Constraints: follows ‘Living Dead Girls 3: Baptism Of Fire’, occurs during and after ‘Not Fade Away’.

 

Synopsis: Tiffany comes back wrong from her holiday.

 

Living Dead Girls 4: Fighting Machine.

 

Content: Violence, some nudity, lots of death.

 

Legal: Daria belongs to MTV, Angel and Buffy belong to mutant enemy, The Bill and Ultimate Force belong to ITV, and I’m trusting http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Science/Nuke.html to steer me right when it comes to conventional nuclear weapons, also Dervish, Brother Grimace, and Ranger Thorn helped me with this, the Bush Speech was written by Brother Grimace because my one sucked.

 

~-~

 

The hardest part about using a sword was moving her feet correctly, because the force to accelerate the sword had to go somewhere, but Daria was getting the hang of it. She had already gotten Tiffany to use it, and because of her existing proficiency with martial arts, she could pick it up in about 2 days. But Daria was still having to get her swings right, so she was still practicing with her katana in the back yard of the Lane house.

 

Jane was also practicing, but had been practicing since Tiffany and Andrew had returned to Lawndale.

 

Daria had also gotten her automatic shotgun, a USAS 12 (with 20 round drums), the weapon looked like a mutant M16 crossed with a tommy gun, she had found it of use when picking off vampires from a vantage point (this would be to back up Tiffany in the event that they encountered a larger enemy formation then they could handle). But she knew that it would be useless if her position got overrun and Jane wasn’t there with her flamethrower to maintain a defensive perimeter. She did have her Mac in the event she needed to incapacitate a lot of them, but she would be hard pressed to change the clip in the middle of a fur ball, even if the next one was taped to the one she was already using. This had been obvious to her from the start, so she had been training to use the sword ever since.

 

Daria checked her watch “where is she?”

 

Jane looked over at her and said “I dunno, you don’t think she scored some collateral damage again, do you?”

 

“Statistically that’s rare, slayers can sense vampires, even Buffy didn’t experience that many fur balls in Sunnydale, I should call her.” said Daria, she headed inside.

 

~-~

 

The phone rang, Tiffany picked up and answered “Hello?”

 

“Hey Tiff, how’s it going?” asked Daria.

 

“Sorry, wrong number.” said Tiffany, and she hung up.

 

~-~

 

“Nuke?” suggested Winifred.

 

“How?” asked Angel.

 

“Just shoot the bastard.” said Spike.

 

“Okay, once again, Civus Vail, extremely powerful wizard, he’ll sense us coming a mile off.” said Angel.

 

“I appear to be unreadable by Witches, possibly other mystics, I also seem to be immune to the usual spells, I will, … Nuke, Civus Vail.” said Illyria, once again curious about the use of slang words such as ‘Nuke’.

 

“See, sorted, who’s next?” asked Spike.

 

“Gunn.”

 

Yo.”

 

“Your friend Senator Brucker has a campaign office in west LA, you already know she’s pure hell spawn, and tends to surround herself with vampires.” said Angel.

 

Gunn pumped his fist triumphantly and said “I was hoping it’d be vamps, I Haven’t dusted nearly enough this year.”

 

“Spike-” started Angel.

 

Spike interrupted saying as he stood up “Right, first off, I’m not wearing any amulets, no bracelets, broaches, beads, pendants, pins or rings.”

 

“Fine, all you need is a rattle.” said Angel.

 

“Ah, the baby.”

 

“And a legion of the Fell brethren. I want the kid returned to his mother, and the foster family dismembered.”

 

“Done and done.”

 

“Archduke Sebassis has over 40000 demons under his command, the other members of the council fear him, he’s a key player, so he’s mine. Wesley, Fred, Izzerial and three friends dine together almost every night.” said Angel.

 

“Do they eat anything that goes with lead?” asked Wesley.

 

“Drive by?” asked Winifred.

 

“Still got my bike somewhere.” said Wesley.

 

“Which I can’t drive.” said Winifred, ecstatic at the thought of being the killer on this mission.

 

“Uzi or MP5?” asked Wesley.

 

“I think, … the MP5 tonight, the MP5SD2, with subsonic rounds, been wanting to try it since we took over that place.” said Winifred.

 

“Alright then, moving on, Lorne-”

 

“Uh, I’m not a fighter Angelwings, I never had the stomach for it, Looks like I’m your weak link.”

 

“I just need you to back up Lindsey.”

 

“I still can’t believe you brought him in.” said Wesley.

 

“He’s a part of this, it’ll be as dangerous for him as it will be for everybody else on our team.” said Angel.

 

~-~

 

“So, I told the watchers council what’s up, and we discussed weather or not to recall me, because if Tiff’s out, then there are other slayers that need my attention.” said Daria.

 

“Slayers may not be that mobile, but you watchers sure are.” said Jane.

 

“It’s not unheard of for potential slayers to never come to the attention of the watchers council, and there are some cases where contact is impossible to make anyway. Some countries restrict the freedoms of women so much that any watcher trying to make contact would either get themselves killed, or themselves and the slayer killed. Other situations that are more recent are where potentials are in the police or armed forces, that makes contact neigh impossible since we’d come off as stalkers to the cops or would have almost no access at all.”

 

“But now all slayers are active, those who are in the police and armed forces will have found their jobs suddenly easier.” said Jane.

 

“Except for the sock parties thrown by jealous co-workers.” said Daria.

 

“And how long are they going to live after doing that to a slayer?” asked Jane.

 

“And how long will the slayer remain in the army when half her battalion has been transferred to the morgue?” asked Daria.

 

“Hmm, good point.” said Jane.

 

~-~

 

“Ready to go out?” asked Quinn.

 

“Absolutely.” said Sandi.

 

The two girls left the Griffin residence and set out on their mission.

 

They doubted they would encounter anything interesting, but they would go out anyway.

 

~-~

 

Daria and Jane walked up the street and, using mirror tiles glued to rings on their fingers, set about identifying the vampires. They had their swords concealed under their jackets, the handles pointed down, the swords were held in place by a Velcro strap on the holster that went to a pad on the hilt. Jane's red shirt concealed the handle, but Daria’s jacket stopped at the waist, so she used her shotgun bag to conceal it.

 

“11 o’clock, the redhead.” said Daria.

 

The redhead was with two other girls who weren’t vampires, which meant they were prey.

 

Or assistants to the enemy.

 

“You sure it’s this way?” asked Daria, trying to make them seem lost.

 

“Yeah, I think.” said Jane.

 

Daria got a book out and they both looked through it as the group passed.

 

Eventually the group had passed, and Daria and Jane started to follow them maintaining a suitable distance.

 

~-~

 

Quinn and Sandi walked along the dark streets, keeping their distance from any possible concealment.

 

They stayed alert, suddenly wondering if this was a good idea.

 

~-~

 

The group approached a building with a vampire sentry.

 

“That’s a nest.” said Jane.

 

“Sure is.” said Daria.

 

A human left the nest, this person had bite marks on his arms, some old.

 

“Blood Whores.” said Jane.

 

“Sure are.” said Daria.

 

“Do we bother?” asked Jane.

 

“No, vampire brothels are to be left alone, this is another reason why we follow before engaging.” said Daria.

 

They saw Quinn and Sandi run along the street crossing the front of the brothel, bows in hand and quivers on their backs.

 

“The fuck?” asked Daria.

 

They then saw a bunch of vampires, one with two arrows in his chest, another with three, obviously none of them in the right place.

 

~-~

 

Quinn and Sandi kept running.

 

“My Mom will KILL me if I come home late AND dead.” said Quinn.

 

“I told you this was a bad idea.” said Sandi.

 

“Did not.”

 

“Did too.”

 

They turned a corner and after weaving around some trash cans, found their exit cut off by a wire fence topped with razor wire.

 

They looked back and saw the vampires already blocking the way they had come.

 

“Now what?” asked Sandi.

 

Quinn took another shot at the inbound vampires.

 

She got one, Sandi joined her in firing, but they quickly ran out of arrows.

 

The vampires surrounded them. The one with three arrows in him said “I like my meals nice and tender.” as he approached Quinn, who was now regretting their failure to consider the possibility of having to go hand to hand.

 

Then Jane appeared behind him, jumping from dumpster to dumpster, drawing their attention from them. She jumped onto the gang, using their shoulders as stepping stones, getting between the gang and the fence. She then decapitated three at once with her katana.

 

“Get down or get behind me.” Jane said.

 

Sandi and Quinn moved to Jane, but they were grabbed by the remaining vampires.

 

“Now what?” asked Quinn.

 

“Pull your socks up.” said Jane.

 

Jane jumped, moving her feet 270 degrees around, winding her body up for the swing, and at this point Sandi and Quinn got it. They were in a deep bow by the time the sword passed over them, and moved behind Jane the instant the vampires turned to dust.

 

Quinn then looked behind her and saw red hairs mixed with the dust, she checked her hair, and found it had shortened about 10cm.

 

Two vampires picked up the bows that had been abandoned, pulling two arrows from their friends. They didn’t move fast enough to get their shots in, they did manage to duck Jane’s first swing, and the four were weaving around Jane’s attacks. They were not getting a shot in, the vamps without the bows arrows out of themselves and made to stab Jane. Jane had not forgotten them. One was decapitated, the other fell on his ass. The ones with the bows drew, but Jane sliced through the bows before they could fire.

 

The remaining Vamp that didn’t have a bow that was going to manually stab Jane got decapitated by a HE round from Daria’s shotgun, since Daria was too tired from running to start slicing. So it was left to Jane to finish the last two, Daria picked up the two arrows and threw them to Sandi and Quinn, deciding they’d be better off grabbing the vampires attention than becoming human shields.

 

Jane decapitated another, and the last vampire who was well aware that the girls behind him were now armed, froze as he tried to think his way out.

 

He ran out of time.

 

Jane looked around before holstering her sword, and Daria walked straight to Quinn saying “ARE YOU COMPLETELY INSANE?”

 

Quinn had no response.

 

“MOM WOULD HAVE A STROKE IF YOU TURNED UP DEAD! WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?”

 

Quinn looked in surprise at Daria, which wasn’t the ‘Getting yelled at for doing something wrong’ kind of surprised, that had passed. This was the ‘Did you just say that?’ Kind of surprised.

 

Daria quickly reviewed what she had just said, and winced.

 

“Go home, and tell no one” said Daria.

 

Quinn and Sandi headed home.

 

As soon as they were gone, Jane turned to Daria and asked “Think she’ll tell?”

 

“I don’t know, but she’ll want to know for sure weather or not I’m Daria” said Daria, she then said “Come on, let’s go home.”

 

~-~

 

Civus Vail looked up as one if his guards entered.

 

“Excuse me master, but I have an important matter to discuss with you.”

 

“Go on.” said Civus.

 

The guard then lifted his arm and shot a rocket at him.

 

Civus erected a shield in time, but the shield was set up an appropriate distance away for a HE warhead, not the nuclear warhead it in fact was. He was blinded by the flash and felt the blast energy feed back through the shield into his body, knocking him out.

 

He didn’t see the Guard turn back into Illyria, or see her reload the device under her arm from her back pack magazine, the trigger mechanism automatically extended into her palm, she lifted the cover off the trigger and shot the second rocket into Civus’s chest.

 

Illyria looked once again at the launcher strapped to her arm, impressed at Winifred’s handiwork: the device consisted of a back pack that had a magazine full of rockets in their disposable launching tubes, and a power pack for the underarm launcher.

 

Every connection between the rocket package and launcher, mechanical or command, was magnetic, that allowed rapid assembly, loading, and firing.

 

Another thing Winifred had done was find a way to use the metal known as sodium in the propellant, this seemed insane to Spike and Wesley, but Winifred had explained it to Illyria’s satisfaction, it had provided a better rocket fuel for them extending the range of the system significantly.

 

Humans: kind of weak, but kind of smart. Nothing like the weapon she was wielding now would have been practical in her time, humans had exceeded her expectations by not only banishing the pure demons such as herself, but also by developing the kind of industrial and technological capabilities she could never have dreamed of.

 

But it did take a few hints from her to lead Winifred to think of designing this type of warhead.

 

This was why Illyria now wanted to rule an empire of humans, they had the capability to exceed their own strengths by their engineering and manufacturing abilities.

 

Illyria was brought back to reality as she heard footsteps approaching (she was glad her hearing couldn’t be overloaded like most human and demons could).

 

Two guards entered, having heard the noise on account of not being deaf and having a nervous system capable of sensing touch. Illyria immediately pulled a Katana and, spinning as she advanced, sliced them into three parts before they could do anything.

 

She then disguised herself again and made her exit.

 

~-~

 

Wesley pulled up besides Izzerial’s car as it departed, and Winifred killed the two in the back first, the driver took too long to come up with any kind of plan (such as smashing the cyclists into the row of cars parked on that side of them) and ate the last burst after Izzerial.

 

They were clear before the car could swerve into them, and Winifred had the silenced MP5 out of sight.

 

~-~

 

Daria entered the school and headed to the library.

 

After she had checked the condition of the library and the organisation of the books, she headed back to the front desk and opened the library to the school.

 

She picked out a book for her to read, astrology for beginners, and a spell book, some of this was part and parcel of the real universe.

 

Just a pity there are so many con artists in the trade, horoscopes were an example. There were two kinds of magic, there was illusory magic (Penn and Teller type stuff) and there was spell casting (the real shit), that was the kind of magic the Watchers Council dealt with.

 

She sat down to read the books and waited for Tiffany to show up.

 

~-~

 

Sandi and Quinn met Tiffany outside school and they headed in. Tiffany had reverted to something more normal looking, jeans and a red tee shirt under an iridescent purple jacket.

 

“How was your holiday Tiffany?” asked Quinn.

 

“Oh, it was quite good, went to Barbados.” said Tiffany, she then asked Quinn “what did you do to your hair?”

 

“Oh, thought I’d try something different. So, how went Barbados?” said Quinn.

 

“Nice, hot sun, hot beach, hot males, zero vampires, right?” commented Sandi.

 

“Yeah.” said Tiffany, for some reason she blushed as she opened her locker.

 

“Hot maaaaaales.” Quinn prompted pointedly.

 

Tiffany smiled weakly and chuckled, she then said “yeah, I met someone, we had fun.”

 

“Latex coated fun, right?” said Sandi.

 

Tiffany blushed harder as they headed to class.

 

“That is what students at this school talk about?” asked a familiar and disapproving voice from behind them.

 

Tiffany, Sandi and Quinn turned to see Angela Li, accompanied by Val and a camera crew.

 

The crew were dressed smart-casual. Val was dressed in a purple suit jacket with a grey shin length skirt, a silver crucifix on one jacket lapel, a looped black ribbon with a white tail under it, hair in a bun.

 

“I assure you that they were probably joking.” said Angela.

 

“Were you?” asked Val.

 

Sandi decided to answer this question. She walked up to Val saying “well, considering that this was a private conversation amongst ourselves, and that eavesdropping is rude, and your opinions of us weigh less than a clean vacuum, my answer will have to be kiss my highly fashionable ass.”

 

“Miss Griffin, that is no way to talk to honoured guests of Lawndale high, be polite.” said Angela.

 

“I was being polite.” said Sandi.

 

The three of them started to walk off.

 

“What would have been rude?” asked Quinn.

 

“Telling her to suck my anus.” replied Sandi.

 

The three laughed “You’ve definitely changed since I last saw you.” said Tiffany.

 

“Yeah, it’s not like I’m the leader of anything right now. Doesn’t seem to be any point in resurrecting the fashion club, wasn’t any point in it’s existence to begin with, I could do with a change.” said Sandi.

 

“Healthy I guess, Stacy’s Illyria, Tiffany’s a slayer, I’m, … ” Quinn’s face took on a look of confusion.

 

“You’re fine the way you are, Quinn. You never had any serious identity crisis, even when you were doing that fake smart thing a while back, you were in your happy place. That’s one of the thing’s I’ve always been jealous of.” said Sandi.

 

Neither of them noticed that Tiffany had dropped behind with an anxious look on her face.

 

~-~

 

“This is getting ridiculous.” said Gunn.

 

“It was ridiculous at dawn, now it is, … ridiculouser.” said Illyria.

 

“Angel’s dead.” said Wesley.

 

“Are you sure about that?” asked Winifred.

 

“If he was successful he would be here by now, if he had to abort, he’d be here by now. What does that leave?” asked Wesley.

 

“Delayed, due to insufficient rain.” Said Spike from the doorway.

 

“Perhaps my first assumption was correct.” said Illyria.

 

“What first assumption?” asked Gunn.

 

“’Leery was speculating that Angel had been corrupted by the Senior Partners just before we encountered Droogyn.” said Spike.

 

Everyone stayed silent for the next few minutes.

 

“How do we find out what’s what?” asked Gunn.

 

“Mount an Obbo on Wolfram and Hart.” said Spike.

 

Wesley thought about it and said “Alright, Illyria, fancy dress time again.”

 

Illyria cocked her head in that way that either meant ‘Elaborate/explain.’ or ‘I am about to turn you into burger meat.’

 

~-~

 

“And here is the library, the students have a lot of respect for the knowledge contained within this room, I have never found any sign of trouble here.” said Angela.

 

“You never find any sign of trouble because this place holds no interest to them.” said the librarian without looking up.

 

Val looked over and asked “Daria?”

 

The librarian looked up, a look of recognition on her face, but she said “nope, Joy Merryweather.”

 

“Miss Merryweather was only joking, the students love this place.” said Angela.

 

Almost on cue, the three girls they had seen earlier entered.

 

“See?” said Angela, but her smile was displaced as she remembered the earlier encounter, she sighed in frustration.

 

“What kind of reading do you like?” asked Val.

 

The three girls looked around and Sandi said “all kinds.”

 

“We have a very good section on alternative religions.” said Joy, holding up one of the books she had selected.

 

Angela nodded, smiling in approval.

 

Val then frowned and asked “you keep material such as that in a school?”

 

Angela looked confused.

 

“Oh, have you covered Evolution in science yet?” asked Joy of the girls.

 

“I think we did that last year.” said Sandi.

 

Quinn and Tiffany looked confused, as did Sandi, not fully getting what was going on.

 

Val frowned even more and said “Miss Li, are you telling me you would expose the youth of this nation to such amoral ideas?”

 

“Yep, we’re an evil cesspit of religious diversity and tolerance.” said Joy, she then picked up a carton of leaflets with a blue looped ribbon on the front and offered them to the girls.

 

Angela was more confused then ever.

 

“Very interesting.” said Val, who was frowning deeper than ever, slowly shaking her head.

 

“Right, well, moving on.” said Angela.

 

~-~

 

“Okay, what was that?” asked Sandi.

 

“See that black ribbon with the white tail?” asked Joy.

 

“Yeah?” said Sandi.

 

“Symbol of mourning for the spiritually dead.” said Daria.

 

“Spiritual- … not getting it.” said Quinn.

 

“As in, anyone who isn’t a Christian fundamentalist. As in, ‘we’re sad that so many of our fellow humans are going to hell for not believing our fairy tales’. Treats anyone with a different opinion like they’re mentally deficient.” clarified Joy.

 

“Oh, you were having a laugh at them.” said Sandi.

 

“Yep, looks like Val’s found herself a new blood bank to rob.” said Joy.

 

“Remember the last time you chased her off?” asked Quinn.

 

“Yeah, I, … -” Joy winced again, now Sandi and Tiffany had strange looks on their faces.

 

“You could have just asked, you know.” said Joy.

 

“Err, if you’re Daria, then who’s in jail?” asked Quinn.

 

“My stunt double, and the Watchers Council have been at me to return it to them for a while now.” said Daria.

 

“‘It’? … What is it?” asked Quinn.

 

“An android.” said Daria.

 

Tiffany started walking off.

 

“You all right there Tiff?” asked Daria.

 

Sandi and Quinn looked at her.

 

“I’m fine, … excuse me.” said Tiffany, as she headed off.

 

Sandi and Quinn looked to her and asked “you speak to her last night?”

 

“No. Well, I called when she ran late, she told me I had the wrong number. I’m not sure what’s with her, but I’m not prepared to push her for answers right now. It’s not like we need to draft the slayers any more, we have a sufficient pool of volunteers without doing that now. But if she doesn’t show up tomorrow, then I will want to get some sort of answer, to be sure she’s alright.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

“I keep hearing them talk about vampires and the Watchers Council.” said Tiffany.

 

“But you’re not acting as if the stuff is real, are you?” asked Margaret.

 

“No, but the whole thing is still to seamless, it’s not like I’m nodding off and starting a dream, or anything.” said Tiffany.

 

“Well, in that case, I’ll write you a sick note and get your parents to pick you up, they can arrange for you to see your doctor about it.” said Margaret.

 

~-~

 

Daria was headed to lunch when she heard the rantings of Barch and Dimartino. She headed towards the sound and saw the pair of them arguing with each other, … and Val.

 

“FEW as the commonalities I HAVE with this PSYCHOPATH we HAVE for a SCIENCE TEACHER, I can assure YOU that we’re in TOTAL AGREEMENT that your organisation is CHOCK FULL OF SHIT!!!” yelled Dimartino.

 

“You use this language in front of impressionable youth?” asked Val.

 

“Weren’t you once trying to be the impressionable youth?” asked Daria.

 

“That was a long time ago.” said Val, as she squirmed.

 

“Two years ago, wasn’t it?” said Daria.

 

“Well, yeah, … but that was before I saw the light.” said Val.

 

“That’s what you get for taking ‘shroom tea.” said Daria.

 

“HAH! I NEVER DID ‘SHROOMS! TAKE THAT!” gloated Val.

 

“You didn’t?” asked Daria.

 

“That’s right.” said Val.

 

“Hmm, … Maybe you’re not taking enough drugs then.” she then continued on to lunch.

 

“HANG ON, how’d you know I was here before?” asked Val.

 

“Quinn told me.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

Daria was returning from lunch when she passed Tiffany and her parents in the hallway. Angela was a few metres behind the Decklers. She gestured for her to stop.

 

Soon as the Decklers were out of sight, she said “Earlier, when I was giving Val a tour of the school, you decided to antagonise her on camera.”

 

“Yes.” replied Daria.

 

“Do you like your job?” asked Angela.

 

“Oh lighten up, fundies get laughed at here. This gets to the public whose opinion you care about, they’ll cheer us on because they think fundamentalists are full of shit, and because it’s Val who’s presenting. I just brought some honour to this sacred institution.” said Daria, she then smiled and resumed her course to the library.

 

~-~

 

“Tiffany skipped class.” said Quinn as she and Sandi entered the library.

 

“She left with her parents.” said Daria.

 

“What’s going on?” asked Sandi.

 

“I dunno, but I want you to talk to her this evening. Don’t cause an incident, it’s more vital you maintain the ability to talk to her, just gather what information you can get her to volunteer.” said Daria.

 

“It could be something that happened when she was in Barbados.” said Sandi.

 

“Okay, remember, ask, but don’t prod, she’s not ready to tell you, pressure will blow her away from you.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

Jane answered the door to see a woman holding a photograph, she asked “have you seen this boy?”

 

Jane looked at the photo and felt ill.

 

Good thing there’s no BP to drop.

 

“No, sorry.” she said.

 

The woman thanked her and moved on.

 

Jane closed the door and sat on the couch, staring blankly at the wall.

 

~-~

 

Mr Deckler answered the door and saw Sandi and Quinn standing there.

 

“Hi, Tiffany’s not feeling well.” he said.

 

“Mind if we look in on her?” asked Sandi.

 

Mr Deckler considered this, and finally said “fine, go ahead.”

 

~-~

 

“Joy, how goes it?” asked Giles.

 

“Sandi and Quinn are going to talk to Tiffany now, she was sent home from school today. Apparently something happened between Tiffany leaving my sight at the start of Easter, and me calling her last night when she was running late. I’m not sure how to approach her about it right now, she knows I will support her in the event of an accident such as the one she thought she had, but I can’t compel her to disclose anything to me. I need to find out what happened in Barbados over the last few weeks.” said Daria.

 

“I’ll get on it, but we’re busy here, your slayer isn’t the only one that we have lost contact with. We have hundreds refusing to acknowledge our calls, and hundreds have just disappeared, we’re trying to find commonalities now. The timing of them all is too tight for this to be accidental, we believe someone is making a move against us. We’ve buttoned the Council premises up tight in case someone tries to hit us, and we’re sending a team from place to place to place chasing leads.” said Giles.

 

“Safety in numbers.” said Daria.

 

“That’s based on having our HQ blown up and most our forces slain by bringers when we went against the First Evil. Now, it’s possible we may have over compensated as a result, but I am not going to lose our reconnaissance teams to whatever is doing this.” said Giles.

 

“Which means I’m at the back of a very long queue.” said Daria.

 

“Yes, sorry about that.” said Giles.

 

“Well, thanks anyway.” said Daria, she then hung up and thought about what she was going to have to do.

 

She then started dialling another number.

 

~-~

 

Heather returned to her cell to find Daria standing on her bed, a cable coming out of her back leading to a socket, and a strong bleach type smell.

 

“Daria?” she asked.

 

Her cellmate turned around and said “I have to go. Sorry about this.” before she turned back to what she was doing.

 

Heather saw sparks fly for a couple of seconds, then again, and then Daria dropped a severed bar from the window onto the bed.

 

Daria’s right index finger entered view, the finger tip had been split and retracted back, revealing the tip of some sort of tool, when she placed that finger near the bottom of the next bar, a blinding light appeared between the finger and the bar, sparks flying from the other side.

 

Heather just stood there, Jaw dropped, as Daria used her finger laser to cut through each bar.

 

“Err, … what exactly are you doing?”

 

“I have been ordered to escape.” said Daria.

 

“By who?” asked Heather.

 

“By the real me, the one who doesn’t have a plasma torch secreted inside her finger.”

 

Oh, … I see.” said Heather.

 

Daria removed the last bar, and unplugged herself from the socket under the bed, she then jumped through the window, and all these alarms started sounding.

 

There were megaphone enhanced voices telling Daria to stop, heather walked up to the window and watched as Daria looked around, guards seemed to end up looking away with their eyes shut for some reason.

 

Daria then ran to the inner fence, and cut through it with her plasma torch finger, the dogs on the other side running at her, biting her, and then recoiling and fucking off for some reason.

 

Daria then dragged herself up the smooth concrete outer wall, ridiculously fast.

 

~-~

 

“There’s Hamilton, in Angel’s old office.” said Wesley.

 

“In retrospect, surveillance devices would have been useful.” said Illyria.

 

“Indeed.” said Wesley.

 

They were sat on the roof of a neighbouring building, supposedly federal agents watching for gangsters that were supposedly carrying out meetings. They had gotten their hands on some parabolic microphones, but the window to Angel’s office was too stiff for them and they were getting nothing but wind, birds, planes, etc. bounced off the window. A laser microphone would have been more appropriate, but they couldn’t find one. Winifred was busy making one, but she’d be a couple of hours.

 

“There’s Harmony.” said Wesley.

 

“Sabassis's army can’t get it together without their leader, what should we do about it?” said Winifred, as she approached them from behind, holding the device she was carrying (which was basically a black PVC project box with some holes in the front, some switches on the bottom, and an ear phone coming out).

 

“Sabassis’s dead?” asked Wesley.

 

“Angel must have been successful.” said Illyria.

 

“We ignore them until they can get it together. We are still recruiting replacements, we have no time for them.” transcribed Winifred, she then relayed “won’t the senior partners be disappointed we killed Angel?” and “No, their patience has expired with Angel, and he voided the Shanshu prophecy, so it is no longer our problem. Now, who are we interviewing today?”

 

“Angel died escaping after he killed Sebassis.” Illyria concluded.

 

The other two were silent. Illyria didn’t perceive silence though, since their emotions were screaming at her. She simply got up and walked to the opposite corner of the building.

 

~-~

 

“You may have heard me talking about vampires and witches or something.” said Tiffany.

 

“Yeah?” said Sandi, trying to remember all the conversations they had ever had with Tiffany on the matter.

 

“I imagine you figured I was being funny.” said Tiffany.

 

Sandi and Quinn went quiet, trying to remember all the jokes Tiffany had made, because she had made a few.

 

“I’m afraid I thought those things were real.” said Tiffany.

 

And now Sandi and Quinn were just confused.

 

“What things?” asked Sandi.

 

“Vampires, … witches, … robots even, … ” she also laughed and said “The First Evil, a ghost that controls a bunch of people called ‘bringers’, how whacked it that?”

 

Quinn and Sandi looked at each other.

 

Tiffany laid back on her bed and placed her hands behind her head, saying “Yep, your friend doesn’t just act crazy, she is crazy. The starts and ends of the hallucinations are just so seamless. You know that holiday I was on? Wasn’t to Barbados, I stayed at Connecticut state psychiatric hospital, learning to recognise how completely bat shit I am. Miracle I didn’t kill someone before my parents spotted my strange behaviour.”

 

~-~

 

Robodaria entered a cyber café and after a quick look around, pulled an Ethernet cable out of her wrist.

 

Her real self had ordered her to start looking for any incident reports in Barbados where Tiffany Deckler and her parents had stayed.

 

She quickly found something odd.

 

No passports under the Decklers names were ever recorded being used.

 

No credit cards under the Decklers names or credit card accounts paid by the Decklers ever went to any hotels in Barbados or to any travel agencies, airlines, nothing.

 

She turned to investigating the Decklers movements during the time when they were supposed to be in Barbados.

 

They had spent money on fuel at several gas stations heading out of Lawndale, bought some food, then stopped for a while.

 

There had been some expenditure on some new clothes just before Tiffany’s return to Lawndale.

 

And their last medical insurance bill was slightly higher.

 

She investigated the reason the medical insurance rate had climbed, the usual reason is that the policy holder had made a claim.

