The Spirit of Man
Parson : Now darkness has descended on our land and all your prayers cannot save us.
Like fools we let the Devil take command of the souls that god gave us
To the alter of evil like lams to the slaughter we’re led.
When the demons arrive the survivors will envy the dead.
BETH : There must be something worth living for.
Parson : No, there is nothing.
Beth : There must be something worth trying for
Parson : I don’t believe it’s so
Beth : Even some things worth dying for
If just one man could stand tall
There would be some hope for us all
Somewhere, somewhere in the spirit of man.
Willow stirred. She was huddled close to another warm body. She wanted to pretend it was Rupert but it was too soft, too feminine. Tara’s abuses had long since removed any chance of her feeling passion for another woman but there was comfort in the human contact. She held close as the last of the sleep cleared from her.
“I see you are enjoying our new playmate,” observed Tara.
“Yes, Mistress,” said Willow.
“Good. I expect a performance when I return. Until then I grant you leave to do as you please with her. A gift for my special slave. Are you not grateful?”
“Oh very, mistress. Thank you, mistress.”
“Just have her ready for my return.” Tara stood from the throne and waddled to where a sedan chair supported by eight men with vacant expressions and led by a woman chained to the front waited. Tara mounted the chair and they carried her from the room.”
“Willow, I,” began Ji-Yeon.
“Shhh,” Willow closed her eyes and concentrated. There was a subtle shift in the energy of the room.
“OK, we can talk now.”
“What did you do?” Ji-Yeon’s skin tingled.
“Tara monitors the room with spells. I shifted them to, well... call it an instant replay of us last night. The slut will be to turned on to notice she’s seen it before.”
“I’m Wiccan. I learned magic before they came.”
“Why haven’t you just busted out?”
“Because they’re too powerful,” explained a statuesque blond with long hair and perfect skin who approached from the cushions that held the performers.
“Blessed be, Natalie,” said Willow.
“Blessed be. Is she challis or cup?”
Over half the women from the cushions moved to stand by Willow’s mattress. Those left behind stared out blankly and didn’t move.
“I don’t know yet. I think challis.”
“We can’t take any chances,” said a petite brunet who moved to the blond’s side. The blond put her arm around the smaller woman shoulders and hugged her.
“Carry’s right,” said Natalie. She smiled at the small woman and their was love in her eyes.
“Willow, I know you don’t like doing it but if you have any doubts you have to cup her. We can’t take the risk,” said a athletic redhead with great legs.”
“Ji-Yeon, you deserve to know. This is my coven. We do what we can for the resistance. You have two choices, join us or we will cast a spell that will destroy your mind. You will follow instructions but have no will of your own and be incapable of telling anyone about us,” explained Willow.
“Resistance, here?” Ji-Yeon breathed.
“Where could we be more effective,” said a delicate woman of African decent. “And who has more reason to hate them. All of us had husbands.”
Natalie cleared her throat.
“Sorry, or wives that bitch mutilated. Children she holds hostage.”
“Why haven’t you escaped?”
“And gone where?” asked a blocky woman with huge breasts.”
“Away. I don’t know.”
“Ji-Yeon, if they leave their children will be killed. I’m chained and where could I go looking like this?” Willow gestured at herself. “I need to know, will you join us.”
“Remember your husband. Think of those things that carried her sedan chair because the cow is to lazy to walk.”
Ji-Yeon’s face hardened. “I’m with you.”
“Good. Natalie, Julia.”
The blond moved to the cushions and pulled out a small dull letter opener. The redhead collected a rough wooden food bowl from beneath another set of cushions.
“Natalie, you’re our priest,” said Willow.
“Priest?” asked Ji-Yeon.
“Closest we have. Pagan magic is about polarity. The natural order, the joining of God and Goddess, energy and matter, male and female. There are no men here, Natalie is as close as we have.”
“But she’s gorgeous? You could have been a model.”
“Yeah, and I was prom queen, gods what a memory, having to kiss the prom king, Yecch. Whoever said the universe doesn’t have a sense of humour. Binding these puppies when I did the drag thing was a real pain,” she indicated her breasts.
“We have to hurry.” Willow took the bowl which one of the women had filled with water.
Natalie walked a circle around the little group, holding the letter opener and muttering. Four of the women each summoned a quarter, Earth, Water, Air, Fire. Willow stood in the middle of the circle as Natalie came to stand in front of her.
Willow spoke the invocation. “I invoke thee Isis, Nile queen, sorceress, wife of Osiris, mother of Horus. I invoke thee Hacate, goddess of magic and the nights deep secrets, I invoke thee Frigga, mistress of the runes. Be with us a comfort and source of strength in this place of darkness and trial.” Willow almost seemed to glow and she stood straighter. The mutilations, while still visible, gave way before a burning sense of presence.
Natalie summoned the God force. “I invoke the great lord. I thy son, despite my form. I who choose the man’s path and thus make myself your own, do invoke thee. Osiris teacher of man. Hades noble lord of those gone before. Odin lord of the Runes and Valhalla, come lend us your strength in this dark land.”
Ji-Yeon was surprised by what she saw. Natalie was still statuesque but some how she carried herself differently. The almost invisible hairs on her chin seemed to darken and there was a hardness about her that belied her figure.
“In the dawn of days there was matter,” said Willow.
“At the beginning of time there was energy,” said Natalie her voice seemed deeper.
“Either alone was sterile.”
“Alone both were incomplete.”
Together they spoke as Natalie dipped the letter opener into the bowl. “Conjoined they brought forth creation and all things were born.”
Both Willow and Natalie closed their eyes. The water in the bowl glowed. Willow passed the bowl to Ji-Yeon.
“Drink of the power of creation.”
Ji-Yeon took a sip of the liquid. It was water but it seemed to tingle on her tongue.
Willow took the bowl to the next person in the circle, then the next, until all had drunk.
