Part 7 of 7
Part 7 of 7See part 1 for disclaimer!
Faith was trying to get her bearings. A lot had happened and most of it much too fast. Somehow she had pulled an Oz earlier, transformed into a honkin’ big wolf creature, and torn the stuffing out of the Eater of the Dead. It was dead now, she had checked and double checked. One problem dealt with. Many more on her plate.
Transforming into the wolf had been painful at first but then it had almost felt... natural. Faith hadn’t known Oz, the Scooby Gang’s resident werewolf, very well, but from what he had said he had never been aware of what he was doing when in wolf form. Faith had been very aware, fully aware, yet... not. It was as if another layer of thoughts had been put over her own. Something like when the Slayer took over in the middle of a battle, but much stronger.
Come to think of it, she didn’t feel the presence of the Slayer in the back of her head anymore.
Shaking her head, she banished those thoughts. Whatever had happened here, analyzing it could wait. The police were coming, the battle was over, she figured it was time to make a discreet exit. Taking a moment to orient herself, she sprinted toward the Key portal.
Only to stop in front of it, frustrated.
The portal was still there, but had shrunk considerably. It was now just about large enough to poke her head in, but not nearly big enough for her entire body to pass through. This was definitely not looking good.
Looking around, she found the gem Willow had enchanted to use as a camera. Picking it up, she spoke into it.
“Red, can you hear me, girl? I’m having a bit of a problem here.”
“This is not of the good,” Willow muttered. The redheaded witch had all her concentration focused on the Key-generated portal in front of her, which had shrunk to the size of a football by now. Despite all her attempts to stabilize and re-enlarge it, the stubborn portal just kept shrinking.
“I can donate more blood,” Dawn said, anxiously pacing behind her. “Won’t that help?”
They had already tried that approach, adding a drop of Dawn’s blood to the shimmering energy of the portal. It hadn’t done anything, though.
“I’m afraid it won’t, sweetie,” Willow told her sadly. “Your blood opens portals, but apparently maintaining them is another matter altogether. I might be able to use your blood to reopen the portal once it has closed, but...”
“How do you expect to find the right dimension again?” Dawk asked, frantic. “There have to be millions.”
“That’s kinda where the ‘but’ was headed.”
“Red, can you hear me, girl? I’m having a bit of a problem here.”
Willow heard Faith’s voice through the gem she had sent through the portal. She hadn’t exactly expected to use it for two-way communication, but the portal was yet large enough for her to send a telepathic pulse through.
‘We can’t seem to keep the portal from shrinking, Faith,’ Willow sent to the Slayer. ‘I’m afraid our only option right now is to let it close and then try to reopen it.’
“You don’t sound very enthusiastic about that idea, Red,” Faith answered through the gem. “What are the odds of that working?”
‘Not good, I’m afraid,’ Willow answered, figuring Faith deserved an honest reply. ‘I will try everything I can, but you might have to settle in for a longer stay.’
“Just great,” Faith muttered. “I do so love to travel.”
The portal in front of her was now shrinking faster and faster. It would probably be gone in a minute or so. Faith sighed, accepting the inevitable. She was stuck here for however long it took Red to reopen the portal. Faith was no quantum physicists, but even she could figure out that finding the right alternate universe among however many there were would probably take some time.
Meaning that she would have to find a place to stay here.
“Don’t leave me hanging too long, Red,” she said into the gem. “I might actually start missing you guys.”
There was the barest tingling in her head as the telepathic connection began to fail. Willow was saying goodbye. Faith wasn’t sure she heard her reply. Then the portal was gone.
“Wonderful. And me without my leather pants.”
She could see the first police cars screech to a stop right beside the body of the decapitated Eater. Her first impulse was to run. Cops and her didn’t mix well. Then she remembered that this wasn’t her universe. She had no rap sheet here. In fact, considering that she had helped a lot of people survive the night, maybe they’d even be somewhat welcoming. Maybe spring for a new pair of pants.
Shrugging, Faith walked over to where a crowd of police men, rescue workers, and ambulance people was beginning to gather. On the way there she found what remained of her clothing and, remembering the gift Dawn had given her, bent down to pick up the small vial of blood she had taken with her through the portal. Might come in handy later. Thankfully her wallet had also survived more or less intact.
Time to face the music then.
