Chapter 1: At the Crypt of Barons
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the villains. Buffy characters are the property of Mutant Enemy, and all things Doctor Who belong to the BBC Part One Chapter 1: At the Crypt of Barons
It was a strangely calm and pleasant night. A sliver of the moon hung in the sky, and in the distance a church bell rang. Tis the very witching time of night, and Faith was squatting behind a gravestone. She approached the crypt cautiously, creeping ever so slowly. Faith had not always been careful. There was a time in the not so distant past when she would have charged forward. Times had changed, though perhaps not too much. If she truly wished to exercise caution, she would have waited until the backup arrived in the morning, as she had been ordered. But while Faith might have learned a few lessons over the years, she still wasn’t big on following orders.
Besides she liked being alone, without an army of teenage slayers breathing down her neck. Having slayer backup sounded great, but it cramped her style. Plus the bathroom lines after patrol were demonic. Faith had enough female companionship in prison to last her several lifetimes. So she had became the roving slayer, with a license to kill…or something. Giles had given her a title that somehow managed to sound so utterly un-cool, that the other watchers had agreed. Yet here she was in the land of tea, crumpets and rain, peering over a gravestone at the crypt. By morning she’d be knee deep in newbie slayers, all asking stupid questions like “does this stake make me look fat?” and reawakening her homicidal tendencies.
Faith sighed. Something big was going on. Two nights ago every single slayer across the globe had awoken from the same dream. Almost immediately the details had faded, but Faith could still feel the cold dread like a knife in her gut. The new Council had gone on high alert, and Willow had worked her mojo and narrowed it down to this little crypt. Faith had seen a lot of crypts, and from the outside there didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary.
She really wished for a vampire right about now. Reconnaissance was boring and she felt an urge to hit something. No such luck. The minutes ticked slowly by. Still nothing. Perhaps she should go in the crypt, just to have a quick scout around. Maybe that would be more interesting then crouching out here feeling your leg fall asleep. She started to stand, but suddenly she felt a jolt through her slayer senses. Sinking back down, her eyes scanned the dark. There was something out there, something powerful…
Then she saw him. He was 30, maybe 40, Faith couldn’t tell. Power was rolling off him in waves of dark magic that made her stomach clench. He strolled through the cemetery as if he didn’t have a care in the world. There was an air about him, not arrogant but confident; secure in the knowledge that he wasn’t going to meet anything that could hurt him. Faith shivered slightly. Her slayer instincts were screaming. This man was dangerous, but more importantly, he was heading straight for the crypt.
Faith was so focused on the man, that she nearly missed the woman. For a moment Faith was sure she was imagining things, but she was right. There was someone else there—a woman creeping softly in the darkness, her movements swift and controlled. Whoever she was, she had stealth many slayers only dreamed of. It was easier to find her, now that Faith knew she was there. She wondered if the man suspected he was being followed. She didn’t think so, the woman was too good. Then again, as he reached the crypt he spun around and peered out at the graveyard. Perhaps he did suspect. His eyes pierced the darkness, and for a moment Faith thought he’d seen her, but at last seemingly satisfied, he entered and the crypt door closed behind him.
Now Faith was in something of a dilemma. She needed to know what was going inside there. What was he up to? The strange woman complicated things. Where did she fit? While Faith contemplated her options, the other woman had broken cover and was approaching the crypt. There was something vaguely cat-like about her. Faith couldn’t quite figure it out. The woman’s head turned and suddenly she was looking right at Faith. For a moment the woman was still, then she gestured her head towards the crypt. “Come on,” she seemed to be saying. Faith rose and jogged over. There was no telling how much time they had.
Still Faith took a moment to observe the other woman. She was older then Faith but not by much. She held her body deceptively relaxed, but Faith could tell she was ready for action. Her muscles were the hard muscles of real use. Her eyes were cold, revealing nothing. She was a fighter. Faith’s slayer instincts whispered to her. Best to be careful of this one. The woman remained impassive throughout, but Faith could tell she had been scrutinized just as closely in return.
“Ace,” the woman offered. Her accent was British.