 

There was a number of payments to Connecticut state psychiatric hospital. This indicated one of the family members had required treatment for a psychiatric condition, but none of the invoices mentioned any names.

 

Robodaria hacked the hospitals computers and found out it was Tiffany Deckler who had been treated.

 

The condition that was being treated was delusional schizophrenia and possible multiple personalities.

 

According to her medical database, these conditions described visual and auditory hallucinations structured as an imagined reality along with having more than one personality apparent in the individuals brain. She began a broad investigation of the condition, numbers of cases, commonalities, known research.

 

~-~

 

“So Angel buggered the plan then huh?” asked Spike, as the remaining members of Angel Investigations sat around the hotel room (Their old places considered unsafe to return to since the operation against The Circle Of The Black Thorn).

 

“He carried out the objective, but something important got left out.” said Wesley.

 

“We destroyed the entire circle though.” said Winifred.

 

“Obviously we have not, perhaps the member we failed to plan for is Marcus Hamilton.” said Illyria, hoping to get even for getting smacked around by him when he abducted Droogyn.

 

“Then we need to take him out, before he can replace the circle of the black thorn.” said Wesley.

 

“I can return to our earlier observation point and use the nuclear rockets to kill Marcus.” said Illyria.

 

“Sounds like a plan.” said Spike.

 

~-~

 

 

“Hey mom, can we talk about something?” asked Jane.

 

“We can always talk about anything.” said Amanda.

 

“Before you put my soul back, did something happen?” asked Jane.

 

“I don’t know what you mean, I did it the instant I discovered your condition.” said Amanda.

 

“How long after me being turned was that?” asked Jane.

 

“I felt something was wrong the second I got home, the occupants aura had altered, I checked on Trent and you to find out if it was one of you.” said Amanda.

 

“Occupants aura, … ” said Jane.

 

“The occupants aura is the force that stops uninvited vampires from entering a dwelling.” said Amanda.

 

“Right. Okay, and you quickly found I was the dead one?” said Jane.

 

“Yes, … I wasn’t pleased that you were dead, but I couldn’t bring myself to slay you. So I rushed out to gather the equipment needed to return your soul.” said Amanda.

 

“You got home to find something wrong? What were you returning from?” asked Jane.

 

“It was a, … the trip had lasted several days.” said Amanda.

 

“Which means the length of time I could have been running around without a soul, … Okay, thanks mom.” said Jane, she then left.

 

~-~

 

“Oh you fucking cunt bastard.” said Jane as she hung up.

 

Daria emerged from the basement and asked “problem?”

 

“Trying to get Angel or Spike, need to find out what they remember of their time when they were without their souls.” said Jane.

 

“Why?” asked Daria.

 

“My mother re-ensouled me several days after she had departed on a long trip, so, … well, … ” Jane gesticulated as she tried to figure out how to broach the topic.

 

“You’re concerned you might have done something prior to your first memory as a vampire?” asked Daria.

 

“Exactly, … ” Jane sighed and looked at the floor.

 

“Well, both Angel and Spike have clear memories of their misdeeds.”

 

“Yeah, well, I’ve got a dream, but I’m not sure it’s just that.”

 

“What do you remember of it?” asked Daria.

 

Jane took a breath and said “There’s this boy, 12-14 years old. I lead him into a dark corner in an arcade, I then cover his mouth and drink him dry. Been dreaming that a lot lately, first it was fragments, then it’s been getting more and more real. And then today, a woman knocked on the door, showed me a photo with the boy on it, asking if I had seen him.”

 

“Ah.” said Daria in response.

 

They stood in silence for some time, then the phone rang.

 

Daria answered it “Merryweather sunshine defecating.”

 

“Eww, Joy, … Listen, we just talked to Tiffany, she thinks vampires are figments of her imagination, and she was getting treated for it in Connecticut state hospital. She’s really messed up, she’s like, in denial or something.” said Quinn.

 

“Oh, … Okay, thanks for that, has she been taking anything?” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

Illyria saw Marcus appear in the office.

 

She waited for him to sit down at his desk before initiating her strike.

 

She lowered her binoculars, startling the seagull that had perched on her hand, and loaded the first rocket. The small plasma screen in the side of the handle included a CCIP system calibrated to the rocket’s trajectory, and the immense heat of the exhaust cloud would ensure the target would become visible again within 700 milliseconds of the first impact.

 

She shot the first rocket and immediately reloaded, having her shooting solution the instant the heat had cleared.

 

All the windows in that room and neighbouring (sideways, up and down) floors had been blown out, Marcus stood up and looked out towards her. She realised the rocket was too slow, she needed to be able to predict his location at impact to be certain of a kill.

 

She shot the rocket at the wall behind Marcus, just as Harmony was approaching the door.

 

Illyria didn’t care if she killed Harmony, she reloaded and waited for Marcus to hit the ground.

 

He struck the pavement that divided the carriageways.

 

Some people stopped their cars and emerged to render assistance to Marcus, some of them were looking up at her, since they had seen the second rocket smoke trail as it had entered the building (nuclear ordnance not exactly being the quietest items invented).

 

Illyria had her solution, but she found herself considering the opinions of her new allies with regards to the deaths of non-combatants, the nearest four would be vaporised, those driving past would range from fatal burns and massive internal haemorrhaging to shrapnel and various blunt force injuries, some of their vehicles would be thrown off the road.

 

But if she allowed Marcus to recover, her mission would be a failure, and he would reprioritise Angel Investigations as the immediate threat, and would probably not come unprepared for Angel Investigations new weapons.

 

She fired.

 

Marcus didn’t move, neither did the people who had seen her launch the third rocket, they just stared as the rocket came at them, not realising they could save themselves, or that they would die if they were that close to the warhead when it detonated, Illyria couldn’t comprehend their lack of movement, it was totally illogical.

 

He was vaporised.

 

The predicted incidental damage occurred also.

 

Illyria abandoned the position, shifting her disguise as she re-entered the building.

 

~-~

 

“Err, … yeah, that’s about right.” said Jane.

 

Daria entered the picture and waited for the response.

 

Then she got an Email alert from Daria.

 

“Getting lonely are we?” cooed Jane.

 

Daria opened the Email and read it.

 

“Well, we knew this, Quinn just told us, … huh, that is odd.” said Daria.

 

“What is?”

 

“The condition, or rather the combination of conditions, has increased rapidly over the past few months, and affects only women, mostly in their teens. … Mostly in the Americas and Europe, Australia, East Asia, … ” Daria started typing a new Email.

 

“The names? Who are we expecting to find?”

 

“I don’t know, but Giles said a lot of slayers have ceased any kind of contact with their watchers, or even disappeared. And the cases are chronologically too close together for this to be coincidental. I want to get Giles to compare this new information with-” started Daria, but the other program started flashing. She checked on it, there were 5 missing kids, one of them had been killed by a vampire, all were found dead too far away or under conditions that excluded the attack Jane had described.

 

“I don’t think you did this.”

 

“Okay, then what’s with the vivid memories?”

 

“I think we need to-” started Daria, but she was interrupted by the ceiling falling down from above them.

 

Except the plaster was being thrown too hard for it to be the ceiling collapsing, and a piece of the roof above was missing, also Daria’s ears were ringing.

 

Daria and Jane started picking the splinters of the batons from them when Jane grabbed Daria and shoved her away from the computer into a corner.

 

Daria didn’t have time to ask what was going on before the desk with her computer on it exploded.

 

The smoke rose through the hole in the ceiling, revealing a hole in the wall behind where the desk had been, and a sort of crater where the floorboards had been pushed down between the beams, which were bent and splintered, they no longer looked like they could support someone standing on them near the crater.

 

“Let’s GO!” shouted Jane, as she picked up Daria and started dragging her by her coat down the hall.

 

Daria grabbed her phone and started dialling, there was another explosion above them, but the greater distance between the roof and ceiling above them meant they only got showered in plaster.

 

Amanda then came up the stairs asking “What’s going on?”

 

“MOM! SHIELD! NOW!” shouted Jane, looking up.

 

Amanda did this and asked “what was that noise?”

 

“Some kind of artillery strike. Someone tried to blow up Daria, didn’t know what had happened at first, the ceiling was blown down. I smelt high explosive residue, managed to get her out the way just in time.” said Jane.

 

“I’d say it was a mortar.” said Daria, her phone then stopped ringing and she said “Giles, I think I know what’s going on.”

 

~-~

 

Sandi and Quinn were stood around Tiffany’s window as they tried to figure out where those bangs were coming from. They had seen some smoke rising up, and saw one blast being deflected by something invisible to them, and Tiffany was just lying on the bed, probably unsure weather what she heard was in fact real.

 

“Where’s that smoke coming from?” asked Sandi.

 

“Looks like Jane’s house.” said Quinn.

 

“That last one was just in mid air, like it was on a force field or something.” said Sandi.

 

Quinn pulled her cell phone and called the lane house.

 

Suddenly something hit the roof above the window, and a puff of smoke appeared in the garden.

 

The bang rattled the window.

 

“What was that?” asked Quinn.

 

They decided to head down stairs, they got out into the hallway when there was another bang, this shook plaster from the ceiling.

 

Tiffany emerged from her room and headed to the bathroom.

 

Then there was another bang, debris was blown out of Tiffany’s room, some of it dug into the wall.

 

Mr Deckler came upstairs and asked “Where’s Tiffany?”

 

“Bathroom” said Quinn, her cell phone stopped ringing.

 

Casa Lane.”

 

“Hi, there are explosions going on here-” started Quinn.

 

Jane interrupted, saying “where’s Tiffany?”

 

Another explosion occurred in the attic, shaking more plaster loose, Quinn answered “Bathroom.”

 

“GET HER OUT OF THERE!” yelled Jane.

 

Quinn kicked the door in, Tiffany was just about to open a pill container, she didn’t have time to ask anything before Quinn grabbed her and shoved her out of the bathroom.

 

Quinn and Tiffany felt bits of wood enter their skin and their skeletons jar.

 

Then they were pulled to their feet by Sandi and Mr Deckler.

 

Jane said something, but Quinn couldn’t hear it very clearly.

 

“What?” asked Quinn.

 

“Get into the basement and keep moving around.” said Jane.

 

Quinn relayed this instruction to the others and they headed down stairs.

 

~-~

 

Daria got the car into the houses shadow and Jane got on board, pulling down the blinds Daria had installed especially for Jane, as soon as Amanda was on board, they were off.

 

They headed out to Tiffany’s place.

 

“Thank you.” said Daria before hanging up, she then said “Giles is telling everyone what the situation is now.” she then started dialling her stunt double, which picked up immediately “err, … listen, … listen.” said Daria, then she started drumming her fingers, as if trying to come up with a plan, she tutted twice, hissed through her teeth once, tutted again, and then said “we need to, … err, … ” she then tutted once and hissed four times, said “err, … ”, then hissed once and tutted four times.

 

~-~

 

“WHO’S DOING THIS?” asked Mr Deckler.

 

“NO IDEA, WE’LL ASK JANE WHEN SHE GETS HERE.” shouted Quinn.

 

They had gotten to the basement, and were now moving around, but the latest shell hit the stairs leading out of the basement, the next one hit the wall along the front of the house.

 

“Am I imagining this?” asked Tiffany.

 

“No.” said Quinn.

 

The next hit near where the last had hit.

 

When the third hit slightly further along than the last, Sandi said “They’re trying to bring the house down on us.”

 

“How the fuck are they placing their shots?” asked Quinn.

 

Another shell hit.

 

Then they heard a car come right up to the house and stop.

 

Daria poked her head through one of the holes and asked “everyone alive in there?”

 

“Yeah, what’s happening?” asked Quinn.

 

“First Evil apparently. Haven’t seen any bringers or any intangible people, but that’s the only bandit that has the capabilities we have observed so far. Move some of that furniture up to this wall and climb out.”

 

Quinn and Sandi did as told, the Decklers followed with Tiffany.

 

Once they were all outside, Daria turned to the Decklers and said “you believe all this talk from Tiffany about vampires, demons, and any other weirdness she mentioned to be some sort of hallucination, right?”

 

Mr and Mrs Deckler nodded and Daria said “that’s understandable, but I’m afraid it’s all real. You all saw how the mortar fire followed Tiffany around the house? The First Evil can monitor any place it chooses to while simultaneously commanding it’s minions known as bringers. That’s how it managed to follow Tiffany around the house, tried to take me out earlier when I made the connection. Now, I need you to come with me, and I can’t tell you where we’re going, just get in your car and follow me, Sandi, with them, Quinn, with me, I have a plan, just have to trust me, okay?”

 

The Decklers nodded and everyone went to their vehicles.

 

Daria headed back to the Lane house, Jane said “WHAT PLAN? YOU HAVEN’T GOT ONE AT ALL, HAVE YOU?”

 

“I will have one, just trust me.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

They arrived back at the lane house, Daria then told Jane to grab her flamethrower, while she herself would grab whatever ammunition and firearms she could carry, Quinn was to grab the swords, stakes and other contact weapons.

 

The Decklers pulled up behind Daria’s car and entered the house.

 

~-~

 

Quinn picked up one of the swords, she couldn’t resist drawing it part way out of its holster, and then giving a reverent “whoa.” as she realised this was one of those ultra sharp swords the Japanese had.

 

She quickly remembered that they were in a hurry, so she put it back in its holster and started gathering the swords and axes from the wall rack.

 

Daria emerged from the basement with two Uzi type guns stuffed in her waistband, a vest full of longer shotgun shells (probably also explosive), a sports bag full of probably more guns and ammo, and a big fuck off rifle bag.

 

Jane came down stairs carrying that flamethrower.

 

“We need to get a move on.” said Daria, as she noticed Quinn was still there.

 

Quinn obliged and carried the weapons out to the car.

 

She handed the guns to Sandi, and fished 5 long clips out of the bag, saying “Bringers are dead easy to kill, just watch your ammo, these things will use up a clip within 2 seconds”, she then pointed out the various controls on the weapon, quickly explained how to use it, and then headed to her car telling Quinn to drive.

 

It was now dark enough for Jane to release the blinds on the windows in the back.

 

Quinn got in the drivers seat and asked “where to?”

 

“Head west for now.” said Daria.

 

Suddenly Daria’s phone rang, then it quit just as Daria went to pick it up.

 

Amanda suddenly experienced a dizzy spell, saying “okay, I’m wiped. I’m sorry, I haven’t been well lately.”

 

“Quinn, start evasive action.” said Daria.

 

“Right.” said Quinn, as she started weaving, doing her best to avoid accidentally ruining someone’s front lawn.

 

“Wonderful.” said Jane.

 

The Decklers were weaving around behind them as well.

 

There was an explosion behind them, it took out the front left wheel of the Decklers car, and lifted it almost over, but the car came back down again, pointing off to the right, it crashed into a house, Daria stopped and reversed to them, Amanda seemed to come to life again.

 

Sandi helped the Decklers squeeze into Daria's car and asked “What the hell just happened?”

 

Quinn then saw a trail of smoke overhead moving off to the horizon, another explosion occurred about three metres over them.

 

“Oh, that’s just a maverick.” said Daria.

 

The trail disappeared over the roofs and there was a flash just over them, followed by a cloud of smoke illuminated by a fire from underneath.

 

They heard the bang several seconds later.

 

“The robot, right?” asked Jane.

 

“What?” asked Sandi.

 

“Sorry for almost getting you lot killed, but we needed to take out the bringers now, and since the First Evil could monitor us all, I needed to make it look like I had no idea what to do about it.” said Daria.

 

Amanda then said “I would have had to stop shielding us eventually anyway.”

 

Once they were all on board, Quinn started off again.

 

“So, no more bombardment?” asked Mr Deckler.

 

“For the moment.” said Daria.

 

“So where to?” asked Quinn.

 

“Take the next right.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

While explaining that she thought was under attack from an 81mm mortar, Daria had tutted ‘F16 AGM65 CAS’ in Morse code, referring most probably to the F16 fighter/bomber, the AGM65 optically guided missile, and CAS the mission profile, close air support.

 

So Robodaria blagged her way onto an airbase, having hacked her way through the USAFs computers to prepare the aircraft (loaded with an ECM pod, two drop-tanks on triple pylons with AGM65 Mavericks, and 6 mk82 1/4T bombs with retarding fins on triple pylons, plus the AIM9 Sidewinders that normally inhabit the wingtip LAU7s) and had sent a couple of other aircraft to jam AWACS on an ‘Exercise’, and got to Lawndale.

 

The next problem had been that there were no longer any shots being fired, she texted ‘where’s the party’ to Daria, hoping for instructions.

 

Daria had been driving through Lawndale at the time, she started weaving, and at that point, a muzzle flash appeared several blocks away, it was a mortar on the back of an APC, she immediately pointed the aircraft at it, locked the AGM65, and fired.

 

Now she needed to hide the aircraft and wait for further instructions.

 

She located an airstrip that had no signs of use what so ever, like it had just ran out of business.

 

The runway was littered with large pieces of debris, so she imagined lots of small pieces too, the sort of stuff that could be picked up by the wheels and thrown into the airframe when she landed, and could get sucked into the engine when she tried to take off if she was unable to clear it all up before she was needed again.

 

She shut off the engine and made her silent approach, carefully draining the aircrafts inertia as it fell.

 

She would hide the aircraft until it was needed again.

 

~-~

 

“Can’t get through.” said Daria, as she tried to call Giles again.

 

They were holed up in the Lawndale Magic Box, and Daria had told Amanda to use some of the inventory to make a shield that Amanda wouldn’t have to use her own power to sustain “-before the First starts using something in the 200mm high velocity range.”, and now Daria was taking a moment to call Giles.

 

“Think they’ve been blown up again?” asked Jane.

 

“No clue, let’s check the news, this place get cable?” asked Daria.

 

“Yes.” said Derek Jamalia, the proprietor of the Lawndale Magic Box, he led Daria upstairs to his office, and turned on the news.

 

Daria saw the watchers council headquarters behind a police cordon on CNN with the subtext ‘Vampire cult takes hostages’.

 

“The police are trying to negotiate with the cult leader, one Rupert Giles, who heads an organisation known as ‘The Watchers Council’, which is thought to be involved in a mind control conspiracy. The British Prime Minister has issued the following statement.”

 

The image then turned to Tony Blair and his cabinet in the meeting room.

 

“While I’m still waiting for all the facts to be uncovered, it looks like we have uncovered a vast conspiracy to corrupt the youth of several nations, possibly for terroristic purposes. Right now, all my staff are busy discussing the situation with their counterparts in America, Europe, and elsewhere. As for the watchers council base, the police are currently negotiating with the occupants of the building in an attempt to resolve the situation peacefully, and secure the release of the girls they are holding hostage. That is all we have for the moment, any questions?”

 

Daria turned to head back down stairs but found everyone except Amanda and Jane had come upstairs.

 

“That explains the communications blackout, I’m gonna try Willow.” said Daria.

 

“At least the police are unarmed over there.” said Quinn.

 

“Actually, some are. SO19, British equivalent of SWAT, but that’s the least of their worries.” the phone stopped ringing and Willow answered, Daria said “Hi, Are you aware the First Evil is at it again and has gone overt on our asses?”

 

“Yes, Giles mentioned this just before he was cut off, has the Watchers Council been blown up again?”

 

“No, but it’s under police siege. There’s an investigation going on, they think it’s a terrorist cult out to brainwash the worlds youth, and because the link with terrorism has been assumed, and the watchers council are thought to be holding hostages, the SAS are most likely planning their attack right now, and these guys do not have a stun setting if you know what I mean.” said Daria, making sure everyone in the room understood the situation perfectly.

 

“I see.” said Willow, after absorbing the impact of what was just said.

 

“Also, if you’re not already doing it, we need every slayer currently being detained in psychiatric institutions to be extracted and made ready to fight as quickly as possible.” said Daria.

 

“On it.” said Willow.

 

“Good luck.” said Daria, she then hung up.

 

After a few seconds silence, Daria said “I’m not a great fan of the ‘sit on our ass and hope everything works out’ plan, do we have broadband here?”, gesturing at the computer on Derek’s desk.

 

“Yes.” said Derek.

 

“Fire it up.” said Daria, she then got on the phone and called her stunt double again.

 

~-~

 

Willow was getting seriously exhausted, even with sucking the life force from the personal at the psychiatric hospital.

 

They had managed to steal a C5 with some hacking, and some conjured uniforms and ID tags, and were using it to get close enough to the various locations so that Willow didn’t have to use up so much of her energy.

 

They had extracted 50 slayers so far, and Willow was also picking up the ones that had simply stopped talking to them.

 

Even with the aircraft, they still had a lot of distance to cover, and that was just in the United States, the council had other witches of a similar power level to Willow, but Willow didn’t have their numbers, she had called Buffy, who had the same list as Giles did, so she would be working Europe and was informing all the watchers in every other region.

 

~-~

 

“There are two in Connecticut State, 3 in Mt Sinai, 5 in New York State, one in Tisch, 3 in Silver Hill.” said Daria.

 

“The shield spell at this place shouldn’t need Amanda’s presence to hold, that’s assuming the bringers have no magical abilities.” said Derek.

 

“Intelligence on the First Evil and the bringers is highly limited, they seem more willing to use good old, and new, fashioned weapons, unless it somehow convinces someone in command of a missile silo to execute Russia’s version of plan R, we should be safe.” said Daria.

 

“The shield would prevent matter from coming in.” said Derek.

 

“Hundreds of kilotons of TNT is still a lot of energy, and given that the Russians during the cold war went big with their version of the minuteman, we can actually expect something in the 10s of megatons, the shield would have to take a lot of force from one of those.” said Daria.

 

“We could always layer them.” said Derek.

 

“Okay.” said Daria.

 

“How are you going to get those girls out?” asked Derek.

 

“Well, I was hoping I would have a plan A, or 24 other alternate plans after that, but as it happens, I’m looking at plan Z as the most promising plan for success: Wave big guns around and politely ask for their release.” said Daria.

 

“That will make you the most wanted people in America short of Osama Bin Laden.” said Derek.

 

“I’ll talk to Amanda about some sort of disguise for us all, we’re certainly not going to blag our way in without intimate knowledge of how these people interact, even if we knew the security codes and how to fake IDs for the places, they won’t know about Glamours or other image altering spells, but they will know we’re different people from those we pretend to be, we’d get found out too fast to be able to do anything.” said Daria.

 

“But if you try to shot your way in, the police will be in faster than you can say ‘lemme in’” said Derek.

 

“We’ll be cutting off communications with remote detonated explosives, we’ll use my car to pick the girls up, and a bus to carry them altogether, that will need to stay close enough to-” Daria was interrupted by some bangs originating from downstairs “Oh now what?” she said as she headed downstairs.

 

~-~

 

“Romeo 01, Back door impenetrable, over” said PC Dave Koni.

 

The door opened, it was Jane Lane, one of the cultists, she said “What?” in a manner that was more at home with an encounter with an annoying visitor than Lawndale Police Department’s Special Weapons And Tactics unit.

 

After trying to enter, and bouncing off an invisible force field, Dave asked “Are you the leader of your cult?”

 

“Cult?” asked Jane.

 

Joy Merryweather walked into view and asked “can I help you?”

 

“Yes, we have a warrant to arrest you and your associates for the abduction of the Decklers, Sandi Griffin, and Quinn Morgendorffer, you need to shut down whatever you have generating this forcefield, and surrender peacefully, if you resist arrest, you will be in deeper trouble than what you are thought to be responsible for thus far” said Dave.

 

Joy looked behind her, thinking about her response.

 

“Your surrender is not negotiable.” said Dave.

 

“I’m going to have to consult with my associates, then I’ll be right back.” she then closed the door.

 

~-~

 

There were more armed officers visible through the shop window, pointing weapons inside.

 

“They think we’re held against our will?” asked Sandi.

 

“Yes.” said Daria.

 

“Why don’t I just tell them that’s not so?” asked Sandi.

 

“That would require you all to leave the area protected by the shield, and then, because they think we’re a cult, they are likely to dismiss what you say as a conditioned response. You’ll all be held for 48 hours in protective custody or committed for psychiatric examination, that would make you vulnerable to more bringer attacks, you could even be captured on the way to the holding facilities and used by the First Evil as hostages.” said Daria.

 

“So we’re all going to be fugitives, aren’t we?” said Jane.

 

Daria thought about her response, then said “maybe not”, she then pulled her phone and called her stunt double.

 

~-~

 

Giles was walking along the corridor on the 2nd floor to try to clear some of the frustration he was feeling when he saw a woman in a blue sweatshirt and grey jeans with shoulder length brown hair walking across the corridor.

 

He took a couple of seconds to think who it was, because she was familiar, but not from her- “Tara?” he ran to the room the woman had entered, wondering how- “The First!” he realised, he entered the room and saw Tara standing near the window looking at a bookshelf to the left.

 

Then he saw an entry wound appear in her back, hearing a gunshot at the same time.

 

~-~

 

“Superintendent?” asked Colonel Aidan Dempsey.

 

“Can you get through that shield?” asked Superintendent Adam Okaro.

 

“Still working on it.” said Aiden.

 

“You have a go as soon as you are able to enter the premises.” said Adam.

 

~-~

 

“Can’t we just tell them what they saw was an illusion? Not like there’s a body.” said Molly.

 

“Sure, know how to compress the explanation into the time it takes for them to see and shoot you?” countered Giles.

 

“Special Air Service have but one role in hostage situations: Kill the hostage takers, remove and restrain the hostages for the police to sort out.” said Francine Chase, one of the watchers.

 

“Right now our shield remains up, but if they push hard enough, it will be collapse. We need to be gone before that happens, so everyone hit the spell books and find us a way to make it happen.” said Giles.

 

~-~

 

“Well, I could teleport us all to another location, but that is not going to stop the First Evil directing its forces against us. How long should we give your other self to help us?” asked Amanda.

 

Daria looked at her watch and shrugged “until SWAT breech the shield, I’d prefer to hold onto this location if I can, since it happens to hold a huge quantity of mystical equipment and consumables.”

 

“Shouldn’t we have a plan about now?” asked Jane.

 

“Well, one problem we’re probably never going to get over is the First Evils surveillance capabilities. The reason the operation in Sunnydale worked is that the First Evil didn’t know what Spikes amulet was going to do, the numbers of Turok-Han would have eventually overwhelmed the slayers, even with them all active. About the only plan I can think of would be to locate and kill every bringer we can.” said Daria.

 

“Now we’re talking.” said Jane.

 

“Amanda, can we locate them?” asked Daria.

 

“No problem.” said Amanda.

 

“Okay, let’s start with the local area, once we have cleared the local area, we’ll work on getting the slayers out of the funny farms.” said Daria.

 

“I can only locate the bringers, we don’t know what weapons they are equipped with.” said Amanda.

 

“Not a problem.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

The phone rang, he picked up and answered “Dempsey.”

 

“Hoon here, air force has sent the weapon, it will be overhead in 30 minutes, be ready to move the instant you have access, because it takes ages to make those things.”

 

“Thank you.” he then hung up and switched his radio to voice activated “all Romeos, move to start positions.”

 

~-~

 

“Robodaria airborne.” reported the android.

 

“Acknowledged, stand by for target locations.” replied Daria.

 

Amanda completed the spell, and the dots showing the locations of the bringers appeared on the map.

 

~-~

 

The android used the ground radar to check each corresponding location to discover what kind of vehicle they were in, she had been ordered to prioritise armoured vehicles such as self propelled guns, APCs, and the like, next would be any group of bringers big enough to be worth using a bomb on, or worth strafing.

 

Hopefully the air force would be looking somewhere else for the aircraft, or she’d have to eject too early to do anything useful.

 

She located the first bringer group that had a corresponding radar contact, and identified it as an M109 self propelled gun, there was another contact, that was also an M109.

 

These were spaced 300 metres apart, there were two other contacts in the forest on either side of the firebreak, spaced 300 metres apart, the targets formed a square.

 

One of the M109s hatches opened, a bringer appeared, carrying a missile launcher of some kind.

 

It was an FIM92 Stinger, the robot entered a steep dive, but the bringer launched the missile before she was out of view, calling “Atoll, Atoll” she started dumping flares, and managed to avoid getting hit.

 

She then turned towards the bringer armoured units, arming the mk82s, she then had a triple A warning light up.

 

She switched to the AGM65s and locked onto the radar source, but it was concealed by the forest, and the Maverick needed to see the target.

 

Making a note to next time pack some AGM88s, she switched to guns and strafed the triple A unit, the radar was knocked out, she then went back to mk82s and took out the nearest M109 to her, placing the bomb exactly over the magazine.

 

She then turned and climbed at the same time, putting her over the other unit, she had to light the burner to prevent a stall, which would give the bringer with the stingers a beautiful target if that bomb didn’t get them first.

 

The other concealed target turned on it’s radar, the robot turned on the ECM pod and got on the deck, the SAM light remained off, and she cleared the triple A unit’s kill radius.

 

She then turned it off and pulled a half loop, she strafed the second triple A unit and started looking for the next targets.

 

The next bringer targets were a group of APCs spaced 20 metres apart in a staggered formation on a road south of Lawndale, and another contact was located in the forest moving away from one of the locations given by the real Daria.

 

“Request target location update on 603 west 1624 south.”

 

“Target has moved approximately 70 metres north, and is continuing to move.”

 

“Acknowledged.”

 

The robot decided to find out what that vehicle was first, switching to AGM65s in anticipation of a deserving threat, and staying close enough to the ground to dive out of view the instant she needed to.

 

It was a deserving threat: an M730 self propelled SAM unit, she launched a Maverick and dropped to treetop level immediately after, heading to the road, preparing to strafe the APCs.

 

~-~

 

“What’s that?” asked Kennedy.

 

Giles and the other slayers were discussing how they were going to escape when they heard a propeller aircraft of some kind overhead.

 

“THERE’S A HERCULES, AND IT’S, … IT JUST DROPPED SOMETHING WITH A PARACHUTE.” called one of the watchers.

