Author's Note: There is a glossary at the end for unusual and military terms
[ ] - indicates thoughts
* * - indicates spoken in German
Willow had gotten a couple of raised eyebrow looks from a few of the 'older' Slayers as she'd walked passed them, heading towards her room. Quickly Willow walked into her room and sat down on the bed as she looked at a picture of her and Buffy standing next to each other smiling and one of her & Kennedy. "What have I gotten myself into?" Willow said to herself and wondered if things could get worse, only to hear a knock at her door.
Opening her door, Willow saw a beat up looking Faith with burgundy colored hair and a cast on her right arm standing in the doorway.
"So are you going to invite me in or do I just get to stand here and get strange looks from everyone walking by?"
"Oh, uh yeah. I'm sure, please come in." Willow babbled nervously.
Faith took the invitation and walked into the small room and sat down in the large, comfortable looking chair, feeling drained from the walk from the infirmary to here.
Willow started pacing around Faith nervously, "So, uh, Faith. Hi. So what brings you here to this place I call home or sort of but not really."
Faith cracked a smile at Willow's babble, "Relax Red. I came to talk to you about B. How was she? She didn't look like she'd slept a lot lately." Faith said, turning serious as she worried about Buffy's habit of bottling things up inside.
"I don't know how she's slept, I mean how would I?" Willow said still nervous. "But she's been keeping everything bottled up, like usual. Except this time it hit her worse and she refused to talk to anyone, especially when she found out who'd betrayed her. She just seemed to be....she was just tearing herself apart in front of my eyes and it seemed no one else could see it. All they could see was how tough and strong she was and they took their cue from her."
"I take it you finally had a 'talk' with her." Faith asked.
"Yeah and she's as stubborn as the day is long. But she finally let it out."
Faith let the silence build inside the room for several minutes as she studied Willow carefully. "So, how long have you two been lovers?" Faith asked bluntly finally.
Willow turned red at Faith's question, "Uhhh, us? I mean me and Buffy, lovers? No! Nuh uh, nope!" Willow stammered out.
"Uh huh," Faith replied. "And that's why I could smell you on Buffy and vice-versa. Plus as I once said, Buffy had that freshly fucked look about her. So spill Red. I'm not going to go all homicidal on you here or anything, if that's what you're worrying about."
Realizing she'd been found out Willow sighed heavily. "Just once, today as a matter of fact. I'd decided to call Buffy on how I saw her tearing herself apart over you and Dawn. It wasn't like I'd planned it or anything; it was just one thing that lead into another..." Willow finished quietly, feeling both embarrassed at being caught by Buffy's girlfriend no less and ashamed that she'd let it go that far to begin with no matter how she felt about Buffy.
Faith picked up on Willow's distress and stood up, "Look Will, I'm not blaming you or B for what happened. She was hurting and lonely and I'm guessing you are too, although you hide it better than Buffy." Putting her good hand on Willow's shoulder, "Do you honestly regret being there for Buffy, being the person she needed in her life then?" Faith took her hand and lifted Willow's face up so she could look into it. "Because I'm not."
“What?" Willow said in surprise. "But Buffy slept with me! Why aren't you angry?"
"Would you rather I was all pissed off and angry, screaming my head off about what you did, Red?" Faith said as she let Willow's chin go and stepped back. "B thought I was dead along with Dawn. She didn't cheat on me, she did end up reaching out to the only person who could understand her and that she cared about."
"Oh," was all Willow could think to say. "So what happens now? Are you going to tell Buffy you know about me and her?"
Faith looked at Willow like she had grown a 2nd head. "Are you nuts Red? You know Buffy's mile-long wide guilt streak she has, she'd never forgive herself even if she suspects I know as long as I don’t say anything. At some point she'll break down and tell me and we'll deal with that then. I just want to know one thing...."
"What?" Willow said nervously.
"Do you care about Buffy?"
"Of course I do, she's my friend." Willow said indignantly.
"No Red, I mean do you 'care' about Buffy?" Faith asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear it from Willow.
Willow stood silent, not wanting to answer.
"That's what I thought. For how long?" Faith pressed.
"Since the day I met her. Oh, I didn't know it then what I was feeling. But yeah, since she first came up to me and asked for my help." Willow finally admitted.
"That's a long time to carry a torch for someone. So what about Kennedy?"
"I'm not sure really. I know I care about her; I'm just not in love with her. I was going to break things off, but then all 'this' happened..."
"So what are you going to do now that the Genie's out of the bottle?"
Willow frowned, "Nothing. I mean you're here alive and I won't do anything that'll come between you two or that'd hurt Buffy."