Damian kept tight reign over his temper. Fortunately a thousand years of unlife, most of it spent in the service of a very sadistic Master, had taught him patience. Everything was as well as it could be for the moment, he reminded himself. The monster was slain. The Master was safely back underground. Anita, brought back from the edge of death by CPR, was on her way to the hospital. He had done all he could do right now. With many dead and more incapacitated he was left more or less in charge. Therefore it was necessary for him to endure the inane questioning of this mortal police officer. He wouldn’t rip him to shreds. Not yet anyway.
“So this monster simply appeared out of nowhere?” the detective named Zebrowski asked. Again.
“It is as I told you, detective,” Damian said. “The creature appeared and attacked without provocation. We had no choice but to respond in kind.”
Damian was well aware that vampires and lycanthropes, though equal to ‘normal’ humans by letter of the law, were still regarded with lots of suspicion by mortal law enforcement. They would cast a very close eye on an event like this. Damian was just thankful that, as far as he knew at the moment, no humans had been hurt by the creature or in the scuffle. He was quite certain that would not have been good for any of Jean-Claude’s people.
Well, he reminded himself, one who was considered human had indeed been harmed. Anita. Normally the police would have called her in for something like his, Anita being the city’s foremost expert on preternatural creatures. Unfortunately with her on her way to the hospital that left the police somewhat short on experts. Someone called John Burke was apparently on his way to help out, but it would take some time before he got here.
“And you have no idea what it is?” Zebrowski asked, gesturing at the remains.
“I have never faced such a creature before, detective,” Damian replied. “I certainly would have remembered such a battle.”
“So you, some other vampires, and some werewolves fought and killed this thing, correct?”
“Only after it slaughtered many of my comrades and gravely injured Ms. Blake. Even then we would not have succeeded without help.”
“What help?” Zebrowski asked.
“I guess he means me,” a new voice added.
Damian had seen the woman approach, but had said nothing to the detective. Somehow he had expected the female warrior to disappear back into the darkness the way she had arrived, especially after that strange transformation. Many people who were not human preferred to stay out of the spotlight.
“And you would be?” Zebrowski asked her. Damian realised he didn’t know her name yet.
“My name is Faith Lehane,” she said, smirking at the police man. The man had a hard time keeping his eyes to her face, considering that she had nothing on except Damian’s jacket, which wasn’t quite long enough to cover everything that should be covered.
“Ms. Lehane is the reason we are still alive now,” Damian said, nodding at the fellow warrior. “She fought most bravely.”
Zebrowski seemed sceptical for a moment, but apparently remembered that he knew another dark-haired woman who regularly battled monsters and came out ahead.
“Anything you want to add to Mr. Damian’s description of events?” he asked instead.
Okay, Faith mused, what to say now? How about, the monster came from an alternate universe through a portal created through the blood of a young woman. I followed it here through the same portal. The monster gets juiced up by snacking on dead guys. I killed it by turning into a giant wolf, something that never happened to me before coming to this universe. Oh, and I can’t go back. Can I bunk with you until a certain redheaded witch finds the right number of dimension to dial?
She was about to say something more or less along those lines - lying had never been her strong suite, after all - when she suddenly felt the world swim around her for a moment. She almost stumbled.
“Miss, are you all right?” the cop asked, reaching out to steady her.
“I... I’m five by five, thanks.”
“We don’t have to do this right now. If you need some time to regain your strength...”
“No, no it’s okay. To answer your question, this thing is called an Eater of the Dead. It snacks on all kinds of dead and undead creatures to get stronger. I followed it here.”
“May I ask why?”
“I... I’m a licensed bounty hunter. This thing has killed several vampires in Cleveland. There’s a price on its head.”
Where the fuck had that come from? A bounty hunter? Her? The words had popped into her head without warning and made it past her mouth before she knew what was going on. Her hand reached into her recovered wallet without conscious thought and pulled out a plastic, rather official-looking ID card. That one hadn’t been in there before, had it?
Apparently the idea of bounty hunters looking to collect bounties on supernatural monsters wasn’t all that strange to the cop. He simply checked out the ID and jotted down a few notes.
“We’ll check that. If everything is in order I’ll make sure you collect the bounty, Ms. Lehane.” He hesitated a moment. “Eh, may I ask what happened to your...” he stopped, gesturing down her body.
Faith hesitated a moment, wondering how she was gonna explain her lack of clothing without mentioning that she transformed into a giant wolf-creature, something she would rather like to keep under wraps for the moment. Things were strange enough as it was. Thankfully the blood-haired vampire, Damian, came to her aid.
