Lashing ropes and smashing timbers
Flashing heat rays pierced the deck
Dashing hopes for our deliverance
As we watched the sinking wreck
With the smoke of battle clearing
Over graves in waves defiled
Farewell Thunder Child.
Farewell Thunder Child.
Farewell Thunder Child.
Farewell Thunder Child.
Xander watched them come. He threw his final gas grenade. Half the beasts fell back but the others ignored it. He smiled. Out of the hundreds of demons that had remained in the high school when Giles sealed it off, maybe fifty still had fight enough to face him.
“Guess G-man would say Horacio at the bridge. Whoever he was.”
Xander fired. The first round from his pistol did nothing to the beast. The second was a salt filled hollow point. When it struck, the beast dissolved.
“Xander Harris, stop this foolishness right now!” snapped a voice that left him slack jawed.
The demons parted as what looked like an overweight man dressed in a scruffy muscle shirt and work pants strode forward.
“Dad?” breathed Xander.
Joyce hissed as the medic probed the wound in her leg, pulling out bits of shattered brick. They rode in the back seat of a careening SUV. The small arms factory behind them blazed and the bodies of demons and men littered the ground.
“Full night. The vamp companies will be joining the fray,” said the driver. She was maybe twenty with a shaved head and lean body. Her breasts barely dented the fabric of her T-shirt. ”Shit!”
“The vehicle lurched to a stop. Joyce hissed as the tweezers in her wound shifted position. A jet careened into the ground in front of them, exploding into a ball of flame.
“Arrrr. Fuck!” swore Joyce. She inhaled raggedly then demanded through gritted teeth. “Ours or there’s?”
“Ours.” replied the driver.
“Can’t. Just a second. There.” She pointed to where a figure drifted earth ward. A great shadow with flapping wings sped towards him.
“Oh no you don’t.” Joyce pushed the medic away and grabbed her rifle. She took aim and fired. The flapping thing screamed and changed course towards them.
“Motor,” she ordered as she dove back into the vehicle.
The pilot watched as the flying thing veered off. He scanned the ground with his night scope and saw them waiting. They looked human but had no heat signature.
“I love you Sandy,” he whispered, then following his orders took out the small white pill. He bit down on it. White light glowed and he looked into it.
“Come home, son,” was the last, first thing he heard.
Natalie led the way through the sewers. They came to the flame barrier that held the old school in isolation.
“Now what?” demanded Ji-Yeon.
“Willow taught us,” said Carry. She moved to Natalie’s side. “A kiss for luck, sweetheart. The two women kissed then Natalie and carry joined hands. A look of concentration crossed their faces and Natalie sliced the length of the flames with the letter opener. They parted.
“Hurry,” ordered the statuesque blond. The rest of the coven rushed through. Sweat formed on Natalie’s forehead.
“Come on,” called Ji-Yeon.
“We can’t. Go on,” ordered Carry. She was trembling with the effort of holding back the fire wall.
The flames filled in the hole with a thunder clap.
“Goddess no,” swore Julia.
Ji-Yeon thought a silent prayer. Come on. We have to get to the docks.”
“Maybe we could - - -.” began Beth.
“We don’t have time. If we don’t get there whose going to look after their kids?” demanded Ji-Yeon.
“Let’s go,” agreed Julia.
They followed the sewer until the back lighting of the fire wall was too dim for them to see, then pushed open a manhole and emerged onto the street. Behind them demons surged around the shielded high school. Flames crackled in places around the town.
Down the street a small factory burned and fire fighters in collaborator coveralls maned a pumper truck.
“Now what?” asked Norma.
“Anyone ever drive a fire truck or big rig?” asked Ji-Yeon.
Norma smiled. “My husband and I did long-hauls before Kelly was born.”
“Ladies, there’s your answer.”
They crept towards the fire truck. All attention was focussed on the flames so it was easy for them to approach from the blind side. They slipped onto the unit. Norma took the driver’s seat. The keys were in the ignition. The collaborators were unaware of their presence until the truck sped away, hoses snapping as they reached their full extension. The hydrant jerked, then tore off, sending a jet of water skyward.
“Yee ha,” cried Norma.
“Get us to the docks. Girls, time to pretty our selves up. Don’t want to disappoint the sailors now do we.” Ji-Yeon pulled a jug of distilled water out of a burn treatment kit and wet some medical dressings. She began wiping away the filth that had crusted on her skin. The other women followed her example.
The SUV pulled up in front of the docks. Joyce piled out and stared. A fire truck was parked behind a clump of trees. Several, the best word she could thing of was, Tarts were standing on the dock by a battered looking freighter.
“What the?” asked her driver.
“The oldest profession. Those boys have been at sea a long time. Willow said she’d secure the ship if we’d get the crew,” explained Joyce.