 

Kennedy went back to the books saying “it’s a bomb.”

 

“A bomb?” asked Giles.

 

“These shields will give if you push hard enough for long enough, it’s probably a shaped charge, it’ll airburst at around 500 feet, they’re not gonna ground burst a normal daisy cutter in the middle of London.” said Kennedy.

 

“Okay, what are we going to do then?” asked Giles.

 

They saw the shield luminescence and collapse just before they heard the bang, Kennedy poked at a page of the book she was reading and said “right, I got a plan.”

 

~-~

 

Henno lifted the cover on the switch and pulled the switch back, setting off the frame charge on the end of the broom handle, now that the shield was down, they could enter the building.

 

He then dropped the stick and lifted his MP5 as he charged into the room, he slotted two girls who were about to shoot at him and his partner before reporting “Romeo 1 1 inside.” on his way to the corridor.

 

“Romeo 1 2 inside.” reported Rebecca, she and her partner would be clearing the same floor as him from the other side.

 

They encountered two more women and three men with guns in the hallway, they took them out, Henno had to change his clip.

 

~-~

 

“Romeo 1 1, Floor 2, clear.” reported Henno.

 

“Romeo 1 4, ground floor clear.” reported Ed.

 

The troops would now go upstairs and clear the third floor.

 

Aiden waited patiently as red troop cleared the final floor.

 

“Romeo 1 1, 3rd floor clear, 5 4 X-rays killed, zero Yankees found.” came the final report.

 

Superintendent Okaro looked at Aiden, and Aiden said “Romeo 1 1 from Romeo 0, say again.”

 

“5 4 X-rays killed, zero Yankees found.” repeated Henno.

 

Adam was contemplating what this meant, but they had acted correctly in the circumstances.

 

“Romeo 0 from Romeo 1 1, the bodies have just disappeared.” said Henno.

 

“WHAT?” asked Adam.

 

~-~

 

The smelly way out wasn’t a favourite way, but they were not going to get through a police cordon, so the sewers it was.

 

They had broken into smaller groups so that they would be more manoeuvrable, Giles and Kennedy was in a group of 27 consisting of 15 slayers, 8 watchers, and 4 witches of witch Kennedy was the most powerful.

 

They had created the illusion of them all packing various submachine guns and pistols that would look like they were developing gunshot wounds when shot, and would fall over, so the SAS would think they were actually killing them.

 

They had also hidden a door to the sewer (disguised on the sewer side in the event of a siege so that it would possibly be ignored in the event of an evacuation) and a door to the room they were all hiding in from view until the SAS had moved on, then they had escaped into the sewer.

 

That’s how it was like at the watchers council: some things were left in place by the last lot, but the fact almost none of them were around meant that any plans they had needed to be thought up again, and they had simply not gotten around to it, due to everyone trying to train up new watchers and set up something resembling a command structure.

 

~-~

 

“Romeo 1 1, possible escape route located, heading to the sewer, orders?” said Henno.

 

“Romeo 1 1 from Romeo 0, didn’t someone check the sewer access?” asked Aiden.

 

“Sewer access was not visible earlier.” said Henno.

 

“Romeo 1 1 from Romeo 0, enter the sewer and pursue.” said Aiden.

 

“Romeo 0 Romeo 1 1, roger.” said Henno, he then signalled for someone to open the door, he then entered with Rebecca right behind him, they found themselves in a tunnel leading east to west.

 

With no obvious footprints, Henno decided to go west.

 

~-~

 

“I’m Winchester.” announced the robot, indicating all ammunition had been expended.

 

“Use the aircraft as a missile on the final target, then hide.” said Daria.

 

“Acknowledged, request target update.” replied the robot as she pointed the aircraft at the final target’s location.

 

After receiving the update, she corrected and lit the burners. She ejected 300 metres from the bringers van, and jettisoned the main parachute 20 metres from the ground, about the maximum height she could tolerate a jump from.

 

She then ran into town.

 

~-~

 

“Right, time to go, Amanda, speed us up and open a door.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

A police officer with very little hair stepped into view and asked “where do you think you’re going?”

 

“Past you or through you.” said Rona as she approached the cop, she took a swing but her fist was intercepted, and crushed “aw, one of you guys again.”

 

“Uh-huh, PC Gabriel Kent at your service.” said the cop, he then kicked Rona back into the group. He then revealed his other hand, which was holding a desert eagle, saying “you have the right to become dead.”

 

Kennedy got a shield up before he could get off the shot.

 

After the first shot, she heard footsteps from behind them all, and saw three SAS soldiers round the corner, she got the second shield up just in time to stop their bursts of fire, they unloaded half a clip each at them, one of them had to change their clip.

 

“Right, LAW 80.” said one of them, the soldiers behind him produced two rocket launchers and armed them, the fact they were at a corner meant they didn’t have to worry about flame-grilling those behind them, and while the sewer was a brick structure, it was backed by tons of dirt, so they weren’t worried about the weapons bringing the place down on them.

 

Each fired, and each shot felt like an electric shock to Kennedy.

 

An electric shock from grabbing two of the 11KV leads of a 300KVA substation.

 

“AAAAOWWW.” she cried out.

 

“Hit her again.” said their leader, some more launchers were passed forward from soldiers apparently lining up behind the corner.

 

The next two made Kennedy feel faint.

 

“Kennedy?” asked Giles.

 

Kennedy looked from the SAS squad to the smirking cop, and back again as the next LAWs were aimed at them.

 

Kennedy waited for them to touch the triggers, then she dropped the shields, ducking and moving everyone out of the way of the missiles.

 

The cop was hit by one missile, the other blew a hole in the wall somewhere behind him.

 

Kennedy got the shield up just in time to stop the SAS from killing a whole lot of them, she then said “EVERYBODY FUCKING RUN!”

 

She was surprised to find the cop intact, considering Buffy’s report that a similar projectile had taken the Judge (Blue guy with lots of horns that couldn’t be killed, could be dismembered, but also happened to feed off peoples souls from a distance) apart, of course the judge probably didn’t have a stab vest or any similar armour.

 

The extent of the damage to him was his ribcage was dented like an empty oil drum struck with a sledgehammer, limbs were dislocated, head was dislocated, and there was a hole in the middle of the crater where the copper plate lining the hollow in the charge had been blasted through.

 

She also remembered Buffy’s report that said she had to slice Caleb in half to kill him, and they simply didn’t have the time for that, so she grabbed his gun and left him where he lay.

 

~-~

 

They picked up the robot on the way.

 

“Nice job Robodaria.” said Daria.

 

“I am built to serve, what are we doing now?” asked the robot.

 

“We’re freeing any slayers being held by mental health services, and killing as many bringers as we encounter. First evil depends on them not only for those pesky moving things around jobs, but also to appear as dead people and fuck with peoples minds.” said Daria.

 

“Daria?” asked Amanda.

 

“Yes.” said both Daria and her stunt double, as they looked at the map, they saw a light moving real fast towards Lawndale, it pulled up, then started to turn away.

 

Daria realised what this meant and said “Quinn, STOP!” she then pulled out two pieces of paper and two vials of sand, gesturing to Amanda to follow her out the back of the APC saying “we have about 20 seconds.” as she handed Amanda the piece of paper and the vial full of green sand, saying “outer symbols, counter clockwise, go!”

 

They did their respective symbols, and once Amanda was back inside the circles, Daria used the magic words to activate the protection spell. A solid looking silver sphere enclosed them.

 

Sandi finally asked “what’s going on?”

 

As Daria directed Amanda into the APC and followed herself, she said “Bringers got an aircraft and at least one bomb, probably a nuke.” she got the doors closed just before the shield and it’s contents were thrown backwards, causing everyone to be thrown forwards in the vehicle.

 

“Quinn, cut the engine.” said Daria.

 

Quinn did as told.

 

“Amanda, can you teleport through the shield?” asked Daria.

 

“Yes.” she said.

 

“You can also refuel off other people, right?” asked Daria.

 

Amanda frowned and said “yes, but it’s not very pleasant, I’d prefer not to.”

 

“I’m not seeing a choice, the First Evil’s not pussyfooting around, I don’t think we should either, free the slayers, you have my cell number?”

 

“I do, but that shield’s going to block all EM radiation.” said Amanda.

 

“We’re going to start moving again in 20 minutes, just get the slayers free.” said Daria.

 

“Okay.” said Amanda, she then teleported out, sucking a portion of everyone’s mystical energy as she did.

 

“Ghod, that was unpleasant.” said Sandi, voicing what everyone there was feeling.

 

“Yeah, be great if I ever decided to take up bulimia though.” said Quinn.

 

“Okay, everyone, NBC kits, now.” said Daria, pulling out the radiation suits from a cabinet within the APC.

 

“Would it be considered an act of treason to be glad 9/11 happened now?” asked Jane.

 

“Dunno, but you’re immune to radiation anyway.” said Daria.

 

“I know.” said Jane.

 

Mr Deckler passed one suit to Tiffany.

 

Tiffany took it, but didn’t do anything with it.

 

“Put it on.” said Mr Deckler.

 

Tiffany started unfolding it, looking really nervous.

 

Daria looked at Tiffany and asked “You okay Tiff?”

 

Tiffany didn’t answer.

 

Daria glanced at her watch and continued to dress in her NBC suit.

 

The only people who didn’t need suits were Jane and Robodaria.

 

“Hey Daria, Bringer blood, do you know if that’s okay for me to drink?” asked Jane.

 

“Should be, I guess. I’ll read up on it later.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

They were approaching another manhole when something dropped into the water.

 

There was an explosion that all felt, four slayers and two watchers got ripped apart by shrapnel.

 

Then two SAS operatives dropped into the tunnel and started shooting, Kennedy only got a shield up 3 seconds into the attack, another 5 slayers had been shot in this time, 3 fatally.

 

The four closest slayers tended to the 2 injured while another asked “are they, … ”

 

“What do you think?” asked Kennedy, extremely cranky at this point from fatigue and the amount of magic used.

 

“Kennedy?” asked Giles.

 

“Sorry, I should have been faster off the mark” said Kennedy.

 

There were footsteps behind them, Kennedy erected a second shield long before the other SAS operatives appeared and shot a couple of bursts, finding the shield up, they waited.

 

“We try to surrender peacefully, they’ll kill us the instant they can, won’t they?” asked Kennedy.

 

“Yes” confirmed Giles.

 

“Any chance of a plan?” she asked.

 

“Yes, we find a way to safely escape” said Giles.

 

“I’m not going to last much longer, and I’m nowhere near as powerful as Willow, or learned, so get a move on will you?” said Kennedy.

 

~-~

 

“How much longer?” asked Quinn.

 

“Another five minutes, then we’ll drop the shield and see if it’s cool enough, we don’t know what yield was used, it could still be very hot” said Daria.

 

“How hot?” asked Quinn.

 

“I don’t know exactly, but if we drop the shield and can’t move because the tyres are likely to explode, we could all suffer fatal heatstroke, I can’t think of a reason why the first evil wouldn’t use the biggest bomb it could get it’s bringers hands on.” said Daria, she then frowned and said “oh hell.”

 

Jane rushed to the front and looked on the GPS and said “we were about 15 miles out of Lawndale when GPS lost the signal, will that do?”

 

“Yeah if they used a baby, … all the big ones were supposed to be out of service now, USAF are supposed to be down to the 3-50KT range, but I have trouble believing all were destroyed, and if the USAF has any, you can bet the First Evil knew where they were. If it was a 15MT weapon, half of Lawndale will be flat, most of it severely affected. Anyone caught outside would receive 3rd degree burns, some cases ignition will occur, either from direct heat or ruptured fuel stores, … ” Daria was trying to work out for herself the odds that her parents would have survived that kind of damage.

 

They were all silent for the moment.

 

“Everyone could be dead” said Quinn.

 

“Y’think?” said Jane.

 

“We need to find out what’s going on now” said Quinn.

 

“If that was a 15MT ground burst, we’ll be driving across a gynormous hob” said Daria.

 

“I DON’T CARE, I WANT TO KNOW IF MOM AND DAD ARE ALIVE!” shouted Quinn.

 

“SO DO I! IF THEY ARE DEAD, DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WOULD BE PLEASED BY US JOINING THEM?” shouted Daria.

 

Quinn sighed and said “no”

 

~-~

 

“Got a light here” said Andrew.

 

Faith ran into the cockpit and said “Sam? Who the fuck’s Sam?”

 

“Surface to air missile” yelled one of the slayers in the back.

 

“Surface to- shit! What do I do?” asked Andrew.

 

“Excuse me” said Faith, getting into the seat next to him, she then started moving the control stick around rather violently.

 

A number of facts had escaped Faiths attention in the panic to evade the incoming missile: 1: A C5 galaxy is a big aircraft, meaning that it’s angular inertia was delaying all her control movements, meaning all the violent movements on the stick amounted to very little movement at the wingtips and tail. 2: A C5 Galaxy is a big aircraft with zero stealth consideration built into the design, meaning that it is almost impossible to hide it from ANY radar, airborne or ground. 3: aerobatics are hazardous to the health of anyone not strapped down to their seat (as were most the people on the aircraft). 4: she wasn’t strapped in either, she was hanging on to the seat by the only thing she could grab, which happened to be the ejection seat handle, which had not been armed, but Faith vs. a measly detent pin tends to result in a win for Faith.

 

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” said Faith as she felt the seat shove her through the roof.

 

Faith hung onto the seats restraints, but quickly noticed no parachute was deploying, in fact, no rockets had ignited either.

 

She saw the C5 in its corkscrew below her, she also noticed the movement of a bright light off to the side. It was the missile, it struck the C5 in the tail door below her, Faith reached the decision to leave the seat and dive into the aircraft.

 

The aircraft pulled out from beneath her, and she couldn’t keep up, totally lacking the sail area to perform any manoeuvre other than fall like a brick.

 

She looked around for the seat again, maybe she could get to it before the parachute deployed.

 

She located it below her, and dived for it.

 

The clouds were rushing up at her now.

 

She reached out for the seat and grabbed the headrest.

 

She then proceeded to strap herself in.

 

The clouds came past her, she started to worry that the seat might not be working properly.

 

She unstrapped herself and decided to try to trigger the parachute release herself.

 

A quick examination revealed a number of pins with long red ribbons on them.

 

She realised that the seat had not been properly armed, and started removing them, the first one she pulled out caused something to explode, the explosion caused her to reflexively shut her eyes and cough as the smoke entered her lungs, she then felt the seat restraint pull at her hand, she opened her eyes and looked up, a small parachute had deployed, it was about 1.5 metres in diameter.

 

It was slowing her down, but she knew it wasn’t enough, the ground was getting alarmingly close.

 

She reached up and grabbed another pin, closing her eyes and holding her breath as she pulled it. There was no explosion this time, but she felt a greater force pull at her and the seat bounce off her legs, she opened her eyes and saw the main chute over her.

 

She looked around for the C5.

 

She couldn’t locate it, but she didn’t see any fires in the sky or on the ground, so she was cautiously optimistic.

 

~-~

 

“ANDREW?” asked Amanda, one of the slayers, as she limped into the cockpit having just bounced off some walls that aren’t really designed to be comfortable bouncing off of.

 

“YEAH?” replied Andrew.

 

“WHERE THE FUCK IS FAITH?” asked Amanda.

 

“SHE EJECTED, I THINK IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.” said Andrew.

 

“HOW COULD SHE ACCIDENTALLY EJECT?” asked Amanda.

 

WELL, … NONE OF US HAVE A FRACKING CLUE WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE.” said Andrew.

 

“SO WHERE IS SHE?” asked Amanda.

 

“ON THE GROUND, WHAT ABOUT WILLOW?” asked Andrew.

 

“STILL NOT BACK, SHOULD I BE WORRIED THAT THE PLANE JUST GOT TORN A NEW ONE?”

 

“ERR, … I’LL FIND US A PLACE TO LAND”

 

~-~

 

“No, not the fucking skylight, you fucking bastard” said Faith as she saw the roof coming up below her, but if she dropped from this altitude, she’d go through the roof wherever she could land anyway, so she shrugged and let it happen.

 

She landed in the dining room and let her eyes adjust to the lack of light.

 

Then she headed to the front door, she had no intention of waiting for the understandably pissed off homeowner to stick a gun in her face.

 

~-~

 

“Right, we’re moving on, Quinn, start the engine, turn the air conditioning off.” said Daria.

 

“Right.” said Quinn.

 

Daria then shut down the shield and she grabbed a thermal imaging camera and looked out the window with it.

 

Quinn had turned on the lights, everyone was looking out at this glassy crater.

 

“192°C, okay, we should make it before the tyres explode. Quinn, floor it.” said Daria.

 

“Right.” said Quinn, she did as instructed.

 

Daria got her phone out and selected Helen’s number, but couldn’t get a signal “stupid electromagnetic pulse.”

 

Quinn turned on the radio and started looking for any radio stations.

 

“What yield did that look like to you?” asked Jane.

 

“Approximately 15 megatons.” said Daria.

 

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS, DOESN’T THE AIRFORCE HAVE SECURITY?” asked Mr Deckler.

 

“Sure they do, they’re all in Iraq.” said Jane.

 

“Let’s just get somewhere that still has functioning phone masts.” said Daria.

 

They encountered what looked like a layer of snow.

 

“It’s April, how can there be snow in April?” asked Quinn.

 

“When the snow’s made of rock.” said Daria.

 

“Oh hell, how many people are going to die from that?” asked Jane.

 

“A lot.” said Daria.

 

“Wasn’t there all this hysteria about nuclear terrorism shortly after 9/11?” asked Jane.

 

“There was, and some people prepared for it, but how many of them are still prepared?” asked Daria.

 

They kept driving, thankfully the roads were empty.

 

~-~

 

“WHAT THE HELL DOES ‘AI’ MEAN?” asked Andrew.

 

Amanda looked and said “AERIAL INTERCEPT?”

 

Andrew pushed the transmit button and said “NOBODY SHOOT, NOBODY SHOOT, WE’RE FRIENDLY, OR SOMETHING, OVER.”

 

He waited.

 

Eventually, he heard someone say “Unidentified persons on November 2 8 3 Foxtrot Echo Kilo, come to heading 0 8 0 angels 5, do not try anything or exceed 200 knots, over.”

 

“ROGER, … WHAT’S AN ANGEL, OVER?”

 

~-~

 

The fallout had not been blown towards Lawndale, so those who didn’t have a truck or building blown down onto them won’t get irradiated either, that made Daria and Quinn happy.

 

On the other hand, Hartford, Worchester and Providence were being snowed on by this shit.

 

The radio stations had all been advising people to seal up their houses as tight as possible and build up as much water as possible and giving out other advice on how to wait out the glow in the dark snow, as were, presumably, the TV stations.

 

Daria finally got a signal and decided to call her parents, but was cut off by an incoming call from an unknown source, she answered “Hello?”

 

“Hi, Amanda here, I got all the girls assembled in an aircraft hanger, some of the girls are busy sealing the place up as best they can against the fallout, where are you?”

 

“Coming up on New Haven.” said Daria.

 

“Okay, stand by for directions.” said Amanda.

 

~-~

 

Faith broke into the payphone and inserted a couple of coins back into the machine, and dialled Willow.

 

After several minutes of ringing, she hung up and tried Andrew.

 

His phone was ringing, which could mean he was still alive, but that wasn’t a dead cert since Cell phones could survive aircraft crashes better than humans.

 

After several minutes of ringing, she hung up and tried Buffy.

 

“Hello?” replied Buffy.

 

“Hi, Faith here, slight problem, I kinda accidentally ended up on the outside of the aircraft we were flying and can’t seem to make contact with Andrew or Willow, have you had any contact with them?”

 

After a few seconds Buffy replied “Faith, … Hasn’t Willow told you?”

 

“Err, … what’s going on?”

 

~-~

 

Riley entered the hospital where the phenomenon was occurring and found the individual at the centre of it all.

 

He approached the woman who was lying on the floor in the middle of the shield (who’s presence was only visible by a refractive index about 70cm from it’s centre).

 

“Stop right there.” said the woman.

 

He did.

 

“That’s the second one that’s happened to, you know?”

 

“I don’t know, I just got back.” he said.

 

The woman sat up and turned around, black hair and eyes, he recognised her as “Willow?”

 

“Hi Riley, how’ve you been?”

 

“Oh, not bad, not bad, … been killing demons in south America, … You?”

 

~-~

 

Quinn pulled up to the door at the side of the hanger and they all got out, carrying as many weapons as they could.

 

This was where Amanda had directed them.

 

They entered and placed the weapons on the floor several metres from the door.

 

Then they started removing their NBC suits as Amanda approached them.

 

The hanger was full of aircraft.

 

“I suppose we’ll have to move when the airport opens.” said Jane.

 

“Nuclear emergency like this, not going to be a problem, but we will need food and water.” said Daria.

 

“Already sorted.” said Amanda.

 

“Alrighty then.” said Daria.

 

“Now we’re in a hanger, and they’re talking about staying with a bunch of slayers.” said Tiffany, she was talking real quiet.

 

Daria and Jane looked at her.

 

“Who’re you talking to?” asked Quinn.

 

“Nobody.” said Tiffany, she then said “Just me answering Quinn’s Question there.”

 

Everyone looked at Tiffany, then Daria asked Amanda “How are the slayers anyway?”

 

“Some of them have motor functions, the rest are coming off the drugs they were forced to consume.” said Amanda.

 

“Okay, I guess we’re just going to have to wait for them all to detox then, … any bringer activity?”

 

“I got a couple of slayers watching a map with a locator spell.” said Amanda.

 

“Right.” said Daria.

 

“First Evil could send vampires.” said Jane.

 

“Right, that case, you and Robo-me should take up surveillance positions.” said Daria handing Jane her cell phone saying “call Quinn if you need to tell us anything, I’ll see if I can get you some backup in case you need it, also I need to contact Buffy or Giles if he’s available now, Sandi?”

 

Sandi got out her cell phone and handed it to Daria who started dialling.

 

Jane picked up her flamethrower and Robodaria picked up a sword, then she turned to Daria and said “Excuse me, but if I might make a suggestion, we could use something bigger than Jane’s Flamethrower.”

 

“Really?” asked Daria.

 

~-~

 

Buffy and Dawn had been trying to figure out the best way to keep track of their forces, but they didn’t have the personal to do it without depleting their security.

 

Dawn answered another call and took down the information, she then thanked the caller and hung up saying “Joy reports 232 slayers recovered, 117 are good to fight, the rest are in various states of intoxication, having been recovered from psychiatric facilities.”

 

“Right.” said Buffy.

 

They were both extremely upset, but they knew they had too much going on right now to think about grieving over the dead.

 

At least the First Evil hadn’t started showing up as them and started taking the piss.

 

One of the Slayers with Buffy entered and said “We got a problem, a warrant’s just been issued for your arrest, it seems you apparently made a video where you pledged to kill the British government for their actions.”

 

“WHAT? I DID NO SUCH THING!!!” yelled Buffy.

 

“Yes you did.” said Buffy’s exact likeness as she emerged from the bathroom, then stopped and said “Wait, hang on, no, that was me again, sorry, my bad, let’s see you win when you’re all in jail getting picked off by my acolytes, shall we?” before vanishing.

 

“Okay, we need to get out of here, any ideas?” asked Buffy.

 

“I’m getting good at Glamours.” said Dawn.

 

“Alright, do it.” said Buffy.

 

~-~

 

“The hallucination is still ongoing, and nothing new has happened.” said Tiffany.

 

Daria had just walked into the office where the Decklers were, Mrs Deckler said “She’s been talking like this for a while now.”

 

Daria walked up to Tiffany and asked “Hey Tiffany, how’s it going?”

 

Tiffany shrugged and said “Very strangely Daria, this is a rather boring hallucination.”

 

“Do you think you’re hallucinating?” asked Daria.

 

“I’m seeing witches, vampires, robots, and nuclear attacks, sooooooooo, …. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m hallucinating.” said Tiffany.

 

“Do you remember entering the funny farm?” asked Daria.

 

“No, I woke up there. It scared the crap out of me, Doc showed me this tape of me talking about vampires and all the rest of it. We started working on what made me imagine that shit. I thought we had it under control, it was down to the odd dream, the medication was working. But the instant I got back to school, it started again.” said Tiffany.

 

“Right.” Daria looked at Mrs Deckler and moved her head to the door indicate she should follow.

 

“What exactly did they do to Tiffany?” asked Daria.

 

“Well, first they conducted a drug assisted interrogation, that’s where they found out what we all thought to be delusions. Tiffany denied it every time she wasn’t under the influence of the hypnotic drugs, the doctor then suggested we try Electroconvulsive therapy. When Tiffany woke up, she had no memory of the discussions regarding her delusions, she did have rather vivid dreams, but those seemed to improve with medication.” said Mrs Deckler.

 

“Did she describe the dreams?” asked Daria.

 

“Vampires chasing her, catching her, biting her, … … yeah, we figured that stuff about being a vampire slayer was just to stop the dreams from scaring her.” said Mrs Deckler.

 

Daria nodded, and thought about what to do next.

 

“The doctor explained that ECT is less than ideal, and only suggested it when nothing else seemed to be working, we thought Tiffany was insane.” she said.

 

“I understand your position perfectly, seeing the crazy shit I do, I spend just about every waking second wondering if any of it is real.” said Daria.

 

~-~

 

“Whoa.” said Sandi, as she drew the sword.

 

“I know, I mean, you see these things on the TV, you wonder how they can cut anything, but I guess movie props are just blunt.” said Quinn.

 

They were looking through the weapons on the floor where they had been placed.

 

The weapons included all the stuff they had picked up at Jane’s house, the magic box stuff they had taken with them, and the weapons from the APC (two minimis (machine guns), two M79 grenade launchers, and 14 MP5s, plus 3 clips for each MP5, each minimi had one 200 round box, and there were 20 CS grenades for the launchers, plus 4 M4s with 3 clips each, and 6 flash-bang grenades)

 

Then there were Daria’s weapons, 3 20 round drums for her automatic shotgun (Quinn and Sandi were surprised those things existed), 400 of those high explosive shotgun rounds (are those even legal?), 12 red spherical grenades (Jane described how it looked when one of those had been used on Amy Madison, Daria described them as thermit grenades with bursting charges), 12 fairly large black grenades with a big yellow stripe around their equators, 20KG of what looked like C4, 20 home built remote detonators, 4 controllers for those detonators, some copper foil (Huh???), 4 Mac 10’s with 3 clips each and 500 rounds for them.

 

Your bog standard school massacre kit basically.

 

The magic supplies were just weird, various powders, herbs and animal parts, and books.

 

Daria approached them and asked them “How’re you two holding out?”

 

Quinn shrugged, Sandi shrugged after Quinn did.

 

“Sorry you two got dragged into this. Again. If I knew it was going to turn into a full blown global war, nukes and all, … ”

 

“It’s okay, I just hope mom and dad survived.” said Quinn.

 

“What about you Sandi, any contact from your parents?” asked Daria.

 

“No.” said Sandi.

 

“Look, I know Lawndale was right next to the blast zone, but there is a good chance that your parents survived, and the fallout was blown away from Lawndale-” said Daria.

 

“But the EMP is omnidiretional.” said Linda, interrupting Daria, who, along with Sandi and Quinn, stared at her.

 

“Mother?” asked Sandi.

 

“I was on the phone when the nuke hit, EMP induced a current through the phone line, gave me a heart attack. Congratulations, Quinn, your enemy’s mother is dead.”

 

“Enemy?” asked Quinn.

 

“Easy there.” said Daria, looking between both Quinn and Sandi, before turning to Linda’s likeness and saying “So First, how’s it going, making any progress?”

 

“Quite well, actually, as you suspect, very few of your group can think their way out of a paper bag.” Linda’s likeness shifted to that of Jane who then said “too much perfume shrivelled their tiny little brains even further, and that’s the slayers, with their healing powers, these two-” the First Evil nodded to Sandi and Quinn and said “-, surprised they can do anything more than pick fleas off each others heads.”

 

“Yeah, First Evil, few tips on winding people up,” Daria said as she walked up to Jane’s likeness, she then leaned close to her ear and stage whispered “it only works if no one knows that’s what you’re doing.” before stepping back and waiting for the First Evil to do something.

 

“Okay, but like I said, everyone else is doing crap, you can’t win alone, hope you enjoy my bringers killing you.” with that, the First Evil vanished.

 

“Memo to self, develop proton pack.” said Daria before walking off.

 

~-~

 

“PC Kent, I want to know what you were thinking right now.” said Adam.

 

“Mostly, getting blown up hurts.” said Gabriel.

 

“That’s not funny.” said Adam, he was extremely furious at Gabriel’s extreme lack of judgement, he had gone into the sewers to confront an armed mob alone.

 

“I just went with a bad idea is all, I’m sorry if I caused you any distress superintendent.” said Gabriel.

 

“Just don’t pull anything like this again, when I turn an operation over to the SAS, it’s because it’s outside our capabilities. You have the next month off, no questions, no arguments, come back well and wise, … well, well anyway.”

 

“Sir.” acknowledged Gabriel.

 

Adam walked off, and the likeness of Kerry Young walked into the cubicle and said “Giving us the chance to go out and play.”

 

“Where would make a good holiday destination this time of year?” asked Gabriel.

 

~-~

 

Amanda awoke and started looking around for Daria.

 

She found Daria asleep in a chair near where the slayers had set up a sleeping area.

 

She wondered if she should wake Daria up, when an alarm clock went off.

 

Daria stirred and turned it off, she sat up, rubbing her face, she then looked up at Amanda and said “Morning.”

 

“Where’s Jane?” asked Amanda.

 

“I dunno, I left Sandi and Quinn on watch, excuse me.” she got up and looked around.

