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Life is a Road...

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Oh, the people she knows...". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Looking into her birth records takes Faith not to Boston, but to Philly, of all places. A chance encounter leads to more mystery and deadly dangers... (Update to add cover art)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Faith-Centered
Marvel Universe > Blade
Television > Night Heat
(Current Donor)IronbearFR1833190,3063016866,02929 Sep 0718 Oct 13Yes

Wasting moonlight...

Chapter 22: "Wasting moonlight... "

"Bend it."

The tumult of "What the hell?"'s, gasps, and various outraged looks and mutterings had died down after awhile. O'Brien, Hogan, and Giambione didn't join into them - a fact that wasn't completely lost on the rest of Major Cases. Hogan and O'Brien merely exchanged slight nods, and went back to watching Christine and LeHane.

LeHane ignored all of it, just continued giving Christine a steady regard as Detective Meadows glared back at her. "What makes you think I can?" Christine returned the steady gaze with a hostile expression.

"Most of your life you've been having dreams about monsters. You wrote them off as nightmare's, even though those dreams were more real than the waking world around you," Faith stated, softly. "Around six or so months ago, around May, the dreams changed. They became dreams of girls fighting monsters, and endless line of them. Always the same girl, just different bodies and faces, different clothes and skin colors, but the same. Some of the dreams had things chasing you with sewn up eyes and mouths, maybe a Preacher in them." She paused, watching the older woman's face carefully. "Around late May, something happened. You heard a voice like thunder talking about power being shared - or else just a quiet voice in the back of your head asking 'Are you ready to be Strong?' Whatever you were doing, wherever you were at the time, you had what felt like a bolt of pure energy go through you. If you were holding a glass at the time or something breakable - it shattered in your hands. And the cuts were gone in less than a day, like they'd never been. You had learn to adjust so as to not rip off doorknobs by accident, relearn your reflexes. You can see things that normal people can't, hear things that human ears don't. When you push... you can move so fast that you blur - but you've learned not to do that. You can sense when some people are a bit 'off' in ways you can't explain, like you can feel something odd off of Vince, Daywalker, and Nightstalker here now," Faith cocked her head, smiling. "And you can't explain how you solve some of the cases you do because your dreams point you the way - and you don't want to end up on The Psychic Friend's network."

Christine's face went paler with every word, and her hand on the tire tool was shaking slightly. "How do you know this? It's like you've been in my head... "

"Because it happened to me when I was almost fifteen. Different voice, same question. I went... a little bit nuts with it," Faith said, evenly. "You're a lot stronger in here," Faith tapped her chest and head, "than I was, I think."

"You're trying to tell us that Christine is the same as you are and has been since May?" Detective Carson's voice was incredulous. Faith ignored him, keeping her focus on the blonde detective. O'Brien caught Carson's eye and shook his head slightly.

"Why are you doing this like this?" Christine's voice came out strangled.

"You mean, rather than wait and catch you alone at a better time?" Faith lifted her eyebrows. Christine nodded. "You had several days to look me up in the hospital and ask. You had to figure that there was something similar about me. You've had what, months now to let O'Brien and your Lieutenant know that there was something... odd... going on with you?" She shrugged, "Better time's done past, lady. We're all outta time now. We're headin' way out on the edge where there's things in the darkness with teeth, and your partners need you, little bit extra and all." The corner of Faith lips curled up, "Woulda liked to do it better, but sometimes the Universe doesn't seem to give a fuck what I do or don't like. Roll or be rolled over time, and I happen to not wanna see Five-oh over there become a grease spot." She gave O'Brien an amused look, "Gotten kinda attached to him."

"I didn't want anyone else to know about it."

"Afraid they'd consider you a freak? Or worse... leak it somewhere and you'd get hauled off to a lab for study?" Faith's expresson was thoughtful. "Become a media circus and a Jerry Springer phenomenon? Hey! Superhero Cop Discovered in Philly! Top Men Assigned To Head Government Research Team! A Weekly World News Exclusive!!!" Dean snorted, and Faith cut him a bemused glance from the corners of her eyes.

"Something like that." Christine glared at her again, "You make it sound like a silly concern, and it isn't."

"No. It's not." Faith studied her. "But do you think O'Brien or Hogan here are going to do that to you? Or your team? Look around you, lady, what do you see?" Faith glanced around the room and her eyes returned back to Christine's. "I make it: concern; several variations of royally pissed off at me; little bit of fear for you, not of you; and quite a bit of what the fuck, over?"

