The Prince formerly known as 'Santos'...
Chapter 24: "The Prince formerly known as 'Santos'... "
"So where's our girl?" Vince gave the slayer cop, Christine, a hard look.
"She went with O'Brien to have a few words with Santos." Chris stated. "Gunn and Giambione went to back them up."
"Alone?" Vince glared at her, then fixed a malevolent stare on Dean. "You let Faith wander off half-cocked and clean out a Prince's lair, alone?!?" He spread his hands and gave Blade an incredulous look.
"Hey!" Dean raised his hands and took a step back from the sudden, pure, concentrated fury in the mobster looking guy's eyes.
"She didn't exactly invite the kid to go along." Hogan said mildly, adding, "And after Rimbault's, she didn't seem in the mood for company. Frank and Gunn followed without an invite."
"Rimbault's?" That was the big black guy, the one Faith had called 'Daywalker'. Not that Hogan or anyone else believed that was his real, or only name... he matched too closely to bulletins that the NYPD and FBI had had out for a mass killer known as 'Blade' six months ago, now supposedly dead. No big deal. After tonight and the next few days, Philly PD and the FBI would probably have bulletins out on all of Major Cases, as well. They were in good company.
"Yeah. Our blonde friend decided to hit Rimbault's and burn it to the ground while we've been out. Turned O'Brien's ex-girlfriend, Nikki, and left her as a present." Christine Meadows didn't look at either of them as she spoke. "Kevin had to kill her himself."
"Crap." Vince spat, looking disgusted, and closed his eyes for a second. When he opened them, he gave Hogan and the Major Cases a sympathetic look, "Sorry for your loss." He shrugged, "Means the four guys I left keeping an eye on the place are dead and in a dumpster somewhere."
"You left people guarding Rimbault's?" Detective Brody gave him an odd look.
"Yeah? It's a war - you have to expect the other guys are gonna hit back." He shrugged. "Obviously I didn't leave enough."
"Yeah, well... thanks, anyway. For what it's worth." Detective Carson actually managed to say that without making it sound like it hurt him to thank what he took for a human mobster. Vince gave a sour grin, waving it off.
"Hold on," Blade stated. "Let's get back to that 'You let Faith wander off half-cocked and clean out a Prince's lair, alone' thing. And half crazed from thinking she's responsible for one of her friends losing someone." He gave Dean a hard look.
"She told all of us to meet you guys here and carry on," Dean said, and looked away. "Didn't think she really wanted me along, anyway."
"Why not?" The slender guy, King, gave him a strange look.
"Because right before we heard about Nikki's, babe, her and the kid had a knock down drag out at the last demon bar we hit." Colby Burns snorted. "Over her being on friendly terms with too many of the demon types we were leaving behind us.""What?!?"
Vince's voice came out strangled, and there was suddenly something with brown, scaled skin and far too many teeth and bony spikes wearing a suit crowding into Dean's face. He backpedaled frantically, bringing his shotgun in line. There was a sudden blur and the big black guy was standing a few feet away holding the twelve gauge from Dean's suddenly empty hands.
"Don't want to damage Faith's friend now, boy." The black guy was shaking his head. "Might just piss him off." He gave a faint smile. "Piss him off more, I mean."
King glanced around, casually. There was suddenly a lot more tension between Vince's people, Blade, and the cops. Understandably so, at the moment. However... except for the initial shock of seeing Vince drop his human guise, the Major Cases people looked more amused at Dean Winchester's predicament than sympathetic. Including the blonde slayer detective. 'Good thing Abby's not here,'
he thought. 'Dean would be dead right now, not just flushed, angry, and embarrassed/defensive.'
Didn't look like the cops were planning to shoot anyone at the moment. The little red head detective, she looked a bit freaked - but she was controlling it. King allowed himself to relax slightly.
"Something you better get used to, kid, if'n you're going to hang with Faith. Majority of her damned real friends
are demons, souled vampires, other slayers, and supernatural types. Some of 'em are even among the Good Guys, such as that goes these days." Vince snorted. "I'm a Kaliff demon. Daywalker here's a dhampir - half vampire, half human." Blade rolled his eyes and gave him a 'thanks much' glare, but Vince plowed on oblivious, "Skinny guy with the beard and the smirk there was a Draaken vampire who was cured. Now he's a Hunter, like you. My boys there are a mixture of demon types, and every damned one of them would take you apart if'n you got our girl there hurt or killed. You screw up her head in the middle of a war zone and take her off her game because you have a thing against supernatural... and I don't give a shit if your daddy did train you from birth as a Hunter. Whole lotta people are gonna come lookin' for a piece of you, and ain't all of 'em gonna be human. Or slayers."