 

She found Sandi and Quinn both asleep on a pair of sleeping bags near the weapons.

 

She frowned and lifted Sandi’s hand and pushed it right under Quinn’s crotch, and stepped back, counting back from 3.

 

Sandi and Quinn woke up simultaneously with a scream.

 

“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING SANDI?” yelled Quinn.

 

“I DIDN’T DO IT, I MEAN, … ” yelled Sandi, trying to work out what happened.

 

“Could one of you check in with Robodaria and find make sure she and Jane didn’t get their asses killed while you two were resting your eyes?” asked Daria.

 

The two girls looked at her, and frowned, realising it was Daria’s doing, then Quinn pulled her phone and called the robot.

 

~-~

 

Faith entered the motel room and turned on the TV, hoping to get some sort of update on the situation in general, she had heard about some shit that had happened, Giles and Kennedy were dead, someone had nuked Lawndale, the situation was turning into a serious shit pie.

 

She watched the news, there was a picture of Buffy on the screen.

 

“Buffy Summers is believed to be involved with a plot to terrorise the world using an army of people known as slayers. In addition to their terroristic messages, there has also been a rash of abductions from psychiatric hospitals of girls who had a specific combination of symptoms. These girls are now believed to be Buffy’s army, we now have an announcement from the president about to occur.”

 

They cut to the Whitehouse press room where President Bush was walking up to the microphone stand.

 

“My fellow Americans. I come before you today with a heavy heart, as once again, we begin a day with our proud nation struck at by the forces of darkness, of anarchy, of Evil itself. We have awakened this morning into a day not ripe with promise, or brimming with possibilities, but with the very future of our nation in jeopardy.

 

This morning, our nation, as well as several nations whom we are proud and honoured to share friendship with, have been struck at by a previously unknown group of terrorists. These individuals have acted in a particularly heinous fashion, as they have not only struck at our friends, our neighbours, and our allies… but at those least able to defend themselves… our children, and those who are suffering from mental difficulties in institutions designed to assist them in their ongoing struggle to become whole once again.

 

In an even more damning testament to their cruel intentions for us all, these individuals have turned many of our own children against us… turning them into living weapons for their diabolic purposes. I come before you this morning to say, as a predecessor of mine said many years before, these words: This will not stand. We will not bow down before any aggressor, neither foreign or domestic, neither aged or youthful, regardless of whether this aggression comes from with our own families, or from without. We will not stand idly by, hoping against false hope that these instigators of a global tragedy will see the error, and the wrongness, and the hopelessness of their cause.

 

It brings a great burden to report to you that I have declared a state of martial law throughout our great nation, to commence immediately, and to be lifted only at the conclusion of this time of national emergency. I have further ordered the Secretary of Defence to bring our nations’ military forces to a higher state of readiness in order to discourage any further incursions from outside our borders, and I have also federalized the National Guard.

 

Those units are now being activated, in order to enforce the state of martial law and to protect the citizens of this great nation.  I stand before you now, and make this promise to you, my fellow Americans: As we did not fall after the events of September 2001, we will not fall in this time of crisis. As we did not waver in that time of national tragedy, we will remain straight and true today.

 

As we rose up from the ashes of Ground Zero and the Pentagon to strike out with a mighty hand and the force of Justice itself at the evil that would darken our lives, we will reach out to bring that selfsame justice to those who would subvert our children and lead them astray, and we will find a way to bring those children back home… back into are welcoming arms, and into the cleansing, healing light or our love.

 

I ask all of you watching and listening today to support us in this time of great trials, and to pray for our children, who have once again had a part of their innocence brutally taken away. Thank you.”

 

Faith watched patiently as Bush tried his best to give something resembling an intelligent answer to some of the questions, immediately throwing his actual PR skills into sharp contrast with the skills of his speech writer.

 

Then they got to something a little more relevant: some terrorists had stolen a 15MT nuclear weapon and used it near Lawndale. None of the newscasters or anyone they talked to knew why it had been used there and not New York, then they got to something else of interest: a battle in Los Angeles.

 

They cut to an aerial view of some back alleys where piles of dead demons of various sizes lay dead, some of them on fire, most riddled with holes, all decked out gladiator style.

 

And there had been an attack on Wolfram and Hart using what people were speculating were some sort of microscopic nuke. Some experts the newscasters had talked to were baffled, because they couldn’t imagine nuclear weapons being made so small, yet they can’t imagine such small weapons as those observed to be shot being that powerful using chemical explosives.

 

Faith recalled how a few weeks ago, Willow and Kennedy had returned and reported the use by a vampire gang of some really small nuclear weapons that were apparently clean, and that Illyria was going to make some for Angel’s team. And now Angel’s team have gone toe to toe with the forces of Wolfram and Hart, kinda proves they aren’t evil, doesn’t it?

 

Of course it would be nice if they could make contact sometime soon, seeing as they are in the fight for THEIR FUCKING LIVES!!! … … AGAIN!!!

 

There was no news of a C5 going down, so Faith was hopeful that the planeload of slayers was still intact and that it’s passengers were still alive.

 

There was this minor problem about Faith being in the middle of VERY FAR AWAY FROM ANY SUPPORT OF ANY DESCRIPTION WHAT SO EVER to worry about, but she was cautiously optimistic that she could handle anything that was thrown her way.

 

A bottle crashed through the motel window, a bottle with a flaming rag in place of a lid.

 

It smashed on the floor near Faiths feet, Faith went to the window to see if she could spot who threw it.

 

There were about 50 Klansmen standing outside with guns ranging from Berettas to AKs, and her motel room was now on fire, so she was going to have to engage them at some point, but she had no way to close the distance in the time it would take for them to shoot the crap out of her.

 

She decided to go out the back instead, the fire was creating an emergency exit for her, she just had to wait for the wall to get weak enough.

 

Why was the Klan after her for fuck’s sake? Not like she had done anything to them.

 

The wall looked weak enough now, so she ran through it, emerging behind the building, and headed out into the forest behind her.

 

It wasn’t much of a forest, it offered little concealment between trees, but it would do, Faith should have a decent amount of distance before the Klan realise she’s no longer there, then they’ll have trouble keeping up.

 

But why? … Wait, that fucking Klan massacre near Lawndale, Willow had done that, First must be wearing their ghosts, … Okay, cone heads dying, watch Faith vigorously fail to give a fuck, but that had created a serious problem for her and all the other slayers.

 

And that’s on top of the bringers, Turok Han, and, … whatever the fuck Caleb was.

 

~-~

 

Gabriel dragged the unconscious girls into the basement of the midlands boarding school he was visiting, then he grabbed a sledge hammer and started smashing the stones making up the floor of the old structure.

 

Eventually there was enough cracks and holes for Gabriel to start removing the stones and he grabbed a shovel, he was pleased with his new found strength, this kind of work would normally take a crew of 6 an hour, and that’s with pneumatic drills (no way to get even a baby JCB down there)

 

When the seal of Danthazar was revealed, Gabriel used a stiff broom to get it sufficiently clean to work, then he grabbed the first sacrifice and pulled a large knife he had swiped from the school’s kitchen, he ribbed the girls throat out and threw her half onto the seal so the wound was lower than the rest of her body.

 

He did the rest of them, and waited for the seal to open.

 

He would be spending his leave going around the world opening every available hell mouth (some were inaccessible due to geological activity or an inconveniently located artificial structure he would be unable to break through, but he would get as many as possible).

 

~-~

 

“Hello?” greeted Quinn.

 

“Hi, it’s Buffy, I need to speak to Joy Merryweather.”

 

“Standby.” said Quinn.

 

She walked over to where Daria was talking to the slayers, Jane had returned, she had to vacuum every square millimetre of her body to be safe around humans.

 

Jane had vamped out, Daria asked “hands up those of you who believe this is a hallucination?”

 

None of them raised their hands.

 

“Okay.” she turned away and Jane unvamped, Quinn approached them and said “Buffy wants to talk to you.”

 

“Thank you.” said Daria as she accepted the phone “Joy here.”

 

“I’m now highly wanted, the First Evil managed to make me look like a terrorist, what’s your situation like?”

 

“All my slayers are not in fighting condition, we’re low on weapons, consisting of what we had at Jane’s house, what we commandeered from the Lawndale Magic Box, and what we swiped from a SWAT APC. Tiffany thinks Vampires and everything else is just in her head, she appears to be the only slayer afflicted with this belief, otherwise, we’re ready to move if you have a plan.” said Daria.

 

“Was Tiffany by any chance attacked by a glarghk guhl kashma'nik?”

 

“Errrphhh, … … a what?”

 

“glarghk guhl kashma'nik, … oh yeah, that’s right, I ordered the incident be classified top secret, it’s a demon with waxy skin and weird marble-like eyes, it’s got this spike in it’s arm that injects a psychoactive poison into you, makes you hallucinate.”

 

“Okay, why was this classified?” asked Daria.

 

“Personal reasons I’m never going into in this lifetime or any other.” said Buffy.

 

“’Kay, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. Looks more like she was brainwashed into believing anything related to our profession is a hallucination than her hallucinating something else.”

 

“What was done to her in the nut house?” asked Buffy.

 

“Drug interrogations and ECT, same as most the other slayers apparently, but Tiffany was only given ECT once, … Ohhh, hang on, I think I know what’s going on now, I want to get on it now, is there anything else we need to discuss?”

 

“Not really, there’s no real way we can out plan the First Evil, as you know, about the only thing you can do is kill as many bringers as possible. Try to check in at regular intervals, I’m sorry about the lack of a command structure right now, just do what you can.”

 

“Right.” said Daria as she hung up.

 

~-~

 

Daria entered the office where the Decklers had been residing.

 

“Hey Tiff, we need to talk about something.”

 

Tiffany looked up at Daria, her parents also looked at her.

 

“What about?” asked Tiffany.

 

It’s personal.” said Daria, signalling for her parents to leave.

 

Mr and Mrs Deckler eventually decided to do as Daria had asked.

 

Once they were clear, Daria sat down opposite Tiffany and asked “do you remember a guy called Nathan?”

 

Tiffany didn’t answer, but over the next few seconds it looked like Tiffany was experiencing a panic attack.

 

Daria suddenly realised that what she had just done was akin to sticking a 120mm HESH shell in an oven preheated to 260°C.

 

She elected to remain still as a rock while Tiffany’s symptoms abated.

 

~-~

 

Andrew stepped out of the aircraft along with the slayers, they were surrounded by soldiers all pointing assault rifles at the lot of them, a couple even had M16s.

 

A General stepped through and beckoned Andrew to approach him.

 

When Andrew met him, the General said “I’m Brigadier General Keith Chary , you’ll look like you’re being arrested, but what will actually happen is you will be taken to a staging area and we’ll find some way to assist you against the First Evil, Willow told Riley everything.”

 

“Okay, … Who’s Riley?” asked Andrew.

 

~-~

 

“Tiffany, I need you to remember what you are.” said Daria.

 

Tiffany looked up at Daria and said “I don’t want to think about that.”

 

“Tiffany, we’re in a war, we’re fighting for our lives, the First Evil is trying to kill every vampire slayer on the planet, you are a vampire slayer, if you do not remember, your chances of surviving this war will decrease dramatically.”

 

Tiffany got up and walked out.

 

Daria followed.

 

She saw Tiffany heading towards an external door and said “TIFFANY, STOP!”, trying to slow her down, some other vampire slayers came to assist.

 

“LET ME GO!” yelled Tiffany.

 

“TIFFANY, THERE’S 10mm OF RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT OUTSIDE, IF YOU GET THAT ON YOU, YOU’RE DEAD, … at the very least it’ll give you skin problems, make you look like a leper.”

 

Tiffany glared at Daria, then turned away, she walked off to another part of the hanger, but did not make her way to any of the exits.

 

“What’s going on with Tiffany?” asked Quinn.

 

“I’m not sure I should discuss that with anyone but her, I think I know why she doesn’t want to remember any of this, I’m just not sure what to do about it.” said Daria.

 

Amanda walked up to Daria and asked “is there anything that can be done about the fallout?”

 

“Well, … actually, if you can make it rain, heavy, it’ll clear the fallout off of all hard surfaces. I’d stay off the grass, but it would improve our mobility, and we’d be able to change the air in here without fear of drawing in radioactive dust suspensions.” said Daria.

 

“Okay, I’m on it.” said Amanda, she headed to the magical supplies and started looking for the correct book.

 

“I gotta get some blood.” said Jane, walking up to Daria.

 

“Oh yeah, okay, we’ll soon be mobile again, we’ll see if we can find a butchers.” said Daria.

 

“I could go out myself, remember?” said Jane.

 

“Yes, but I don’t want you going out too far on your own, and I want the robot in close proximity to us, ‘fraid you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer.” said Daria.

 

“Alright, but I gotta tell you, some of them slayers are looking awful tasty.” said Jane as she walked off.

 

~-~

 

Henno looked at the scene. Apparently this is where a person dressed as a member of the SAS had been seen shooting people before being wrestled to the ground.

 

The location was a country house in Westbury, reputed to be occupied by witches. Magic or technological, though, they apparently had teleportation systems AND force fields, Henno hoped to catch them with their pants down, having one of his people held by enemy forces was never good.

 

It was getting dark now, and he was about to start issuing orders when he noticed a number of creatures moving towards the house.

 

“What the fuck are those.” asked Dave.

 

“I don’t know, but if they are enemies of our enemy, they could get the shields raised.” replied Henno, he then turned to the rest of his unit and said “we’re going in now, shoot any X-rays you encounter, and those things if they try anything.”

 

Then they all formed a single column and went around to start their approach towards the corner of the building.

 

The strange thing was that the CSIs working the watchers council in London had confirmed that no one had been shot in the building, by the terrorists or Red Troop, so it may turn out that the involvement of the SAS was unnecessary to begin with. But when they had all teleported out, they had taken Rebecca with them for some reason.

 

The group was mostly female though, that could have meant her abduction was a mistake, but considering that this lot had just lost a bunch of their own to red troop, he had to assume Rebecca was in danger if alive, and if she was dead, he was going to slot the fucking lot of them.

 

~-~

 

Laura Menzies was now in charge of the Westbury base where Willow had teleported Giles and his group of slayers and watchers.

 

In the next room were seven slayers, six standing around a big heavy chair to which the seventh was tied.

 

What a fuck up that had been: First of all, Willow accidentally teleported a member of the special air service along with the slayers and watchers, then the SAS member had killed Giles and Kennedy, and then four other slayers before the rest could subdue her.

 

They had held onto her rather than teleport her back now because this place was a grade A listed building, meaning it was easily identifiable, so they were busy trying to find somewhere to go.

 

Suddenly two slayers burst into the room and started saying “Laura, we have a problem, we have-”, before diverting between “-uber vamps-” and “-special forces-” they got out “-coming at us.” before they looked at each other.

 

“Get everyone in here.” said Laura before turning to the witches sat at the table in the room and saying “Get us to any open area at least 10 miles away.”

 

~-~

 

Jane entered the premises, abandoned by it’s owners and quickly sought out the blood stores, she got stuck into them immediately the same time as she started placing blood containers into the shopping bag she had brought with her.

 

She eventually headed outside to the APC with her loot and they headed out to fulfil the next part of the mission: Weapons.

 

Jane had upped her intake of blood considerable over the past few weeks. She found that strange, because there hadn’t been much of an increase in physical activity, she was considering bringing this to Daria’s attention, but being in the middle of a war made that action seem inappropriate.

 

Amanda had left the weather overcast after the 4 hour downpour, because it was just less trouble than clearing the sky.

 

The kind of weapons they were looking for was, … well, … everything: Kitchen knives, swords, crossbows, chainsaws, shotguns, Uzis, and anything that could be turned into a weapon, that would include garden sprays, vases, crowbars, explosives, anything.

 

Two good things about the nuke was that the fallout was keeping everyone from being in a position to stop them looting, and the EMP had wiped out just about every burglar alarm system in the state.

 

Now the fallout had been washed away of course, but apparently just about no one who realised this was willing to chance stepping outside, and those who didn’t were still waiting for someone to tell them it’s all clear.

 

~-~

 

“NOW WHAT?” asked Dave, as he and Henno leaned against the door keeping the monsters out.

 

They had exhausted 2/3rds of their ammunition on the monsters without so much as tickling them, and red troop were now scattered throughout the building.

 

“’BECCA?” asked Henno, hoping she knew something useful.

 

Rebecca looked around, then she picked up one of the katanas that the slayers had left them.

 

She drew the sword, inspected it, and then signalled for Henno and Dave to open the door.

 

Henno nodded at Dave, and they jumped back, grabbing their MP5s out of habit, letting the monsters in, Rebecca spun around and decapitated each monster as it entered.

 

Each monster turned to dust upon decapitation.

 

“Before they left, they said decapitation would work, stakes wouldn’t, so I’m guessing, vampires exist, Sarge.”

 

“Okay, slice and dice it is.” said Henno as he walked over to the pile of swords and picked up two, throwing one to Dave, he then grabbed the radio and asked the location of the others.

 

~-~

 

The slayers, protected from identification by their glamour, made their way to the train station, they needed to hook up with the others and decide what they needed to do.

 

The only known source of Turok Han was hellmouths, and there was only one hell mouth in the United Kingdom, and given the short span of time in which all this had come about, that had to be the source of the Turok Han, so they would need to shut that down, the problem was that the First Evil’s chief of staff, Gabriel Kent, was sure to be there.

 

~-~

 

Gabriel boarded the Eurostar, kind of surprised that no slayers had been sent to watch the station, but getting into a fight at the station would attract attention and delay the mission, so he decided to be happy to serve instead, there would be plenty of slayers to kill later.

 

~-~

 

“You saw the vampires too, right?” said Rebecca.

 

“Yeah, what did these people say about them?” asked Henno.

 

“Well, one of them referred to them as Turok Han, another referred to them as Uber Vamps. The former’s probably the formal, the girl that was doing the thing with the shields, she called me a vampire slayer after I was teleported with them.” said Rebecca.

 

“And you killed her?” Henno asked.

 

“Yes, that’s what we do with terrorists, remember?” said Rebecca.

 

“Not having a go at you for it, you did well under the circumstances, but it’s beginning to look like we’re being played by the enemy of the watchers council. No signs of anyone having been shot or otherwise killed at the watchers council headquarters.” said Henno.

 

“One of them wanted to try to convince me of that, another decided that would be impossible, they were afraid to let me go until they evacuated.” said Rebecca.

 

“Looks like we need to talk to one of them then.” said Henno.

 

~-~

 

Jane entered the hanger with about 20 katanas in her arms, the other slayers carrying shotguns and rifles with shopping bags loaded with ammunition.

 

“LIL’ HELP WITH THE SHOPPING?” yelled Jane.

 

Daria and some of the slayers helped Jane get the weapons in.

 

“Find some blood?” asked Daria.

 

“Yep, should last a while. Something I wanted to ask you, is it normal for vampires to increase their consumption of blood over time?” said Jane.

 

“I dunno, not a lot of data’s been recorded on that matter, we could ask Angel or Spike if they noticed anything if we can find them.” said Daria.

 

“How’s Tiffany?” asked Jane.

 

~-~

 

Tiffany kept some distance between herself and the slayers, which were scattered about the hanger in groups discussing various things, some were still in pyjamas from the mental hospitals they had been liberated from, others were dressed in normal street clothes, none of them seemed to notice her.

 

Was this a hallucination?

 

Daria or Joy, whatever her name was, had scared the crap out of her earlier with the name Nathan, it was related to the vampire stuff that had been haunting her.

 

The exact symptoms were a cold numb feeling with slight deafness and nausea.

 

She didn’t know why this was, only that her mind didn’t want to go there. In fact, it was fighting tooth and nail to avoid going there.

 

The doctor had told her that she was imagining vampires and other scary shit, but that assumption was looking shaky, this didn’t feel like a hallucination. She was certain that if this was, then there would be more going on, combat, lessons, and dumb shit like the APC turning into a bus, the hanger turning into a hotel, or something weird (not that Amanda’s abilities to teleport and control weather weren’t weird, but for some reason it didn’t fit the characteristics of a dream either).

 

Tiffany hadn’t read anything on lucid dreaming, but she could figure out tests that would prove this was a dream, and it was beginning to look like this was reality.

 

“Okay, let’s look at this logically, … Hallucinations are caused by abnormal brain chemistry, an imbalance of neurotransmitters, abnormal brain chemistry tends to reduce continuity to the point where it is obvious what you’re seeing isn’t real. If you know you’re dreaming or hallucinating, it becomes pretty obvious that’s what you’re doing.”

 

She looked around.

 

“So, aside from talking to myself and hiding from my really scary memories, I’m not insane.”

 

She headed off to where the other Daria, the robot, was sat recharging off of one of those industrial 5 pin sockets that supplied 3 phase power.

 

“Urm, Robodaria?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“You’re good with computers, right?”

 

“I could start world war 3 if you want me to prove it.” said the robot, apparently the real Daria’s sense of humour was incorporated into the robot’s software.

 

“Errrm, that won’t be necessary, but I do need to look at my medical files.” said Tiffany.

 

“’Kay.” the robot turned to face the wall and there was suddenly a computer screen projected onto it, the word ‘Loading’ and one of those spinning hourglass icons were all that were present.

 

Tiffany wasn’t sure she wanted to do this. Any reminders could trigger, … something, she didn’t know what, but it was deeply unpleasant, or her mind would have been like: ‘Here you go, full details, minus the little bit lost through inactivity of the memory address’.

 

Her file was displayed before her, she leaned against the robot as she read it.

 

“MMR vaccine, … … there’s nothing in here, apart from my stay at the nut house, what’s going on?”

 

“I could attempt to access the Watchers Council computers, but that would depend on them being careless with their information, stuff like this would not be stored on any device with internet access.” said the robot.

 

“Do it.” said Tiffany.

 

“Stand by, … … No devices connected, the police are investigating the incident at the watcher’s council head quarters, the information may not become available to an internet connection for a considerable length of time.” said the robot.

 

“Okay, so now what?” asked Tiffany.

 

“What are you looking for exactly?”

 

“I don’t know, something to jog my memory I guess.”

 

“You are highly agitated, what is the nature of the memory you are trying to find?” asked Robodaria.

 

It, … probably sucks a lot, … and some guy called Nathan is involved.”

 

“Anything else?”

 

Tiffany sighed and thought, … “I got nothing.”

 

“Right.” said Robodaria, she started searching for any mention of Nathan that might be relevant.

 

~-~

 

“That’s the building.” said Vanessa Francine, one of the watchers, pointing at the building on the hill way off in the distance.

 

One of the slayers looked at it through the binoculars and said “Lotsa ubervamps, as is consistent with an open seal of Danthazar.”

 

“Okay, so we gotta close it and make sure no more Ubervamps can escape.” said Vanessa.

 

“And how do we do that?” asked Rona.

 

“It’ll be dawn soon, that should contain any Ubervamps not already out, what we need is a force multiplier of some kind.” said Vanessa.

 

“Force multiplier, like a crocodile tank?” asked Rona.

 

“What we need to do is either permanently obstruct the seal, or kill every Turok Han behind it, I don’t know which is less possible, but they both have pretty narrow odds.” said Vanessa.

 

~-~

 

“You and a Nathan went missing at about the same time.” said Robodaria.

 

Tiffany turned to her.

 

“I have obtained an image of the Nathan that went missing the same time you did, he was never seen again.”

 

Tiffany walked over to her, and said “show me.”

 

Robodaria projected the image onto the wall.

 

Tiffany stared at the image.

 

~-~

 

“Girls are getting restless.” said Amanda.

 

“Okay, that case, I think it’s time we got in the fight.” she unrolled a map covering the north American continent and they set about running a locator spell.

 

~-~

 

“Okay, what we got?” asked Vanessa.

 

“£12,000, approximately.” said one of the slayers.

 

“We could hire a van and buy several tons of propane.” said one girl.

 

“And how do we apply the propane?” asked Vanessa.

 

“Err, … ” the Slayer thought about it.

 

This was going to take a while to plan.

 

~-~

 

Daria located Tiffany.

 

She was stood near the robot staring at the wall, Robodaria got up and stopped Daria from approaching Tiffany saying “Tiffany might not be safe to approach right now, she’s catatonic and agitated. This happened when she saw a picture of a man called Nathan who went missing the same time she did a while back.”

 

“Right.” said Daria, kind of annoyed.

 

“Is there something I should know about?” asked Robodaria.

 

“Yeah, I probably should have mentioned this to you earlier, not like I can’t count on you to hold confidential information. Tiffany and her watcher got abducted by a group of vampires, Nathan was turned, Tiffany was kept alive as a dessert tray. That’s something her mind has been suppressing since she was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy over the Easter break. I wasn’t sure how to remind her without posing a risk to herself and those around her, right now I’m considering going on a bringer hunt, I don’t want to split my forces for anything other than a multiflank attack, and if I leave a small force to guard her, that force along with Tiffany would become an easy target. I therefore need to bring her with us.” said Daria.

 

“Okay, I can outfight a slayer, so I’ll move her for you if necessary, when do you want to move?”

 

“There are a few things that need sorting first, I’ll tell you when we’re ready to move.” said Daria.

 

“Okay.” said Robodaria.

 

Daria walked off.

 

~-~

 

“What the fuck are Ubervamps doing in Paris?” asked Buffy.

 

“Maybe the Daily Mail was right about the porosity of Britain’s borders.” said Dawn.

 

It was getting dark, and there was enough street level shade in cities like Paris for them to start moving around openly.

 

And the police were getting their asses kicked.

 

“There’s a Danthazar seal in Paris.” said Heather Casini, one of the watchers with Buffy.

 

“Then it’s either bringers, or PC Kent that’s responsible.”

 

They had recently had to evade the Italian police because of the First Evil slandering them, also, there was the possibility that the First Evil would lead the police to them at their current location.

 

At least the American slayers and watchers had the support of the shadowy organisation formally known as the initiative, but over here, they were getting their asses kicked.

 

~-~

 

PC Kent boarded the train to Germany, he would open up a seal in every country to spread out the slayers as thinly as possible.

 

~-~

 

The slayer pushed the button on the torch and the flame appeared in the flame holder right where it was supposed to.

 

She then pushed the button on the gas solenoid and a stream of liquid propane shot out of the bottle strapped to her back through the flame holder and off into the distance.

 

The flame was initially 7 metres long, then it dropped to 1 metre.

 

She released the trigger and moved the nozzle down, and heard a crack, and then felt a cold sensation around her ankles.

 

“Aww fuck!”

 

She had released the button on the torch, but the liquid propane on the ground was close enough to set it off.

 

The three slayers with CO2 extinguishers went to work immediately as she turned off the valve on the cylinder, she then stepped away from the fire and let it burn out.

 

“I told you it wouldn’t work.” said Vanessa.

 

“Well, is there anything that will work?” asked Rona.

 

“Yeah, been thinking about this, what we need to do is clear any obstruction to the seal, then pour as much petrol into it as we can get. Now, I would prefer to do this during the day, but I don’t want to give the Turok Han any more time then what they have had already. All shops will probably be closed now, so we’re going to have to steal what we need, which is one petrol tanker, one flat bed truck, as much ammonium nitrate as will fit on said flatbed truck, 12 kilos of dynamite or other high explosive, at least 4 suitable blasting caps, 100 metres of 1mm2 twin flex, 1 car battery, 1 relay, and 1 alarm clock. We have everything else we need, what we’ll do is we’ll blow the structure off of the hell mouth, then we drive up with the tanker and start pouring it’s contents into the seal.” said Vanessa.

 

The slayers headed off to collect the equipment.

 

~-~

 

“Okay, and all those who have trained using axes?” asked Daria.

 

50 slayers raised their hands.

 

Daria ticked the boxes next to the names, then said “Alright, thanks.”

 

Daria had been working on how they could distribute the weapons, they had a lot of contact weapons such as swords, axes, and knives, and firearms such as revolvers and shotguns.

 

The automatic firearms they had obtained were considered user friendly, but would eat ammo at such a rate that Daria didn’t want to depend on them unless she could be certain they could obtain more ammunition.

 

The minimis were their worst problem when it came to ammunition: They were belt fed, that meant they would need to get linked ammunition or save the links. It’s not that brass catchers were hard to make, but Daria would prefer not to make the weapons unwieldy if they could avoid it.

 

Therefore, the assault rifles and two machineguns were only going to be used for getting them out of a jam.

 

They would need some kind of artillery. They couldn’t steal any more aircraft, but the bringers couldn’t either, neither could anyone use air support, now the air force was in the air and looking for asses to kick. The bringers had probably liberated more artillery from their bases, but now the US armed forces were in the game, the bringers would probably need to get away from them sharpish.

 

That meant the bringers were down to portable items such as mortars, LAWs, TOWs, grenade launchers,  … yeah, sure they were going to be going hand to hand.

 

“Okay, I want us to make a start on killing the bringers, the problem I have right now is that they have probably been stealing military weapons for a while. We don’t know how well equipped they are likely to be, except probably better than us. Their arsenal is likely to include anti armour weapons, guided and unguided. … We’ll need to come up with something on the way over, the only good news is that we seem to have enough contact weapons for those who are trained for them, I can distribute them now, those who are least qualified for hand to hand will be equipped with the automatic weapons, everyone else gets a shotgun.”

 

Daria had a plan, she just had no intention of letting the First Evil in on it.

 

~-~

 

“More ubervamps, Luckau. I can’t imagine them getting on a train unnoticed, must be the Luckau hell mouth.” said Heather.

 

“Right, I want to take out Gabriel. I want his description circulated to all slayers and watchers, have them sit on as many train stations, airports, sea ports, and bus depots as possible, the sooner we get him, the fewer ubervamps we have to deal with.” said Buffy.

 

“Won’t the First Evil just direct the asshole around our observation posts?” asked Dawn.

