We are the warriors at the edge of time.
We are humanity’s scythe to sweep this way and that,
And cut the enemy down as weeds.
We are humanity’s spade,
To dig up the roots wherever they have grown.
We are humanity’s fire,
To burn the waste to the finest ash.
We are the wind,
That will blow the ash away as if it had never existed.
Album: Warrior at the Edge of Time.
O’Neill spread the map on the table and was soon surrounded by various Witches, Colonels, Slayers, Bearbots, cats and little girls. They all studied the map closely, some with more comprehension than others, but each gave the problem in hand their full attention.
“If I were an evil, insane, High Priest,” Began Willow, “Where would I and my two or three hundred followers hold our ritual?”
“Not somewhere that’s obvious.” Suggested one of the young Slayers.
“And not somewhere that’s too hard to get to.” Put forward another.
“What about here?” Asked Sam pointing to an area of cleared forest, “It looks big enough to easily hold a couple of hundred people, it’s near this track.” Her finger moved to a forest track no doubt designed to allow access in the event of fire. “And it’s far enough away from any habitation so no one would notice what was going on.”
“Anyone got a better idea?” Asked Kennedy, she looked around to see everybody shaking there heads, “General, any suggestions?”
Jack studied the map for a minute or two, eventually he pointed at a gully on the map.
“I’d suggest that we approach along this gully.” He said, “It’ll take us almost to the heart of this open area without being seen…of course it all depends on how they’re set up, and if they’re expecting us.”
“Right then,” Replied Kennedy, “Unless anybody has anything else to suggest…” she looked at everyone around the table. No one seemed to want to add anything, “Okay lets get ready.”
With that the group split up, the Slayers went to collect and sharpen weapons, the cat went back to his place by the fireplace where he was joined by the Bearbot and Tara. O’Neill noticed Willow and Sam deep in conversation but thought nothing of it.
Norm looked at the Deep One messenger and shook his head more in sorrow than in anger.
“So you completely failed?” Asked Norm.
The Deep One made a noise like a kettle boiling.
“Oh well it can’t be helped.” He made a sign in the air and the Deep One dropped dead. “Just as well I thought of a back up plan.” He said turning to Mavis the High Priestess.
“Yes isn’t it.” Replied Mavis insincerely, “I’ll go and prepare the girls now.”
As she walked away she patted the automatic pistol concealed under her robes, there was no way she was going to die like all the others when Cthulhu awoke. She would shoot Norm at the last minute and take his place as High Priest then she would rule in Cthulhu’s name. She tried not to cackle as she walked away from Norm.
Norm looked out over the ritual site, it was a natural bowl hidden deep in the forest. The trees had been cleared over the last couple of months and their trunks used to build the High Altar and a building to keep the sacrifices in. He smiled as the first sacrifice was dragged kicking and screaming towards the altar.
The victims were mostly street punks from LA and Portland collected by the cultists over the last few days. No one would miss them in the short time before Cthulhu arose, and after that moment people would have more important things to think about than the where abouts of a few petty criminals.
Norm listened to the chanting for a moment, this had been going on for about an hour so far, already some of the weaker souled followers had succumbed to insanity. Norm smiled; he did not mind it just made them easier to control.
“MAW-HA-HA!” He laughed insanely.
Jack stood by the table thumbing rounds into spare clips for the pistols that he had just cleaned. All around him young Slayers went about the business of sharpening swords and axes it seemed they felt more comfortable with their archaic weapons, “less to go wrong,” one of them had said. Jack felt Sam’s hand on his shoulder and turned to look at his long time friend and new lover.
“Jack,” She said, “We need to talk.”
Tina and Alice had gone up to their room to shower and change; they lay in each other’s arms after making love.
“If everything goes tits up,” Began Tina, “An’ I don’t make it out…I don’t want any ‘heroic gestures’ from you.”
She kissed Alice on the end of her nose.
“BUT!” Cried Alice.
“No,” Continued Tina, “You’re to come back here, you grab Miss Ken and Tara and you run like hell!”
“Don’t say that. I don’t think I could ever leave you,” Sulked Alice, “I don’t think I could go on without you…not now…not after everything we’ve done together.”
“Don’t worry Alley-cat,” Tina hugged the younger girl tightly, “Nothing’s going to happen to us, we’re going to win, we always do. It’s, y’know, just in case.”
“Okay,” Conceded Alice, “Just in case then.”
