behaves.”   She then turned her attention to Camille.  “Youth is no excuse for this

kind of reckless behavior.  You could have made a difficult alliance between ourselves and the slayer a dangerous one.”

 

Camille bridled at being lectured to.  “Who are you to order me about.  You are neither my maker nor my mentor.  We are immortal, we need never worry about the slayers.”  She turned and skulked toward Xander.

 

“If you were my child,” began Màire.  She paused and looked down at her shoes, thinking of her dead children, some of them had been taken out by slayers.  She looked at Bourbon. “Another foolish stunt like that and the Enforcers would remove her.  They

aren’t known for their kindnesses.  You know that as well as I.”

 

Bourbon and Màire looked over at Camille.

 

Camille swiped a finger through a little spot of drying blood on the boy’s neck and raised it to her lips. Her eyes closed as she savored the last of his essence. Caressing Xander’s cheek as she spoke in a soft, hypnotic tone, Camille erased the memory of their time together.

 

She turned and left Xander there, still lost in a whammy.

 

“I should have been here sooner. Thank you for putting a stop to this foolishness before Camille did something we would both regret.”

 

Satisfied that he was sincere, Màrie nodded. “She is yours?”

 

Francois ran a hand through his damp hair and winced slightly at the implications of the question.

 

“Not exactly. Her maker was destroyed decades ago. We do share a blood link though.”

***********

 

‘Who does she think she is?’ Camille fumed silently as she walked away from them. ‘What do I have to fear from a teen-aged mortal?’

 

She was bored and hungry, which did not make for a happy mood. As a mortal who was unaccustomed to taking orders, it was infuriating as a vampire. Camille was sorry for Bourbon’s loss, but she had nothing to do with anything that was going on in New

Salem. She was beginning to think she’d be better off somewhere else, but knew her lover would never leave until the deaths were avenged.

 

Rounding a corner, the vampire nearly walked right into Gunther as he left the Comm. Center.

 

“Shouldn’t you be in there?” she asked, motioning to the room he’d left a minute earlier.

 

“I was,” the Viking answered a little embarrassed. “I kind of got in the way. They politely asked me to wait out here so they could finish preparing for the meeting.”

 

“I’m glad I’m not the only nuisance around here.”

 

Catching sight of the glimmer of gold in her eyes, the immortal led Camille to a sofa in a nearby sitting room. He was thankful for the small cart with bottles of blood and glasses provided for the guests. A hungry vampire was not usually good company. At the moment, Gunther really didn’t feel like being anyone’s next meal.

 

“So.” He began as he handed her a full glass. “What happened back there?”

 

The vampire drained her glass and set it on a low table before answering. “I was hungry.”

 

“And?” That couldn’t be all.

 

She shrugged and held up the bottle. “I wanted something a bit fresher than this.”

 

The immortal cast her a pained look and sighed. “Not only do I have to watch over Kristin, but you as well.”

 

“Kristen is here?” Camille asked slowly. The watcher was not her favorite mortal in the world. “Yes of course she is. After all, she is your watcher.”

 

“Look, she doesn’t know what you are, and as far as she knows, she’s only met you and Bourbon a few times. Just try not to let things get out of hand. Okay?”

 

“She’s going to find out about vampires, Gunther. There’s no way around it, not here.

********

 

“Hmmm….”  Màire nodded at Bourbon.  “My apologies for not saying hello earlier.  I was kind of busy.”  She smirked.

 

“So I saw.”

 

Màire chuckled, “I suppose this means you are forgiven for betting on Angelique.”  She looked at Xander for a moment.  “I guess I can take care of this…if you take care of her?”  Dealing with another war would be impossible.

 

Bourbon nodded.  “Be careful.  He will have scars…and questions.”

 

Màire shrugged and walked over to Xander as Bourbon left the room.

 

“Xander.  Xander, wake up.”  Màire shook him slightly to bring him out of the whammy.

 

“Wha…huh?”  Xander looked down at Màire.  His neck hurt.  He put an index finger to his wound.  There was no blood, but he did feel bite marks.  “Did you?”

 

“No, I didn’t.”  Màire sighed, wondering if she would have to whammy him again.  She raised a finger to his wound.

 

“I can’t remember what happened.  But you stopped it.  I remember that.”

 

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner.  You should really watch yourself,” Màire told him.

 

“But you helped,” Xander smiled.  “You stopped it.  Not only are you beautiful, but you’re nice.”

 

Màire sighed.  “That is very nice of you to say, but you don’t know me at all.  I just did it to protect my community and family.”  She began to walk away.

 

Xander watched her go, somewhat sadly.

 

Màire heard someone begin laughing in the hallway.  She walked into the library to find Methos laughing hysterically.

 

“What’s so entertaining??”

 

“Youth is no excuse for this kind of reckless behavior?  He began laughing again.

 

Màire stared at him.

 

“You are an amazing case of ‘do what I say, not what I do’.”

 

“I’m so glad I amused you,” she said, sarcastically.

 

“Actually,” he stopped laughing.  “It was very kind.  I didn’t expect that.”   He touched her shoulder.

 

“It was my good deed of the century.”  She stalked off.  A teensy bit glad, he seemed to have forgiven her.

 

Methos shook his head and turned to join the others back upstairs.

 

 

Schanke’s Lost Little Lamb

by Hanna

September 7

Chalet

9:17 pm

 

She stared at the faces surrounding her, clutching the urn tightly to her chest.  Whispering to it, she barely breathed, “You said it would be okay.  It would be safe!”

 

All those present, those going to the Lalor ceremony…and otherwise, heard the soft, soothing response that answered back.  “It is…just give them time.  They have been terribly worried about you.”

 

Freidrick pushed forward through some of the others, staring at the urn.  “Jonas?”

 

Jenny stared at him as if he was a snake.  Slowly, she nodded.  He almost reached for the urn, but with the way she drew back, clinging to it, he changed his mind.  There would be time enough for Jonas later. He wasn’t about to take Jenny’s security from her.

 

Marcus whispered to him, loud enough though for everyone to hear, “Very wise.  The child is at the end of her tolerance.  One more shock, and she’ll be lost forever…”

 

 

Interruptions

By Hanna

Sept 7, 1997

Chalet

9:20 pm

 

Freidrick paused for a moment, trying to get a grip on himself.  Making certain he had everyone’s attention, he announced, “We’re fucked.”

 

Marcus looked at his friend a moment, then burst out laughing.  “Nicely put, old friend.”

 

Freidrick gave him a withering look as a voice asked, “How so?”

 

All eyes turned to the urn in Jenny’s arms.  “He never shuts up, does he?” someone asked, and was replied with, “Not often.”

 

Marcus interceded for the still flustered Freidrick.  “The was a newsbroadcast about the occurances at the Mall.  Normally not a problem, but our Sabbat friends were caught on the security tapes…in full performance.  Needless to say, while some can still pass off vampires as fiction, especially on news reports, enough belief was raised by the tapes that it was broadcast from the local Boston stations, with transmissions sent to all the major networks.  Unfortunately, even if they don’t believe it, enough people will be curious enough to come and find out.”

 

 

Friend or Foe

By Renie

September 7

9:20

Chateau

 

“I’ll go get Willow.” Buffy said as she and Giles reached the landing of the staircase. “We’ll meet you at the chapel.”

 

“Alright. I’ll gather what we need from the room.”

 

With that, the slayer headed for the comm center while her watcher continued up the stairs. Buffy was almost at her destination when she spotted Xander wandering the hall. His hair and clothes looked a little more rumpled than when she’d last seen him.

 

“Xander? You okay?” She asked, a concerned look on her face.

 

“Yeah. I’m fine. Why?”

 

He seemed a little preoccupied, but the slayer just shrugged it off. After all, things were bound to get a bit tense when you were trying to save the world.

 

“Have you seen Willow?”

 

Who? The only person in his thoughts at the moment was Màrie. Xander could almost feel the soft, coolness of her full lips, the smooth, ageless skin… Had he kissed her? No. She saved him. He had been holding and kissing another. But who?

 

“Xander?”

 

“Huh? Oh yeah, Willow. Uh… she’s in there. I think.”

 

Too late, he realized his mistake in nodding toward the door.

 

“Oh my god.” Buffy gasped at the two little marks on his neck. The twin wounds were shallow lines drawn on the skin just above the jugular vein.

 

“Xander, who did this to you? What happened?”

 

He really didn’t want to make explanations until he figured out what actually did happen. His hand flew to his neck, covering the telltale fang marks. With what he hoped was a confident and determined expression, he tried to reassure the slayer. The last thing anyone needed at the moment was a war between the vampires and mortals who were supposed to be on the same side.

 

“I’m fine. Really. It’s just a little cut. Don’t worry about it.”

 

“Who did this to you?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

 

“I can’t remember. It’s that hypno thing they do. Everything is kind of mixed up. It’s cool. Don’t worry about me. I’ll handle it.”

 

“I’ve got to get Willow. We’re supposed to be meeting Giles and the others. Are you going to be alright?”

 

Xander nodded. “What’s going on? Do you need me for anything?”

 

“Not right now. Be careful.” Handing him a sharp, pointed steak of wood, she looked up at him. “Just in case they decide to come back for seconds.  We’ll talk about this when Giles and I get back.”

 

“See you later.”

 

Buffy was already walking away.

 

The young man studied the length of wood in his hand. He’d use it if he had to, but in the back of his mind, knew it wouldn’t be needed in this situation. Though Xander couldn’t remember the face of his beautiful attacker, he knew without a doubt it had been a woman. The fact that he had enjoyed being ravished by a vampire didn’t bother him. The fact that he wanted that kind of dangerous pleasure again did.

 

 

The Shattered Child

by Hanna

September 7

the Chalet

9:20 pm

Jenny clutched the urn tightly as she started to tremble.  The enormity of all that had happened to her finally reached into her core, and her determination to endure shattered.  Shuddering, she sank to her knees, no longer seeing the adults, human and otherwise, that surrounded her.  What she had seen was never meant for anyone’s eyes, let alone a budding young girl.  Her mind, which had held on to sanity for so long through so much, just couldn’t take anymore.

 

Schanke, having heard that his missing daughter was downstairs, pushed the others aside to reach her.

 

He arrived in time to see the desolate look in her eyes turn into something far more heart-wrenching.  As he reached out a hand to his only child, he watched as she dwindled into insanity….

 

 

No Ray of Sunshine

By Renie

Sept. 7

9:45 pm

Monique’s Chalet

 

“I guess we should go back to the Com Center and see if they need our help with anything.” Gunther said.

 

“As if we could actually be of any help in there.” Camille retorted. She had reached the end of her patience with everyone there. Right now, all she wanted was a few hours of freedom, and a nice, warm meal.

 

“My, you’re in a pleasant mood this evening.”

 

“Sorry.” She mumbled. “I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to me rant. Shouldn’t you be babysitting your pet?”

 

The Viking sighed. “Kristen is not her father. Why do you hate her so much?”

 

“Have you ever heard the expression ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?’ And I don’t hate her. I just don’t trust her.”

 

Kristen’s father had dealings with Gunther’s last watcher. Neither Camille nor Bourbon would discuss the events surrounding Robert Hanley’s death. After his charred remains were pulled from what was left of his car, the police investigation turned up no signs of foul play. There were not even skid marks where the car had left the road. It was determined that Hanley had fallen asleep at the wheel and missed a turn, plunging 600 feet to his death. The vehicle had exploded on impact.

 

The same night Hanley died, Ellis was decapitated by Stanley Carter, the immortal he was assigned to watch. Three days later, his body had been found in a river. As far as the police were concerned, Ellis was another case for the unsolved files.

 

Ellis and his assignment had been paying large sums of money to other watchers in exchange for information. The unscrupulous immortal then attacked while his opponent was most vulnerable. After a few close calls, Bourbon and Gunther had done a bit of digging into Hanley’s affairs. A few well-placed whammies got them extra keys to safe deposit boxes, and with a little help from a knowledgeable friend, they were able to break into computer files. They learned of his business with Kristen’s father, and something even worse came to light. The Watcher had come too close to discovering the vampires.

 

His cryptic notes were damning evidence against Camille and Bourbon. Most concerning of all, were the few names listed. Someone, perhaps Carter, had given Hanley a short list of hunters. There were no phone numbers or addresses, but the names were enough. He would have to be questioned and neutralized as soon as possible. They needed to know how much of a mess was

there to clean up, and make plans for a hasty departure.

 

Soon after the two Watcher’s deaths, the vampires set themselves up in Seattle. The Community there was fairly large, and it would offer them protection if necessary. Gunther spent almost three years tracking Carter before joining them.

 

The tall blonde stood and turned to the door. “She’s meeting with another Watcher right now. She’ll find me when she’s done.” Then silently, he added ‘I hope.’

 

The vampire quickly poured and drained another glass from the bottle and rose to follow her immortal friend. They stepped out into the empty hallway and strode toward the Comm Center.  Francois was close.  She wanted to take flight out the nearest window, but she knew it would only delay the inevitable confrontation. Squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin, Camille stared defiantly at her lover as he rounded the corner in front of them.

 

Bourbon stopped when he saw her. A myriad of emotions waged war within him. Camille had been foolish, but he also feared he would one day lose her to a slayer or enforcer’s stake. Her master had taken for granted that he would always be with her, and neglected to be as firm as he should have been with her education. Not that Vachon was much of a disciplinarian, but he had at

least passed on the knowledge that he had learned from trial and sometimes painful error. The Spaniard had also tried to make sure those he brought over didn’t make those same mistakes.

 

“Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to lecture me and get it over with?” she demanded.

 

Francois nearly cringed at her icy tone. He really hated this part. She needed to understand why her actions nearly got her killed, but he didn’t want to sound like one of his Captains in the Musketeers. At least the few times he’d screwed up as a vampire and Vachon was there to see it, it had been over quickly. The few times the dark haired vampire had reprimanded him, he began with a string of Spanish profanity and ended with “…and if you EVER pull a stupid stunt like that, I’ll stake your ass myself!” There was usually very little in between.

 

What had Vachon said to Urs when she was out of line? The answer was quick to come. Urs had never gotten out of line, ever.

 

With a stern look, Bourbon allowed his age and power to flow through their bond. It would have worked better if he had been her maker, but the subtle change was enough.

 

“Camille, I’d like a word with you.”

 

His eyes made it clear that there was no room for arguments.

 

“I guess that’s my cue to leave.” Gunther said quickly. “Perhaps we’ll spar later.”

 

The immortal beat a hasty retreat without waiting for a response.

 

 

Strange Things Are Afoot in the Com. Center

By MacCousin

Sept. 7

Monique’s Chalet

around 10:15?

MacCousin yawned and covered her mouth as she stared at her ‘project’.

 

She cupped her chin with a hand and closed her eyes for a moment.  They fluttered back open and then closed again.

******

 

MacCousin sat at the head of a long table draped in tartan, she stared at her henchmen, who seemed to resemble her PHB (pointy-haired boss) and his associates and nearly snarled at them.  They shivered in fright.

 

She stroked Mr. Lucius, her black kitty.

 

“You have been insolent, and that makes me angry.  And when the MacCousin gets angry, Mr. Lucius gets upset.”

 

“Meow-rowr,” the cat turned his golden eyes to the naughty pens on the table.  He hissed at Ryan.

 

“And when Mr. Lucius gets upset…people DIE!!!!”  MacCousin slammed her hand on the table and the henchmen jumped.  They all fell into a pit of fire.

******

 

MacCousin woke up.  A thin trail of drool was on the computer table.  MacCousin warily looked over at the others in the Comm. Center and wiped away the drool when she saw no one was looking.

 

“What a strange dream,” she murmured.  “Although it was nice seeing those idiots get theirs.”

 

“What was that?” Birkoff turned to face her.

 

“Uh…nothing,” mumbled the MacCousin, with a small grin.

 

 

New Jerusalem War Day Three

Fraser Calling

by Sukh

September 6

Tremain Hospital

Midnight

 

“You can’t bring that dog in here!”  A nurse chased Fraser as he walked into the emergency area.

 

“Deif” he stopped and looked at the wolf mix.  Deif whined and sat at his side as the nurse caught up with them.

 

“Sir, a dog‑‑”

 

Ray stepped up.  “Ma’am, this is a specially trained police dog.”

 

Nurse Rachett scowled.  “He’s a Mountie.”

 

“Yes, well the case is involving a Canadian national, so he was called here.”  Ray smiled as Stanley went to another station to find Nat’s room, flashing his badge.

 

“This is highly irregular‑‑”

 

“We can make him wait outside.”  Fraser motioned to the door.  “Go Deif.  Look for unusual suspects.”

 

Deif refused to budge.

 

“Go ahead.”  The nurse shook her head.  “Just keep him quiet.”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.  Thank you kindly.”  Fraser tipped his hand and followed Stanley.

 

Natalie Lambert didn’t look too good in the ICU pod.  Tubes were everywhere, one clear saline bag in one arm, and a half-full blood bag in the other.  She was breathing on her own and opened her eyes when Fraser sat next to her.

 

“Benny.”  She smiled faintly.  “You came.”

 

“Yes,” He smiled.  He had a heart stopping fear all the way over that he would be too late.  “It looks like you had a rough night.”

 

“No worse than when I almost had my heart taken.”  She felt for his hand, and grabbed it as he offered it to her.  “Those vamps that took me, they were playing hardball.”  She looked like a frightened child for a moment, her eyes bruised from the blood loss and rough treatment.  “They want to rule.”

 

“The city?”

 

“No, the country.”  She tried to sit up, but Fraser forced her back down.  “You have to tell Nick and everyone.”

 

“I will.”  He bent over and kissed Nat’s forehead.

 

Deif growled outside the curtain, and Ray breathed at him, “We have a problem.”

 

 

Pavanne

By Trapper

September 6

Various places in New Jerusalem

12:01am

 

The Obachine was a small, elegant and very exclusive restaurant close to the glass tower. It catered only to the elite among vampires and humans. The Prince of the City had always kept a private dining room in the back, where he could entertain out of town guests in quiet luxury. The music was very tasteful; the decor was all dark wood, hunter green and ivory. Night-blooming plants gave the impression that one was dining in a civilized garden. It was only an impression.

 

It was to this place that several Sabbat lords had come to sit and savor their leader’s victory. The men all gave the impression of being Mafia dons, with their slicked hair and dark suits. They sat and made small talk over a vintage “Antoinette” and Cuban cigars.

 

Several silent waiters entered the room in their standard black and green livery. They bore silver trays and came to stand one behind each of the diners.

 

Etienne, the host of the evening’s festivities, looked slightly annoyed. He had nothing else planned. Perhaps this was some impromptu menu change, to include a live wench from town. He shrugged and looked to the headwaiter. “Yes? What is it? Be quick!”

 

The waiter smiled, showing his sharp, white teeth. “Why, my lord, it’s dessert!”

 

Etienne had enough time to smile before his throat was severed by the razor edge of the waiter’s tray. Blood fountained across the crisp, white tablecloth and over the black and white marble floor. His guests found themselves in similar circumstances.

 

When the heads had been severed, the waiters gutted their victims, removing their hearts for disposal by cremation. They neatly bagged their grisly trophies and headed out the door.

 

The majordomo paled visibly when he saw the blood‑soaked men walking out of the private dining room. “Excuse me,” he began in a shaky voice.

 

The group filed out the door and into the night. The leader stopped long enough to hand the majordomo an envelope. “If you’re wise, you’ll use this,” he said in a calm, soft voice.

 

The envelope contained $30,000.00 and a one way ticket to Rio de Janeiro.

 

The music had stopped in the private dining room. The only sound that could be heard was the steady drip of blood from the bodies scattered around the room. In the center of the tablecloth, there was a message written in blood. It read, simply, “Number 1”.

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

 

Across town, in a dive called “The Bone Cellar”, five Sabbat flunkies were having a fine old time tearing the place up. Literally.

 

Barmaids were dragged from behind the bar and slit open to provide drinks on the house. A pretty brunette was flayed open on a table, and several vampires were greedily slurping at the trough. She tried to breathe, but they’d torn her lungs out for more room. As her life faded Jesse raised his dripping face from her chest and planted a wet, red kiss on her dying lips.

 

“Thanks for the drinks, hon,” he cackled and looked for new prey.

 

The double doors swung slowly open. Two women walked into the butcher shop that had been a bar. They were identical, from their short, black hair to their 6″ stiletto heels. Skintight red mini‑dresses and black leather coats completed their ensembles.

 

Jesse and the boys wolf‑whistled at the new arrivals.

 

“Whoa, boys!” Jesse howled. “Look what we got for fresh meat!”

 

Jesse and the other four surrounded the two women.

 

“So, little honey,” Caleb said as leaned over with fetid breath. “What’s your name?”

 

The first woman lifted one perfect eyebrow. “Why?” she asked in a husky voice.

 

“Well, we like to know what to call dinner.”

 

The boys all laughed uproariously at the joke.

 

“In that case,” the first one said, as she reached into her bag, “You may call me Plague.”

 

The other one spoke up. “And I’m Pestilence.”

 

The hands that emerged from their shoulder bags wore silver “brass” knuckles. There was a difference between these and the ordinary knuckle‑duster. These had long, razor claws attached. They windmilled through their would‑be captors, slicing, hacking and gouging. Blood spurted, heads flew across the room and five hearts ended up in the large, brightly burning fireplace in the corner of the bar.

 

Plague wiped her claws with a bar towel and returned them to her purse. They walked out of The Bone Cellar and vanished into the night.

 

On the sidewalk in front of the place was a bloody scrawl. “Number 2”, it read.

 

 

Shoot Out the Lights

By Trapper

September 6

Various places in New Jerusalem

12:01am

 

A tiny, silvery chime sounded out the last toll for midnight. Chester sighed and pulled out the pocket watch. Yes, it was time to walk the perimeter. He levered his tired old bones out of his chair at the guard desk and walked carefully toward the main doors. At his age, the old arthritis was beginning to take its toll. He stopped a moment to look again at the watch. It was a beautiful thing, solid gold case, and played the Westminster chimes every hour. The Prince of the City had given it to him at his thirty‑year anniversary. Chester stuffed it back in his pocket and wiped his eyes with an old red bandana from his jacket. Damn, but he missed the Prince. He always had a kind word for a person. ‘Yep,’ he mused silently, ‘even offered to embrace me.’ Chester grinned ruefully as he thought about it. Maybe if he’d been thirty years younger, he’d have taken him up on it. But he was too old, now. Darling Elizabeth in her grave for the last five years now, and the Prince dead, too. At least the new owner had seen fit to leave Chester his job. It paid for the occasional meal out and stamps for letters to his son in New York City.

 

As he opened the big glass doors to the outside, he noticed what a pretty night it was. Times like this, he could see why being a vampire could be so attractive. Ah, but there was nothing like a warm day to chase the rheumatism out of the bones.

 

He stepped outside and stood on the sidewalk. Something was out of place. He stepped away from the building and turned around. With a gasp, he realized that horror had visited the tower.

 

There were twenty or so human heads, arrayed in a pyramid next to the planter. Their expressions told a tale of surprise and agony. As Chester squinted at them, he saw that they were the out of town Sabbat bodyguards that the boss had been expecting. Something was fluttering in the pile, and he moved closer to see what it was. With a trembling hand, he reached out for the piece of paper. It was nailed to a forehead. Then, he dropped it and ran back inside, faster than he thought he could. Upstairs needed to know about this.

 

The paper leaped in the slight breeze like a dancer, and settled to the street. The letters were a crimson slash across the white surface. They said, “Number 3. Tag!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

 

Monique sat by the window and gazed out over the trees. The small chalet was comfortable and very well guarded.

 

Algernon padded into the room to stand at her elbow. “Miss Monique?”

 

“Yes,” she said without turning.

 

“I’ve just had word that number three has been completed.”

 

“Thank you, Algernon.”

 

As he left the room, a slow smile cut its way across her face.

 

 

 

 

Enchantress

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:10am

 

Jenny smiled to herself as she stood in the main room of the suite and toweled her hair dry. The Romany Suite was designed to look like a gypsy caravan circled around a main common area. Every room was a different wagon. When she’d first gotten to the suite she’d had to peek into every room. The stiffness of the drying blood convinced her that she needed to shower before she did any further exploring.

 

She quickly dressed in a simple long skirt and blouse, and sat down to figure out what she was going to need to resurrect the curse on Angel. She ticked off the items as she dragged them out of her bag. Thank the gods that Rupert hadn’t disposed of the orb she’d picked up back in Sunnydale. Jenny checked over her list and furrowed her brow in concentration. She was missing a couple of items. They were small; easily procured at the Botanika she’d noticed on her ride into town. On a sudden hunch she went to the master “wagon” and began rummaging through the drawers. Several herbs that she was going to need were neatly nestled in a divided cupboard like the one her Grandmama used to have. She turned the herbs over in her hands as she walked back into the main room. There must be a gypsy somewhere on staff. No mere decorator could know to supply the room with these particular items.

 

A sudden determination drove her to seek the telephone. She called down to the front desk.

 

“Yes, Mr. Battles? This is Jenny Calendar in the Romany Suite. I hope this doesn’t sound like an odd request, but do you happen to have anyone on staff of Romany extraction?” She waited for the response. “Oh, yes, that’s wonderful. Would it be too much trouble to send her upstairs before her shift? I need to speak to her. Thank you so much.”

 

She hung up the phone. Sonja would be up in twenty minutes. This was going to help immensely.

 

 

Recaps, Renovations and Reconnaissance

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:15am

 

“Anyway,” Schanke said as he finished his gyros, “that’s it in a nutshell. Evie figured that we needed to talk to Giles about the book.”

 

“Let me get this straight,” Nick said as he hung up the phone. “The Denny’s waitress told you about the horse race, mentioned a name…”

 

“Davistch,” Evie prompted.

 

“Right. And when you got to the cemetery…”

 

“Yeah.” Schanke’s eyes misted over with the memory of Jenny’s voice.

 

Ricze spoke up from his spot by the door. “It’s an old Sabbat punishment, specifically for brethren that…talk too much.” He shrugged. “It’s vicious, but effective in keeping the troops in line.”

 

“And then we’re back to the newspaper clipping.” Evie sat, contemplating her beer.

 

“I’m assuming the librarian works nights?” Nick asked with a touch of wry amusement.

 

“Yep, right as rain, partner.” Schanke took a swig of his cold coffee and winced. “I knew I should’ve nuked this.”

 

Nick rose from the couch. “Well, I think we need to find Giles.”

 

“Did you talk to Jerome?” Trapper gestured at the door.

 

“Yes. He said that someone would be right up to fix it. It’s amazing, you know. Nothing seems to faze the man. He also mentioned that there were two people caught in the explosion.”

 

“Vampires?”

 

“He didn’t know. He’s having one of his staff take a read on them.”

 

Everyone rose to leave, except Schanke. “I’m going to wait here until the maintenance guy shows up. Besides, he might know something about what’s been going on around town.”

 

“Good idea, Schanke.” Nick and Trapper headed for the doorway.

 

Duncan walked over to the fridge and pulled out a Grant’s Scottish ale. “I think that Sukh, Kay and I are going to stay as well. I don’t think it’s a good idea for any of us to be alone right now.” He looked pointedly at the two women. “And I don’t want the two of you in the middle if there are problems.”

 

Sukh and Kay bobbed their heads up and down as they sat on the couch.

 

“Sounds good to me!” Sukh said.

 

Nick nodded, and the rest of them filed out of the room.

 

Micah stopped, turned and walked back to Kay. He leaned over and planted a kiss on her upturned lips. “Be careful.”

 

“You, too.”

 

The party walked out into the hall to try to make some sense out of the evening. Things were getting stranger by the minute. And where were Devin and Anna, anyway?

 

 

Moving

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:25am

 

The dust and smoke had cleared out of the hallway, and it was hard to tell that anything had occurred in the hotel. When the group arrived at the Provencal Suite, however, it was another story.

 

Instead of the elegant, rather baroque style door, there was a blank sheet of metal. Nicholas put his hand on it.

 

“This must be the fire door that Jerome mentioned.”

 

“Now what?” Micah’s eyes still blazed with fury at what Lux had tried to do to his sister. He was disappointed that nothing presented itself for his rage to vent against.

 

“Jerome said that Sonja would be up shortly,” Nick answered without turning around.

 

As if in answer to an invisible summons, the panel concealing the service elevator slid to one side. An elderly woman dressed in black emerged and made her way to the fire door where they all stood. She had eyes only for the metal door, and Nicholas moved to one side as she approached.

 

“Sonja?” he asked.

 

She nodded in reply as she touched an oddly shaped key to a small depression in the door. “There will be a rush of air as I open the door. Please to stand back.”

 

They did as Sonja asked, and the door slid aside with an audible whoosh. Without hesitation, she walked into what was left of the suite. The rest of them followed closely behind.

 

Sonja stood in the center of the room, making small sounds of disapproval. “Tcha. What a mess this will be to clean up.” She looked around until she spied the two skulls. Carefully, reverently, she picked them up and looked into their empty eye sockets. “These two are most unhappy,” she frowned. “Yes, they were vampires, both men.” She looked up at Nick, who had come up beside her. “This,” she gestured at the room with the skulls, ” was an accident. The explosion was not meant for them.” She placed them back on the floor and wiped her hands on her apron.

 

“Did you see anything else?” Nick asked gently.

 

“Only letters. Does C‑4 mean anything?”

 

Nick smiled and raised an eyebrow. “Oh, yes. Thank you.”

 

“You are welcome.” She looked at her watch. “I must go. I have one more stop on this floor before I can clean this up.” She bustled out of the room in her black skirts, looking like the chatelaine of the tower.

 

“Okay,” Kat said as she continued to poke through the debris. “We know they were both men, so it wasn’t Devin and Anna that got caught in this.” She looked thoughtful as she came up with what was left of the weaponry.

 

“Heavy hitters,” Vachon remarked as Kat held up the partially melted gun.

 

“Indeed,” Ricze said. “So, it begs the question. What were they doing here?”

 

“I think this is another thing we need to ask Mr. Saceur,” Trapper said.

 

“All right,” Nick spoke as he dusted his hands off. “Let’s go back to the room and see if we can’t track down our man of mystery. Maybe he can shed some light on this.”

 

“Mmm. And maybe where the explosives came from, too.” Evie commented as they picked their way back out of the ruined suite.

 

“I still think we should be looking for that bastard, Lux,” Micah muttered as they walked back down the hall.

 

“I don’t think he’s leaving the area any time soon,” Nick said as they walked along. “He still has some demented score to settle with Kat.”

 

“Imagine my excitement,” Kat said dryly.

 

 

The Making of a Madman (Part 1)

Devin Saceur

Some time ago…

“Lower America”

 

Clint had missed his calling in life…

 

Back in the “days of old”, as he liked to call them ‑ though he had been a vampire for little over a quarter of a century ‑ he’d been an expert marksman. A natural talent, Clint developed his sharpshooting at an astonishing rate, very early in life.

 

His “Pa” had been the one to nourish the ability. Pa did many things with young Clint in those days. He’d spend endless hours with the boy, teaching him the “ways of the world”. His lessons had been hard…much too hard for a child.

 

Often, Clint would pay the price for failure by spending an evening strapped to the old oak tree across the lake from his trailer. Pa would come out every so often, a beer in one hand and his thick leather belt moist and ready for action in the other. The beatings would sometimes go on until the boy was rendered unconscious. Sometimes longer.

 

As he grew, Clint’s punishments became even more severe. But he was older then, and his father saw that the usual methods weren’t working as well. The boy had developed thick scars on his back from years of abuse and was all but numb to the brutal weapon that was his father’s belt.

 

So it was that one evening, in the humid, mosquito‑heavy air of Mississippi in mid‑August, 1968…Pa found a new way to hurt his son.

 

After a particularly grueling day spent drinking and working under the hood of his battered old Chevy, Pa entered his home and found that things had not been cleaned as he’d asked. It was a simple request, for Christ’s‑fucking‑sake, and they couldn’t get it done!

 

His wife, Jodi, was the one to meet with his rage as she came out of the bathroom. Before she could even begin to decipher what had happened, she found herself being drowned in the draining tub water she’d left behind from her bath. The fierce impact of her husband’s fists on the back of her head sent her into a haze as her life was torn away in a violent rush.

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

 

Clint came home later in the evening. He’d been out all day and had simply forgotten about his chores. The addiction to liquor apparently ran with the genetic code of his family, so the poor young man had taken all too easily to the bottle in his teens. On that particular evening, he’d finished off a fifth of Wild Turkey in the span of a few hours.

 

When he stumbled into the bathroom, he saw his mother lying face first in the tub. There was a thick coat of blood on the broken shards of tile from the wall and literally sprayed across the basin of the tub itself. The back of the woman’s head was also matted with blood and appeared to be crushed inward.

 

Clint stood in utter shock for a few moments…uncertain whether to yell out, run, or lift his mother into his arms. In all the years of torture he had endured at his father’s hand, Ma had been the only one to come to his side. She’d nursed his wounds and even come to his aid by standing in front of Pa in an attempt to shield the boy. In each instance, she paid dearly for her compassion.

 

As he stood there, struggling against intoxication and the horror of his mother’s death, Clint found that he could only cry. The enormous shock and pain would allow him no other action.

 

But when Pa came in the front door, swaying from his own inebriation and carrying that old belt in his hand, the young man found new strength. He looked to his father and knew immediately and without a doubt that he was the one who killed his mother. Though he needed desperately to believe it, he knew that there had been no burglary or any such thing. This work was too much like his father for anyone else.

 

As if to confirm the thought, Pa stood there in the hallway, nearly devoid of emotion. With a sickly, near‑toothless grin, he pointed to the oak tree, which could be seen out of the open door of the trailer. “You and me got some work to do, boy. Your momma has a hole in the dirt waitin’ for her.”

 

The answer he received sent him flying into the wall, with his newly shattered nose pouring blood down his face. Clint moved in quickly, unwilling to give his father any time to stand up. He repeatedly smashed his fists as hard as he could into the bastard’s face, breaking his few remaining teeth and dislocating his jaw as he went.

 

Old Pa was without recourse. Clint tore the belt from his grasp and tightened it around his neck, jerking forcefully upward as he held the man face down with a knee jammed into the apex of his spine. As he twisted the belt tighter around his father’s throat and pulled with every ounce of his being, Clint heard a loud pop, and the man beneath him suddenly fell silent.

 

He stood then, initially stunned with his first act of murder. But as he looked back to the pitiful heap that had been his mother, he knew that he’d done right. He kicked the body of his father soundly and proceeded to storm out the door to his truck.

 

He was met there by his friend Hank Redman. Shortly after, Clint effectively disappeared from the mortal world.

 

 

Into The Thick of It

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:30 a.m.

 

As they gathered themselves together to return to Nick’s suite, voices from down the hall caught their attention. Buffy and her crew came around the corner, oblivious to the adults in their immediate path.

 

“Cordy, I told you that going this way was a total waste of time.”

 

“Thank you so much for your opinion, Xander,” Cordelia replied icily. “I didn’t think it would be too much to see if they had a Coke machine in this place.”

 

“Well, we were here to check out the explosion, Cordelia,” Buffy said, attempting patience.

 

“Well, excuse me. Everything’s always about something else. What about me?”

 

“What about you?” Willow asked in seeming innocence.

 

“Whoa,” Xander looked up. “Vamp alert.”

 

“Hey, guys!” Buffy smiled as they approached. “Did you check it out?”

 

Nick nodded. “Not much to see, I’m afraid. The suite is destroyed.”

 

Xander whistled. “Anyone in there?”

 

“Not anyone you’d want to know now,” Evie said with some amusement. “Two vampires, both male, both very dead.”

 

“And the occupants of the suite nowhere to be found,” added Trapper.

 

“Evie looked at the teenagers. ” Do you know where Giles is? We found some information, and we think he may be able to help us with translation.”

 

Cordelia sighed in exasperation. “Well, if it’s dry, boring and Latin, he’s your man. Do you guys have any Diet Coke in your suite?”

 

Willow put a hand on Cordelia’s shoulder. “There is always room service.”

 

Cordelia brightened. “Oh, yeah! Room service! I could get all sorts of stuff.” She was off down the hall.

 

Xander looked at Willow. “You really needed to do that, didn’t you?”

 

Willow shrugged and smiled.

 

Buffy shook her head. “I think you’ve created a monster.” She looked back at the adults. “Look, I’ll go back to the room and send Giles down. Your suite, Nick?”

 

“Yes. That would be fine.”

 

“Cool. Then we’re gone. We’ll be down in a few.” They went off down the hall, and around the corner.

 

“Why don’t we cruise the hall once more, and then go back to the suite?” Kat was watching the way Buffy had gone. “I think I’d feel better if we checked out everything.”

 

Vachon agreed. “Who knows?” he smiled. “We might even run into Lux.”

 

“What a lovely thought!” Kat laughed and they began to walk quietly down the hall, looking for more clues, or in Micah’s case, someone to hurt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advice

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:30 a.m.

 

Jenny sat on a large, red velvet floor cushion. She had pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. Her eyes were closed as she remembered the past. Life was so simple; riding in the brightly colored caravan; dancing for the pennies that passing strangers threw at the Gypsy child. She frowned as a tear escaped her shuttered eyes. That was so long ago now, an entire lifetime away. It was a time of innocence, before she reached the age to receive her mission in life: follow Angelus, and ensure that happiness escaped him. One woman from every generation had been sacrificed to this calling, following the cursed vampire from country to country through the centuries. She alone had failed in her trust, allowing Angel to catch her in an unguarded moment.

 

‘Well,’ she thought to herself, ‘this will be remedied very soon.’ She came out of her light trance at the sound of a knock on the door. She rose gracefully to her feet and glided to answer it. An elderly woman stood in the hall.

 

Jenny bowed and waved her into the suite. “Enter, wise one, of your own free will and be welcome at my fire.”

 

Sonja walked in and beamed at Jenny. She reached to touch her face. “Ah, how well you know the words, moya droga.” She studied Jenny for a moment, looking deeply into the young woman’s eyes. “You look like a Kalderash.”

 

Jenny smiled back and ducked her head shyly. “You favor me, little mother.” She motioned toward the one small loveseat. “Would you sit and take tea?”

 

“I would love to. It has been a long time since I spoke with anyone of the Blood.”

 

The time passed swiftly as Jenny told Sonja about Angel and what she was trying to accomplish. At the end of it, Sonja held Jenny’s hand in both of her own.

 

“I have what you need, my dear child. I would be honored to help you in your task.” She rose and looked at the tiny clock pendant that hung around her neck. “My shift starts soon, but I will bring everything to you at noon tomorrow.”

 

Jenny hugged the old woman as she escorted her to the door. “Thank you. But, don’t you need to sleep after your work?”

 

Sonja laughed as she walked out into the hall. “I’m an old woman. Time enough for sleep when I am dead.”

 

Jenny watched Sonja’s sprightly walk until the elderly gypsy vanished into the service elevator. Then, Jenny closed the door and leaned against it. By tomorrow night, Angel would have his soul back.

 

 

The Making of a Madman (Part 2)

Devin Saceur

September 6

Dunkin’ Donuts/Elysian Fields

12:35am

 

Hank had been his deliverer. He’d pulled Clint from the misery of his existence and given him a new life…one in which he would never feel fear.

 

And in return, he’d just sent the man to his final death.

 

But it was the way of things, Clint told himself as he collected his belongings from the table in that deathly quiet Dunkin Donuts and ordered his pack mates to “saddle up”. Hank had shown weakness. To the Sabbat, any sign of weakness was a harbinger of doom for the entire pack. Such frailty could not be tolerated in a leader.

 

“So what’s the deal, Clint? We goin’ on wit our work or what?”

 

“Damn right, we are. We gots sum people that need killin’ in that hotel. And I ain’t fer backin’ down fer nothin’! Let’s move!”