 

“Possibly, but if we can slow this guy down, we might have a chance of getting around to developing something resembling a plan.” said Buffy.

 

~-~

 

“I’ll drive the bomb.” said Vanessa.

 

The slayers looked at her.

 

They were ready to go, the flatbed loaded with ANFO (using diesel for the fuel), it was ready to go, all that needed to happen was for the piece of plastic to be pulled from between the battery contact and the battery in the alarm clock, and the second hand, located 15s away from the contacts that would operate the relay and detonate the bomb.

 

The driver would then activate an ejection system that had been bodged from fireworks, steel pipes, steel wire, and a parachute. The device would drag the driver out through the roof to a suitable altitude where the parachute would deploy, they were hoping it would be at least 500ft, the parachute was a ram air, so the driver would have a better chance of getting a safe distance from the hypocentre before the blast wave hit her.

 

The problem was that the ejection system did not look that reliable, so odds were that the driver would end up in a retrograde orbit.

 

“Good luck everyone.” she said as she climbed into the drivers seat and strapped the parachute on, she then started the engine and headed off, the other slayers got in and on the tanker, which was rigged with a hose so they could get straight in there and make a start the instant the building was clear.

 

~-~

 

Moving Tiffany had been surprisingly undramatic, but she seemed out of it.

 

She was with Daria, Robodaria, Amanda, Quinn, Sandi, Jane, and the Decklers in the APC as they headed to Scranton, where the largest concentration of bringers was located.

 

Daria and Amanda were looking at a map that they were using in the locator spell, the bringers seemed to have deployed in some fields, some on vantage points, and a big old group right in the middle of them.

 

On the same map, they had done a locator spell to detect normal humans, and found none.

 

That might change next time, but next time, they should have the equipment to use normal tactics.

 

~-~

 

Vanessa just demolished the gatepost with the bed of the truck as she rounded the corner, that way the tanker (which is more fragile) wouldn’t have to.

 

There were cars parked across the driveway, Vanessa just shunted them out the way, all the time, Turok Han were climbing onto the truck.

 

She eventually got enough cars out the way that she could just drive around them and made her way up to the side of the building.

 

One of the Turok Han smashed through the window and grabbed her, she felt teeth sink into her neck.

 

She couldn’t reach the alarm clock and her vision was greying.

 

She pulled the wires from the clock and located the ends, she just managed to bring the contacts together before she lost consciousness.

 

~-~

 

Rona engaged first and drove the tanker to the front gate. The wall had been blown onto the road, but there wasn’t enough debris to obstruct the truck.

 

There were ubervamps scattered around, but they were still able to fight, the slayers on the roof of the tanker were armed with broadswords and katanas, even if they couldn’t decapitate the ubervamps from their positions, they could keep them from approaching them.

 

They got to the school, or more precisely, it’s basement, the rest of the building had been blown clean off its foundations, the bomb had pushed the ground down about a metre for about 5 radius around the truck’s perimeter.

 

The few ubervamps that had clung to the truck were quickly decapitated when the slayers jumped off. They got to work immediately, each had a lighter and a can of deodorant, so that any one of them could light the petrol when they got it flowing down the seal.

 

The ubervamps that were blown clear were returning to the seal. The slayers got the hose to the hole, and the pump on, the closest slayer pulled their lighter and deodorant can while the others formed up around her, she got the fire where it was needed and jumped back as the vapours in the passageway detonated, blowing a lot of fire into the air.

 

She then joined the fight to kill as many ubervamps as possible as the tanker unloaded it’s cargo of accelerant into the hell mouth.

 

They made good progress, and ultimately cleansed the property of ubervamps.

 

“Now what?” asked one of the slayers?

 

“We call Buffy.” said Rona, the apparent leader now.

 

~-~

 

“Ready?” asked Daria.

 

“Ready.” said Amanda, through the respirator of her NBC kit.

 

Amanda then teleported out.

 

They were approaching the army of bringers.

 

Daria had to assume the satellite groups were equipped with 81mm mortars, they were set up so each position was within range of at least two of the other satellite positions and the main group, the slayers under Daria’s command had at best some assault rifles, some shotguns, lots of contact weapons, and two machineguns, nowhere near the sort of armament they needed.

 

Amanda eventually returned and said “splash over.”

 

“Now would someone like to tell me what just happened?” asked Jane.

 

“Yeah, we needed an advantage over the bringers, so I figured we could try fumigation.” said Daria.

 

The lights that indicated the bringers locations faded and disappeared completely.

 

“The nerve agent is non persistent, it’ll be safe by the time we get there.” said Daria.

 

“Is that a money back if we’re not completely alive guarantee?” asked Quinn.

 

“You could always wear a respirator, but we’re sending Robodaria in ahead of us anyway, since she can sense toxicity without being affected by it.” said Daria.

 

The robot then sneezed.

 

To everyone’s looks, the robot said “what? It’s her humour I’m programmed with.” pointing at Daria.

 

“She probably has better ethics too.”

 

They turned to the apparition of Helen Morgendorffer.

 

Quinn felt sick.

 

“Honestly, Daria, chemical weapons? Wasn’t that the kind of warfare you criticised so strongly a few years back?”

 

“Hmm, I did, didn’t I? ‘It’s Immoral, it’s unethical, I won’t do it under any- how much? Alright, I’m in’, and that’s leaving aside for the moment that she’s not even in control of the apparition. Get ready to lose every acolyte you have, because as soon as I pick up their weapons, no amount of respirators on the planet will do the remainders any good, because I know what I’m doing here a lot better than you do.” said Daria.

 

“Of course I’m not your mother, but we both know how hurt she’d be to hear you bring up her misdeeds even after she’s dead, and in case your interested-” Helen’s head and back bent sideways at an obviously destructive angle, with a sickening crunch “-blown off the road driving home from work. Have fun guessing how you’ll die, Daria.”

 

The First Evil then disappeared.

 

Quinn started heaving, she then opened the door on the side and puked onto the road.

 

Daria merely scowled at the map, then she told Sandi (who was driving) to stop, she then ordered Robodaria to run ahead of them.

 

~-~

 

“Err, just wondering, is that enough petrol?” asked one of the slayers.

 

I, … damn, probably not.” said Rona, remembering the size of the cavern under Sunnydale.

 

At that point, they heard some helicopters coming over.

 

Suddenly the seal was illuminated by a really bright light.

 

That helicopter was not the source of the noise.

 

They saw a big bucket come into view, the bucket had a lever that was attached to a cable going up to the helicopter (which was one of those helicopters that had two main rotors) which when pulled, unloaded the buckets contents, which happened to be 5 tons of concrete.

 

A bald guy and Rebecca walked up to them, they were still dressed in their combat gear, but weren’t pointing guns at them.

 

The bald guy extended his hand in friendship saying “Hi, I’m staff sergeant Henno Garvie, I was trying to kill you earlier.”

 

~-~

 

Illyria finally returned to the group, who had been hiding out in a forest in Washington State since the battle with Wolfram and Hart.

 

“The situation is most interesting. It would appear that the same time that we were engaging the forces of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart, a large number of demons have been attacking Europe and individuals with scars in place of their eyes have been stealing weapons from this country’s armed forces-”

 

“Excuse me: scars for eyes?” asked Spike

 

“Yes.” said Illyria.

 

“Bringers.” said Spike.

 

“Good god, the First Evil is at it again?” asked Wesley.

 

“The First Evil. I knew of it during my reign, it would appear in the guise of a dead person, I found it’s antics most amusing.” said Illyria.

 

“Well, it’s antics are aimed at the destruction of the slayers and then humanity.” said Wesley.

 

“Then I will need to destroy the capabilities of the First Evil.” said Illyria, sounding kind of sad.

 

“Maybe Buffy will be more willing to accept our assistance now that we no longer under the employment of Wolfram and Hart.” said Wesley.

 

~-~

 

Willow, shouldn’t we be doing something?” asked Andrew.

 

“Like what?” asked Willow.

 

Errm, … I don’t know, I always sucked at planning things, you were always the team’s B’elanna.”

 

Willow looked at him, then back at the map where circles and numbers had been drawn by the army guys representing bringers (red) and friendlies (blue, there weren’t a lot of them because of the operation in Iraq).

 

Everything had been kind of static, the bringers had apparently stolen a number of self propelled SAM launchers, and since the First Evil had unlimited surveillance capabilities, they were always ready when the air force tried to eliminate them.

 

Another soldier reported to General Chary that a number of nerve gas shells had been stolen by a blonde witch in NBC kit a few minutes ago, and that a number of small objects matching that of the shells had appeared on radar over an enemy formation.

 

One of them then wiped out some of the bringer formations and replaced them with a green group.

 

“What does green mean?” asked Willow.

 

“Unknown allegiance, a large number of girls are scavenging dead enemy units for ammunition, we are trying to make contact.” said the soldier with the pen.

 

“Leaders of Unknown formation have been identified as Joy Merryweather and Daria Morgendorffer, both wanted fugitives, mark them down as hostile.” said another soldier.

 

“NO! FRIENDLY!” shouted Willow.

 

The soldier with the pens looked up and then said “’Kay.” before marking them with the blue pen.

 

~-~

 

The slayers had gathered their haul of weapons and vehicles they had inherited from the bringers.

 

Some of the weapons included Hummers with 81mm mortars mounted in the back, hummers with 50cals, hundreds of M4s and M60s, some of which had grenade launchers, 20 minimis, hundreds of LAW 80s, 30 stingers, and tons of ammunition for everything.

 

“Now we can start waging war.” said Daria.

 

She then asked “How many of you have trained to fight in formation?”

 

Several raised their hands, but most didn’t. This was actually typical since before Willow activated the lot of them, it was generally assumed the slayer would be working alone, and therefore all training was designed for single slayers against everything. It looked like nobody figured that it would be useful to get them teaming up.

 

Daria would have to write a memo about that.

 

“Okay, the main point of any formation is to ensure that the enemy can not sneak up behind you, and to ensure that the enemy can not take everyone out with a single shot, that also means putting enough people on each position to ensure that if one has to change a clip or do anything that takes them out of the fight, they are not suddenly vulnerable to attack.”

 

Daria continued her lecture, but hoped she could keep it short since there was a limit as to how much the slayers could remember, and frankly, they didn’t have a lot of time, and she didn’t want to give the First Evil any more time.

 

~-~

 

“That’s another Hell mouth open.” said Dawn.

 

“Where?” asked Buffy, her tone indicating a weary rage.

 

“Bosnia.” said Dawn.

 

“Right, all slayers, new objective, procure drills, jackhammers, JCBs, anything else needed to uncover the seals, and welding gear, scrap iron, thermite, make sure no more of those bastards can be opened.” said Buffy.

 

Dawn and everyone else in the room got on it.

 

~-~

 

The phone rang.

 

“Y’ello?” answered Daria.

 

Everyone watched as she listened.

 

“Understood.” said Daria, she then hung up and turned to the slayers saying “ALRIGHT, LISTEN UP, WE JUST GOT NEW ORDERS FROM BUFFY, WE’RE OBSTRUCTING HELLMOUTHS NOW, NEAREST ONE IS IN CLEVELAND, WE’RE HEADED OVER THERE NOW, WE’LL FINISH THIS UP LATER.”

 

Everyone headed to their vehicles, which now included more suitable combat vehicles now.

 

This included the Decklers, because Daria had no idea what to do with them.

 

~-~

 

Buffy waited in the motel car park outside Carmagnola as the bell 222 landed, from which Rona got out, leading a bald man and an old man to her.

 

“Buffy Summers, Colonel Aiden Dempsey and Staff sergeant Henno Garvie.” said Rona.

 

“Hi.” said Henno, giving a small wave.

 

“Hello.” said Aiden, extending his hand for a handshake.

 

“Hello.” said Buffy, in a clearly fucked off tone, as she took Aiden’s hand and squeezed it hard saying “Giles and Kennedy were close personal friends. The only reason I won’t kill you where you stand is because this wasn’t your fault, just don’t expect me to forget what happened any time soon, ‘kay?”

 

“Of course.” said Aiden, taking the hostility in his stride.

 

Buffy released his hand and said “Okay, first thing I should mention is that we are about to be discussing creatures and objects that are of a mystical nature. A lot of it will sound insane to those of you who have no experience dealing with it, there are some things that, due to time constraints, I won’t be able to fully explain. I am going to have to ask you for a lot of patience when the weird stuff comes up, understood?”

 

“Yes ma’am.” said Aiden.

 

“Okay, first order of business, PC Gabriel Kent, I understand he is at large.” said Buffy.

 

“Yes.” said Aiden.

 

Buffy started explaining everything.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria walked out the store with yet more purchases on the fake credit card.

 

Everyone else was running drills, without firing a shot, of course, since they didn’t know how long their ammunition would last. She remembered the amused looks on Sandi and Quinn’s faces at the thought of a couple of hundred slayers running with guns through the forest shouting “BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG, BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG.”, changing empty clips for other empty clips every now and then.

 

They had loaded clips with them, just encase they encountered problems.

 

This was because a big ass army of bringers had set themselves up on the Cleveland hell mouth, that meant they couldn’t do anything until they had the means to observe the bringer locations, and see what they were doing as they approached, they could locate the bringers with magics, but they didn’t have a clue what they were packing, that was a big advantage the first evil had possessed over the slayers because the first evil knew what the slayers had.

 

~-~

 

“Okay, when approaching bringer artillery positions, the greatest danger will be when you are at the limits of their range because the projectiles spend less time in the air, we’ll only use artillery on large enemy formations, but on small enemy units, we’re going to drive up shooting at them, using LAWs and 50cals as the primary weapons. Keep your distance from each other, keep moving, keep unpredictable, the GPS units Robodaria is getting for you will be modified to both display known enemy positions and to display your recent locations, That way you can figure out immediately if you’re getting too predictable, you all with me so far?”

 

No one asked anything.

 

“Okay, that’s about all we have time for right now, get some rest, we’ll be doing this tomorrow.” said Daria.

 

Everyone dispersed, Quinn and Sandi approached Daria.

 

“Leadership comes naturally to you.” said Sandi.

 

“Yeah, and I got nausea as a free gift with purchase.” responded Daria.

 

“You hide it well.” said Sandi.

 

“Yeah, let’s see if I can hide it when it starts raining bits of my army tomorrow.” said Daria.

 

“I’m sure it’ll go fine, you’ve kept everyone alive so far.” said Quinn.

 

“Yeah, so far, but we’re about to introduce girls trained in swordsplay to 21st century warfare, they do have transferable skills, but, … … this is going to get ugly. They are going to have to fight while being bombarded with high explosives, while getting hit by bullets, shrapnel, while watching their friends getting shot to bits, getting burned alive, you get what I’m saying?”

 

Quinn looked at her and said “yeah, I do, … but it’ll work out.”

 

Daria sighed and said “it had better.” before walking off.

 

~-~

 

Mrs Deckler watched Tiffany as Tiffany sat in the APC doing, … … well, … fuck all.

 

This was not an improvement, earlier she was walking around and interacting with others, now she was just standing or sitting wherever she was put staring at the ground ahead of her, unresponsive, not unlike a zombie.

 

Daria entered and asked “Hey Tiff, how’s it going?”

 

After a few seconds, Daria turned to Mrs Deckler, who said “she’s been like this since your spare self showed her that picture.”

 

“Right, … ” Daria sat down opposite Tiffany and asked “Tiffany, can you please say something?”

 

After a while, Daria reached out and placed a hand on Tiffany’s shoulder.

 

Tiffany didn’t even look up.

 

A few more seconds later, Daria said “Get Amanda.”

 

~-~

 

“Sir, you need to see this.” said a soldier as he entered and saluted Aiden.

 

Aiden took the file and looked at it, Henno leaned over to also look, and said “Shit.”

 

“What?” asked Buffy.

 

“Gabriel Kent, used to be in the Special Boat Squadron.” said Henno.

 

“Huh?” asked Buffy.

 

“The SBS is a close relative of the SAS, that makes him roughly equivalent to us in skills.” said Aiden.

 

A phone rang, and Dawn answered.

 

“So, … trained psychopath then, right?” said Buffy.

 

Battle hardened trained psychopath with mystical enhancements.” said Henno.

 

Dawn then hung up and said “Spanish and Portuguese hellmouths are sealed, no one’s penetrating without at least a ton of explosives.”

 

“Right, and what about Paris?” asked Buffy.

 

“No update, I doubt it’s a good idea to blow the building off the top of it with a truck bomb.” said Dawn.

 

“We could try an assault with GMGs.” suggested Henno.

 

“GMGs?” asked Buffy.

 

“Grenade machineguns.” clarified Aiden.

 

“Decapitation works on Turok Han, I’d prefer not to have everyone using swords on a whole swarm, we use grenade machineguns to decapitate them. We could also get automatic shotguns, we got loads of explosive ammo burning a hole in the armoury.” said Henno.

 

“I’ll get right on it then.” said Aiden.

 

“Grenade machineguns?” asked Dawn.

 

“Yes.” said Henno.

 

Dawn had this grin on her face.

 

~-~

 

Daria was getting a touch frustrated with what she was seeing.

 

She had been following the Fashion Club around Lawndale High for ages.

 

Amanda had done this sort of magical mind meld thing (without the face grabbing which could be dangerous with a vampire slayer with mental problems), and Daria had been walking around Tiffany’s mind trying to figure out a way to wake Tiffany up.

 

This was obviously an attempt to avoid thinking about reality. She had attempted to start a conversation with Tiffany, but the Fashion Club members had told her where to go each time she attempted to strike up a conversation.

 

“Amanda Daria, receiving, over?”

 

‘Daria, Amanda, go ahead.’

 

“Request extraction, over.”

 

~-~

 

“Well?” asked Quinn.

 

“Direct conversation didn’t work, the Fashion Club members in her dream won’t allow me to approach.” said Daria.

 

“I could try.” said Quinn.

 

Daria thought about it for a second.

 

“Pleaaaaaaase?” asked Quinn.

 

Daria looked at everyone in the room, then told Mr Deckler to “close the door.”

 

Once the back door on the APC was closed, Daria said “What I am about to tell you is a confidential report made by Tiffany shortly after the incident with Illyria’s near warp core breech. You do not tell anyone any of this unless you absolutely have to, okay?” everyone nodded, then Daria continued “some time before Willow activated all the potential slayers, Tiffany was captured along with her watcher, she was kept alive as a sort of dessert because her blood was sweeter than the average human. Her watcher was turned, now, her report only mentions them tying her up and feeding off her, but there may have been further abuse she kept to herself. Quinn, if you’re successful, you will most likely see what happened to her.”

 

Quinn thought about it, then eventually said “She’s my friend.”

 

Daria nodded and then nodded at Amanda.

 

~-~

 

Quinn found herself sat at a desk next to Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany sat behind, Sandi was talking to her, but wasn’t noticing Quinn’s attention was focused on Tiffany.

 

‘Quinn Daria receiving, over?’

 

That was Daria’s voice in her head.

 

“Errm, Daria?”

 

‘Just think about who you want to address and think the words.’ said Daria.

 

‘Daria, this is Quinn, check, check, check.’

 

‘Quinn Daria, Signal’s good. I’ll be watching, you’ll have to be subtle for this to work, to direct, and she’ll reject any influence from you, over.’

 

‘Roger wilco, and, stuff, out.’

 

Quinn sat back and tried to think of a way to carry out her mission.

 

After a few minutes, she asked ‘Quinn to Daria, request advice, over.’

 

‘Quinn Daria, try singing something, over.’

 

‘Like what?’

 

There was silence, then Daria said ‘Try ‘Torn’, over.’

 

Quinn nodded and started singing the song.

 

Sandi and Stacy didn’t seem to notice.

 

Quinn got to the chorus “I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel, I am Cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor-” at about this time, the classroom turned into a dank, bare apartment with aged furniture and bare floors.

 

Quinn looked around, it was just her in this room, she sang “-‘Till I see dumb shit start happenin’, dumber than Vanilla Ice trying to rap again.” under her breath.

 

“NO!”

 

Quinn turned to see Tiffany on the floor next to her feet, wearing nothing, arms bound behind her, chain around her neck connecting her to a floor beam, there were bruises and cuts on her body, some dirt had accumulated on places.

 

Quinn knelt down ant sat Tiffany up, causing Tiffany to look at her saying “Quinn, what are you doing here?”

 

“Getting you out.” said Quinn, as she tried to pull apart the knots in the rope.

 

“Quinn, unless you can pick the lock on this chain or cut the beam, don’t bother, just go before they get back.” said Tiffany.

 

“Or you could just wake up.” said Quinn.

 

“What???” asked Tiffany.

 

The door opened, and four vampires entered, all game faced, they looked at Quinn, one of them asked “Who’s your friend, Tiffany?”

 

‘Amanda Daria, can we help them, over?’

 

‘Daria Amanda, stand by, over.’

 

“I’m a vampire slayer, so fuck off before I stake the lot of you.” said Quinn.

 

The four of them surrounded Quinn.

 

‘Amanda?’ prompted Daria.

 

‘Nothing’s working, I can’t do anything.’

 

“For a vampire slayer, you smell awfully scared.” said one vampire.

 

“Smells can be deceiving.” said Quinn, looking confident that she wasn’t about to get her ass kicked.

 

On of the vampires grabbed Quinn’s sides from behind, causing Quinn to shriek and spin around, she then tripped over Tiffany and fell on her ass.

 

‘Quinn, run, you can return later when you’re better prepared.’ said Daria.

 

Quinn didn’t move as the vampires crowded around her.

 

‘QUINN, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? FUCKING RUN NOW!’

 

The vampires pulled Quinn to her feet, and started feeling her up.

 

‘AMANDA, A LITTLE HELP PLEASE?’ said Daria.

 

‘THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I’M TRYING TO DO? THE DAMN MAGIC WON’T FUCKING WORK!’

 

The vampires started to remove Quinn’s clothes.

 

‘DAMMIT TIFFANY, WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!’

 

~-~

 

Sandi watched as Daria, Amanda and Quinn sat there like statues, the way Tiffany had been all this time.

 

This was getting seriously boring for her.

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

Mr Deckler answered it, it was Robodaria.

 

“Procurement of supplies completed.”

 

“Good, I’ll tell Daria when she comes out of it.” said Sandi.

 

“Out of what?” asked the robot.

 

“She, Quinn and Amanda are trying to fix Tiffany, they’re doing this magic mind meld thing, apparently Tiffany was pretending she was in High school or something.” said Sandi.

 

“WE GOT MOVEMENT!” shouted one of the slayers.

 

Robodaria and Sandi headed out to where the slayers were watching the map.

 

The dots were indeed moving, Jane joined them.

 

“What’s the situation with Daria?” asked Jane.

 

“Still in the trance.” said Sandi.

 

“Let’s wake her up then shall we?” said Jane as she headed to the APC.

 

They got there and Jane and Sandi grabbed Daria and Amanda, trying to shake them out of their trance.

 

Nothing was happening.

 

“The fuck’s wrong with them?” asked Jane.

 

Robodaria touched each one, walking her fingers over their heads and said “they’re all out of it, the only way to bring them out would be to directly stimulate their brain, but that is not something I would recommend, considering what happened to Tiffany last time.”

 

“The First Evil must know Amanda’s out of action, that’s why it’s attacking.” said Jane.

 

“So what do we do?” asked Sandi.

 

“You and the Decklers are going to erect a shield, Amanda can take it down when she’s back in the game, make sure you enclose enough air to last a while.” said Jane as she entered and grabbed any weapons she could see.

 

“What are you going to do?” asked Sandi.

 

“Kill a few bringers.” she then grabbed the stuff Daria and Amanda had used last time from Daria’s pocket and handed it to Sandi, before heading outside.

 

Sandi and Mr Deckler followed Jane, Sandi saying “Wait, I want to help.”

 

Jane turned to them saying “You can help by erecting that shield and keeping them and yourselves alive, now get to it.” she then ran to the areas where the slayers were sleeping or sitting around talking shouting “EVERYONE WAKE UP! WE’RE ABOUT OT COME UNDER ATTACK!”

 

All the slayers started waking up and those that were awake were going around waking others.

 

Sandi and Mr Deckler were watching all of this, then they snapped out of it and got on the spell.

 

~-~

 

“Where are those bringers going?” asked Riley.

 

“They’re advancing on Daria’s group.” said one of the soldiers.

 

“What’s Daria doing?” asked Riley.

 

“She seems to be in her APC, two of the hostages are casting some sort of spell.”

 

“Can I see?” asked Willow.

 

“Sure, come over here.” said the soldier.

 

Willow looked at the screen and recognised the spell as a “spacial shield, Daria probably looked it up after the thing with Amy. Blocks all EM radiation, will withstand just about anything. Something must be seriously wrong if she’s got Sandi and that guy on it.”

 

“That’s Tiffany Deckler’s dad.” said the soldier.

 

“I need to contact Amanda, excuse me.” said Willow, she then found a spot that would not obstruct foot traffic and went into a trance to astrally project.

 

As Willow managed to make contact with Amanda, she got a look at the situation.

 

Amanda was trapped in a mind meld spell with Daria, Quinn and Tiffany.

 

She could also sense everyone’s distress.

 

She got a look at the situation Amanda and Daria were observing, Tiffany was reliving a memory, and had trapped Quinn with her, Quinn was being raped and fed off of by some vampires.

 

‘Amanda Willow, report, over.’

 

Willow, I can’t break this spell, I can’t do anything. You should leave, if you get stuck too, that’s another witch out of action.’

 

‘What are you doing in there anyway?’

 

‘I was trying to help Tiffany, Daria and Quinn were helping, but it all went wrong somehow. I’ve been trying to extract Quinn, or wake Tiffany, or leave so I can look for something I can use, I can’t do anything, if you can leave, do it now.’

 

‘The First Evil is attacking you now.’

 

‘Acknowledged, you know what to do, do it.’

 

‘Received, leaving now, out.’

 

Willow woke up to find a couple of soldiers looking at her, they startled slightly when she awoke, she said “’scuse me.” as she pushed through them, she picked up a radio off the charger rack near the door and said “I’m going outside, what channel should I put this on?”

 

“4.” said Riley, also picking up a radio, he then asked “what’s going on?”

 

“I’ll explain it later, just tell me what’s happening as it happens.” said Willow as she picked up some of her gear and headed out.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria had all the equipment distributed and was now launching the UAVs from their concealed locations.

 

It seemed that the First Evil had one major blind spot: It couldn’t lock onto machines.

 

It needed people to see and hear, it needed life forms to lock on to, it also couldn’t listen into telepathic communications without the person being in a sleep state.

 

Assuming this was true, the fact that she was going to use symbology on a GPS screen to represent the various threats and not give them a direct view over the battlefield should keep the First Evil from locating the UAVs.

 

She directed the UAVs over the leading dots, and got a look at them, they were in humm-vees equipped with 50cals, 81mm mortars, and other infantry weapons, the same equipment as the slayers.

 

The fact Amanda was out of action had cost them the advantage of being able to use telepathic communications to command their forces, the slayers had radios on them as a backup plan.

 

The slayers were driving off to forward positions, she directed them into a formation that would balance the need for effective firepower against the need to reduce the possibility of multiple kills with single shots from the enemy.

 

She had rigged the GPS units so she could send graphic instructions to the slayers individually, assign them to specific targets. She had some using mortars, directing three at a time to a single target to improve the probability of a kill as far as possible, but the First Evil was doing the same.

 

~-~

 

“First shots are being fired.” said Riley.

 

Willow would have preferred a countdown, but that would have betrayed her objective to the First Evil.

 

She completed the spell and braced herself.

 

There were a couple of other witches with her, they would restrain her hijacked magics as far as possible, the theory was that if she could distract the First Evil, eat up some of it’s attention, so it would have a harder time operating it’s bringers, which were dependant on it for any activity right down to breathing. They might not be able to kill the First Evil, but they could hopefully impede it’s command capability.

 

~-~

 

Quinn was now tied to one of the beds. That probably wasn’t necessary, considering if she so much as attempted to crawl, she’d conk out. The vampires were washing her blood down with Tiffany’s.

 

It didn’t help that Quinn knew this wasn’t real. As far as her perceived body was concerned, she had just been raped and bitten by four vampires, and this was probably going to stay with her for a while. The pain in her lower orifices felt real, the bites felt real, the tears stinging her eyes felt real, the taste of semen, … well, that’s probably how it tastes too.

 

They had even had Tiffany sit on her face and had broken a couple of Quinn’s fingers to get her to, … … it suddenly occurred to Quinn that since it was Tiffany’s mind that was generating all of this, it was true to say that it was Tiffany who was fucking raping her.

 

“Tiffany, if I get out of here, you can fucking rot in this dream state.”

 

Quinn’s voice was weak, but loud enough to reach Tiffany.

 

Tiffany didn’t even apologise.

 

‘Quinn Daria, it’s not her fault, okay?’

 

‘BULLSHIT!!! … I GET OUT OF HERE, I’M FUCKING SHOOTING HER!’ thought Quinn, furious she would take Tiffany’s side.

 

‘Quinn, I’m sorry you had to go through that, I thought the worst that would happen is you’d see this shit.’

 

‘Yeah, well, next time Tiffany ends up trapped in a scary dream, fucking leave her to rot. In fact, be sure to feed her so much that when she wakes up, she’s one of those hyper obese women who have to be lifted out of bed with a crane, in full view of a media circus, she’d fucking hate that, wouldn’t she?’

 

Daria didn’t try any further placations.

 

‘Quinn, it just occurred to me, this isn’t normal for a dream, and I don’t just mean the fact you’re both not waking up at the scary bit, that room hasn’t changed since it’s first appearance.’ said Daria.

 

‘So?’

 

‘When I dream, everything distorts, things change scale, appearance, form, cars turn to shopping trolleys, most people find that happening in their dreams too. Why isn’t that happening here?’

 

‘I don’t know, maybe Willow can figure it out when she’s done distracting the First Evil.’