“Alright Faith, we’ll play twenty questions later, but first,” she glanced up at the crypt. Faith followed her gaze. There were vines crawling up the wall and a small stain-glass window near the roof. Oh hell no! Faith glared.
“Leg up,” Ace offered grinning.***
Faith felt like Tarzan’s sister. She hung from the vines. Shifting her weight slightly, she peered through the narrow window down into the crypt. She was having trouble making out anything. He was on the other side standing over one of the coffins. Straining her eyes she saw the man slash a knife across his palm. Slowly drop-by-drop his blood trickled onto the coffin. Then with a creak and moan the lid of the coffin swung out. The man jumped nimbly out of the way, but Faith could see him smiling.
“What’s he doing,” Ace whispered from below.
“Not sure,” Faith answered. “Keep your voice down.” There was something happening. Power rose out of the coffin. Not manifesting as darkness so much as not-light. It flew like a cloud and formed a shell around the man. She could barely make him out amidst the un-light. Slowly it coalesced and conformed to his body, seemingly forcing itself into his very pores. His eyes were scrunched tight, his face the picture of silent pain. Finally the last of the power had forced its way into his flesh and bone. A faint murmur of pain reached Faith’s ears. He was filled far beyond the saturation point. With a strangled cry he expelled the excess energy. It sped out from him as a great wave, nearly visible, rippling out in all directions. It struck shattering the window and sending Faith flying. She careened into the ground with a sickening thud, and lay still for a moment. Faith sat up slowly and cursed. Ace was at her side in a moment.
“Yeah, but next time you play Tarzan,” Faith grumbled. Ace smirked.
“Good evening ladies,” Faith sprung to her feet. The man was right there, watching them. How had he moved so fast? His eyes twinkled mockingly. He seemed different to Faith. She could still taste the taint of dark magic, but there was something else now, something far stronger. This power was not demonic or magical, but unknown, and utterly alien. Her slayer instincts shivered. “I must admit Ms. Lehane,” he continued. “I was not expecting slayer intervention quite so early.” Faith tensed waiting for the fight, but his eyes moved to Ace. He tilted his head to study her. “But perhaps Ms. McShane had something to do with it? It is Ms. McShane is it not?” Ace nodded slowly, startled. He chuckled. “They remember the defeat to come, and now so do I. We will not make the same mistakes. Tell me where is the Meddler?”
“No idea,” she answered. He studied her closely. Ace met his gaze unflinching. Her eyes, cold and harsh, promised a storm.
“He’s trained you well: a regular sorcerer’s apprentice, but where you go he is never far behind.” Ace said nothing. “If I so desire, I can compel the information from your lips.”
Faith didn’t know who they were talking about, but she was getting antsy for a fight. She took a step forward. His eyes were on her instantly. “I wouldn’t if I were you,” he said. Angrily she threw a punch. He caught her fist effortlessly and squeezed. Faith gasped, she could feel her bones shattering. He released her hand and delivered a hard blow. Faith fell to the ground stunned. She glanced up blearily. Ace and the man were locked in a battle of wills. Faith could practically feel the power reaching out for the other woman. Ace suppressed a whimper biting her lip until it bled. Faith could see her shaking with effort and silently wished her luck, before the world went dark.***
The man was gone when Faith woke. The first thing she noticed was the pain. Her hand was broken, even with slayer healing that would take a couple days to heal. Her eyes fluttered open slowly. Ace was staring down concerned. She looked paler, weaker. There were lines of exhaustion in her face that hadn’t been there before.
“What happened,” Faith asked. Her voice was weaker than she would have liked.
“You fought Mr. Beech and he won.”
“Faith glared. “I meant…”
“I know,” Ace paused. “He tried to get the answers he sought from my mind.”
“He failed,” She shrugged nonchalantly, but Faith could tell it had been a lot harder then that. “You all right,” Ace asked.
Ignoring the offered hand, Faith rose unaided. “Five by five,” she said.
“Five by five what,” Ace wondered. Faith didn’t answer.
They left the graveyard together, leaving the crypt until daylight hours. Tomorrow Faith would have an army, and a witch. But deep in the crypt, within the Baron’s coffin, the gestation was almost complete. A slayer had come at last. The time of waiting was nearly ended.