 

They did just that, each member infused with a new enthusiasm brought on by the ascension of Clint. They hooted and hollered their way out of the building and over to the Elysian Fields, where they prepared their weapons once again.

 

Clint looped a belt filled with shotgun shells around his shoulder and smiled. “If’n the ‘man of the house’ ain’t fer likin’ our entry, we’ll kill his ass and any of his own that say two fuggin’ words about it. Got it?”

 

They all agreed with an unintelligible grunt and proceeded into the building…

 

 

What Have I Done?

Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields parking garage

12:40am

 

“We should stay in the background for a while, Anna.”

 

“There is always a chance of us being found, even if we hide.”

 

“Oh, but out in the open…around Herr Knight and his pals…we have a better chance of being undetected, right?”

 

“That’s not what I mean. What I’m getting at is the concept of ‘safety in numbers’.”

 

“None of them trust me, my dear…in case you’ve forgotten. I’m little more than the unbalanced bloodsucker who ruined their library party. They wouldn’t draw a weapon in defense of me.”

 

“If they knew the story they might.”

 

Devin laughed then, but his tight stare revealed no hint of sincere amusement. The man was very worried, it seemed to her then in the low light of the parking garage. His eyes spoke volumes of emotion to her as she reached into the undercurrents of his thoughts for the first time in over a century.

 

She had vowed never again to scan his mind. Though she possessed the power to do so in an instant, she had always left his thoughts for him alone. Could it be any other way? Could she, with any justification, read the depths of his soul without violating the very elements that gave rise to her love for him? Should one ever know their lover completely…or is it the hidden development and continuously unfolding complexity of another’s being that births an enduring passion from the embers of the initial blaze?

 

She had loved him since that evening in August of 1867, when they exchanged silent and yet knowing glances near the shores of the Danube. They recognized each other as vampires then, standing only fifty feet apart as they enjoyed the gentle breeze and night air that imbibed the spirit with the capriciousness and childlike grace of late summer.

 

But it was so much more than that, she remembered clearly. The weight of their first glance had removed any option of simply walking away into the night. Their recognition of each other went beyond a mere acknowledgment between immortal kindred. They had seen into and through each other in the span of a second…and had found a connection beyond triviality or the worldly confines of flesh and blood.

 

She had known him in that moment, through his thoughts, but she had not known that level in him since. As she scanned him now, it was as though she suddenly saw him…below all the shallow masks of strength and cunning built over his years of turmoil…behind the outward presence of his being…far beneath the very skin that enclosed his ageless body like a stoic wall before a tempest.

 

In those moments, she knew him like never before. And though it pained her to have committed the act, the understanding gathered from her telepathic intrusions opened her eyes to the truth of the man she had spent countless nights with…

 

He was frightened.

 

Had the fear been born of a need to preserve himself, she would have understood and let it pass with that. But the terror that gripped Devin had little to do with him at all. In its raw simplicity, he feared for her injury or death in the approaching conflict. And as if in confirmation…as she tracked the slow passage of a tear down his face, she was nearly expelled from his mind by the force of the emotion.

 

This fear was common, almost instinctive to a mortal. But to a vampire…to the undead…and above all else, to a man of his callous and violent history…such concern seemed almost alien. To Anna, the man sitting across from her suddenly appeared more human than she had ever known him to be.

 

“I’m sure they would understand.”

 

“Understand what – that I murdered an elder vampire and consumed every drop of her blood.”

 

“In self‑defense…”

 

“One does not mutilate in self‑defense.”

 

“You were acting on instinct. There were five in the room who would have destroyed you. You had to act without the benefit of foresight. Though it may have been a particularly brutal solution you arrived at, it was ultimately in self‑preservation.”

 

“I’ve no doubt that you can view it in such a light, but I doubt that our friends will do so.”

 

“What is that supposed to mean? You believe me to be a barbarian ?”

 

He nearly choked on the words, not realizing that he’d spoken them until the insult was already done. “No, no. I simply meant that you are more accustomed to extreme acts than the others may be.”

 

“Mr. Knight is a cop, Devin. Think about it. He’s also a vampire. I’m sure he’s been around long enough to know the darker shades of kindred existence. If he judges you in the face of his own transgressions, then he is a hypocrite.”

 

“Fine. I’ll call them…for your sake. But I’m still of the opinion that this is a mistake.” He punched a series of numbers on the cellular then and waited.

 

The anxious voice of Jerome answered. “Elysian Fields…”

 

“Connect me with Detective Nicholas Knight and party, please.”

 

Jerome recognized Devin’s voice, but said nothing to acknowledge him or his request at first. He wasn’t entirely sure whether to be relieved or disappointed that the strange guest had been absent during the blast that obliterated his suite. After a few seconds of silence, he uttered “one moment.”

 

Shortly after, Nick’s voice greeted him. “Mr. Saceur. I believe we have some matters to discuss.”

 

“Yes, we do. However, for obvious reasons, I’d rather not do so over the phone. I’d also like to avoid your suite. Considering how easy it was for me to infiltrate the room and place surveillance devices…I am of the opinion that others have done so as well.”

 

“Fine. Then where do you want to meet?”

 

“Ask Jerome if there is a secure place where we can hold a meeting. For some reason, I trust that man.”

 

“Fine. Give me fifteen minutes.”

 

“Agreed.” He flicked the switch on the cellular and then reached across to place his hand on Anna’s shoulder. “I hope that you’re right in this.”

 

Against his instincts, Devin opened the door to the vehicle and prepared to head into the hotel.

 

 

 

 

Time to Dance

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:40 a.m.

 

Nick hung up the phone, and stood for a moment, thinking. They had no sooner gotten back to the suite than the phone began to ring insistently. Nick had taken the call, and promptly made another one. He turned to the questioning faces gathered around him.

 

“That was Devin. He wants to meet and discuss the little problem with his suite.” He chuckled. “He certainly is a magnet for trouble.”

 

“So, is he coming up?” Schanke was still sitting in the recliner where they’d left him.

 

“No. He wants Jerome to set up somewhere more secure.” Nick looked around the room with a frown. “Considering how easy it was for him to bug the room, I’m inclined to agree.”

 

“Is there such a place?” Micah was restive, clutching his sword and still looking for an enemy to smite.

 

“Actually, there are two of them, according to Jerome.” Nick moved off toward the fridge for a drink. “One is called the Vault, and it was built by the owner.”

 

“Jonas,” Micah offered.

 

Nick found the vintage he was looking for and poured a glass. “The other one is newer. Jerome added it after the massacre. Since he’s the only one that knows about it, surveillance would be difficult to achieve. That’s the one we’ll use.” He tossed off his drink and set the empty glass down. “If anyone needs fortification before we go, now’s the time. We’ll be meeting him down there in a few minutes.”

 

The phone rang again. Trapper answered it, turning noticeably paler as she listened to the caller. “Just a moment, Jerome.” She placed her hand over the mouthpiece. “Remember the two employees that mentioned something about hillbilly vampires a while ago?”

 

Nick nodded. “Yes. I assumed that was a false alarm.”

 

Trapper held the phone out to him. “Talk to Jerome. It seems that they’re just outside the main door; and they’re looking for blood.” She paused for a moment. “Ours.”

 

 

The Old “Two‑Step”

Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:45am

 

“Such wondrous mahogany sculpting, wouldn’t you say?” Devin seemed transfixed on the moulding in the parking garage elevator as it slowly ascended to the lobby. He traced the curves with his index finger and pointed out various elements of Victorian styling to Anna, who seemed wholly uninterested.

 

“Please be serious, Devin. We can discuss at great length your infatuation with period art when we’re not being hunted by highly trained assassins.”

 

“As the door opens, walk out as casually as possible and then try to act surprised.”

 

“What?”

 

“There is a group of men up there in the lobby.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“I can hear them.”

 

Anna listened closely for a second before shrugging her shoulders. “I’ll take your word for it. You’ve always had better hearing than I.”

 

“They’re aggressive‑sounding. Be prepared for anything.”

 

“What are you going to do?”

 

“A bit of shadow play.” As he finished, the elevator door opened and Devin melded with a shadow thrown by the light from the lobby. Effectively, he disappeared from sight, leaving Anna momentarily off‑balance.

 

But the sense of shock became even worse as she found herself targeted by a host of men in the lobby, each carrying their own special brand of firearm. The man in the foreground shouted “git outta the el’vater and put yer hands up, bitch!”

 

“Whoaaa! Sure thing,” was all she could manage as she stepped out into the lobby and found herself in the midst of the very angry ‑ and quite odorous ‑ men. Though she knew that Devin was also somewhere in the lobby, she felt no small degree of annoyance at what seemed to be his carelessness in dealing with this situation. Damn him, she thought to herself as one of the foul creatures approached her…he’d better have a plan.

 

“Ooooh, mama…” Bertram nearly fell over at the sight of Anna as he neared her. Those shapely thighs, large and yet firm breasts, and the beautifully sculpted abs which could be seen through the light black lace that barely covered her torso. “You comin’ home wit me, slut.”

 

Clint wasn’t overly amused by the display. “You can get ‘er later, Bert. We gots business ta take care of.”

 

The man looked her over for a moment longer, before pulling a wrap of nylon rope from his jacket. “This one’s the kind to run. I better tie her up and take her along.”

 

But as he readied the rope, Anna pulled her Guhkri knife from its sheath on her back and quickly rammed the blade into Bertram’s chest. The wickedly curved steel cleaved through the man’s sternum and lodged in the center of his trachea, instantly filling his lungs with blood.

 

Bertram had not used his lungs in decades. Nevertheless, he sucked in reflexively, and found the intake of air drowned by the gurgling of blood as it filled his entire chest cavity. He wanted to howl in pain, but all that surfaced was a deluge of near‑black vitae, shot forth in a geyser that painted the nearby walls as well as the woman who had been his demise.

 

As Anna pulled the blade free, she was not at all surprised to see a neat line slice across Bertram’s throat just before his head flew off in an angle towards the front desk. She knew that Devin was there the entire time…she just wasn’t sure how he would make his entrance.

 

Apparently, Clint and his boys hadn’t been ready either. As they tried to get their bearings on the rapidly unfolding situation, all they could make out was the form of a man as he rushed past them on his way to the stairs. “Get that sum bitch!!!” Clint yelled as he opened fire with his shotgun. Each of the men followed suit…practically ignoring the woman standing across from them with a large, angry‑looking blade in her hands.

 

Jerome nearly wet himself as two consecutive slug rounds shattered the desk before him. Needing no further persuasion, the man dove to the ground and reached for the twelve‑gauge beneath the counter. He didn’t want to get involved, but if one of those bastards came over his counter flashing the trademark “Mason‑Dixon Grin” at him, he’d be filling someone’s ass with lead in a big hurry!

 

The ruckus was about to upgrade into the higher ranges of absolute chaos when the elevator chime suddenly sounded off. The doors opened a second later, and out of the lift came another group, bearing weapons of their own and looking more than ready to dish out a bona fide ass‑whipping…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a Wanderer

by Sukh

September 6

The woods

12:50 a.m.

 

Kendra watched Spike as he stood and paced outside the entrance of the cave.  She crept forward, step by  step, until she was a couple of feet away.

 

“Maybe I can help.”  A tallish man with short hair and a trench coat, popped out from behind a tree.  Kendra reacted without thinking, lashing out with the stake in her hand.

 

“Maybe not.”  Methos deflected the blow with his forearm and grabbed her, pinning her to a tree.  “Now who are you, young lady and why are you wandering the woods at this hour?”

 

“And who are you?”  The girl spit at him.

 

“I am Adam Pierson, and I am looking for Joe Dawson.”

 

“I am Kendra the vampire slayer.”  He released her and she turned to look at him.  “And Joe is not here.  He is in town, with the handsome immortal.”

 

“And him?”  Methos pointed to Spike.  Spike had frozen like a wary deer and was approaching.

 

“He is a vampire.”  Kendra motioned for Methos to fade into the brush.  “And I need to catch him and bring him to the hotel for Buffy’s watcher.”

 

“Buffy’s watcher?”  Methos frowned.  Another division of the Watcher organization.

 

“Mr. Giles.”

 

“Rupert Giles?”  He knew him from a brief stay at Oxford.  The young man had been unhappy about taking on his destiny.  “I’d be happy to help.”  Then he pulled out his sword and vanished.

 

Spike had heard voices, so he went to see whom was invading his territory, or worse yet, seen him walk.  He had been saving the walking for the right moment to catch Angelus off guard and hurt the man for stealing his Dru.  And the stunt with the vampire bird, dropping her in the lake.  Angelus was getting more frightening each day, with the erratic behavior.  He stopped stock still as he felt a cold steel blade at his neck.

 

“I think someone I know wants to talk to you,” Methos suggested, as he held the sword at Spike’s throat.

 

Kendra appeared in his line of vision.  “Come wit’ us.”

 

 

Grave Consequences

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

12:55am

 

After receiving the call from Jerome, the room had been galvanized into action. Kat and Vachon raced down to their suite for their weaponry. Ricze followed suit. Evie pulled out her trusty Sig Hauer P229SL. She’d bought the .357 conversion kit for it after their last trip to Toronto. What she had now was a 12 shot, ornately engraved, unblacked double‑action death dealer, full of silver Talon custom loads. She checked it and made sure she had the extra magazines, just in case.

 

“Jesus, Evie!” Schanke sputtered. “What are you doing with that? Were you expecting to go elephant hunting?”

 

 

“Girl’s got to be prepared, Donnie‑boy,” Evie replied with a grim smile.

 

Trapper made sure that her Barnett Nitro Pistol Crossbow was in good working order. It was a fairly light weapon, but she knew that she had “other” weapons she could use. She grabbed a handful of double fletch arrows with silver heads and stuffed them into the breast pocket of her motorcycle jacket.

 

Nick looked over at Duncan, who was polishing his sword as he waited. “Mac?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Would you mind staying here with Sukh and Kay? I really don’t want them in the middle of this.”

 

Duncan smiled broadly and placed his sword on the coffee table. “It would indeed be a pleasure, Nick.” He placed an arm around each of the ladies and pulled them closer. “I’m sure we can keep ourselves amused ’til you return.”

 

“No doubt,” Nick answered.

 

Ricze had returned with an incredible amount of ordinance, most of it illegal, from the look of it.

 

“I take it you brought this along on your jet?” Nick said with crossed arms and a wry grin.

 

“Yes,” Ricze shrugged. “I thought it might be necessary to have the firepower.”

 

“Then we should go.” Nick stalked out the door and into the hall.

 

The rest of them followed suit. Micah’s sword gleamed in the light from the wall sconces.

 

Kat and Vachon met them at the elevator, and they rode down together to meet whatever it was that awaited them in the lobby.

 

The elevator doors opened on a scene straight from the Ninth Ring of Hell. Blood and black ichor dripped from every surface near the elevator. A large pool of foul smelling blood spread across the lovely marble floor, and in the middle of it lay a headless body, still twitching in its death agonies. Blood spatters marked the trajectory the head had taken back toward the front desk, which had a couple of nasty bullet holes in it.

 

Anna stood alone in the middle of the room, drenched in gore from head to toe. She was poised for attack, and held a wicked blade in her bloody hand.

 

Devin was nowhere to be seen, but from the sound of the howling mob, he had made for the stairs.

 

As the hunting party exited the elevator, the angry Sabbat pack took notice of the new arrivals.

 

“Well shit!” Clint crowed, as he looked them over. “What’ve we got here? Are y’all fresh meat?”

 

The rest of the odiferous lot guffawed over the remark and gazed hungrily at the warriors.

 

Lenny was the first one stupid enough to approach them. He began sauntering toward Evie, his hands outstretched. His breath was the fetid stench of a cesspool as he spoke. “Aren’t you a honey. Whyn’t you jes’ come over hyar and keep me comp’ny girl? “h kin’ tell, you ain’t no vamp. Yer blood smells too sweet.”

 

Evie’s answer was the roar of her gun as it fired a shot straight into his forehead. It was actually quite a neat, tidy hole in the front. Lenny had time to blink before his brains exited in a rush from the gaping wound in the back of his head.

 

“First blood, Evie,” Trapper said as she cocked her crossbow. “Nice shot.” She fired and caught Luther in the throat.

 

He choked on the blood that came pouring out of his mouth and grabbed at the arrow that had bisected his Adam’s apple. Trapper quickly fired off three more arrows, catching him in the eyes and mouth. Micah strode forward as Lenny fell to his knees and swiftly sliced off his head with one clean blow.

 

After that, the mayhem was swift, bloody and deadly. The Sabbat crew fell one by one before the onslaught of the storm. Kat was taking particular delight in pulling Gus’ heart out as Vachon held the struggling vampire. As Gus fell to the blood‑slicked floor, Javier wiped his hands on his jeans in disgust.

 

“These pigs are filthy,” he muttered.

 

Clint was backing away toward the door as Trapper noticed him. He’d lost his weapon in the melee and was looking for a quick exit.

 

“Not so fast, bucko,” she growled as she stepped to face him. She dropped her crossbow into the harness across her back and looked at him as she lowered her glasses.

 

Clint saw that she was weaponless, and his face split into a wide grin. “Well, darlin’, whut ‘r ya aimin’ t’ do with no little toy t’ even th’ odds?” He began to stalk forward with an anticipatory leer. “Ya want me?” He grabbed his crotch as he looked her over. “Mmm. “h cud show ya a real good tahm.”

 

Trapper cocked her head for a moment, making sure that he stood directly before the doors. Then she smiled and took a deep breath. Her eyes turned up in their sockets, leaving only white in their place.

 

Evie turned suddenly, having heard the breath. “Shit! Everybody down!” she screamed.

 

Clint said, “Huh?”

 

Trapper stretched her arms toward the vampire and began to sing in a high‑pitched wail. Clint watched in amazement as his flesh began to shred from his bones. Fortunately, his screams were drowned out by the all‑consuming banshee howl. His organs exploded one by one into gobbets of flesh and blood that flew out the shattered door. Still she came on, as his skull fractured and his eyes popped and oozed down his ruined face. His brains poured out his ears, his mouth; every handy orifice was full of gore.

 

When she stopped, there was only a heap of bones and fluid amidst the bloody scraps of clothing. A final word wisped up from what was left of Clint, as his spirit finally departed. They told her later that it was impossible, but Trapper swore that she heard it.

 

“Sheeeit.”

 

 

Requiem

by Sukh

September 6

Empty park near a glass high rise

12:58 a.m.

 

LaCroix watched her as she poured the flammable liquid over the remains of her pet.  Her mouth was drawn into a tight line of grief.  Her braids hung around her head like small lapis tipped tears.  She had not shed any pink tinged tears yet, she was like him, one to bury the pain in deep where it couldn’t surface.  She turned and nodded, and he lit the match and set it on the body, starting the pyre.  Angelique stood, alone and watched Lucius burn.  Cleo, an ebony statue next to her, bowed her magnificent head low between her shoulder blades and mourned the loss of a second mate in one year.

 

LaCroix slid up behind her, and slid his arms around her waist.  Angelique leaned back and watched the flames dance in the summer night air, and let the silent pink tinged tears fall.  They had both been through so much, the fever, losing Vlad.  Nick had lost Natalie to the Mountie, Jeanette was furious at Nick for bringing her back across and Vachon had barely escaped death at the hands of his demented Divia.  And then there had been that nightmare with August.

 

And her attraction to Giles.  That bothered him most of all, her being attracted to a mortal, bringing back painful memories of Fleur.  He had been longing for a mortal of hundreds of years, yet Angelique had never once used that information against him.  “Mea Culpa,” he whispered into her braids as the flames consumed Lucius.

 

Her body tightened and she hissed.  He looked across the pyre, and noticed a man; no a vampire, there was no heartbeat.  The creature was rubbing his hands together, his mirrored sunglasses reflecting a savage Angelique.

 

“Leave!”  She growled as she pulled out of LaCroix’s arms.

 

“And miss the barbecue?”  The punk laughed as Angelique circled around the pyre to face him.

 

Angelique felt the rage burning as she looked at the young childe.  He looked like a former bodybuilder, a huge Ankh was tattooed across his wide chest and tattooed snakes slithered up his arms.  “This is a private ceremony.”

 

“Not any more.”  The flames reflected off his mirrored sunglasses as he smirked a pointed arrogant tilt of the lips at her.

 

“Nice Ankh.”  He reached out and fingered it.  “I think it’d look really good on me.”  He started to yank it off her neck.

 

“This was a gift from my father, the Pharaoh.”  She crushed his hand as he struggled to get his hand out of her grip.  “You are not fit to look at it.”

 

She forced him to his knees and ripped off his shades.  He squinted from the flames light and looked up at her.  He saw Sekhmet, her mane whipped around by a sudden breeze, her feline eyes glowing with rage.  “Show proper homage to the Goddess.”

 

His eyes widened as she picked him up by the throat with a displeased laugh.  “No?  Then die.”  She ripped out his throat, his blood showered in her as she drank of his elixir.

 

LaCroix watched in awe as she drained him and threw his husk aside.  She looked so feline; Her fangs and eyes looked at him over the dying flames.  Then she was there, moving past him at the sounds of gunfire.

 

“It’s the hotel.”

 

They launched themselves to the sky.

 

 

Body Count

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:10am

 

Trapper swayed and dropped to her knees. It was always this way after using The Voice. She rubbed her eyes and looked wearily around the once‑elegant lobby. Blood dripped from the potted palms, the tables; even the overhead fans had been redecorated with ghastly paint. It washed over the floor in an obscene flood and combined with the other bodily fluids that had been spilled tonight to create an incredible stench. The bullet holes were merely an added reminder of the horrific melee.

 

She became aware of a gentle hand under her elbow, helping her to rise on wobbling legs. A very concerned Jerome helped her to a couch that had, miraculously, been spared the bloodbath.

 

“Are you all right?” he asked quietly.

 

Trapper nodded and managed a smile. “I’m fine, Jerome,” she said huskily as she patted his hand.

 

“I must say that you have a rather unique way of dealing with trouble,” he said with the ghost of a smile.

 

“Thank you. It does occasionally come in handy.”

 

Nick walked up to them and gazed down at the blonde, blood spattered woman. “You never cease to amaze me. I forgot about The Voice.”

 

Trapper grinned up at him from under her bangs. A thought struck her and she returned to seriousness. “The others?”

 

“All fine. We’re just cleaning up some of the…wreckage.” He turned to Jerome. “Just put this on the Foundation’s tab. We can certainly afford to take care of your cleanup expenses” Nick looked at the many bodies piled up, “as well as disposal costs.”

 

“Very good, Mr. Knight,” an astonished and grateful Jerome replied. “Thank you so much.”

 

Across the room, Anna was looking at her ruined clothing.

 

Kat glanced over. “You look like you could use something to change into.”

 

“Well, yes,” Anna said with a grimace. “I’ve just noticed that this seems to be drying, and it’s most uncomfortable.”

 

“I’m sure I have something that you can wear, until you can replace what was in the suite.”

 

“Thank you,” Anna quirked her mouth. “I had entirely forgotten that my wardrobe has been incinerated.”

 

Vachon peered around the room. “Where’s Devin?” he asked of Anna.

 

Anna shrugged. “Last time I saw him, he was headed for the stairs.”

 

“Saceur!” Nick shouted. “It’s time for that little chat!”

 

 

Out of the Line of Fire

by RavenKat

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:11 a.m.

 

Avoiding the numerous body parts strewn about the lobby, Vachon walked with her to the elevator.  Kat pushed the button then said to him lightly, “You can stay here.”

 

Her faithful escort remained.

 

“I’m just going upstairs to get some clothes,” she laughed.

 

Javier thought for a moment, eyeing her carefully.  “Okay,” he finally acquiesced, “be careful.”

 

“But of course,” she replied with a French accent and stepped into the waiting elevator.  Kat blew her worried lover a kiss as the doors slid quietly shut.

 

All around, polished brass reflected golden images of her.  She took stock as the bell softly chimed the passing floors.  Other than bloodied arms, she appeared untouched.  But, Kat wasn’t so sure. Had she just ripped out a vampire’s heart with her bare hands?!

 

 

Bummer . . .

By Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:12 a.m.

 

“Yoo‑hooooo!” came the call from the second‑story loft. “Could someone please come up here?”

 

After a few annoyed groans, Anna, Nick, and Vachon trotted up the stairs and found Devin. He was standing completely still in the middle of the loft that served as a second dining area. Protruding from him at various locations were long‑shafted arrows, some of which had passed almost completely through his body.

 

Anna stepped over to him, nearly tumbling into laughter. “You certainly know how to find trouble, don’t you? Come on . . . let’s go. I’ll pull those out for you. Nice and slow . . . ”

 

Devin smirked. “I’m afraid I can’t do that just yet, hon. You see, my foot has found its way onto a pressure‑sensitive mine.”

 

Anna looked down. “I see. You aren’t uncomfortable or anything, are you . . . standing like that, I mean?”

 

“Please. If you must know, this sucks! Why don’t you stand on this thing for a while and let me shoot some arrows into you?”

 

Nick came over to look more closely at the mine. Finding the item to be quite well placed, he rubbed his hands together and smiled. “Any idea who did this?”

 

“I didn’t recognize the face, but this is almost certainly the work of the Hand. Only they would be so comically twisted in their approach.”

 

Vachon piped in. “Aren’t you supposed to be an expert at this kind of thing? How did you, of all people, get caught in this situation?”

 

“Look, would everyone like a pizza while you’re finishing your ridicule session?! All I know is that, after relieving that fool hillbilly of his head, I ran up the stairs to avoid being shot to pieces. As I stepped into the open up here, I felt my foot come down on this pressure plate. Then, some nice gentleman comes out in a very classy Armani three‑piece and starts popping arrows into me. You know . . . a game, to see if I would move.”

 

“But when the singing started, he bolted from here in a hurry. Now are you going to help, or stand there throwing wisecracks at me?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know.” Nick stood and scratched his chin as if in contemplation. “How fast can you run?”

 

“I’ve already thought of that, detective. I’m not sure if I’m fast enough.”

 

“Now’s a good time to find out, because there’s no way we’re going to disarm that thing. It’s definitely state‑of‑the‑art.”

 

“Figures! They couldn’t just use dime‑store shit on me . . . ” a nervous grin cut across Devin’s face as he tugged another arrow from his leg.  “All right. I’ll meet you downstairs.”

 

“Try not to land too hard.”

 

Anna walked slowly over to him as he pulled yet another shaft from his shoulder. “Dev . . . I just wanted you to know. If you die, please go to the afterworld knowing that I love you very much. I always will.”

 

“I don’t suppose you’d like to go with me then, sweetums . . . hmmm? Romeo and Juliet at the altar?”

 

“No, I don’t think so. There’s nothing poetic about this situation.  Melodramatic . . . maybe. But definitely not poetic.”

 

He held back the rising laugh, knowing that any excessive movement could send him through the roof. “Thanks, Ann. Now get out of here. I’d rather just get this over, one way or another.”

 

Following a light kiss, she turned and hastily exited the loft. As she reached the lower level, she found Nick and the others already moving to a more secure location.

 

Trying to remain as light‑hearted as possible, Devin whistled while he completed the task of removing the arrows from his body and healing himself slowly through his blood. As he dropped the last of them to the ground, he gazed longingly toward the railing at the edge of the loft. “Just a few feet . . . five . . . six maybe. Damn! Who am I kidding?” The railing sat exactly twenty‑six feet from his position . . .

 

“Just do it already, man!” Javier seemed to be enjoying the man’s predicament just a bit too much. A huge smile lit up his face. “Think of Jesse Owens in the ’36 Olympics!”

 

As he finished his jibe, the loft exploded into a cloud of flame. From the blast came Devin’s distinct form, hurled through the air and into the far wall from the progressive shockwave. Upon collision with the upper wall, he immediately dropped down and into a table filled with tourism brochures. Under the force of his landing, the table split into several pieces, depositing the vampire onto the floor in a heap. “Owww!”

 

Anna rushed over to him as the wave of fire subsided. Plaster and wood confetti slowly rained to the ground all over the lobby. “Are you all right?”

 

As he lifted his head to her, his eyes showed the deepest shade of green. “I need blood . . . now!”

 

Without a second thought, she exposed her neck for him, leaning in tight against his chest as he buried his fangs deep beneath her skin. He drew hard from her, pulling her even closer as the swell of vitae passed into him and healed his wounds. After a moment longer, he tore himself away, though the inner beast demanded so much more. If not for his years spent developing control, he would have extinguished her in that instant.

 

The next thing Devin saw as he finished healing himself was the assembled party before him . . . staring down at him. Nick extended his hand.  “We were going to have a chat, yes?”

 

“Would you mind if I take a minute to relax first? I’ve been having a rough evening, in case you haven’t noticed. I need some clothes to change into . . . ” his eyes shifted to Anna, who still wore a shiny, dried coat of blackish blood. “Apparently, you could use some freshening up as well. Nice thing you did with the blade, by the way. Like a fatal Heimlich Maneuver. For a second there, I thought that redneck would jettison a pork chop from his mouth.”

 

Jerome stood across the room, but he heard every word. “Oh, thank you for that wonderful imagery, Mr. Saceur. Remind me never to allow you access to this hotel in the future.”

 

 

Deal With It

by RavenKat

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:15 a.m.

 

Picking through a closet full of nothing but black clothes might have driven somebody else crazy, but Kat knew each and every piece by its shade and texture.  As her hands worked at grabbing and folding, her mind replayed the battle downstairs.

 

A lightweight pullover and leggings seemed appropriate ‑‑ her nails easily tore into the flesh of his chest ‑- Anna was shorter, this outfit will look natural as oversized ‑‑ the long‑dead heart glistened, covered in gore.

 

Kat grunted angrily and slammed the suite door.  “I’m a vampire for christssakes!” she yelled to the empty hallway, “Get over it!”

 

The hard part about gutting a complete stranger was not the gratuitous and flagrant violence of it all, but that Kat had enjoyed it.  There had actually been a dreamlike moment when she had wanted to take a big juicy bite out of the hillbilly’s heart!

 

Kat shook her head, trying to clear it of the ancient lust.  Yes, she drank blood to survive. Yes, she had feasted off thousands in her lifetime…but she had never killed a vampire and she hadn’t relished the beauty of death for a long, long time.

 

Reaching out to open the Louis XIV door, Kat realized she hadn’t washed the blood off of her forearms yet.  She planned on doing just that, first thing.  Stepping into the room, she heard laughter.  By the time she remembered who had been left behind it was too late.  Directly in front of her stood Duncan MacLeod in the process of pulling off his underwear.

 

“Mother of all creatures great and small ‑ NO!” she shrieked, causing the two fully clothed mortals to look around in shock.  Duncan immediately snatched his boxers back up and sat down.

 

“I’m blind! I’m blind!” Kat continued as she raced to the nearest bedroom, her hands covering her eyes.

 

 

Milk Carton Blues

by Sukh

September 6

Caves/Elysian Fields

MUCH EARLIER

Missy woke up on a world of pain.  Her jaw ached where Angelus had punched her jaw, the bone was mending slowly.

 

“Oh look a pretty toy.”  Some skinny nutcase was circling her, a maniacal gleam in her dark eyes.  The vampire reached for Missy and Missy jumped back, scooting her chair back.  She started to try to break the chains.  Silver, bad news.  The nutcase was pouting and shaking.  “She isn’t playing nice Angel.”

 

“Dru, sweetie, let me help.”  Angel squatted down in front of Missy and ran one hand up her leg.  “My friend Dru wants a playmate.”  He squeezed the kneecap until it popped.  “I think you can be more sociable than this.”

 

Dru leaned in and sniffed Missy’s blood crusted hair.  “I think she needs a bath.”

 

“Yep.”  Angel picked her up, chair and all and started to walk out of the cavern.  A blonde guy in a wheelchair rolled up.

 

“Where’d you get the bird?”  He looked at Missy and grimaced.  “And how’d she get so nasty?”

 

“The Sabbat had a horse race in the mall tonight.”  Angel moved toward an underground lake.  The water was deep endless blue, the blue of bottomless lakes.  Angel unchained her and as she tried to flee he shoved her into the lake.  Then he hit Send on the cell phone.

 

“Ricze Vladmire?”  He smiled.  “Finders keepers.  I hope she can swim.”  He shoved Missy back in as she crawled out of the lake, and she fell in with a scream.

 

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

Nick’s suite 1:20 am

 

“Uno!”  Sukh shouted as the weary gunfighters straggled into the suite.  Nick had Devin in front of him.  The rest were straggling along behind Devin.

 

Nick grinned at the sight of the players.  ‘“And nobody’s naked.  I am impressed with your gallantry Duncan.”

 

Duncan, held a full hand of very high point cards.  “Don’t be.  It was strip Uno.”  He looked to the pile of clothes at Sukh’s feet.

 

Vachon laughed at that.  “That explains why you are down to the skivvies.”

 

“Like I need to play cards to get him naked.”  She laughed as she tossed Duncan’s clothes at him.

 

Duncan glared at Vachon and laid his cards on the table.  “You guys look like Kay and Sukh did last night.”  He counted heads.  “I’d hate to see the losers.”  He caught the clothes Sukh tossed and pulled on his black jeans.

 

“Little bloody spots, all of them.”  Trapper was making her wobbly way to the coffee supplies.

 

Ricze laid his firearms on the bar and took off his gore splattered long coat.  “I’m going to change then I’m going to look for Missy.”

 

A cell phone rang, and hands dived into coats.  Ricze frowned.  “Mine.  Missy?” he growled into the phone.

 

Ricze went extra pale.  “If you harm one hair on her head, I will tear you apart with my bare hands.”  His eyes turned gold as he crushed the phone in his hand.  “They have Missy.”  He turned and looked at Buffy.  “Angel has my protégée, and I heard her scream in the background.”

 

 

Uno

by Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:25 a.m.

 

“Uno!” Sukh shouted as the weary gunfighters straggled into the suite. Nick had Devin in front of him, the rest were straggling along behind.

 

Anna had moved off to find Kat and some new clothes and Duncan sat before the crowd…barely wearing any. The general mood remained tense as everyone tried to clear their heads of the bloodbath in the lobby.

 

After a moment of chatting with Duncan, Nick not-so-gently-nudged Devin towards one of the suite’s many chairs…away from the others. “What just happened down there?”

 

His first thought was to respond in some inane or arrogant manner. But things had already become too complicated. “I have no idea who those disgusting men were. Forgive the cliché, but perhaps they were just pawns in the little game that is apparently being played with me.”

 

“Game?”

 

“Yeah. My former associates would like me to be no more than a bad memory. The gentleman who filled me with arrows up in the loft was just the beginning.”

 

Nick nearly laughed. “I can in some ways empathize with them. But why…exactly?”

 

“I killed one of theirs a few years ago. An elder.”

 

Nick knew some of the intrigues associated with the various vampiric sects. But the Hand, with its shady, depraved murderers and their twisted ideologies was beyond mystery to him. Only one item was clear: a vampire may not kill their own kind…and most certainly not an elder. “You did what?”

 

“Don’t feign surprise, detective. Contrary to the laws set to govern our kind, vampires kill one another at much more regular intervals than you might wish to acknowledge. For nearly five hundred years a veritable jihad has been raging in our quaint little subculture that would rival the bloodiest mortal conflicts. Sadly, I don’t think it will end anytime soon.”

 

Vachon stepped forward, a stern look cutting across his face like a wound refusing to heal. “Sadly?! Devin, you are as guilty as any…perhaps even more so! You have been involved in this for nearly ALL of those five hundred years! Tell me you haven’t killed simply to secure your ancient ass from the tides of change! That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? It’s about fear and ennui in the face of the unbearable millennia.”

 

“YES!!” Devin’s face flushed with blood as his eyes shifted to a deep green. A tear slid down his face in the only response he could manage. He struggled to compose himself as the memories flooded into his consciousness, nearly severing his grip on the present. “It is not only the younger ones who suffer for our paranoia. Elders kill each other, if for no other reason than the terrible need to rejuvenate our souls. We are so detached from the act that it literally means nothing to us. All that matters is our continued survival.

 

“None of you will understand this like the immortals among you.”

 

Duncan looked up from his cards, which he’d been studying just a bit too intently. He said nothing, but the look on his face spoke volumes.

 

Javier kept his gaze on Devin, who appeared to be regaining his composure slowly. “I’m sure we all know the reasons, though they cannot truly be justified. But the question remains…what does this have to do with us?”

 

“Well…you’ve undoubtedly been seen in my company. This could easily make all of you targets.”

 

“Bring ’em on.”

 

“I don’t think you understand, Javier. My former associates are not as grossly incompetent as I have been lately. They will not come at you head‑on…”

 

There was a flurry of activity across the room as Ricze crushed his cell phone, saying “they have Missy. Angel has my protégée, and I heard her scream in the background.” The room became a bustling site as the man fumed.

 

Nick stood, knowing that there were many problems to be dealt with this evening. “So in a nutshell, what are we going to do?”

 

Devin appeared uncertain. “The only thing I can say is that we should get to Hanna as soon as possible. If we eliminate August, we will have gone a long way towards extracting ourselves from the huge mire we’re in. Then we can deal with the other issues one at a time?”

 

“Not much of a plan, considering how elusive August has been so far. But I guess there aren’t many other options.”

 

Devin grinned slightly, though he felt anything but relief. “True. Besides, I’d like to have that old midget around again. I’ve missed her.”

 

 

Revenge Refined

By Trapper

September 6

A secluded chalet just outside of New Salem

1:25 am

 

The blackness of the night seeped in the window and seemed to permeate the room.  The sheer ivory curtains moved silently in the light breeze.  Monique had not moved from her position.  She was an alabaster statue staring out into the ink‑dark landscape.  The moonlight gleamed in her obsidian eyes, and a slight smile curled the edges of her blood‑red lips.

 

Algernon entered the room and stood nervously, shifting from foot to foot. He hesitated to disturb her thoughts at any time, but this was bad news. Let’s just say that her temper could be rather explosive.

 

“Ahem,” he cleared his throat.

 

The statue did not move.

 

“Miss Monique?” he began quietly.

 

A flicker of movement showed in her eyes. She blinked. “Yes, Algernon?” she said in a voice so soft it might have been only in his mind.

 

“I have some news about Mr. Saceur.”

 

“Do you?” The statue took a deep breath, “I love the night, Algernon. Don’t you?” She gestured at the window with one pale hand. “The darkness hides everything. Every lustful thought, each murderous intent is cloaked in ebony.” She turned the brilliance of her gaze upon her hapless servant. “What about Devin?”

 

“Well, mademoiselle,” he loosened the collar of his shirt with a sweating finger. It had become suddenly stifling in the room. “It seems that there was an explosion in his suite this evening.”

 

She raised an eyebrow.

 

“Apparently, neither he or his companion were there at the time, but two vampires were caught in the blast.”

 

“Interesting. But, if he wasn’t involved, what does it matter?”

 

“There’s more, Miss Monique.” Algernon began to fidget. He hated being the bearer of ill tidings. Miss Monique had a nasty habit of killing the messengers of this sort of news.

 

Her eyes opened a little wider and she pinned him in place with her stare, rather like one would attach a butterfly to a display board.

 

“A band of Sabbat ruffians invaded the hotel, with the intention of killing Mr. Saceur.” He was trying very hard not to stammer.

 

She blinked. “And?”

 

“They were unsuccessful.”

 

“Can we question them to find out who sent them?”

 

Algernon shook his head rapidly. It made him look like a high‑strung rabbit. “No. They’re all dead, I’m afraid.”

 

Monique smiled as she stepped over to the sideboard. “Was Devin responsible?”

 

“Actually, it appears that Mr. Saceur has some friends who dispatched the would‑be assassins.”

 

She spoke as she poured herself a drink. “Friends,” she mused, almost to herself. “They must not know him very well.” She glided to a chair by the window and sat down with her glass. Monique looked into the dark red contents as if scrying the future in the ruby depths. “What else, Algernon?”