“What’s the working?” asked Carry.
“Today we prepare. I’ve accessed the schedule. We’ll all be present tomorrow evening. Tomorrow you all go free.”
“What?” gasped the women.
“Rupert is coming.”
“Rupert. Your Rupert?” the women breathed with awe.
“My Rupert,” Willow smiled. “We’re closing the hellmouth. We attack Tara tomorrow evening, so he doesn’t have to fight her as well as the other forces.”
“Will he be bringing an army,” asked the redhead.
“No, Julia, Only one other, Xander.”
“Xander,” breathed the women.
“Who and who,” asked Ji-Yeon.
“They’re heroes, they fought to keep the hellmouth closed before we even knew it existed. Willow fought with them and Buffy,” Julia gestured towards the mechanical travesty on the landing above them. Rupert was, is, Willow’s life mate.”
“I’ve processed work orders that will have all your children scrubbing the docks tomorrow evening. There should be a lot of confusion during Rupert’s attack. You’re to go to the docks. A freighter will be there. Pretend to be a gift sent to entertain the collaborator crew. Get aboard, get them mellow, then kill them.”
“You don’t mean - - -” objected Natalie.
“One last degradation to end all the degradations. Isn’t freedom worth the price.”
“It’s OK,” said Carry. “I know your hearts mine.”
Natalie smiled at the smaller women.
“Others will arrive. Some of them are bound to be ex-navy or sailor’s or something. Get them on the controls. When the ship’s full, put out to sea and brace for the worst storm you ever saw.”
“What about you,” asked the large busted woman.
“Rupert needs me here, Norma. You are all my sisters. Live and find loves to stand by you. Now we should raise some energy and prepare our reserves. Tomorrow we pay Tara back.”
When the ritual was done and the circle closed Willow watched as Natalie carried the remaining consecrated water to the corpses of Buffy and Riley. She tipped a little into each of the dead mouths. Willow felt the profane spell that held their spirits prisoner weaken as the consecrated energies wore at it.
“Soon, Buff, Riley, I promise.” Willow lay on her mattress beside Ji-Yeon. The two woman began whispering. To a casual observer it looked like pillow talk.
“You are amazing,” said the oriental.
“Thanks, that’s sweet,” replied Willow.
“I’m just curious, what was the cup?”
“It was the challis.”
“What! You poisoned me, but you drank?”
“The spell is the same. It looks inside and sees who you are. When you trusted enough to take the first sip, you passed the test.”
“Which one?” Willow smiled and some of the brightness of her youth was there.
“Rupert and Xander, the others seem to think they’re almost, I don’t know, god like.”
“You won’t be here long enough for it to matter so I’ll tell you. I built them up. They are heroes, but I made them more than they really are in my stories. People need something to believe in. A hero inspires others.”
“You do that for me Willow.” Ji-Yeon gently touched Willow’s arm.
“Why did you ever become a collaborator?”
Ji-Yeon looked ashamed. It was after Kelly was born. My milk started drying up because we couldn’t get enough to eat. I couldn’t watch my baby starve, so I started working for them. Ben, my husband, hated it, but he just couldn’t get us enough food. Now he’s. Oh God, Willow.” Ji-Yeon sobbed and Willow held her.
Willow’s head shot up. “She’s returning.” With a moment’s concentration she reset the spells in the room as the other women raced to their cushions.
“Dry your eyes. Hate her but keep it hidden. It will be over soon.”
“You are my hero.”
Chapter 12 – TRAITOR
Brave New World
Look - man is born in freedom but he soon becomes a slave
In cages of convention from the cradle to the grave
The weak fall by the wayside but the strong will be saved
In a brave new world
With just a handful of men
We’ll start all over again
Xander held her for what he knew would be the last time. There were no tears.
“I love you.” Joyce looked into his face. His one eye stared back at her telling her more than his words ever could.
“I love you too. I’ve seen ghosts and spirits. I know there is more to life than this. I don’t know how, when, or where, but I swear, I will see you again.”
Joyce smiled and kissed him.
“We should go,” said Giles. He stood by the back door, his battle armour hidden under a collaborator’s cover all, a battered briefcase in each hand.
“Maybe if we meet again we can have that bubble bath,” said Joyce. Her lower lip trembled.
“With champagne and strawberries.” Xander kissed her. “I love you.” he kissed her again. Then moved to the door.
“I love you too. God, why is it like this?” she asked as the door closed behind him.
“Focused?” whispered Giles as they shuffled along the street.
“I’ll do the job. At least it won’t hurt too long.” Xander shifted uncomfortably in the coverall that hid his armour.
“Odd the things we come to hope for.”
At the corner a demon with the face of a ostrich stopped them. Giles showed it the papers he carried and with a snort the beast let them pass.
They were stopped three more times on the way to city hall but each time the travel papers held out. Finally Giles shuffled up the front steps of the building, Xander at his side.
A thin woman dressed in a short skirt and halter sat at a desk by the entrance. There was a pile of papers on her desk and she worked frantically entering the data into a computer.
“We have an appointment with the Mayor,” rasped Xander, making no attempt to soften his voice.
“Papers.” The woman swivelled the thread bare office chair so she could look at them.
Rupert passed her the forms. She glanced at them.
Third door on the left for weapons check.
Giles and Xander glanced at each other.
“We’re unarmed,” grated Xander.
The woman who had turned back to her work replied, “Who cares. Go to weapons check.”
Giles gripped Xander’s arm and sank his hand into his pocket. Xander did the same thing and they moved to the third door. They opened it and stepped in. A desk ran across the room.
“Strip and bend?” ordered the man sitting behind the counter. The guard wore a collaborator’s cover all and an old police side arm.
“Willy, You slimy little weasel. Should have known you’d be a collaborator,” growled Xander.
“Crap, it’s you. What happened to the face?”