“I wish I could have met her,” said the medic. He was maybe twenty five, thin but well muscled with short brown hair.
“You missed out, John. I’ll say that. You missed out.
“Ok people, get prepped. Assemble any underground that made it here. We need to hit the demons in the docking buildings and get the humans aboard the ship. I want a stealth killer on the dock. There’s bound to be a demon liaison aboard and I want it taken out.
“If the word got spread we’ll have others showing up soon, so we better be ready. Pass it on, anyone with seafaring experience gets tagged as crew. I don’t care if they were a collaborator. We’ll sort that out later. Anything that can sail gets loaded up.”
“Yes, Mam,” agreed the two younger freedom fighters in unison and they went to look for other resistance members.
Ji-Yeon sashayed up the boarding ramp at the head of the women. She smiled at the captain. He was a scruffy looking older man with several missing teeth and a lean wiry build marred by a bear gut.
“Hello, ladies,” he greeted them.
“Hello,” breathed Ji-Yeon. She put on a little girl face and looked provocatively up at him.
A man sized demon that looked like a bipedal lobster stood in the background eyeing the women. Its whiskers waved in the air.
“This is irregular, Captain,” it hissed.
“Relax there mate. Man does not live on bread alone. You can trust me men. You still have their families. And you know you can trust me.”
“You are close to earning your reward. Enjoy this last interlude as a human. Soon we will transform you and you will gain the immortality you so desire.”
“Hear that lass. You get to be me last.” The Captain took Ji-Yeon’s hand and led her below decks. The other crew each chose one of the women.
“Hay, there aren’t enough,” complained one of the seamen.
“We’ll come by later,” soothed Julia as she walked off on the arm of her sailor.
“Bloody sloppy seconds,” swore the man who grumpily stalked off.
When the sailors were gone the lobster like demon moved to the ship’s rail and stared onto the pier. No one heard the whoosh of the spear gun being fired, or the thunk of the spear driving home into the demon’s shell. It hissed as the rope was jerked and it fell to the deck. A razor sharp knife separated its antennas and limbs. It bled out and was pushed into the sea with a quiet plop.
Ji-Yeon sat astride the captain. He arched his back and groaned as he came. She couldn’t believe it had been so quick. She faked an orgasm before he could grow soft then climbed off him.
“That was a bit of goodness lass,” said the captain.
She lay beside him on his bed. His quarters consisted of a ten by ten room with a bed, a desk and a computer.
“Can’t stay long, but a bit of a cuddle might be nice,” added the captain.
There was a half empty bottle of whisky at his bedside and the stench of his breath told her what he’d been doing before her arrival.
He wrapped his arms around her and she barely kept herself from shuddering. She focussed on a mental image of her son and asked herself what Willow would do. She held on!
The captain began to snore. She slipped from his side and scanned the room. There was a heavy knife hung on the wall. She carefully unsheathed it and moved to her prey’s side. A shudder ran through her. He was helpless, she faltered, thought of leaving him alive, then an image of her husband swam up in front of her eyes. He was slack jawed and drooling like the creatures that had carried Tara’s sedan chair. She slashed the blade across the collaborator’s throat.
His eyes shot open. He grasped her wrists and blood squirted from his neck, showering her. He gurgled then fell back dead.
Ji-Yeon retched onto the corpse then staggered to the shower stall. Minutes later she pulled on a pair of the captain’s pants and his shirt and left his room to search out the other sailors.
Joyce waited. What remained of the Sunnydale resistance were gathered around her. Twenty five men, women and children in all. A twelve year old, armed with a sawed off shotgun, crouched to her right.
“God, what have we come to?” she thought, looking at the child.
Human refugees had started to arrive and several had picked up clubs and joined her group, swelling their numbers to forty three.
“Ok. Hard and fast. Kill the demons, evac the humans, then blow the buildings. The fire will give us light to see by. If it floats, fill it up,” ordered Joyce.
“Yes, Mam,” whispered her troops in unison. They slunk through the shadows. Most of the demons had been called off to the various other disasters, leaving only a skeleton crew.
“On my shot. Not before.” she ordered. Slipping under the dock she crawled between the pylons. A demon came into view. A shaggy creature that blended into the shadows. She picked her target and waited. The beast moved, allowing her a clear shot and she took it. The first bullet did nothing but the consecrated silver slug seemed to burn once it struck the creature and it went down. Other shots rang out. Joyce crept to the door of the boat house. The twelve year old with the shotgun took up a position opposite her. She grabbed the door handle and pushed it open while standing to one side.
A blast of lead tore the door off its hinges and sent it flying. The twelve year old went low, rolled into the doorway, fired two rounds, then rolled clear. A beast that resembled a skinned grizzly bear staggered out the door then fell to the ground.
“Shit,” swore the twelve year old.
“You kiss your mother with that mouth,” asked Joyce.