 

He managed to stay reasonably calm while he explained the Hand operative’s attempt on Devin’s life. Having finished his narrative, Algernon studied Monique’s face, trying to gauge her reaction.

 

She slowly raised the glass to her mouth and drained it. When she turned back to him, her eyes were bright yellow and the pupils had shrunk to tiny jet chips. “Phone,” she said.

 

Algernon rushed to comply. She punched the number in without looking, and waited until the connection was made.

 

A torrent of French cursing ripped into the phone. Monique allowed no response to interrupt her tirade. “Do you understand me, cochon? I will not have anyone else interfering with my plans! I thought I had made it quite clear before I left. The next agent I encounter will be sent back to you in pieces, and then I will come and tear your heart out myself. Now, will we have any further problems? Good. Adieu.”

 

She slammed the phone down and looked at Algernon. “I think we’ve straightened things out.” She stood. “I’m going to get some air.” The room shimmered with her passing as she vanished out the window.

 

Algernon breathed deeply and staggered to the door. “I’m getting too old for this,” he muttered as he left her room.

 

 

Dark Moments

by Sukh

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:25 a.m.

 

“My, my, we seemed to have missed all the fun,” Angelique stopped in the lobby and savored the scent of blood in the air.  The scent was intoxicating, and she bent over to touch a drying blood spot.  She brought the crimson smeared finger to her mouth and licked, the same slow tasting that LaCroix used to drive her into a frenzy.  It tasted so dark and sweet, this vitae, and she wanted more.

 

She turned and looked at LaCroix, one finger still in her mouth and smiled.  Then she walked to the elevators.  He followed fascinated, by her wanting to see what she was leading up to.  In the elevator, she pinned him to the wall, her mouth fusing to his, bringing on his bloodlust, teasing and tormenting him with the promise of pleasures to follow.

 

In the suite, Cleo waited.  Something was wrong, very wrong with her mistress and she was pacing, waiting.

 

The door opened, and LaCroix almost dropped Angelique in astonishment.  Cleo was there, growling.  Not at him, at her.

 

Angelique growled back, slipping out of LaCroix’s arms and circled her pet.  They charged at each other and Cleo slowly drove Angelique back toward the bedroom.  Angelique sprang, catching Cleo and pinning her on the ground.  LaCroix watched in horror as she ripped open the throat of her trusted companion and feasted.

 

“Angelique!”  LaCroix shouted, fear chilling his even cold blood even more.  She was acting like Divia, insane and dangerous.  “You are killing her.”

 

“So?”  She looked up, her chin dripping blood and stood.  “I thought you like me like this.”  She moved closer to him.  “Feral and dangerous.”

 

“Yes,” he watched her, his limbs curiously frozen between flight and attraction.  “But‑‑”

 

“But nothing, you love me when I’m on a rampage.”  She pulled off the top of her dress and threw it down.  She smeared Cleo’s blood on her dark skin, over her breasts, tweaking her nipples and offering the crimson tips to him.  “Come taste the blood of battle General.”

 

He stepped closer, one hesitant step at a time until he was in her arms.

 

“See, you can’t resist.”  Then she lowered her head to tear out his throat.

 

He managed to push out of her deadly grip, looking for a way to restrain her.  The discarded stake from Lux’s attack still lay on the floor.  He dived for it as she shrieked and jumped for him, rolling in pinning her to the floor in one motion.

 

“I’m sorry my dark Venus,” He tried to stroke her face and she snapped at him like a ravening dog.  Then he headed to Nick’s suite.

 

She had gone mad, and he needed to find out how to get her back.

 

Angelique lay on the floor, the Setite poison thrumming through her, clawing at the stake in her sternum.

 

 

Surprise!

By Sukh

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:30 a.m.

 

Oz tossed his keys to the somewhat less than thrilled valet.  “The luggage goes wherever I end up.”  He leaned over and whispered, “Be very careful, it could detonate if you aren’t gentle.”  He grinned at the paling face of the valet and sauntered into a charnel house.

 

“Holy Sh . . . ” his voice faded at the sight of half a dozen cleaning types frantically trying to get blood out of the walls, ceilings, and the very old carpet.  One less turn-of-the-century tapestry carpet for Sotheby’s.

 

Buffy was good, but she couldn’t have done all this by herself.  No way.  He had a sudden pressing urge to find Willow and check her for damage.

 

“May I help you?”  The night guy was looking at his lobby in the sad way people look at burned out houses after fires.

 

“I need to find Willow Rosenberg.”

 

“Do you know which party she might be with?”  The man moved in front of his terminal and began to type.

 

“Buffy Summers and company.”

 

Jerome frowned.  “Yes.  The British museum suite. Shall I call for you?”

 

“Nah. I want to Surprise her.”  Oz turned as Kendra, the other slayer, and a tall dark-haired guy walked in.  They had Spike, and the guy holding a wicked looking sword to the blond vampire’s neck.

 

“They could have used the service entrance.”  Jerome muttered and Oz fell into pace with the new arrivals.

 

“Hey!”

 

Kendra went into defense mode, then relaxed.  “It is you.”

 

“Are you going to where Willow might be?”

 

“Yes, Wanta come along?”  Kendra punched a button on the elevator.  “This here is Adam Pierson.  He is a Watcher.”

 

“Hi, Mr. Pierson.  Oz.”  Oz offered a hand, then withdrew when he realized the man had no free hands.

 

Methos smiled.  “Call me Adam.  I feel so old when you call me mister.”

 

“Sure.”  They all stepped into the elevator.

 

 

Neatening Up

By RavenKat

September 6

Schanke’s Bathroom

1:35 a.m.

 

It felt as if she was somehow defiling the ornate marble sink with her bloody hands.  Scrubbing at herself with a tiny soap in the shape of a sun, she watched the cloudy water swirl away down the drain.  Kat found the beauty and opulence of the bathroom comforting.  In surroundings like these it was easy to ignore the outside world. At least for a while.

 

As Kat admired the gilt‑edged towel on which she dried her hands, the door to Schanke’s suite opened and closed.  Anna turned the corner and stood in the doorway.

 

“Well, you didn’t miss much,” she said sardonically.

 

Kat regarded the woman who was now covered with a light layer of plaster dust and responded, “I can see that.”

 

“I’ll leave you to your ablutions,” Kat said, easing past her, “I lay a couple of things on the bed.  If they’re not what you want, just let me know.”

 

Anna started the shower and called out, “Thanks.  I really appreciate this.”

 

Slipping out into the main room, Kat heard a male voice yell, “Missy!” When Ricze explained that his companion had been kidnapped, Kat relaxed her battle stance a little.  Better there than here, she thought caustically.

 

Across the room, Duncan MacLeod, fully dressed, was flirting with a couple of buxom mortals.  Not able to resist such an opportunity, Kat sauntered over and in a bimbo’s baby voice, said, “Oooooh, Mr. MacLeod, these ladies are soooo lucky to have such a handsome man protecting them.”

 

The longhaired Scot raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms over his chest.  “You are lucky to have such a good-looking boy protecting you,” he smirked.

 

Kat laughed.  “Vachon is not a boy and he’s not protecting me,” she retorted, a hard edge to her voice.

 

“If you say so,” Duncan said lightly then turned to fix himself a drink.

 

His vampire nemesis leaned close to his ear and whispered, “Why don’t you get naked again, Dunce?  I didn’t get a good enough look at your sword . . . ”

 

Before Duncan could respond, a gut wrenching scream cut through the air.

 

 

This Debt is Paid

by HannaClay

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:40 a.m.

 

A torrent of vivid pain coursed through Angelique’s body.  The stake that protruded from her chest kept her pinned to the floor, which was all well and good for the shadowed figure that entered the room.

 

Cleo barely managed a weak hiss as the figure approached.  “Hush now,” it whispered, as the form placed a bowl within reach of the leopard.  Cleo caught the scent of fresh blood and began to lap slowly.

 

The figure crawled to the staked and poisoned Angelique, shaking its head.  “This is going to hurt me a lot more than you.  Not that you’ll mind anyway…”  There was a sharp snarl from behind when the figure leaned down and attached itself to Angelique’s stiff arm.

 

The figure pulled blood out of Angelique, as well, leeching the poison from her.  She should have known better, drinking the blood of a Setite.  The figure shook its head as it pulled away.  “Damned fool. You would have died for nothing.”

 

Weak, the figure almost dropped the rest of its precious cargo.  It pulled a bottle out of its coat, wedged the cork out with its teeth, and poured the contents down Angelique’s throat.

 

The bottle empty, the figure collapsed to the floor.  Someone else would have to pull the stake out.  She didn’t have anymore strength left to give….

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

 

Cash had slipped out of Nick’s room the moment he had realized Starr was gone.  Naturally, no one had noticed the absence of either of the two outcasts, which would have suited them fine.  Notice brings attention, and they had both had their share of attention recently.

 

He had ventured through some of the more familiar parts of the city, even tried dropping in on Marcus but found that the Nosferatu wasn’t seeing anyone.  Cash had shrugged and walked away.  Marcus had been too damaged by recent events to bother with him.  Besides, Cash could tell that he was hiding something.  Something Cash figured he was better off not knowing.

 

After a bit, he returned to the hotel to find the place a wreak.  Noting the damage, he thought of Trapper and what he had been

told of her Banshee‑like talents.  He was delighted to have missed it.

 

Jerome informed him that Starr had rushed up the side staircase roughly  half an hour ago.  Cash quickly followed the path

she had taken; It was fairly easy since he knew her scent so well.

 

One doors was partially open and Cash could smell fresh blood.  His stomach churned and his heart sank at the same time.

He knew who occupied this room.  He knew that Starr wouldn’t have put up a fight.  Not anymore.

 

He slowly stepped into the room, completely unprepared for what he saw: Angelique, lying staked on the floor, her face smeared in blood; a mangled figure lying almost on top of her, an empty bottle in its hand; and a wounded leopard who had, once its dish was empty, made a meal of the nearby headless corpse.

 

Cash sank to his knees without a sound.  Had he been able to think of how to respond, his body wouldn’t have been able to react to his demand.  He caught sight of the necklace lying nearby the corpse.  The one Hanna had given Starr so long ago, when they had all been dumped in 1920s Los Angeles.  The vial that had contained Jonas’ potent blood was empty as well.  She must have given it to Angelique…

 

Cash let out a scream, full of anger, terror and grief.  Those who had congregated into Nick’s room yet again all looked at each other, their hackles rising.

 

“Oh shit,” Schanke muttered, “now what?”

 

LaCroix was the first out of the room.  He had left Angelique staked.  Any fool that came across her would get what they deserved, but it would still be his responsibility that she came to no permanent harm.  The others close behind him, they entered Angelique’s suite.  Cash had been unprepared.  They where overwhelmed…

 

 

Under the Skin

by HannaClay

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:40 a.m.

 

Luckily for all those present in Angelique’s room, her wayward brother was off amusing his need to kill.  Sometimes he used his sword, but mostly his hands sufficed.  He needed to feel the life running out between his clenched fingers.  He needed to feel the pain he inflicted. He needed to quiet the voice inside his head.

 

“You are mine

You belong to me

From my wiles

You can never be free.”

 

He knew the voice.  Somewhere, in the back of his tormented soul, that voice ruled him.  Called to him.  Enjoyed every person that perished in his grasp, almost as if it fed on his rage.

 

“Your life is mine

To abuse as I will

Only to please me

Is why you must kill.”

 

He stared down into the lifeless eyes of the woman he had just murdered, the tattered shreds of her throat hanging loose around his fingers.  He dropped her suddenly and ran.  Ran as if the Devil himself was chasing him.

 

“You are what I chose

You act as I command

You live to serve

My every demand.”

 

He could hear the sound of rushing water nearby, and he plunged into the icy river, frantically trying to wash the blood from his body.  And then he heard her laughter.  The sweet, calming music of her voice.  He climbed, dripping, out of the water, searching for her.  “Hanna?” he called out as he walked.

 

He rounded a grove of trees, and found her there, smiling at him and waving.  He was overwhelmed by absolute joy.  It had been so long since he had seen her, held her.  He ran toward her, gathered her into his arms.  “My love . . . ” he began to whisper into her hair.

 

“My pet.”

 

He pulled away, and found that it was August.  The same voice that was in his head that had encouraged him to kill had forced him here, to this place.  Into her power once again.

 

He hardly felt it when she latched herself onto his neck, and drained him to the point of death.  His mind was already gone . . .

 

 

Resurrected

By Sukh

September 6

Unknown location

1:45 a.m.

 

Micah finally woke chained naked to a damp wall. The air was cool and a bit stale, and he knew by the raw feeling on his neck, she had been feeding of him again. He growled and struggled against the heavy steel chains. Not again, please Ra, not again.

 

“Well, he is a nice specimen.” He looked up at the child’s voice. The blonde girl was young, in the first bloom of adolescence, and she moved closer to him. ” And a Pharaoh too.”

 

August smiled at the young one. “He is a friend of your blood sister’s. Her brother I believe.”

 

“Really?” The girl smiled and revealed fangs. He jerked back. No, it couldn’t be. She was gone, locked in a tomb for 2000 years.

 

“Divia?” He gasped as she closed in on his exposed throat.

 

 

 

Greeks Bearing Gifts

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

1:45 a.m.

 

The heart‑rending, agonized scream split the air like a straight razor. The occupants of Nick’s suite held their collective breaths for the space of a heartbeat. The following silence freed them from paralysis and they tore from the room in pursuit of the source of such pain.

 

Devin stood where he was, still caught in the aftershock of what he’d told the gathering earlier. He wiped bloody sweat from his forehead and tried to recover the shreds of his shattered composure. He looked around to see who had remained in the room. Nick and Trapper answered his look with their own from across the room.

 

Trapper smiled at him. “Someone has to hold down the fort. It might as well be us.”

 

Nick looked thoughtfully out the doorway. “Besides, the way that LaCroix ran out of here, I’m not sure I want to be anywhere near him when he finds something to vent his anger on.”

 

Devin nodded in agreement and walked over to the mini‑bar. “May I?”

 

Nick waved. “Help yourself.”

 

Devin forced himself to hold his hand steady as he poured himself a glass of “Lizbet”. Actually, his little soul baring had gone better than he’d hoped. Other than a few raised eyebrows, his gruesome story really hadn’t fazed them at all. Maybe he’d overestimated their moral outrage. He allowed himself a small, private smile as he returned with his glass.

 

The knock on the door threatened to destroy his carefully reconstructed bravado.

 

“I’ll get it.” Trapper rose from the couch to answer the summons.

 

A jolly looking, dark-haired man stood in the hall, carrying a large box. “Forgive me for disturbing you so late. I am Konstantin Costa, and I was asked to bring you this.”

 

“Would you like to come in?”

 

“No, no,” he said rapidly. He was most definitely nervous about something. “A woman came to my stand a short while ago. She said to bring this to a Mr. Saceur?” Konstantin’s eyes darted around the room. “Is he here?”

 

“Yes,” Trapper said evenly. “We’ll take it for him.” She effortlessly took the heavy box from him and set it in the room. “Could I recompense you for your time?”

 

He shook his head and backed away. “Thank you, but I’ve already been paid.” He turned and practically ran down the hall.

 

Trapper closed the door, a puzzled look on her face. “That certainly inspires confidence in the contents of the box.” She approached it.

 

Devin cleared his throat. “Is it ticking?”

 

Trapper shook her head. “It doesn’t appear to be.” She paused and sniffed. “But it smells like fresh blood -a lot of it.”

 

Nick rose from the couch. “I think it’s time to open it, Devin.”

 

Devin nodded and gingerly ran a hand over the surface. Nothing came immediately into his mind. The box had been wiped quite clean of any impressions, other than the Greek shopkeeper’s fear. He pulled a small knife from his jacket and cut the tape that bound the odd package. When the flaps had been freed, he carefully leaned over and peeked in.

 

“Hmm.”

 

“What is it?” Nick said as he neared the box.

 

“It appears to be the assassin that turned me into a pincushion earlier.” Devin raised his head to look at them. “He’s quite dead.” He reached into the depths of the box and pulled out a bloodstained envelope. He opened it and read the enclosed card. His smile widened as he finished it.

 

“Well?” said Trapper. “Going to share?”

 

“It’s from Monique.” Devin looked at their confused expressions. “Another very long story. It says that I needn’t worry about anyone else coming after me. She wants me all to herself.”

 

“Oh, wonderful.” Anna stood in the doorway to Schanke’s room, drying her hair. “That makes me feel so much better.”

 

 

The Plot Thickens 1

By Sukh

September 6

Ptolemaic Suite

1:45 a.m.

 

Everyone surged into the hall, halting at he open door of the Ptolemaic suite.  LaCroix was frozen at the entrance, his eyes widened in horror at the bloody tableau.  Then as the rest of the group crowded behind him, he galvanized into action, darting across the floor to end up on his knees at Angelique’s head.  He lifted her head to his knees and bent over her, whispering in an ancient language to her as he stroked her hair.  Giles pushed through the rest of the horrified group, and kneeled at the other side of Angelique’s head.  LaCroix looked up, and only Giles could see the fear and pain on his face, a crack in the cold veneer of the old vampire.

 

LaCroix put his mouth to his arm and opened a vein.  He put it to Angelique’s mouth.  “Drink, Angelique,” he implored her in a soft whisper as his blood leaked down her slack mouth and pooled behind her head.  “Please, Mea Amortea,” his voice was just above a breath.

 

Schanke took one look at the carnage and picked up the phone.  “Nick, you best get over here now.”

 

No one dared move as LaCroix continued to try and feed Angelique, a futile gesture at most.  Kat went and stood at Cleo’s side while the cat laid at her mistress’s side, her head over Angelique’s shoulder.

 

Cash was sitting nearby, holding Starr’s ravaged body in his arms as Nick, Devin, Anna and Trapper arrived.  The quartet took in the bloody show with wide eyes.

 

“What happened?”  Trapper knelt at Cash’s side, watching as he held her head on. Starr’s head lolled then the wound in her neck gaped like a hideous smile, before the spine cracked audibly.

 

He slid her body to the floor and set the head at a semi natural angle, shrugged and held up the empty vial of vitae.  Trapper took it and examined it, while she watched Duncan and Ricze examine the headless body.

 

“I think she gave it to Angelique.”

 

“The vitae of Jonas?”  Trapper frowned.  “But, these vampires have a different body makeup than ones of Jonas’s type.  How’s that going to effect her?”

 

“It will keep her from the Setite poison.”

 

“What–”

 

“Duncan, over here.”  Ricze called.

 

Duncan drew his sword and crept over, Nick behind him, gun drawn.  “Yes?”  He mouthed, catching the faint movement behind the balcony curtain.  Nick motioned for Buffy, and she joined them on silent feet, stake in hand.

 

At Nick’s nod, Buffy rammed the stake through the curtain.  There was a groan and the curtain fell, bringing an unknown creature to the floor.  Ricze pinned him to the ground with a foot.  A vampire, dressed in moldy clothes that resembles a crusaders mail and  surcoat.  Nick frowned trying to identify the coat of arms on the rotting fabric.

 

“Who the hell are you?”  He growled as the vampire clawed at the stake in his chest.  Ricze thumped the stake with the side of his boot.  “Answer!”  The vampire convulsed and bowed.

 

The vampire mumbled something in Latin and Nick stiffened.  “I would suggest you identify yourself.”  Nick’s tone of voice was ominous.

 

The vampire spit at Nick and Ricze.  Nick shot him in the shoulder and stalked away, his eyes vampire bright.

 

Duncan held his sword to the creature’s neck.  “Did you do this to Angelique?”  The vampire growled again in Latin.

 

“He said he would have if he could have.”  Nick interpreted for the Latin challenged.

 

Duncan sliced the vampire’s head off, then stepped back.  He noticed something, and bent over the new dead one.

 

“What is this?”  Duncan showed Giles a set of tattoos on the corpse.  Giles frowned and crouched for a closer look.

 

Nick knew that symbol.  “It’s the symbol of the Knights Templar.”  Then he turned and looked at Devin.

 

 

The Plot Thickens pt. 2

by Sukh

September 6

Elysian Fields

After part one

 

LaCroix continued to feed blood to the unresponsive Angelique.   Buffy watched him trying to bring her back for a long moment, then walked up to LaCroix.

 

“Umm, can I help?”  Buffy knelt over Angelique.

 

“She needs blood.”  Buffy tried not to notice the pink sheen of his eyes.

 

“Maybe the stake?”  Vachon offered.  Kat stood behind, not involved, but not uninvolved.

 

“Yes.”  LaCroix nodded and slid back a couple of inches.  Vachon positioned himself over Angelique and yanked the stake out, while Kat and Buffy held Angelique’s shoulders.  Angelique arched, then settled back to the floor.

 

“Here.”  Ricze was there, anger burning in his vampiric eyes.  He whipped out a dagger and slashed his wrist turning it over Angelique’s mouth.  “Hold her mouth open.”

 

Buffy slid her fingers into Angelique’s mouth and forced her jaw open.  Ricze dribbled the blood into her open jaws while LaCroix opened his vein and  joined Ricze.  Kat massaged Angelique’s throat, forcing her to swallow.   Angelique snapped her jaws shut, almost causing Buffy to lose a few fingers, and curled up into the fetal position.

 

“Angelique?”  LaCroix touched her face.    She looked at him, her eyes blank and trembled.

 

“Micah.”  She rasped before she closed her eyes and shook, her forehead covered in a fine pinkish sweat.

 

 

Spell Book to the Rescue?

By Kay with help from Sukh

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:00 a.m.

 

“Angelique?” LaCroix touched her face. She looked at him with blank eyes and trembled.

 

“Micah,” she rasped before closing her eyes and shaking, her forehead covered in a fine pinkish sweat.

 

“Micah?” Kay forced her way into the room. “Did she say something about Micah?”

 

“Angelique?” Ricze smoothed the hair back from her forehead as LaCroix tried to still the shaking. “Talk to me, Angel. What’s happening to Micah?”

 

“Micah.” Angelique gasped. Her eyelids snapped open to reveal cat eyes glaring vampiric gold. “Micah,” she screamed, reaching with frail arms, scratching at the air, trying to grasp at something not there.

 

“It’s all right,” LaCroix crooned. “Micah’s all right. Fight it, Mea Amorta. You have to fight the poison.”

 

“Micah,” Angelique cried, struggling to sit up. “You can’t have him,” she spat.

 

“Who? Who has Micah?” Kay tried to get closer to Angelique only to have Ricze push her away.

 

“She’ll tear you apart.”

 

“I don’t care. Where’s Micah? What’s going on?”

 

“That’s what we are trying to ascertain.” Ricze gave the frantic mortal a stern glare. Duncan snagged her from behind and held her at bay.

 

“August, you bitch.” Angelique sat up, baring fangs and hissing before collapsing to the ground in a healing sleep.

 

“August?” Kay turned, searching the room for Sukh. “What’s August up to now?”

 

“Hell if I know,” Sukh answered. “But when I find out who tried to off Angelique I’m gonna do some serious damage.”

 

The group of assembled immortals turned to stare at the two.

 

“And just what do you plan on doing?” Trapper asked. “You do realize that you are nothing more than August bait.”

 

“Oh yeah,” Kay said, whipping ye olde trusty pocket size spell book out of her back pocket. Flipping through the pages she began to grin. “Watch this!”

 

Rummaging through her purse, she came up with a bright shade of lipstick. Drawing symbols on the ground, she settled in the middle of the circle, dragging Sukh with her, and began reciting from the book. The air in the room stilled and began to swirl around the two women as blue, green and red lightening slashed through the air funnel.

 

A loud crash thundered through the room and the funnel died down. Where Kay and Sukh had stood two Amazon warriors sported leather-babe outfits complete with lethal weapons.

 

“Oh My God,” the redheaded breastplate clad warrior exclaimed upon examination of her outfit. “Did you have to do the Xena cross over, Kay?”

 

“Yes.” Kay stated.

 

“Oh no,” Duncan groaned. “Do you even know how to use those things?”

 

“Good point.” Kay said. Flipping through the book she began to recite another passage. More lightening and thunder coursed through the room.

 

Giles removed his glasses, wiping them clean of some imaginary grime. “That’s interesting.”

 

“We are now officially in the Twilight Zone.” Xander gaped.

 

When the room stilled once again Kay and Sukh looked at each other.

 

“Wow, what a rush.” Sukh murmured as she checked out her sword.

 

“Excuse me.” A voice piped from behind the Amazon warriors. “Where the hell am I?”

 

All eyes turned to see a curly headed, dark blonde woman in a clan tartan complete with breastplate. In one hand she held a big Scottish walking stick and in the other she held a leather laptop case.

 

“MacCousin.”  Kay and Sukh shouted.

 

“Kay? Sukh? What have you done now? I have a message for ya’ll from the NSVVs.”

 

LaCroix’s eyebrow raised at the mention of his personnel NA guard.

 

The two advanced on the new warrior with frantic hand signs to keep her mouth shut.

 

“I got this strange e-mail just before a flash of lightening enveloped me. It went something like’ the war is over. The chariots are still missing. Where are the funds?’ There was also a message that the anatomically correct Nunkies pops have disappeared.” MacCousin dropped her laptop case on the ground and stared at the two women. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been trying to contact you two? And what on earth are you wearing? Better yet, why do have my Pendragons on?”

 

“They happen to be our Pendragons,” Kay said. “I conjured them up myself.”

 

“However much fun this may be,” Nick coughed. “We are in the middle of a crisis here.”

 

MacCousin blinked. Looked at Nick, then at LaCroix, then at Schanke and Vachon. She blinked again.

 

“You’ve been playing with that spell book you found at the faire haven’t you, Kay?”

 

“I had to.” Kay retorted. “Micah’s missing. August has him. Sukh and I were being left out of all the action because we are mortal.”

 

“And how did I get here?” MacCousin asked.

 

“What were you doing when the lightening struck?” Sukh asked.

 

“Chris and I were trying to e-mail you bozos.”

 

“What was Chris wearing?” Sukh asked.

 

“His kilt.”

 

The phone rang. Trapper walked over and picked it up.

 

“That was Jerome. He says some guy wearing a kilt just smashed up the bar with a Claymore. He was wondering if perhaps we knew who he was.”

 

 

Bull in a China Shop

Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:16 am

 

Devin stumbled over the nightstand, knocking a glorious Tiffany lamp onto the floor. Without blinking, he shyly raised his hand. “Pardon me?”

 

Nick sighed. “Yes…?”

 

“Just when I thought that thing were becoming simple, I suddenly find myself in the midst of a maddeningly complex scenario. Forgive any lack of mental prowess on my part, but what the hell is going on around here? And what, pray tell, are ‘anatomically correct Nunkies pops’?”

 

 

Nunkies: The Sad Truth

By Sukh

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:17a.m.

 

LaCroix cleared his throat. “I believe I may be able to explain.” He whispered into Angelique’s ear, and she smiled for the first time in a long time. She had always found the mortals that drooled after him amusing, and now he was going to admit a somewhat embarrassing fact about himself to Nick of all people.

 

Nick arched his brow in a very LaCroixian manner. Cash even lifted his head and looked curious.

 

“You see, on the computer, there is a group of people, women mostly, that seems to find me quite fascinating.”

 

Cordelia snorted “I’d believe that,” in her best teenage scorn tone. LaCroix gave her one of his looks and she slunk towards Xander.

 

“They have made a virtual shrine, and they seem to want to call me Nunkies.”

 

Nick started laughing. “You mean the Nunkies Pops are–” He pointed to LaCroix’s pants.

 

“Actually they don’t really do him justice,” Angelique purred as she draped herself around LaCroix. “I need to feed before we go and find my brother.”

 

“I would like to see you explain the Knightstick Brigade to the good people here.”

 

Nick sobered fast. “I’d rather not.” He looked away at Trapper who was smirking behind her shades.

 

“As fascinating as this is, ” Buffy interrupted.  “ We have work to do.”

 

“I’ve been doin’ me job,” Kendra was in the doorway with Spike, a dark-haired man held a sword to Spikes neck.

 

“What a dilemma,” Xander smirked at Spike as Methos shoved him into the room.

 

Willow squealed and threw herself at Oz. He grabbed her and spun her, then stopped dead at the sight of Cash holding Starr’s mangled body.

 

“Oh man, this does not look good,” he murmured as he moved closer to Buffy and the Scooby Gang.

 

“And you are?” Giles asked as Buffy covered Spike.

 

“Adam Pierson.” Methos extended his hand. “You must be Rupert Giles. Joe Dawson has told me about you.”

 

Giles nodded and shook, noting the Watcher tattoo. “And where has Mr. Dawson gone off to?”

 

“He is in the library, looking for some books.” Methos and Giles walked off to discuss watcher stuff.

 

Spike bolted, LaCroix was there to stop him. “Not enjoying our hospitality?” his voice was icy. “A pity.”

 

New Salem Nocturne

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:18am

 

Kay, Sukh and MacCousin looked at each other, wide eyed.

 

“Shit!” Sukh exclaimed. “We’ve got to get down there and calm him down!”

 

Duncan looked up from cleaning his sword. “I’ll come along. You all look like you could use an escort.”

 

Kay nudged Sukh in the ribs and grinned as they all ran out the door.

 

Giles rose from his examination of the dead vampire. He looked at his charges. “We should find Jenny. Too much has happened since the last time we saw her.” He spared himself one quick glance at Angelique as he walked out behind the teenagers.

 

Nick continued to gaze speculatively at Devin.

 

“What?” Devin asked in annoyance? “Do you expect me to know every malevolent vampire that comes crawling in the window?” He gestured disdainfully at the corpse. “He looks like some reject from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail!”

 

Evie muttered, “Complete with sharp, pointy teeth.”

 

Trapper stifled a giggle and turned away.

 

“Sorry,” Nick offered. “You just seem to attract the truly strange ones.”

 

Anna smiled, but said nothing. She was thinking of Monique’s latest note.

 

Kat and Vachon bent down to Cash. He still sat, crooning to Starr as the tears ran down his face.

 

“Is there something we can do?” Kat spoke softly as she put a hand on his shoulder.

 

He raised his blood-streaked face and stared with stricken eyes. Without a word he looked back to Starr’s mutilated corpse and pulled her to him again. He pressed her face to his chest and sat, rocking her in his arms while he stroked her hair. “It’ll be all right, baby,” he whispered hoarsely.

 

Kat’s eyes filled with tears as she turned away from the tableau.

 

Vachon placed a gentle hand on the small of Kat’s back. “Let’s leave him to his grief.”

 

Kat nodded and leaned against him as she looked over at Nick. “Back to your suite?”

 

Nick nodded. “LaCroix? Do you need anything?”

 

LaCroix picked Angelique up from the floor and placed her gently on the chaise. “If you could have room service send up some refreshment, I believe that Angelique could use a drink. I know I could.”

 

Schanke looked up. “Yeah, a drink sounds great right about now?” He nudged Evie. “How’s about we saunter down to the lounge and pick up a couple of cold brewskis? We could check on the hotel lobby and the sword nut at the same time.”

 

“Sounds like a plan, Donnie.” Evie looked at Trapper. “We’ll be back in a couple.”

 

“Cool. We’ll be back at the suite.”

 

Evie and Schanke left on their mission of thirst quenching. Everyone else was walking toward the door when Angelique suddenly sat upright.

 

Her eyes stared into a nothingness of horror as she screamed, “Micah!” She grabbed LaCroix’s jacket frantically. “She’ll kill him! We have to find him, Lucien!”

 

Devin sighed. It was already a long night. It wasn’t getting any better.

 

 

Promises To Keep

By Kay

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:20 a.m.

 

Spike bolted, but LaCroix was there to stop him. “Not enjoying our hospitality?” his voice was icy. “A pity.”

 

“Maybe I can help?”

 

Ricze came up beside LaCroix. The two made eye contact. Each recognized the other as a master in his own right but also as a father. It was as fathers that the exchange was made. LaCroix handed the pathetic excuse of a vampire over to Ricze with a slight nod and stepped back to Angelique’s side.

 

“Where’s my daughter?” Ricze hissed. He clenched his fist around Spike’s throat and pushed him up against the wall; barely resisting the urge to squeeze the life out of the helpless rag doll the vampire had become.

 

“I don’t know!” Spike snarled.

 

“Wrong answer.” Ricze flung Spike over his head. The younger vampire tumbled across the floor to land at LaCroix and Angelique’s feet.

 

LaCroix bent and using his index finger pulled Spike up by his chin. “I’d answer, if I were you.” He purred.

 

Spike choked on a protest as Ricze pulled him to his feet by the neck of his cheap leather jacket. “I’ll ask again. Where is Melissa?”

 

“That prick Angelus has her.”

 

“I already knew that much,” Ricze growled.

 

Anger broke through the brick wall that held it at bay. It took control and crushed Spike’s throat. Ricze dropped the barely “living” corpse to the floor. Turning to the wall, he put his fist through it.

 

“Well,” Buffy sighed. “That was helpful.”

 

Ricze snarled at the teenager before sinking to the ground and shaking his head. He sat there silent, eyes closed tight as if concentrating. “Nothing,” he muttered. “I feel nothing but fear from her.”

 

LaCroix and Angelique stood. They stopped before Ricze and Angelique knelt beside her brother.

 

“Why do you mourn so for this girl?” She placed a delicate hand on his shoulder.

 

He looked up into Angelique’s eyes. “I promised on her mother’s death bed to keep her safe from harm. When she was attacked and nearly killed I brought her into the family. The thought of losing her so soon after her mother was unbearable.”

 

“How can you hold yourself responsible for something you had no control over?” Nick asked. He made eye contact with Schanke and saw in the mortal’s eyes what was tearing through the vampire’s soul.

 

Ricze stood and pushed past his sister and her lover to approach Schanke. “Your daughter still lives. I promise to help you find her and at the same time punish those that have taken Melissa should we not find her in time.”

 

 

Better Late than Never

By MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:20am

 

Màire shifted her weight from right side to left as she stared at Elysian fields. Her nose twitched at the smell of pine cleanser mixed with the aftereffects of a bloodbath. She had lived for nearly fifteen centuries and there was nothing on earth that could cover that smell. Her stomach growled a protest at traveling so long without a meal.

 

For some reason a few nights ago she had the strangest urge to go to the airport. Màire assumed it was another bout of the Celtic wanderlust working its way through her limbs. She was not usually one who ignored her instincts, but she was far too busy helping Margaretha with one of her many projects. She didn’t have the heart to leave her child so soon again.

 

Then, yesterday morning Màire dreamt of wandering through the graveyard in Beal Atha an Fheada again. The moonlight danced along the canopy of trees. Then that age-old feeling wound it’s way down to her bones. Her master was nearby. Within a few milliseconds, Màire was a fledgling again, lost within a maze of gravestones, trying to understand her new powers.

 

“Where are you?” she asked the wind.

 

“Closer than you could possibly imagine,” murmured a voice over her right shoulder.

 

Màire turned, to find Lucius standing beside her, eyes hazed in amber.

 

“How…?”

 

“Just listen. Not with your ears but with your mind.”

 

Màire woke up and began to pack. For some reason she had yet to fathom her master was calling his eldest back to the flock.

***********

 

Màire was about to mosey up to the front desk when she heard a ruckus.  She turned and glanced over her right shoulder into the bar. There was a tartan flurry of movement within the bar and Màire’s curiosity got the best of her.

 

She watched patiently as the kilted warrior continued his destruction of the bar. The bearded man whirled around with a five-foot Claymore and nearly knocked over the red-haired woman, standing in the doorway.

 

Chris stopped and looked down as the vampire folded her arms across her chest and smiled at him.

 

“That’s a fine ‘xample of drunken Scottish brutality,” commented Màire with a wee bit of a brogue.

 

“I was jus’ bloody-well warming up,” replied the Scotsman with a thick brogue.

 

Màire returned to her normal speaking voice. “You’re Chris aren’t you?’

 

“It’s Gilchrist! I’ve gotta speak wit a Scottish accent. Chris is na Scottish enuf.”

 

“O-kay,” Màire answered, rubbing her forehead. *Canna live with Scotsmen, canna live wit out ’em. *  Even though this warrior was no vampire, Màire couldn’t help being reminded of Ciarán, her ex-husband.  “Why na’ speak proper Gaelic then?”

 

“‘Cause I winna understood a word of it,” was his answer.

 

Màire glanced up at the ceiling,  “I have the feeling we’re missing something,” she murmured. She took Chris’s arm. “Come on, Gilchrist and let’s see what we’ve missed. After all, better late then never.”

 

“Actually it’s Gillecriosd, but I doubt that too many would be able to say it.”

 

 

Proprieties Observed

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:25 a.m.

 

Kay and Sukh had raced into the bar just in time to watch Gilchrist mangle a corner booth with his Claymore. Leo knelt behind his marble-topped bar, searching frantically for his shotgun.

 

They approached the wild Scotsman warily, and just missed being hit by a wild swing from the huge two-handed sword. As they tried to decide on the best course of action, a woman glided into the bar and took charge of the situation.

 

Kay and Sukh shrugged at Duncan, who had watched the destruction from his vantagepoint in the lobby. As they all headed out toward the elevators, Jerome stepped quickly from behind his desk, effectively barring their way.

 

“Ahem,” he began, his arms folded. “If I may be so bold to inquire, just who is planning on paying for the damage to the lounge?” He waited imperiously for an answer. His staff was still cleaning the lobby, and he wanted no more incidents to mar his shift. This was all becoming most tiresome.

 

Gilchrist looked sheepishly in his sporran. “I’m sorry, but I seem t’ have misplaced m’ funds, sir.”

 

Jerome raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips in annoyance. “Anyone?” he addressed the group.

 

Duncan began to step forward, but Sukh was quicker. She whipped a card from the ample bosom of her breastplate.

 

“Just put it on Uncle’s account,” she smiled as she handed Jerome the piece of plastic.

 

Jerome thanked her and returned to his post to enter the transaction.

 

Kay nudged Sukh in the ribs. “You didn’t return it!” she hissed.

 

“Well, it’s not like we really got a chance to use it, with the mess at the mall.”

 

Jerome returned the card and receipt to Sukh, and the items promptly disappeared back into her clothing.

 

“Well?” said Duncan. “Shall we return upstairs, and make introductions?”

 

 

Introductions in the Elevator

By Maccousin

September 6

2:30 a.m.

 

Kay, Sukh, Duncan, Màire and Gilchrist stepped into the elevator.

 

“Nice bodices,” Màire nodded at Sukh and Kay’s leatherwear.  “I love Pendragons.”

 

“We conjured them,” said Kay with a smile.  “I’m Kay,” she said offering a hand to Màire and then Gilchrist.  She giggled as the kilted one brought her knuckles to his lips and then Sukh’s knuckles received the same treatment.

 

Màire and Duncan looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  The two immortals turned to each other.

 

“Duncan MacCleod of the Clan MacCleod,” said Duncan.  He and Gilchrist clasped arms in the traditional highland manner.

 

“Gilchrist of the clan MacDubh.”  Gilchrist and Duncan warily stared at each other for a moment.  Each trying to remember if their respective clans had anything against each other.

 

“Donnchadh, don’t you remember me?” Màire interrupted Duncan’s train of thought.

 

Duncan stared at the red-haired woman for a few minutes.  She did look familiar.

 

“Mael Muire ni???” began Duncan.

 

“It’s just Màire Moran now,” finished Màire, shuddering at her real name.  “You and my ex-husband knew each other in Edinburgh.”

 

Duncan nodded.  “Now I remember you,” he said.

 

Duncan turned back to Gilchrist, still upset for the earlier distraction.

 

*Did you have to make such a mess? * Duncan asked in Scottish Gaelic.

 

Gilchrist stared at him for a moment.  Despite the fact he had grown up in the Fife district.  They only spoke Scots Anglish.  He knew a few phrases in Gaelic and was finally able to translate Duncan’s question and answered to the best of his knowledge.