“How can you help them?”
“Gotta survive. After they closed my bar had to do something. You two though. I thought you got away, became big shots.”
“Who is this man,” asked Giles.
“Willy, ran a bar that catered to the demons back when we had the upper hand. Informant, snitch, Buffy beat him up a couple of times,” explained Xander.
“Awful what they done to that poor little slayer. Saw her when they carted her around the streets on the opening day parade.”
“What?” asked Giles.
“Didn’t tell you. Joyce tries to pretend it never happened. They stuffed Buffy and Riley and well, use your imagination,” explained Xander.
“That is sick!”
“Sick is only the start.”
“Look, figure you’re here for a reason,” said Willy.
“What will it take to skip the weapons check.”
“Oh wow. Oh wow. You’re out for the mayor.”
“For a start,” said Xander. There was something suggestive in the way the material of his pocket dented.
“Oh boy, Oh boy, Oh boy. You want Willy to be silent. Willy needs to get away.”
Giles and Xander shared a glance then nodded.
“37 Hill Crest drive. In the garage, a jeep. All gassed, camping equipment in the back. Hit the mountains keep driving west, go off road to avoid the check points. There’s a map in the glove compartment, the route is marked in lemon juice ink.”
“Got ya. Move along.”
Giles and Xander left the room and started towards the mayor’s office.
“Can we trust him?” asked Giles.
“Only to steal the Jeep before he reports us.”
“Just as well then.”
Ethan sat in his office chair while the dark skinned beauty fellated him. He closed his eyes and stroked his fingers through her ebony curls.
“Aw, Rachel. Isn’t this better than working in the factories,” he breathed then grunted as his seed shot into her mouth. She tried to pull back but he grabbed her hair and forced her head down.
“Swallow, Lovey. Don’t waste good protein. He felt her gag than a minute later released her head.
The woman stood and stared at him, a mixture of fear and loathing in her eyes.
“Thank you, lovey. Now get back to your desk. My four o’clock will be arriving soon. I need to talk to those damned farmers about how inefficient they are.”
“Yes sir.” She moved to her desk in the outer office.
Ethan scanned his office. It was in good repair but beginning to wear around the edges. The trappings of the old mayor’s obsession remained and he had found several of them useful in dealing with both humans and demons.
The intercom buzzed and he pressed the button.
“Your four o’clock is here, sir.”
She sounds a bit off. Of course she’s still adjusting to the demands of her new office. Must thank her husband for training her so well for her oral exams, He thought and smiled at his own inner quip.
He pressed the intercom button. “Send them in.”
The door opened, a man with a mutilated face rushed in. He held a pistol, equipped with a silencer, pointed at Ethan’s head. Another man dragged his secretary into the office with a gun to her head.
“Ripper?” gasped Ethan.
“Hello, Ethan. Been a long time.” Rupert half threw the secretary into a chair, her short skirt rode up revealing that she wore nothing beneath it.
“Xander, If memory serves. A bit the worse for wear,” said Ethan as he took a second look at the scared man.
“Shut up or die!” ordered Xander.
“Really, what are you going to do? Shoot me? Do you think you would get out of this building alive? Besides, I hardly see you coming here to simply eliminate the Mayor of one small town.”
“Correct, Ethan. I wouldn’t waste my time on you. We need work orders to get us into the old high school.”
“And if I choose not to supply them.”
“Xander,” said Giles.
Xander smiled and pulled a set of hand cuffs out of his coverall pocket. Moving behind Ethan he secured his wrists so the chain passed under the high backed, leather swivel chair he sat in. Another set of hand cuffs secured his ankles then a third joined the first two, locking him into the chair.
“Oh so very frightening, Ripper. Suppose I call for help, old bean.”
“Then you die before they can arrive.”
“Of course, how predictable. You are both fools you know. You will never reach the hellmouth and even if you do, you can’t close it. Humanity is finished! The best we can hope for is to keep some small populations alive, under the right leaders of course.”
“And you are one of those leaders,” said Giles.
“Of course. The strong should rule. Ripper, old bean. We can’t win this war. I’m humanity’s saviour.”
“I’d rather be damned.” Xander thrust his silencer against the back of Ethan’s head.
“Passes, Ethan,” ordered Giles.
“Ripper, do you think you can possibly be as frightening as Tara and her minions. Go ahead, kill me. If I oblige you I am dead anyway.”
“I don’t need to kill you, Ethan.
Xander slammed a gag into Ethan’s mouth then moved to handcuff the secretary to her chair. Rupert picked up a paper weight from Ethan’s desk and moving to his side slammed it into his nose. The bones crunched and blood spilled out. Ethan screamed against the gag but it came out a gurgle.
“Step one. I’ll ask you again for the work orders when I reach step three,” said Giles.
“Are you going to kill him?” asked Rachel.
“Maybe,” growled Xander.
“Please, no matter what you do to me after, let me watch him die.”
“I’ve dreamed of seeing him dead since the day I came to work for him.” Xander took note of how the woman tried to cover herself and had little doubt as to why.
“Giles, maybe you should go to step four before asking him again.”
Chapter 13 - A PERSONAL REASON TO KILL
Brave New World
I’m not trying to tell you what to be
Oh no, oh no, not me
But if mankind is to survive
The people left alive
They’re going to have to build this world anew
And it’s going to have to start with me and you.
I’m not trying to tell you what to be
Oh no, Oh no, Not me
But if mankind is to survive
The people left alive
They’re going to have to build this world anew
Yes and we will have to be the chosen few.
“Ok, Ethan, passes,” said Giles. He pulled the gag from the Mayor’s mouth. Ethan now sported a broken nose and was missing the tips of both pinky fingers. His pants had been pulled around his ankles in preparation for the next step.
“You are fools. We can’t win. Our only hope is to be useful to them. They’ve promised me Hawaii.”