"I see." Faith said as she limped towards the door, "I heard an old saying once, something about closing the doors after the horse leaves the barn. You might want to keep that in mind. Night Red." Faith said as she opened the front door and left.
April 15, 2008
At dawn across the planet the SDA struck, launching over 100 raids and assaults on demon hideouts, vampire nests, Witches Covens, suspected Slayers homes and anyone else that they had gotten a whiff of. At 7:05am Pacific Standard Time, the headquarters of Slayers, Inc. was destroyed when two F-15E’s, each one carrying a 4,700 lb., GBU-28 “Bunker Buster” bomb were dropped on the building, when the dust cleared the building lay in ruins in the center of a huge crater and over 200 people were dead, among them was Rupert Giles and 20 Slayers who had been in the building.
By the end of the day dozens of Covens across the planet had been wiped out along with an unknown number of demons, vampires and other supernatural creatures. But other than a dozen more Slayers killed, Giles’ plan had worked, pulling out many of those the SDA had wanted to get their hands on and didn’t.
For Buffy the news of what was happening was bad, but what made it worse was that she was on the other side of the planet in Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea. But that news was overshadowed by Dawn Summer’s kidnapping and the subsequent death of both her and her attempted rescuer, Faith, and the betrayal by someone she considered a close friend….
6 months later…
Xander stood next to Field Marshall Reinhart Von Brest in ComCent, which was 15 kilometers behind the battle lines. The large holomap showed the Gate at Delgatie Castle in Yellow, while the Slayers forces were colored Red arranged around the town of Fyvie which lay directly in the way and the German Fourth Army of the SDA facing them were Blue.
The map showed a mixed jumble all over, in places the Slayers line had seemingly collapsed even as they pulled back and yet the units facing them were still suffering high casualty rates. It was just as many of the Red units seemed to disappear that there was a blinding flash of green light, and lying in front of him, Xander saw a white envelope. Without thinking about it Xander reached down and picked it up.
Turning it over Xander saw the flowing script of Willow's handwriting and his name on the front center of the envelope and opened the letter up.
Your lies and petty schemes to destroy Buffy, Faith and everyone else have failed. As of right now, the surviving Slayers and Witches are passing through the Gate to another dimension and you have destroyed the Balance on Earth by starting a war you could never have hoped to win. Now you will be in a war against the demons of the Abyss and without any Slayers to keep them in check....
Well I'm sure you'll find out what that means, just think of what Giles told us about what Earth was really like in the beginning +evil grin+. I hope you live long enough to see how you've destroyed humanity there, as for us; we'll rebuild and start over. Oh and one more thing in case you missed it, Faith says “hi.”
Willow Danielle Rosenberg, Priestess, Northern Alliance Coven
Xander stood in shock at Willow's letter to him when he suddenly had a bad feeling about what Faith's "hello" meant. Quickly Xander strode over to Field Marshall Von Brest.
"Field Marshall, I think we have a problem." Xander said and showed the Field Marshall the letter who quickly scanned it.
"Where did you get this?" Von Brest asked in a thick German accent.
"It was magicked in just a minute ago."
"Magicked in? But that's impossible! We're over 15 kilometers away and my pet Witches swore that nothing could get past their Wards!"
"And this is Willow Rosenberg we're talking about Field Marshall, *the* most powerful Witch EVER! Your 'pet' Witches aren't anything more than say Journeyman at best. She can blow past those Wards like they weren't even there and if she's sending this we're about to see REAL magick open up a can of 'whoop ass' on those troops. You *have* to call them back before it's too late."
"So then, what does this mean? And who is this, Faith? A Slayer?"
"It's Willow's way of telling me the gloves are coming off. We have to pull the troops back now!" Xander said urgently, unable to explain the feeling of dread that was coming over him with each passing minute.
"Nonsense! We've breached their lines in no less than 3 places. If they were going to do something they would have done it before now. Within minutes we'll have broken them completely and captured this 'Gate' and once that is done the war will be over." Von Brest said confidently.
“This is Willow we’re talking about…”
“Nonsense once again. Magic is Magic and that's all there is to it. However to allay your ‘fears’ about this...” Switching to German, *Major Lettow*, Von Brest said to his Operations Officer, *Contact Oberstleutnant von Seelow of the 192nd Panzergrenadier Battalion, see if they are having any problems.* Turning to face the civilian ‘specialist’ and switching back to English. “The 192nd is one of my best battalions, you will see your fears are ungrounded, Herr Harris.”
“Not for long their not.” Xander muttered to himself.