 

*The teapot is on the fire, * Gilchrist answered in Gaelic.

 

Màire started laughing and was about to translate for Kay and Sukh’s benefit when the elevator door opened.

 

 

The Beast Within

By CousinSuk

September 6

Ptolemaic suite

2:30 a.m.

“That was lacking in finesse, Ricze,” Angelique said, sitting down next to the unconscious Spike.

“He’s a vampire, he’ll heal,” Ricze shrugged, rage still glinting in his eyes.

 

Buffy and co. watched as Angelique whispered into Spike’s ear.  They had been heading toward Jenny’s when Kendra and Mr. Pierson marched up the hall with Spike.  The entire Scooby gang had done an abrupt turn and followed, curious to see what was up for Spike.  Spike stirred and Buffy knew Spike was in trouble.

 

“Poor Spike – unable to answer the simplest questions.”  Angelique crooned as Spike struggled to sit up.  “Perhaps I can find the answers.”

 

“You’re loony.”

 

Angelique’s smile would have frozen Drucilla in one spot.  “No, my dear fledging, I’m not.”  She sat Spike up and touched his chin.

 

“I’m outta here,” Buffy spoke up.  ” Just leave enough for me to stake.”  They all turned to leave, except for Giles, who was mesmerized by the unfolding drama.  Buffy tugged on his tweed sleeve.  “Jenny, Giles.  We need to find Jenny.”

 

Giles snapped out of it and looked at the young slayer.  “What?  Ah yes; Let’s go then.”  He looked toward Angelique and back at Buffy, then turned and followed.

 

Angelique touched Spikes face, searching for the soft spots of the temples.  Then she forced his head around, and looked in his eyes.  Mentally, she reached into his head – an invisible touch to the rotted brain, looking for his demon.

 

“See Spike, there is a very real difference between you revenants and we creatures.”

 

His demon hissed at her.

 

“We are not puppets of some crude demon from the Christian pit of hell.”  She reached for Spike’s demon, it slithered away.  “We are creatures of darkness, and we have something you possessed do not.”  She brushed against Spikes demon, and pulled it into her mental grasp.  “We have Ka, which gives us a choice.  We don’t have to blindly follow the directions of the parasitic host, we have free will.  As compelled to the blood as we are, we can choose not to give in to the inner beast.”  She choked the demon as it clawed and spat, Spike began to convulse.

 

“Most of the time my beast is quiet, sated by the occasional child molester or killer.  My lust for death has long been dormant.”  She smiled as the demon lost consciousness.  “But the events of this evening have rattled it’s cage.  And well, my beast won’t lay down again until I find Micah, Jenny and Missy.”  She smiled and Spike faded.  “Until then, I am your worst nightmare.”  She let the demon go and laughed as Spike contorted on the floor.

 

She turned her green gold eyes to the balcony.  “I need to feed.”

 

LaCroix watched the stricken vampire writhe on the floor and said nothing.  A hunt would be welcome, but Spike had to remain a prisoner.

 

“I’ll go,” Ricze looked at LaCroix and smiled as the older vampire’s eyes changed to green-gold.  “It’s been a long time since we’ve hunted together.”

 

“Don’t forget where she belongs,” LaCroix growled as he stood to go toward Angelique.  He stopped and touched her face.  “I regret I can’t join you tonight, but I must insure our guest is comfortable.”  He looked at Spike, now slack on the floor.  “We can hunt another time?”

 

Angelique leaned close and kissed him for a long, heated moment.  “For when we get back.”

 

Ricze laughed, “For now, you are with me.”  He slid an arm around her waist and propelled her to the window.  “Dawn is in a few hours, and we have places to go and people to eat.”

 

They flew and LaCroix watched, his anger building.

 

“Not so fast,” the watcher had Spike against his blade again.

 

“Methos?  Yes, I will take care of our guest.”  He approached Spike a cold smile on his face.  Methos backed off, stand close to the door.  Space was good when surrounded by vampires.

 

 

Beautiful Oblivion

by RavenKat

September 6

The Caves

2:30 a.m.

 

“So what’s your story, babe?”

 

Dru ignored the question and continued to run the tips of her fingers across the candle flame.  She could see the future and the past in that tiny fire and she could feel the present in the singeing of her flesh.

 

“Spike’s gone,” she said dreamily – her vampire lover’s name sounding like ‘Spoyke’ because of her English accent.

 

Lux Interior studied the feminine death machine, wondering what the hell she was talking about.  Drucilla tilted her head as if listening then looked slowly to the mouth of the cave.  The immortal rock star followed her gaze.

 

Out of the darkness, Angelus appeared – An evil grin played across his lips.   “Does this belong to anyone?” he asked loudly, pushing the empty wheelchair into the center of the cave.

 

 

Back for More

By Trapper

September 6

The Caves

2:35am – right after “Beautiful Oblivion”

 

Drucilla watched the empty wheelchair roll across the cave into the far wall. She rose and moved to it with her strange, weaving gait. Her hands roved over the surface, caressing the metal armrests, as she would have her lover. The entranced vampire knelt down beside it and rubbed her face over the cold steel, murmuring to herself in her singsong voice.

 

“They’ve taken him,” she announced to the air. “They’ve taken my Spike, and they’re going to hurt him.”

 

Angel leaned against the wall with his arms folded. “That’s a real shame, Dru,” he smirked.

 

“I’ve got to go after him, and bring my baby home.” Drucilla walked past Angel and out of the cave.

 

Lux looked over at Angel. “Aren’t you going to go after her?”

 

“And spoil the fun?” Angel laughed.

 

“That’s it. I’m following her.” Lux walked out in pursuit of Drucilla.

 

“Your funeral,” Angel called after him, alluding to the fact that Lux no longer had a sword.

 

Angel looked at Missy. “Well, sweetheart, it’s just you and me now.”

 

Missy glared at him over the gag he’d used to stifle her screams after the phone call to Ricze.

 

“Oh, such a look!” He sauntered over and hauled Missy to her feet. “Okay, if you insist. We’ll follow them back to the hotel. I’m sure that’s where good old Spike is.” He dragged her out as he spoke. “And you’re going to be my lovely little insurance policy.”

 

His laughter echoed in the empty caves for quite awhile after he left.

 

 

Spanking the Inner Child

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:40 a.m.

 

“It was kind of overkill, if Ricze expected him to talk, don’t you think?” Trapper made the aside to Nick as they stood by the door of the Ptolemaic Suite, ready to leave.

 

“Well, I know that, personally, I find it rather difficult to talk around a crushed throat.”

 

Trapper looked up to see the humor glinting in Nick’s blue eyes. He leaned over and brushed her ear with his lips.

 

“I think it’s time to go. We can accomplish more back in our own suite.” He straightened and looked over at LaCroix. “We’re going to leave you on your own. Somehow, I don’t think that Spike will be giving you any trouble for a while.”

 

LaCroix nodded absently as he stared at Spike. The punk vampire swallowed nervously, and his eyes darted to the other vampires in a silent plea.

 

They moved toward the door, calling out their goodnights.

 

“Goodnight, Grandfather!” Trapper said over her shoulder.

 

“Bonne nuit, Grand-père!” echoed Kat as they all exited.

 

LaCroix’s eyes flared gold momentarily, and his jaw clenched as the door swung shut. Methos chuckled from his position next to the exit.

 

Nick collapsed, laughing, against the wall in the hallway. “If it were possible, I’d say that you two are going to give LaCroix gray hair!”

 

Trapper feigned innocence, one hand to her chest and fluttering her eyelashes. “Us? We were just saying goodnight.”

 

“Uh huh. And Ricze was just persuading Spike to talk.”

 

Their laughter echoed down the hall as they returned to Nick’s suite. Even Devin and Anna had been caught up in the frivolity of the moment. They all knew that the moment wouldn’t last.

 

 

Parents and Children

By Evie & Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:45am

 

They rode down the elevator in companionable silence.  The doors slid open and they cruised through the lobby and into the lounge. As they walked they marveled at Jerome’s efficiency. The majority of the chaos had been cleaned up, and the pile up of bodies was gone. Even the front door had already been replaced. Several employees still worked on cleaning the lobby but, all things considered, it looked quite presentable again. The bar, however, was another story.

 

Leo stopped righting the few undamaged tables to check out the customers entering his lounge. He was relieved to see that they looked refreshingly normal. He waved them in the direction of a table in the small untouched area next to the bar.

 

Schanke picked his way through the debris as stepped up to the table and sat.  Evie went to the bar and ordered several bottles of “the usual” for the Louis XIV suite and handed the bartender a list for the others.  It was an odd assortment of vintage “sang de gout”, espresso, diet coke and freshly extracted carrot juice.  She also ordered a pair of Samuel Adams’ Pale Ale for herself and Schanke.  Obviously they ignored the state liquor laws here.  Evie laughed softly to herself as she carried their drinks to the table and sat down.

 

“What is this?” Schanke picked up the glass and examined it.

 

“Sam Adams.  It’s good.  Trust me.”

 

“Labatts or Kokanee would’ve been fine.”  Schanke sipped cautiously and nodded approvingly.  “But you’re right.”

 

“Hey,” Evie commented, smiling, “I come from the land of microbrews. I know whereof I speak.”

 

They toasted their continued survival and drank in silence for a bit, allowing themselves to unwind.

 

Evie watched the shadows fall across Schanke’s face. She knew that he was thinking about Jenny. She reached a hand across the table to pat his arm.

 

“We’ll get her back, Don,” she said softly.

 

Schanke smiled mirthlessly. “I wish I was as sure as you seem to be, Evie.”

 

Evie sat back in her chair and looked at him over her glass. “I have a kid, too, you know.”

 

He raised his eyebrows at her.

 

“It’s true,” she continued. “He’s eight, and a real pain sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade him in for anything.” She smiled. “Let’s just call it Mom’s Intuition, but I think Jenny’s going to be okay.”

 

“Thanks for that,” Schanke said, and took another thoughtful sip of his beer. “I gotta tell you, it kind of threw me when Ricze offered his help.”

 

Evie laughed. “I could tell. You looked shocked.”

 

He shrugged. “It’s just, y’know, hard to imagine him as a “father” figure.”

 

“No shit.  It just reminds me that even though they don’t reproduce the way we do, they care for their kids.  Even the really creepy parents.  And of course the vampire disfunctional family is *really* disfunctional.”  She laughed.

 

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”  Schanke took a pensive sip, then drained his glass and stood up. Evie looked at her watch.

 

“Well, considering the hour, do you think our elusive librarian might be at work now?”

 

“Why don’t we find out?”

 

“Y’know, I’m not really sure why but I feel like he’s one of the few folks in this town we can trust.”  Evie emptied her glass and stood.

 

“Yeah, yeah.  He lied to us.”

 

“It’s not a lie if you don’t know you’re not speaking the truth. Let’s reserve judgement for now.”

 

Schanke shrugged.  “I suppose.  But the longer Jenny’s missing, the less patience I have.”  He stuffed his hands in his pockets and headed for the door.

 

“So,” he continued as they walked out of the hotel, “What does your son think of your girlfriend?”

 

“They get along great,” Evie replied easily. “She’s a microbiologist and knows a lot about guts and yucky things.  That goes over well with the 8 year old.”  They both laughed and continued on their search for the truth, and just maybe, a daughter.

 

 

Lessons in Humility

By Maccousin Heather

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:45 a.m.

 

The MacCousin, rather red-faced, slithered out of the Ptolemaic suite when she heard of the attack on the hotel’s bar.

 

“Why do guys always have go smash things?” she wondered to herself.  She couldn’t help wondering what a good place to hide would be.  Then again it really wasn’t Gilchrist’s fault.  They both had been drinking way too much heather cream, ale and hard cider that night.  However, being sent through space to Elysian Fields had been quite tiring.  Heather couldn’t help yawning.

 

Heather began a search for the stairs so that she would hopefully miss Sukh, Kay and Duncan on their way to find Gilchrist or on their way back.  She paused in front of the doorway to the stairs when she heard the elevator bell.

 

“Crieche,” she murmured softly as the door opened.

 

The elevator doors slid open noiselessly and Heather could hear mirthful laughter within.  It was too late to run now.  Kay, Sukh, Duncan, Gilchrist and an oddly familiar looking woman stepped out of the lift.

 

“Lass!” Gilchrist rushed past everyone to her side.  “I wuz wonderin’ if you ended up here too.”

 

Heather grinned, “As if I could leave you alone here,” she replied, returning his hug.  She was so relieved to see him in one piece, she forgot her embarrassment.

 

Heather turned back to her friends.  “Now you’ll have to educate me as to what’s been going on here.”

 

Sukh shrugged, “all you need to do is read the files.  You probably already have them on your laptop.”

 

“Of course, there isn’t much time to do that,” added Kay.  “You’ll just have to play it by ear.”

 

The MacCousin looked down at the cumbersome laptop bag she had been carrying through the hallways and grinned.  “Well let me just set up shop somewhere and we can get down to business.”  Her glance fell on Màire.

 

“You look really familiar to me,” began the MacCousin.

 

“I should,” replied Màire.  “We met at the ‘Tip.  I was singing there during the Irish festival and you bought one of my CD’s.”

 

“Oh…yeah,” the MacCousin lied.  The truth of the matter was that she had bought way too many CD’s during the festival.  Plus she had made the mistake of imbibing a wee too much that night.  It didn’t help that Màire had bought her several drinks as well.  Her memory of that evening had faded quickly.

 

“Well, I’m going to go see what I’ve missed,” said Màire.  She could sense LaCroix nearby and wanted a word with him.  “I guess I’ll try to play it by ear myself.  I’ll be staying in the Tara suite if anyone needs me.”  She started toward the Ptolemaic suite.

 

Heather, Kay and Gilchrist turned around and noted that Sukh and Duncan had disappeared as well.

 

Kay snickered.  ‘Well I guess we should start setting up the computer,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.  Heather noticed a gleam in Gilchrist’s eyes as well.

 

*Oh great, * thought the MacCousin to herself.  She couldn’t help but wonder if she needed to start hiding pillows.  No serious work would be done unless she took care of that.

 

 

Albatross

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

2:50am

 

The suite rang with the sounds of everything from Hendrix to Seeger…or, it would have if Steve Lalor had run the guitar through the main instead of the headphones. As it was, a casual passerby would only have heard the thup, thup sounds of electric guitar strings sans amplification.

 

He’d been playing the Telecaster since Lux took a hasty departure through the window a couple of hours earlier. Steve marveled to himself that he wasn’t tired, and didn’t particularly want a cigarette. There must be something to this vampire stuff. It just made everything so much brighter, so real. Sounds were so much purer now that he could listen to himself play for hours. Some things never changed.

 

Finally, he put the guitar in its stand and removed his headphones. His ample stomach had reminded him that, no matter how in touch with the great cosmic “all” one was, he still needed to eat. Maybe he’d take a saunter down to the lounge and grab something like the blood that had been in the fridge. He looked at himself in the mirror, smiling his best disarming grin. ‘Maybe there’d be someone who wanted company down in the bar,’ he thought. ‘I could bring her up here and impress her with my playing.’ Satisfied with his appearance, Steve stopped preening and walked out into the hall.

 

As he neared the elevators, a voice made his ears prick up. He saw the group of people crossing the hall. One of them was heart-wrenchingly familiar.

 

“Trapper!” he called out.

 

The blonde woman winced and shuddered. She made a low sound in her throat, like a trapped cougar. Nick looked at Steve and back at her.

 

“Is he a problem?” Nick asked softly, a hand on her arm.

 

Trapper sighed and shook her head. “Just the one Evie was talking about. I knew I’d have to deal with it sooner or later.” She looked up at him. “Go on in. I’ll be right along.”

 

He gave her a quick kiss and herded the rest of the group into the suite. Trapper turned to the approaching problem and folded her arms across her chest. Her mouth was set in a thin line. “What do you want?”

 

“Hey, Graves,” Steve said, with his arms outstretched. “Good to see you. I ran into Evie, but she didn’t mention that you were here.”

 

Trapper danced back out of his reach. “And I’m eternally grateful for that.” She raised her hand to stop his advance. “I would’ve been even more grateful not to have run into you at all.”

 

“Always the kidder, Traepischke. You can’t hide your feelings from me. I know there’s still something there.”

 

“Abject loathing,” Trapper said icily. “Look, Lalor. It was over thirteen years ago. Get a clue; get a grip; get lost.”

 

Trapper turned to enter the suite.

 

“You know you’ll never really be happy unless you come back,” Steve persisted.

 

Too fast for the eye to follow, Trapper spun and pinned Steve to the far wall. Her hand gripped his throat painfully. “I should stake you now and do you a favor,” she hissed. “Leave me alone.” She stepped back to the suite door. Almost as an afterthought, she turned back to him. “If you truly want to be one with the universe, you should go watch a sunrise. It has a whole new dimension when you’re a vampire. You can really say that it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” She smiled maliciously and entered the suite, slamming the door behind her.

 

Steve leaned against the wall, fingering his throat with a foolish beaming smile. “Ah, she must love me to react so violently.” He resumed his walk to the elevator. “Hate and love are almost the same thing,” he murmured to the empty hallway. “I’ll have her back in no time.”

 

 

Double Take

By Hanna

September 6

New Salem

3:00 a.m.

 

Schanke drove the Caddy down the long and empty streets of New Jerusalem.  Both he and Evie were silent, dwelling in a kind of terrified awe.

 

It was almost as if there wasn’t a living soul present anywhere.  There were shops, cafes, dive bars…all open, their lights crying out into the empty night, begging for some attention.  Some of the owners had even taken to sitting outside their stores, as if in a trance of waiting.

 

“God Almighty,” Schanke whispered under his breath.

 

As they drove slowly along, they thought hard about the spectacle before them.  The city had been built by vampires…or Jonas rather…for vampires.  And without its vampires, it was dying.

 

Schanke slammed on the brakes suddenly, and Evie just barely caught herself by bracing her hand against the dashboard.

 

“What the Hell, Schank!” she yelled, exasperated.

 

He pointed and she looked.

 

“The Taboo?  I thought it burned down, when they killed all those vampires inside.”

 

Evie swallowed, her throat suddenly dry.  “It did.”

 

Fashion Police on Patrol

By Kay

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:00 am

 

As Sukh and Duncan disappeared around the corner, Kay, MacCousin and Gilchrist walked toward the Collinswood suite.

 

“Should we stop in on Nick and company?”  Kay asked MacCousin.

 

MacCousin looked at Gilchrist, noting the two-handled claymore on his back, the basket hilt claymore on his left hip, highland dirk on the right hip and a skene dhu in each boot.

 

“Maybe not,” she smirked.

 

“Good point,” Kay laughed.  She lead the two Scots past the Louis XVI suite and down the hallway to her and Sukh’s suite.  She stopped dead in her tracks at the elevator.

 

“Oh My God,” she shrieked.  “It’s a hippie vampire.”

 

“Where,” MacCousin asked.

 

Steve Lalor turned and smiled at Kay and MacCousin then leered at Gilchrist.

 

“Hey man.  What’s with the dress?”

 

“It’s nae a dress,” Gilchrist exclaimed.  “It’s a bloody kilt.”

 

“Not to be critical or anything,” Kay smirked, waving a finger at Steve, “but aren’t your adaptation skills about 3 decades off.”

 

“Hey man, it’s retro,” Steve answered with a flourish of his hands.

 

“What ever,” Kay snickered.

 

“You’re a bloody fine one to be talkin’,” Gilchrist said.  “You’re looking a little confused yourself.”

 

“Hey,” Kay snapped, planting fists on her hips.  “It happens to be a Xena/She-Ra cross.  Got a problem with it, oh kilted boy.”

 

“I’m a bloody man.  Not a boy.”

 

“I’ll trust ya on that one.”  Kay turned back to Steve.  “There’s a clothing shop in the lobby.  You might want to check it out.”  She turned on a heel and headed off toward the Collinswood Suite, MacCousin and Gilchrist trailing behind.

 

 

Wild Roses

by HannaClay

September 6

Glass Tower

3:00 a.m.

 

“They call me the wild rose

But my name was Elisa Day

Why they call me it I do not know

For my name was Elisa Day.”

 

Her mind settled into her body once more, though she could hear the commotion outside of her iron prison.  Davistch was furious.  Davistch was killing underlings left and right.  And Hanna laughed.

 

She had looked into Jenny’s eyes as the girl peered out from Nicolai’s old hiding space, and saw a hell she recognized.  Only Jenny was at least five years younger than she had been, when that same hell found its way into her soul…

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

 

Racine leaned forward, his rank breath making her weak stomach beg to heave.  “Such a pretty lady, are we not, Ahan?  Far too pretty for the rankers.  I’ll keep you to myself, but only if you behave.”

 

He slung her over his shoulder and carried her into his room.  She noted, with disgust, that he had chosen her father’s room for himself. He tossed her onto the bed she had been born on only sixteen full turnings ago, and started to strip off his clothing.  Her eyes widened in fear and loathing, but she did not move.  Maybe she couldn’t.  After she had watched him remove her father’s head…

 

Completely naked, Racine crawled onto the bed, stinking of sweat and filth.  He moved to mount her, ripping at her gunna as he did. Engrossed, he did not see her reach for the dagger her father had kept in the mattress until it was already planted into his shoulder.

 

“Filthy bitch!” he screamed, jerking back, trying to remove the dagger. But she had struck hard and true.  It was buried in the bone.

 

He backhanded her until she fell off the bed, her tattered clothes trailing behind her.  She moved for the door and was intercepted by a handful of the Norman guards.

 

One of them moved to help his wounded commander, the others waited, holding the vainly struggling girl tightly.  Racine screamed out in pain when the knight broke the blade off.  It couldn’t be removed.

 

“I’m going to gut you, you filthy Saxon whore!” Racine snarled as he came forward, the broken blade clenched in his hand.

 

He gutted her that night, and plenty of other nights.  “long with the rest of the Norman century stationed at the old Saxon manor of Darkenloft, where none of the original inhabitants still lived, all having been slaughtered up their arrival.  Save the old lord’s daughter, who was raped daily for sport.

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

 

Jules de Caines, as he had chosen to go by this century for some unknown reason, rode silently in the evening air.  He came alone, save one servant.  “ Nordic man by the name of Skoal, who seemed to never sleep, and watched over his master constantly.

 

As they neared the old manor, they could hear the animal like screams coming from somewhere within.  Jules looked to his servant, who acknowledged silently that the voice belonged to a human female.  Jules sneered.  Animals, he thought to himself.  They are all animals.  And I, the monster among them, would never, have never, stooped to such a level.

 

Dawn was approaching, so he dismounted.  Skoal took the horse, an incredible steed with toes instead of hooves, and tied it to a nearby tree.  Jules entered the nearest hut, poorly made, but suited to his needs for the day.  As long as there was no vermin, he could handle sleeping in the mud if he had to.

 

The screaming had long since stopped when they finally settled down. Skoal stood guard near the door, Jules laying down on his pack blanket. They both heard the crunching of dry leaves, and came to immediate attention.

 

Looking out of a crack in the wall that was supposed to be a window, Jules watched silently as a filth covered woman made her way to the river nearby.  She stripped of what was left of her pitiful rags, then carefully made her way into the water.  Her clothes were once white, and now covered with blood and worse.  A virgin, if he wasn’t mistaken.  At least, she had been.

 

That didn’t surprise him.  Where knights went, virgins were deflowered and men died.  A fact of war.  But he looked upon the finely formed tiny body, and felt something build in him he had never felt before.  He wanted nothing more than to hold the tiny body, stroke away the hurt, kiss away the pain…

 

She turned suddenly, knowing by instinct that she was being watched. Her face, though battered, was still quiet lovely.  And then Jules began to burn with that all to familiar hunger.  He had to feed on something, but what?  Certainly not the girl!

 

The dilemma solved itself when one of the Norman soldiers came after the girl.  He backed her into a tree and was about ready to rape her yet again when he felt a strong hand clasp him around the throat.  He opened his mouth to scream out for help, but was quickly silenced by the breaking of his neck.

 

Jules had every intention of feeding from this man, but knew he couldn’t do it in front of the girl.  He would have to kill her as well, and he couldn’t bring himself to do that.  So he opted for the freshly dead blood.  It would make him sluggish, but he would be sleeping soon anyway.

 

He looked kindly upon the terrified girl, seeing so many faces he once knew and loved.  Shaking his head, he motioned for her to go, not daring to speak to her.  She darted away, not looking back to see what happened next.

 

After he fed, he lay back on the cold floor.  As he sank into slumber, he dreamt of her eyes, so full of spirit and life…and hell…

 

“From the first day I saw her I knew she was the one

She stared in my eyes and smiled

For her lips were the color of the roses

That grew down the river, all bloody and wild.

 

When he knocked on my door and entered the room

My trembling subsided in his sure embrace

He would be my first man, and with a careful hand

He wiped at the tears that ran down my face.”

 

 

Albatross-Epilogue

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:00 a.m.

 

Trapper slammed the door and leaned back into it, eyes closed. She clenched her teeth and rhythmically pounded her head against the door. She stopped when she realized how silent the room was.

 

Opening her eyes, she looked around. Everyone was standing, staring at the far corner. A raven-haired woman lounged in the chair by the window. Her lips were bent in a smirk, but her eyes were glaciers as they stared across at Devin. Anna’s return glare was equally lethal.

 

Trapper raised her eyebrows in a question. Devin caught the movement, and half turned toward her.

 

“Trapper,” he said, clearing his throat. “Allow me to introduce Monique.”

 

“Oh, great,” she muttered. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

 

 

All Dressed Up and No-One to Kill

By Kay

September 6

Out and about New Salem

3:00 a.m.

 

Angelique leaned close and kissed LaCroix for a long, heated moment.  “For when we get back.”

 

Ricze laughed, “For now, you are with me.”  He slid an arm around her waist and propelled her to the window.  “Dawn is in a few hours, and we have places to go and people to eat.”

 

They flew and LaCroix watched, his anger building.

 

As they took to the air, Ricze turned to Angelique.  “Perhaps a change of clothing is in order.  I know the perfect shop.”

 

They descended into a dark alley and approached the back door to a nondescript establishment.  Ricze punched in a code on the door and in they went.

 

“Herr Vlashmire.”  A chubby balding man in latex breathed.

 

“Evening, Karl.  The lady and I are in need of some evening attire.”  He swept Angelique to the front and turned her in a slow circle.

 

“A nice one you’ve got there.  I have just the thing.”  Karl winked at Ricze and shuffled off to the front of the store.  “Cecil,” Karl yelled, snapping his fingers.  “Back.  Now.  We have a client to see to.”

 

Cecil sulked into the back room.  Took one look at Ricze, gave a little wink and smile then glared at Angelique before circling her.

 

“A 6 Grande,” he-she simpered.

 

“Tall,” Angelique corrected with a warning growl.

 

“Cecil, you know Herr Vlashmire is a valued client.”  Karl scolded, coming back into the storeroom.  “You will extend that courtesy to his guest.”

 

“Sister,” Angelique purred, running a hand possessively down the front of Ricze’s shirt.

 

Ricze captured her hand and planted a soft kiss to her knuckles.  “Aye, but still very close.  At times”

 

“Now and then.”  Angelique smiled, wrapping an arm around his waist and molding herself to his side.

 

“A 6 Tall, you say.”  Cecil disappeared into the show room.  A few exasperated moments later, he-she came stomping back into the store room with a gold cat suit, crisscrossed at the breast and snapping behind the neck.  A wide, black v-waisted belt and stiletto thigh boots with tiny, gold embroidered roses up the outside completed the outfit.

 

“Does the lady think she can handle the shoes,” Cecil smirked.

 

“Yes,” Angelique snapped.  Snatching the boots away from the he-she she turned to Ricze.  “Nice merchandise, but the staff gives me indigestion.”

 

“Annoying, but possessing a talented eye.”  Ricze smirked at Karl as Cecil turned on a heel and stomped back out to the show room.

 

A few moments passed before Cecil returned with tight fitting leather pants, thigh boots with gold buckles up each side, a silk poet’s shirt, and a gold studded leather vest.  “ gold silk tie for his hair completed the outfit.

 

The two changed their attire and left the establishment.  Karl  promising to forward the bill to Vlashmire Industry’s home location this time.

 

Ricze and Angelique flew toward the outskirts of town and landed down the block from a newly opened coed dancer’s club.

 

“Suitable for your game, Angel?”

 

“Always.  You promise to behave this time?”

 

“I give my word to try my hardest.”

 

They swayed, arms linked into the club.

 

Death and Death’s Sister.

 

The patrons of Sinful Secrets unaware that destruction was on the prowl.

 

 

It’ll be a Hot Time…

By Devin Saceur

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:01 a.m.

 

The silence that followed on the heels of Trapper’s last statement was unnerving. Everyone seemed anxious for someone…anyone else to open the conversation…or combat, whichever came first.

 

Devin moved to the bar, measuring his steps and watching Monique closely. Her eyes met his and persisted as he removed a bottle of warm vitae from the cabinet beneath the bar. He poured himself a glass casually; his gaze never left the angry visage of the woman, whose contempt seemed ready to spill over at any moment.

 

“So…” Devin began as he absently spun the glass between his hands. His “shit-eating” grin, as Anna had dubbed it, spread across his face. But the act had nearly drained him. It was as though a fissure in his soul was slowly consuming him as he stood in the focused wave of animosity. His demeanor was confident, but it was clear that he was nearing either an explosion or a breakdown. “How ’bout them Mets?”

 

Monique didn’t respond, nor did she move in the slightest. She was akin to some demonic statue, those baleful eyes cutting through any vestige of humanity…poisoning every passing moment with rage for past injuries unforgiven. Her spirit was lost to all but the furtherance of evil…and her revenge that in its steadied progression seemed to her the very taste of glory and justice.

 

Devin knew the depth beneath her surface and saw the utter futility of his attempt at humor. “What are you doing here, Monique? Have you missed me so much that you could not simply sneak up and murder me from behind? Was it so necessary for you to look me in the eye first?”

 

 

Snake Bite

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:05am

 

No one moved. No one breathed. It was a surreal tableau, suspended in a moment of time like a spider in amber.

 

In that time outside of time, between heartbeats, Monique flew across the room to Devin’s side. She had been swifter than an eyeblink, not giving Devin even the time to react.

 

“Of course I missed you, mon amour,” she breathed as she molded herself to his side. He held himself still with an effort as she rubbed her cheek against his and reached for his glass.

 

“How could I forget those times we shared?” she whispered and took a sip before pressing the glass back into his nerveless fingers. Monique moved like a snake to his other side, draping an arm across his shoulder in passing. “Don’t you remember those nights in Paris?” Her eyes took on a soft, faraway look. “When we sat, filling our glasses beneath the guillotine of ‘La Revolution’?

 

He smiled briefly as the memory returned.

 

Anna hissed from where she stood, but made no move to come nearer. She knew how deadly those daggerlike fingernails of Monique’s could be. Devin would have to get himself out of this one.

 

“But of course,” she pressed her blood-warm mouth against his ear, “that was before you killed Maman.”

 

Devin jerked as if he’d been shot. He stared at her as she came around to face him. “I repeat,” he said, controlling his voice, and affecting a nonchalance he was far from feeling, “what do you want?”

 

“Perhaps,” she said, looking at him from beneath her long, sooty lashes, “I needed to see you again. I would not kill you from behind, cher’. I would do it looking you in the face.” She ran a finger down his cheek. “And, perhaps, I came to warn you.”

 

“Warn me?”

 

“Davistch knows you are here, and why. He tried to warn me off, but you know how difficult that is.”

 

She heard the movements of the other vampires behind her. “We will speak again, Devin. You owe me a long overdue explanation before I kill you.”

 

A rush of air, and she was gone. Devin still felt the lingering pressure of her departing kiss on his cheek. As he raised his hand to touch it, he heard Anna’s voice cut through the fog like a razor blade through silk.

 

“You’ve got lipstick on your face.”

 

 

The Great Kilt Caper (1/3)

by MacCousin with help from Kay and Gilchrist

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:10 a.m.

 

Kay started walking toward the Collinwood suite again with Gilchrist and the MacCousin in tow, when she heard the two of them snickering behind her.

 

“What are you two giggling about?” Kay inquired.

 

“Nothin’ at all,” replied MacHeather, still chortling.

 

“We were jus’ thinkin’ ‘bout havin’a bit‘o fun with Mr. MacLeod,” answered Gilchrist.

 

Kay’s curiosity was piqued.  She grinned evilly.  “What kind of sick, twisted plans do you two have for him?”

 

“Well, the MacCousin and I were just saying what a shame it is that Duncan denies his heritage by nae wearing the kilt,” said Gilchrist.

 

Kay giggled and shook her head as she took out her passkey for the suite.  She unlocked and opened the door.

 

“Whatever you two are planning,” she began.  “I want in on it.”

 

 

Sinful Secrets

By Kay

September 6 –

Sinful Secrets dance club

3:30 a.m.

 

Angelique and Ricze entered the club.  The scent of mortals was intermixed with the stench of death and the heady musk of sex.  Bodies pulsated and coalesced on the dance floor to bass enhanced music being pounded from speakers set in the ceiling.

 

“So, this is Sinful Secrets?”  Ricze scanned the interior of the club, pausing to admire the current dancer on the stage in the center of the club.

 

“Sinful, yes.  But I don’t think it is very much a secret.”  Angelique responded.  They moved through the crowd toward the tables lying beyond the dance area that surrounded the stage.

 

A small woman of Hispanic heritage turned and admired Ricze then hissed at Angelique, challenging her right of possession over the male she accompanied.

 

“Immortality is no excuse for stupidity, childe.”  Angelique starred into the young Sabbat’s eyes.

 

“Think you’re tough, huh bitch?”  The girl lunged at the Nubian princess only to fall to the ground, an open slash on her neck from Angelique’s nails seeping blood.

 

“Hey,” shouted the male she’d been dancing with.

 

“Tend to your friend,” Ricze warned.  “Mine is in a sour mood of sorts.”  He pulled Angelique to his side and stepped over the convulsing body on the ground.  Settling into a corner booth,  he pulled his sister in beside him.

 

“We must so something to curb this anger you hold.  Perhaps a lap dance would do you some good?”

 

“Um.  Yes, but who’s lap where you intending to dance in?”

 

“Naughty girl.”  He tweaked her nose.

 

“Which one do you prefer?  The night is on me.”

 

“Let me see.”  She scanned the dancers.  All young.  Most trim.  Some sickly, but all willing to be used.

 

“That one looks promising.”  She pointed a long finger toward a young man with shoulder length dark hair in tight curls.  It hung wet, partially hiding his face as he knelt to accept tips from groping admirers.  “ collar adorned his neck.  Silver loops graced each nipple.  Angelique watched his muscles flex as he stood.  She smiled an invitation when he looked toward the booth she occupied with Ricze.

 

“And you,” she asked, turning toward her brother.  “Who shall the lucky young lady be?”

 

“I had something along those lines in mind.”  He motioned toward the side stage on the far end of the center area.  A tall Native American youth with wavy hair cascading down his back was strutting for the crowd of drunken women that gaggled at the base of the stage.

 

“You promised to behave.”

 

“I said I would try my best to behave.  I promised nothing.  Besides, he’s just too perfect to let slide by.”

 

“You could have at least worn a dress had you planned on picking up the same gender.”

 

“That can be arranged.”  Ricze raised his left hand in the air.  Angelique caught his wrist just as he was about to snap his fingers.

 

“Not in public.  You’ll frighten the young ones.”

 

“Fear keeps them in their place.”

 

Angelique straddled his lap.  Trapping his hands above his head she captured his mouth, raking her fangs against his lips.  “So wicked.  So into instant gratification.  That’s what I’ve always loved about you.”

 

 

The Unexplained

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:30am

 

The curtains still moved in the breeze created by Monique’s exit. Devin smiled sheepishly at Anna and took her proffered handkerchief to scrub at his cheek. She did not look amused.

 

“She still has it for you, Devin,” Anna said flatly.

 

Devin looked at her sideways over his hand as he continued wiping his face. “Has what for me?” he asked. “A deep, abiding hatred? I’ll buy that.” His voice was flippant, but his guts quivered like well-set Jell-O. His mind whirled as he considered Monique’s visit. What did she mean by the warning?

 

The rest of the room spoke quietly together. Vachon raised his head to smirk at Devin.

 

“Nice one, amigo,” he said with twinkling eyes. “The only person I know who can have two gorgeous women interested in him. One wants to kill him, one just looks like she wants to.” Vachon laughed and shook his head.

 

Devin was trying to think of some clever riposte when Trapper’s cellphone went off. She looked startled by the noise and retrieved it from her jacket.

 

“Evie?”

 

Everyone suddenly looked around the room. Evie and Schanke had gone out for a drink, and ordered fresh stock for the bar. They hadn’t come back yet, but no one had really registered the fact with all of the excitement.

 

Trapper frowned and looked perplexed as she listened to Evie. Finally, she said,” yeah. Of course, we’ll be right down. Don’t go in ’til we get there. Okay? Yeah, you too.” She pushed “end” and returned the phone to its home.

 

“What was it?” Nick asked. “She and Schanke are all right, aren’t they?”

 

Trapper looked thoughtful, her brow still creased. “Yeah, they’re fine.” She looked around at everyone. “They were on their way to the library, to see if they could catch up with Marc.”

 

Kat leaned against Javier, her arms crossed. “They’re about the only ones who can get anywhere near him at this point.” She looked over at Devin. “I don’t think he exactly trusts the rest of us.”

 

“Anyway, as they were driving, they noticed the “Taboo”.”

 

“You mean they noticed the ruins and the chimney. The place burned down during the massacre.” Devin spoke up. He had done a thorough reconnaissance of the town when he first arrived.

 

“Well, no. They saw the “Taboo”, whole and looking reasonably untouched.”

 

“That’s impossible!” Nick exclaimed. “We just saw it last night!”

 

“I know. That’s why I told her we’d be right down, and not to go in without us.” She shrugged on her jacket and walked to the window. “Coming?”

 

A moment later, the room was empty.

““““““““““““`

In the alley behind Elysian Fields, Angel and his little party looked up to the sky. He smiled as he saw the vampires flying away, and leaned over to caress Missy’s cheek with his own.

 

“Looks like the cavalry’s not going to be here, darlin’. That means we can have some fun.”

 

Missy glared at him over the gag.

 

Drucilla ran her hands over the wall. “He’s in here, Angel. My Spike needs me.” She vaulted to the roof. The rest of them followed suit.

 

Lux used the fire escape, muttering all the while. “They could’ve carried me, but nooo. Let good ol’ Lux find his own way in. Snotty bastards.”

 

 

Reacquainting

By MacCousin & Sukh

September 6

Ptolemaic Suite

3:45 a.m.

 

LaCroix sat in the Ptolemaic suite quietly fuming.  Spike could do no more than try to avoid the icy eyes that burned in fury across from him.   Methos watched the scene with an air of amused detachment.  However, he would admit that the idea of spending more time with these two was not a pleasant one.

 

LaCroix turned away from Spike, and narrowed his eyes, allowing Spike to escape the withering glare he had received all evening.  LaCroix could sense her coming and heard her through the walls.  He easily recognized the sound of leather swishing against leather and Màire’s scent of vanilla and sandalwood floated down the hallway.  He tilted his head and smiled.

 

His eldest was here.

********

 

Màire stopped in the middle of the hallway to glance at her appearance in one of the mirrors.  She dusted a bit of facial powder off her black silk shirt and studied the black leather pants she had thrown on so carelessly earlier in the evening.  She ran her fingers through her auburn tresses and viewed herself critically.

 

She sighed, turned on the heel of her boot and walked toward the door.  She was relieved to see the door open a crack, but LaCroix did not welcome her.  She knew he was there, yet he did not invite her inside.  She stepped over the threshold and looked into the room.