“You’re the fool, Ethan. What makes you think they will keep their word, mate?” demanded Rupert.
“They need us. To run the machines. They need humans, what is hell with no innocents to torture? The human reserves will be breeding colonies. Give us time to learn, to grow, then maybe sometime in the future the mortal animals can re-surge.”
“They’ll kill us all,” snapped Xander.
“Passes,” stated Giles.
“You could be a king, Ripper. A king. Maybe Cuba or Newfoundland or even England. With what you know they’d pay you almost anything,” offered Ethan.
“They would offer and they would be lying.”
“You’re a fool. Xander, imagine the women. Anyone you desire. Would you like my secretary, take her. She’s trained. I’ve seen to it personally.”
“Can I do the next session, Giles? Please,” asked Xander.
“Passes, work orders. I don’t care how, Ethan. Just get us past the perimeter defences.”
“Bugger you, old chum,” said Ethan.
Rupert put the gag back in his mouth and secured it.
“Rest assured, this is going to hurt you a lot more than it does me,” said Rupert. Pulling a knife from beneath his uniform he circumcised the other man. Ethan screamed into the gag. Rachel watched with a gleeful gleam in her eye. “Do it again, Please,” she asked.
“Maybe later.” Giles used the blade to cut a slice across Ethan’s chest.
When the mayor’s breathing steadied Rupert pulled out his gag.
“Passes,” he demanded.
“Screw you!” panted Ethan.
“Soon I’ll see you’re incapable of that,” said Giles.
“Rupert. My way is the only way. You must see that.”
“We can still win! We must win!”
“You won’t kill me, Ripper. That would make you just like them. No way you would do something like that for a cause. You need a more personal reason to Ki....”
Rupert jammed the gag back into his mouth.
“Ethan, old boy. I don’t think you ever heard the good news. Willow is my fiancee!”
The mayor’s eyes went wide with terror. Giles sliced Ethan’s nipples into quarters. He then paused in thought and carved the first part of a magical diagram into his old enemy’s abdomen. The whites showed around Ethan’s eyes. Rupert removed the gag.
“You can’t,” gasped Ethan, recognising the half finished diagram that his blood oozed out from.
“Can’t I. Think of Willow, Ethan. You’re right, I do need a personal reason to be a right bastard. I have one. Now talk or I finish the diagram and let you go. I wonder how long your new friends will tolerate you walking around with a Tibetan demon trap sucking them in?”
“You’re as bad as they are!” snapped Ethan.
“Maybe. Think a lot goes to what you’re trying to accomplish. Passes, travel orders and anything else you can think of that might be useful. The closer to the library the better.”
Ethan slumped in his chair. ”You’re dead men you know.”
“Of course we are. It’s how we die that matters!”
Ethan stared at Rupert and there was a grudging respect mixed with the fear and pain. “I can only get you to the first interior check point. After that it’s up to you.”
“Un-shackle me so I can work the computer.”
“Tell me what to enter.” Xander moved around to the mayor’s side and pressed the on switch for the computer on his desk.
“It would be faster,” objected Ethan.
“Don’t let him. He just want to put in the code to call the guards,” interrupted Rachel.
“Thank you.” Giles looked at the woman. “Now, my dear, if we were to release you, could you give us the passes.”
“She doesn’t have my authorization code,” snapped Ethan.
“He’s right. I can set them up so all he has to do is give you the code,” she said.
“And you want in return?” asked Xander.
“Just let me go. I won’t tell. I promise. I just want to see my husband and kids again.”
Giles gazed at her aura considering. “Xander, release her.”
“We need to trust someone here, it could take us days to find the right forms and work orders.”
Xander reluctantly undid her handcuffs.
Rachel moved to the computer screen and brought up the work orders for the old high school. A few key thrusts later they were prepped and Auth code blinked on the screen.
Ok, Ethan, Spill,” said Xander.
“You’ll kill me.”
Giles slammed the gag into the mayor’s mouth and Xander scraped the knife across the man’s penile head, drawing blood. When Ethan’s breathing steadied Giles removed the gag. There were tears in the collaborator’s eyes.
“Oh god! You are bastards. Willow, that’s my password.”
“Willow,” Giles eyes blazed.
“Do you think you were the only one that could fall in love with her. I’ve tried to get her away from that bitch since the day I started as mayor.”
“Not hard enough,” grumbled Xander.
Rachel entered the password and the caption passes printing appeared on the screen. “They’ll be at the front desk. You’re workmen laying a carpet in one of the halls. Take the mayor’s pacing rug, it will add to your cover.”
“Excellent, Good thinking with a added benefit.”
Giles paused in thought. “Can you do personal assignments from here?”
“With his password I can control any of the human activity in town and even access some of the demons’ data bases.”
“Re-assign as many people to work on the docks as you can and run yourself off some travel orders. Do you have access to a car.”
“His lordship’s limousine.” Rachel smirked at Ethan.
“That’s bloody gratitude for you,” snarled the Mayor.
“May I?” asked Xander.
“Yes,” said Giles.
Xander slammed the gag back into the mayor’s mouth and tied it.
“My dear, I don’t know why you chose to help our enemies and frankly, I don’t care. You have been of service to me. Write orders for yourself and as many others as will fit in the limousine and head inland as far and as fast as you can.”
“Giles, we can’t risk this?” said Xander.
Giles unzipped the front of his coverall and pulled what looked like two plastic chokers with a single black bead on each from a pocket on his armour.
“Made this up for just such an occasion.” He clipped one around Rachel’s neck and the other around Ethan’s. “You see this is tied to my heart telemeter. My heart stops beating while you’re still in range, a radio signal will be sent and it will explode. If you turn us in, the demons will kill us, you will die. However, if you get far away from here before I die, you might be out of range. If you try to take it off, it will explode.
“Do you think this is enough insurance, Xander?”