Christine took a long look around and saw the same things. LeHane's people's faces were studiously blank, except for the black lawyer's, who looked a bit shocked, and Winchester, who looked slightly pissed himself at LeHane. From her own people though, she received nods and a few rueful looks. And a knowing and sympathetic look from O'Brien, Hogan, and Giambione. "You couldn't know that."

"I couldn't?" Faith gave her a slightly disbelieving look. "You've known these people for more than ten years, right? I've known O'Brien and Frank here for less than ten days and I know better. If they were the kind of men who'd do that, I wouldn't have been sitting in a hospital relaxing under protection the past week - I'd be in a cage. Hogan? O'Brien respects and trusts him, and that's all I need. Five-oh there wouldn't give that kind of respect to someone who didn't rate it. Gimme a break." Faith snorted derisively.

The other woman looked around the room again, giving her squadmates hard and searching looks, and then nodded.

"Can't say I like what happened to you, and I'm not sure I'd have done it left to my own devices... but that's blood under the bridge, hey?" Faith locked eyes with the older woman, "Time to make another choice. Accept what you are, or hide from it. Bend the fucking thing... or don't."

Christine glared at her again, then shook her head. She slid her hands to the ends of the tire iron and brought both fists together slowly, with a bit of effort. The tire tool curved slowly into a U and she tossed it onto the pile of kevlar vests in the center of the table, looking defiantly at Faith.

"Coolness." Faith grinned. She took several IWC New York cards with Vi's name and number on them and slid them across the table to Christine. "We live through the next couple of days, and I'll put you and your people together with some folks who can explain a lot more about this than I can. And we'll knock heads with Daywalker and Nightstalker here and with Vince and see about setting up something to last after I move out." She paused thoughtfully, "First we need to live through the next couple o' days. Welcome to Rule One: Don't die - it fucking ruins your day."

"You know," Dean said softly, "You can be an absolutely ruthless bitch sometimes, can't you." He ignored Hannibal's and Gunn's glares at him.

"Yup." She gave him a a look, her expression amused. "I'd say it comes with the Calling... but I was ruthless before that." He shook his head.

Faith caught O'Brien's eye. "Got what you need?" She indicated the pile of gear on the table.

O'Brien exchanged looks with his partner, and then shrugged. "Firearms and ammo from the bloodbank. Vests. Bernadelli shotguns with incindiary CAWS rounds. Sidearms in the same caliber as those H&K's for backup." Giambione gave a bemused look at the pistol belt slung around her hips.

"Thought you told us you didn't have any firearms?" He said.

"Naw. Said that you'd have to get a warrant to search and not find any," Faith returned the bemused look with interest. Frank snorted, shaking his head.

"You arrest her, Obie. She's your delinquent." Giambione reached and pulled a vest off of the pile and begin shrugging into it. "I'm ready to go poke a few hornets nests, myself."

"Wicked," Faith grinned at him. "My friends will hand out some other specialized loads for you and explain 'em. Let's go kick over some tables."

"What exactly have you got in mind?" Detective Carson gave her a curious look, visibly swallowing his irritation over the bit with her and Christine.

"We're done being defensive. We're going to visit them where they play and live, and show the flag." She gave him a slightly manic look, "Kill shit, break things, rattle some cages, and get some intel. You game?"

.................................................................................

Black Label was jumping for an off night. Music was pounding along with the flashing strobes, the discordant techno-grunge that no matter what their original tastes, most vampires grew to prefer after being embraced. It appealed to the inner beast, one might suppose. Figures clad in leather and studs, with wildly colored hair, danced more fluidly than it seemed the jarring beat would allow for, inhuman grace lending a predatory sensuousness to the movement. Others lounged at various tables and booths, feeding from vampire groupies or zoning on blood cocaine. In the center of the pit, a small clump of newer vamps slammed together in frenzy.

Things hadn't been jumping even on weekends, not until recently. Rumor had it the Daywalker and his people had killed Drake - Dagon, one of the Elders - in New York and in the process had unleashed some sort of hellish virus that virtually annihilated the Draaken population over the course of a few weeks. From New York it spread, hitting Philly in good time. Whatever it was, it had been weaker by the time it reached here, destroying only six out of every ten rather than almost all as it had up coast. Luckily, it seemed to affect the other main breed of vampire, the Kindrel, almost as badly: taking out at least half of their numbers wherever it spread... and they hadn't been nearly as numerous to begin with. Unluckily... it affected the demonic breeds not at all, and they'd moved into areas like cockroaches, along with several younger Masters, faster than the remaining Kindrel and Draaken could exterminate them.