 

A rather sulky looking young punk revenant sat in the middle of the room.  Spike, too weak to do more than watch, began to tremble as her cold eyes settled on him.  Màire sniffed the sharp bloody smells.  The young one was still healing.

 

The other one was not a vampire, yet he was not a mortal either.  He held his sword with the easy grace of a seasoned warrior, and watched her with the precision of a hawk hunting.  She smiled at him, a slim smile acknowledging his wariness, and turned to LaCroix.

 

LaCroix looked up to his child, his glare had become a smirk.  “Màire,” he murmured.  “What a pleasant Surprise.”  LaCroix turned to Methos.  “Leave us,” he ordered.  “And take this thing with you.”

 

Màire tossed the passkey to Methos.  “Tara Suite,” she said.  “Four doors down to the right.”

 

Methos took one look at the two pairs of cold blue eyes staring at him and gulped.  He picked up Spike by the back of his shirt with sword in his other hand.

 

The door clicked silently behind them and Màire gave a small smile to her master.  “I see Angelique has you baby-sitting again, Lucius,” she said.  Màire couldn’t help chortling, but quieted down quickly at the sight of his eyes becoming laced with gold.  “Where is she?”  She walked around for a moment, then stopped and sniffed.  “I can smell her.  But why isn’t she plastered to your side, like so much lichen?”

 

A small snarl escaped LaCroix’s lips.  The next thing Màire knew she was pushed up against the wall.  “That is none of your concern.”

 

“Left you again, did she?”

 

He snarled again and ran his hand down her pale throat.  “You know better than to push me.”  His hand feathered over the fragile silk of her shirt.

 

Màire’s answer was a laugh as she showed her master fang.

 

LaCroix practically tore Màire’s shirt in two.  The buttons scuttled across the floor.  He could hold back no longer.  He dipped his head and slid his teeth in the soft white skin of her throat, groaning at the scarlet rush of her recent exploits.

 

Fangs slashed into her neck and Màire’s own gums ached as she wrapped her legs around his waist, rubbing against his hardening sex.  Her first emotion had been anger, yet she felt his need and unconsciously arched her neck, allowing him more access to feed.  He pinned her against the wall, gorging on her vitae, grinding against the vee of her pants.  Anger raged, need consumed him, the pearlescent skin of his eldest beckoned him to slake his fury in her yielding cold fire.

 

LaCroix ripped off her the tight leather pants, and trailed his fingers up her thighs.  He hissed as her hands slipped under his shirt.  He nails scraped down his back in a delicious melting of pain and pleasure.  He pulled out of her neck, with a feline growl, licking at the tiny crimson trails weeping down her collarbone.  Her hands stroked him through the linen of his trousers, he arched into the sweet torment of her muted touch and hissed as she and unzipped him.  She stroked him again, rough against his sensitized phallus.  He pumped his hips as she released him and pressed her moist center against him.

 

Màire forgot everything she had planned to bring up to the sweet fire of his caress as her body slid onto his.  “Now, Master.”

 

He sucked in a sharp breath and pressed into her in slow increments, his head lowered against her shoulder, licking at the drying blood trails.  When he was all the way in her, she smiled and licked his neck.  She grasped the smooth curves of his buttocks in her hands and pressed him to pump.  He did, slowly, teasing her with the exquisite feel of his sliding friction as he filled her.

 

She groaned and ran her teeth up his shoulder, nipping at his nape.  He moved faster, picking up the pace, sending the pleasure spiraling higher as she bit into his shoulder.  Scarlet pleasure washed through her as she took the excitement from his vitae, blending, tasting and melding into one white-hot eternal realm of sensual excess.  They climaxed together, a mixture of fury and sensation haunting the gratification trembling through them.

 

LaCroix loosened his grip on his child and gently licked away the leftover smudges of blood dotting Màire’s neck.  Her sweet supple skin glowed like red-hazed moonlight.  He ran his fangs down toward her shoulder, enjoying the small droplets of her life’s essence that slid down his throat.  Her sweet fragrance surrounded him once again.

 

“A chuisle mo chroí,” Màire murmured reverently.  She ran her fingers through his hair as he kissed her forehead.  Chilling kisses traversed to her lips.  Màire began ripping away his shirt, needing to sate her reemerging hunger.

 

“A thaisce,” he murmured in her native tongue.  He carried her back to the bed.

 

 

Memory Vortex

By Devin Saceur

November 29, 1866

New York, NY

Just before Midnight

New Salem Time: 3:45 a.m.

 

Manhattan seemed unlike any other city that evening. Having spent nearly a millennium in a nomadic state had all but dulled him to the miracle of fine, marvelously decadent civilization. His tastes, bound to the dogmatic climate of the Black Hand, had turned to a deep appreciation of silence. Each hour to himself had been spent in the pursuit of solitude…of any means to escape the drudgery and utter monotony of conflict.

 

But as he strolled, his arm around Monique, he felt the shocking beauty of the turbulent metropolis as though it were the very first time. The interplay of energy from street to street seemed to rise like an immense cacophony, searching for coherence and yet excited and reinvigorated each second with the pure, unordered splendor of existence.

 

The endless vitality of the city brought Devin to life once more as the two moved like shadows through the crowds along The Bowery, one of the city’s most degenerate areas. The two were indiscriminate hunters, ultimately, and as such, places of low class were no more obscene than a quaint chateau or manor populated by the aristocratic evil.

 

Just a ways down, crossing Houston Street, the swell of mortals was unreal. Peddlers hawked their wares to every passer. Filthy taverns served up a curious assortment, ranging from laudanum and other opiates to bathtub whiskeys and whores of every nationality and persuasion.

 

The avenues they traversed were lit only by the lantern power seeping from the shoppes and side alleys, wherein it seemed the most wretched forms of life had congregated to share their torment over a bottle, a pipe, and meaningless conversations aimed only at passing yet another evening in their collective hell.

 

A carriage narrowly missed the two vampires as they stepped cautiously around the various frozen aggregates of dirt and ice that so often founder the careless. The driver yelled some obscenity or other as he rounded the corner to Stanton Street and disappeared. Devin smiled as they continued across, Monique leading the way into a tavern that had been tastefully named “Rory’s Hole”.

 

Looking to the sign that hung precariously above the door like a wounded animal, Devin stopped and burst into laughter. “Are we honestly going to enter such a place?”

 

“Well why not?” she asked with a grin. “Come, come Devin…you’re far too prissy sometimes. Besides, we have business here. Now come inside.”

 

He studied Monique’s eyes and then allowed his to wander over the assembled crowd. Near the back of the poorly-lit place, a fight had just broken out. The groups of ghastly, unbelievably drunk men involved were stumbling about…overturning tables and kicking at each other in a futile attempt to do damage. Just to the right of the door, barely behind a curtain, a woman lay awkwardly on a bench with two men sprawled over her…each investigating a separate orifice.

 

Devin gawked for a moment as he reluctantly entered the building. “What a depraved establishment you have brought me to, darling. Are we to be married here?” But after his initial shock, he was surprised to find himself laughing again, rather than covering his mouth in disgust. There could be little doubt that the patrons of this tavern were among the most insipid and ill-bred of New York’s residents. But as he knew himself and his own deeds far too well, it was clear to him that judgment would be best reserved for someone else.

 

Without further thought, other than the wish for an expeditious end to this portion of the evening, Devin moved quickly to Monique’s side and proceeded with her up a flight of stairs. As she led the way, she called out through the noise to the bartender, who’d been watching them since they entered.

 

“Has my room been disturbed, Rory?”

 

“Not a bit, m’lady. Sealed just like ya left it.”

 

“Very good,” she muttered on her way up. Devin followed behind, trusting his lady implicitly, though his instinct told him that something wasn’t right.

 

When they reached the loft, Monique withdrew a key and quickly opened the door. “Get inside…”

 

“Not to be impolite or anything, right?” As he complied, Devin was instantly struck by the smell of decay. It couldn’t have been as pungent to the mortals, even on the same floor, but to his heightened sense it seemed straight from a tomb. The room was unlit, but he could clearly make out a small human form, suspended just above the floor by two lengths of rope attached to the ceiling.

 

Lying on the ground, a few feet across from him, were two bodies. Obviously dead, the corpses had already found rigor and were in the process of being consumed by a small horde of rats. A few had skittered out of sight when the door opened, but many continued their feast, undisturbed by the intruders.

 

The form dangling from the ceiling let out a faint, indistinct utterance as the two entered. Devin looked back to Monique, who had already closed the door and was moving to stand beside him. “What is this?”

 

A candle flared to life as she stepped past him, to stand before the hanging figure. As the light settled, Devin could clearly make out…beneath a thick, dried layer of blood…the facial features of a boy that could not have been more than six years of age. The mouth moved slowly against the obviously painful seal of the dried gore upon his lips. In his torso were many open slashes.

 

Monique backed away from the scene, a stunned expression on her face. Devin didn’t fare as well. From deep inside, his soul shuddered and he covered his mouth as he moved to the window. A tear slid down his face as he flushed with horror. “What have you done, Monique?! What in hell have you done?!?!”

 

She continued to back away, nearly stumbling over pieces of a shattered chair behind her. “I did not do this! Anton?! Where are you?!”

 

From out of nowhere came the shape, having apparently been melded with the shadows when they entered. The man casually stepped over to the broken young boy and smiled into the light from Monique’s candle. “I have been waiting for you…and now you are here. Pleasant evening to all. Saceur…I am charmed to meet you at last.”

 

Devin turned from the window, a deep line of anger across his brow. “Why have you done this to the child?”

 

A twisted smile showed the man’s fangs clearly, made even more hideous by the low light from the candle. “You should be asking your lady why I have done this. Oh, but let us not overlook formality. I am Anton…” He extended a terribly clawed hand.

 

Monique shook her head forcefully. “I did not ask you to do THIS!”

 

“I know who you are…” Devin accepted the offered hand with a feigned smile, and then pulled the other vampire toward him in a violent rush, slamming his other fist into the man’s face. As Monique stood, still stunned and trying to avoid settling her eyes on the hanging child, she watched in shock as Devin buried his dagger into Anton’s eye. As he pulled back, leaving the dagger in place, he plunged his hand into the man’s neck and tore free a sizable portion of his trachea.

 

But the man refused to die. Lifting himself and his aggressor from the floor, Anton shoved Devin into one of the ropes holding the child. As it snapped away from the ceiling hook, the boy fell nearly to the floor, groaning absently as the other rope prepared to break under the strain.

 

Devin rolled and came up across the room, fangs and claws extended as he prepared to lunge into Anton again. His eyes blazed a deep green, the last vestiges of his humanity laid bare in the face of the inner beast that was rapidly consuming his every thought and action.

 

The air itself seemed ready to ignite as the two vampires roared and charged into a frenzied attack. It was all Monique could do to remove the remaining rope from the child’s arm and carry him to the other side of the room as she watched Anton stab the dagger he had torn from his eye into Devin repeatedly…puncturing and rending flesh with each impact.

 

The two tumbled over…Anton kicking and lashing out with the dagger. Devin’s hand worked about on the floor until he found what he’d been seeking. With a sharp thrust, he buried a leg from one of the broken chairs into his opponent’s chest, cleaving his heart as it passed through his torso.

 

Following a piercing scream, the man collapsed beneath Devin, who quickly locked his fangs onto his throat. A few seconds passed and he drew his head back, involuntarily allowing streams of blood to run freely down his face as he struggled through will alone to heal the many wounds spread across his body.

 

As his gaze shifted to settle on her, he growled “I believe you have a bit of explaining to do, Monique.”

 

She didn’t answer. Rather, she sat looking at the child, a worn and ancient look eating into her face like the sudden retribution of ages denied. No tears left her eyes, but the woman seemed truly dead in that moment…as though something had been irrevocably torn from her spirit. She gently touched the boy’s forehead and shuddered. “He’s dead…”

 

Barely a second passed before she found herself roughly lifted into the air. Devin’s maniacal glare cut into her as he slammed her against the wall. He seemed fully prepared to rip her apart and she found the only thing manageable was a scream. “I didn’t do this!!! I told him to question the child…that’s all!”

 

“Question him about what?! He was a young boy! He couldn’t have known anything!”

 

“His parents…the two over there on the floor. They witnessed the murder of one of our own! The one who committed the act left a collection of papers in the possession of the father. We wanted to threaten the man with the loss of his boy if he didn’t hand them over. We think the writings may lead us to the Prince of this city…for we believe him to be responsible for our friend’s death!

 

“But I did not intend for Anton to do such things to the boy! I swear it!”

 

His expression lessened in rage slightly, only to be replaced by a profound anguish as he dropped her to the floor. “You had no business with that child. Whether you intended this or not, you are responsible for his death. Moreover, you should never have allowed that monster Anton to perform your interrogation for you. Or hadn’t you noticed that he killed the parents beforehand? There was no threat on the boy’s life made to them. He killed them and kept the boy alive for his own sick pleasure!”

 

Viewing the carnage around him, Devin stepped past Monique and opened the door. “I think that I’ve seen enough of your nature for one evening. Goodbye.”

 

 

Ships Passing in the Night

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:45am

 

The strains of Ravel’s “Bolero” drifted through the hotel. Jerome had been a bit adventurous in his musical selection for the night shift, but it certainly did seem to get the clean up crew moving.

 

The promise of passion slaked after desire wound its tantalizing way up the staircase and insinuated itself in the halls. Many visitors to Elysian Fields were caught in the musical spell. Moistened lips and glistening eyes fell prey to the charms of the tune.

 

The sounds eventually found their way up the airshaft, to flavor the night air above the hotel. Angel danced with Missy, whirling her gagged and bound form as he tripped across the rooftop.

 

“Ah,” he breathed. “Can’t you feel it? The spell of the night is on the wind.”

 

Missy looked at him as if he’d gone insane.

 

The music ended and he stopped his imitation of a dervish. Missy tried not to pass out from dizziness.

 

“Well, babe, the dance’s over.” Angel pinched Missy’s cheek. “Time to find dear old Dad.” He looked around. Drucilla and Lux had wandered off. He shrugged, grabbed Missy by the waist and dragged her around until he found the window he was looking for.

 

He swung easily over the ledge and onto Ricze’s balcony. The doors stood open to the night.

 

“Hellooo! Anybody home?” He looked around the suite. It was obviously empty. He hauled Missy into the room. “Well, sweet cheeks, it looks like you’re just not important enough for Daddy to wait up for. What do you say we leave him a little message, hmm?”

 

With one swift movement, Angel slashed Missy’s shoulder with his fangs. She moaned behind the gag. He proceeded to write on the pristine white wall with her blood.

 

When he was done, he stood back to look at his handiwork. The wall read, “Sorry we missed you. We’ll try again” in dripping crimson.

 

He grabbed up a bottle of “Sinclair”, opened it with his teeth, and drank off half of it. Then, yanking down Missy’s gag, he fed her the rest of the bottle. She drank it eagerly, ignoring the source. The wound in her shoulder vanished.

 

“There now,” Angel smiled and replaced the gag. “All better. Well, time we were heading home, dear.” He snatched another bottle and vanished out the window with his captive.

 

 

In the Company of Vampires

By RavenKat

September 6

New Salem

3:50 a.m.

 

As they took flight, Kat noticed a lack of extraneous movement.  She was glad that her self-achieved style closely matched that of those around her. Floating speedily toward town, she wondered if the others ever let loose and twirled about in the sky.  Centuries of secrecy probably kept their mode of transportation as sedate as it had kept hers.

 

Of all the talents that vampirism brought, flying was the only one Kat had not analyzed to death.  It was a romantic feat, one she had dreamt of as a mortal girl; to solve it would be to ruin it.

 

It was interesting, really, how different actual vampires are from those in fiction.  When Kat first read about Varney the Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, she had been horrified…and curious.  Several attempts had been made at lycanthropy, yet, not once did she change into a bat or a wolf.  The church thing generally held true, but she had held an aversion to religion long before she became one of the undead.  Rather it was the force of someone’s convictions that kept Kat at bay, more than any religious icon.

 

There was no problem crossing thresholds but garlic did make her sick. Homeland, literally, helped her more sleep more soundly, but coffins lined in soil had been out for a long time.  That is until Gothic came back in style.

 

As time progressed so did the image of the vampire.  They had become romantic leads – tragic heroes. No longer were they portrayed as drooling, animalistic maniacs that slept in coffins and fed off babies.  What Kat had seen and heard lately in New Salem convinced her that the original authors had not been too far off.

 

Even though this town was designed for vampires, Nick cruised around the corner of the club before landing.  The others followed suit, preferring darkness to the well-lighted street out front.  Detective Schanke and Evie could be seen in a similarly dark alcove across the way.  They darted through parked cars and made their way to the group of vampires.

 

Schanke patted his partner on the back and asked, “Everybody ready to go down the rabbit hole?”

 

 

Nimrod

by RavenKat

September 6

Elysian Fields

3:50 a.m.

 

“Fuck this!”

 

Tinkerbell and Scary Poppins could float around this fancy hotel all night long for all he cared; Lux Interior was leaving.

 

The fire escape groaned and clanged hollowly as he carelessly bounded down each consecutive level.  Lux had ceased trying to be quiet about seven floors ago.  Both because he doubted anyone who cared could actually hear him and because he needed to move as quickly as possible.  His sudden aversion to stealth coincided exactly with a bizarre incident that occurred as he passed one of the windows on the upper level.

 

Sneaking a peek, he thought he had caught a glimpse of Spike lying mangled on the suite floor.  He wasn’t sure because the milky drapes obscured any clear views.  There was a buzzing in Lux’s head and it got louder as he had leaned in for a second look.  It felt like being watched or like being snuck up on. He didn’t like it.

 

Something in that room with Spike was giving off some serious vibes.  Lux slowly brought his face to the glass and squinted.  Strolling around the suite was an average looking guy — short hair, biggish nose.  He didn’t exactly look all that scary — especially after seeing Angelus in full vamp mode, but something about him warned Lux to get the hell out of Dodge.

 

Unbelievably, Spike’s captor stopped pacing and stared directly at the hotel window, as if he could see Lux peering in.  Logic told him that because it was so dark outside and so light inside, there was no way that guy could see him out here.  But, logic be damned, Mr. Average had grabbed a sword and was heading toward the crouching Immortal.  Lux knew that these windows couldn’t be opened yet he stumbled backward anyway. He reached frantically for his own sword until he remembered where he had left it.

 

“Damn!” he whispered fiercely, scrabbling quickly to the other end of the fire escape.  Without so much as a second thought Lux began his swift and noisy descent to the alley below.

 

Man, did he need a drink.

 

 

Something to do?

Devin Saceur

September 6

Somewhere on the streets

3:55 a.m.

 

“Hello…Devin, my love…?”

 

The sarcastic inquiry cut through his painful recollection of the past. But he’d been so deeply involved in the thought that Anna’s voice almost sounded like Monique’s…and he jumped, startled to be standing just around the corner from the Taboo.

 

Searching for some composure amid the torrent of the emotions resurfacing in him, Devin merely stared at her for a moment before replying simply, “what?”

 

Anna glared back at him, but chose to keep her cool. She knew all too well what thoughts raced through his head. “We’re going inside, in case you’re curious.”

 

“Oh yes…yes, of course. Lead the way.” His face showed just a bit too little interest. Deep within…past the pleasant face he tried desperately to show, he thought only of Monique. Not of the anger and disappointment he’d felt on that terrible evening in Manhattan. Rather, he pondered what may have been…and of what was between them before that night.

 

Suddenly…though he walked beside one he cared deeply for…Devin felt more alone than he had in nearly a century.

 

 

The Well of Silence

By Trapper

September 6

The Taboo

3:55 a.m.

 

Nick grasped Schanke’s arm, relived to see he and Evie were all right. “Did you do any reconnaissance around the place?” he asked, inclining his head in the direction of the club.

 

Schanke nodded and looked back at the club. “Yeah, we scouted around some, but we didn’t want to get too close. It was just a little too weird, if you get my meaning.”

 

Trapper walked over to Evie, who was checking out her handgun. “Thanks for waiting.”

 

Evie looked up and grinned. “Hey, self preservation is our middle name!”

 

They both laughed at that, forgetting for a moment the seriousness of their mission.

 

The other four vampires approached from around the corner.

 

“What do you make of it, Evie?” Kat asked, her hands in her pockets.

 

Evie shrugged as she replaced her firearm in the shoulder holster. “I don’t know. The read that I got off the building is just…odd. There’s no overt magick, but there’s obviously something going on. It vibes like it doesn’t quite belong in this dimension or  something.” She peered at the building again, as if willing it to give up its secrets.

 

“Are we ready to try this?” Devin said. “We don’t have a lot of darkness left.”

 

“Good point,” Nick conceded.

 

Vachon stepped to the door and grasped the handle. “It’s locked.”

 

“This just gets stranger by the minute.” Schanke said. “I mean, you’d think, if it was a club again, that it would be open. Am I right?”

 

Devin nodded and headed for the back of the club. He returned a few moments later.

 

“No windows, to speak of, and the door there is locked as well.”

 

“In that case,” Trapper reached into her seemingly endless bag, “why don’t we leave a note on the door for John? We can tell him that we’re looking for him and Marcus.” She pulled pen and paper out and began to write.

 

Kat looked over her shoulder. “I think that’s a good idea. This is not a place that I want to get caught in.”

 

Anna agreed. “It just screams ‘TRAP!’ doesn’t it?”

 

Trapper pinned the note to the door. “Ok, shall we fly?”

 

Evie looked up. “Funny lady.”

 

“You know what I mean.”

 

They proceeded back to the hotel, as perplexed as when they’d arrived. Something was afoot. Now, if they only knew what.

 

 

Sinful Secrets, II

By Kay and Sukh

September 6

The nightclub

4:00 a.m.

 

Angelique gave Ricze a long, deep kiss, running the tip of her tongue across his fangs and grinding her hips into him.  He pulled one hand free and ran it down her back and slid his fingers under the fabric to grasp her cheek.  He pressed her against him as she laughed and tilted her head back.  He then arched up and ran his mouth along her neck, nipping at the tender flesh of her throat.

 

She hissed and pulled his vest open, scraping her nails across his nipple, shredding his shirt.  He arched into her touch, and groaned as she sank her teeth into his nape, pulling a drought of his powerful blood.

 

Angelique pulled out with a sharp gasp, excitement shuddering through her at the taste of his arousal.

 

“My turn,” Ricze grated as he pulled her to him and pumped his hips.  He held her by the back of her head, under her hair.  One hand brushed the crotch of her latex suit, cupping her heat.  “Next time, mhuirnín, I get one with snaps.”

 

He pulled her head back, exposing her throat.  He took his time, licking, stroking and blowing a trail of cold fire down her nape.  Then he pierced her skin, and let the first carmine rush of her power flow over his tongue.  She was desire, anger and pure feline strength.

 

“Mmm, mmm, looks good,” a muscular blonde in a T-back leered.  “Can I have some?”

 

“No,” Ricze snarled and started to rise.

 

“Too bad.”  The blonde shrugged, giving them one last appreciative glance before moving on.

 

“He didn’t put up too much of a fight.”  Ricze frowned as a cold chill snaked up his spine.  “You usually get more of a rise out of mortals.”

 

“Can I get you anything?”  A waiter stepped up.  “Perhaps a special vintage?”

 

Ricze looked at the waiter and smiled, tempering his usual smirk into a more friendly expression.  “I’d prefer on tap this evening.”

 

The waiter nodded “And you, Miss?”

 

Angelique tapped her nail against her chin for a moment before pointing to the dancer she had noticed earlier.  “I would like a private dance with that young mortal.”

 

The waiter looked at the dancer, then back at Angelique.  “That can be arranged.  Anything else?”

 

“Thank you.”  Ricze watched as the waiter moved away.  Then he took a large roll of bills out of his pocket.  “Go make nice with your dinner.”  He looked around at the gyrating dancers and the large crowd.  “And watch your back.”

 

Angelique peeled off a bill and wandered away as Ricze continued to scan the crowd.  The groups of mixed mortal and vampires flowed around her, and several pairs of eyes watched her progress.  He tensed; She was attracting more attention than he was comfortable with.  He reached towards his trenchcoat, which was draped over the seat to the right, and fingered his Glock 9MM as the waiter returned and slid into the seat next to Ricze.  The copper skinned man smiled at Ricze as he lifted his hair from his neck and bent his neck to Ricze.

 

“I am flattered,” Ricze purred as he ran his hand down the man’s neck, then stopped over his rioting carotid.  He slid one finger across the fragile flesh, putting on pressure, slitting the thin tissue and releasing the scarlet treat.  He bent over the man and latched onto the small slice, sipping, savoring the flavor of him.  His memories seeped into Ricze, as did the fire of his Polynesian blood.  He sucked harder, and noticed the slight bitter taste of rebellion, and something familiar that he couldn’t place.

 

Ricze opened his eyes after the initial rush and watched Angelique approach her dancer.  The dancer leaned to talk to her, and she ran a nail across the mortal’s nipple.  Then he stepped off the stage and led her to a dark corner.  As the mortal straddled her lap, she leaned in and latched on to her toy’s shoulder.

 

The hair along the nape of his neck rippled as he noticed a gang of young vampires maneuvering around the feeding Angelique in a loose circle.  Angelique had been unable to feed off fresh mortal blood in some time and was lost in the pleasure of the blood haze.  The dancer slumped over her, his head thrown back, clutching Angelique’s hair and shaking.

 

Ricze pulled out of the waiter and pulled his trenchcoat off the back of his seat.  The waiter curled closer, trying to sit on the coat and pull it out of Ricze’s grasp.  Ricze pulled the Firestar out of his boot and pressed it to the waiter’s belly as he slid them both out of the booth.

 

The first round hit the waiter dead on in the chest.

 

 

Shades of Futures Past

By Hanna

September 6

The Taboo

4:05 a.m.

 

He watched quietly as the others left the note behind and vanish off again into the night.  Why had they come here, and not sought him out?

 

He walked over to the piece of paper flapping absently in the wind and picked it up.  Why leave a note like this, and here of all places?  Had they been truly looking for himself, or Marcus, why did they not try to reach the Nosferatu in the sewers?

 

John shook his head as he walked back through the ashes of his much-loved, and much-missed, night club.  What had they seen that had provoked them to such a response?

 

 

Walking With the Dead

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

4:10am

 

By the time that Drucilla found an appropriate way into the hotel, she had already unnerved the few “normal” guests of the hotel. People engaged in quiet dinners or intimate moments in their suites were suddenly startled by the upside-down view of the Ophelia-like vampiress, peering in their windows. Her eerie, Cockney cries of ‘Spike!’ cut through the still night air, leaving people feeling rattled and nervous.

 

She found the little balcony at the end of the hall after several dead ends. She dropped silently and walked into the artificial twilight.

 

“Coo, Spike. What fancy digs you’ve gotten yourself into, my love,” she muttered to herself in her mad singsong voice.

 

Like a blind woman, she felt her way down the hall, closing her eyes and trying to feel the atmosphere for a sign of her lover’s presence. At a turn in the hallway, she was rewarded by the sight of a door with Celtic knotwork allaround the lintel. She put her ear to the door and softly called.

 

“Spike. It’s Drucilla, come to take you home, pet.”

 

Satisfied that it was the right room, she broke the door loose of its hinges and walked in.

 

Spike lay against the wall, bloody and disheveled with his ordeal at the hands of Ricze and LaCroix. Drucilla ran to his side and laid her face on his shoulder.

 

“Spike! What’ve they done to you?” She untied the bonds as she spoke. “Drucilla’s here now, and she’ll make everything all right, just you wait an’ see.”

 

Spike managed to croak out his thanks as she hauled him to his feet.

 

“Excuse me.” The cultured accent caused Dru to stop and turn.

 

Methos stood in the doorway, arms folded and eyebrows raised.

 

 

Shadow Dancing for One

By Trapper

September 6

A nameless chalet on the outskirts of New Salem

4:15am

 

Algernon looked at his watch again. It was getting late and the mistress wasn’t back yet. Monique’s vanishing acts weren’t terribly unusual, but she hadn’t been given to wandering off since their arrival in New Jerusalem. He glanced around at the room one more time, satisfying himself that everything was back in order. He absently walked to the sideboard and checked the vintages, to make sure that they were either chilled or body temperature, depending on the type.

 

Larry poked his head into the room. “Is she back yet?”

 

Algernon shook his head. “Nope. And I don’t mind telling you that I don’t like it.”

 

Larry stepped into the doorway, a large, looming shadow in the flickering candlelight. “This is odd, even for her.”

 

“I know.” Algernon peered out into the night, thinking that if he looked hard enough, he’d see her return. As usual, he was wrong.

 

A gust of wind blew the curtains horizontal and battered the French doors open. Monique collapsed into the chair next to the sidebar, legs over one arm of the old, overstuffed Morris chair, and arms crossed. With her rumpled hair and scowl, she looked like a petulant twelve-year-old.

 

“Welcome home,” Algernon said as he whisked to the bar. “Cold or warm?”

 

“Warm.”

 

He handed her the glass.

 

She drained it in a gulp and held it up again. “More.”

 

He rushed to comply. “Rough night?”

 

She took the glass and turned her head to him, arching one perfect eyebrow. “Just an annoying one.”

 

“I take it you saw him then.” He tried to sound casual.

 

“Mmm.” She emptied the second glass and held it out.

 

He filled it and left the bottle on the small table at her side. “I was starting to grow concerned, Miss Monique.”

 

She smiled slowly at him. “You were worried about me?” She reached up and patted his cheek with her cold little hand. “How sweet.” She sighed, put her glass down and stood, rubbing her hands over her eyes. “I apologize for my sarcasm, Algernon. You didn’t deserve that.”

 

She paced to the window and held the curtains aside, looking out at the night. “I didn’t expect to feel anything but hatred when I saw him,” she murmured. “But, all of the old feelings, the memories came right back into my hand.”

 

She turned halfway. “Do you know what I mean? Have you ever felt like that?”

 

“Yes, ma’am, I have. The emotions are very close to one another.”

 

She nodded and crossed to the chaise to lie down. “I know that I must kill him, face to face. He knows it, too. It’s the only way that this can end, but…” She left the thought unfinished.

 

Algernon padded silently to the doorway, herding Larry out before him.

 

“Algernon?”

 

“Yes, Mistress?”

 

“Thank you for caring.”

 

“Of course, Miss Monique.”

 

The door closed, and she was left in the darkness. Her thoughts mimicked the flickering flames as they danced through her mind. How long had it been since she had felt a tender embrace? She hugged herself as she ticked off years. She rose again and walked out onto the balcony. Perhaps the night breeze would clear her head. To think of the past; well, there lay madness.

 

She stood on the balcony ’til almost dawn; a pale wraith among the shadows. The moonlight glistened on her tears. Vengeance was a lonely game.

 

 

Sinful Secrets, III

By Sukh and Kay

September 6

The Nightclub

4:20 a.m.

 

Ricze shoved the waiter’s lifeless body at the first wave of shooters as he leapt up onto the back of booth.  His right arm disappeared into the sleeve of the trench coat, sliding free of the arm with a six inch silver blade grasped in his palm.  The first three henchmen to reach him lost their heads as he spun to his left, jumping from the booth he occupied to the back of the next.

 

Angelique’s head snapped up at the sound of gunfire.  She looked toward the stage to see Ricze leaping along the back of the booths.  His trench coat billowed behind and above him as his left arm slide into the depths of the open sleeve.  He landed solidly on the stage as he left arm leveled his favorite toy on the crowd rushing the stage.

 

Yet again Ricze had interrupted her at her meal.

 

“I can’t take him anywhere,” she hissed.

 

She noticed a group of seven mortals intermixed with Sabbat closing in on her.

 

Sliding the semiconscious dancer off her lap, she gracefully stood and pulled a silver dagger out of her thigh boot.  She stabbed the first charging vampire in the heart and swung him into the chest of the next attacker.

 

Shrieks of terror and outrage rang through the air as Ricze opened fire from the stage.  Silver bullets rained through the crowd.  Angelique’s blade sliced the throat of an advancing mortal.  Using the dying body as a shield, she shoved through the crowd, heading toward the stage, toward Ricze and his arsenal.

 

“Angel,” Ricze shouted as he reached the edge of the stage.  Angelique took to the back of the booths, dodging mortals and vampires alike as she leaped from booth to booth.

 

“Who’d you piss off now?”  Angelique smiled as she reached Ricze’s side on the stage.

 

“A set up,” he answered.  His right arm dipped under the trench coat and came up with two titanium-blazed swords.  “Shall we make our way to the exit?”

 

“Ah, the sweet memory of Paris.”  Angelique’s eyes twinkled with delight as she took a sword in each hand.  Ricze pressed into her back, the shotgun in one hand and his own sword in the other.

 

They leapt from the stage, Angelique swinging both swords in a breathtaking, deadly display of beauty.  What the swords didn’t slice through, her long legs smashed to the floor.  Ricze shadowed her back, wielding the sword with grace as the blast of silver bullets cut through the crowd.

 

The barrel cocked empty and he slide it inside the coat, replacing it with a lighter weight automatic machine gun.  He swung the spray in a wide arc, clearing away any would be pursuers as Angelique freed the exit for their escape.  They fled the bar; Ricze spun on his feet and mowed down the few vampires that slipped out after them before they took to the air.

 

Davistch watched the fight from the monitor at his headquarters.  Heads would roll for this fuck up.  He hissed and reached for the telephone as Angelique and Ricze disappeared through the exit of the club, leaving an incredible trail of carnage behind them.  August would not be pleased.

 

 

Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

4:28am

 

Drucilla looked the stranger up and down. Methos continued to stand there, looking at her quizzically.

 

“He feels odd, doesn’t he?” she murmured to herself as she approached him.

 

Methos looked at the dark haired woman curiously. He assumed that she was a vampire, here to rescue Spike from their ‘tender mercies’. Well, he’d soon show her he wasn’t an easy mark.

 

She sidled up close to him, gliding along and looking at him sideways from under her hair. “My, but he is a pretty one, though.”

 

Methos looked down at her. “You will find, Madam, that flattery will get you nowhere in this particular case. If these were other circumstances…” he shrugged expressively.

 

Dru smiled and brought her hand to her face. “Look at my eyes,” she chanted softly at him. “Be in my eyes.” She moved her fingers in front of him like a snake charmer with a flute. “Be in me. Be with me.”

 

Methos blinked once, twice, and realized that Dru and Spike were gone.  The curtains moved in the breeze through the open window.

 

“Damn!” he cursed as he strode to look for them. What had he been thinking of? She could have taken his head and he would’ve been none the wiser. He hit the sill with his fist and stared out into the darkness. He absently put his hand to his throat. It came away red.

 

“The witch drank my blood!” he exploded, and promised himself that it would prove to be an expensive snack for her.

 

 

The Great Kilt Caper (2a/3)

By Gilchrist and MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

4:30 a.m.

 

Kay, Gilchrist and MacCousin wandered into the suite.  The MacCousin began to unpack the laptop and other supplies, trying to ignore the challenging smirks passing between Kay and Gilchrist.

 

Before MacCousin could say a word the two of them jumped for a pillow and began trying to wrestle it from each other.  MacCousin rolled her eyes.

 

“It’s my pillow, you kilted fool,” shrieked Kay, trying not to let the tickling get to her.

 

Gilchrist pulled the pillow underneath his knees, oblivious to her attempts to tickle him.

 

“Would you two give it a rest?” grumbled the MacCousin, staring at the laptop screen, willing it to work.

 

Gilchrist and Kay happily ignored her.  Five minutes later, Kay was still pillow-less, as well as purple-faced.

 

“MacCousin,” Kay grumbled.  “Aren’t you going to help me??”

 

“I’ve been down that road many a time,” replied MacCousin, staring at what seemed to be the thousandth blue screen o’ death.  “Damn compaqs,” she muttered to herself.  She turned off the computer and watched the other two warriors, who were taking a resting break before they continued their little game.

 

“Okay, Gilchrist,” MacCousin said, turning to her old friend. “Why are we going through this fiendish plan with MacLeod?   I know I’m doing it because I think it’s a waste of great legs to not see him in a kilt.  What’s your angle?”

 

Gilchrist leaned back against the pillow in question and grinned.  “I canna believe I’m tellin’ you two this, but here it is.”

 

 

Reaching Out

By RavenKat & Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

4:45 am

 

Vachon kissed her firmly then turned her around and pushed her gently toward Nick. If Kat had detected even the slightest disapproval, she would never have pursued it – but Vachon had completely understood her feelings and encouraged her to approach Nicholas.

 

Trapper and Nick stood hand in hand, waiting for the elevator to arrive. They conversed in quiet tones, the affection evident in their hushed voices and body language. The lobby had been cleaned up; even the damage from the explosion was in the process of being fixed. Anyone signing in today would never believe what had happened in this beautiful place, only hours before.

 

Kat stepped up behind the two vampires, at a loss at how to start. Sensing her presence, they turned to face her. Smiling, Nick asked, “What’s up, Red?”

 

“I was wondering…I mean…” the words were stuck in her throat. Still holding hands, Trapper and Nick waited patiently for her to finish. The elevator came and went before she could find the strength to continue.

 

“I may never have known you were my creator if Ira hadn’t stabbed me.  In a weird way I am thankful to him. If he hadn’t tried to kill me, I never would have tasted your blood…” her voice trailed off.

 

“I know, Katherine. I’m grateful, too,” Nick said compassionately, hoping to save her from further embarrassment.

 

Trapper reached a hand out to Kat and gave her an encouraging smile.

 

“There is still so much that I don’t know. I was hoping you would spend the day with me – with us, in the Sultan’s Suite,” she asked. “Of course, this involves you too, Trapper. Please know I would like you there, as well.”

 

Nick felt Trapper squeeze his hand then smiled as he replied. “Of course we’ll be there.”

 

“Just let us make sure that Schanke and Evie are safe and sound,” Trapper added. “Then we’ll clean up a bit and be right over.”

 

The elevator doors opened again and they all rode up to their floor. As they went off to their rooms, Nick turned.

 

“If I haven’t said it before, I’m really very pleased to find out that I’m your father.” He grinned boyishly.

 

Kat beamed in return and waved as they vanished around the corner.

 

Vachon looked at her as they walked along. “I think you were great,” he murmured and drew her close.

 

They stayed that way, arm in arm as they went back to their suite.

 

 

And in this House

By Hanna

September 6

Glass Tower

5:00 a.m.

 

“And in this house of malcontents

Where evil comes to dwell

There resides a tiny, little girl

Who is going straight to Hell.”

 

Jenny leaned her head against the metal wall of her hiding space, trying hard to stay awake.  The last thing she wanted to do was fall asleep in this place, especially with Davistch still roaming the halls, furious over her escape.  The hum of the elevator, which seemed in constant use, was almost too much to bear, and Jenny’s eyes closed frequently.

 

Stay awake!

 

Whenever her eyes closed, she would hear that same velvet voice in her head, trying to keep her from danger.

 

Only this time, Jenny didn’t need the help.  Three voices approached and then stopped in front of the wall panel that hid her.  She recognized Davistch’s nails-on-the-chalkboard mixed with broken glass voice immediately.  The other two she didn’t know.  One had the sound of very old Italian, mixed in with poison.  She shook her head slightly.  That voice gave her goose bumps.  The other one sounded like a whining old woman.  After a few seconds of hearing him speak, she had to put her hands over her ears.

 

“It is your own fault, after all.  You shouldn’t have expected her to stay put.”  The Italian was laughing, only it was nasty and scornful. He hated Davistch, she could tell.

 

“It wasn’t like he could have expected the little bitch to smack him with the phone!” the whiner added.  His voice was cut off abruptly, followed only by a gasp of pain.

 

“Don’t you speak of my sweet little peach like that ever again!” Davistch warned, his voice dropping to a snarl.  “That girl is going to be my masterpiece, and I’m going to enjoy debasing her for centuries. You insult her again, and I’ll torture you until she’s ready for her first kill.”