“No, but you seem to, Colonel.”
“We should go now,” said Giles. “Do what I asked. And if you value your own life, do anything that might help us reach our goal. Goodbye.” He zipped up his coverall and opened his brief case. His sword was inside and he assembled it.
Xander opened the brief case he’d carried and assembled his rifle.
Rolling the weapons in the strip of carpet they picked it up and left the mayor’s office.
They paused at the front desk to pick up the travel papers and work order, then moved onto the street.
Rachel worked frantically on the computer. Authorizing shift changes and worker relocations then finally cutting her own travel orders and authorization to use the limousine. She then turned to Ethan.
“I hate you. Before you my husband was the only man ever to touch me. I was a good girl you bastard.”
Ethan’s eyes went wide where he sat chained to the chair.
Rachel pulled open one of the desk drawers and took out a bottle of whisky. She poured it over his wounds. He gurgled and his eyes teared.
“Enjoying the feeling?” he stared at her wide eyed.
“I could cut it off you know. Or slice it up so badly it would never heal. Or cut off your balls and make you eat them. How does it feel to be helpless, Mr. Mayor? To know someone else has all the power. To have no choice about what happens to you. You stole something from me. You stole it from my husband. You are nothing but a thief!”
Ethan trembled as Rachel pulled out a very dull letter opener.
“I wonder if you would bleed to death. Probably not If I tied a tourniquet around it first.
She pulled an elastic from the drawer looped it twice then lifting his penis let it snap tight around its base.
“Just think, Mr. Mayor, how it was for me. Perform for you like some whore or see my husband lobotomized and castrated. Give in to your sick demands or lose my children.”
She traced the blade of the letter opener under his scrotum. Sweat beaded on Ethan’s brow.
“You know, I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be human. Really human, not some lackie, Mr Mayor. I don’t know who those two men were,” she slammed the letter opener home just in front of Ethan’s scrotum and left it sticking out of the chair. “But they just saved your balls. I hope you die, but I won’t become you.” Rachel turned on her heel and hurried from the city hall.
Chapter 14 – RESISTANCE
Like the sun through the trees you came to love me
Like a leaf on a breeze you blew away
Through autumn’s golden gown we use to kick our way
You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now
‘Cause you’re not here
‘Cause you’re not here
‘Cause you’re not here
Stan dove into the back of the battered convertible. The driver put the pedal down. A hail of gun fire and thrown debris chased after them. Pulling a Uzi from under the driver’s seat he switched the clip then let out a burst of fire. The hail of bullets slowed as the consecrated silver slugs tore into the vulture like demons. They scattered and dove for cover amidst the shattered houses and rubble that fronted the now burning factory.
“Yaaa whoo, we got them buggers on the run now,” called the late teenage male who drove the car.
“Yea right.” Stan glanced at the four empty seats in the car. He let another burst of gun fire go at the demons but another kind that looked roughly humanoid but had heads like poodles dipped in acid had now taken the front line. The consecrated slugs did nothing. The car turned a corner.
“Shit?” swore the driver.
Stan jerked around. A creature the size of a small elephant with a gorilla’s body and a head like a bobcat loomed in the middle of the street. Stan opened fire. Nothing happened. He changed clips but before he finished the car rammed into the creature. Metal crunched and caved. The creature dropped to the ground. Stan flew over the driver’s seat onto the hood breaking his nose. Somehow he managed to hold onto the Uzi and clip. He slammed the clip home.
The creature started to stand. From point blank range Stan fired into its neck, burning the clip. The beast’s head fell off. The body stood, blood spurting from its neck, for a few moments as Stanley looked on dumbfounded. Then, as if finally realising it was dead, it toppled to one side.
“Shit, Frank do you think she’s fit to drive. Frank,” Stan turned around. The younger man was dead, his chest caved in by the steering column. “And then there was one.”
Grunting with pain Stan slid from the hood and staggered to the driver’s side door. He pulled the corpse out. Rifled the pockets, taking the gun, ammo and grenade, then set a motion sensitive explosive charge under the body and climbed behind the wheel. Steam jetted from the radiator but when he turned the key the engine started. He dropped it into gear and with a horrific mix of screeching and grinding noises the convertible moved forward.
He floored it, reaching nearly fifty klicks. Another solitary demon appeared and he emptied the driver’s revolver into it. With a screech he pulled into a parking garage and raced up the ramps to the open top. He looked at the carnage below. Fires burnt across LA. Resistance fighters set bombs in factories and barracks as the demons prowled the streets. He glanced at the fire his team had set in a light arms facility. A pumper-truck had pulled up in front of the building and collaborators were making inroads against the flames.
“No, no, no, that simply isn’t allowed.” Stan moved to the convertible’s trunk. A slight change in air pressure warned him just in time. He hit the dirt as a winged demon swept over head, barely missing him with its sharp, taloned feet. The beast circled for another pass. Stan pulled his gun then the demon exploded into a ball of fire.
“Sweet Mary,” he swore. An F 16 thundered overhead. He scanned the skies. Winged demons engaged human jet fighters. Missiles flew killing beasts. A lamp post shot up from the ground, clipping the wing of a fighter. It spun out of control and crashed into an office tower. The munitions exploded and debris flew in all directions.
“What the!” Stan examined the surrounding streets. He spotted a huge creature down about two blocks, hidden between two high-rises. It unearthed a concrete light pole and hefted it like a javelin, taking aim at another jet.
“Oh no.” Stan opened the convertible’s trunk and pulled out his resistance cells pride and joy. He loaded the first rocket into the portable launcher, took aim and let fly. The recoil nearly knocked him off the roof but he rushed back in time to see a shower of demon bits painting the street grisly shades.
“Good work, Stan. Your Pooky is making you proud Dear heart.” He said to himself as he loaded the second missile.