“We better get dressed an’ downstairs.” Suggested Tina rolling off the bed.
Kennedy pulled her Katana from its scabbard and tried a few passes through the air. It felt good to have her sword in her hand again; it was too long since she had been in a fight.
“Sweetie,” Came Willow’s voice from behind her, Kennedy turned, “I need to talk to you.”
“So,” Said Sally, “If I die you want my iPod and the boots I bought last week.”
Shannon nodded her head.
“Can I have your dagger collection?” Asked Tammy.
“Only if I can have your motorbike!” Replied Sally.
“But you’re too young to ride.” Shannon pointed out.
“Only ‘till next year.” Sally smiled sweetly.
The three girls continued splitting their worldly belongings between them until everything of value had been allocated a new owner. The girls fell silent for a moment.
“Find my bears a good home would you?” Asked Sally quietly, “Give ‘em to a children’s ward or something.”
Sitting high in a tree behind the cabin the three Goddesses watched the Slayers make their preparations. The two younger Goddesses looked pleadingly at their elder sister.
“No!” Said Morrigan firmly, “This is a fight they must face alone, we cannot interfere.”
The two younger Goddesses sulked like a couple of teenagers who had been grounded. Nemain looked up into the dark night sky to see the shapes of the Valkyries and their winged horses circling the cabin like great black vultures. Nemain sprang to her feet to stand on the branch.
“SHOOO!” She cried drawing her sword and brandishing it at the Choosers, “Shoo! Go away!” She yelled, “There’s no work here for you today! No Hero will die this day…BE GONE!”
The Valkyries gained altitude to stay out of reach of the angry Goddess but they did not fly away.
The two Police Jeeps bounced along the track as they headed away from the lake and deep into forest. They had decided to use the Jeeps, as the YSWA SUV would be too small to carry them all. In the lead vehicle Willow tried to follow their progress on the map but gave up when she realised she had become totally lost and by her calculations they were in downtown Seattle. She pushed the map to one side and looked at Sam who drove the Jeep expertly over the rough track.
“How did Jack take it?” She asked
Sam smiled in the darkness.
“Not well.” She replied, “What about Kennedy?”
“About the same.” Said Willow.
The two women lapsed into silence as Willow glanced out the rear window to check on the Jeep driven my Tammy and carrying the Slayers.
“When we get there,” Began Willow, “Tina’s in charge…I know you think she’s young but she’s the most experienced and best trained Slayer here…an’ Kennedy said she was to be in charge.”
“Yeah, I understand that,” Agreed Sam, “It just feels odd to be taking orders from a seventeen year old.”
“A lot of what Slayers do is instinctive,” Explained Willow, “The picking up a weapon and knowing how to use it, the knowing what to do in, what you’d call combat situations, it all comes to them naturally.”
“So why do you spend so much time training them?” Sam swerved to avoid a pot hole.
“It just hones their skills and teaches them to work together…and quite frankly they’re less likely to die after training, it gives them a chance at having some life.” Willow sighed, “You see we can’t stop them from fighting, they’re drawn to it. If we tried to stop them patrolling at night they’d just sneak out anyway and like as not get themselves killed.”
“So you’re sort of controlling their exposure to combat?”
“Yeah,” Agreed Willow, “They’re like combat junkies…that’s why its been so hard on Ken. She tries to hide it but I can tell.”
“I’ve seen people like that,” Sighed Sam, “You know, ‘combat junkies’, it never ends well.”
“No, I don’t suppose it does,” Replied Willow sadly, “I just hope they grow out of it as they get older.”
“You don’t know?” Sam looked shocked, “What about Ken does she need to fight all the time?”
“You’d be amazed at what the old Watchers Council didn’t know about Slayers.” Explained Willow, “They never used to let them live long enough to find a lot of the stuff out. An’ Ken,” Willow smiled out the window watching the trees go by in the darkness, “She can switch it off for a while, she’s done it before. But I don’t think she likes doing it and I don’t think she can do it for more than a few months at a time.”
Sam slowed down and brought the Jeep to a halt; she picked up the map from where Willow had dropped it and studied it in the light from the dashboard.
“I think this is as far as we can get in the Jeeps,” Announced Sam, “We walk from here on in.”
“How do you do that,” Asked Willow in amazement as she opened the door and climbed out, “The map reading I mean.”
“I’ll teach you,” Grinned Sam, “After all this is over with.”