 

“I’m…mmm…sor….rrry…,” gasped the whiner.

 

“You will be, Guilford.”

 

There was a thud, and Jenny knew that Davistch had been holding Guilford up off the floor by his throat.  She shook her head again, trying to clear out all that Davistch had just said about his plans for her future.

 

It will not happen, Jenny.  I promise you.

 

The voice came again, and was almost soothing.  Until Guilford started speaking again.

 

“She is a lovely toy though.  Did you see the curve of her hips?  The tiny buds that promise a full bloom.”  There was a brief pause, and then, “Davistch, I know you want her for her first time…but it’s been so long since I’ve tasted such a peach.  Can I nibble too?  Just a little bit off the top?  I won’t hurt her…too much.  Just enough to make her bleed, just the way you like it!  Please?  I’ll be good, I promise!”

 

Jenny didn’t hear Davistch’s response to Guilford’s whining request. Her stomach was turning and her head was spinning.  She started to gag, even though she knew they would hear her if she vomited.

 

Be calm, Jenny dear.  I will not allow him to touch you.  But you must be calm.  If they find you know, I will not be able to help.  It is almost dawn.  Be strong, little Jenny.

 

She felt a steady trickle of water suddenly and looked up.  There must be a fire sprinkler in the elevator, she thought to herself without really knowing why.  She heard Davistch and the other two shouting orders at servants and screaming at one another.  After about ten minutes, the voices were gone, along with the water.

 

What just happened? she thought to the voice that came to her.

 

I set Davistch’s office on fire.

 

How?

 

It is not important.  But I did not wish for them to hear you, had my attempts at calming you failed.  Now rest easy, Jenny dear.  Another hour, and it will be time…

 

 

Great Kilt Caper (2b/3)

By Gilchrist and MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

5:00 a.m.

 

Spring in Edinburgh was unlike any other season.  The heather flowers began to grow, the snows melted and filled the lochs with water, and the days grew warmer.  However, the spring of 1745 was a hot season indeed.  The Jacobites had risen for the third time, this time supporting Charles Edward Stuart for the thrones of England and Scotland.  Prince Charlie, as he was known in the taverns, claimed the throne of England and Scotland on the basis of his grandfather, King James I of England (James VI of Scotland).  Many of the Highland clans supported Prince Charlie.  However, the Lowlands were split into factions who supported Prince Charlie and factions called Loyalists, who supported King George I of England.

 

A man named Ron of the clan MacDonald owned one of the most popular taverns in Edinburgh at this time. The place served moderate, if passable food and drink.  The place was known for how fast you could get your food.  Rumor had it that food was prepared a day in advance of your arrival so you could get what you wanted immediately upon arrival. The tavern had lost business for a while, however, as rumors had spread about their practice of using horse meat and vegetable substitutes in their meat pies.  But, nothing had been proven.

 

The other interesting feature of the tavern was its sign.  Ronald built a sign, the likes of which had never been seen in Edinburgh before.  He had this sign built after customers had complained about not being able to find MacDonald’s place.  The sign was unique because it was toped with two gold arches of a sort.  The simple man that he was, the arches formed the first letter to his surname so that all around would know that this was his place.  After all, how many Mac’s are there in Scotland?  No others, according to a MacDonald.

 

Duncan and Connor MacLeod were sitting at a table in the corner one evening in March.  Tensions were high, even though months had gone by since Prince Charlie had defeated Sir John Cope at Prestonpans on Sept. 21.  Prince Charlie was retreating back to Scotland with his 7,500-man army after the French and Jacobite English failed to honor their promises of support with more troops.  Duncan was in Edinburgh to spy for Prince Charlie.

 

Connor munched on a particularly rare meat pie, savoring the iron taste of the meat juices in his mouth.  Occasionally, he picked at his fried potato, which never seemed to be cooked completely.  The barmaid, however, always managed to keep his mug of ale filled.

 

“I don’t know how you can stand munching on that meat pie,” Duncan commented as he munched on a slab of fish fillet on some barley bread.  “You don’t even know what kind of meat you are eating.  It could be English, you know.”

 

“Weeth hoow hungree Iee am.  Iee can eeet pleenty of food, noe matter whaat eet was,” Connor answered between bites.  “The meat pie was actually quite good,” Connor thought to himself.

 

“Well, there’s no guessing when it comes to fish, I’ll wager,” Duncan gloated.

 

Connor stared Duncan in the eye.  “Hoow doo yea knoow thaat yuur feesh ees actually feesh and naught dolphin?” Connor asked.

 

Duncan put down his fish.  “Dolphins never hurt anybody.  We shouldna kill them for our food,” Duncan rambled.  “Connor, promise me we will never eat at MacDonald’s again.”

 

“Dreenk yuur mead, Duncan,” Connor answered derisively.

 

At that moment, Connor and Duncan felt a familiar pain in their heads.

Several Scots stood up to greet a man coming through the door to the tavern.  Connor stood up to see who it was.  Gilchrist MacDuff had arrived.  Gilchrist was known by some to support the Loyalists in favor of King George I.  The Tavern was apparently full of Loyalists today; only Loyalists seemed to come to Ronald MacDonald’s two for one special on Tuesdays.

 

Gilchrist looked above the heads of the crowd gathered around him and spotted Connor.  Gilchrist excused himself from the mob, walked over to Connor, and clasped Connor’s offered hand.  “Sae  gude  ta see yea, Connor.”

 

“Eet’s beeen a whiile, haasn’t it, Gilchrist?” Connor asked.

 

“Aye.  ‘N wha dah’ee hae heir?” Gilchrist asked as he looked at Duncan.  “I’m Gilchrist MacDuff frae  tha Clan MacDuff, Guide  of the Scots fur mony yeirs mair than ye’ar ages combin’d.”  Gilchrist offered his hand.

 

Duncan grasped his hand.  “And I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.  I offer you, Protector of Scotland, a drink of mead with us.  Do you accept?”

 

“Aye,” Gilchrist replied.  No Scot worth his weight in gold ever turned down an offer for mead or ale.  Gilchrist sat down with Duncan and Connor at their table.  A serving wench immediately brought a mug overfilling with sweet smelling mead.

 

“So, tell me about our pursuit of the Young Pretender?”  Duncan asked casually.

 

“We are forc’n him inta tha Hielans.  We suld hae tha Young Pretender gared into Inverness bae April.” Gilchrist cheered.

 

Another man walked into MacDonald’s tavern.  The man was slightly shorter than Gilchrist, wearing the tartan of the Jacobite.  Many of the Loyalists avoided talking with the new arrival.

 

Duncan yelled, ” Hey, Colm! Come join us!”

 

Suddenly, Gilchrist jumped to his feet.  “Yur a Jacobite,” he yelled at Duncan.  Gilchrist promptly spat on the floor.

 

Duncan rose, along with Connor, and defended his position.  “Prince Charlie is the rightful heir to the Thrones of England and Scotland.”

 

“Nae, an I weel prove’t,” Gilchrist responded.

 

“Uilleam.  Doo naught puursuue thees action.  Let heem go,” Connor pleaded.  The last thing MacDonald needed was another massacre like the one at Luby’s place, down the lane.

 

“There can be only one,” Gilchrist and Duncan said in unison.

 

Gilchrist drew his basket hilted claymore first, only to feel a cold draft where none was felt before.  The entire tavern erupted in laughter at the sight.  Gilchrist had cut his own Kilt clean off his body when he had drawn his blade.

 

Gilchrist, barely able to speak through his angry embarrassment, managed to stare at Duncan and Connor and said an oath, “MacLeods, our clans were foes in tha past.  We even became friends fur a’time.  But ne’er wull we be friends again!”

 

Gilchrist spat on the floor and left the tavern.  Many of the Loyalists left with him.

~~~~~

 

Gilchrist finished his tale and slid down onto the floor.  His hazel eyes had become mischievous and a wicked smile wrapped across his face.

 

“I can’t say I’d blame you after that,” said Kay.  “I’ll even help you with the supplies,” she continued, grasping her spellbook.

 

 

Morning Has Broken

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

5:00 am

 

“Are you as tired as I am?” Trapper yawned as they entered the suite.

 

“The answer to that is yes,” Nick said as he shrugged out of his jacket. He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

 

“Shall I order some espresso, since we have to go out again?”

 

“Mmm. That would be nice.” She leaned her head back against his chest. “Or, we could just stand here and fall asleep.”

 

Nick freed one hand and called down to Room Service for refreshment.

 

Schanke and Evie trailed in with Devin and Anna close behind as Nick hung up.

 

“Is everything buttoned up for the night?” he asked an exhausted Schanke.

 

Don nodded, barely keeping his feet underneath him. “Oh, yeah. And Mrs. Schanke’s boy is off to bed. Sweet dreams, y’all.” He staggered off to his room.

 

“I’m with him,” Evie muttered as she went off to her quarters. Her blood-encrusted jacket left a little trail of brown flakes as she pulled it off. They heard her tired exclamation as the door closed. “Oh, jeez! I have got to take a shower! I look like a refugee from Evil Dead 2!”

 

“Have you got a place, Saceur?” Nick asked.

 

Devin still looked a bit distracted and shell-shocked from his earlier encounter with Monique. Anna nudged him.

 

“Nick’s talking to you, Devin.”

 

“Oh, yes, Detective.” Devin tried to clear the cobwebs from his mind and bring himself back to the present. “I took the precaution of booking the Mesopotamian Suite at the same time I booked my ill-fated Provencal.”

 

“Then I assume we’ll see you at sunset?”

 

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Devin said wryly. “I still want to get inside that club.”

 

They said their good-byes and exited the suite.

 

Trapper turned in Nick’s arms and kissed him. “I’m going to take a quick shower and change.”

 

Nick smiled as she reluctantly pulled away. “I’ll bring your latte in when it gets here. As soon as I’ve showered and changed, we’ll be off.”

 

He pondered all of the happenings of the night as he waited for the drinks to arrive, and hoped they were getting closer to finding out what was going on in New Jerusalem. So far, they’d managed to rack up an impressive body count and avoid being killed in the process. But the solution to their troubles continued to elude them.

 

 

Catfight!

By MacCousin and Cousin Suk

Septenber 6

Elysian Fields

after 5 AM

“By Morrigan’s teat, ” Ricze spit as they landed in front of Elysian Fields.   “I’m gonna use August’s kidneys for wall hangings.” He stalked through the doors, the quiet Angelique beside him and strode through the lobby.

 

Fraser and the Rays stopped and watched the pair as they moved to the elevator in long angry steps.  They were dusty, covered with dirt and dried blood.  Ricze’s leather trench coat was full of holes and Angelique had a pair of lethal looking Katanas in each hand.

 

“This does not look good.”  Ray muttered as Benton started to follow. “What are you doing?”

 

“Checking to see they make it safely to their rooms.”  Benton froze as Angelique looked back at him and snarled.  Her face was contorted in an expression of pure fury, fangs out and eyes gold-green.  “I think that we need to find out what happened to them tonight.”

 

“I’ve never seen a woman that pissed.”  Stanley watched as the pair of vamps disappeared into the elevators.

 

“I have.”  Benton narrowed his eyes and moved toward the other elevator.

 

“Hey,” Ricze stopped Angelique outside the door of the Ptolemaic suite.  “Don’t worry, we’ll find Micah.”  He pressed a kiss to her forehead.  “Then we can kick August’s ass.”  He waved as he moved toward his own room.

 

Angelique let herself in and grimaced.  The cleaning crew hadn’t arrived, and blood was tacky on the carpet.  The scent of her blood

mingled with Lucius’ and the young revenant Spike’s blood to stench up the area.  However there was a strange new scent that drifted through the room.  It was a cloying smell that was somehow familiar.

 

As she moved to the bedroom, closing curtains as the dawn lightened the sky.  She opened the door and froze.

 

Màire.  In bed with LaCroix.

 

Angelique stood immobile for nearly a minute.  She tried to see through the thin red haze surrounding her.  She moved, yanking off the covers and burying her hand in Màire’s red hair.  She yanked the other woman out of the bed and shoved her against the wall. ” I don’t think so,” she growled as her head bobbed in rage.

 

Màire glared back.  ” He’s tired of you, ya dried up OLE hag.”

 

Angelique grabbed her by the arms and shook Màire.  “Don’t even go there, you Irish whore.”

 

Màire grimaced and dug her long fingernails into Angelique’s arms.  Angelique let out an enraged roar.  Màire managed to throw the taller woman to the ground and leaned over Angelique.  “Dinna ev’r call me a whore again, bitch.”  Her brogue that had disappeared within the last millennia was back.  Unfortunately she didn’t seem to realize that her long hair was in grasping reach.  Angelique growled and grabbed two handfuls of hair on both sides of Màire’s head.  She pulled down her opponent’s head and then hit Màire square in the nose.

 

LaCroix sat up in bed and watched them with a raised brow.

 

Màire stumbled away, grasping her nose and cursing in varying languages.  Angelique rolled away and was preparing to grab Màire from behind.

 

“Hooshia!”  Angelique growled.

 

Màire whirled around and grabbed a large vase, smashing it on Angelique’s head.   “Focáil leat, schank,” she retorted.  Both women

stumbled around.  Màire still holding onto her nose, Angelique was rubbing away the blood streaming down her forehead.

 

Angelique found one of her Katanas and whirled around.  The blade gleamed in the light.

 

“A crieche,” growled Màire, wishing she had brought her own claymore with her.  Then she spied another Katana to her left side.  Angelique brought the blade down through the air and neatly clipped Màire’s shoulder.

 

Màire’s howl of fury echoed through the suite.  She moved quickly and unsheathed the other Katana.  The smells of their spilt blood surrounded them in a miasma.

 

The two bleeding women growled as they faced each other.  Their faces distorted in rage.  The swords clashed and whistled around them.

 

“Ladies,” LaCroix commanded as he looked from one woman to the other.  They froze at his icy tone, and looked at him.  ” As flattered as I am by this, it is time to stop.”

 

Angelique rounded on LaCroix.  “Don’t even think you can tell me what to do.”   She slashed at him with the blade.  His eyes widened as he spun out of the way.

 

“Perhaps you’ve had a bad night my dear.”

 

“Bad doesn’t even begin to cover it.”  Angelique swung at him again as he wrapped the sheet around himself toga style.

 

He lunged out of the way and caught the sword Màire tossed at him.  “I don’t wish to hurt you, Angelique.”

 

She laughed at him.  “Well, guess what?  I don’t have a problem hurting you after the night I’ve had.”  She twirled the Katana in front of her in a few rapid feints then lunged at LaCroix.  He countered her swing, crossing her sword and pushing her back.

 

“Perhaps you would rather sit down and discuss it in a rational fashion.”  He growled as she nicked his forearm.

 

“No.  I’d rather make you both bleed.”  She snarled as he managed to maneuver them out of the bedroom.

 

The far door shook as Cleo tried to escape and help her enraged mistress.

 

“I grow tired of this petulant display of jealousy,” LaCroix managed to disarm her.  He tried to hold her as she went to her knees, but she shrugged him off.  ” Now, my dear, tell us what brought this outburst forth?”

 

Angelique growled as a naked Màire planted herself at LaCroix’s elbow.  “What’s wrong, dearie, Ricze not satisfy you?”  She draped an arm over LaCroix’s shoulder and smirked.  “Wait your turn.”

 

Angelique screeched and lunged at Màire again, pulling her over into a spectacular backflip and sitting on the Irish vampire’s stomach. As Màire spit and scratched, Angelique bitch slapped her and started to pull out her hair in small clumps by the roots while muttering in Egyptian.

 

LaCroix lifted Angelique off the hissing Màire and pinned her to the closest wall.  “I think you need to find another bed for this day.  Come back when you are ready to explain this foul mood.”

 

Angelique shoved against the wall and propelled her and LaCroix into a very old table.  She yanked herself out of LaCroix’s grip and stalked over to free Cleo, before leaving the room.

 

Benton and the two Rays watched in silence as one Egyptian princess in a shredded latex catsuit made her way to Micah and Duncan’s room.

 

She laid her head on the door, wishing that he brother were there to counsel her, then passed the door on, stopping in front of Ricze’s room.

 

As she raised one blood caked fist to knock there was a blood curdling roar and Ricze flung the door open.  He stared at her for a blank moment, rage contorting his features.

 

“What now?”  She sighed, her ancient bones feeling all their years.

 

“That Fucker Angelus had Missy here.”  Ricze growled.  “And he made her bleed.”

 

Angelique could feel her knees buckling.  “That’s nice.”  She whispered as she passed out in the hallway.

 

Ricze scooped Angelique off the floor.  “I don’t care if he does get his soul back, I’m still going to pound him into a bloody spot.”

 

Once inside, he laid her on Missy’s bed.  Then he moved into the living room and paced, growling and snarling as he stopped every so often to read the bloody note on his wall.

 

Ray turned to Fraser.  “Man, we are going to die in this forsaken town.”  He griped as Benton made himself comfy in the middle of vampire central hall.

 

“Then by all means Ray, go get some sleep.”  Benton patted Deif’s head. “We’ll be safe for the day.”

 

Ray and Stanley looked at each other, groaned as one, and hunkered down on the floor.  “I hate when you play martyr Benny.”

 

 

Notorius

By RavenKat

September 6

Sinful Secrets

5:15 a.m.

 

The massacre had been impressive but over much too quickly.  As soon as Angelique and her escort had made their way out of the demolished club, the endless party had started up again.  Blood flowed freely and those that weren’t dying from its loss were reveling in its plenty.  Dancers of both sexes smeared handfuls of gore onto their naked bodies, all the while writhing to the techno beat.

 

Ignoring his desperate grasping, Tracey stepped over the gutted waiter.  He begged her, “Please…” then grabbed at her leather miniskirt.  With a look of mild disgust, she brushed his hand away and kept walking.  She wasn’t really looking at the slaughtered Sabbat, she was reliving her Becoming at Casa Loma.

 

Something was nagging at her mind, something she should be remembering but couldn’t quite catch.  Much of the torture she had endured was blurry, intricately mixed with bizarre childhood memories; Tracey wasn’t sure which parts were based in reality and which were hallucinations from her exhausted and tormented mind.  She could almost see her torturers, almost put faces to the bastards that had strung her up and beaten her within an inch of her life, but every time she thought she had it, the images would slip away leaving her more angry and frustrated than before.

 

“Ey, Miss?  Wanta nip?”

 

Tracey was wrenched from her memories by an English accent.  She turned violently, eyes golden, to see a black vampire holding a very willing dancer by the hair and swinging her in Tracey’s direction.  Her over-reaction was missed by the generous man.  Controlling herself, she shook her head  in response.

 

“Suiter self,” he said cheerfully before tearing into the neck of his victim.

 

The young ex-detective took a last look around Sinful Secrets; The sun would be coming up soon.  She may be only a month dead, but Tracey knew when it was time to head back to the caves.

 

 

Aftermath

by MacCousin and Gilchrist

September 6

Elysian Fields

5:45 a.m.

 

LaCroix stared as Angelique stalked out of the suite with Cleo at her side.  He then turned his attention to Màire, who was gathering pieces of her hair.  Her hands, arms and shoulder coated in blood.

 

He offered her his hand and her eyes flashed, as she stood on her own, ignoring his hand.  “Why did you stop us earlier?” she grumbled, her brogue had disappeared.   “I could have taken care of myself.”

 

“I didn’t want either of you to harm each other further,” LaCroix replied.

 

“Yeah, right,” replied Màire, curtly.  “You enjoyed it, Lucius.”  She looked over her shoulder at LaCroix.

 

Her master gave her a cryptic smile.

 

Màire looked at the clumps of red hair in her hands and began checking her head for thinning spots.   She looked at her master, lower lip quivering.  “Am I bald?” she asked.

 

LaCroix laughed, “you still have plenty of hair.”

 

Màire took a shaky step toward the bedroom.  “I have to take a bath,” she murmured.  “Then I’m going to bed.”   She stumbled and nearly fell on her weakened legs.  LaCroix moved to her side.

 

“Of course you are quite welcome to stay, but,” he paused and raised a brow in her direction.

 

“Of course Ill stay!”  laughed Màire.   “Ill be damned if I let Angelique kick me out.  I may not be as old, but just because…”  She took another couple of steps toward the bathroom.

 

“Because?”

 

“Never mind, just something that happened a long time ago.  I managed to forget some of it, until she pulled me out of bed. Then the memories came back.”  Màire stood in the doorway and looked back at LaCroix with her quirky grin.  “Angelique’s rather territorial isn’t she?”  Her smile widened.  “As if I can say I’m not.”

 

Màire wavered a moment in the doorway.  And for once I won,” she said, a small note of pride in her voice.  She paused to study LaCroix.  The pain in her scalp and arms was fading and her hunger returned.  Amber flecks danced in her eyes.  “Give me a minute to clean myself up,” she murmured.

 

LaCroix leaned into the doorway, his eyes reflecting her own.

 

“Unless you wish to help.”  Màire grinned wickedly.

 

“I believe I’ll wait for your return.”  LaCroix leaned into her once again.  A fang slid its way down her earlobe.  Màire shivered with pleasure and watched as LaCroix backed away.

 

Màire giggled as she closed the bathroom door.  “Whee!!!!!!”  She whooped in joy.

 

She turned on the water, splashing the warmth with her fingertips.

 

(20 minutes later)

The water was still running in the bathroom.  LaCroix noticed the time and walked by the doorway.  There was water seeping onto the carpet within the bedroom.

 

He opened the door to find his eldest child sitting on the toilet seat, snoring quietly.  Màire’s right hand in the overflowing tub.  Her left arm was wrapped around her face.  He turned off the faucet and picked up Màire.

 

LaCroix tucked her in, remembering how he had done the same thing nearly fifteen hundred years ago to a foster daughter he hardly knew.  He stroked her hair gently, watching a familiar smile flit across her lips.  Màire opened her golden eyes.  “Now where were we, before we were so rudely interrupted?”  she asked coyly.

 

LaCroix smiled.

 

 

Lesson Number Two

by Kay and MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

5:50 a.m.

 

“Why don’t we get some sleep first,” MacCousin suggested, packing up the useless Compaq Kay had zapped into the WAR with her.

 

“Good idea,” Kay said.  “You can use Sukh’s room.  I think she’ll be busy until at least noon.”

 

“And what about me,” Gilchrist asked.  Kay and MacCousin looked at the man kneeling atop the pillow.

 

“I’ll call room service to get a blanket to go with that pillow you love so much.”  Kay sauntered over to the phone and dialed the front desk.  As a second thought she ordered Sukh a care package….one could never have to much fudge and pastry brushes.

 

“Damn,” Kay grumbled as she hung up the phone.  “How am I supposed to sleep without my music?”

 

“I think I have a Chieftains CD,” offered the MacCousin helpfully.

 

“Yeah right,” laughed Gilchrist.  “Irish reels to sleep by.”

 

Kay pulled MacCousin towards the doorway.  “We’re going to the gift shop,” she said.

 

Before MacCousin could voice an opinion, she and Kay were in the hallway.

 

“Why don’t you just zap in a CD?” MacCousin protested as Kay yanked her along toward the elevators.

 

“I’m not in the mood to deal with side effects.  Besides, Ricze’s card is begging to be used and abused,” Kay laughed, punching at the button on the wall.  “I hope they have something decent down there.”

 

The two stood in the hallway, chatting away the time as the elevator made its way to their floor.  Dead silence filled the passage when the doors slid open.

 

“Oh My God,” Kay shrieked.

 

“What?”  MacCousin yelled, jumping back just in case.

 

“It’s that hippie vampire again.”

 

“You,” Steve said, stepping off the elevator.  “I was just thinking about you lovely ladies.”

 

“Quick, Kay.  Run for the room while you can.”  MacCousin grabbed Kay’s arm and pulled her toward the suite.

 

“Wait,” Steve whined, running after them.  “Don’t you want to join me for a couple of drinks?”

 

“I prefer my blood where it is,” MacCousin snorted. “Thank You Very Much!”

 

“I wasn’t askin’ you,” Steve simpered.

 

“Thank God,” MacCousin shouted, throwing open the door of the suite.

 

Steve stopped the door from slaming in his face.  “Here I was thinking what a nice time I could have with a lovely lady like yourself.”  He reached for Kay’s arm, but MacCousin yanked her into the suite.

 

“Get lost.”  She told Steve.

 

“It’s a free country, I can ask the lady to spend time with me if I want to.”

 

“Not here you won’t.”  MacCousin planted her fists on her hips, daring Steve Lalor to come further into the room.

 

“What’s all the ruckus,” Gilchrist asked, coming out of Kay’s room.

 

Steve used the insuing confusion to snatch at Kay’s arm.

 

“Hey,” Kay shouted.  She jerked Steve toward her then shoved him backwards with both arms.  He floundered to the ground, then stood up, coming at her again.

 

“What’s with you women?”  He asked.  “Can’t a guy get any respect around here?”

 

“You sick pervert,” Kay scoffed.

 

“She has a guy, for your information.”  Gilchrist came up to stand beside Kay.

 

“Excuse me,” MacCousin shouted, shoving Gilchrist from behind.  “You just earned yourself a permanent home on the couch.”

 

Steve rushed Kay again.  She stepped aside.  He went sailing past her, crashing into the floor.  She planted her legs shoulder width apart and drew her sword.

 

“Try it again, and your shish-ka-bob.”

 

Steve muttered something under his breath.  Kay’s eyes squinted.  She growled low in her throat and charged at him.  He stood there, like a bump on a log, the sword slicing right through his stomach.

 

A small sound escaped his throat as he looked down at the sword passing through his body then back up at Kay.

 

“What’d ya do that for?”  He whined.

 

“Because I can.”  Kay walked toward Steve, forcing him closer to the window. MacCousin opened the glass panels just as Kay reached the opening.  She withdrew her sword and kicked Steve out the window.  Kay and MacCousin watched as Steve fell toward the alley, landing in a dumpster with a loud crash.  The top fell shut from the impact.

 

“And stay there,” they both shouted before closing the window.

 

“Someone really ought to put that guy out of his misery,” Kay said.

 

 

The Reluctant Rescuee

By Hanna

September 6

Glass Tower

6:00 a.m.

 

Jenny opened her eyes when she heard the door to the compartment open. The rush of fresh air was wonderful, and she spent a few moments breathing deeply.

 

Breathe later Jenny.  Davistch has lay down for the day, but he can still rise if needed.

 

Jenny nodded her head in understanding, then crawled out of the safety of the cubby.  She followed the tiny girl named Hanna to the stairwell, and together they climbed down all 25 flights of stairs.  When they reached the lobby, they stopped.

 

Two guards blocked the main entrance, and a clerk worked busily behind the front desk.  Hanna stared down the opposite corridor for a moment and all three “officials” ran hurriedly in that same direction.  Quickly, Jenny opened the door, noting how Hanna never actually touched anything.

 

When they reached the safety of the streets, Jenny asked her, “How did you do that?”

 

It is not important.  This way.

 

Jenny followed after her, staring hard at Hanna.  “You’re one of them, aren’t you?  I mean, the fire, the guards, talking in my head.  You’re one of them!”

 

In a sense.  We are all vampires, but I am nothing like them.

 

Jenny pulled away from her, and Hanna started to fade.  “Wait!” Jenny yelled to the fading vampire.

 

Listen to me, Jennifer.  I can only help you if you allow me to.  The sun is almost up.  I can only stay on my own until then.  If you resist my aid, I will be gone, and you will be alone.  You do not know this city, and you know nothing of the travesties that occur here, even during the day.  I cannot abide you alone in this city, but if you resist my help, I will have no say.  I need your faith, Jennifer.  Allow me to help you to return to your father.

 

Jenny listened carefully, growing sadder as each moment passed.  She didn’t want to fear Hanna, and she definitely didn’t want to be alone.  “All right.  Now isn’t the time to be picky.  I’ll be mad later.”

 

Hanna smiled and reached out a tiny hand.  She almost brushed Jenny’s cheek, but turned away suddenly.

 

We are being followed.

 

Together, they started to run.  They ran and ran until they almost reached the forest.  Hanna stopped suddenly and hissed, scaring Jenny almost to death.  The tiny vampire turned, hate blazing in her black eyes.  Jenny looked and saw the men that were following them.  They looked, and smelled, like dead things.  Even worse, they were all carbon copies of each other.  Their hair was lank and straggly, their eyes bled freely.  Their clothes were in tatters about them, and their mouths hung open as if their jaws were broken.

 

Blood Brothers.

 

“What?” Jenny whispered in terror.

 

Blood Brothers.  They are a Sabbat toy.  All of them are exact copies with the exact same thought in mind: whatever one is told to do, they will all do until they are destroyed.

 

A newsstand owner was just about to open shop when the Blood Brothers passed by him.  He moved out of the way of one, and immediately bumped into two others.  Their reaction was quick, faster than Jenny though decaying bodies could have moved.  The twelve of them devoured the screaming man with all the frenzy of piranha, leaving only near-spotless bone remains behind.

 

Jenny couldn’t help herself.  She started screaming.  Hanna reacted quickly.  She stared at a nearby warehouse, gave it the same sort of concentration she had the corridor, and then the building collapsed upon itself.  The rumble spilled rapidly into the street, most of it landing upon the Blood Brothers.

 

That will only stall them for a few minutes.  We must hurry.

 

Jenny ran after Hanna, noting that the form was almost translucent.  Oh please Daddy, she whispered to herself, not yet.  Let her stay just a little longer.

 

As they entered the trees, Jenny almost turned back.  The howling of wolves started immediately.  Before they got too far into the forest, they were surrounded by an entire pack of snarling wolves.

 

Enough of that.  There is not time.

 

One of the wolves whined, and the others touched their noses to the ground.  The wolf that whined, the Alpha, steadily grew until the wolf was a half-wolf/human, and then continued growing until he was a man. He limped slightly as he moved, and he carried a long, ivory bone which he used as a walking stick.

 

“My apologies, She Who is Just.  Others confuse your scent.  We smelled only intruders, but sensed much worse.”  His voice was soft, and he carried himself with great dignity.  He reminded Jenny of her grandfather…

 

I apologize, my old friend.  The child is a pawn in a nasty game the other Wyrm-spawn are playing.  August is at the center of it again.  The only place the child will be safe is with you, in the caern.  She is clean, and her blood is unshed.  She will not pollute your holy place.

 

He nodded and smiled kindly at Jenny, then looked again to Hanna.  “And the other?”

 

Blood Brothers.

 

He sighed, tired.  “Yet again.”  He turned to the pack, and it was silent for a moment.  Then he turned back to Jenny.  “Come, innocent. Safety awaits nearby.  Your father will be with you again when his work is done.”

 

Jenny looked from him to Hanna and back again.

 

It is all right.  They will protect you with their lives.

 

“Why?  I’m not one of them.  Werewolves kill people, don’t they?”  She backed away nervously.

 

  1. They leave all of Gaia’s creatures to their own peace, unless they are violated.  But they welcome you, Jennifer, not only because it is I asking them, but also because your innocence will bring them peace and the blessings of Gaia.  They would all die before they let anyone harm you, and they will allow no one near you unless I tell them it is all right.  Be at peace, Jennifer.

 

Jenny would have answered her, only Hanna was at the limits of her strength.  What was left of her strength was gone, and her image

  1. Jenny sighed, then looked up at the man.

 

“I am called ‘He Who Walks with Bone’, for the obvious reason.  My pack is Fenris.  We are Garou.  By all that Gaia deems worthy, I pledge that I will allow no harm to come to you, if it takes my lifeblood to prevent it.  Come child, before those fiends come.”

 

Jenny reached out and took his offered hand.  She walked quietly beside him, thinking of the woman that had tried to save her.  She wondered if she would ever see tiny Hanna again.  And if she would ever be able to repay her for her kindness.

 

They reached the safety of the caern as the Blood Brothers entered the forest…

 

 

Doing it Right

By RavenKat

September 6

Elysian Fields

6:00 a.m.

 

Vachon leaned on a blood-red floor pillow, his legs stretched across the equally scarlet Persian rug.  Kat had persuaded him to change into something she had found in the well-stocked closet. He wore old brown leather pants and a voluminous cream colored shirt. Their guests for the day would be receiving the outfits Kat had sent them, as well.

 

Sometimes Kat could act painfully mortal, he thought.  Getting excited about family coming to visit.  It had been a long night and he let his eyes close.  Perhaps tonight hadn’t been such a great idea….

 

“Too much?”

 

Vachon awoke with a start. Katherine stood in the draped doorway to the bedroom, a shy look on her face. She wore a pale violet gown; Supremely elegant yet amazingly simple.  Javier couldn’t believe the transformation.

 

Her short red hair was softer and the green in her eyes was magnified by the color of the silk.  She wore no jewelry, save the silver chain around the waist of the dress, and she was barefoot.  Gone was the rough and tumble vampire that had torn out a man’s heart in the lobby of the Elysian Fields.

 

“Too much for what?” he asked.  “They’re just coming over to talk,” he joked, an eyebrow raised, “Right?”

 

“It is too much,” she blurted, rushing back into the bedroom.

 

“You look incredible,” Vachon called, getting up to follow her.  “I can’t wait to see what Trapper looks like,” he added lustily.

 

Kat pulled him into the dimly lit bedroom and kissed him fiercely.  “I think not,” she growled happily, as there came a knock at the door.

 

 

Spoils of War

by Trapper and RavenKat

September 6

Elysian Fields

6:25 a.m.

 

Trapper had just stepped out of the shower when the knock came at the door. She heard the low voices as she toweled off. When the door closed, she peeked out of the steamy bathroom.

 

“Who was that?”

 

Nick turned, smiling, with boxes in his hands. “It was a bellboy. Apparently Kat and Vachon sent us clothes to wear.”

 

Trapper ran from the bathroom in her towel, and they both sat on the floor to tear open the packages. They acted more like children on Christmas morning than adult vampires.

 

With a gasp, Trapper held up the shimmering dress and its trappings. “I’ll be right back!” she exclaimed, and raced from the room with her prize.

 

When she returned, some moments later, it was to see Nick, freshly showered and dressed in his new clothes. He stepped forward and took her hands.

 

“You are more beautiful than ever, if that’s possible,” he breathed in amazement.

 

“I was about to say the same thing about you.”

 

“Shall we, milady?” Nick held out his arm.

 

“Thank you milord.” She curtsied and they were off down the hall to the Sultan’s Suite.

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

 

The two vampires greeted Vachon and stepped past him into another place and time. Just as beautiful and accurately furnished as their own suite, the Sultan’s Suite was a velvet explosion to the senses. Sandalwood drifted on the air, jewels sparkled in the candlelight and brass shone darkly from within endless yards of draped fabric.

 

“That fits you perfectly!” Kat called from across the room. The deep violet silk gown and silver chain looked as if it had been made especially for Trapper. Her long blonde tresses were loose and stylishly carefree. She too was barefoot.

 

Nicholas wore black leather pants and a violet chemise – both from another era. The stage was set.

 

“We look like we belong on a romance novel,” quipped Vachon, holding his arms out to display his own finery.

 

Kat brought four goblets and a demitasse of Turkish coffee on a tray over to the guests. “And how would you know what a romance novel looks like?” she asked without looking at him. To Trapper she noted, “I wasn’t sure which you would prefer.”

 

“Thanks, I’ll take the coffee first, and I’ll try not to sound like I’m killing it.”

 

They all laughed in camaraderie and arranged themselves around the room on the many plush floor cushions.

 

“This is a wonderful suite!” Trapper said as she took it all in.

 

Kat stretched out her legs and smiled. “And so much roomier than the last one!”

 

Nick reached for a glass. “May I propose a toast?”

 

Kat and Javier both nodded their approval.

 

“To family and friends, the most important things, and may we never have enough of them.”

 

They drained their glasses and refilled them. They all knew how fragile and hard-won this little island of peace was, and they were determined to enjoy it as long as possible.

 

 

Oedipal Rex

By CousinSuk

September 6

August’s Hangout

6:30 a.m.

 

Micah opened his eyes, taking in a great gasp of air, reviving.  Divia laughed with delight and approached him, her blue eyes and soulless smirk reminding him far too much of her father.

 

“I like that trick.  I can do whatever I wish, and you will be repaired.”  Divia trailed her small hand down his chest, her smile widened, revealing her fangs. “This will be fun.”

 

“Angelique will–”

 

“You sister will do nothing!”  Divia dug her nails into Micah’s chest, leaving tiny, bloody half moons.  “Don’t even mention her name to me.”

 

“Why?”  Micah spit at the twisted child.  “Still holding a grudge because you daddy prefers adult women?”

 

Diva’s face contorted and she laid a deep gash into his stomach.  “He was mine, she promised him to me,” Divia growled.  “She betrayed me, she took him from me.”

 

“Sure she did.”  Micah tried to pull away from her as she slid her hand down his stomach, caressing the blood flowing form the wound.

 

“You are her brother,” She said with a dreamy smile.  “Through you I can have Lucius back.”  She smiled.  “An exchange, perhaps?  After all, I know you have had her, and she has had Father.”

 

“I never–” He stopped as she caressed his slack sex.

 

“It is common knowledge that Egyptians prefer sisters to wives.”

 

“I never did.”  Micah tried not to get sick, but his insides roiled with each caress of her childlike hands.

 

Divia signaled for him to be unchained from the wall, he was led by his shackles to a table and a toga was put on him.  Then they chained him to a table that resembled the top of a sarcophagus.  He looked at the old/young creature as she donned a white toga and noticed that cameras had been set up.  August was behind one, smiling as Divia approached Micah.

 

“Now, you are Leilah’s brother and through her, I have Father.”  She smiled as she climbed and straddled his chest.  She ripped the Toga down to bare Micah’s chest and pulled out a slim, ivory handled knife.  “I wish to write Father a note.”  The began to carve into Micah’s chest and he gave one cry of surprised pain before forcing himself to endure.

 

“Shall I read it?”  She leaned toward Micah’s ear, smearing herself with his blood.  She sat back again, August approached and taped Diva’s flesh and blood note.  “It says, I wish to show you what you missed Father.”

 

“Missed?”  Micah whispered.  Divia slid down his body, licking at the blood he’d shed.  She moved to his stomach and looked up.

 

“Oh yes, everything.”  She slid one small hand under his toga.

 

“We should have taped this when Horton had you Micah.”  August watched as Micah tried to resist, tired not to feel ill, tried not to respond.  “Your sister would have loved it.”

 

 

The Final Perversion

By Hanna

September 6

Glass Tower

dawn….

 

She felt herself pulled away from Jenny, and was terrified.  Someone must have figured out what she had been doing, and was now nearby, waiting to make her…

 

“…Pay for this, you midgit bitch!”

 

She knew the voice.  Who didn’t?  One never forgot the sound of Davistch’s voice.

 

“Still trying to save them all, eh little Hanna?  Thought you could get Jenny away from me, and that would make it all better, right?  WRONG!”

 

With the scream, she felt wet pain.  He pulled back a blade from her chest, drenched in blood.

 

“Hang her,” he commanded.

 

Her bound feet were tied to a butcher’s hook, and she was hoisted up.  She felt what little blood she still had in her body being drained from her.  She opened her eyes, and saw the floor beneath her, Davistch standing under her as well, bathing in the shower of her blood.

 

She started to lose consciousness, her last thought saved for Jonas.

 

Davistch performed a grotesque little dance underneath her hanging body, then turned to Paolo.  “We’ll finish it at sundown.”

 

 

Ticket to Ride

By RavenKat

September 6

New Salem

Dawn

 

“Finally!” Lux sighed melodramatically as he spotted the club around the corner.  Mr. Number-One-with-a-Bullet was sure he had circled this block at least once before, but after wandering the streets of this ‘burb for hours  –  everything was starting to look familiar. A neon sign sizzled coldly in the early morning air, inviting him.  Lux trudged purposely toward the entrance and snickered, “Nice Gimmick.” Stepping up to the rear end of an ancient Chevy, he ducked his head and descended into the Taboo.

 

Couldn’t be too bad of a town, he thought, if bars could stay open after hours.  He’d just sneak in real quick for a snort-full before they closed.  The first thing Lux noticed was the persistent odor of Patchuli mixed with the stink of cigarette smoke. Those smells reminded him of being on tour; Groupies all dolled up and trying to look older than they were.  Nothin’ better than young pussy, he thought greedily.

 

Turning the corner past the coat check, Lux was surprised to see that the club was empty. Voices and music enveloped him in a soft, muted blanket of sound.  Maybe everyone was holed up in a back room or the party was upstairs.  No matter; He wasn’t in the mood to mingle anyway.  A simple bottle and glass would suit him just fine.

 

Candles lit the tables and colored gels tinted the dance floor – the joint looked like it was ready to open for the night, not close down for the day.  Whatever.

 

“Barkeep!” he yelled leaning over the bar.  Waiting all of five seconds, Lux slipped around the barrier and grabbed some JD.  He popped the pour spout out of the top of the bottle and brought the whiskey to his lips.  It burned in his mouth and all the way down his throat, but that was exactly the way Lux liked it.  Returning to the other side, he picked a stool and looked out toward the dance floor.

 

“Huh?” he asked, suddenly aware that he had been lost in thought.  Looking around, he laughed at himself, this part of the bar was still empty although he could hear the party raging somewhere nearby.  Need to get some sleep, he chided himself.  He spun on the stool to set the half-empty bottle down and nearly fell off when he looked up.

 

A bartender stood in front of Lux, his hand out to accept the bottle – but the rockstar was looking past him.  Behind the silent barman was a mirror.  In it, Lux could see himself, as well as, an entire club full of people.  He whipped his head around and checked the still empty space behind him.

 

“What the …?” he grunted in confusion.  Turning again toward the bar he noticed the music and voices became louder and clearer.  In the mirror Lux could see dancers way across the room as well as people perched at the bar on either side of him.  Shaking his head Lux looked more closely at the bottle of Jack Daniels.  Somebody musta put some serious acid in here.

 

A hand reached out to retrieve the cursed bottle from him, and Lux let it go.  Looking up, he hoped the bartender could give him a place to come down – a place with rubber walls, preferably.  The bartender regarded his customer with disdain.

 

“I thought you had bigger balls than that, Ira.”

 

Lux stared, unbelieving, at his server.  In a tiny voice, he asked, “Jim?”

 

 

Back in the Chain Gang

By Hanna

September 6

New Jerusalem

Just at dawn

 

He opened his eyes, listening to the sound of Divia’s humming.  He groaned and she smiled.

 

“Nice of you to wake up, oh Immortal One.  I was beginning to wonder about your stamina.”

 

He muttered something around the gag in his mouth, and her brow creased.  She walked toward him, her nails growing as she got nearer.

 

“What was that, Pharaoh?  You mustn’t speak with things in your mouth. It makes it hard to understand.”  With a crook of her finger, the gag disappeared.  Micah’s eyes widened a bit.  Where the hell did she learn to do that?

 

Divia chuckled sweetly as she ran her nails across his chest.  His flesh, once proud and strong, continued to show signs of aging.  Scars from the long tortures he had been suffering were no longer healing properly.  The damage started by August only a month ago was continuing to spread throughout his body.  His Immortal ability to heal himself was gone, along with whatever protected them from aging.  His hair was long around his shoulders, almost fully gray.  He had a full beard of the same color.  And his dusky complexion was of a sickly hue, showing signs of great age.

 

“Poor little Micah.  I doubt your sister will recognize you when she comes here.  Won’t it be just another lovely surprise for the whole lot of them?”

 

He groaned, then whispered, “They won’t come here.  They know it’s a trap.  They’re to smart to just fall into it.”

 

She let out a little giggle.  “Oh, but you see, that’s the whole point!  They won’t come on their own.  Not willingly.  They have to think it’s safe for them to come for Jenny.”

 

Jenny? he thought to himself.  But August had said Jenny had been taken from her in exchange for Han…His thought stopped as he began to think her name.  Whatever he was going through, he knew she was suffering more.  August and Divia amused themselves with him only because they wanted to hone their appetite.  They were waiting for Hanna and Angelique.  Micah they didn’t care enough about to hate.  The other two they despised with every fiber in their being.  Angelique they wouldn’t capture unless they forced her into a trade.  Hanna was easy prey because she had more heart.  Searching for Jenny (and August), she had been betrayed by all those around her.  And now she paid.  He could feel it.

 

“Still pining over that tiny little slut of yours?  For shame Merneptah, you can, and have, done so much better.  Besides, what would her husband think?”  She laughed again as she poked at the urn on the floor beside him.  “Not that he thinks much at this point.”

 

She stood to her full height.  “No more games.  That little bitch just lead Jenny to those mutts in the woods.  We’ll fix them all, you’ll see.  But first, Micah darling, we need something from you.”  She snapped her fingers, and two ghouls moved forward.  They unlatched his neck chain from the wall, fastened it to a leash they place in Divia’s hand.  They no longer needed to manhandle him.  He was too weak to fight them anymore.

 

They moved to a part of the caves where the rocks had caved in slightly, and a tiny hole had been created near the top.  A large fire blazed in the center of this place, and August stood there naked, dripping blood. Three…no four bodies lay about her, and she smiled at him, chilling him to his soul.

 

“They are too weak for our purpose, dear one,” her rich contralto voice reaching into his mind above the blaze nearly drove him to his knees.  “You are weak, but your blood is still pure.  We require you, Micah. Now.”

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

 

They worked late into the morning.  Vampires that they were, they grew more tired with each passing minute.  And revived themselves with Micah’s Immortal blood.  They chanted, made marks in the area around the fire, added things to it that made the fire hiss and sizzle.  Live, screaming creatures were put into the fire, along with a few children that had been obtained from the orphanage.

 

Micah passed out many times, some of the time from temporary death, but mostly from sheer horror.  His mind twisted and turn as he helplessly watched the slaughters, as well as the other unspeakable rites they committed.

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

 

About sunset, he noticed that the fire had changed color again.  It was a sickly, greenish hue, and looked almost as if it was burning rot and not a flame.  He shuddered as he watched the smoke billow out the hole in the ceiling of the cave.  He heard the birds grow quiet, and the trees stopped rustling in the wind.  And then he heard the sound of screaming, and knew that whatever they had planned was working…

 

 

On the Air

By RavenKat

September 6

Jonas Science Center

7:00 am

 

Good morning sleepy heads.  (sound of a rooster crowing)  It’s 7 am and you’re listening to WHCM – the sound of Helen Carter Memorial. The college rock station that rocks New Salem.  I’m your host for Saturday Morning Jams – Lou Brutus.  I got lots of great stuff for you today. Some new releases and some of your old favorites.  We’ll be taking requests here in a minute but first, here is our Minister of Information, Alan Scott, with a giant scoop of rock n roll gossip.

 

Thanks Lou!  Well, rumor has it the MTV Music Video Awards will short one of it’s best performers this year.  That’s right, Daisy Chainsaw won’t be attending. (booing) They’ve decided to stay in the studio and work on their next album.

 

But they just got off tour!

 

I know, Lou, they’re one hard-working bunch of guys.  Lux Interior was interviewed recently about the newest single, “Give it Up Sister.”  As you know, this song has gotten a lot of heat, and it hasn’t even been out a week yet. This is what he had to say.

 

“Man, Give it Up is a tribute to the legends of rock n roll…a love song based on the underground rumors of the late sixties.”

 

(interviewer) “Lux, some people find the lyrics disturbing.  How do you feel about certain record stores and radio stations banning it?”

 

“BLEEP ‘em, man! The only people I care about are the ones that buy my records…everyone else can BLEEP themselves!”

 

(Laughter) Nice guy, huh?

 

Yeah, but he’s one hell of a singer…………….It’s 72 degrees, this morning, and it looks like it’ll be another beautiful day at Miskatonic U.

 

Well, you’ve been asking for it.  Here’s Mr. Sicko himself, Lux Interior and Daisy Chainsaw with “Give it Up Sister”….

 

 

Ah, But in That Sleep of Death…

By Trapper

September 6

Monique’s hideaway

7:00am

 

The Queen Anne style four poster bed dominated the bedroom. It had been hung with black velvet draperies as extra insurance against the sun. Within its ebony confines, Monique tossed and turned her way to sleep.

 

She had never been one of those vampires who descended into oblivion with the break of day. Even as a human child, so long ago, she had been the last to fall asleep and the first to awake. Her father used to call her volontaire, and her indulgent grand-pere called her his little hibou de nuit. Even Christien, her first love, used to remark on her sleeplessness.

 

The merciless day beat in vain against the shuttered windows of the chalet, and Monique fell, finally, into a tortured sleep.

 

It was the dream again. She knew it in her cold heart. Why now? It had been such a long time since she’d had it.

 

She walked through the dark forest of her youth, mist coiling around her feet like ephemeral serpents. The light ahead showed her family’s chateau, lying just at the edge of the woods. Monique approached the house with her usual dread. She already knew what awaited her. It never changed.

 

The door stood open to the night and every candle was burning. The rushes scattered over the flagstones were dark and sticky with blood. Servants lay everywhere, their throats torn out and their sightless eyes staring at her in accusation. She moved unwillingly through the rooms, reliving the horror of her rebirth one soul wrenching moment at a time. She touched the blood spattered doors of the Great Room. They whispered open at her hand. Beyond the threshold lay true horror.

 

The fire had dwindled to embers, giving everything a hellish red glow. The candles guttered in pools of glittering wax and cast fantastic shadows. Beautiful, intricate tapestries upon the walls hung limp and sodden with gore. Her dear parents had been gutted on the long oak table, their blood staining the light wood and trickling onto the floor in a steady drip. The far corner of the charnel house was the worst of all. Her beloved Christien sat, sprawled on the floor, his head thrown back and his throat gaping open like a

second, hungry mouth. A figure crouched over him, lapping at the blood that still welled from his many wounds. The hideous sounds of feasting caused Monique to clap her hands to her ears and shriek.

 

“Stop! Stop this now! I cannot stand it!”

 

The figure froze at the sound of Monique’s cry. Slowly rising from the floor, the bloody, gore drenched ghoul turned to face Monique.

 

It was her own eyes that stared at back at her from the crimsoned face that smiled with demonic glee.

 

“Oh, come now!” the apparition laughed. “A little late for moralite, is it not?” A red-taloned hand gestured at the room. “This was all your doing. Do you not remember the hunger? The frenzy?” She hugged herself as she laughed. “Ah, delicious!”

 

Monique turned and ran from the room, the chateau. Her evil doppelganger’s voice followed her back into the darkness. “Especially your Christien! You enjoyed draining his life away!”

 

Monique ran faster, branches reaching for her hair, briers snagging her clothes. She ran until she fell from exhaustion, face first into the soft grass.

 

It’s strange in a dream, how flexible time becomes.

 

After a moment, an hour, some immeasurable amount of time, Monique became slowly aware of her surroundings again. A familiar stench assailed her nostrils and burned her eyes. She raised her head and was nearly overcome by the foul reek of decay and death.

 

“Oh, no,” she whimpered in despair as she looked around. She was back in “Rory’s Hole”, in the foul-smelling apartment that she used to keep. The two swollen, reeking bodies still occupied the filthy corner. Monique could see the ruby eyes of the countless rats that swarmed over the fetid remains.

 

She winced at the creaking sound of a weighted rope, swinging slowly in the centre of the room. The haggard woman looked up to see what she expected. The boy hung there, his lips cracked and bloody. Weeping wounds crisscrossed his body through his tattered clothes. A faint wheeze of breath could still be heard from the broken little body, arms disjointed from days of hanging from the ceiling. As she rose to untie him, the breathing stopped in one harsh, choking rattle. Devin stepped out from behind the tiny corpse, his eyes blazing with hatred and blood-tears tracking down his face.

 

“What have you done, Monique?!” he roared with rage. “What in hell have you done?”

 

His anger, the look of disgust in his eyes cut her like a thousand knives.

 

“I did not do this!” she pleaded, falling down upon her knees.

 

He stepped past her to the door. She clutched at his pant leg, begging his forgiveness, but he was gone and she was surrounded again by mist. Monique sobbed into her hands as she knelt on the floor and the room lightened.  She knew what always came next, and she did not wish to open her eyes.

 

When she did, her Maman was before her, her heart torn from her chest, Ribs broken like some ancient shipwreck. Monique clutched the dead woman to her chest and continued to sob, a keening wail rising in her throat. A sudden movement stopped her voice. She looked at the burden in her arms.

 

Maman was looking at her with her cold, dead eyes, a sardonic smirk visible through the mask of blood she wore. The nightmare vision patted Monique’s face.

 

“There, there petit, it’s alright. You should have protected me from him, but I understand. You never were good enough.”

 

“What are you saying?” she asked the corpse in horror.

 

“Well, you aren’t my get, my girl. I should not have expected so much of you.”

 

Monique stood as if she had been burned, and rubbed her hands on her clothes as if to clean them from this woman. She had trusted her maman with everything. In the end, she had no one.

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

 

Larry looked questioningly at Algernon as he heard the screams from upstairs.  Algernon looked at his watch and put down his book.

 

“Don’t worry, Larry. It’s another one of her nightmares. I’ll bring her a bottle and wake her up.”

 

Larry rose to follow, but Algernon shook his head.

 

“Don’t. You’ll only make it worse. She can be pretty bizarre when she first comes out of it.”

 

Larry watched his partner’s retreating back. Some days he hated his job.

 

 

One Care Package Coming Up

By Kay

September 6

Collinwood Suite

9:00 am

 

*Broadway and underwear?*

 

Kay sat up in the massive bed, tossing the covers to the foot of the mattress. She looked around the room then remembered where she was.  That had definitely been the strangest dream.  No doubt brought about by indiscernible Enya lyrics.

 

Stretching her arms above her head, Kay slid off the bed.  Time to get up and moving if she was going to help Gilchrist pull off his prank.

 

She padded over to the stereo system and removed Enya, packing it away in its case.  She rummaged through the pile of CDs she and MacCousin had  picked out the night before down in the gift shop.  Finding the 80’s collection she’d orgasmed over, she put it in the CD player and pushed the play button.

 

Switching the speakers to pipe into the bathroom, she turned up the volume, as well as the bass.  Dancing across the room, she disappeared into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later she came out wearing a soft green towel and smelling of vanilla.  Just in case Gilchrist should decide to barge into the room, she slipped on the short chemise that went under her leather breast plate along with a pair of cotton panties?some modern practices just couldn’t be forgotten.

 

Gathering up the notebook and pen last night’s delayed visit to the gift shop had produced, she plopped onto the floor.

 

“Let’s see, Sukh’s gonna need a little hint to what’s going on.”  She began to scribble out a message.  After several tries she settled for *Bed sports unavailable.  Remember to come up for air.  Eagle lands at noon.  Have fun :)*

 

“Now onto the rest of the goodie bag.”  She picked up the CDs from the gift shop.  Shifting through them she tossed Celine Dion, Enigma, ERA, Enya, Sarah Mclachlan, Lorina McKennett, Prince and a love song collection onto the bed. Each cover had select titles circled in red ink.

 

“One custom made seduction CD coming up,” she giggled.

 

Kay put the end of the paint pen in her mouth.  What else would Sukh need?  Strawberries, champagne, fudge, redi-whip, a pastry brush, a feather, some peach shower cream? She scribbled out her notes, tossing the individual papers onto the bed with the CDs.

 

As a last thought, she tossed on a note to have her and Sukh’s manicures and pedicures redone…Amazon WARriors or not, they had to look their best at all times.

 

Satisfied the package was complete, she drew a red circle around the items on the mattress.

 

Stepping back, she picked up her spell book and flipped through it.  She sat down, criss-cross-applesauce as the kids used to say, and put the book in her lap.

 

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath.  Picking the book back up, she began chanting.  A slight whirlwind grew inside the circle on the bed then picked up speed.  Blue lightening flashed before the wind died down.

 

Kay stood up, catching sight of her fingers and toes.  Not bad.  She Could forget shelling out $50 a month for vanity’s sake.

 

Everything on the bed was in order.  Kay put everything in the box She’d found in the gift shop and sealed it with a gold bow on top.

 

  1. Nothing odd or out of place had happened along with the spell.  As a second thought, she looked around the room.  Sneaking around the suite, she checked in every nook and cranny she could find.  Satisfied everything was as it should be she called down to the front desk.  Best get Sukh her package ASAP.