The collaborator fire crews had made great inroads against the flames. Stan took careful aim, braced himself, and let fly. The rocket sped out on a trail of smoke and the fire truck jumped into the air with the impact and became so much scrap metal.
A whoosh sound was all the warning he had. Stan felt the hairy spider like arms close around him. He was lifted into the air. He scrambled for his gun but a pincer closed breaking his arm at the elbow. He screamed and black dots danced before his eyes.
“Foolish humans,” hissed the voice. Stan was slowly turned around so he faced what appeared to be a spider the size of a pickup truck. Vents ran the length of its back, its body pulsed as it sucked air in and out of them.
The beasts mandibles clicked, then its back exploded into twin rows of red and it dropped him. A Hawker Harrier hovered above the parking garage. The pilot shot him a thumbs up. Stan returned it. He glanced out. Harriers now flew low and slow over the demonic companies wreaking havoc.
“Fuck, what have they got planned?” He glanced at the sun. “four thirty, fully engaged by now.”
A squadron of fighter jets appeared. These were painted midnight black and had blacked out canopies. The F 16s turned to engage them and soon madness reined in the skies. One of the black jets was shot down. The pilot ejected, bursting into flame when the unfiltered sunlight hit him.
Stan glanced at the highway. It was full of demonic troops summoned from the surrounding area to quash the rebellion.
“Whatever they’re doing in Sunnydale, they’re as ready as they’ll ever be.” His eyes followed another street to where a company of demons had a resistance cell pinned in a cross fire.
Cradling his injured arm he climbed into the smashed convertible and started the engine. It ground to life like an angry bear. The temperature gauge was in the red. He put it in gear and sped towards the pinned down cell.
The street was rubble strewn and fires burnt everywhere. Stanley swerved around piles of concrete and ran over dead bodies. The engine screamed and the temperature gage was buried. The sounds of gun fire filled his ears. Steering with his knee he pulled out a hand grenade hooked its pin on the corner of a gun rack mounted by the seat and jerked it out. A toss and it landed by a demon armed with a rally gun. It blew, slamming the demon into the wall and twisting the gun into scrap metal.
The engine screamed louder. Now the gun fire was directed at him. He kept the pedal floored and aimed the car at a large group of beasts huddled behind a partially collapsed wall. A shot struck his left shoulder another grazed the side of his brow and his right eye filled with blood. He pulled the cord that activated his heart monitor just before the car slammed home against its targets.
The pinned humans saw their chance and rushed the demons. Of ten humans three fell in the street before they moved clear.
Stanley pushed back from the steering column. He was blinded by blood pouring from his scalp. A rough hand picked him up. He fumbled in his pocket grabbing his other grenade. Something tore at his leg and there was a sickening nauseous feeling. Some how he knew that in its pique the demon had ripped off the limb for fun. He brought the grenade to his mouth and bit down on the pin. He yanked and the pain of teeth being pulled from his head joined his other woes. Something gasped then there was a roar.
“Come this way, Pooky. It’s all right,” was the first/last thing he heard.
Willy shuffled through the streets.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, he thought. When I give them a map full of resistance check points they’ll make me the mayor. Especially if old Xander does in that English asshole. Hill Crest drive was a residential suburb. While signs of the occupation could be seen in its generally unkept appearance, it was like much of Sunnydale, little changed beyond that.
“Thirty seven,” he said then pulled out the forged travel documents that would enable him to get the jeep to his secret cache. “Mandy, you’re beautiful,” he whispered as he thought of the collaborator who worked the city hall front desk.
He glanced up the street, then back down to be sure no one watched. He raced to the garage. The side door was unlocked and soon he stood in front of a dusty jeep.
“Xander, I hope you die quickly. This is beautiful.” he clapped his hands and climbed in. The key was in the ignition and he turned it.
Giles and Xander shuffled towards the high school. The roll of carpet they were supposedly installing hid all the gear that they couldn’t fit under their coveralls.
Ka-boom, echoed over the town. Giles glanced in the direction and saw smoke rising.
“Too early,” he said.
“Willy,” remarked Xander.
“Well, that’s one less loose end.”
Joyce motioned for her cell to follow her along the sewer passage. They were doing the first of the Sunnydale raids. She knew Xander and Giles had left city hall, followed soon after by one of the mayor’s playmates. The humans were tentatively following a series of urgent transfer orders and a large part of the demonic garrison had been called away to deal with the LA uprising.
She checked her watch, then nodded at the man behind her. He rushed forward and set a series of precision charges then raced back. The humans covered their ears as the charges detonated.
Evening sunlight poured into the sewer from a hole in the roof and the rubble had fallen creating a kind of ramp.
“Now,” Joyce screamed and the humans poured onto the factory’s parking lot. Demons rushed them, only to be mown down. Humans died riddled with bullets or taken out by more traditional demonic forms of attack. The charge went on.
Blood oozed from a deep gouge in Joyce’s arm, but the anaesthetic pack her medic had squeezed into the wound kept her functional. She huddled by an entry door shielded by a massive control console. Above vats of liquid metal were hauled about by huge mechanical rail systems.
“I’ve placed the last of the charges,” said a balding man who looked and dressed like a construction worker.
“Have the bad guys sent reinforcements,” she demanded into a radio she wore on her belt.
“Big Momma, they’re on their way. My guess, fifty of them. Kinda faltering considering there are only twenty of us,” replied a rough male voice from the speaker.”
“Twenty. When’d he flunk math. Fifteen left now, Mam,” said the construction worker.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here. Other targets to hit.” Joyce stood and ran towards where a passage led towards an auxiliary power station that supplied the plant if the line power went down.
In minutes her cell were hiding in the long grass that filled a field outside the steel-mill’s fence.
“Now,” she commanded.
Steam billowed into the sky as shaped charges brought the crane assemblies crashing down in disarray, spilling molten metal everywhere.