Kennedy sat on the sofa in the family room, Tara had climbed up next to her and fallen asleep resting her head on her Ma’Ken’s tummy. Rupert stood staring out the window, no doubt scanning the darkness for danger while Sylvester prowled about the house looking for heavens knew what. Jack paced back and forth in front of the fireplace.
“Please sit down Jack!” Snapped Kennedy sharply, “It’s bad enough sitting here without you pacing up an’ down like a caged Tiger.”
Jack stopped and looked down at her; Kennedy drew a deep calming breath.
“Sorry Jack,” She apologised, “But…you know?”
“Yeah,” Jack lowered himself down onto the sofa next to Kennedy, “This is how General Hammond musta felt every time he sent people through the gate.”
“I’ve always been there with them,” Sighed Kennedy, “Always been there to lead them…to look after them. Now all I can do is wish them good luck and…”
“Gods speed.” Said Jack, “That’s what George always used to say before we went on a mission…Gods speed.”
“Does it ever get any easier Jack? The waiting I mean.” Kennedy stroked Tara’s hair as she sat and waited.
“No, it never does.”
The old General and the pregnant Slayer sat and held each other’s hand as they waited for their loved ones to come home.
Buffy looked over at Dawn as she paced across the gym at the Cleveland School. She was glad to have Giles close by, even if he was somewhere deep in the vaults with all the most dangerous magic books. However this meant that Dawn had to cast the teleportation spell by herself and Buffy did not like that. Not that Dawn was having much luck.
“Any luck?” She asked.
Dawn rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything until Willow’s in range and she can see the target.” Dawn explained.
“Explain to me why that’s so important again.” Asked Buffy.
Dawn sighed; sometimes her sister could be so dense! But, then again Buffy was probably worried about Will and Kennedy and their Slayers, Buffy seemed to worry a lot these days. Dawn decided to humour her.
“The cultist guys are generating so much negative mojo,” Explained Dawn, “That it’s acting like a block preventing me from teleporting you in there. Once Willow’s there she should be able to counteract it enough for me to ‘beam’ you in.” Dawn tried to smile reassuringly at her big sister, “I’m sure it’ll work.”
“It damn well better!” Exclaimed Buffy fiddling with her Scythe, the weapon whistled through the air as she took a swipe at a speck of dust.
“Sorry.” Buffy said quietly, “I’ve never been that good at this waiting around thing.”
Buffy glanced over at the dozen or so Slayers that waited in the hall. They all looked so young; some of them could hardly speak English properly. The girls she had sent by air had by necessity been more experienced, they would have to interact with the real world more on their journey. Then find their way through Seattle to pick up weapons from the YSWA House. Damn all terrorists to hell for making it impossible to take your favourite sword on a plane.
Buffy found herself wishing that Faith and Xander were there. She started to pace again, if Faith were here she would not have to take all these little girls into the fight.
Dawn shrugged her shoulders and read through the spell again. She could so do this, she thought, easy, nothing to it. Just rip apart the fabric of reality and send her sister and a dozen girls half way across the country…like ‘simple’!
Slayers tumbled from the second Jeep as Tammy brought it to an abrupt halt, there was an ecstasy of fumbling as weapons were grabbed and checked yet again, eventually the Slayers sorted themselves out and walked towards the lead vehicle.
“Of course,” Tina looked at the weapon in Alice’s hand, “I’m insanely jealous.”
“Hmmm? What?” Replied Alice from her partner’s side as she fingered the sword in her hands.
“The sword dummy!” Cried Tina, “Miss Kennedy lending you her Katana…oh I am sooo jealous!”
“If it helps,” Smiled Alice, “She said she’d string me up by my thumbs if I lost or damaged it!”
“Oh that’s alright then,” Tina slipped her arm around Alice’s waist and gave her a quick squeeze, “You okay with using it?”
Alice nodded her head.
“Always cut towards you,” Explained Tina, “Use the whole length of the blade it’s not an axe you know.”
“Yeah I know.”
“Yes I know!”
“Okay then as long as you know.”
The girls stopped as they reached where Willow and Sam waited for them.
“Everybody here?” Willow called, nobody said that they were not.
“Okay,” Sam looked at Tina as she spoke, “Shall we get on with it?”
“Yeah right.” Agreed Tina, “Lets go…Tammy you lead. Then Alice an’ me. Miss Willow an’ Colonel Sam in the middle, and Sally and Shannon bringing up the rear. Ready?”
The group of women and girls pushed their way into the forest.