“The monster’s blood apparently had some acidic properties. When Ms. Lehane cut its throat it started eating right through her clothes. We had to get rid of them.”
She gave the vampire a thankful smile, then turned back to the cop.
“Anything else you need to know?”
“Not for the moment. But I’ll need an address I can reach you at. We’ll have to take an official statement tomorrow or the day after.”
Faith started to say she had no address, what with not being from this world and all, but once again strange words started coming out of her mouth.
“I’m staying at the Hilton. I had no clue how long it would take to hunt this thing down, so I rented a room for the whole week.”
“Perfect. If it’s all right I will call you tomorrow and...”
He was interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. Quickly taking it out he answered, then listened for a moment. Moments later his face fell, a deep sadness evident in his eyes.
“Thank you,” he just said, then hung up.
“What’s the matter?” Damian asked.
Zebrowski looked up at the vampire.
“It was the hospital. Apparently... Anita flat-lined again during the ride there. They tried to bring her back, but... they couldn’t. She was pronounced dead on arrival.”
Epilogue: Hour of the Wolf
There are many legends and myths floating around the world. Many of them written down, many more simply told from one generation to the next. There is one myth that has been around as long as the people could remember, yet no one could quite remember it until today. It was as if a book long lost had been found. Or maybe the book had only just been written and then placed deep in the past.
The myth is as follows:
There was a time before the coming of the white man, when the Wolf was a god. And a powerful God at that, with his speed and cunning, he was God of the hunt. With his mate, who he kept for life, and the cubs, together they were Gods of the family.
But most of all, with his song, he was God of the night, a protecting spirit against the black, the unknown. He was a God that was very much part of the old way.
But then came the white man and his new ways. He worshipped a new God. A God who lived in the clouds. A God that had no shape, yet could be seen in everything, but the God himself could not be seen. Some of the people switched to this new God and others switched only to save their lives. The white man’s nation grew. The people’s lands were taken, the fields were farmed, and the great trees cut to support the new nation.
In this new nation, there was no room for the Wolf. His home was destroyed, his family hunted (for they made warm coats), and he was removed from his place as a deity, only to be placed in a zoo.
When man saw the Wolf, the great God caged, they laughed and laughed. Not only at the God they caged, but also at themselves for being so foolish as to believe that an animal could be a God to man. The Only God for man had to be greater than man, so they believed.
Over many years people began to doubt the God in the sky. How did he create man, the rivers, and the sky? Was there really a God, for no one saw him? Man was so great, he placed a man on the moon, he tamed the animals, and invented machines that could do work and save lives. Who needed a God?
Many people did, but not the same God. There were Gods of Rock, Gods of the Screen, as well as the Greeen God, the Almighty Dollar. It seemed that everything had a God, and supporters that would fight for the cause.
And from his cage, the Wolf watched.
When the time came for the dark things to come into light, Man was afraid. Which God could protect them from the creatures of the night? What God would keep them safe from the blood-drinking dead who now enjoyed the protection of the white man’s laws, but cared little for their spirit?
The people began to turn to the Wolf to protect them. “We were foolish,” they cried, “please protect us; the other Gods will not help us.” As a show of faith, they set the Wolf free.
The Wolf, not stopping at their cries, ran straight for the woods, and he was gone. The people sat numb, who would save them now? As night fell, the people could hear the Wolf singing, and ran to the sound. But they did not find him.
In this new nation, there was still no room for the Wolf. But there was room for the Wolf in someone’s heart. Someone with the hunt in her blood and the strength and conviction to protect the people. A special someone.
A Chosen One.
THE ENDAuthor’s Notes: I wanted this to be more than the usual Buffy-character-travels-to-Anita’s-world story. So while Faith is now in Anita’s world, Anita is gone, leaving a big hole to be filled. With the Executioner dead and Jean-Claude and Richard at the very least diminished and heart-broken, that leaves a humongous power vacuum in the St. Louis area. Who will deal with things like the Vampire Council, Chimera, and the awakening Mother of Darkness? Who else but everyone’s favourite dark Slayer who is now no longer a Slayer but something else entirely?
I have no idea if I really want to continue this, but I thought it a nifty preamble for a possible series and an interesting story in itself. What do you think? Worth continuing?
By the way, the myth of the Wolf is an actual Native American tale I found online, though I changed it a bit, of course. No offence is meant.