“Shit!” Joyce put another slug into the back of the demon’s head to be sure. The kid slipped two new cartridges into the sawed off.
Ji-Yeon took the lanky sailor by the hand and walked with him towards his quarters.
“Do you like being a sailor,” she asked shooting him her most flirtatious smile.
“I use to.” He ran a hand through his short sandy, blond hair in a nervous gesture.
“Not any more?”
“It isn’t respectable work anymore.”
“You know why.”
“So why collaborate if you feel that way?” she whispered.
“You’ll see when we reach my room. They put this collar thing around us. We don’t obey, zap. Not much choice. Still in all, I’ve always said there’s some things I’ll die before I do.”
“Won’t kill my own kind. Won’t take a woman who isn’t willing. Won’t hurt a kid.”
Ji-Yeon looked at him for a long moment. “Come on.”
“You just won the prize, Jeff.”
“You’re an officer now. Let’s get to the bridge.”
Jeff followed her with a confused expression.
“I can explain,” said Beth when Ji-Yeon stepped onto the bridge and saw the muscular seaman who stood beside her.
“No need,” said Ji-Yeon as Jeff followed her to the bridge.
“Fucking liberation day,” said the man beside Beth.
“About time, Rick, about time. Anyone gone to look for the keys?” asked Jeff.
“Billy is rifling the captain’s quarters. You’re the one that did the old bastard aren’t you?” said Rick. He was operating a console preparing for the ship to depart and spared Ji-Yeon a glance.
“I’m not proud of it,” said Ji-Yeon
“You did the world a favour.”
The door to the bridge opened and Julia stepped in “I have to tell you... What? oh,” she said as she saw the other two men. A short wiry man of Asian decent followed her onto the bridge.
“Fucking aces, I’m glad you guys made it,” he said.
“Who can we trust?” asked Ji-Yeon
“The four you’ve got. The officers were all heart and soul. Promised immortality. Me, I’ll trust God to look after that one,” answered Jeff. “I’m going to the engine room. If he finds those damn keys let me know.”
“Julia, tell the resistance people we’re ready for boarding,” said Ji-Yeon.
“Dad, that isn’t you,” said Xander as the figure moved along the corridor towards him. The demons huddled against the walls giving him access.
“How can you say that. You’ve caused a lot of trouble. This foolishness has gone on long enough.”
“Are you telling me what to do?”
Xander felt something deep inside break. He’d thought he’d lost everything there was to loose, now he knew he was wrong.
“Dad, I know that isn’t you but I have to say it. You have a grandson.”
“You think that makes up for this foolishness.” the form of Xander’s father moved closer. Xander calked back his wrist. A mechanism in the sleeve of his armour clicked and a slender pointed shaft of wood shot into his hand. He drove it forward into the creature’s chest.”
“Son?” gasped the vampire as it turned to dust.
“Goodbye dad,” said Xander. The demons surged forward and he emptied the last of his clips. Snatching up Giles’ sword he stood against their charge. Grabbing a shaggy beast nearly twice his weight with his left arm he hoisted and threw it into the others. He swung the sword against one beast while he struck another creature in the chest with his left hand. The beast’s chest caved in and Xander’s fingers drove into it’s heart. A creature with clawed forearms chopped down, severing Xander’s left hand before he could extract it. Xander slashed at the beast decapitating it.
Creatures came piling on. Xander turned his insensitive left side to the blows, as his armour slowly disintegrated.”
Joyce stood with the resistance cell at the dock’s end. People rushed to board the various craft. Several smaller vessels had already put to sea. She had one replacement clip left for her rifle and dragged her left leg when she walked.
“Time?” she demanded.
Mission start plus 92 minutes.
“That means Xander and Giles have been in the school for nearly an hour. Penny, Bill, Omar, Kuno, Tom. Drop your equipment and board up.”
“Yes, Mam,” said the twelve year old. She passed Joyce her shotgun and dropped two shells into her hand before joining the group climbing onto the freighter.
“We aren’t going are we?” asked a burly man whose arm was in a sling.
“You saw the truck too?”
“Yup. Today is a good day to die. Always wanted to say that.”
“Pity you got your chance.” Joyce stepped off the pier and moved towards the entrance to the marina. Checking that everyone was clear she placed a grenade on the steps and pulled its pin. Five seconds later the only access to the dock was kindling.
“Think they’ll write a song about this?” asked a first people’s man who carried a rifle and walked with a pronounced limp at Joyce’s left.
“Don’t give a shit,” she said. They took position behind a car that was parked in the lot. The first of the trucks carrying the demon troops rolled into sight.
“Tis a far far better thing I do,” said the short blond woman of maybe forty that made up the last of the resistance fighters. Her left arm was missing from the elbow down and a tourniquet stanched the flow of blood. She set her pistol on the ground and fumbled out their last grenade.