Kennedy surveyed what she could of the battlefield through the darkness. She could see her line was breached in several places as the German units pushed through towards the Gate in a final frantic push. “Hell and Damnation.” Kennedy cursed as she saw her options dwindling to nothing. Grabbing a nearby runner, “Go and find Amanda or Cheryl. Tell them to pull their companies back to the Gate,” Kennedy yelled over the roar of gunfire and artillery. “Then go and tell Sarah we're falling back and implement Thermopylae Four. Got it?” Kennedy yelled and saw the girl nod. From her command bunker, Kennedy signaled the other Slayers in her unit to move to their fall back spots.
*Generalfeldmarshal, Oberstleutnant von Seelow signals that the 192nd has broken through the center of their line and is pushing towards the Gate. He says they are maybe 10 minutes from the Gate and requests the 195th and 190th Panzergrenadier battalions be committed for support in exploiting the breach.* said Major Lettow.
“Very good,” von Brest said in English and nodded to Major Lettow who turned back to his radio. “You see, my best units have broken through. There was nothing to worry about Herr Harris,” von Brest said with a confidant grin and wondered what one of these Slayers was like in bed.
“Uh huh,” Xander said absently as he turned to look at the map. “Willow, what are you up to?" as he watched the center of the Slayer forces collapse suddenly and yet the flanks were holding as the Blue units drove forward into the pocket.
Kennedy saw the runner return, the young girl had a deep, bloody cut on her forehead but she never said anything. “What's your name?” Kennedy asked.
“Uh, Charlene, but my friends call my Charlie, uh Ma'am.”
“What are you doing back here and not at the Gate, Charlie?”
“They said you needed runners and well Ma'am, I'm one of the best, I don't forget and I don't fail.” Charlie said proudly.
Taking out three letters form the inside of her flak jacket Kennedy handed them to Charlie. “Take these to Willow, Buffy and Faith, and once you're done, go through the Gate.”
“But Ma'am, I can help...”
“No, you can't. What you can do is live. Now go.” Kennedy saw the girl nod reluctantly before taking off. Kennedy turned her attention to the map and watched as icons winked out one by one, and fought back tears as she watched her people fight and die to buy everyone a little more time to pass through the Gate. Kennedy never heard the artillery shell; all she saw was a blinding light and felt a flash of pain, and then nothing.
Moaning, Kennedy looked around and saw her bunker had taken almost a direct hit from ‘something’, but the bunker was burning and Kennedy wiped the blood that was dripping into her eyes. Just up ahead Kennedy saw the first German units crossing the no-man's land. All that was left between them and the Gate was her. Standing up Kennedy moved away from the flames and into the shadows. As the first German infantry units came into sight Kennedy waited until they were almost on top of her and exploded up off the ground in the middle of the closest platoon of soldiers. Her first target died without ever knowing anything was wrong, one moment he was alive, the next he was dead with a knife through his heart. Kennedy grabbed the muzzle of the assault rifle of the next closest soldier and shoved it away just as it fired and tore up 2 members of the man's squad. Her fist shot forward and crushed his throat a moment later, before his body even dropped Kennedy was on the move to the next man, killing him as she shattered his nose and drove the shards into his brain with a palm strike.
When it was done Kennedy was panting, but she'd destroyed 3 platoons and sent the others running. Kneeling down Kennedy took out the switch for the booby traps behind her and armed it before tossing it to the ground. A single shot rang out and Kennedy screamed as she felt her shoulder explode, fighting back the pain Kennedy saw her shoulder had been hit by a large caliber round. Crawling on the ground away from where she had been Kennedy moved back into the shadows to wait the next and last group. Waiting patiently Kennedy saw a company moving forward on foot; only she could see that these were veteran troops as they moved forward.
Right then Kennedy knew she had to arm the final weapon, crawling forward Kennedy moved behind a broken section of wall when Kennedy came face to face with a terrified young boy in a German SDA uniform. Hesitating just fractionally Kennedy saw the boy bring up a Browning 9mm towards her and fire twice. But Kennedy was already moving, one round hit her in the stomach and the other bullet grazed her neck leaving a bloody furrow, but Kennedy had already buried her knife in the boy's eye by the time he had fired the second round. As she moved away from the wall Kennedy saw it shatter under the impact of a heavy machinegun or cannon only to feel something hit her from behind and knock her to the ground. Pulling out the dead man's switch, Kennedy armed it and waited for them to arrive.
Tired, Kennedy closed her eyes only to feel someone kick her and she opened her eyes to see a group of SDA soldiers surrounding her. A minute later Kennedy saw an officer walk over to her and kneel next to her as she coughed up blood. As she tried to take a deep breath Kennedy coughed up blood again and just lay still, she knew she wasn’t going to make it, she’d been hit several times and now she could hear the sound of the Gate closing. The sound of running footsteps caught her attention and she saw the closest SDA soldiers run straight into the claymore’s she’d had set up to slow them down from following.