Nothing much to do for that except breed and replenish the population. That was the nice thing about vampirism, Marcos reflected. While pure bloods like himself could breed with other purebloods the old fashioned way, they weren't limited to just that. All it took was a draining and a mixing of blood, and voila - new vampires. And as the old commercial went: they bit two friends, and they bit two friends, and so on and so on...

Naturally, the Kindrel didn't care for that very much. They were a lot pickier about embracing mortals, and had rules and laws about it - strongly enforced ones, that they attempted to impose on other breeds as well. Neither did the demonic essence Kaineron: other breeds of vampire were competition to them. (Which was why most breeds exterminated the Kaineron wherever they settled: the bastards bred too fast, they obeyed no rules except those of the jungle, they attracted too much attention in any area except for mystical hot spots... and they had too high a proclivity for indulging their demonic aspect via apocalyptic magics. They also attracted Slayers - and there were too damned many of those around lately.)

None of that would have been too bad, usually. There had been disruptions to the balances of power before, and it had always evened out into equilibrium eventually. Draaken would breed until their numbers were past replenished, Kindrel would negotiate until it was futile, then they'd strike, Draaken would strike back, Kindrel would bring in several members of their Assassin clans, and there'd be a nice little war until the populations of both were stable again. Then both would neogitate a treaty and join forces to exterminate the Kanieron who'd moved in to take advantage. Good time was had by all, except the Kaineron - and who gave a shit what they thought? Pretty soon, things would even out and the night world would settle back under the radar again. Business as usual: feed and breed.

Except that something had kicked things sideways more than usual, this go round. Something had caused the main Hellmouth in that pissant little California town to fall in on itself and suddenly there were slayers popping up everywhere, faster than you could gut them. The other Hellmouths had responded to the collapse of the big one by changing from dormant to active, for some bizarre mystical reason, causing the Kaineron populations to boom - and to move out as slayers settled into the other Hellmouths to hunt, along with their idiot Revised Watcher's Council. No major thing... if that damned virus hadn't killed off most of the Kaineron's natural predators...

On top of that, as if it wasn't enough... something had created a huge mystical event in Jersey City that caused both the Daywalker and what was left of his people, and that damned Dark Slayer to go berserk on J-City's resident demon underworld and remaining vampire population. Had even gotten both the Hellfire Club and the ancient Elders of the Kindrel roused - something no one really wanted to see happen. Would have had its up aspects if they'd roused to kill the bent slayer, NYC's slayer infestation, and the Daywalker... but that hadn't happened. Instead the heavy hitters had begin moving through things like sharks through shallow water and putting out the word that they weren't going to look happily on anyone that caused an all out war between the IWC and the supernatural underworld's movers and shakers. Something sensibly stupid, like say... icing that psychotic Faith bitch. Instead, word had gone out to let things play... and somehow, a tenth Hellmouth had opened.

Which left what was left of the sensible vampires and demons migrating out of New York and Jersey and Kaineron moving in, causing more disruptions than usual for this kind of thing. And which left Marcos too paranoid to really enjoy sitting back in his private niche watching the replenishment of his clientèle and the infusion of custom that came with it. He was too busy wondering every time the back door opened if it was going to be Prince Santos' even more psychotic Death Dealer bitch moving in with her herd of hand picked street Kindrel thugs to clean the place out... as rumor had it she'd already done to two similar bars and a major blood facility.

A bright spot in the entire mess was the unexpected visit from the tall, slick, black lawyer from Wolfram and Hart. Two of the bouncers had escorted him back, very politely, so that no one would get stupid and try to drain his human ass. A surprise in a lot of ways: Marcos had heard that Wolfram and Hart's LA offices were being cleaned up by that idiot souled Kaineron Master. He hadn't expected a courtesy call from one of their representatives who was in Philly on legal business, a business card, and an offer of services if they should be needed.

Aside from that high point, the rest of the recent turn of events kinda sucked, but it did have its blessings in a way.

If Marcos hadn't already been hyper alert, he reflected later, he'd have missed the very slight glitter of something small and round arcing through the lights and over the center of the main bar, and wouldn't have been paranoid enough to dive beneath his table and against the wall before whatever the hell it was went off with a flash of hellishly bright light...