“Betty what?” asked the first people’s man.
“Shut up, Tommy, and pull the damn pin for me.”
Tommy complied. Betty took a deep breath then bolted for the truck. Shots rang out towards her. She was hit but her momentum carried her under the wheels. The grenade went off.
The second truck entered the parking lot to a hail of gun fire.
Xander swung the sword, it connected and snapped. Blood spilled from myriad wounds on his left side. He could feel ribs grating every time he moved his right arm. Demons were heaped around him but he knew from the blood pouring from his scalp and the pounding in his ears he had no time left.
“Joyce, I’ll find you,” he tried to scream but all he could managed was a croak. He rushed the demons, pulling one of the release clips on his armour as he did. The roar that tore up and down the corridor flattened the demons left standing. The roof collapsed and the floor followed, sending everything careening into the basement.
Xander saw the light. A host of black slimy things oozed over the ground towards the hellmouth but he floated above them.
He looked up and saw her and smiled.
“Come on, Xander. You’ve done more than anyone expected and like, I have to say it. Ewwww, my mother! We are going to talk,” were the last and first words he heard.
Joyce watched the freighter pull away from the dock. Around her the last of the Sunnydale resistance lay dead. She tried to crawl away. Her empty rifle lay on the ground. The pistol she held had only one bullet left. The pulse monitor reset the timer with each beat of her heart.
A muscular large busted vampire approached.
“Tabatha,” whispered Joyce.
“Joyce, long time since the book club. You know this whole thing has been pointless. You’ve, in one foolish action, decimated the Southern California underground. Not half the tactician you thought you were. My commander has ordered me to bring you across in case you have some useful information.”
“Then do it,” snarled Joyce.
“Oh, not so fast. Didn’t I ever mention. My position on the force was with the bomb squad. I’m going to disarm that little toy on your chest first. Please struggle, I so look forward to breaking your arms.”
Joyce inhaled sharply. Forcing protesting, wounded muscles to move. She threw herself onto Tabitha and fired her final round into her own brain. Her muscles spasmomed locking tight around the vampire.
“No,” screamed the un-dead thing
Tabatha tore off the arm that clutched her.
The vamp pushed the dead weight off herself.
Bits of Joyce and Tabitha flew all over the parking lot.
Joyce looked on as something slimy slithered away from the vampire. Short fuse. Oh well, it happens. A glowing light appeared and she turned towards it.
“Mother, you have a set of them. Now about Xander, ewwwww.” was the last and the first thing she heard.
Chapter 17 - WINE BLESSING
Below is the standard wine blessing for the Wiccan Church or Canada as written by Lady Melusine, Tamara James and Lord Gwydion. Published in “Rituals for a Pagan Congregation volume one” by D.L. Dillon.
Priest: The male holds the power and is the reservoir of the power.
Priestess: The female taps the power in him and channels it.
Both: Neither one can work without the other,
One without the other is incomplete.
Priest: The Horned God is a God of life and death.
Priestess: And the Goddess is of birth and renewal
Both: To learn you must suffer, to live you must be born,
To be born you must die.
The beginning, the continuation and the end, over and
Priest: The sun brings forth light.
Priestess: And the moon holds it in darkness.
Priest: as above,
Priestess: so below.
Priest: As the Athame is to the male,
Priestess: So the Challis is to the female,
Both: And conjoined, they become one in truth.
For there is no greater power in all the world,
Than that of a man and a woman, joined in the bonds
Giles burst into the library. She stood in the middle of the floor staring down at a decapitated corpse.
“Willow,” he cried.
“Rupert,” she turned and ran towards him.
He’d been braced for the mutilations but it still took an effort to keep from recoiling, then she was in his arms. He held her and didn’t care what had been done to her. She was in his arms again.
“I love you,” he breathed closing his eyes. It was like he held the beauty of five years before.”
“I love you too. You came. You came. I knew you would. I always knew you’d come for me.”
“If I had to walk through hell itself.”
He kissed her then forced himself to hold her at arms length. The tattoos and scars were horrific but he stared into her eyes and in their emerald depths he saw her and the rest didn’t matter.
“Xander?” she asked.
“Holding the door. Are there any other entrances.”
“Only the sewer access.”
“Willow. I wish - - -“
She placed her finger over his lips. “We have work to do.”
Rupert nodded and shucked the small backpack he wore. “Inside are a set of ritual tools. Can you set up the altar?”
“In my sleep.” Willow took the bag and moved to the edge of the hellmouth. Black slimy things continued to pour down it.
Rupert unclipped his broken armour, throwing the tattered sleeves and legs aside. He lay his breastplate in front of the door and wrapped the handles with a piece of garrote line that spooled from a reel on his belt. He tied this off to a switch on the charge that had rested over his heart.