Trong followed his commander. He wanted to kill the human rebels. He’d been enjoying a human child, fresh and tight, when the orders had come. He remembered how it screamed and bled. He smiled at the thought. It had been a male, which for some reason had only added to its horror. He licked his lips, not really paying attention as his troop fanned out across the factory floor. Several humans in collaborator’s uniforms lay dead. A roar sounded from above and the great vat of molten metal suspended there let go. Trong screamed as it spilled over him. He’d known the fires of hell and they were as nothing. His skin peeled and blistered. His insides boiled, then the pressure built and his body exploded in a hiss of steam. Something small, black and fowl slithered back to the hellmouth, alone, empty and without form.
Giles and Xander moved to the back of the lines of human collaborators that were performing jobs in the old school. Both men noted that the perimeter troops were fewer in number than the day they had done their reconnaissance.
Giles closed his eyes and felt the web of demonic spells surrounding them. He found the spell he needed to trigger to close off the compound and prepared to activate it.
Chapter 15 - A LEGEND BORN
There were ships of shapes and sizes
Scattered out along the bay
And I thought I heard her calling
As the steamer pulled away
The invaders must have seen them
As across the coast they filed
Standing firm between them
There lay Thunder Child
Moving swiftly through the waters
Cannons blazing as she came
Brought a mighty metal war-lord
Crashing down in sheets of flame
Sensing victory was nearing
Thinking fortune must have smiled.
People started cheering
‘Come on Thunder Child.’
‘Come on Thunder Child.’
A sound like distant thunder echoed over the compound. A minute passed and demonic troops poured out the gate. Another thunder clap rolled and more troops left. Xander stood immediately in front of the school’s side door. Six collaborators stood naked in the hall way as a demon inspected their body cavities with sadistic glee.
“Back. No more humans today,” snapped a pig faced demon that attempted to push Xander out the door.
“Now,” snapped Giles.
Xander shifted his hand in his pocket and a retort sounded. The pig faced beast reeled back. Xander and Giles rushed into the school. Xander pulled his pistol from his pocket and fired at the demons inspecting the people, killing both.
“Hurry,” snapped Xander.
“Costodire humus nancisci.” Giles reached with his mind and activated one of the spells surround the school.
Outside the protective shield around the compound flickered then blazed up forming a dome of hellfire, blocking any movement in or out of the grounds.
“What the,” gasped one of the collaborators who moved towards Xander. Xander fired, killing the man.
“Any more stupid questions?” he demanded as he tore off the coverall. Giles unrolled the carpet and passed Xander his rifle while picking up his own sword. Demons had started to crowd into the hallway. Xander tossed a grenade into the front rank. It exploded sending bits of the beasts in all directions. The door behind Giles began to open. He thrust his sword into a green scaly creature he couldn’t identify. The consecrated blade cut deep and the beast fell back convulsed and turned to dust. Giles slammed the door closed.
“Road the six hundred,” called Giles.
“Right,” growled Xander. He fired into the demons in front of them and they began the sixty metre battle that would take them to the library doors.
“Very good my pet. Is she sweet?” Tara forced Willow and Ji-Yeon to perform.
“Yes, Mistress.” Willow looked up from between the other woman’s thighs. The sun slanted through the library windows, marking it as late afternoon.
“Taste the other hole,” ordered Tara.
Willow scowled then a ripple ran through the room’s energy.
“What? Guards investigate,” snapped Tara. The two demonic guards by the door moved into the hall.
Willow stood and wiped her chin on her arm.
“By Anubis the wanderer, who goes where he will. All shackles be broken, all locks be freed, by voyager’s token, by human soul’s need.”
The lock on Willow’s collar clicked and it fell to the floor. The band of unmarked flesh around her throat was shrivel and scaly but she was free.
“How, you can have no power over my spells. I saw to that when I shared energy with you,” roared Tara. She stood and glared at Willow.
“By love’s true token I was cleansed of your filth,” Willow held up her hand revealing the ring she had kept hidden so long. “A power you know nothing about.”
“Die slave.” Tara flicked her wrist and a wave of energy slammed against Willow. She let the force flow through her, dividing it into parts and feeding it to the women of her coven. They took the power, turned it and sent it hurling back at Tara. The Demon roared in pain and frustration as her toys stood and moved to stand behind Willow.
“By Ammon the Warrior, I bind and constrain thee. To thine own hell I banish thee to trouble the world of men no more!” Willow threw her arms out in a gesture of dismissal.
Tara hissed as bands of force flew around her. She took a step towards the hellmouth then with a screech shattered the energy shackles.
“Traitors, after all I have done for you,” she shrieked. She gestured and flames flew from the hellmouth towards Willow.
Giles swung his blade, decapitating a demon. Another beast clawed at him. The coverall ripped away but his body armour turned the blow. A pistol discharged into his chest-plate, point blank. He jerked back into another demon’s arms. He felt like he’d been punched in the gut by a pro boxer. He brought the pistol in his left hand up by his head and fired blindly behind him. The retort deafened his left ear but the arms holding him released.
Xander let out another volley of automatic fire. The demons crowded in as if waiting to die. Against any kind of organised assault he knew they didn’t stand a chance, but the creatures had obviously never planned on an intruder getting this far. Their attack was more a barroom gang up than a military operation.
Giles threw a grenade into the demons massing down the hall. It burst filling the corridor with a thick smoke.
Xander fired on full auto, forcing a clear space, then pulled the mask from his belt and slammed it over his face. Many of the demons were falling back but others seemed unaffected by the gas. Xander dropped his empty clip and slammed another home.
“Rush,” ordered Giles as he positioned his own mask.
They sprinted forward, firing at the shadows that moved in the mist. After roughly three metres a group of five demons standing shoulder to shoulder blocked their way.