Shortly after, there were sparks and ashes everywhere, and screams as idiot, drugged up vamp groupies suddenly realized they were being held or hanging off of flaking ash, and gunfire everywhere. Two of his bodyguards had been slow, and they were twinkling ash on the floor nearby. The remaining one had risked rising up to throw a fast look over the divider to see what the score was, gun in hand. Not fast enough - something nailed her in the head and moments later she was burning from the inside out and ashing herself. Marcos pushed himself into the corner and held deathly still. (Amused that even approaching death didn't take his sense of an ironic turn of phrase) He could hear movement and more gunfire, sporadic now as what few were left upstairs were stupid enough to expose themselves to see what was going on. Maybe they'd forget to check the alcoves. Slim chance, but better than none.

That was when a pair of motorcyle boots appeared at the edge of his table and a hand flipped it over. A short dark-haired woman hopped up to balance on the edge of the heavy table like a demented raven, all in black, sword in one hand and a huge bore single action revolver pointed at him from the other. He had a brief moment of sanity and almost convulsively threw his own pistol onto the floor toward her.

"Who the fuck are you?" Marcos stared at her. She pushed the flat brimmed hat off onto her back with the muzzle of her pistol and a slow smile spread across her lips, never reaching the dark eyes.

"I'm Death in a long coat. I ride a steel horse and lightning walks around me. I'm The Thing the Darkness Fears... and I'm a little bit annoyed." She cocked her head, eyes liquid and remote. "Faith. Slayer."

Unholy fuck. No one had even rumored in his earshot that the Dark Slayer was in town. He'd neglected to be paranoid about the other psychotic bitch from Hell...

.................................................................................

"Stand up," Faith suggested. Been a long time since she'd seen a vampire scared enough to piss blood down his leg. Kewl.

"What do you want?" He kept the 'bitch' from making its way out of the back of his throat. Marcos levered himself onto his feet against the alcove wall, hands away from his body, as a huge black guy, a smaller white guy with a beard, and a blonde who gave off the same predatory vibes as the smaller woman joined them. He didn't need to see the tattoos to recognize the black man: the shades, sword, dhampir smell, and coat were enough. The Dark Slayer and the Daywalker. Which would make the lean guy Hannibal King. He wasn't even going to guess at who the blonde was: the slayer vibe off of her was enough. That and the body armor and badge...

A slayer cop. A fucked state of affairs just got worse.

"Several things, Marcos." Faith looked up at the black haired vampire disinterestedly. "Mostly, it's training time and you're an object lesson on how to clean out a vampire bar. But I also want information. Cough it up, and you might unlive awhile longer." There were more shots in the background and the occasional shout. "I don't really care either way."

"Ask."

"Kay-oh. Two things, first," Faith nodded. "One) Prince Santos. I want to know where he lives. Think I'm going to pay him a visit, have words and shit. Two) And I don't really expect you to know this one, but never hurts to ask: the Elora bitch. Wanna know where to find her."

Marcos closed his eyes. Oh shit. "Don't know, on either of those."

Faith glanced up at Blade, who shrugged, "He's small fish. I doubt that this chickenshit is going to know, really." She nodded. Marcos opened his eyes carefully, after a moment passed and he didn't end up ashes.

"Figured as much." That disinterested gaze skewered him again. "Three) The detective here is going to toss you a pad when I'm done, and you're going to jot down a list of every single Familiar and Ghoul in this city that you know of. Who they are, who they work for, and where they work. Get me?"

"Fuck! They'll kill me if I do that!" Marcos paled.

He'd never seen anyone move quite that fast. One moment the big black man was standing relaxed next to Faith; the next Marcos had an arm like a steel bar across his throat and the point of one of those wicked looking silvered glaives he'd heard about a fraction of an inch from his left eye. "What, are you fucking stupid?" A growling voice hissed next to his ear. "Motherfucker - we'll kill you. You don't have to worry about them." The lean guy was shaking his head sadly.

"Guess being turned really does kill brain cells, huh?" King gave Faith an amused glance.

"Yeah, explains a LOT, doesn't it?" she said, looking him up and down.

"Ha ha. Smart ass."