~~~~~~~~~

Elsewhere in the Hotel…

 

Anna rolled over opening one eye slightly.  She did a double take then sat up in the bed.

 

“Devin?”

 

“Hmm?”  Devin sat up and stared at her.

 

“Your hair.”

 

Devin’s hands instinctively went to his head.  “What the fuck?”  He Jumped from the bed and stood before Anna dressed to the tee in colonial French aristocracy, powdered wig and all.

 

 

Sharp Intake of Air

Devin Saceur

Elysian Fields

Sept 6

Around 9:10am

Devin hastily moved toward the mirror. “By the gods…This is some perverse Liaisons nightmare and I’ve been hideously transformed into John Malkovich!”

 

“I think not,” Anna piped in…barely holding back her laughter. “I wouldn’t associate with that man if sanity depended on it!”

 

“Well my sanity may depend on getting out of this costume! There are reasons why the fashion world progressed…and this is one of them.”

 

Anna stood and walked slowly over to where he was standing…smiling to herself as she watched him adjust his wig. “Is there something I should know about, my big handsome man?”

 

“What?” he answered quickly, trying to affect a regal pose. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Well…you weren’t wearing that when you came to bed, love. Obviously.”

 

“Are you implying…?”

 

“I’m inquiring.”

 

With a grimace, he crossed his hands behind his back and tugged upward on the band of his new found silk breeches, which were riding just a bit too uncomfortably in the wrong place. “I can assure you…I did not outfit myself in this manner. I haven’t worn such things in a long, long time.”

 

“Are you quite certain, hon? I don’t have to worry about you moving on to browsing a Fredrick’s catalog for your own purposes, do I?”

 

“Certainly not, darling…” he limply waved his hand in the mirror. “I’m more of a genteel mistress. My tastes are along the line of Victoria’s Secret.”

 

With a giggle, she ran her hands along his thighs. “Well you look very proper, Devin. You must have been quite the chevalier in those days. I’m almost sorry I missed it…”

 

“Almost…?”

 

“From what I understand, you were more of a bastard back then…weren’t you?”

 

“More?” He wore a silly expression of innocence. “Why yes…by comparison, I would suppose so.”

***********

 

Paris, France  February 12, 1787

 

“…It is an Italian libretto…da Ponte, if I’m correct. You know as well as I the comedic disposition of that man. Besides, would it be allowed to play, were there any true concerns regarding content?”

 

In her best effort to restrain herself, Monique leaned in as far as she could to Devin’s side and whispered harshly as he grinned and saluted each passing acquaintance. “Content? The play nearly brought about an uprising mid-act! You were there…and now you wish to see it set to Mozart’s stirring melodies? You must be mad! I wager they’ll storm the tiers by the first intermission. Like

rabid dogs to virgin flesh.”

 

“What???” Devin burst into a barely controlled laughter as he turned to face her. “You are glutted with blood this evening, dear. Calm your feeding. It tends to make a monster of you.”

 

She slapped his arm, though a smile managed to break through her reserved façade. “You know what I mean.”

 

“Yes. And I’m telling you…in The Marriage of Figaro, there is nothing you need be concerned about. It’s practically vaudeville!”

 

The voice came from below…resonating through the stairwell in playful, yet dangerous tones. “You might think otherwise, Devin…were you capable of any insight.”

 

“Maman!” Monique ran towards her immortal mother, seeming genuinely pleased to see the woman. “So good of you to come.”

 

Her eyes planted squarely on Devin, the old vampire feigned a smile. “How could I not? Your charming beau offered me exquisite seating, so that I might better hear the monotonous arpeggios of Herr Mozart.”

 

Devin stepped forward and planted a light kiss on the woman’s hand. He found himself thinking briefly, as his lips met the fine silk of her gloves, that he’d like nothing more than to rend and tear the hand from her arm in a wonderfully bloody assault. “Always a pleasure, Madame. However, I must object…there is nothing monotonous about Mozart.”

 

With a careless whip of her arm as she struggled against her uncomfortable bodice, the Madame gazed upon him smugly. “Ah, the young mind.”

 

“Ah, the old mind…” he extended an arm to her, which she quietly refused. “Besides, it is not as though a tasteful theatre piece would harm the much-neglected development of your sensibilities.”

 

Her face flushed, but she continued to display her deceptively calm exterior. “This is a tumultuous time for France, Devin…in case you haven’t noticed. Revolution steeps in every corner of the country now. I should think this would concern you…given the high cost associated with your indulgent lifestyle.”

 

A grin met him as his eyes drifted from the Madame to Monique, who quickly looked away in an obvious attempt to contain any expression of her amusement at this exchange. He smiled as he looked back to the venomous old wretch beside him. “My money is far too old and well-vested to be more than temporarily affected by the political climate of any one country. Of that you can be

sure.”

 

With a confident bow, he extended his arm to her. “Now, shall we enjoy a simple opera…for these simple times?”

********

 

“So…” Anna smiled, wrapping her arms around him gently. “What can we do about this? We have many hours before sunset.”

 

Startled momentarily as he returned to the present, Devin shrugged. “There is nothing to do. I suppose I’ll simply set this costume aside for later.”

 

“You mean…no…you’re not going to wear it tonight?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“No.”

 

“Yes.”

 

 

Closer

By RavenKat

September 6

Sultan’s Suite

10:00 a.m.

 

Exhausted, Javier had passed out exactly where he sat, somewhere between a hilarious story of Schanke driving the Caddy and raucous tales of life in a band.  Politely, the other three vampires had moved to a far corner and continued their animated conversation in private. As the day grew stronger, though, even they began to wane.

 

“Let me take this for you,” Nick offered and accepted a half-empty glass from each of his offspring.  As he disappeared from sight, Kat whispered to her blond sibling, “Thank you so much for this.”

 

The younger vampire smiled and replied softly, “We wanted to be here.”  The sisters hugged, but before they released the embrace Kat said, “Can I ask you one more favor?”

 

Pulling away with a smile, Trapper replied, “Say no more.”  Crossing the floor, she met her lover and whispered tenderly into his ear.  They kissed and Trapper continued into the second bedroom.

 

Nicholas approached his flame-haired daughter and took both of her hands in his.  “This has been nice,” he sighed, “Thank you.”

 

She looked into his eyes then freed one hand and tentatively touched her creator’s face.  Kat realized that, unconsiously, she had been expecting to see scars.  The razor-like tool she had used to defend herself so long ago had torn her attacker’s face to shreds…had torn Nick’s face to shreds.  With almost physical effort, Kat replaced the horrid images of that night with those of Nicholas de Brabant, Crusader.  She knew all too well the desperation brought on by blood-crazed starvation; She couldn’t hold it against him.

 

“You may not need to hear this,” she said, continuing to drink him in with her eyes, “but I need to say it.”

 

Nick pulled the hand he still grasped up to his mouth and kissed it obligingly.

 

Tears filled Kat’s eyes and she murmured, “I forgive you.”

 

Nick’s eyes glinted through the tears which had suddenly appeared at Kat’s declaration. “You’ll never know what that means to me,” he whispered brokenly as he turned away to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand.

 

Kat put a tentative hand on his shoulder. “I know that we’re all exhausted, but before you retire, could I ask you something?”

 

“Anything,” he said, turning back to her.

 

She twisted one of the long sleeves of her dress nervously and looked at the floor. “I was wondering if, maybe we could…” She found herself unable to finish the thought.

 

Nick put a finger under her chin and raised her tear-stained face.  “Yes, I think we should do this properly. It’s long overdue.”

 

Hope and gratitude leaped in Kat’s eyes as she watched his eyes turn slowly to gold. He tenderly turned her head to the side and cradled her cheek in his hand. He put his other hand to her waist and pulled her close. She let out a small sigh as he gently pierced her throat with his fangs. When he finished, he kissed the wounds shut. Still holding her around the waist, he raised his other hand to his lips and opened the vein. Nick offered Kat his bleeding wrist and she took it, drinking from the wound almost reverently.

 

When the short ritual was finished, Nick looked at her with wonder. “I’m so sorry. You’ve been through so much pain.”

 

Kat stopped him with an upraised hand. “And so have you. This is our New beginning. No more recriminations, no more pain. This is a fresh start, ‘Father’.”

 

Nick took her by the shoulders and kissed her forehead. “A fresh start, then, ‘daughter’.”

 

They went to their separate rests, knowing that they had created a bond as bright and untarnished as the new day was promising to be.

 

 

The Best Revenge

Kay & Sukh

September 6

Celtic Suite

about 12 noon

 

Ricze paced across the floor for what had to be the millionth time.  Daylight seemed to be taking it’s own sweet time in passing.  He turned to the back wall.  The once pristine white surface was marred by Melissa’s dried blood.

 

“Try again later, my ass,” Ricze growled.

 

That Calendar woman be damned.  When he caught up with that Irish prick, blood was going to run in a slow, painful river.  He planned on slicing through Angel once for each letter that Missy’s blood had provided the ink for.

 

He opened the door to Missy’s room.  The silent figure gracing the bed stirred.  Ricze approached the bed and sat on the edge of the mattress. Angelique stirred again, the lithe body stretching as she came awake.  Her eye’s fluttered open.

 

“Ricze?”  She whispered.  She sat up, gathering the sheet about her exposed breasts.  “What am I doing here?”

 

“LaCroix kicked you out.”

 

“Kicked me out’”  Her face contorted into a snarl.  “Why was I kicked out of my own suite?”

 

“He was in bed with Maire.”  Ricze brushed Angelique’s hair away from her face.  “You tried to kill the Roman bastard and his Irish whore. Unfortunately, sanity returned and you came here.”

 

“Something’s happened,” Angelique said, raising from the bed.

 

“I received a message from Angelus,” Ricze growled.

 

“The little demon had nerve to show up here.”  Angelique glided into the bathroom.  Ricze followed behind her, admiring the sway of her slim hips.

 

“Ricze?”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“The message, from Angelus.”

 

Ricze shook his head, clearing the image of Angelique naked and in his bed. “It’s on the wall in the other room.  He made her bleed and wrote in her blood.”  Ricze’s eyes turned a deep shade of gold, his fangs lengthening. “That Irish whoreson is going to die under my bare hands.”

 

Ricze stormed from the bathroom.

 

“I’ll just get cleaned up.”  Angelique muttered as she turned on the warm water.  Ricze had been kind enough to remove the tatters of her catsuit, leaving her with nothing to wear but Missy’s clothes.  She hoped Missy had good fashion sense, she didn’t want to have to return to her suite with Maire there for something to wear.  Angelique frowned, Maire better not be wearing her clothes, but hen again Angelique was a bit taller than that Irish shrimp.

 

“Angelique?”  Ricze knocked on the door.  “I have a question.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Exactly what happened  between you and the old man?”

 

“He was with Maire.  What more do you need?”  Angelique growled as she managedto unbraid the intricate braids in her hair and work the long length out forwashing.

 

Ricze opened the door and walked in as bold as you please.  “I was thinkingthat if he is with Maire–”

 

Angelique turned and glared at him.

 

“Face it,” Ricze shrugged.  “It’s not like he made her leave.”  Ricze poured some bubbles into the large inset tub and turned on the jets.   He stood next to her, and trailed one finger up the valley between her breasts.  “Besides, we never finished last night.”

 

She smiled.  “We were rather rudely interrupted.”  She slid her arms around his waist.  “One thing.”

 

“What?”  Ricze’s mouth was millimeters from hers.  “I get to help kick Angelus’s ass.”

 

Ricze smiled.  “But of course.”

 

Angelique stepped backwards into the round tub.  Settling back, she grabbed a handful of Ricze’s shirt and pulled him into the water atop her.

 

“Oops,” Angelique smiled, tugging at Ricze’s leather pants.  “Looks like you’re going to need some new pants.”

 

Ricze growled and tore open his shirt, flinging the satin material over his head.  “Guess I’ll have to replace that too.”  He pushed her against the rim of the tub and settled between her legs, capturing her mouth with his, softly biting at her lower lip.

 

 

The Great Kilt Caper (3/3)

By MacCousin and Gilchrist

September 6

Elysian Fields – Collinwood suite

Noon

 

MacCousin watched curiously as Kay pulled out the spell book and began flipping through it.  “I don’t know about this,” she began.

 

“Should’na be that hard.” Gilchrist stated in Kay’s defense.  “Just a great kilt like mine’ll do, as well as a belt.”  He spread out his arms to show more of it.  “Make sure it’s tha’ ancient MacLeod of Harris,” he specified, taping his finger on the tartan pattern in the book Kay and MacCousin had bought earlier that day.

 

Kay nodded, immersed in reading the spellbook.  “No problem,” she said.

 

“Yeah, right” murmured MacCousin in an undertone to Gilchrist.  “The last time she probably said that, we ended up here.”

 

Kay stood up and began to draw a circle on the ground.   A gust of wind blew around them and then intensified within the circle, picking up speed.

 

MacCousin hid behind Gilchrist, wondering what would go wrong this time.

 

A few seconds later a yellow and black tartan lay in the circle.  A wide black belt with a silver buckle was next to it.

 

“Nice going, Kay,” remarked MacCousin.  “That’s the MacLeod of Lewis.”

 

“Otherwise known as the Loud MacLeod,” chortled Gilchrist.  “Actuallee, this is much betta.”

 

“What are you two complaining about?” asked Kay.  “It’s a kilt, isn’t it?”

~~~~

(In Duncan and Micah’s suite)

 

“Would you two hush?” grumbled Gilchrist at his two compatriots.  MacCousin had giggled constantly as they quietly shuffled into the hallway.  Kay had been trying rather unsuccessfully to get MacCousin to shut up with threats.

 

Fortunately, the shower kept Sukh and Duncan from hearing anything.

 

Gilchrist ran toward the closet and began grabbing all the clothes he could.  He didn’t bother separating clothes.

 

MacCousin cleaned out all the drawers in the room, tossing the loose clothing into the hallway.  As a second thought, she took Duncan’s collection of nifty barrettes. She needed barrettes anyway.   She threw those into the hallway as well.

 

Kay managed to grab everything from the room then dropped the kilt on the bed along with one of Gilchrist’s spare penanulars and the belt.  She also left behind a diaphanous white chemise for Sukh.

 

The three of them ran into the hallway rather noisily.  They didn’t make it halfway back to their suite before they collapsed and began laughing.  They were loud enough that several guests opened their doors to see what all the commotion was about.

 

Finally Kay, Gilchrist and MacCousin were able to stand up and carry the stolen clothing into their suite.

~~~~

(Inside Duncan’s suite)

 

“What the hell was that?” asked Duncan, peeking around the shower curtain as Sukh pulled him back into the shower.

 

 

MacLeod of Who?

By Sukh

September 6

Kay & Sukhs Suite

Afternoon

“What the Hell?”

Sukh came running at Duncan’s bellow.  On the bed lay a plaid that looked more like a Scottish bee than any other pattern she had seen.  She knew they were going to do the kilt thing, but that plaid was plain old obnoxious.  “Problem?”

 

“Where are me bloody clothes?”  He stood at glared the black and yellow length of wool.

 

“Umm…I don’t know?”  She pulled the collar of the hotel robe up closer to her neck.  If she was an immortal, she would be in deep doo-doo right now.

 

He turned and gave her a patented Duncan MacLeod furious look.  “I don’t believe ya lass.”  He crossed his arms over his chest.  Sukh’s eyes started to glaze at the play of his hard muscles.  “Now, I need my clothes.”

 

“Why not wear the kilt?”

 

He curled a lip.  “That’s no my clan’s tartan.  That’s Loud MacLeod’s pattern.”

 

“And that means?”  Sukh was confused.

 

“I won’t be wearin’ the kilt.”  Duncan took the next half hour to search high and low for the clothes that the others had made off with.  “I guess I’ll be going to my suite for more clothes.”  He sighed as he gave up the futile search.

 

“Duncan?”  Sukh was sitting on the bed fingering a woman’s chemise.  “I’d really like to see you in the kilt.”

 

He turned and glared at her.  “I donna see as I have much choice.” He whipped off his towel, trating Sukh to a wonder butt shot, and pulled the tartan to the floor and arranged it.  “I’m gonna have Gilchrist’s head for this.”

 

Sukh watched for a moment, then slipped into the bathroom with the thin silk chemise, a diversion was needed.  When she returned a few minutes later, he was looking resplendent, bare-chested in his kilt.  His eyes widened at her new dress.

 

“Well, lass.”  He indicated she should turn for him.  “You look like a fairy princess.”    He smiled at the sheer material and the off the shoulder gold band.

 

She smiled back.  “You look like a Highland prince.” She moved to him and put her arms around his neck.  “So what do Scotsmen really wear under their kilts?” She asked as she nuzzled his chest.

 

His smile was teasing as he bent to lay a trail of kissed down her neck.  “Let me show you.” She whispered in her ear as they fell to the bed.

 

 

Reverie Revisited

By Sukh (with input from Kay)

September 6

Celtic suite

about 4 pm

 

Angelique slipped out from under Ricze’s protective arm.  He stirred and cracked open one eye.  “Where are you going?”

 

Angelique pulled on a hotel robe and went to the special treatment window, never quite looking at her blood brother, staring out at the artificially darkened skyline.  “I need to have my hair redone.”

 

“Angelique, don’t feel guilty.  LaCroix isn’t worth the pain.”

 

She looked at him.  He was propped up by one elbow, his long hair cascading over his forehead, obscuring one eye and tumbling over his shoulder to pool on the bedsheet.  She had thought she loved him once, this Celtic rogue, before she had been to Rome.

 

“I can’t help it.”

 

“Come on, mhuirnn, don’t do this.”  Ricze slid up behind her, holding her to him and pulling her against his chest, He rested his chin on her shoulder.  “I understand so much more than you think.”  He twined her fingers with his.

 

“You were lost to me as a lover the first time you met Lucius, when we had gone to Rome and you had managed to become quite popular in Vesperian’s court.”  He sighed and pulled her with him as he sat on the edge of he bed. “I knew you were gone when you watched Vesparian award the General his laurels for fighting the Gauls.  You and master took off to Pompeii that week, to wait for the General’s return home.”

 

“Yes, and if not for our brat sister Divia, he would have been my blood.”

 

“But he is yours, no matter who pops up, the old man always ends up back with you.”

 

Ricze pulled down one lapel of Angelique’s robe, exposing the dark promise of one slim shoulder.  He kissed it gently.  “Besides, I have been dead to you these past 500 years.” He licked the column of her throat.  “This time we have spent together will be a memory I treasure.  Don’t tarnish it for me with wanting my arms to be someone else’s.”

 

Angelique sighed and shifted to face him.  Her smile was wistful.  “I am glad you were not killed by the Sabbat in Paris 500 years ago, and this time is a special gift.  I will not look that gift horse in the mouth.”  She kissed him, a brief touch of the lips.  “But I still need to get my hair done,” she teased.  “Tonight I talk to Lucien.”

 

Ricze picked up the phone.  “Sybilla?  I need a hairdresser in the Celtic suite.  One that specializes in African ancestral braiding.  Two hours? Perfect.  Yes, I do need some refreshment, perhaps Spanish?  Thank you.”

 

He pulled Angelique back into the bed, and pinned her.  “Until tonight, you’re mine.”

 

“Yours… ” She arched up and ran the tip of her tongue up his neck, smiling as his eyes went vampiric.  “Until the hair dresser shows.”

 

“We better hurry then.”

 

 

Truth or Consequences

By Trapper

September 6

Monique’s hideaway

5:00 p.m.

 

Monique sat up in bed, her hands wrapped around a glass of “Giselle”, And tried not to tremble. She hated the way the dreams left her feeling; weak, dizzy, disoriented and frightened. Algernon had been his usual helpful self, gently awakening her, fluffing her pillow and bringing sustenance to chase away the rest of the haunts.

 

She stared, unseeing, at the glass of warm, red fluid. The thoughts of the nightmare still held her in thrall. Did seeing Devin unnerve her so much, she wondered, that it triggered the dreams? The weary vampire drained her glass and ran a hand through her rumpled hair. It wasn’t yet dusk, and she was reluctant to give up her dark sanctuary. She lay back against the pillows and stared at the ebony canopy. What was it that horrified her so much? Was it the murder of her family? Her Christien? Could it be Devin’s disapproval of

her? She sighed and closed her eyes. No, it was hearing her Maman speak those words to her, ‘not good enough’. She remembered the first time she had ever heard them.

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

 

It was the 1600’s, and they had gone to visit one of Maman’s many relatives in Carpathia. The darkness had come suddenly in that mountainous country and their host had suggested a night of hunting. She could still hear his silky, aristocratic accent as he led them into the forest.

 

“You will find our country most exhilarating, Monique. The peasants are a strong-blooded lot. They will give you a merry chase and a good meal at the end of it.” He sidled closer to her horse. “Perhaps you would allow me to accompany you into the forest? We could hunt together.” His voice had dropped to a conspiratorial whisper and he leered at her. She winced at his foul breath.

 

Before she had time to think of an appropriately cutting response, Devin had brought his steed up abreast of hers. “Excuse me, m’lord,” he said in tightly controlled tones, “but the lady is spoken for.”

 

“Indeed?” the aristocrat said, with an arched brow. “Pity.” He reined his horse back at a level with Maman’s and spoke in low tones about the ‘young wolf’ she had in her fold.

 

When they reached the woods, they dismounted and took different directions, all looking to the kill. Monique ran into the trees, reveling at the sights and sounds in the dark. She heard the tiny, quick heartbeats of rabbits and foxes as they scurried out of the path of the predators. A new sound caught her ear, and she stopped in a clearing to sniff the air for scent.

 

The unmistakable aroma of human blood came to her, making her mouth water and her fangs extend. Her eyes turned yellow as hunting vision took over.  She crouched and ran noiselessly through the underbrush, listening for the signature pulse of the human heart.

 

She found it in a copse of ash trees. It was a child, hiding in a tree.  Her eyes were wide and round with fright in her grubby little face as she stared at Monique. The two stared at each other for a long moment, until the spell was broken by the rest of the hunting party’s arrival.

 

“Oh, well done, my dear! First blood goes to you,” Radu said softly.

 

She heard Devin’s horrified intake of air as he realized what she’d treed.

 

“Don’t stand there like a silly goose, girl!” Maman’s voice was sharp as metal in the still night.

 

“I…I can’t, Maman!” she said, looking back at the elder with stricken eyes. “It’s just a child!”

 

“It’s food, imbecile!” With an exasperated snort, the elder vampire strode forward, ripping the girlchild from her perch and savaging her throat.  When she was done, the small body was tossed to the ground like rubbish. “I don’t know why I bother trying to civilize you, Monique. It’s obvious that you simply aren’t good enough.” Her skirts swirled as she left the woods and Monique behind.

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

 

Tears sprang from Monique’s eyes as she remembered the stinging rebuke.  It was not her fault that she was not Kindred.

 

An acquaintance of  Maman’s had brought her across in a midnight frenzy of bloodletting, and then handed her to the woman, saying, “Bring her up as you like. She’s my present to you, since you have no daughters of your own.”

 

But she could never quite measure up in the eyes of the Family. After all these years, it still hurt.

 

She hiccuped a little sob and reached for the bottle. It was dark now.  Time to be up and about.

 

 

 

A Widening Ripple of Influence

By Trapper

September 6

Monique’s hideaway chalet

7:30pm

 

The inky velvet draperies parted in time to show the sun, throwing off the brilliant colours of its daily death throes as it sank behind the trees. Monique swung her legs over the edge of the bed and squinted at the sunset. Algernon had the nasty habit of opening the shutters early so that she’d get her Vitamin D for the day. Monique had never been able to convince him that she didn’t need vitamins anymore.