 

~-~

 

The enemy command system had been slowed somehow.

 

Robodaria couldn’t divert any attention to researching this at the time, she would have to review the data later and see if she could replicate or enhance the effect in a future battle.

 

20 slayers had been killed in this battle so far, a couple of humm vees had been hit by mortars, 4 girls in each one, first was struck on the front wheel arch, off road, the loss of that wheel had caused it to flip over, the next round had set off all the ammunition, second had been struck in the roof over the drivers seat, killing the girls by mincing their vital organs with the compression wave instantly.

 

A third humm vee had been struck just under the radiator by a LAW 80, it had flipped over, spilling the mortar rounds and LAW80s out of the back, when it landed on those, some of the detonators were crushed, causing detonations and sympathetic detonations of enough ammunition to kill the girls on the vehicle.

 

Another eight slayers had been shot by bringer machinegun fire, one of Daria’s fears had been that the slayers would hesitate if the girl next to them got shot, but that fear had proven unjustified, they had kept going.

 

And now they were on a roll, they had been cleaning up the battlefield initially, and now they were just slaughtering the bringers wholesale.

 

Robodaria saw a couple of bringer crews operating M777s (155mm towed guns), that explained why she had been detecting the shock profiles of high velocity shells in the battle.

 

She needed to get those decommissioned urgently, because if the First Evil got those M777 crews working at full speed, they were going to incur enormous casualties.

 

Luckily, the ratio of friendlies to enemies had increased so much that she projected arrival at the M777 sites within 10 minutes.

 

The enemy was starting to retreat though.

 

Robodaria could not allow them to escape with the M777s, she altered the formation as best she could to ensure an early arrival at the bringer firebases.

 

The First Evil had apparently realised what Robodaria was up to, and started throwing as many bringers at her formation as possible.

 

The First Evil was obviously having trouble concentrating on the task at hand, because the formation concentrated too much on the tip of the formation. Robodaria had the forces present to encircle the enemy formation with a pincer, the tips of which eventually reached the M777 crews. The guns were captured intact along with their ammunition, she had the slayers on scene capture the weapons and set them up to start hitting the retreating bringers, which would not be out of range.

 

Some of the retreating bringers stopped.

 

Robodaria didn’t have a view of these positions yet, but she felt it most likely that the three groups that had stopped were other M777 crews, she had to get those bringers killed as soon as possible.

 

She quickly ran through how to operate the weapons with the slayers on the scene while also doing her best to direct other slayers along the retreating column of bringers, she feared the bringer artillery positions would be operational before the slayers got off their first shots.

 

The furthest two positions got blown up, she saw the final one come into view of her UAVs, it fired at the southern slayer crew, she ordered those slayers to run while directing her other crew to take out the final position.

 

The other bringer positions came into view.

 

The guns were destroyed.

 

The remaining bringers were steadily killed off.

 

The battle was completed.

 

Robodaria ordered the slayers to start collecting ammunition off the enemy as return to base.

 

~-~

 

Daria couldn’t stop watching.

 

This wasn’t due to some morbid fascination, it was instead due to the fact she had no eyelids to close here, as she would if she had a physical form in the dream.

 

It appeared the First Evil was out to break Quinn, or maybe the target had been Daria, but because Daria couldn’t trip the mine, and Quinn could, …

 

She had been concerned Quinn would have to watch this stuff happening to Tiffany, not experience it for herself, and everything here probably felt real, and without the ability to wake up, it would leave a big mark.

 

There was no way Quinn was going to forgive her for this.

 

‘Amanda Willow receiving, over?’

 

‘Willow Amanda go ahead, over.’

 

‘The bringer forces that attacked you are all dead, 26 slayers dead, I’m now looking for a way to help you, hang in there, out.’

 

~-~

 

“Those bringers are going to start moving soon.” said Riley.

 

“The robot’s in charge now.” said Willow.

 

“What will the robot do?” asked Riley.

 

“Carry out the mission to the best of it’s abilities.” said Willow, as she kept reading her magic book.

 

“Any way we can get into contact with it?” asked Riley.

 

Willow grabbed her cell phone and scrolled down it’s memory until she found it and tapped the call button, the robot answered immediately, and Willow said “Dariabot, Riley Finn wants to talk to you.” before handing the phone over to riley and getting back to her book.

 

“Dariabot, Riley here, we need to co-ordinate.”

 

“The First Evil will know what we’re up to, my mission is to obstruct the Cleveland hell mouth as permanently as is practical. Use any opportunity that presents to kill bringers or keep them occupied, I need to talk to Willow again.” said the robot.

 

“’kay.” said Riley, handing the phone back to Willow.

 

Willow here.”

 

“I am moving my forces to Cleveland now, how long do you estimate it will take for you to free Amanda?”

 

“I don’t know, I’m not even sure what I’m looking for, I’m working as fast as I can, but it could take ages.”

 

“Understood, next time you project to Amanda, tell her I couldn’t leave anyone to guard her, I am having to resort to strength in numbers.”

 

“Okay, bye.” Willow hung up.

 

~-~

 

“We are not going to leave them there, are we?” asked Jane as they walked to the converted fire appliance.

 

“I can’t split my forces in this situation, the shield they are using is the same one that survived a 15MT detonation, it will protect them against anything the bringers are likely to have access to, Willow will astrally project to them and tell them what’s going on, but we have a job to do, I have to get on it now.”

 

They got on board the appliance, most of the other slayers had already departed, having gathered a good sized haul of bringer ammo (it was smaller than the previous haul because this time the bringers had the opportunity to use some of it)

 

The only dead slayers they had brought back were the ones that had been shot, due to the fact they were the only ones already on an active vehicle. The ones that had been blown up were inconvenient to pick up at this time, burying the dead was way down Robodaria’s list of priorities.

 

Jane got in front of Robodaria and said “You can not be serious.”

 

“Jane, I don’t want anything to happen to them either, but I have a mission to accomplish, and I want to get to Cleveland before the bringers do, it’ll enhance our survivability. Having the bringers attack Daria behind that shield would be pointless for the First Evil, even if it does not consider this to be so, the bringers can not penetrate it anyway.”

 

“I’m not leaving her.” said Jane, as she walked back to the shield.

 

“Jane, that won’t protect them, the bringers will simply hit you with mortar fire on their way in. Do you think Daria will be happy to find your flamethrower sitting on a pile of dust when she takes down the shield?”

 

Jane thought about it, then she sighed and joined Robodaria, saying “We’re coming back for her once that hellmouth’s closed.”

 

~-~

 

“I don’t use these.” said Buffy, looking at the weapon in her hands.

 

The weapon was a shot-machinegun designed by someone Buffy thought must have some sort of mental problem, because it looked like a cross between an M-16 and a tommy gun that used shotgun rounds.

 

“It’s the 21st century, get with it.” said Rebecca.

 

A team of slayers had been assembled with the SAS’s red troop, they were about to hit the Paris hell mouth.

 

Buffy’s attitude to firearms didn’t just irritate Rebecca, it irritated the other slayers, since there were a number of critters that they dealt with that firearms would work on.

 

What irritated Buffy was Daria’s influence on the slayers, just about every vampire slayer that Daria had interacted with had started looking into firearms, Dawn’s delight at the concept of a grenade machinegun (an even more demented weapon than the one she was holding) was just another symptom of this.

 

“I just don’t want my people becoming too reliant on them is all.” said Buffy.

 

“SAS does all kinds of unarmed combat, the firearms training, while extensive, is a side dish, what’s your point?” said Rebecca.

 

“Well, … ” Buffy sighed, she couldn’t think of a real reason for her discomfort with firearms, she cocked the automatic shotgun, inadvertently pointing it at Henno (making him frown) and said “we doing this or what?”

 

~-~

 

Robodaria finished the last weld fixing the gun to the bed of the truck and headed over to where a couple of slayers had been starting on the magazine, which was looking to be in good shape considering they were doing this with the trucks moving at 192km/h (120mph).

 

The two M777s were being mounted on the back of two flatbed trucks they had swiped, using equipment and materials they had also swiped, thanks to the government advice for everyone to hole up and the news that a 15MT nuke was set off near Lawndale, they had pretty much free reign. The cops hadn’t given the convoy being led by a SWAT APC earlier any problems, and now they were being ordered to let the current convoy through by the army, which was severely understaffed at home.

 

She wondered if the First Evil was planning to go overt anyway, or if getting the president to invade Iraq was more a long term strategy (that assumed that the president needed any prodding from a malevolent spirit disguised as Jesus Christ)

 

It occurred to Robodaria that the government might not let them get away with all the thefts they were carrying out of both civilian and military equipment and consumables, but survival came first.

 

A large number of mortars were going to be hoisted on top of some office and apartment blocks to extend their range, she didn’t consider such an operation worth carrying out with the M777s, they would not be able to do it fast enough and fit any mechanism that would give them any field of fire beyond the guns trim, she needed the guns to be manoeuvrable in order to use them.

 

The aim of her strategy was to keep the bringers out of Cleveland while they sorted the seal, the bringers could possibly do the same thing with their guns that Robodaria was doing, and would probably have better aim and a faster rate of fire, but if the first evil was forced to adapt, that was more time for the slayers to work.

 

She noted that the slayers working on the magazine had only done tacking welds, and had gone a little heavy with the current.

 

Only one of the slayers in the entire group had any serious welding experience, she was a coded welder in fact, and she was supervising the work on the other truck, the one from which she was hearing Janes steady stream of swear words.

 

The only welding gear they had been able to swipe was 5 single phase MMA transformers, 3 generators (to one of which she was hooked up), and 500 2mm cellulosic electrodes.

 

As soon as they were in position, they would hopefully be able to load these trucks up with the ammunition, and hopefully just telling these girls how to operate these guns would be enough, because that was all they were getting.

 

The M777s would only be used against like artillery, because they didn’t have as much ammunition for them as they did for the mortars, the mortars would be used on everything else, but two guns would not be adequate coverage, even with Lake Erie behind them, they had a 225° field of fire to cover, the M777 could only trim 22.5° left or right, meaning each could only cover 45°, at most, she could cover only 40% of their field of fire at any one time.

 

She would probably have to attack first, she could hit and run, in their current state, the bringer gun crews could only move their guns if they were unable to fire, hopefully the advantage would last long enough for it to be of use.

 

“Robodaria Janet, All elevated mortars are in position, over.” reported Janet Kendal, one of the slayers she had moving the Mortars to the elevated positions.

 

“Janet Robodaria, acknowledged, out.” she transmitted back.

 

The UAVs were being refuelled by some of the slayers, and would be up in the air soon, they had a flight time of 2 hours, when that expired, they had to be in a safe location.

 

~-~

 

The First Evil had not expected things to go this wrong with it’s plan, Gabriel had kept from telling it how it’s impatience had been the source of it’s problems.

 

Seriously, the First Evil was totally immortal: Had, like, forever to carry out it’s objectives, why not wait until everyone forgets it exists?

 

Anyway, he didn’t care, violence was fun, as was opening all these seals and releasing all these hoards of Turok Han.

 

Just a pity that the Europeans had suddenly gotten a clue.

 

The Americans were having trouble because the First Evil had built up the majority of it’s bringers there, America having the space to hide them effectively, and the depletion of armed forces to give them a chance, but it seemed that the slayers under Daria’s command were kicking the bringers asses, due to that robot. It was giving the slayers the same advantage the first evil had with it’s bringers. Plus that dyke witch Willow had managed to deplete the First Evil’s attention sufficiently to bring down the bringer’s kill ratio to fuck all.

 

The Turok Han, on the other hand, were not dependant on the First Evil for direct control, the First Evil just needed to tell them where the good guys were, they would do the rest.

 

Except the last time the First Evil had tried using Turok Han against an army of slayers, it barely managed to kill any, and that was with superior numbers, and without the slayers being armed with grenade launchers.

 

Opportunities to steal weapons from military bases had dried up completely, the Americans had relocated all their weapons to forward bases, and the Canadians didn’t have the shortages of personal that the Americans had developed, so they were going in with axes, shotguns, and whatever other civilian sourced weapons they could find.

 

This was not going to end well.

 

“We need a serious advantage if this is going to work.” he said aloud.

 

“Yes we do, they aren’t looking for you right now, you could go on ahead and do something to them.” said the First Evil.

 

“Yeah, I know, I just need to figure out what, … it’s a city, so it’ll have drains, an electric grid, … water, … ” He chuckled as he thought of something.

 

“Knew you’d think of something.” said the First Evil.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria watched as the bringer forces just stood there.

 

Their guns were spread far enough apart that if she went after one group, the other would be able to close on the city and start shooting at the elevated mortars, so an assault was out until they were done obstructing the seal.

 

She was also aware that mortal enemies hated stalemates, they preferred to sort it out, so she had to project possible ways for the first evil to break the stalemate.

 

She was positioned in the centre of the city with two slayers and Jane on the converted fire appliance which they had entirely subverted by converting the water cannon into a flamethrower. It would make an excellent antipersonnel weapon, but it was lightly armoured (after modifications consisting of two layers of 6mm Medium Carbon Steel plates spaced 3cm apart and 5cm from the vehicles skin), only equipped to stop 15mm high velocity rounds, resist 40mm high explosive rounds and 60mm mortar rounds, but 81mm would be too loud and would start damaging equipment and inflicting blunt force trauma upon the human occupants. And forget resisting LAWs, they would need reactive armour to stop those, and they just didn’t have the time or the quantity of explosives needed to make it.

 

It was better armoured than the hummers, but nowhere near as manoeuvrable, so it wasn’t going to be used in any frontal assault.

 

Bit of a white elephant really, she had only made the thing because she could, any weapon being better than none, and they had had a rather pathetic arsenal at that point.

 

But it was spacious inside enough for her to use as a mobile command post.

 

They had raided a number of rail yards for rails, diamond impregnated chop saws, and thermite and were using it to obstruct the seal, the bringers would need a thermal lance to get through.

 

For the reason that the bringers would most likely use thermal lances, they were also throwing in gravel. The rails would add to the volume of metal, the iron from the thermite would settle inside the gaps, and the gravel once incorporated into the obstruction, would resist the thermal lance, with nothing for the oxygen to react to, the only heat available would be coming from the lance and the iron above, the molten minerals would just sit there sapping heat.

 

Robodaria had no intention of allowing the bringers the time to completely clear the seal, she would leave the city to assault the main body using both hummers and the M777s simultaneously, she could allow the bringers to take the city while she went after their towed guns and other siege forces, and then clear the city of them.

 

Only this time, the bringers would probably be taking hostages just to mess things up. She had not formulated any serious tutorial to prepare the slayers for that possibility because the First Evil would only adapt its strategy, but slayers had better aim than the average human, so odds were that human shields would be a major hindrance to bringers, and not a help. Especially considering that a large number of potential hostages would be armed to the teeth legally or not, and holed up in strong locations. So all chasing hostages would do is keep the bringers where the slayers could shoot them.

 

Of course, some civilians would be easier to take hostage than others, so the First Evil would do it anyway if the opportunity arose, the main concern is what the First Evil intended to do about Willow, since it was her occupying the First Evil’s attention that had caused it’s severe losses earlier.

 

Could it do something about that?

 

And if it couldn’t, could it get another entity to work on it’s behalf.

 

~-~

 

“Miss Rosenberg, phone call from Buffy Summers.” said one of the soldiers.

 

She accepted the phone from the soldier.

 

Right now Riley was talking with the joint chiefs about getting some of those prototype missiles with those multimode warheads she had heard of on that documentary on, … something to do with the military, she couldn’t remember what, just that apparently nothing they had in bulk right now was quite up to the job. The First Evil rendering any stealth system or tactics they had worthless, the only thing the First Evil had trouble tracking was machines, but humans who operated machines, who, for instance, programmed tomahawks to hit something, would give the game away instantly.

 

One of the more practical ideas was to fit some SR71s with AGM62 walleyes or AGM65 Mavericks, since they could take advantage of speed and altitude to hit enemy positions. But there were problems with both the aircraft and the weapons, and the fact that just about any high explosive used by their weapons would cook off if it were carried externally at mach 3, thus defeating the proposal, and U2s, while having altitude, did not have speed.

 

Willow here.”

 

“Gabriel Kent, the First Evil’s chief acolyte, was seen heading to Canada, there are a number of seals up there, can you spend anyone to chase him?” asked Buffy.

 

“I don’t think I can, I’ll talk to Riley about it.” said Willow.

 

“How’s it going over there?” asked Buffy.

 

“Okay, well, Daria, Amanda and Quinn, Daria’s sister, got trapped in Tiffany’s mind somehow. I’m trying to get them out. Meanwhile, Dariabot appears to be commanding the slayers under her command effectively, they’re on the Cleveland seal, don’t know how long it will take for them to be done with it. Dariabot seems to be accumulating the biggest body count.” said Willow.

 

“Okay, what’s that thing about Daria, Amanda and Quinn being trapped in Tiffany’s mind?”

 

“Tiffany went catatonic, Amanda and Daria started having a poke around trying to snap her out of it. They then had Quinn assist, but something went wrong and now they can’t get out. They’re safe, I just don’t know how to free them, I’m going through just about every magical text I can think of, but nothing feels or looks like the spell I’m seeing.” said Willow.

 

“Okay, I’m not sure what I can do to help if anything, but we’re getting things under control on our end, so if you think of something, maybe we’ll be available soon.” said Buffy.

 

“Right thanks.” said Willow, she hung up and realised something about Buffy’s catatonia shortly after Glory took Dawn might hold the key somehow.

 

But right now, it eluded her, so she just got on with briefing Riley.

 

~-~

 

Sandi kept searching through the radio channels.

 

“I don’t get it.” said Sandi.

 

“The shield is blocking everything, remember?” said Mr Deckler.

 

“Yeah, but shouldn’t it stop static too?”

 

“Oh yeah.” he said.

 

“This is stupid, how long are they going to take?” asked Sandi.

 

They all looked at Amanda, Daria, Quinn and Tiffany.

 

~-~

 

Captains John Handler and Irma Travis inspected the bombs rigged to the underside of the SR71, looking at the welds that held the hard points to the airframe.

 

Apparently this was safer than rigging the F12’s internal bays for bombs, something about the airflow across the bomb bay doors being a problem.

 

The welds looked neat and everything, but they didn’t like the possibility that they’d rip chunks of the airframe off the vehicle when they made their bomb runs.

 

They looked at the bombs themselves.

 

The weapons had been covered in a mild steel skin which held the firebricks onto the bombs, and the lugs were protected from the airflow, so the explosives would be protected from the heat. The skin also served to give the weapons frontal stealth, by the time there was any part the enemy could lock onto pointed at them, the SR71 would be moving away too fast for the SAMs to have a hope of hitting them, this was exactly why the SR71 was built like this.

 

The bombs were mk84s fitted with paveway guidance systems which was also protected by the case. When the bombs were down to mach 2 in velocity, a length of primacord would be used to strip off the steel case, by which time they hoped to have a laser painting the SAM sites, as soon as that was dealt with, they could move in with other aircraft.

 

Of course there was a slight possibility that the primacord would damage the paveway guidance system, but this was the only plan they got.

 

~-~

 

Gabriel opened the hatch and shone his flashlight into the water tower’s tank, trying to locate the pipe.

 

The bottom was lined with gravel, there was probably a layer of coarse sand under that, this to filter the water as it left the tower no doubt, this would have to be cleared if his plan was to succeed.

 

“Yep” he said as unpacked the scuba gear he had with him and prepared to enter tank, he had expected this, and was just a touch annoyed that Turok Han couldn’t take sunlight. Not that carrying all that aluminium powder was a problem, he had tied all the sacks together and carried them up in one go, he was going to feed it into the pipes as the water drained, along with some initiators, and then block the pipe. The powder would then settle densely enough for the detonation wave to travel through it.

 

Hopefully the charge he planted on the water pipes on the other side of town won’t get detected until he was ready to move.

 

~-~

 

The slayers were getting bored, those that weren’t creating the obstructions over the seal that was.

 

Robodaria was concerned that they would have trouble getting moving again. She was concerned about the lack of movement on the part of the bringers, because they weren’t doing anything to improve the mobility of their towed artillery.

 

This wasn’t right, the First Evil was up to something, but had successfully hidden it’s activities from Robodaria’s view.

 

She decided to make contact Riley and ask for an intelligence update, perhaps there was something he could shed light on.

 

~-~

 

“Riley here.”

 

“Yeah, Robodaria here, request intelligence update.”

 

“Not much to say, a Gabriel Kent has gone to Canada, apparently he’s the First Evil’s helper, Buffy and an SAS troop are headed after him in pursuit.”

 

“Where in Canada?” asked the robot.

 

“They didn’t say, the Canadian police might have had sightings, hang on.”

 

“I just got the reports, he opened the Elmira hell mouth last night, and was last seen at Wheatley with a large formation of Turok Han, they are headed this way.”

 

“Right, … well, anything else?”

 

“Yes, tell Willow to be ready in three hours, double time.” the robot hung up.

 

~-~

 

“Anyone else feeling congested?” asked Sandi.

 

“Yes.” said Mr Deckler.

 

“CO2.” said Mrs Deckler.

 

“Great, we need to either take down the spell, or scrub the air.” said Sandi.

 

“What if there are those Bringer guys out there?” asked Mrs Deckler.

 

“Okay, Oxygen spells it is.” said Sandi, starting to look through the books.

 

“Errrm, … aren’t some of those spells dangerous?” asked Mr Deckler.

 

“Isn’t ass fixing, … ” started Sandi.

 

“Asphyxiation.” offered Mr Deckler, he then said “Point taken.” and grabbed a book and started looking for a useful spell, after a few minutes, he said “anyone got a Latin dictionary or a Latin learning spell?”.

 

~-~

 

“Robodaria, Lucy, several explosions have occurred along the edges of the city simultaneously, several water mains appear to have been severed, request advice, over.”

 

Robodaria redirected one of the UAVs to look at the areas were the damage had occurred.

 

Why sever water mains?

 

It’s not like that will have a serious effect on the availability of water, and there would be tons of soft drinks available in the event it were impacted. The slayers couldn’t afford to take the time to shower anyway. This might harass the inhabitants of Cleveland, but they had, assuming they followed advice from various survival magazines, stored their own water supplies anyway, so what was the point?

 

She looked at a map of the Cleveland water grid, the water would be coming from a number of water towers.

 

She directed the UAV to look at the towers.

 

One of them had an open hatch.

 

“The water leaks have just died down.”

 

The capacity of the towers exceeded that which would have been expended through the holes in the pavement. The numbers were all wrong, what use would blowing the pipes be that far from- they needed a high velocity in the pipes, to carry something.

 

Explosives, and possibly a chemical weapon.

 

“Narice, relocate to waypoint 1, target the water tower marked on your display, Lucy, you should have line of sight on that tower, shoot into the open hatch.”

 

She heard the acknowledgements.

 

She also saw the bringers start to move into the sectors that had been protected by the M777 Narice was driving, she had confidence that she could carry out this strike, and then take out the advancing bringers.

 

Reports of explosions started coming in, the origins of the explosions there thought by the slayers to be the water mains.

 

~-~

 

“They’re targeting the tower.” said the First Evil.

 

“Time on target?” asked Gabriel, not stopping what he was doing, which was hooking up the devices he had made for production of massive quantities of hydrogen cyanide.

 

“Mortars incoming now, an M777 is being sent to target you, I’m sending bringers to take them out, but they are not going to make it, get out of there.”

 

There was an explosion in the water tower, but it didn’t do anything to Gabriel because he was too far from the hatch.

 

“TIME ON TARGET?” repeated Gabriel as he opened the valves on the devices leading to the pipe, he then pulled the switches on the devices, this shattered the sulphuric acid bottles and set off the thermit charges designed to accelerate the production of hydrogen cyanide.

 

~-~

 

The gun was in position, the slayers adjusted the gun’s aim the same time as they loaded it.

 

Robodaria directed them to sever the pipe at the ground, they would have to keep firing until the pipe was severed, she didn’t know how quickly the chemical weapon being used could be deployed, it was probably being sent into the water grid now.

 

The girls were getting the ammunition off at a rate of 1 every 5 seconds.

 

Gabriel climbed up the back of the ladder and waited for the next shot to strike before swinging around and exiting the tower in no time flat, he then ran for the edge of the tower and jumped off, deploying a parachute.

 

He kept the scuba gear on him because if his mission was successful, he’d be up to his eyeballs in hydrogen cyanide, not lethal with the First Evil’s enhancements, but it would still bite, so he would use the scuba gear to avoid breathing it.

 

He landed on a street perpendicular to the attack vector of the gun, but he immediately saw a number of slayers driving at him, they opened up with 50cals. He evaded, landing through a shop window, he exited the building and shoved a dumpster ahead of him as he ran out into the street. The hummer stopped in front of the store, and two slayers with M16s came around the back.

 

He managed to run down one with the dumpster, the other was within arms reach as planned, enabling him to deflect the weapon as he grabbed her neck and pushed her vertebrae out of line with his top two fingers. The other slayer popped into view, but he killed her before she could get off a shot. He then ran around the dumpster and hit the second hummer with the loaded grenade before they had a clue he was there.

 

The two slayers that had gone in through the front of the shop came out. One was dead before she could shoot, the second got a single burst off, wounding him before his shots killed her. He then ran to them, grabbing what ammo he could before he had to move, which was about 7 seconds from now, because the mortar on the roof of that skyscraper was now scoping his position.

 

“They have destroyed the water line, the Cyanide was not delivered into the grid.”

 

“What about the bringers?” asked Gabriel.

 

“Their M777s are being set up, … they are being targeted.”

 

Gabriel kept running, he entered another shop and looked for a sewer access.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria directed all the slayers to pull away from the projected killing zone around the base of the water tower, the gun would do a U turn and start destroying the bringer guns.

 

Gabriel had disappeared from view, probably running the sewers. This was a serious problem, he was stronger than the slayers, and better trained for warfare of every description, and with the First Evil directing his movements, he would be capable of avoiding any ambush.

 

That would do for now, but she was also concerned he could set up culvert bombs underneath the slayers positions. There were a large number of buildings that had sewer access and materials that could be used in the manufacture of explosives or equipment that could be converted into flamethrowers, mortars, or rocket launchers (they’d be far from any military specification and would from appearance make any other soldier afraid to touch them, but they’d work).

 

She asked the slayers working on the obstruction for a report on their progress, she absolutely couldn’t wait for them to finish if it would take more than 20 minutes, she would have to start moving people out soon.

 

The slayers reported 2 hours until completion.

 

If they didn’t finish before they left, the bringers would have no trouble opening the seal.

 

She had to take Gabriel out.

 

She plugged a videophone into the fire appliances lighter socket and placed that over the map, she then grabbed an M4M203 (M4 with bolted on grenade launcher), some grenades (40mmHE, standard army frag and Daria’s thermit), some C4 and some detonators.

 

“Where you going?” asked Jane as she left.

 

“To kill a cop.” said Robodaria.

 

“Can I help?” asked Jane.

 

“Negative, I’ll be back.” said Robodaria.

 

“Don’t say that, characters that say that in the movies all die.” said Jane.

 

Robodaria then used an Austrian accent to say “I’ll be back.”

 

Jane nodded and said “Okay, better.”

 

Robodaria then left.

 

~-~

 

“The robot is chasing you.” said the First Evil.

 

“Where is it?” asked Gabriel.

 

“I can’t track it, it has an M16 with grenade launcher, 6 40mmHE grenades, 4 fragmentation grenades, and 4 thermit grenades.”

 

“Well then, I’m just going to have to kill it then.” said Gabriel.

 

~-~

 

“Blackbird 3, come to 0 7 5, angels 7 0 buster, over.”

 

“Copy 0 7 5, 7 0 angels buster, out.” replied Captain Travis as she brought the aircraft to the course, altitude and speed.

 

They were coming up on the group of Bringers, they were packing patriots.

 

Hopefully they hadn’t modified them, the First Evil could simply tell the bringers where to steer the missiles, but the missile would need to guide itself at some point.

 

That was the major flaw in their plan, the First Evil could simply have the bringers shoot the missile vertically, and then it would be coming from an angle that the blackbird won’t be radar invisible from, or worse: fit the missile with a ‘winder’s heat sensor and enough coolant to deal with the long flight, the SR71’s skin temperature reached past the 500’s, that being the reason the airframe was titanium, not aluminium.

 

“Blackbird 3, cleared hot, first target co-ordinates, 4 0, 4 5, 2 1 north, 8 1, 2 2, 0 4 west, over.”

 

“Copy weapons hot, targeting 4 0, 4 5, 2 1 north, 8 1, 2 2, 0 4 west, out.”

 

They set the autopilot to auto-release, the target would be illuminated by laser from space.

 

They saw the dash rise up the vertical line and hit the velocity vector icon, there was a click as the bomb was released.

 

“Bomb away, bomb away.” said Captain Travis.

 

Then the SAM light flashed.

 

“Atoll, Atoll.” she said as she turned the aircraft south.

 

“We’ll lose our radar invisibility if we show our side to the missile” reminded Captain Handler.

 

“That’ll happen anyway if we overfly the missile, I just want to give it further to fly to get us.”

 

“Okay, but the turn just lost us some altitude.”

 

“I know.”

 

She was sort of tempted to take the aircraft down to an altitude that would give them enough air for the wings to bite, the problem with that was that at lower altitudes, the dynamic pressure on the bombs would put some serious strain on the hard points. And the temperatures reached could possibly ignite the steel cases on the bombs. The cases were sharp, so the shock fronts wouldn’t cause any damage to the aircrafts skin, but if the cases came off, the paveway sensors would produce a more severe bow shock, that might burn a hole in the skin before the device was destroyed.

 

And then there was the power steering units for the fore planes on the front of the bomb, of course this didn’t account for the possible drop in velocity by this time, but she was projecting worst case scenarios anyway.