"Man! Wait - hey," Marcos pressed himself as far away from that point as he could, which wasn't far. He rolled his eyes toward the dark woman. "Look, Slayer - you want Santos and his bitch? No problem - I'll locate them for you! We have common enemies there, right? Makes us on the same side. But I can't give you the other... "

"No. We're not on the same side. You're not ash because I have a use for you. For now," Faith's soft voice would have made his blood run cold if it wasn't already near room temperature. "You'll either make out that list... or I'll get it from someone else. And when I do, I'll put the word out that it came from you." She smiled, "How long you think you'll last anywhere here or in Europe after that?"

He thought about it, and finally swallowed hard. What little he knew of Faith suggested that she didn't talk just to make noise. When she saw the change in the back of his eyes, she motioned and the Daywalker released him with a growl, stepping back. She nodded to the blonde woman who pulled a pad with a pen attached to it and tossed it to him. He nearly dropped it, but managed to fumble it into his hands.

"Start writing. And write fast: you're already wasting time I don't care to spend," Faith suggested. "Oh. Also... " Marcos looked up. Faith stood easily and stepped off the table, giving him a long look, "Put the word out. This just became a vampire free city. Whatever is left of you has until I put paid to Elora to clear the fuck out. Any vamp of any breed here after that, and any familiars or ghouls still around, are dead dead." She quirked a half smile, "I were you, I'd clear out long before that."

Marcos looked into those dark eyes until his own broke away, unable to hold the contact any longer. He started writing.

.................................................................................

The next two vampire bars went the same way, in quick succession. After that, they broke into three groups: Faith, Dean Winchester, and Hogan and O'Brien's people in one; Blade and Hannibal as a pair; and Vince and his people in the third. They hit three more, quickly, and then broke off as planned before word could spread out for the next ones to be serious traps.

Not that Faith had any objection to taking a trap apart from the inside to see what made it tick. If they hit somewhere as a full group, they had enough firepower to take just about anything apart. She had other ideas though...

The South Philly demon bar went very still and quiet when she threw the bouncer in ahead of her and stalked in over him. It went even quieter when the seven Major Cases detectives and Winchester filed in after, looking around casually. She'd explained to them what to expect, and to not show any surprise or startlement - bored amusement was the best route. Or cop face, if they couldn't manage the former.

A pair of vampires had half stood when the bouncer hit the floor. They went into game face and moved around their table toward her as she stopped, lighting a cigar and surveying the place casually while stamping slush off of her boots. Her hand blurred twice, nearly invisible, and both vampires poofed into dust and a pair of wood and steel spikes clinked to the floor moments after.

A pair of eight foot tall things with scales and too many teeth stood rumbling from their table as she stepped farther in. One of them collapsed abruptly as the arm blurred again and the wicked Jackal style knife stood out of its chest. The other froze and there was a sound of several shotgun actions being racked.

"Are you really stupid enough to want to dance with me?" Faith ambled over and picked up the spikes, her eyes never leaving the taller demon's.

"Who the fuck are you?"

"Faith. Slayer." She grinned as he took several steps back from her when she straightened and stepped forward until she could kneel and take her knife back from his friend. "Smart." She nodded casually. "Stay smart."

The big horned thing behind the bar leaned forward on its hands over the bar top as she walked up with Hogan, O'Brien, and Christine behind her, Giambione covering their backs. "Are you fucking insane, Slayer? Bringing normals and cops in here?"

"Some of your vamp friends went over the edge. Rules have changed, now." Faith smiled and drove the point of the knife through his right hand and deep into the bartop, letting him feel the hunger in that blade as it quivered there. The short Faithkeeper sword came off of her left shoulder and the point went under his chin, holding him in place. "Owner of the place in? Wanna have a short chat with him."

There was a *boom!* from behind them as a 12 guage went off and a silver slug impacted on something. A body hit the floor with a crash that shook the place slightly.

"I'm the owner," grated out of him.

"Wicked." The knife was gone from his hand as fast as it went in. The sword point never moved from under his chin, however. "New Rules. New Sheriff in town. Meet Detective Christine Sullivan, Slayer. Her partners are the Major Cases squad from the mid-south precinct. They come in, you and everyone in here gets real polite, says yessir a lot, and no one does anything stupid."

"And why is that?" An eyeball rolled down to look at her.

"Man, you got a pair." Faith's eyes crinkled with amusement. "K', you get one moment of stupidity for free. Don't make a habit of it. I can just as easy clean out this bar as an example and talk to the next one down the road. Ain't a damned thing in here that can slow me down."

"All right, you got my attention, Slayer," grumbled out. "Slayers."