"Miss, you are our prisoner. Please do not move, a medic is on his way and you will be treated with all the rights of a POW." Oberstleutnant von Seelow said to the young woman, [the Slayer] his mind corrected. "Get me HQ," von Seelow ordered his radioman. *Generalfeldmarschall, I have a prisoner. Ja. She seems to be one of the commanders. Ja Feldmarschall.*
An old movie quote popped into her mind and Kennedy couldn’t help smiling at the relevance of it and her position, all her Slayer dreams had been fulfilled except for one…
Looking down von Seelow saw the Slayer smiling at something and leaned down closer to listen, the radio mic in his hand.
“To the last I will grapple with thee, from Hell’s heart I stab at thee.” Kennedy saw the officer lean closer to hear what she was saying. “For Hate’s sake I spit my last breath at…thee,” Kennedy whispered just loudly enough for the officer to hear her and looked up towards the sun as it broke over the horizon. Smiling into the sun’s first rays, Kennedy took her last breath and let go of the dead man’s switch.
Xander heard the officer talking and then he heard a voice he didn't think he'd hear again and his eyes widened as he recognized the quote from Star Trek II, "For Hate's sake I spit my last breath at....thee", and Xander dove to the ground; putting the holo table between him and the Gate
The explosion instantly killed everyone within 1000 meters of the Gate, but that was just the opening play in Willow's grand spell.
Willow had tapped into some very black magick for this spell when she created it. The initial explosion had been done with explosives that were setup all around the Gate itself, but it was the second and more powerful magical explosion that ripped the life itself out of everything and used those lives to feed the spell and keep it alive as it traveled outwards, gobbling up life everywhere in its path. Trees, birds, grass, bugs...nothing that the spell touched lived and when it was over all life had been eradicated within a 100 kilometer wide circle around the Gate.
By the time Buffy returned to San Francisco, it was already too late. In a space of 6 hours, all of Buffy’s family had been eradicated by the SDA and she had returned to a pile of steel girders, concrete and glass where Slayers, Inc. once stood and her old home was now nothing but a pile of burnt and broken wood and ashes. She wasn’t allowed to go see for herself, but Buffy saw pictures of the utter destruction of the warehouse and 2 surrounding blocks where Faith and Dawn had been killed, it almost seemed as if a giant foot came down and squashed the area flat.
But it was who had done this to her and why that was the final straw for Buffy. With Faith and Giles dead and Willow somewhere in England, the responsibility fell to Buffy to organize the resistance to the SDA. In an odd alliance Buffy met with her opposites in the Demon underworld and forged a temporary alliance against the SDA. And with that it came to pass for the first and last time Slayer and Demon stood side to side against the humans and their armies.
For the next 2 years Buffy fought a running battle across the planet with her erstwhile demonic allies against the SDA, fighting for time while the different Covens and Seers sought an answer to this war. When the answer finally came it left everyone shocked, because their choice had become; to leave Earth forever or die fighting humanity…
Xander pushed the smaller, broken pieces of concrete and plaster off of him and stood up slowly, surveying the room as he did. The front part of the room was collapsed and anyone there Xander guessed was dead, the only reason he wasn't was because it seemed the large and heavy holo-table took the brunt of whatever hit the bunker. Brushing some of the plaster off of him and wiping his face Xander started looking around for Field Marshall von Brest.
But all he seemed to find were piles of dirt and ash, seeing there was no reason to stay here Xander made his way towards the stairs and passed the room where he knew the captive Witches were being held while they shielded the bunker. Making a decision Xander moved to the door and opened it, closing it just as quickly as the stench of death filled the hallway. "God Willow! What did you do?" Xander murmured to himself as he headed back to the stairs.
The sight of the four bodies that had burst apart like over-ripe melons was one that he knew would haunt his dreams for a long time to come. On his way out Xander found 2 SDA soldiers who were alive as well and the three made their way out of bunker. But what greeted them up top made all of them wonder if staying might not have been a better choice.
The land was grey and dead and it reminded Xander of pictures he'd seen of the moon but minus the impact craters from meteors. All around him Xander could find nothing green or alive, there was no sound of birds or insects or even the wind for that matter and every tree was just a skeleton. It was as if he was on another planet, if not for the vehicles and tanks of the SDA's Fourth Army that sat unmoving around him. But there was no sign of anyone else alive. "Come on, let's grab a ride and get out of here." Xander said to the 2 SDA soldiers who didn't speak a word of English and started walking towards a small jeep about 100' feet away.