Xander fired at the demonic wall but nothing happened. Giles brought his consecrated sword down against one of them but it glanced off. One of the beasts lashed out leaving a deep gouge across Giles’ breast plate.
“Back, toss the cookies,” snapped Xander.
Giles and Xander both stepped back into the thinning mist and tossed grenades onto the floor beneath the demons. The creatures looked at the bombs with disdain and sat on them. Protecting the weaker beasts behind them, so they would be available for other battles. The grenades went off. The wall of armoured beasts laughed. There was a creaking sound. The floor gave way and they fell into the school’s basement. Giles tossed another gas grenade to the far side of the hole. When it exploded he and Xander leapt gaining two metres of ground.
Willow focussed against the flames and they turned towards Tara. They hung in the air then fizzled into black coiling smoke.
“Witch,” snarled Tara.
“Proudly!” countered Willow. A shaft of green energy shot from her hand and flew at Tara. Behind her the women of her coven opened themselves to Willow, letting their energies flow. Behind them two of the zombie like women on the cushions stirred.
Tara deflected the energy. She clawed at Willow’s mind, invisible tendrils of thought and will. Willow countered. The energies met, shimmering in the air between them, a sheet of power.
Ten mortal wills, ten mortal minds, ten immortal souls, joined against one demon backed by all the powers of hell. The forces balanced. They crackled in the air, almost alive.
The two women from the cushions moved jerkily, like martinets. None of the combatants noticed them.
Willow felt her coven weaken. The energies they had hoarded within themselves and about the room were nearly depleted. She pushed harder but it wasn’t enough. Tara was winning.
The two women paused as if mustering something within. One was a petite brunet, the other a tall muscular blond. The brunet leapt at Tara, slamming her foot into the demon’s side. The blond followed suit, kicking the demon in the head. She raked them with her clawed hands, eviscerating them both. In that moment of distraction Willow pushed the powers home. Tara’s mind exploded in pain. She tumbled back. The women of the coven raced forward, pummelling and kicking. Ji-Yeon picked up a cattle prod Tara had kept for special occasions and drove it against the demon’s neck. The beast convulsed.
Natalie left the group, returning with a piece of metal from one of the old book shelves. It had, what could generously be called, a sharp edge. She brought it down on Tara’s throat. It cut. With an odd glee the women of the coven sawed at their tormenter’s neck while continuing to kick and pummel her.
Willow watched her coveners, making sure no trace of energy stirred on the fallen monster before them.
The metal crunched on bone then the head came away.
Willow watched the black slimy thing that was Tara’s demonic force slither out of her and slide across the floor towards the hellmouth. It vanished down the hole along with an ever increasing number of dark things. These demonic souls were creating a inward current that temporally prevented beasts from travelling up the porthole. She turned her gaze to her coven. They were blood spattered and horrific but they were victorious. She moved to the two who had tipped the balance. They lay entwined in each other’s arms, their life’s blood flowing out.
“Will,” whispered the small brunet.
“Buffy,” replied Willow.
“Thank you,” said the larger woman.
“Riley.” There were tears in Willow’s eyes.
“When she fought you, she lost control of the spell holding us prisoner. We had to help. These were empty,” explained Buffy, with a glance at the body she had borrowed.
“Go free, Buff, Riley. If nothing else you’re free now.” Willow watched as the last spark of light faded from the two women’s eyes. She ran up the stairs to the landing and threw the taxidermied corpses apart. They each fell in an empty lifeless heap.”
“Go, get to the sewers,” she ordered towards her coveners.
An explosion rocked the school.
“But you?” asked Ji-Yeon.
“Rupert will need me. Go!”
The women looked at each other.
“Willow. You may- - -“ began Natalie.
“I am your high Priestess? By the love of Isis get out of here, your children are waiting at the docks. Use the sewers. The things down there will be up here fighting Xander and Giles.”
Another explosion rocked the room and Willow ran to the ground floor of the library as the balcony trembled.
The women grabbed their clothing then moved to the sewer access. Natalie opened the steel gate and with a single backwards glance led the way into the tunnel.
“Willow, I’ll never forget you,” called Ji-Yeon as she vanished down the passage. Willow closed the gate behind them and threw its bolt.
“I’ll never forget any of you,” she whispered.
“Last clip.” Xander slammed it home in his rifle.
“Bloody hell.” Giles threw the last of his gas-grenades into the demons massed before him. Shots rang out from a sniper who stood on the stairs that opened off the side of the hallway farther down.
They pushed forward. Their armour was rent and battered. Giles’ sword was notched in several places and he knew it wouldn’t be long before it broke.
Xander let his rifle speak. Demons fell but others rushed in to take their place. “Time for her ladyship,” He snapped.
“Blessed be.” Giles decapitated another demon. Blood oozed into the material of his armour where a clawed hand had made a hole in his kevlar sleeve.
Xander jerked up his eye patch. He screamed in pain as the fiery agony of his injuries once more coursed along his nerves. A blazing orb leapt from his eye, resolving into a flame red lioness. Sekemet the destroyer, Sekemet daughter of Ra, Sekemet who is Kali in other guise, leapt forth. She was destruction and thus outside the covenant that held the other powers impotent. She left the vehicle that had carried her and tore into the beasts on all side. They howled and fought but she was death it self. She leapt from victim to victim clawing, burning spilling blood and guts in a rising tide of gore.
In the confusion Rupert grabbed Xander and hauled him to his feet. They pushed down the corridor stopping at the library’s doors.
“Go. She’s weakening. I feel her wounds. She’ll have to leave soon. I’ll hold them here,” he stated.
“What’s a few minutes? Go to her Giles. Tell her I love her to.”
“If Buffy was my daughter. You have been my son.” Giles pushed his last two clips into Xander’s hand, threw his remaining grenade into a clump of Demons and left his sword against the wall. He entered the library to the sound of the exploding grenade.
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