 

Discarding her glass, she took a long swig from the bottle of “Giselle” and ran her hand through her tangled mane. The dreams had disconcerted her more than she wanted to admit. Her body was still weary and she felt unrested. What she needed more than anything was a shower and a fresh kill. That had always been the remedy to send these unwanted thoughts scurrying back to their dark corners.

 

Twenty minutes later, she stepped out of the bathroom in a billowing cloud of steam. The towel turbaned around her head made her look like some exotic Eastern princess as she stalked through the room in her bath sheet.

 

“Now, where were the clothes that I laid out?” she muttered, gazing around the room. She stopped in horror, her eyes widening.

 

“ALGERNON!!!” Monique shrieked.

 

“Miss Monique?” Algernon peeked around the corner of the doorframe.

 

She pointed across the room. “What is the meaning of that?!”

 

He followed her direction and looked puzzled. “I don’t know. They’ve been there most of the day. I assumed you had gotten them somewhere and decided to wear them this evening.”

 

She turned and looked at her manservant incredulously. “Algernon, I don’t know how to tell you this, but it’s not 1787 anymore.”

 

Monique and Algernon approached the apparition as if it might attack. Where last night had been a black minidress and velvet jacket, stood a dressmaker’s dummy. It was clad in the duplicate of a black and silver gown she’d worn to the opera in Paris two centuries ago, right down to the powdered wig.

 

Her eyes narrowed. “Magick. I can smell Devin’s hand in this.”

 

 

 

A Flying Lesson

by MacCousin and Cousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

Sundown

The dumpster outside Elysian Fields opened with a loud creak.  Steve Lalor clambered out of the dumpster.

“Oh man,” he rubbed his rumbling stomach. “I’ve *got* to get some eats.”

Steve stumbled into the hotel and headed toward the bar.

~~~~

 

(Upstairs in the Ptolemaic suite)

 

Màire’s eyes snapped open. Sunset was settling over the hotel like a red, yellow and orange blanket.

 

She sat up in bed and glanced over at LaCroix, still asleep. She leaned over and kissed his forehead, almost laughing at the way his forehead wrinkled in sleep. It was time to get some clothes from the gift shop or from her suite. Unfortunately, she had not packed much. Màire pulled on her leather pants and managed to find her ripped shirt near the bedroom door.

 

“Where are you going?” LaCroix sat up in bed as Màire was pulling on her shirt.

 

“I have to get some clothes from my suite or the shop downstairs,” she answered. “I can’t run around with this torn shirt on all night.”

 

She turned back to LaCroix. “Would you like to meet me in my suite later?”

 

“Perhaps,” he murmured. “However, I have unfinished business with Angelique. ”

 

At Màire’s pout, he arose from the bed and traced the edge of her left cheekbone with his fingertips. “We will meet up again later, chroi.”

 

Màire walked out of the suite, into the hallway.  She stopped at her suite.  Her jaw dropped.  “What the hell! Loscadh is dó ort!”

 

Methos looked slightly sheepish as she leaned into the room.  He recognized those particular words.

 

“What happened?” Màire asked.

 

“Spike’s girlfriend paid us a visit,” answered Methos.

 

“I see,” Màire replied grouchily. “I was on my way downstairs anyway, I’ll stop at the front desk.”  Màire stomped off toward the elevator.

 

Methos watched as she continued grumbling and sighed.  “It’s going to be another one of those nights.”  He said, shaking his head in disbelief.

~~~~~~~~

 

Màire walked to the front desk, holding onto her silk shirt, muttering further Irish curses under her breath.  Màire didn’t notice the vampire leering at her from the bar.

 

Sybille inwardly shuddered at the sight as Màire came closer. “Can I help you?” Sybille asked.

 

“Yes, the door to my suite seems to have been kicked in,” answered Màire, as if she were discussing the weather. However pleasant her voice was, her face was a thundercloud. “It’s the Tara suite.”

 

Sybille nodded. “I’ll have the carpenter take care of that.”

 

“Thank you,” answered Màire. She turned to go back to the elevators when a new vampire jumped into her pathway. Màire shuddered at the sight of him.  “Whose mistake is that?” she asked herself.

 

“I know you!” grinned the vampire. “I’ve seen you sing!”

 

“D’oh!” Màire groaned inwardly. “That’s nice,” she said, with a tone of ice in her voice. “I *don’t* know you.” She began to head toward the bar, much in need of a drink.

 

The young one didn’t seem to get the hint. He practically skipped at her side.  “Can I buy you a drink?  I’ve been looking for some pleasant company from a lovely lass such as yourself.”

 

Màire rolled her eyes. “What a perv.” She thought to herself.  Suddenly a wicked smile spread across her face. “Sure,” she said, her voice a singsong mixture of sweetness and light. “I’d love to get a drink with you.”

 

Steve grinned, not believing his luck.

 

Màire took a seat at the barstool and ordered her usual as Steve took the seat next to her.

 

“I can’t believe running into you here,” Steve said, with a feral grin.

 

“Really?” asked Màire, her face a mask of innocence.  She took a sip of her drink.

 

“Oh man, at that festival. I was playing there, too, and saw you. You were just amazing. I think that we could make an incredible duet.” Steve leaned in closer.

 

“Uh, thanks, Steve,” she replied.

 

“How did you,” began Steve. Then his smile became bigger. “Wow! You must’ve seen me play!” When she didn’t respond, he knew he needed to try a different approach. “Or else…” he narrowed his eyes at her. “Hey, I’ll bet you read my mind, didn’t you? That is sooo cool, man,” Steve shook his head.  “You must know a lot of vampire tricks…” He paused, trying to recall her name.

 

Màire looked up from her drink. “Màire,” she said. “My name is Màire.”  She sighed, tiring of the small talk. “Say,” she began with a furtive whisper.  “Have you learned any tricks?”

 

Steve puffed up. “I’ve learned a lot,” he bragged.

 

Màire slid a slender finger around the rim of her drink. “Do you know how to fly?” she asked.

 

“Well, actually,” began Steve. “I was hoping a lovely lady like you would come along and show me.”

 

Màire grabbed his arm, a smile curved its way around her face. “Let’s go up to the roof then.”

~~~~~~

 

Nick, Trapper, Vachon and Kat walked out of one of the elevators. Steve and Màire stepped into the other one. Nick did a double take at Màire and the evil grin that was on her face.

 

Vachon followed his look. “Did that look totally weird to you?” he asked his companions.

 

“Who’s that?” asked Trapper. “And what is that poor woman doing with Steve?”

 

“That’s Màire, my oldest sister,” said Nick turning to Trapper. “She only smiles like that when something is up. Let’s follow them.”

 

LaCroix stepped out of the Ptolomic suite and walked to the Tara suite.  He stared for a moment at the torn-off door. He sensed Màire in the elevator with another vampire.  He decided to follow them.  He pushed the button for the elevator. A few seconds later LaCroix later was greeted with the grating sound of…

 

“Hi pops!” said Trapper, relishing the way LaCroix shuddered as he entered the elevator.

 

“Nicholas,” LaCroix turned to his son. “I take it you’re following Màire as well.”

 

“She had that look on her face,” answered Nick.

 

“I see,” replied LaCroix.

 

“What is going on?” Kat asked.

 

“You’ll see,” answered Vachon, he was used to Màire’s practical jokes.

 

The five vampires rode in silence the rest of the way to the roof.

 

(The Roof)

 

Màire laughed as her hair whipped into her face. “It’s so very easy!” she began. She noted the five vampires watching her from a small distance.

 

“Okay,” yelled Steve. “Explain to me how it’s done again?”

 

“Go really fast that way,” answered Màire, pointing to a building across from them. “If something gets in your way, turn! I’ll show you.”

 

She took off in a heartbeat and landed a few moments later across the way, her face beaming.  “Now you!” Màire called.

 

“Hell, if you can do it!” bellowed Steve, convinced of his flying skill. He began to run to the edge of the building.

 

“AAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!” he yelled as he leapt off Elysian fields.  He didn’t stop yelling until he slammed into the side of the other building.

 

“All right!” Màire raised her arms. “NOW TURN!”

 

Vachon, Kat, Trapper and Nick all began rolling across the roof.  Their laughter and Màire’s echoed through the night. Màire flew back to the hotel, still giggling.  She joined her brother and the others rolling across the cement.

 

LaCroix raised a brow at his daughter and began clapping quietly.

 

The next thing they heard was a whiny “OWWWWWWWWWWWW!  What’cha do that for?”

 

A few minutes later, the laughter still rang through the night.

 

LaCroix leaned over the younger vampires. “Really, Màire. That was not, that funny.”

 

All Màire could do was shake her head.  Her blood-tears blurred her vision.

~~~~~~

 

Steve slid down the side of the building and landed once again in the dumpster.  The top of the dumpster slammed down on him once again.

 

Angelus whistled as he walked by the dumpster.  He watched as Steve fell and the dumpster slammed shut once again.  He walked to the lid and raised it and looked at Steve.  “Now that’s a real shame,” began Angelus. “When folks be throwing away a perfectly good vampire like that.”

 

 

In the Company of Wolves

By Hanna

September 6

The Woods

Sundown

 

Jenny had slept all day in the warmth and safety of the caern, never once stirring in her sleep.  He Who Walks With Bone watched over her himself, and she knew she would be safe.

 

As she lay there, with her face pressed against the cool moss that blanketed the caern, her nose wrinkled at a strange smell.  And her ears hurt as they were pierced by high-pitched screaming.  She struggled to open her eyes, and then she fought to sit up.  And she wished she could have slept through it all…

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

 

Marc ran on all fours towards the caern.  He had come because he had seen the Taboo earlier, seen it flicker in the light of day, and grow solid again at night.  The pack must be warned that the Infernalist was present again.

 

And then he heard the screaming of wolves, smelled their blood throughout the forest.  As he neared the caern, he noticed that the entire forest, normally alive with sound, was still.  The air he breathed burned his lungs, and the acrid smell of death hung in the air.

As he came into view of the caern, his scream was the only sound that penetrated the silence of the dead.

 

He stumbled forward, whining as he view the mutilations before him.  How could they have allowed…?

 

As he moved towards the caern, a putrid cloud of greenish-black vapor extended toward him.  Everything it passed over twisted and collapsed upon itself, as if eaten from the inside by some sort of rot. He stepped backward, watching in amazed horror as trees and rocks collapsed upon themselves as if dissolved by acid.  The further he moved away from the vapor, the faster it moved toward him.

 

I’m hungry.

 

He stopped.  “Say what?” he asked aloud.

 

Feed me, doggy boy!

 

The vapor raced at him suddenly, and had he not tripped over a fallen branch, he would have been lost.  He morphed into a wolf again and ran full speed toward the city.  He had to get it away from the forest.  The city could protect itself.  Gaia had no one to defend her.

 

He neared the outskirts of the city, and could feel the thing almost upon him.  He stumbled into a hole he hadn’t seen, twisting his hind leg.  He howled furiously at himself, and looked up in time to see the thing descending upon him…

 

 

Remembrances

By MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

After A Flying Lesson

Rich laughter filled the halls of Elysian fields.  Màire nearly tripped as she stepped out of the elevator, she grabbed onto her master’s arm and steadied herself.

LaCroix raised a brow at her.  Màire looked up at him, her lower eyelids pink in color.  “I’m sorry, Lucius…” She began laughing again, shaking her head at the same time.  “He tried to pick me up in the lobby.  I had no idea that he didn’t know his kind couldn’t fly.  It just fell into place…” She started laughing again and leaned forward, her hands on her knees.  Her master merely stared at her.  He turned on his heel and walked toward the Ptolemaic suite.  When he heard Màire began wheezing he stopped and turned to face her.

 

“Honestly, Màire,” LaCroix grumbled.  “You are the only vampire I know of who seems to suffer from bouts of hyperventilation.”  He paused and then continued.  “If you were mortal, you would probably have ended up like that dreadful Mrs. Fitzherbert.”

 

Màire, still snickering, shrugged.  “Dying of exhaustion from a laughing fit wouldn’t be a bad way to go.”

 

LaCroix opened the door to the Ptolemaic suite and ushered his daughter inside, before she made too much of a spectacle of herself.

 

Màire sighed and sat down on the couch and sighed as she stretched out.  “So, Lucius,” she began.  “You never told me what you were doing here.”  A small smile slid across her lips as LaCroix took the chair across from her.

 

LaCroix placed an open bottle on the table between them and poured the thick red elixir into two glasses.  He passed one to Màire.  They held the glasses and their eyes locked.

 

“You first,” she said.  They played this strange game every time they met through the ages.  Toasts had played an important part in both of their civilizations.

 

LaCroix smirked and raised his glass.  “Bonum vinum laetificat cor hominis.”

 

‘Mo sheacht mbeannacht ort,’ replied Màire.  Their glasses clicked together and they sipped their drinks.

“Now, Lucius, do tell me what you and the princess are doing here?”

 

“A rather fascinating mystery involving a dear old friend of yours,” answered LaCroix with a sardonic smile.

 

“Somehow I think this person you speak of is no friend of mine.”  Màire gulped down the rest of the wine.  Fear nearly paralyzed her.  “It’s not him is it?”

 

LaCroix looked across the table at Màire, her eyes widened in a strange mixture of fright and ire.  He reached out and touched her hand.  “No, chumann, Witter is long dead.  Unfortunately, his friend August is in town.  We followed her here.”

~~~~

The pain rolled through her body, but that she could ignore.  The visions gave her the most horror now.  Her eyes could stay shut forever, but the sounds of immortal and human torture drifted through the walls, and her resistance which had been so strong a few weeks ago was gone now.  Her imagination magnified the sounds of suffering.

 

There were shuffling sounds now and quiet murmurs.  The door opened and black eyes fell on her and she quaked in fear and hatred.  Her senses settled on a new presence in the small back room.

 

“So this is his wife?” a rasping voice queried.  The figure was draped in darkness.  It had been so long since she fed, she couldn’t

concentrate on seeing the stranger.  The voice and scent were familiar, yet foreign.

 

“His former wife, I’m afraid,” replied Witter.  “Her blood and strength are very nearly gone,” he sighed, disappointedly.  “However he still is rather taken with her from what I’ve heard.  If you want to get to MacKeracher…” He paused.

 

Her blue eyes opened for the moment.  A small cruel smile played at Witter’s lips as he tenderly wiped away the blood sweat on her forehead.  She pulled away from his touch.

 

Witter laughed and turned to his guest.  “Once she was so willing to help.  When I’ve taken what I need.  I can send her to you.”

 

“Her head will suffice,” replied the figure.  “However, I would like a word with her.”

 

“Of course,” Witter answered.  He turned on his heel and she heard his boots scrape on the wooden planks outside of the room.  The door shut, the figure turned and moved away from the shadows.  August’s face loomed close to her own.

 

“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it, Moy?”

~~~~

 

Màire set down her glass.  LaCroix watched as her long fingers gripped the wineglass, which became nothing more than a few hundred shards on the table.

 

Màire looked up from the shattered glass in her right hand.  “I guess I got carried away again,” she murmured.

 

 

Misery Loves Company

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

7:40pm

“You’re not really going to wear that, are you?” Anna stood, hands on hips and stared at Devin. He continued to preen in the full-length wardrobe mirror.

“I think I look quite dashing, actually.” He adjusted the wig and tried to decide if he needed a beauty spot.

 

“What about me?” Anna gestured at her own black leather miniskirt and leotard. “I look mismatched!”

 

Devin turned and smiled slowly. “I think you look delicious.” He growled and gathered her into his arms.

 

The phone rang.

 

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think you timed this.” Anna pulled out of his grasp and went to check her makeup.

 

Devin picked up the phone. “Saceur…”

 

“DEVIN!” the phone screamed at him. This was followed by a torrent of French curses, spoken too fast for the human ear to follow. Devin, however, knew exactly what the caller was saying.

 

“Monique. Lovely to hear your voice, too.” He winced as the volley continued.

 

Anna peered around the corner with an appraising look at the sound of the name.

 

When Monique finally paused for breath, Devin answered her, forgetting that he was speaking in the same archaic French dialect.

 

After about ten minutes, the call ended, and Devin hung up.  Anna returned to the room to find him staring at the phone, an odd expression on his face.

 

“What did she want? And don’t tell me it was just a social call,” Anna asked, annoyed.

 

Devin smiled, but didn’t look up immediately. “Apparently, her clothes were exchanged for the same time period as mine, sometime while she slept.” He shrugged and gave Anna a lopsided grin. “Naturally, she thought I had something to do with it.”

 

“I don’t like this,” Anna said warily.

 

“Neither do I, and neither does she.” He put his arms around her. “We’ve called a temporary truce, so we can figure out what’s going on.” He nuzzled her neck. “She’ll be here shortly,” he murmured into her neck.

 

“DEVIN!!!!”

 

 

Théâtre des Vampires

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

7:45pm

 

The four vampires were an explosion of merriment as they entered the Louis XVI Suite.

 

“Did you see his face?” Trapper asked, tears of laughter coursing down her face.

 

Kat nodded, laughing too hard for words.

 

“The dumpster was a nice touch,” Javier snickered.

 

“Priceless!” Nick agreed.

 

Trapper stopped suddenly, her eyes gone yellow. A growl started in the back of her throat. Nick quickly assessed the situation and grabbed the collar of her jacket.

 

“It’s just a fresh carafe of lattes, Trapper,” he murmured into her ear. “No need to hunt them. They’re not going anywhere.”

 

Trapper smiled sheepishly and walked to the refreshment stand. As the rest of them followed suit, Evie emerged from her room, looking blearily at the roomful of vampires.

 

“Whoa!” Trapper said, as she reached for the coffee. “You look like you could use this.” She poured her rumpled friend a cup and handed it over. “Did you get any sleep today?”

 

Evie took the cup and fell into the nearest chair. “Yeah, but not so’s you’d notice. I had dreams, well, nightmares really, like you wouldn’t believe.”

 

Kat sat across from Evie, cradling a glass of “Enrique”. “Must’ve been a powerful nightmare.”

 

Evie nodded and raised her head to look at them. “It was Hanna. She’s in terrible trouble.”

 

Before Evie could continue, the door to the suite opened to admit Devin and Anna.

 

Nick turned and raised an appraising eyebrow at the twosome. “Devin?” he began.

 

Devin raised a hand. “Don’t ask. I haven’t any idea who could be throwing magick around this hotel.” He stretched his arms out to his sides. “I woke up like this.”

 

Anna stood behind him, trying to stifle her laughter.

 

“Well,” said Nick, “I have to admit that it’s an interesting fashion statement, Saceur.”

 

“That’s a polite way of putting it, Nick.” Vachon was making no attempt at masking his amusement.

 

“Apparently, Monique was similarly…afflicted,” Devin said, pouring himself a drink. “We’ve called a truce to figure out what’s going on.”

 

Anna rolled her eyes, but refrained from comment.

 

They all sat to compare notes, Kat and Trapper regaling them with the tale of Màire and the “flying lesson”. Schanke finally crawled out of his room and called room service for souvlaki. Evie had just begun to relate the story of her dream when Trapper rose from her chair.

 

“Nick?” she began.

 

Evie and Devin rose as well, all looking suddenly disoriented.

 

Hanna’s psychic screams ripped through their consciousness like a hot knife through butter.

 

Evie…stop me!

 

**She reached out, and they all ran to the other corner of the room. She would have laughed, had it been funny. But now, she screamed her frustration.**

 

Evie shrieked and collapsed on the floor.

 

Trapper! Stop me!!

 

**She lunged again, this time scratching one of them as they ran by her. There were tiny droplets of blood on her fingertips, and she licked them with relish.**

 

“No, Hanna!” Trapper reached out to the air, her eyes wide as she dropped to her knees.

 

**Merciful mother!

 

She turned quickly, pounced upon one of the children, and in a fury, pulled his neck to one side.**

 

Devin? Yes! Devin!! Help!!

 

**She lowered her fangs to his neck and fastened her teeth. The first rush of the young blood filled her with warmth. What she needed. Fresh blood.**

 

Devin fell to his knees and gasped at the pain that ran through him. He shook his head, trying to clear it as he looked around.

 

“Devin?” Anna put a hand on his shoulder, wide-eyed with concern.

 

“It’s Hanna!” he whispered through gritted teeth. “She’s screaming for help.” He reached out. “Give me your hand!”

 

Anna complied. His thoughts ran through her and she grabbed for Nick. “Nick! Take Trapper’s hand! Everyone! Join hands!”

 

Evie fought for control. “Maybe we can stop her, if we all can concentrate!” Her brow furrowed as she felt all of them. “It’s not enough! We’ve got to keep trying!”

 

The balcony doors blew open in the sudden breeze that heralded Monique’s arrival.

 

“Merde!” she exclaimed as she alit. “Now I remember why I hated to fly in these clothes.” She looked around at the strange tableau. Seeing Devin on his knees in obvious pain, she ran across the room and took Anna by the hair.

 

“What have you done to him?”

 

“Nothing!” Anna looked at her through eyes glazed with concentration. “We’re trying to help someone!”

 

Devin reached out with his free hand. “Take my hand! It’s Hanna! We need your strength!”

 

At the mention of the little vampire’s name, Monique’s eyes inexplicably filled with tears and she gripped Devin’s hand with enough force to crush a mortal. She reached to Schanke to complete the ring.

 

“Hanna!” they sent wordlessly. “Stop! Listen to us! We’ll come for you, but stop! Don’t kill the children!”

 

Far away, they could see her. She had stopped her advance. Her head cocked to one side as she listened to the silent voices begging her to be calm. She could feel their strength pouring into her. They saw through her eyes as she looked at her bloodied hands. Then the link went dark as she fainted from the horror of what she’d done.

 

With the link broken, the inhabitants of the suite fell to the floor, unconscious. Their last thought had been Hanna’s keening wail of despair echoing through their minds.

 

 

Shards

By MacCousin

September 6

Elysian Fields

7:50 p.m.

Màire carefully swept away the shards off the coffee table.

“I suppose I don’t know my own strength,” she muttered, glancing upwards at LaCroix. She stared down at her hands and sleeves, now soaked in a gory mixture of shards of glass, bloodwine and her own maroon blood, and sighed.

 

“I really should get some other clothes,” she mumbled under her breath.

 

Màire walked into the bathroom and began carefully removing the glass and blood from her hands.

 

LaCroix was not used to see his daughter so remote and quiet.  Her eyes spoke of the unspoken sadness.  It was a sight that was nearly as painful to him as reliving that experience was for Màire.  She had never confided to anyone about what happened during her time at that Alchemist’s.  She ignored the event as though it had never happened.  Whenever Witter was mentioned, she would slip into her private world and there was only one thing to do to snap his eldest out of this.

 

LaCroix walked into the bathroom and smirked into the mirror.  “I’d offer you something, but I doubt Angelique would appreciate my loaning you her clothing.”

 

LaCroix watched, as his daughter’s back became ramrod straight over the vanity sink.  “I wouldn’t take anything of hers you offered me.”  She growled haughtily.

 

LaCroix couldn’t help smiling to himself.  At times it seemed a shame that his children were so easy to manipulate, however this was for his daughter’s own good.

 

“Probably better that I left awhile,” fumed his child.  “I’m in no mood to see that Princess!”

 

LaCroix couldn’t help chortling.  “Don’t tell me you are still upset about an event that took place nearly a millennia ago.”   He knew full well what her response to that question would be.

 

Màire turned and hissed in her master’s direction.  “You tell me.”  She whispered furiously.

 

“All this for a…” began LaCroix with a knowing smirk.

 

“He was my…never mind.  I don’t want to think about it.  I’m going shopping.”   She began heading for the door.

 

LaCroix watched her leave with some amount of relief.  Màire had no problem dealing with the ages-old feud between herself and Angelique.

 

In a strange way, he was almost grateful that Màire had taken the bait, she was still angry as ever with Angelique about that Pict.

 

He sipped the leftover dregs and poured himself another glass.  At least with Angelique, Màire acted as she had over the last millennia.

 

On the other hand, he had forgotten her response to the mention of Witter and his friends.  Instead of the exuberant, rather opinionated daughter who had entertained him over the past 1,500 years she withdrew.  Her eyes becoming mere shadows.  Her voice became a fearful whisper.  His immortal daughter became his mortal foster child once again.

 

Mentioning Angelique would always wound Màire’s pride and with that she would momentarily forget whatever it was that happened with Witter and August nearly 500 years ago.

~~~~~

 

Màire ran her fingers up the side of the long black leather skirt.  The leather slid like butter between her sensitive digits and she smiled.

 

“I could never pass this up.” She told the salesgirl, who was nearly blinded under a mound of clothing and shoes.  “I’ll wear it out along with that black lace shirt.”  She removed the shirt from the grateful girl’s arms and began to walk to the dressing room.  Màire paused mid-step and turned and gave the salesperson a smirk.

 

“Now do you have any Celtic jewelry?” she murmured, arms wrapping around what was left of the black silk shirt she had on.  She loved seeing the salesclerk’s horrified look.  The poor woman had been helping her for over an hour.

 

“I’m just kidding,” she said.

~~~~~

 

(A few minutes later)

 

Màire stared at the new door to her suite and began shifting her bags and packages.  She slid her keycard into the lock and opened the suite and breathed in.

 

The lavender had arrived and she sighed, enjoying the herb’s calming effects.  She dropped her bags on the couch and wondered briefly what happened to her sword-wielding guest.

 

A small note next to the phone caught her eye.  She pulled it up to get a better look at it.  A few minutes after deciphering the message, Màire decided it read ‘Margaretha called at 6:30.  Call her at work’.  She picked up the phone and began to dial.

 

 

Kiss Me, Judas

By Hanna

September 6

New Salem

about 8pm

 

She hung, almost lifeless.  Left to drip dry, she thought wryly to herself.  She heard footsteps in the corridor, at first just those of Davistch and Paolo, and then others.  Smaller footsteps. Children.

 

“You see,” Paolo’s thick Italian came toward her, “I told you she would know what we were planning for her the moment she heard their tiny little feet.”

 

Davistch snorted in response.  She couldn’t see what he was doing, but by the sound of the additional footsteps, he had probably instructed some servants to bring in the children.

 

Her head was pulled right side up, forcing her to see the dozens of children before her.  She didn’t want to listen, but she heard Paolo whisper in her ear, “Dinner time, Hanna love.  Time to feed.  And I know you’re hungry.  You haven’t eaten in weeks.”

 

She heard him bite into his wrist, and then felt the tiny trickle of blood on her face.  “There.  You smell it?  Blood, my Sire.  Don’t you want some?”  His finger reached out, placed a small drop of his blood on her bottom lip.

 

She fought, as best as she could, to keep from tasting the blood on her lip.  Not because she didn’t want to humiliate herself in front of those she hated.  But because if she tasted, the children would die.  She would feed and feed until their little bodies could yield nothing else to her hunger.  About 28 children, she thought.  They wouldn’t be enough.

 

“Don’t you want to taste them, Hanna?  Their blood is warm and fresh.  Listen to their tiny hearts, pounding out their fear.  They know what you will do to them.  Smell their fear.”

 

She tried not to listen to him, but his voice was hypnotic through the haze of bloodlessness and ultimate hunger.  Her iron control over herself was slipping, and the penalty…

 

“Yes!  Surrender to it!  Give yourself to the hunger, and become my Goddess again!”

 

She groaned, remembering the awe and reverence upon his face as he watch Sandro painting her into his mural.  His Goddess.   She could…It wasn’t as if she had any reason not to.  Jonas was gone.  Marcus was…who knows.  Starr…Freidrick…Marc…Micah…it wasn’t as if there was anyone who needed her to be strong anymore.

 

Her eyes glazed over black, and Paolo laughed a deep, throaty laugh.  “Let’s go, men.  It’s up to her now.”  He kissed her cheek as he unbound the rope that held her up.  She dropped hard to the ground and he laughed again.  “See you soon, my Goddess.”

 

They hurried out, leaving the children and locking the door behind them.  The children, naturally, chose that time to start screaming.

She snarled at them, and they quieted instantly.  Then she lay upon the floor, too weak to move.  She absently licked her lips, and felt her mind explode as she tasted the blood.

 

“Shit!” she snarled, the first expletive to pass her lips.  What had she just done?  She screamed inside her head as she moved toward the first child.  They all cowered back at the sight of her blood-red eyes and gleaming fangs.

 

Evie…stop me!

 

She reached out, and they all ran to the other corner of the room.  She would have laughed, had it been funny.  But now, she screamed her frustration.

 

Trapper!  Stop me!!

 

She lunged again, this time scratching one of them as they ran by her.  There were tiny droplets of blood on her fingertips, and she licked them with relish. Merciful mother!  She turned quickly and pounced upon one of the children, and in a fury, pull his neck to one side.

 

Devin?  Yes!  Devin!!  Help!!!

 

She lowered her fangs to his neck and fastened her teeth.  The first rush of the young blood filled her with warmth.  What she needed.  Fresh blood. When he was almost bloodless, she tossed him over to the side.  Fresh blood.  It was all she cared about now.  No more morality.  No more choice.  The Beast Hanna had become…

 

 

Coming to a Head…

By Hanna

September 6

Elysian Fields

8:20 p.m.

 

Of those in the room, Devin was the first to sit up.  It wasn’t necessarily because he was stronger, but he had more experience dealing

with this sort of thing.  He glanced at Monique as she raised her head off the floor, her eyes still glazed from the effort of calming…

 

“We did stop her, yes?” she asked quietly.  They had all seen Hanna drop to the floor, wailing in despair, but that didn’t guarantee that it had ended there.

 

Devin shrugged tentatively, closed his eyes and the sighed.  “Maybe, if we’re lucky.  Who knows.  We might show up where ever she is, and she’ll kill us instead.”

 

Nick helped Trapper up, Schanke did the same for Evie.  Vachon helped Kat up, and Anna brushed away Devin’s hand and stood on her own.

 

“She wouldn’t do that,” Schanke groaned as he rose to his feet.  He didn’t really know Hanna, aside from the fact that she had taken off instantly to find August and his daughter.  That was good enough for him.

 

“Yeah, right,” Devin muttered in reply.  “She doesn’t usually attack children either!”

 

They all stared at him, trying not to remember what they had seen.

 

“It wasn’t her fault, and you know it.”

 

They all turned at the sound of the voice, and found Marcus standing in the doorway, with Freidrick, Methos and another man none but Devin recognized.

 

“Well, well, what made you crawl out of the sewers this time, Harrod?” Devin asked the other man, not trying to hide his contempt in anyway.

 

Harrod sneered back at him, but made no attempt to answer the gibe.

 

“Shut it Devin,” Freidrick snarled.

 

Marcus held up a hand before Devin could answer.  “That’s enough.  If anything, you should know that we haven’t got the time for the bickering right now.  Do it on the way if you have to, but let’s be off before it’s too late.”

 

“For what?” Vachon asked.

 

“To save her.”

 

Devin advanced on Marcus, “You know where she is then?  And didn’t think we should know this before anything like this happened?”

 

Marcus stared at Devin hard.  “We’ll discuss my reasoning later.  Let’s go if you’re coming.”  He turned away, Methos and Harrod walking behind him.  Freidrick snarled at Devin once, then morphed into lupus and trotted after the others…

 

 

Big Man on Campus

By RavenKat

September 6

New ‘Salem

8:30 p.m.

 

Tracey paced the width of the cave, angered at having been ordered to stay put.  Nobody told her what to do, not anymore.  There was something different about these vamps though, something that quieted her protests when Angel started getting bossy.  Hell, Spike and Dru looked like Girl Guides next to Angelus.

 

Earlier, Drucilla had carried her wounded punk back from the hotel and placed him in his chair.  Her sleeping in his lap created a sickening family image, thought Tracey, making another trip across the cave.  She began to slap the stone when she reached the end of her short tours, both to release frustration and to inadvertently awaken the two lovebirds.

 

Tracey became suddenly aware of someone at the mouth of the cave.  She tensed and her eyes went red/gold instantly. Hoping it was a lively meal, Tracey licked her lips and prepared for attack.  She was sorely disappointed to see Lux Interior instead.

 

“Oh.  It’s you,” she growled, turning away from him.  “Nice do,” she added sarcastically before resuming her next lap of the cave.

 

“The sun is down children, wake up,” Lux announced forthrightly.

 

Tracey chose to ignore his authoritative tone – just this once.  Dru stretched slowly and rubbed her eyes, daintily descending her boyfriend’s metal housing.  She squinted at Lux then smiled brightly, reaching down to shake Spike and wake him.

 

“Oooh, we’ve got a visitor, love,” she said, never taking her eyes off of the Immortal.  Spike opened his eyes, awakened instantly.

 

Lux spied his sword and picked it up with ease.  “This’ll do,” he admitted under his breath.  While admiring his weapon, he said off handedly, “Get up William, Dru’s tired of pushing your sorry ass around.”

 

Spike curled his lip and stood up.  He prowled over to Lux, gently patting Drucilla’s hand trying to calm her reaction to his miracle.

 

“What’s with the hair, mate?” Spike asked cautiously as he approached.  The yank’s hair had gone completely white.

 

Dru reached out, took a lock of it and touched it to her cheek.  She closed her eyes and began to purr. Lux looked briefly at her and it, and commented, “Oh that.  Let’s just say I’ve seen the light.”

 

 

Afterburn

By Trapper

September 6

Elysian Fields

8:30pm

 

Trapper shook her head and glared at the four men who had turned to leave. Her eyes flashed yellow and Evie winced as she heard her friend inhale.

 

“STOP!” she barked.

 

The four stopped in their tracks, visibly shaken by “The Voice”(tm).  They turned back and stared at her. Harrod’s eyes were wide. Devin noticed this and chuckled quietly.

 

“Please come back in and shut the door,” she said evenly. “That was a very small taste of what I could do if annoyed.”

 

They arranged themselves in front of the door. Freidrick padded off to one side and waited, still in wolf form. Methos allowed himself the barest hint of a smile at his companions’ discomfiture.

 

“In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve all just gone through an ordeal of our own. If you want our help, you’re going to have to wait until we’ve managed to refortify ourselves.” Trapper gestured at her traumatized friends. “We’re no good to Hanna in our present conditions.”

 

Nick handed her a steaming latte and stood next to her with a hand on her shoulder. He could feel the tremblings of the rage she held so carefully in check.

 

“While everyone is getting something, you can explain your convenient entrance, Marcus, and why it’s been so damnably hard to find you.”

 

Devin raised his chin and looked at the men pointedly. “Yes, and I’d like to know why you’re associating with the likes of this gutter rat.”

 

It was Nick’s turn to speak up. “As you can see, Marcus, we’re all a little short-tempered and weary of the games we’ve been dropped into. I think that we’d like to find out just what’s going on. Now.”

 

 

Alternate Realities

By Trapper

September 6

The alley behind Elysian Fields

8:30pm

 

Angel leaned on the lip of the dumpster, his chin propped up with one hand. He was experiencing some difficulty staying awake.

 

“Now, let me get this straight. You know she loves you; she just doesn’t know it right now?” Angel rolled his eyes.

 

Steve Lalor still hung half out of the dumpster, looking rather rumpled and a bit forlorn. “Yeah. You can’t imagine, man. I know she still needs me. Being in tune with the universe, I’m sure we’re soulmates, and she’s just forgotten.” He brightened slightly as he pondered his shallow thoughts. “But, it’s okay. She’ll realize it, now that we’re both vampires.”

 

Angel stifled a yawn and reached down to help Steve out of the garbage bin that seemed to have his name written on it. “Well, Steve, I’m sure this is very interesting to a person with as few brain cells as you.” He grunted as he heaved the overweight vampire over the side and onto the pavement. “But, really, I think that you and my strange companion, Lux, have a lot more in common – what with this obsession theme. Personally, I just want a little mayhem in my life, but instead, I’ve stood here wasting time with you.” He brushed himself off and looked up at the hotel.

 

“I think I’m going to grab Missy and party.” He grinned, showing his fangs, and turned to go.

 

A sound reverberated from the hotel, rattling the lid of the dumpster slightly. Angel frowned, and then noticed Steve’s expression. It was positively beatific.

 

“It’s her! I’m going to go see if I can help!” Steve looked at the wall, contemplating trying to jump to the fire escape.

 

Angel grabbed him by the arm. “Haven’t we already been through this?” He turned Lalor to the side. “Use the front door this time.”

 

He shook his head as he watched the middle-aged bloodsucker waddle off down the alley. Glancing again at the open windows on the suite floor, he smiled. “This could be fun. I’d better hurry. I wouldn’t want to leave my date waiting.”

 

The sound of his laughter echoed in the alley long after he’d gone.

The Circle is Drawn

By Trapper

September 6th

Elysian Fields

8:45pm

 

Jenny walked the perimeter of the room, checking her list against the items at each of the four quarters. Everything looked ready. Sonja had brought the rest of the supplies at noon, along with a large pot of Romany goulash. It sat, simmering in the kitchenette, scenting the room with the aromas of Jenny’s childhood. She smiled when she thought of the woman’s kindness.

 

The ritual had been planned out to the smallest detail. Buffy and the rest of the kids would be arriving at 9:00, which meant that they could start by 9:30. By 10:30, if everything went according to plan, Angel would have his soul back. Jenny clutched the ankh hanging around her neck and breathed a fervent prayer to the gods and goddesses to bless their endeavor.

 

Satisfied that everything was in order, Jenny entered the master “wagon” of the caravan. Rupert Giles slept under a large, fluffy quilt, one arm thrown over the pillow. She smiled lovingly as she watched him sleep. His face had lost the constant worry that nagged him during his waking hours, and he looked as innocent as a child. Jenny leaned over and touched his shoulder.

 

“Rupert,” she whispered. “It’s time to wake up.”

 

He opened his eyes and gazed upon wonder. Every time he was allowed to gaze on her, to see the face that he thought gone forever, it was a miracle. “Thank you,” he said, and kissed her hand.

 

“No, thank you. Thank you for today, and tonight and everything.”

 

He rose to lean his head against her stomach. “I should like to thank you like this every morning and evening.”

 

Jenny wrapped her arms around him, her eyes filled with pain. “Shh, love. Let’s not talk about tomorrow, or the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen.” She reached down to his face and gazed into his eyes. “If the gods let me stay, then we can make all of the memories we want. But, if that’s not to be, then I’ll hold today to my heart. It will be my talisman against the dark; my lifetime of memories to last me until I see you again.”

 

They embraced once more, knowing that their time could be short, and there was still much to do.

 

 

“Lucy, You Have Some Splainin to Do!”

by Hanna

September 6

Elysian Fields

8:50 pm

 

Marcus looked across the sea of angry faces and dropped his straining “mask”.  The face of Alexander gave way to the hideousness of Marcus, and there were quite a few shudders in the room.

 

Devin smirked, “I hope you don’t honestly hope to scare us into doing what you want, Marcus, because I’d hate to tell ya bud,” he put his hand to the side of his mouth and whispered, “it ain’t gonna work.”

 

Anna rolled her eyes, and Schanke let out a nervous laugh.  He had never seen such an ugly vampire before, and Marcus definately took the cake for hideousness.

 

Marcus hissed at Devin, “That wasn’t it, and you know it, Devin.”  He looked at everyone else in the room.  “I am sorry if it disturbs you, but even Devin here can tell you that it is difficult to maintain a masque when under enormous amounts of stress.”

 

Devin shrugged his shoulders, but Monique wasn’t prepared to let it go.

 

“Enormous amounts of stress, my ass!  Listen, gutter rat, no one here is interested in your personal little tragedies.  As far as any of them have seen, you aren’t worth a shit, Marcus.  And I know you, so I know it’s true.  You’re whining about not being able to keep yourself pretty, while the whole world is coming down around our heads.  We just saved dozens of kids from a hunger