"Kewl. Why is 'cause this just became a vampire free town. No licks allowed. But ain't no one really interested in demons as long as everyone's friendly and no one goes munching on the civvies, right?"

"Right," the big demon relaxed slightly and made a motion to the rest of the bar. "We're all peaceable folks. No Hellmouth here to draw in the bad elements."

"Right," Faith nodded agreeably. "The other 'why' is becuz before too long, there's going to be a squad of slayers here and a group of Nightstalkers around making certain that no one gets all forgetful and shit. And one of the J-City players is branching out a bit this way as well, if you catch my drift." Faith stepped back, sheathing the blade behind her left shoulder. "Anything happens to any of these cops, doesn't matter if it's demon related or not... it becomes a demon free town as well. Might be in everyone's best interest to see that doesn't happen."

The thing rubbed the spot under its chin where the sword point had rested. "What's in it for us?"

"Well, for one thing, I don't have to come back and voice my displeasure. No one wants a cranky Faith rolling around." She watched him digest that and continued, "For another... no vamps and no familiars means an awful lot of business opportunities open up. As long as they don't involve harming normals, that is. Also means a lot less 'end of the world' type crap. Make with the information and tips on occasion when Christine or her partners walk in, and no one bothers you."

The demon looked around at the rest of the group, and got careful nods back. "I can live with that."

"Coolness." Faith gave him a nod and stepped back again. "One other thing... from here on in, any vamps, no matter what breed, and any familiars or ghouls, are fair game. No one is going to care if they vanish. Free pass on that: no one is going to look real hard if there's a vamp ownership mark on a dead crunchie." Her eyes went cold for a moment: "But don't abuse it," she said, softly. "No putting tats or marks on the bodies just to get freebies."

They all backed out of there carefully, watching the room as they went.

.................................................................................

They gathered back at the vehicles and Faith lit a smoke. "You do that a lot?" Christine asked.

"Yup." Faith grinned, "But no more than I have to. Your odds get worse every time. Knowin' when to push and when to quit is a big part of the 'Don't die'." She gave the detective an amused look, "I'm kinda still working on the knowin' when to quit part. But I'm gettin' better."

"I can't believe you're letting demons live behind us," Dean gave her a half exasperated, half pissed off look.

"Not all demons are evil, Dean. And not all of them prey on humans," Faith gave him a careful look. Dean was a lot more wired than she'd expected after that. "And you can't kill everything." She paused thoughtfully, "Yet." Faith gave Dean a hard look, and finally it was his eyes that looked away. "This ain't hunting demons one at a time and movin' on, Dean. This is a war zone, and it gets ugly." Inside she gave a small sigh that didn't show except in the back of her eyes. Any chances of her and Dean coming to an understanding were dying, she could feel it, and there wasn't anything to be done for it.

"Why not? Kill everything, I mean?" Hogan gave her a hard look, drawing her attention over. "Are you sure those... things will keep their end of things?"

"Because right nw, there's too many, and we have vampires to work on. One thing at a time." Faith shrugged. "And... no. There ain't no 'sure' in this." She paused and gave him a considering look, "But - they don't really want to piss me off, because they can't be sure they can kill me, and they can't be certain that even if they can, it won't bring down a lot more heat than anyone really wants. So they play it careful and they walk light when I'm on the prod."

"That doesn't seem to have stopped our blonde lady from going for you," Burns remarked.

"Vampires are arrogant, most of them. It gets in the way of their good sense. So are demons... but their sense of self preservation is usually higher," Faith stated. She grinned. "There's a limit to how far I can ride that, but I can ride it. And every time I do it successfully - I can ride it a bit farther next time."

"Let's argue the fine points after," O'Brien suggested. He looked at Faith, "What's next?"

"Hrrm.... we do two more of these, and then we meet up with the others and go hit one of the big players." She considered, "Then we fade and let the hornets sting each other and wait. That's part of the knowing when to quit thing."

"All right," Hogan said. "How much of this is going to spill out onto the civilians when things explode?"

Faith's eyes went dark. "Hard to gauge. Not much, because neither vampires or demons like to get attention drawn to them, with rare exceptions. But... it's just like when you guys get into the middle of a gang war: there's always some spillover."

The look she gave him and O'Brien was bleak, "But that don't mean I like it, or I have to accept it." She shook her head and ground out her cigar underfoot. "We're wasting moonlight. Let's roll."



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