 

In fact, the whole plan was too Junkheap Wars for her liking anyway.

 

The missile was following them.

 

But it was not going to catch them.

 

Captain Travis then turned north, dropping a little to get some usable air pressure.

 

“We’re losing a lot of altitude.” said Captain Handler.

 

“I know.”

 

She then turned south, toward the missile, it was coming from an angle that wouldn’t return much of an echo.

 

She started dumping chaff.

 

The missile shot past them, and she pulled out of the dive saying “they can’t hit us now, their opportunity has passed”

 

~-~

 

Gabriel was making his way to the hell mouth, his objective was to disrupt their work, prevent them from getting to the stage of lighting that thermite over the gravel. As far as he had heard from the First Evil, the slayers didn’t entirely trust the thermit to fill all the cracks, so they were welding bits of rail and rebar to the seal.

 

He was going to use a bomb he had MacGuyvered to kill them, he would throw it into the room, the girls would eat rat poison contaminated shrapnel, they’d then bleed onto the seal, and open a whole can of Turok Han, and- he sniffed the air.

 

Something didn’t smell right.

 

This was a sewer, so it was supposed to stink, but this smell had a different tang to it.

 

“Oh it didn’t.” he said.

 

~-~

 

The cell phone that Robodaria had placed just south of the hell mouth picked up someone saying “Oh it didn’t.”

 

The only person down here aside from herself was Gabriel Kent, everyone else who could conceivably be running around the Cleveland sewer system was holed up at home.

 

She had been moving around punching as many holes in the gas mains as possible using a chisel and some elbow grease, she had to be careful not to purge all the oxygen from the sewer, and found she had successfully kept the mixture within the explosive limits.

 

She lifted two fingers and discharged an electrical current between the fingertips.

 

~-~

 

The robot must have heard him.

 

That was the only reason he could think of why a blue flash had washed over him.

 

~-~

 

Jane’s attention was caught by a gynormous flame shooting out of a manhole and water being shot out from the drains along the side of the road, the flames lasted a split second, like a muzzle flash, the blast echoed.

 

Actually, that wasn’t an echo, Jane realised, it was the fact the sound was coming from a number of manhole covers all over the place.

 

“What the fuck was that?” asked one of the slayers watching the map.

 

“Sewers just blew up.” said Jane.

 

“Oh.” they then returned to what they were just doing.

 

~-~

 

The phones in the area of the detonation were intact, but that didn’t guarantee Robodaria would know Gabriel’s location, and since the actual knowledge of his capabilities were limited, she had no idea if the explosion or the anaerobic environment had any effect what so ever. He had been knocked out a couple of days ago by an anti armour weapon to the chest, but all she had thrown his way was a change in pressure. It might have thrown him against a wall, singed his alveoli, but there was a high likelihood that it merely slowed his movements a little.

 

She slowed down and spent most of the time moving her eyes around, she needed to be certain she would see him before he could shoot one of those 40mm grenades at her.

 

She decided to start broadcasting whirring noises to the phones at random intervals, the phones were concealed from view, so the only way Gabriel would know what was making the noises would be to feel for them, that would affect the signal strength enough for her to know he was there.

 

~-~

 

Gabriel heard that noise again.

 

He approached the source while looking around.

 

He absolutely couldn’t allow the robot to sneak up on him, and he doubted that the robot would set off a gas explosion if it couldn’t survive the conditions created.

 

The lack of oxygen wasn’t helping him much, in fact, it was hindering his thought, as was the splitting headache that was caused by being thrown against the wall of the sewer by the blast.

 

He felt around the back of the pipe, and found the device was, … a cell phone.

 

This could be quite useful.

 

He pulled out a coil of fishing line.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria approached the corner.

 

The signal loss indicated Gabriel had approached the phone, he had touched the antenna, then he had stayed near it a while, then moved on.

 

She bobbed her head forward.

 

She saw the phone in the middle of the sewer.

 

She was capable of tracking the phone through the systems the police use.

 

Gabriel intended to draw her into some sort of trap.

 

Did he know her capabilities?

 

Robodaria headed to another phone she had set up and chiselled out some concrete, picking up the fragments with a lump of Composition 4, she then set it up near the phone so that if Gabriel came from this direction, he’d get blown up.

 

She then headed to the phone on the string.

 

Another possibility occurred to her: Gabriel might not wait for her, he could be moving in on the hell mouth seal.

 

The gas explosion could not be repeated within the next few hours, the gas leaks were going to add to the gas shield rather than set up another explosion because of the exhaust products filling the sewer network in the area, Gabriel would head to the hell mouth if able to do so.

 

She retrieved the C4 and chiselled out a deep enough hole for her to bring down the sewer, in case she was wrong, she then headed to the hell mouth and detonated the charge.

 

~-~

Gabriel waited a little longer, then he decided to approach the tunnel.

 

He had set up the string going toe opposite was so that the robot would be looking the wrong way, but about a minute after he heard the blast, he had to consider his bait had failed to raise any interest from the robot.

 

He walked up the tunnel and found a pile of rocks in his way.

 

“What did you do that for?”

 

~-~

 

“What the fuck?” asked Quinn when she saw the vampire’s face flicker a little.

 

The vampires were making her fuck them again, and the face of the one she was being made to fuck seemed to be changing into, … “Tiffany?”

 

She looked over to where the other Tiffany was tied up and getting fucked by one vampire and bitten by another, both vampires faces were changing, they both looked over to her.

 

The Tiffany that was tied up asked “What’s going on here?”

 

None of the vampire Tiffanies answered.

 

The ones that were working the tied up Tiffany stood up and stood her up too.

 

“WELL?” asked tied up Tiffany.

 

“You wanted someone to understand what happened to you, didn’t you?” asked the vampire that Quinn was still straddling.

 

“ … What?” asked Tied up Tiffany, not understanding.

 

“This was not something that could ever be adequately described with words, in order to understand what you went through, they would have to go through it themselves.” said one of the vampire transsexual Tiffanys.

 

“BUT THAT’S FUCKED! I WOULD NEVER DO THIS!” said tied up Tiffany.

 

“Yeah? Who do you think I am?” asked the vampire.

 

“YOU’RE NOT ME!”

 

“Am too.”

 

“ARE NOT.”

 

“Am too.”

 

“IF YOU’RE ME, YOU’LL FUCKING RELEASE US ALL RIGHT THIS INSTANT!”

 

“No, we’re not done, we’ve only just got started with Quinn.”

 

“NO, YOU ARE DONE! RELEASE HER NOW.” said tied up Tiffany.

 

hmmmmm.” said the vampire, the vampire then sniffed and said “no.” before biting into Quinn’s neck.

 

“Well then, you’re not me, are you?” asked tied up Tiffany.

 

“It’s just as likely you’re not you.” said the vampire feeding off Quinn.

 

Tied up Tiffany stared at the vampire and eventually said “THAT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE WHAT SO EVER!”

 

One of the vampires near tied up Tiffany then pulled a knife and cut the ropes restraining her.

 

The vamp next to the one that had just done that looked at him/her incredulously as the Tiffany that had just been freed said “thanks.” before grabbing the second vampire and throwing him/her across the room, she then ran to where a pencil was lying and picked it up before the third vamp could grab her neck chain, she then used the pencil to kill the third vampire.

 

The one fucking Quinn threw Quinn to the floor and got in the fight, but found him/herself frozen to the spot.

 

Tiffany staked each vampire in turn, but the one that had been fucking Quinn wouldn’t dust.

 

Tiffany kept stabbing with the pencil, She then shook it next to her ear and said “hmmm.”

 

Vampire male Tiffany said “you know I’m right, don’t you?”

 

~-~

 

Robodaria detected a disturbance, she set off the charges and pursued it.

 

The disturbance was somewhere along the grid of lasers she had set up, but she ran into a Turok Han at the first corner.

 

The Turok Han was armed with a grenade, which it released the spoon from. It then tried to hug Robodaria, but she punched it back the way it had come, it failed to release the grenade until it was too far from Robodaria for the grenade to cause any damage beyond a couple of scratches from shrapnel.

 

She knew Gabriel was well inside the perimeter she had set up, she ran after him.

 

“GABRIEL’S TOPSIDE!” she heard one of the slayers broadcast.

 

She ran for the nearest manhole and shot up the ladder, dragging herself out with her hands, her toes skidding up the wall on either side of the ladder to avoid them getting caught. She surfaced and ran to the only target worth Gabriel’s time.

 

She approached the sports centre the hell mouth was located under and saw him run around the other side.

 

She made it around in time to see him enter through a fire exit he had ripped off it’s hinges, two dead slayers next to it.

 

She saw him round a corner ahead of her, she ordered the slayers working on the hell mouth to be ready for him.

 

She heard gunfire ahead, and someone report “Ruth’s down.”. She then heard more gunfire, and found Gabriel on the other side of the door. Some gunshot wounds in his arms and torso, he saw her in time to get a grenade off, but his aim sucked. Robodaria got hers off just after her view was obstructed by smoke and dust. The origin of her grenade detonation was too distant for it to have hit Gabriel, she unloaded the clip on her M16 in an attempt to either hit him if he was in the corridor, or keep him out of the corridor.

 

She then threw a thermit grenade in order to cut off a potential escape.

 

She advanced through the smoke.

 

No joy.

 

She looked for blood.

 

The trail led to a door a little further along.

 

She shouted “friendly coming through.” before passing the doors that led to the chamber where the slayers were working on securing the hell mouth.

 

She had another grenade loaded by the time she was at the door, Gabriel had moved on.

 

She kept following the blood, she rounded another corner in time to see a pipe explode.

 

She ran through the water and tried to reacquire the blood trail.

 

Wasn’t happening, so she went to the hell mouth since that would still be his logical objective.

 

Right now, slayers were taking positions around the building, she deployed them to locations where they could be certain he could be killed with relatively little risk to themselves.

 

The problem was that he was disrupting work, also they were getting close to dusk, there were likely to be a lot more Turok Han where that one came from, and while she doubted the slayers would experience any serious problems against them, they would occupy their attention.

 

She arrived back at the room and told the slayers to get back to work, she could cover all entrances effectively, they needed to get the obstructions completed soon.

 

~-~

 

“You didn’t like the fact that everyone else was walking around without a god damned clue what you were feeling.” said the vampire.

 

“I didn’t want everyone looking at me with god damned pity.” said Tiffany.

 

“You still hated the fact they were ignorant.”

 

“Is that what the First Evil used?”

 

“It had a point.”

 

“Yeah, well so did I when I decided not to tell anyone, they DIDN’T, NEED, TO KNOW! ESPECIALLY IN THIS MANNER, MY JOB IS TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM VAMPIRES, NOT LOCK THEM IN A ROOM FULL OF THEM!”

 

“It was kind of lonely though, but now Quinn knows-”

 

“AND NOW, SHE WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!”

 

“Damn, that- oh wait, she didn’t want anything to do with you earlier, when you interrogated Daria, remember?”

 

“IRRELEVANT! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS SHIT?”

 

“It’s you that’s-”

 

“YOU’RE NOT ME! YOU MAY LIVE IN MY HEAD, BUT YOU ARE NOT ME! WHAT ARE YOUR OBJECTIVES?”

 

“To spread the pain, misery loves company, in’t that right Daria?”

 

Daria appeared in the room and looked around.

 

“Daria?” asked Quinn.

 

“Hi Quinn.” said Daria.

 

Another Tiffany appeared, this one in the blue dress she had favoured all that time ago.

 

Daria noticed her as she approached, and headed over to the naked Tiffany.

 

“Come on, … what should I call you?” asked naked Tiffany.

 

“Tiffany’s good.” said vampire Tiffany.

 

“Not for you, and feel free to take that as a threat, by the way.” naked Tiffany then skipped over to blue dress Tiffany and kicked her across the room.

 

“Hey, quit hitting yourself” said vampire Tiffany.

 

“That’s not me, it’s you, you’re a totally different persona based on a single warped urge the First Evil managed to exploit.” said Naked Tiffany.

 

“Yeah? What you gonna do about it? I have control, you don’t control shit.” said vampire Tiffany.

 

“Neither do you.” said naked Tiffany.

 

Blue dress Tiffany then charged naked Tiffany, but naked Tiffany simply leaned on blue dress Tiffany’s head as blue dress Tiffany started swinging her fists around.

 

“In fact, I think you are really starting to lose it big time.”

 

Blue dress Tiffany disappeared, vampire Tiffany stepped forwards saying “alrighty then.” she threw a punch, which naked Tiffany blocked. Naked Tiffany also threw a punch, but vampire Tiffany blocked that.

 

They separated, then vampire Tiffany charged naked Tiffany, who grabbed vampire Tiffany and fell back, flipping vampire Tiffany over her, they both got up simultaneously.

 

Vampire Tiffany spun around and launched a reverse kick, which naked Tiffany blocked, but vampire Tiffany had used the kick as a diversion so she could get closer so she could kick naked Tiffany in the chest, but Naked Tiffany simply grabbed vampire Tiffany’s leg and shoved her onto the deck, twisting the shin around so that the knee was dislocated.

 

Vampire Tiffany kicked at naked Tiffany with her other leg, naked Tiffany was forced to disengage temporarily, vampire Tiffany got up, trying to move around on the fucked up knee.

 

Naked Tiffany then started kicking at vampire Tiffany, vampire Tiffany blocked the kicks, naked Tiffany then threw some punches, vampire tiffany’s blocks were effective for the punches, but it allowed naked Tiffany to grab her hands and draw her towards her, she kneed her in the chest, then brought both hands down on both sides of her neck simultaneously, she then jumped up, spreading her feet as far as possible, and leaning forwards to bring her elbow down into vampire Tiffany’s back, right between the shoulder blades.

 

She then grabbed vampire Tiffany’s head and twisted it 270° around.

 

She then picked up vampire Tiffany and asked “are you dead yet?”

 

Vampire Tiffany then grabbed naked Tiffany by the throat, Naked Tiffany broke the hold and twisted vampire Tiffany’s left arm around, dislocating the elbow, she then repeated the procedure on the other arm.

 

Naked Tiffany then stood up and asked “anyone know how we get out of here?”

 

Vampire Tiffany laughed, saying “you can’t.”

 

Naked Tiffany picked up vampire Tiffany and said “care to re-phrase that?”

 

“I’m still a part of you, and no one leaves without my say so.”

 

~-~

 

The slayers with the giant torches that had been pre-heating the structure backed off as the one with the magnesium strip approached the huge pile of thermite. She then threw it onto the thermite, and the whole pile lit up, flooding the room with radiated heat.

 

“Okay, time to go.” said Robodaria.

 

They all headed out, leaving the bottles of propane in the room, those would absorb some of the heat from the thermite. Or the flamethrower on the converted appliance later if they haven’t gone off by then.

 

They picked the shortest route to the nearest open area controlled by their forces, it was starting to get dark outside.

 

“Right, soon as this place is on fire, we’re moving on.” said Robodaria.

 

She had called in the modified fire appliance earlier, they were going to use it to try to incinerate Gabriel Kent.

 

Robodaria doubted it would work though.

 

She ordered Jane to get to work, and she did.

 

There were puffs of fire from within, the propane cans had exploded as expected.

 

After they had filled every accessible room with fire, they moved out.

 

The roof mortars were dismantled and on hummers in 5 minutes, Robodaria directed all the slayers west, sending the guns with them.

 

She hoped that the whole thing would come off as well as the last engagement.

 

~-~

 

Quinn checked her makeup again. With no one holding her down, she had gotten dressed again, and Daria completed her 35th lap around the room. Naked Tiffany hadn’t moved a millimetre, and was still holding vampire Tiffany.

 

“Are we bored yet?” asked Daria.

 

Naked Tiffany then looked up and said “something’s happening.”

 

Vampire Tiffany said “yeah, I’m getting that too.”

 

They looked down at naked Tiffany’s hands and saw them fusing with Vampire Tiffany’s body.

 

Ewwwwwww.” said Quinn.

 

“And so say all of us.” said the Tiffanys simultaneously.

 

“does this mean-” started Daria.

 

~-~

 

“-We’re getting out of here?”

 

Sandi and the Deckler parents looked at Daria, then at the other three people who had been in a coma for the past day or so.

 

Daria and Quinn looked around, Tiffany and Amanda opened their eyes.

 

“It’s hard to breathe in here.” said Quinn.

 

“Carbon dioxide poisoning.” said Daria.

 

“What?” asked Quinn.

 

“The reason we were released was because of the build up of carbon dioxide.” said Daria.

 

“Yeah, about that, do you know any oxygen spells?” asked Sandi.

 

“Yeah, but if Tiffany loses her intoxication, she might go catatonic again.” said Daria.

 

“Or worse:” said Tiffany, she then explained “my inner Samara could take over and start tearing everyone’s limbs off.”

 

“Right, that case, we should have some morphine somewhere.” she went for a first aid kit they had, she opened it and pulled some ampoules and a syringe, she broke open a couple and filled the syringe from them.

 

“Isn’t that a bit much?” asked Mr Deckler.

 

“Not for a vampire slayer, multiply all tolerances by 3.” said Daria as she prepared to inject Tiffany.

 

After Daria had administered the dose, she then pulled a pen and wrote an M on Tiffany’s forehead.

 

“What did you do that for?” asked Quinn.

 

“’Case another medical team takes charge of Tiffany within the time it takes for the morphine to leave her system, standard practice since we don’t have the sort of forms that would normally accompany a patient in the hospital.” she then pulled a small piece of paper from her coat pocket and cast a spell.

 

A bright light appeared in front of her face, it fell into her lap.

 

She picked it up.

 

“Air’s fresher.” said Quinn.

 

Daria held up the rough diamond and said “usually is without all this in it.”

 

“Whoa.” said Quinn.

 

“That’s a real diamond?” asked Sandi.

 

“Yep, now, let’s get the fuck out of here, Amanda, feel up to taking a peek outside?” asked Daria.

 

~-~

 

The bringers in the Cleveland area were all dead now, that left the Turok Han.

 

The slayers had been using 40mm grenades to maim them on their way in, and then switching to swords when they were close enough to do so, Jane was on a hummer with her own flamethrower cooking as many Turok Han as possible, the slayers operating the converted fire fighting appliance were working the other side of the enemy formation.

 

The air force had apparently taken out half the high altitude SAMs the bringers had stolen, using a modified SR71 with modified mk84GBUs, it looked like the First Evil was losing, but she imagined that the First Evil would not just let them win, and they hadn’t seen Gabriel die, so Robodaria had to assume Gabriel was still in the game.

 

~-~

 

“I hate losing.” said the First Evil.

 

“Wow, what a coincidence, I also happen to hate losing.” said Gabriel, as he walked along the warehouse full of chemicals.

 

“What exactly are you doing here?” asked the First Evil.

 

“Seal of Danthazar’s just a door right?” asked Gabriel.

 

“Yes.” said the first.

 

“So if I can get enough explosives on top of it, it’ll be permanently open, right?” asked Gabriel.

 

“Yes, but how are you going to get past the cordon of slayers there?”

 

“You know, the irony of this whole debacle is that if I had simply used the cyanide on the sports centre, that seal would be open and spewing Turok Han by now?” he came across some sacks of sodium chlorate. He then said “this stuff has fire retardants in it, but if I can assemble enough HEs for a booster charge, or otherwise cook it off, I can get it to detonate” he signalled some Turok Han that had been following with giant palette trolleys to start grabbing the sacks “Now, poisons, … ” he headed off to find some nerve gas ingredients.

 

~-~

 

Robodaria received reports that all enemy agents were dead, she decided to dispatch a few teams to retrieve the bodies of the dead slayers, she didn’t know where to send the bodies though, she searched for available lockers in the cities morgues.

 

They had managed to capture 3 more M777s intact, so she could now cover the full field of fire.

 

Another 30 slayers had been killed in action, this on top of the losses in the previous battle had eaten a large portion of the forces under her command.

 

As a robot, it was difficult to say anything meaningful about the deaths, they were simply destroyed combat units. Robodaria could never relate to the living people she commanded, she was aware of this, but also aware of the effect on morale the deaths will have had, and that being commanded by a machine would have eaten some of the patience the slayers would have had under this kind of distress.

 

There wasn’t time to bury the dead, it would be faster to stick them in the available morgues, then they could carry out whatever funeral rites were appropriate once the current crisis was solved, at the moment there was still a large bringer force a couple of hundred miles south of Cleveland. The air force was now moving in with more normal aircraft, all the serious SAM units were destroyed.

 

Robodaria remembered when she had stolen that F16 loaded with AGM65s and mk82s, that had gone rather well, but she had been on equal terms with the First Evil, it had to instruct the bringers to use the sensors to locate her because as a machine, she was untraceable without being around any life forms, the air force would not have that advantage, they would have to destroy the enemy from outside the ranges of the stingers the enemy probably had, they were making progress, but they only had 37 aircraft available for this, and they had limited stores, they were also running out of AGMs and paveways, the A10s didn’t have as mush a problem with the stingers, so they could go in and strafe enemy units.

 

The army was moving in with whatever armour they had, which wasn’t a lot since most of it was in Iraq, but it severely outclassed what the bringers were now left with, they were starting to win.

 

The First Evil will not be happy about that.

 

And Gabriel was not confirmed as being dead.

 

Robodaria received a phone call from Daria.

 

“Robodaria, Daria, how’s it going?”

 

“We have Cleveland, the Cleveland hell mouth is obstructed, no enemy activity within city limits, we encountered the first evil’s chief acolyte, Gabriel Kent, we might have killed him, but that has not been confirmed, the army are making progress further south, I lost a total of 56 slayers since you were trapped in Tiffany’s mind, what’s your situation?”

 

“We just freed ourselves from Tiffany’s mind, Tiffany has now been sedated until we can get her some help, otherwise, we’re coming to you.”

 

“Received, out.”

 

~-~

 

“This is unbelievable, the second time the first evil tries to take over the world, and again, we remain ignorant of it.” said Wesley.

 

They had been driving to Cleveland for the past day or so, having stockpiled enough ordnance to feel up to a massive battle, they were expecting to be going up against more Wolfram and Hart forces, but this didn’t seem to be the plan.

 

“Yeah, but at least the first time we had an excuse, the whole Jasmine thing.” said Gunn.

 

“Ucghh, don’t remind me.” said Wesley.

 

“Jasmine?” asked Illyria.

 

“Yeah, hypnotic people eater from another dimension, tried hypnotising the planet, ultimately defeated by Angel finding out her true name and speaking it in this dimension.” said Wesley.

 

“That sounds familiar, … … I know the First Evil, it was a source of great amusement in my time, but now that it has become a competitive force, I need it disabled.” said Illyria, looking kind of mournful at this.

 

“Yeah, that’s a crying shame, that.” said Spike, not needing the stereotypical tone for the sarcasm to be obvious.

 

“Tell me of your experiences with the First Evil.” said Illyria.

 

“Right, well, let’s see: first time I met it, it dry-cleaned my brain, could see my face in it, if I wasn’t a vampire, that is. Then when we identified it, it decided to get it’s pet Turok Han to smack me around a little, then there was the time I got incinerated in the process of the destruction of the Sunnydale Hell mouth, and, … that’s it.”

 

“I see.”

 

“I wasn’t aware that there were so many hellmouths though.” said Spike.

 

“Why is this nation’s army having so much trouble?” asked Illyria.

 

“Our president is an idiot.” said Wesley.

 

“Our president, your country has a prime minister.” said Gunn.

 

“Blair? Fuckin’ control freak.” said Spike.

 

“It makes sense to acquire control over everything, that’s how you win.” said Illyria.

 

“It makes more sense to listen to those around you and think about what you’re doing.” said Wesley.

 

“Both procedures make equal sense, that is why I intent to earn the loyalty of the humans, so I can make use of it’s expertise.”

 

“Huh, good luck, humans are as fractious as the pure demons of your time.” said Spike.

 

“They might be easier to unite when faced with the mystical threats they face.” said Illyria.

 

“Looks like we’re about to find out, no way to hide the current war against the First Evil.” said Gunn.

 

“We may have some action left after all.” said Illyria.

 

“Really? How’s that?” asked Spike.

 

“I am sensing the First Evil’s Qwa’ha Xahn, it has a unique emotional flavour.” said Illyria.

 

“Can you get a vector?” asked Wesley.

 

Illyria concentrated, and said “No, it’s getting too strong, my senses are not what they used to be, but it looks like we should speed up.”

 

~-~

 

The APC stopped and Daria got out, walking over to Jane and Robodaria, saying “’sup?”

 

“Not a lot, slayers are relaxing, the police are re-taking control of the city, bringers are getting killed on mass in Canada, all’s going pretty well, so we’ve created a few more problems, ’in’t that right?” said Jane, directing the last three words at Robodaria.

 

“The problem is I can not be certain Gabriel Kent is dead.” said Robodaria.

 

Daria took a couple of seconds, then said “Jane, I’ve seen the intelligence we have on these guys, Buffy had dealt what should have been a fatal injury to Caleb, he jumped right back up and resumed fighting.”

 

“And Gabriel Kent took an anti-armour rocket to the chest, and jumped right back up and resumed fighting.” added Robodaria.

 

“What did it was splitting the guy right down the middle, I’d go for pureeing the guy myself though, just to be safe.” said Daria.

 

“Okay.” said Jane.

 

“I have 20 of slayers on quick reaction alert at all times, this will continue until I am certain the threat is neutralised or someone else has picked up the problem.” said Robodaria.

 

“Right, … … If you got a few spare kilobytes per second, could you start checking on the slayers relatives? And see if you can find out if Jake Morgendorffer’s still alive?” asked Daria.

 

Robodaria said “Standby.” and stared off into space, looking bored as she started looking online for the information.

 

After a while, Robodaria said “The Lawndale Police Department has logged 342 calls from a Jake Morgendorffer asking about Yourself and Quinn since the bringers kicked off, there is a good chance he is still alive.”

 

“Sweet.” said Daria.

 

“How’s Tiffany?” asked Jane.

 

“Sedated, I think she’s a danger to everyone right now, the First Evil really did a number on her.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“I had Amanda place Quinn and me in Tiffany’s head, and Tiffany’s other self went off like a mine. It trapped all three of us until we started running out of oxygen, then Tiffany’s personalities united, and we all regained consciousness.”

 

“That’s what Willow told us.” said Jane.

 

“Yeah? Did she mention that Tiffany’s other self took on the personas of the vampires that captured her and held her prisoner for several weeks?”

 

“No.”

 

“When we were trying to get Tiffany to wake up, we had Quinn trigger a flashback because Tiffany was imagining she was in school, but that caused the activation of her other selves, and Quinn was with her when those vampires entered the room, and I couldn’t do anything other than watch them play with her.” said Daria.

 

Jane couldn’t come up with a response.

 

“That’s my fucking sister. I allowed her into Tiffany’s mind without looking for, … I don’t know, something that could have indicated that this could happen.”

 

The two of them were silent for now.

 

Robodaria then said “Oh crap.”

 

“What?” asked Daria.

 

“Cops investigated a warehouse break in, they got video footage of a balding man accompanied by several monstrous creatures. They’re missing quantities of sodium chlorate, and a number of ingredients that can be used to create VX, I’ve dispatched the alert slayers.”

 

“Sodium chlorate? That sound familiar.” said Jane.

 

“I use Ammonium perchlorate as an oxidiser, most chlorates I’ve heard of can also be used as high explosives.”

 

“Pictures have been sent to the command centre, … it’s Gabriel Kent. He must be headed to the square where slayers are assembled. I’ll intercept him, you two start moving them out of there.” said Robodaria.

 

“Right.” said Daria.

 

She and Jane headed off.

 

~-~

 

“The robot just told the slayers guarding the hell mouth to assist in the operation.” said the First Evil as Gabriel and his gaggle of Turok Han helped him manufacture the nerve agent.

 

“I see.” said Gabriel.

 

“If the area is clear, we should move straight on to blasting the hell mouth.”

 

“Right.” said Gabriel, he then gestured for the Turok Han to follow him, as he lifted his wheelbarrow of weed killer and headed off.

 

~-~

 

Sandi watched the road moving past as the APC drove down the road along with the convoy of hummers as they all relocated to another part of town.

 

She then turned to Quinn, who was looking extremely depressed.

 

“Worried about Tiffany?” asked Sandi.

 

“Sort of.” said Quinn.

 

“What happened in there exactly?” asked Sandi.

 

Quinn thought about her answer, but said “I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Sandi looked at Quinn, the tone of her voice seemed very wrong for Quinn.

 

She looked over to Daria as she drove, then Amanda, who was sitting with Jane, neither of them were talking.

 

Tiffany had been transferred to an air ambulance, and would be admitted to a psychiatric ward close to Lawndale until someone could take over. Her parents had gone with her, Daria wasn’t sure if she should tell her parents anything, she had instead given her number to the medics and told them to have the doctor call her.

 

She had also called Buffy, who it turned out was on route into the area with a couple of SAS members, who had been helping with the European theatre.

 

Buffy was going to arrange for one of the Watcher’s Council’s Psychiatrists to take over, since they were in on the mystical side of things while she was in the air. They’d arrive in Cleveland within 20 minutes.

 

Sandi decided to talk to Daria, since she wasn’t getting sweet fuck all from Quinn.

 

“Sandi?” Daria asked, obviously sensing her presence behind her without looking.

 

“What happened in there?” Sandi simply asked.

 

“I told you, I don’t want to breech any confidences, if Quinn doesn’t want you to know-”

 

“Daria, my friend looks traumatized, I need to know what happened, … if something had happened to Jane, you’d need to know what had happened.”

 

Daria thought about it.

 

At least Sandi hoped she was thinking about it. There was only one time Sandi could remember when Daria’s emotions were written on her face, and, … she shuddered as she thought of what had happened.

 

“Quinn?” asked Daria.