Turning he moved to Willow’s side, shucking the sweat soaked T-shirt and underwear he wore as he approached her.
“I’ve thought about it. I know how to apply the energies from the Challis. Rupert, I know what I look like but...”
“You are my Willow. You are always beautiful to me.”
“I love you, Rupert. I don’t think doing the rite symbolically will be enough. We’ll need all the energy we can muster to shatter the hellmouth.”
“Let’s cast the circle. You are my Willow. My love. You will always be that girl I proposed to in Maine.” Rupert grasped a ring that hung from a chain about his neck. With a yank he snapped the chain. He took Willow’s left hand and slid the ring down until it touched the diamond band she wore. Willow looked at it. The band was plain gold, simple, unadorned, pure.
She looked up with tears in her eyes. So much could have been, so much needed to be said, but there was no time. “Let’s cast this circle.”
Rupert kissed her and picked up the Athame. The ritual dagger was bronze, the metal of Jupiter. It’s pommel was a golden solar disk and its hand guard a silver crescent moon.
The circle seemed to hum with power. The dark things that slithered down the hellmouth edged away from it. Rupert and Willow stood sky clad in its confines.
Rupert could feel the Gods of creation sharing space within his being. He had invoked them into himself and despite where he stood, at the very gates of hell, they had come. They burned like fire in his mind. Ra, Villie, Marduk and other names. Were they separate beings or one with many names, like a man may be Stan to some Stanley to others and Mr Smith to still more. He didn’t know but they stood with him.
He looked at Willow. She blazed with an inner fire. The affronts done to her flesh were still there but the Goddess power masked them into insignificance.
“Willow felt the Goddesses conjoined within her. They burnt away the darkness. They were her and she was them. She gazed at Rupert. He was her consort. Together they were creation, all that would ever be existed within them and had from the first day they had met. She picked up the Challis and held it cupped in her hands. It was a simple silver wine goblet, engraved with the tipple moon, but at her touch it glowed. The Challis became the potent womb from which all life flowed at the dawn of days. It was primal matter but cold and lifeless.
Rupert picked up the Athame. It blazed in glory like the sun with his touch. It was the first energy, the spark that triggered the big bang, every bit of light warmth or movement that had ever been or ever would be. But it was dissipate and ineffectual, for alone it had nothing to act against.
Rupert held the Athame above the Challis of wine, both hands cupped around its hilt and spoke.
“The male holds the power and is the reservoir of the power.”
Willow gazed into his eyes. She saw the love there and his voice echoed through the library, a power in its own right. She replied.
“The female taps the power in him and channels it.”
Together they continued. ”Neither one can work without the other, one without the other is incomplete.”
Rupert smiled as he felt energy spark into the Challis and the creative spell began. It was a spell as old as life, worded in many ways but always the same at its core. It was the spell of love. The only true love spell, it demanded nothing and constrained nothing. It was creation before which no evil could stand. He continued.
“The Horned God is a God of life and death.”
“And the Goddess is of birth and renewal.”
Together they spoke and their own love added to the spell as truths they both knew all too well were voiced.
“To learn you must suffer, to live you must be born. To be born you must die. The beginning, the continuation and the end, over and over.”
Rupert almost had to close his eyes, light blazed around them so brightly. He stared into the emeralds that were his Willow’s eyes and saw his Goddesses. She was them and they her. His love for her shot out a blazing flame that warmed them both. It inspired invigorated. It kindled his other loves with its heat and he knew creation.
“The sun brings forth light.”
Willow gazed into his eyes. Her Gods smiled out at her. Her love encompassed him. Her love made him her own, accepting, absorbing, completing. In union there was power, creation was directed, made manifest through her love. Creation blazed within her.
“And the moon holds it in darkness.”
Rupert let his feelings pour out to her, even as they flowed into the Athame
Willow let the energy of her passions touch him, even as they flowed into the challis.
Energies flowed back and forth like some mighty transformer, cycling higher and higher. Building becoming manifest. The dawn of time loomed up when all was one and the first spark came to invigorate life.
“As the Athame is to the male.”
Energies flowed back and forth like some mighty transformer, cycling higher and higher. Building becoming manifest. The dawn of time loomed up when all was one and the first matter accepted the spark of life.
“So the challis is to the female.”
Rupert lowered the Athame’s blade into the Challis. The energies centred and flowed, light exploded around them.
Willow held the Challis. It was creation. In it was life. It was the primal womb, now rich and filled with potential.
Together they finished the call.
“And conjoined, they become one in truth. For there is no greater power in all the world, than that of a man and a woman, joined in the bonds of Love.”