The gate had closed with a thunderous clap, signaling its destruction. Looking around, Buffy saw rolling plains and blue skies of their ‘new home’. With that Buffy put her mind to getting everything organized and ready to move out.
They’d traveled east for a day before finding a small valley and after a quick search of the area decided to make this their temporary home. It had water, trees for building some semi-permanent buildings to house the younger children and the injured and there was an abundant amount of deer-like animals for food if they needed.
1 Week Later…
"So what do you think of this world so far, Faith?" Buffy asked as she put her arm around Faith's waist.
Shrugging, "Not much, too early to tell yet B." With that Faith kissed Buffy on the nose. "But you're here, so it can't be *all* bad..." Faith added with a grin.
"I never wanted her to die. I thought that we'd have more time to get everyone out. But it started to fall apart too fast and Kenn's unit was the closest and best we had to hold them off longer..." Buffy said wistfully.
Faith sensed the guilt that was eating away at Buffy, "She knew that B. Just like she knew what she had to do." Faith bit off the rest of what she was going to say. Kennedy had told her of the dream she'd had, but now wasn't the time to say anything. Buffy needed to put this to rest behind her first and the best way to do that was to focus her on the tasks at hand.
"So what was the final tally through the Gate?" Faith asked switching gears.
"678 Slayers, 195 Witches, 8 Mages and another 120 kids, not including the wounded which is about another 185. So about 1000 - 1100 total."
“That’s a good more than I thought.” Faith said in some surprise. “But we’ll need everyone to start from scratch though.”
“But we left so many more dead behind Faith. Whether it was on one of the many battlefields or someplace else. Before the war there were about 1,200 Slayers and three times as many Witches, the odd number of Seers, Psychics, Hedge Mages and others… We walked out with barely a 1/4th of the people that were there to start.”
“But it’s the ones we did save B. We remember the ones we lost and do our best to move on.”
1 Earth Week later....
Xander came back to the area that had already been nicknamed ‘the Deathlands’ by those who'd seen them. But now he was bringing the Joint Chiefs of the SDA back to survey the results of the battle and to see if the new batch of Witches had any better luck than the last 2 had before them.
“This is it people.” Xander said as the Lynx helicopter set down. “Welcome to Hell or what used to known as Fort William, Scotland.”
“So then the witch, Willow, did all this?" Lieutenant General Glen Cobaire of the US Air Force and the new head of the Joint Chiefs asked as he and the others stepped out of the helicopter.
“Yes and I tried to warn you...”
“Then its good we got rid of them once and for all isn't it gentlemen?” General Cobaire said as he looked at the other 4 members of the Joint Chiefs.
“Huh?” Xander asked as he looked on in surprise. “What are you talking about? Willow kicked our ass and they got away!”
“No they didn't, son. They were wiped out to the last one when in a desperate act they destroyed themselves and everything around them when they saw that they couldn't escape by using a nuclear device that they had stolen.”
Shaking his head, “Are you nuts? They got away. This was just Willow's good bye present.”
General Cobaire walked over to Xander, “No Xander they didn't and that's how it’s going to go down in the books too. People will be too terrified to move on if they think that these ‘Slayers’ and ‘Witches’ can come back at any time so it has to end here, just like they did.”
“Besides we have more pressing matters such as the demon outbreaks in the Soviet Union, northern Germany and Saudi Arabia. We need to contend with those things first.”
“I guess,” Xander said reluctantly. “I just don’t like the idea of giving up hunting them down once and for all. I think it's a mistake...” Xander said, refusing to let go of his obsession to destroy them for what they did.
“No, it would be a mistake to try right now. First we focus on the demon problems, those are our primary concerns now.” General Cobaire said firmly. “The demon outbreaks in Saudi Arabia and Germany are what we need to concentrate on before they become a problem and slow our ultimate goal of ridding humanity of the supernatural once and for all. Once that is done we can return at a later date and see about tracking the Slayers down and destroying them.”
Signaling the pilot to start up the engine, General Cobaire boarded the helicopter along with the rest of the JCS. Xander was the last to climb into the helicopter as he stared out at the destruction Willow’s spell had caused and seethed inside at their escape from him…
End Book 1
Generalfeldmarschall – German Rank of Field Marshall (highest rank possible in this story, was officially abolished after 1945)
Oberstleutnant – German Rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Panzergrenadier – German Army equivalent of a U.S. Armoured Infantry Battalion.
GBU- 28 Bunker Buster – This weapon was designed to punch through 20’ feet of hardened concrete for underground command centers and detonate 630lbs of high explosives, leaving nothing but a crater behind.
1 Mile = 1.609344 kilometers,