 

“What?”

 

“I really think you ought to tell Sandi what happened in there.”

 

Quinn shuddered and looked down at her feet, her knuckles turning white as she seemingly tried to crush both her hands simultaneously.

 

Sandi sat down next to her.

 

Quinn eventually said “When Tiffany started reliving her experience with those vampires, I got stuck with her.”

 

Sandi tried to think of something to say, but came up blank.

 

“It was horrible.” said Quinn.

 

Sandi was about to ask for details, but had trouble thinking of a way to ask for them without upsetting Quinn.

 

Sandi hadn’t really cared about Quinn’s emotional state prior to now, she had mostly been looking for a way to destroy Quinn’s popularity, but now Quinn looked broken, and all Sandi could think about was how she could repair her.

 

Except Linda had always told her that compassion is a sign of weakness.

 

“What are you doing Sandi?”

 

Sandi looked over to the apparition of her mother.

 

“That’s your enemy, surely you’re not thinking of helping her?”

 

“Get fucked.” said Sandi.

 

Quinn looked at her, and then looked at where Sandi was looking.

 

“What?” asked both Quinn and the First Evil.

 

“That goes for both of you”

 

Quinn looked hurt.

 

Sandi realised what Quinn was thinking and said “not you, I mean the First Evil and my Mom.”

 

“Oh.” said Quinn.

 

Then Quinn, Amanda and Jane looked at the spot where the First Evil stood.

 

Disguised as Jane.

 

“Hey Daria, remember the fun we had betting on the functionality of the Fashion Club?”

 

Daria glanced back, and then said “Jane, real Jane, I mean, not First Evil apparition of Jane, … anyway, bet you twenty it’s going to bring up the manipulation during the bet.”

 

“Nah, it’s going to bring up my manipulation.” said Jane.

 

Quinn looked shocked.

 

The First Evil smirked and said “I thought the two of you were supposed to be brains.”

 

“Come on, you’re the First Evil, and that’s the best you can come up with?”

 

“Well, it’s kind of difficult to top you in the evil department, remember that story you wrote for that class assignment where Quinn runs out into an 8 lane highway because she couldn’t be like you?”

 

“Remember all the fights me and Quinn engaged in starting from when we were 3 to that time Illyria and Tiffany had a go at me? It’s a long conflict that’s been steadily winding down for years now. Quinn denied she was my sister for most of high school, Quinn took credit for all of Jane’s hard work at that dance, Quinn drove me ‘round the bend with that mime act, Quinn drove Jane nuts when she got kicked out of every one of her friends houses.”

 

“Remember when you took Tom Sloan from Jane?”

 

“Remember when I said I was over it? Y’know, when I actually meant it?” said Jane.

 

The First Evil then became all demony and disappeared.

 

“I thought that thing was supposed to be good at head fucks.” said Sandi.

 

“Only when people aren’t aware that the First Evil is in there.” said Daria.

 

Of course Daria knew that Principle Wood had been aware of exactly who had told him about Spike, but that was only because his desire for revenge overwhelmed his caution regarding the first evil.

 

-~-

 

“DAMN IT, I DIDN’T MAKE A FUCKING DENT!!!”

 

Gabriel glanced at the apparition and then resumed his work, calmly asking “what did the good guys do this time?”

 

“DARIA FUCKING MORGENDORFFER, FUCKING RUINED A PERFECTLY GOOD MIND FUCK, OOOHHHH, IF I HAD TANGABLE HANDS, ... ”

 

“That’s what you got me for, all they did will be avenged in time” he said as he placed the item in the cavity, placing the elbow on the drainpipe near a corner. He then placed another bag of fuel soaked weed killer on top of it.

 

“That’s the booster?” asked the First Evil.

 

“Not quite. I really don’t want to be waiting too long here, so I instead pulverised a load of the stuff and mixed it with kerosene and coal, put some sand around it to slow the heat down. That should bring a big chunk of this stuff to 250°C simultaneously, the process would be slower than a HE booster, but it would take longer to make all the explosives I would need if I were to try the normal methods.” said Gabriel as the Turok Han started placing more bags on top of the one he had already put down.

 

“When will this be ready?” asked the First Evil.

 

“I’d say five more minutes, then I can light it.” said Gabriel.

 

He heard two impacts, he glanced over and saw two “GRENADES!” he dove behind the pile of bags, but saw the robot at the door on the side he had gone to, so he was on his feet again, the 40mm grenade struck his hip, he was thrown sideways, close enough to one of the other grenades to eat a full third of it’s shrapnel.

 

He got to his feet and headed into the corridor. He knew the robot would have two options: attempt to diffuse the bomb, or attempt to kill Gabriel. The First Evil was hopefully sending Turok Han to help distract the robot or finish the bomb and light it.

 

He reached the robot’s previous position and glanced in, seeing the robot with a katana and several piles of dust, one of them in the making.

 

He just ran at the robot, and caught the sword in his hand as she made a slice at him.

 

He then punched the robot in the ribs, the robot let go of the sword and punched him in the face, sending him backwards. He still held the sword, he went for the robot, attempting to slice it, but the robot grabbed the sword and pulled Gabriel in, nutting him in the side of the head. She then kicked him in the chest, he had let go of the sword. She spun around, but he intercepted her swing by grabbing her forearms. He then swung her around, three times before he let go, sending her across the room.

 

He realised that might have been a bad idea when she got up, loading another grenade into the launcher, and he just about got behind something before the robot could fire.

 

He then threw a knife at the robot’s gun, getting it down the barrel of the grenade launcher.

 

The robot didn’t fire as he ran at her. She instead shook the weapon, the knife left the barrel, and she got it pointed at him when he was a metre away. He deflected the weapon, shoulder butting the robot in the waist, he then felt a knife enter the back of his head.

 

He recovered in time to feel a third bag of weed killer land on him.

 

He raised his head enough to see where the robot was, the robot brought the M16 up to fire, but only got the grenade off after he had shoved one of the bags into the air between him and the grenade launcher.

 

It detonated in mid air.

 

He got up.

 

The room was full of smoke, he saw movement behind the smoke, the robot was running at him.

 

He picked up a handy piece of rubble from where the floor had been removed over the hell mouth, and threw it at the robot, but she batted it off to the side with the back of her fist and continued on in.

 

He used a palm strike on the top of the robot’s head, but that did fuck all, the robot continued on in, punching him in the sternum with a middle finger second knuckle sticking out, this lifted him off his feet, she then kneed him in the ‘nads, this fractured his pelvis a little.

 

He bounced off the wall and jumped off to the side when the robot tried to punch him in the throat, burying her hand in the wall.

 

The robot went vertical, running up the wall and towards him, her endoskeleton now visible where her skin had been removed by the concrete.

 

He used a palm strike to her chest to send her across the room, he then ran off looking for a weapon.

 

-~-

 

“Are you sure about this?” asked Buffy.

 

“Are you unsure about this?” asked Rebecca.

 

“What, stepping out of a plane with a really big table cloth tied to me? Nah, do it all the time.” said Buffy, imitating Spike a little.

 

“Yeah, well, the rest of us are doing it, you want to join the party before it closes, you’ll have to too.” said Rebecca.

 

Buffy knew Rebecca was right.

 

The aircraft they were on, a Concorde that the RAF had secreted away, couldn’t land in the middle of a city, it could land at more airports since the engines had been replaced with turbofans (they were a little bit bigger than the turbojets, and had wayyyyyyy more thrust apparently), and had been fitted with bomb bay doors, through which they would jump.

 

They had a slide that would extend from the airframe ahead of the doors so that the airflow doesn’t smack them against the back of the opening, and they’d be jumping from just under 12,000 feet, only opening their velocity chutes when they were halfway above the altitude where they’d be outside the glide radius of the site.

 

“Right, everyone, listen up. We just got word, Gabriel’s on the Cleveland hell mouth, the robot’s giving out continuous telemetry on it’s own and Gabriel’s location, the tactical situation will probably be changing rapidly and continuously, so everyone, watch your fucking eyeHUDs.” said Henno over the intercom.

 

Everyone else seemed to be all relaxed, Buffy was about the only person walking around looking like a freshman soldier or whatever their proper name is.

 

Dawn was up in the cockpit with the flight crew and, Aiden and Henno, she was going to be a spare com for the European crew.

 

The famed SAS, not looking very military, more like, … gangsters or something. The way they kept calling Aiden ‘Boss’ instead of ‘Colonel’, their general attitudes were different from the soldiers she had encountered at the initiative.

 

Not that the initiative crew had been all stoic, all the time. Perhaps the only army that could conceivably be like that was North Korea’s armed forces, or some cult, but these people seemed more like the slayers for some reason.

 

-~-

 

Robodaria found herself in the sewers again.

 

The gas mains she had used had been shut off at the source when the cops started taking back over, so she couldn’t use that at all, as if it was of use earlier.

 

The batteries on the cell phones she had left lying around were dead now, so she couldn’t monitor Gabriel’s movements beyond sound (which had gotten confusing due to the acoustics of the sewers) chemical analysis of the air, his sweat, the volatile materials his clothes had picked up from preparing the bomb.

 

If she loses track of him, she would have to return to the hell mouth because that was his logical target, she had sabotaged the device to buy time in that instance, but there wasn’t a lot of time.

 

The traces were too thin now, she had lost him.

 

-~-

 

“Fucking robot.” Gabriel muttered, as a pull at the wires revealed they were no longer connected to the device inside.

 

“Now what?” asked the First Evil.

 

Gabriel looked around. He then ran over to a pile of conduits, he picked up two and jammed them through the pile so they penetrated the heating charge.

 

He then picked up the car battery he was going to use to spark the device and the jumper leads. He connected them up to the rods, and started moving them around.

 

When he felt they had come into contact, he waited.

 

The thin contact area should get hot enough to ignite the mixture.

 

He started hearing a hissing noise coming out of the pipe, and eventually he saw smoke.

 

Then he felt something strike him in the back, and he was thrown forward.

 

He got up to see the robot loading another grenade, she shot him before he could figure out what to do.

 

He ran at her as she loaded a third, she shot him from about a metre away, he was thrown to the ceiling.

 

The grenades were beating the crap out of him, but he got up again, there wasn’t much the robot could do to the bomb with him there threatening to kill him.

 

The robot was pulling sacks off in twos, trying to get to the heat source.

 

He kicked at the robot, she rolled off to the side, grabbing one of the sacks and smacking him with it.

 

He was thrown off to the side, and the robot kept removing the bags.

 

He ran.

 

-~-

 

Robodaria had to prevent the hell mouth from being blown open.

 

Gabriel had not found anything to use as a booster charge, he was obviously using impulse explosives to cook off the charge.

 

Gabriel had now run off, she couldn’t pursue right now, she had to leave that to the incoming SAS, and the slayers that were now returning to the scene now that the deception was over. But the slayers were not as thoroughly drilled in firearms as the SAS or Gabriel, who is former SBS, are, they would have to avoid getting too close to him.

 

That unfortunately meant leaving most of the sewer network for his personal use.

 

The slayers were going to set up in locations that should contain Gabriel, positions that allowed them to kill him before he was anywhere near close enough to shoot them with any vague sense of accuracy.

 

That meant that Gabriel was going to find something within the perimeter to use against them, he seemed to be good at that.

 

The charge detonated.

 

-~-

 

“Shit.” said Henno.

 

“My screen’s frozen.” said Buffy.

 

“That’s because the robot just got blown up. She got the job most way done though, Gabriel is contained, now it’s on us to slot him.” said Henno.

 

“All Romeos, I have control, we’re approaching the drop point now. Everyone clear the door, and assemble at the front of it.” said Aiden.

 

Everyone picked up the few items that weren’t attached to them and did as instructed.

 

“Door’s clear.” said Henno.

 

The trap door opened as did the bomb bay doors, dropping then sliding under the floor and swinging down respectively, the slide extended from its location and then dropped down.

 

“Buffy Summers, back of the line, that way you won’t hold us up if you bottle out.” said Henno.

 

Buffy obeyed.

 

“All Romeos standby, … standby, … standby, … go-go-go!”

 

Everyone had started running onto the slide on the first ‘go’, they were missing the back of the doorframe by about 40cm. That was the part that made Buffy uneasy, even a slayer could be put in a wheelchair for some time if they bounced off that doorframe like that.

 

Once they were all off, Buffy took a couple of seconds to decide if she could do this.

 

“Closing doors now.” said Aiden.

 

Buffy then dove through the door.

 

She eventually learned how to orient herself towards the target location, she had no choice but to use the eyeHUD, the others were out of her sight.

 

HALO jump.

 

Kind of like on that Bond film, but over land.

 

Over the next 40 seconds, she fell, seeing parachutes open under her near the deck.

 

She couldn’t be that far behind, surely?

 

They circled around the sports centre.

 

They would enter the sports centre to determine the status of the hell mouth seal first.

 

“Buffy, you in theatre yet?” asked someone.

 

“Yes.” said Buffy.

 

“We have Angel’s crew here, they want to help us with Gabriel.”

 

Buffy thought about it.

 

“They say they’re no longer with Wolfram and Hart.”

 

“Alright, fine, let them in, Henno?”

 

“What?”

 

“We have friendly forces coming in, names are Angel, Wesley Pryce, Winifred Burkle, Charles Gunn, Spike, and Illyria.”

 

“Angel’s dead, apparently.” said the slayer.

 

Buffy was stunned by this revelation, and almost failed to notice the terrain coming at her.

 

She yanked at the rip chord and almost broke her own neck failing to adequately prepare for the new force, and by the fact she rolled slightly due to the way she pulled the chord without countering the effect her arm movement had on her frontal cross section.

 

“AAAOOOWWW!!!”

 

“Buffy?” asked the slayer.

 

“Ahh, fine, just pulled my neck or something.” she said, she remembered to grab the controls for the parachute and found a road to land on.

 

“Acknowledged, anyway, Henno, got all that?”

 

“Received, out.”

 

Buffy landed and ditched the parachute, she removed her weapon from her shoulder (a big ass automatic shotgun with explosive rounds) and headed off to where the SAS were.

 

“Hell mouth secure, starting search.” said Henno.

 

“Received.” said Buffy.

 

She had correctly guessed the movements of Caleb.

 

But Caleb wasn’t a soldier.

 

But the First Evil had, like, an eternity of experience watching battles occur.

 

“Oooo-kayyyyyy, I’m a psychotic gimp owned by the First Evil, where do I go?”

 

-~-

 

“I can’t believe I did that.” said Quinn.

 

“Huh?” asked Sandi.

 

They were sat in the canteen of one of the police stations in Cleveland, Daria didn’t think she could add any more to the fight at the moment, she, Jane, Sandi, Amanda and Quinn were taking the rest of the war off.

 

“I tried to help again, and only got in the way again.” said Quinn.

 

“Oh, that. Well, it happens.” said Sandi.

 

“Yeah, but what happened this time, … If you saw it, you’d be sick of the sight of me too.”

 

Sandi blinked a couple more times.

 

“Errm, … huh?”

 

“Those vampires, they grabbed me, stripped me, and, … … they raped me.”

 

“Oh, … … why would Daria be sick of the sight of you?” asked Sandi.

 

“Because she saw the whole thing, she saw me, … I don’t know how to describe it, except it was fucking horrible and gross and, … … She hates me.” said Quinn.

 

“Has she said she hates you?” asked Sandi.

 

No, … but she’s been avoiding me.”

 

-~-

 

Daria punched at the bag as she had for the past 10 minutes.

 

“Daria, you wanna stop now?” asked Jane.

 

“Why?” asked Daria.

 

“Because knuckles aren’t supposed to be that shade of purple.” said Jane.

 

Daria stopped and looked at her fists, her knuckles were indeed a gross shade of purple.

 

“Right.”

 

Daria started kicking the bag now.

 

“Err, … I’m no expert, but are you sure Quinn’s alright?” asked Jane.

 

“Sure, right as rain, a little torture never hurt anyone.” said Daria.

 

“Okay, my point is, don’t you think it would be a bad idea to leave her alone?”

 

“Sandi’s with her, and in spite of what I’ve seen of the way they interact in the fashion club, I don’t think Sandi’s cold enough to exploit Quinn’s emotional state to cause her further harm.” said Daria as she continued to kick the bag.

 

“Sandi doesn’t understand any of what Quinn went through.” said Jane.

 

“Sandi didn’t sit there and watch her get gang raped by figments of Tiffany’s imagination.” said Daria.

 

“Oh for crying out loud.” said Jane, she then walked up to Daria and grabbed her by the ear, and led her out of the training room, Daria asking what she thought she was doing and telling her to let go.

 

Oddly enough, they made it through the whole precinct without any cops stopping them to the cafeteria.

 

Jane let go of Daria’s ear after manoeuvring her in front of her and pointed at Quinn and Sandi, who, like everyone else in the cafeteria, was looking at them, saying “Talk to her, now!”

 

“Jane-” started Daria.

 

Jane vamped out as she folded her arms.

 

“-, … fine.” said Daria as she headed over to her sibling and her sibling’s friend.

 

Jane unvamped and headed over to the counter to get some pureed brussel sprouts to mix with her blood.

 

“So, … How’ve you been?” asked Quinn.

 

Erphhh, … alright, I guess, … Jane reckons I need to talk to you about what happened in Tiffany’s head.”

 

Quinn nodded.

 

They then sat there in silence.

 

“We know what happened.” said Quinn.

 

“I think Jane was talking in terms of feelings or something.” said Daria.

 

More silence.

 

“I felt hatred for the vampires.” said Quinn.

 

“Ditto.” said Daria.

 

-~-

 

Illyria lead the formation which consisted of Gunn and Wesley located 3 metres behind her and 6 metres apart. Winifred on the truck with a minigun and the other nuclear rocket launcher, and Spike driving the truck because of the sun.

 

Everyone was wearing light activated shades because they didn’t know when either Illyria or Winifred would need to shoot something.

 

The Special Air Service troop were doing a grid search in the sewers and mining them as they moved, the mines would hopefully hamper Gabriel Kent’s movements, and the air force had UAVs in the air and had hopefully enough people looking through their cameras to detect Gabriel if he came to the surface.

 

Buffy Summers, the most senior slayer in the city had landed a considerable distance from the SAS troop she had come with.

 

Parachutes, Humans invented them, started using them with aircraft as a means insert without the need for (fixed wing) aircraft to land at the insertion point. Initially simple dome shaped objects, later crafted into parawings of the kind Daria described to Illyria when they were extracting Winifred from that hell dimension. And velocity ‘chutes of the kind the SAS used to insert from concord.

 

In the demon age, you used flapping wings or levitation spells/telekinesis to fly.

 

The advantages are that there is no mystical energy signature, same thing with the nuclear weapons, they are constrained by E=mc2, but are still capable of causing considerable damage.

 

It was going to be their nuclear weapons Gabriel will attempt to acquire.

 

Illyria waved the others to her left.

 

They obeyed.

 

She then turned towards a building off to her right (a nursery) and unloaded four rockets at it rapidly.

 

“WINIFRED, COVERING FIRE.” she said as she waved the others around her, she then removed a manhole cover and jumped down unto the sewer.

 

She had lied about not getting a vector on Gabriel.

 

She had to move real fast to take advantage of this situation though.

 

She stopped at a junction with Gabriel metres from it in a perpendicular tunnel, he stopped too.

 

They had him trapped now, but she couldn’t get to the corner with him that close and hope to have the standoff necessary to avoid serious injury to herself.

 

He backed up a few paces.

 

He then ran, possibly hoping to get through the junction before Illyria could fire.

 

He stopped and jumped back before Illyria could fire.

 

He was attempting to get her to exhaust her ammo.

 

He ran back the way he had come.

 

He must have given up.

 

Illyria ran to the junction and shot the next rocket at Gabriel.

 

He ducked and the rocket went over his head.

 

The compression wave threw them across the junction.

 

Illyria tumbled and sprang to her feet when she ran out of inertia, ready to fire her last round, but Gabriel closed range before she could.

 

He grabbed her forearms, pushing the rocket round off her arm launcher.

 

She nutted him, and kicked him back. He then came back in again, they ended up in an almost equal fight.

 

Until Gabriel got a fingertip strike to her throat, and then followed through with similar blows to relatively sensitive areas, eventually Illyria was on the deck.

 

Gabriel started removing the weapon from Illyria, she felt his lust grow as he handled her.

 

“Hmm, not a bad figure for a demon, maybe I’ll make use of it later.” he said, he squeezed both her buttocks briefly before resuming what he was doing.

 

He picked up the rocket and reattached it to the arm launcher, leaving Illyria face down in the shit.

 

He ran towards the sports centre, but was stopped by the approaching SAS troop.

 

“Okay, alternate route then.” he said, getting up out of the sewer.

 

-~-

 

“What were those noises?” asked Quinn.

 

“Nukes.” said Daria.

 

“How do you know they’re nukes?” asked Quinn.

 

“TV screen flickered in the same pattern to the noises.” said Daria.

 

Quinn looked to where Daria was looking, the TV on CNN hanging from the ceiling in one corner of the cafeteria.

 

“Oh.” she said, turning back to Daria.

 

“So, are we making progress yet?” asked Daria.

 

“Doesn’t feel like it.” said Quinn.

 

“Guess you’re mad at me then.” said Daria.

 

“Huh?” said Quinn.

 

“Bout the not doing anything.” said Daria.

 

“Could you have?”

 

Daria thought about this.

 

Quinn waited.

 

“I couldn’t think of anything, … you were being raped by vampires right in front of me and I couldn’t find any way to stop it.”

 

Oh, … I thought you hated me because of all the gross shit you saw happen to me.”

 

“WHAT? … Quinn, … you didn’t make it happen, what is there that I would possibly hold against you?”

 

Quinn looked at the table for a while, then said “I dunno, it’s just having my private parts exposed and prodded like that, made me look disgusting to you, … not very plausible when you use logic I guess.”

 

“Well, I can’t say I’m that enthused with the idea of watching you have sex, but that’s never going to make me hate you, … unless you deliberately force me to watch, but that’s not very likely.”

 

“Oh, okay, … You thought I was mad at you for any of this?”

 

Daria shrugged and said “yeah, … not very plausible when you use logic, I guess.”

 

-~-

 

Gabriel continued along the street, he was almost at the sports centre.

 

He encountered a load of white smoke.

 

“Not the SAS or the slayers.” said the First Evil.

 

Okayyyy.” said Gabriel, looking a little concerned, but he continued on in anyway.

 

As he was running, he felt something strike and puncture his side.

 

“What the fuck?”

 

His hand felt the object stuck in him, the tip stuck out the other side had barbs that would stop it going back without causing serious damage, the other end had fins that would stop it going any deeper.

 

He snapped off the tip, pulled it out completely, and then it exploded.

 

He was thrown a couple of metres and sustained more wounds from the chunks of shrapnel from the warhead.

 

The rocket on his arm was dislodged.

 

He heard footsteps.

 

He got up and waited for the robot to arrive.

 

The robot entered view and started swinging with two fire axes.

 

Gabriel was healing fast, so was able to counter the blows and eventually grab the axes.

 

The robot let go of the axes and started punching him again.

 

He stepped back and started swinging with the axes himself.

 

The smoke was starting to clear.

 

Every time he stepped back, the robot followed him.

 

“The others are coming.” said the First Evil.

 

“I KNOW!” said Gabriel, he eventually kneed the robot back and started spinning, this time the robot was on the defensive.

 

Then the robot managed to grab an axe and spin into him, backhanding him across the face with her fist.

 

The robot was once again raining blows on him.

 

Then something kept striking him in the back and sides repeatedly, tearing his flesh apart. The robot pulled back, and Gabriel looked around seeing the SAS unloading USAS12s at him from about 20 metres away.

 

The next thing he saw was the robot picking up the rocket round and pointing it at Gabriel.

 

Then everyone else ran several metres and hit the deck, and the robot, after saying “Go go gadget nuke.”, shot the rocket at Gabriel.

 

-~-

 

Henno turned towards the spot where the X-ray was standing earlier.

 

There was just a smoking hole in the tarmac, and an even wider circle that was now bleached slightly.

 

The robot approached the hole and looked in.

 

“I think he’s dead now.” said the robot.

 

Henno stared and said “Crackin’, … … And that was?” he indicated the tube in her hand.

 

“A nuclear rocket.”

 

Henno nodded and said “Oh, … very nice.”

 

Buffy then ran into view saying “Alright, I’m here, where’s the bad guy?”

 

“Vaporised.” said Rebecca, looking mildly amused at Buffy’s rushed and unprepared state.

 

Buffy looked embarrassed and said “Oh, … okay, … I guess that means we’re done.”, then she asked “There aren’t any other bad guys around are there?”

 

A truck with stakes bolted to the front and the kind of window décor that indicated a vampire in the driving seat entered the area and Wesley got out and asked “what did we miss?”

 

“The final outcome of the epic global battle.” said Henno, as he and the rest of his troop started to walk off.

 

“Okay.” he then looked at Buffy who wasn’t moving with the SAS troop and said “anything we can do right now?”

 

-~-

 

“Shouldn’t we feel better now?” asked Quinn.

 

“Maybe that comes later.” said Daria.

 

Daria’s phone rang.

 

“Y’ello?”

 

“Robodaria here, Gabriel Kent is now confirmed dead, the Cleveland hell mouth is secure. Buffy Summers is with me, we are headed to your current location.”

 

“Acknowledged.” said Daria, and Robodaria hung up.

 

“What was that?” asked Quinn.

 

“My boss is coming in.” said Daria.

 

“Okay, so, what happens now?”

 

Daria thought about it and said “Well, we, I mean the slayer force, not us, because we spent most the battle sitting around in Tiffany’s head, … We, just saved everyone’s ass. But in doing so, caused several hundred million dollars worth of damage, without the kind of legal protection the United States Defence Department has. So I guess the next thing that happens to us would depend on the gratitude of the administration and the understanding of whatever judges and juries handle the cases.”

 

Quinn nodded, then said “we’re boned.”

 

-~-

 

“Can’t I talk to Riley?” asked Buffy.

 

“No, you can’t.” said George.

 

“Just, this is kind of a big decision. I mean, I’m the default commander of the Watchers Council, but I don’t have the management experience of Giles, or any of the other watchers-” started Buffy.

 

But George interrupted with “Your Watchers Council is now a terrorist organisation in our view, and if you are terrorists, you have fewer legal protections than what we give paedophiles. But if you agree to become our supernatural division of the National Security Agency, then you are instead Special Agents with all the legal authority that comes with such positions, now what are you?”

 

Buffy sighed and said “we’re national security agents.”

 

-~-

 

“That was the only way we could stay out of jail?” asked Daria.

 

“Yeah, between the massive property destruction, the stolen police and military property, and Illyria killing several bystanders with Marcus Hamilton, the government was really thin on patience.” said Buffy.

 

“You mean they were laughing maniacally.” said Daria.

 

“You know, Daria, I’ve had it with you, you always seem to have a smart ass remark on the tip of your tongue and never seem to take anything about your job seriously.”

 

“Excuse me? Where the fuck do you get off telling me I don’t take my job seriously?”

 

“What is that supposed to mean?”

 

“It MEANS I’ve spent the last couple of days commanding an entire army group of slayers concerned that I’m going to get a large proportion of them killed, then watching my sister getting sexually abused by vampires, and all that time of doing little else but worry. And there you are, telling me that I’m some sort of cold psycho who lets those under her command die for fun?”

 

There was silence.

 

“Sorry about that.” said Daria.

 

“No, it’s my bad, … Look, where are you now?”

 

“I’m waiting for a flight to where they’re treating Tiffany. It’s close to Lawndale, and I’ll be meeting my dad there, me mom was killed in that nuclear explosion near Lawndale, gotta find out what the funeral arrangements are. Then I guess I prepare for my first day of work at the No Such Agency.”

 

Buffy chuckled before saying “I am sorry about blowing up at you earlier, but I just made a snap decision that will have potentially catastrophic consequences without being given the time to decide what to do. Plus Giles and Kennedy are among the dead, both of them being close friends.”

 

“I got to meet them myself, they were good people. We’ve all had a rough couple of days, I hope we can take a couple of weeks off before showing up to work. It might be useful to talk to Wesley about what Wolfram and Hart were like.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I’ll get onto him then.” said Buffy.

 

-~-

 

“I do not understand.” said Illyria.

 

“The government of late has been getting increasingly warped. It says it’s for human rights and making the world a nicer place to live in, but in reality it’s motives have been to look like it’s doing something about terrorism without doing something about Israel’s bad behaviour.” said Wesley.

 

“In my day, brutality was used to ensure obedience.” said Illyria.

 

“It does as long as you have the power. But it’s humiliating for those you oppress, and they’ll want you out of power. The problem is that the current administration can pick on those whose opinion doesn’t count and make out they are up to something or blame them for some major incident.” said Wesley.

 

“Then they must be killed.” said Illyria.

 

Wesley looked worried, and said “that’s probably the wrong approach. We kill this lot, we could easily end up with someone worse.”

 

“Then we must ensure that someone interested in fulfilling our objectives is in a position to take power when we kill or otherwise depose the current administration.” said Illyria.

 

There was some silence.

 

“Your curiosity is deafening.” said Illyria.

 

“I’m glad you didn’t kill them, and that they recovered, but when you were interrogating Daria, Willow and Fred, … ”

 

“Why didn’t I kill them when I was done?” asked Illyria.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I do not know. … In fact, I’ve had trouble killing ever since I, … … It must be the emotional attachment my shell felt for them, that is the only way I can explain it, it took all my determination to override that to torture them.” said Illyria.

 

“Hmm, … how do you view this attachment?”

 

“It, … it is an impediment, but it has by accident saved my life and has enabled me to gain allies, … … I view this attachment as an inconvenience, but it has proven useful, I would need more data before I can make a final determination.” said Illyria.

 

-~-

 

End.