Willow and Rupert fell together. Their lips entwined. They separated only long enough to set the Chalice and the Athame amongst the other tools on the ritual cloth Willow had spread on the floor. There was no need for preliminaries. Rupert lay her on the mattress that had for so long been her place of indenture and entered her. She lay beneath him but in no way subordinate. His equal in all things and drew him to her. Their bodies joined, their spirits melded. The energy of the wine blessing continued to build as its physical allegory was carried out. The sacred union that made man and God, woman and Goddess one continued. Together they screamed out in orgasm. That energy joined the forces already in the Chalice.
The door to the library burst open. A roar ripped through the air as Rupert’s breastplate exploded.
“Now,” called Rupert.
“Now,” agreed Willow.
Together they picked up the Challis and cast it into the hellmouth.
A tremor ran through the earth.
“I love you, Willow.” whispered Rupert as a demon burst through the rubble that blocked the library’s entrance.
“I love you too. Is there any reason we should stay for this?” Willow snuggled into the crux of his arm.
The demon screeched and lunged towards the hellmouth.
They both closed their eyes and took in deep lung fulls of the sulfur tainted air. In seconds they floated above their bodies.
Willow looked as she had in Maine. Beautiful, fresh, unscarred.
Rupert no longer looked haggard and exhausted. The broken veins on his nose were gone.
“Where to?” asked Willow.
“Where else,” Rupert looked meaningfully at her left hand. Spiritual allegories of both the rings he’d given her rested there.
“Pity we won’t be able to eat at the Ram,” said Willow. They clasped hands and she let Rupert guide her to a city far away.
They appeared on the ancient city wall. Rupert gasped and shuddered. Willow did the same a moment later.
“What?” she asked.
Rupert looked to where the golden cords that connected them to their bodies should have been.
“I think it’s official. We’re ghosts,” he explained.
“OK. I can live with that.”
Rupert and Willow both started to laugh. They held each other, for the first time in five years free of care.
Ethan sat chained and gagged in his office chair. The wounds had tapered back to a dull throb and in a sense the tourniquet around his penis was working for him, since the organ had gone numb from a lack of blood. He’d heard explosions and sirens from outside and could smell smoke. The ground shook, throwing him to the floor. His wounds opened but before he could scream the black bead on the choker Giles had placed on him detonated. His head and upper body were turned into a thin red paste that splattered against the walls.
“Too bad,” said a voice. He turned and saw a muscular young man back lit by a shining tunnel.
“You’re the soldier boy?” Ethan was too stunned to question his sudden lack of shackles.
“Riley. Buffy wanted to be here herself but she’s a bit busy, so I agreed to help out.”
“No free rides, Ethan. You really haven’t earned a break.”
“What are you going on about?”
Ethan careened down a passage into night.
An ill tempered emu in a small Ontario zoo layed its eggs.
Natalie cuddled Carry close to her side.
“I really wish we could have gotten to Grease,” said the brunet.
“You just wanted to visit lesbose and see where all that naughty poetry came from,” said Natalie.
“You know when Tara took Marty I thought I was going to die. Then I met you and. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone.”
Natalie kissed her life mate. “Ditto.”
“Do you think - - -“
The blast of supper heated gasses that shot along the tunnel burnt the flesh from both of them before the nerves could register what happened.
A bright light shown.
“Nat?” called Carry.
“Here, I think?” said a man with a masculinized form of Natalie’s face and a slender but flat chest.
“Come along, my dears. You’ve done all you can,” said a matronly woman of late middle years.
“Mother?” asked Natalie, in a voice that was swiftly deepening.
“What?” asked Carry.
“Didn’t that girl, what was it, Tree? Teach you that on this side you appear as you see yourself. Now come along, don’t dawdle. They say it’s going to be a busy night.”
Rachel sat in the passenger seat as the limmo sped into the mountains. A slender Caucasian man with unruly brown hair was at the wheel and her son and daughter sat to either side of her. Her best friend and her family filled the rest of the seats.
“Hurry,” she pleaded.
“I am.” Her husband had his foot pressed tight against the accelerator pedal.
“Walter, drop me off, then if it explodes - - -”
“I told you no!”
The road dipped into a valley, Sunnydale was lost to sight behind them.
They sped along. The world shook. Walter slammed on the breaks. Trees swayed, rocks tumbled from the mountainsides. A bolder smashed into the limo’s door, leaving a huge dent. The car jumped wildly.
“Quake,” called Rachel. The shaking went on and on. The windshield cracked from the torque. The children vomited. Minutes passed in terror then all was still.
“Oh my God!” Walter had turned to check on his family and now stared behind them slack jawed.
“What?” Rachel looked back. A huge cloud of black smoke shot through with red flames rose into the sky. “Drive!”
Walter slammed his foot down on the pedal and sped into to the mountains.
Ji-Yeon held her son around the shoulders as she stood in a corner on the ship’s bridge.
A roar sounded over the water.
“What the fuck was that?” demanded Jeff.
“Sonars going nuts,” remarked Rick.
“Full steam!” ordered an elderly man dressed in rages.
“Aye captain,” agreed Jeff who worked the helm.
“What is it?” asked Ji-Yeon.
“Mam, I’ve only ever seen something like this once before. I was a second lieutenant. Cruiser I was on got caught over a sea quake. We lost the water under our keel like nothing. Then it came back with a vengeance.
“Are all the hatches battened down?” demanded the old man.
“Aye, sir,” snapped Billy from the intercom station. His classic Mezzo-American features were drawn into a mask of fear.
“Hold onto your hats, Mates.”
Ji-Yeon felt a sensation in her stomach like an elevator dropping too fast.
“We’re losing depth we’re gonna run aground,” called the blond woman who manned the sonar.
“Steady, keep the engines going,” snapped the captain.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” swore Jeff.
Ji-Yeon followed the line of his gaze. The ocean had risen up like a wall in front of them.
“God help us!” said the captain.
The ship sped into the wall, which actually sloped sharply up. It crested over them. Water pounded onto the deck. The bridge’s widows imploded under the driving force. The engines screamed. Ji-Yeon felt the ship jerk backwards with the momentum of the wave, then they were on top of it. They sped for all they were worth out to sea and still the force carried them inland. A huge pall of smoke and flame rose behind them. Slowly the wave released them.
“Status,” snapped the captain.
“Lower deck flooded, number three hatch gave way. We lost people sir,” replied the intercom operator.
“Run the bilges full out, get us dry mister. Keep us headed out to sea, the more depth under our keel the better.”
“Aye, sir,” agreed Jeff.
Ji-Yeon hugged her son then shook the water out of her hair. ”Have we made it captain?”
“We got a chance, Mam. Better than those poor buggers caught land side. We got a chance.”
Chapter 18 - GO GENTLE, THERE IS NO DARK NIGHT
The Spirit of Man
BETH: No Nathaniel.
Oh no Nathaniel.
No Nathaniel, no
There must be more to life.
There has to be a way
That we can restore to life
The love we use to know
There must be more to life
There has to be a way
That we can restore to life
The light that we have lost.
Cordelia looked at the old photograph. The tidal-waves caused by half of California sinking into the pacific were over and the details of the mission had been published. The paper had said that humanity had retaken Oregon, Utah and parts of Arizona.
“You did it, Xander,” she remarked. She looked around her bedroom. Her husband’s painting of the desert outside hung on the wall like a window. She moved to her writing desk in the corner and pulled out a pad of paper. She began to write.
This is Mommy. I’m writing this now despite the fact that I hope to tell you when the time is right because no one ever knows what is going to happen.
I want to tell you about your father. Mark is your Dad and always will be, but before Mark there was another man. You came from his seed. He was a great man, a hero, and you are named for him.
Angel swung the battle ax, decapitating yet another demon.
“This is more bloody like it,” snapped Spike who fought at his side.
Angel scanned his troops. Seventy five vampires and half breed demons in all were under his command. “We better fall back. It will be dawn soon.”
“Right mate,” agreed Spike. He pulled a radio from his belt.
“Days coming, back for brekkies,” he spoke into the mike.
Angel watched as his troops fell back. Humans moved forward to take the line. They scowled at him as he passed.
“Bloody ingrates!” snarled Spike.
“I understand it,” said Angel.
“Ain’t like the old days though.”
“With Buffy and her lot. Those happy meals had something.”
“That they did.”
Angel and Spike entered the small house that served as their privet quarters.
“Hay, fang face,” called a girl who was sitting in the living room come office with her feet on Angel’s desk.”
“It’s Major,” corrected Angel.
The girl swivelled the chair to face him.
Angel paused. She was exquisite. Ebony skin over delicate features with short hair and huge brown eyes.
“HQ said I should get acquainted with your boys so I didn’t take out any friendlies.” The girl spoke with a South African accent.
“Bloody good thought, girly. Right Angel?”
Angel continued to stare open mouthed.
“Angel. Oh bloody hell, not again mate. What is it with you and these slayer types?”
“Excuse me?” asked the Girl.
“Umma... Umma... aaaa...” stuttered Angel.
“Sit down, Girly, and I’ll tell you a story about a little slayer called Buffy and a bloody silly sod of a vampire with a fatal attraction,” began Spike.
“Rupert, what do you think of this one?” Willow walked across the hotel room’s floor in a black evening gown.”
“I think if you’re going to keep up this fashion show we won’t get to the ball.” Rupert took her into his arms and kissed her.
“You. Cut it out. At least till later. You promised me we’d go dancing,” said Willow.
The hotel room’s door opened and a middle-aged couple walked in. The woman stepped through Rupert and Willow then shuddered.
“Cold dear?” The man as he tipped the bellhop.
“Just, I don’t know, someone walking on my grave,” she replied.
“How rude,” observed Willow.
“Can’t really blame them, love,” observed Rupert.
“I guess we’ll have to change rooms again. This gets annoying. I can understand why there aren’t that many haunted hotels.”
Rupert smiled at her. “At least we don’t have to pay.”
“So what do you think of the dress?” asked Willow.
“I liked the blue better,” admitted Rupert.
Willow concentrated and the dress became a sleek blue affair, with a slit up the side to allow leg movement and one shoulder bare.
“Are you sure you want to go dancing?” Rupert kissed her neck.
“Mmmmm, Rupert, no reason we can’t do both. We have all the time in the world.”
Rupert smiled and took her hand. They stepped through the closed door. Rupert shook his head a little.
“Problem?” asked Willow.
“I’ll just never get use to that.”
She smiled at him.
Rupert and Willow walked along the old city wall. York both new and old sprawled out on all sides of them.
“This is a lovely place for our honey moon,” said Willow.
“Yes. I’ve always liked York.”
“Colonel, Mrs. Giles. You’re dressed to the nines,” observed a man wearing a world war two aviator’s uniform. He came striding towards them along the wall.
“Hello, Tommy, and please, it’s Rupert when I’m out of uniform.”
“Right governor. So some fancy dress party for the brass.”
“Actually, Tommy, it’s a new club. You could come with us,” said Willow.
“Sorry. Might be along later, promised to meet Colleen here at ten. You two have fun.”
Willow looked sadly at Rupert and they moved on.
“All that time. Colleen probably grew old and died years ago,” said Willow.
“I know, love, but what can we do. Most well...”
“Ghosts. We’re ghosts, Rupert, you can say it.”
“As you say, love. It simply takes a bit of getting use to. Most ghosts are not aware of their status.”
“Lucky us. We get to go to all the best places for free.”
Rupert smiled at her. “You know I forgot.” He held out his palm and concentrated. A corsage appeared and he pinned it onto Willow’s dress.
“Rupert, you know I don’t mind being dead so long as we’re together.”
“Me too love. So long as we’re together.”
“I think that can be arranged,” observed a deep voice from behind them.
Rupert and Willow spun around and gasped. A well built man, with a jackal’s head, wearing a white wrap kilt stood staring at them.
“Anubis,” breathed Willow and Giles in unison.
“In the metaphysical flesh. Sorry it took us a while to catch up to you two. Been very busy lately. Something about a major earth quake along the western seaboard of North America. I think you two know a bit about that. Then you weren’t where we expected you to be. Frankly, this is the first chance I had to track you down. Should have known you’d head for York, considering your previous incarnations. You ready to go?”
“Excuse me but you seem... um...?” began Willow.
“Oh, don’t go getting all dower on me, Sweetheart. Would you like this better?” The jackal headed figure shifted becoming a cowled skeleton holding a sickle. The image then shifted back. “One of the things I like about you Pagan types, generally you have a sense of humour.”
Rupert chuckled. The being before him was infectious in a way he’d rarely experienced.
“Come on, follow me. I have other pick ups to make.”
Rupert and Willow clasped hands and followed the guide of the dead into a shining nimbus of light.
They found themselves seated on a veranda. A breeze wafted through the trees that shaded them. Wicker chairs were scattered about and a tall pitcher of lemonade sat surrounded by glasses on a wicker table.
“You or me?” asked Willow.
“Us actually. Xander wanted a Donald duck motif but we voted him down. Buffy stepped onto the veranda.
“Buff,” cried Willow, she flew into her friend’s arms.
“I was not voted down. I traded it for a bubble bath. Hey Will, love the dress,” said Xander. He and Joyce appeared hand in hand. No scars marred either of them and Joyce looked younger. Riley moved to Buffy’s side.
“What was it with you guys and the cross generational thing this time around?” demanded Buffy when Rupert moved to take Willow’s hand.
“I said you didn’t have to call me dad,” quipped Xander.
“Get real,” remarked Buffy.
“So what now?” Giles scanned his friends’ faces.
“You rest for a time.” You did very well. First in delaying the opening of the gate, then in closing it. We believed your world would be lost to us.” The voice came from everywhere and no where.
“After we’ve rested?” asked Xander.
Rupert took on a pained expression.
“Then you will be reassigned. We can’t very well retire our best team.”
Willow took Giles hand, he smiled at her. “So long as we’re together,” he said.
“Of course. We’re not so inept that we’d break up you two,” agreed the voice. The presence vanished.
“This is quite amazing?” said Giles.
Willow slipped under his arm.
“Not quite what I thought heaven would be,” agreed Riley.
Willow and Giles looked into each other’s eyes. There was no need for words between them. Rupert answered for both.
“It’s exactly what I expected.”
“Oh, please!” breathed Buffy, as Willow and Giles kissed.
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