Dean took a step back. Twice in one night he was getting his head bitten off over his attitudes. This
time by a demon who looked like he wanted to do it more than just figuratively - because the demon was scared for Faith
. It didn't help that Dean couldn't escape the feeling he deserved this chewing out... 'All right, I knew it was stupid to get in that argument in the middle of a operation, anyway,'
he thought. 'I'm still half blaming myself for that bar being torched, even though neither myself nor Faith could have done anything about it. I even knew after that talk we had that Faith's world was different from mine and Sam's. I just didn't know it was this different.'
Problem is, everything he'd been encountering since he and Sam had managed to get tied to Faith went against everything he'd thought he knew about the supernatural world. Everything their father had tried to teach him, or he'd thought
John Winchester had been teaching. And he realized, he'd been taking the differences out on Faith, because he was still pissed off that his brother had gotten hurt from their being blindsided by those differences. He also hadn't given much thought to how much the different world she'd been exposed to had shaped her attitudes and how she dealt with things, even after having had it laid out for him...
"You're right." Dean nodded, surprising himself. "Should have backed her and sorted it out after. I have a lot of thinking to do."
"Damn straight," Vince stated. "And this ain't the place or time to do it. Get yer head screwed on straight, sort it later. We got vamps to waste."
"Speaking of," King jerked his head in the direction of the vampire filled abandoned mansion up the road from their gathering spot.
"Which reminds me," the older cop, Hogan said in a mild tone. "You people have a plan for this?"
"Yeah." Vince gave Dean one last glare and jerked his thumb toward the line of cars. "Was thinking on filling one of my SUVs with explosives, gas, and incendiaries, surrounding the place, and having one of my boys who's immune to fire crash it through the front doors and set it off. Then killing everything that comes running out." He shrugged. "Thinkin' now I'm more in the mood to just walk in the front doors and kill everything."
"Let's go with the original plan," King suggested.
"Why? You planning to live forever, baby?" The big black detective gave King an amused look.
"Well, yeah, was actually." King grinned. "But I think I kind of blew that one when I took the Cure."
"Let's go with your original plan." Hogan said. "I kinda want to see most of us live through this, even if the wiseass here doesn't seem to care," he said, dryly. "Christine: think you, this Daywalker guy, and the Nightstalker kid here can scout the area and take down any sentries? Sheesh... " he shook his head. "I'm in a freaking comic book now."
Blade gave one of those ghost grins, "Join the club, Detective." He handed Winchester back his shotgun, his expression saying 'And be careful with it'
. The 'or else' didn't need to be added..................................................................................
High wall, tall wrought iron gates with a rusty chain, a padlock, and a 'No Trespassing' sign. Lots of grounds. Brooding spooky looking and decrepit manse near the river, barely visible through the gates and the trees beyond.
"This'd be the place, huh?" Faith idled the motorcycle just outside the gates, and watched the flickering light of the occasional torch through the windows of the ancient house.
"Yeah. Penn Ryan Manor." O'Brien's voice was soft and harsh in her ear. No worries - her own voice was harsh to her ears to, right now.
"No wonder everyone think it's haunted." Faith reached over and broke the lock off the chain with a snap of her wrist.
"Supposedly is," O'Brien said. "Not just by vampires. Young woman on a white horse and a young gentleman on the river path - supposedly the ghosts of the son and one of the maids who drowned themselves."
Faith nodded. She gave the gate a yank, letting the bike roll back until there was a wide enough gap to ride in through. She let it go, backed the bike around until it was aimed at the gap, then put it in gear and rode in, picking up speed a bit once they were clear of it. She brought the bike to a stop briefly when the mansion was fully in view and there was a relatively straight path to the doors up ahead.
"This is where you get off. I'll go clear us a path." She kept the throttle running as O'Brien swung off the bike, checking the loads in his weapons. Faith looked up at him, "Be careful. Don't get dead on me."
O'Brien gave her a long look, followed by a short nod. "You either. Be careful."
"Don't have a death wish tonight." Faith shook her head and looked up at the manse. "They need to be careful of me
." She twisted the throttle, popped the clutch, and kicked the big bike up to speed.
The two vampire guards by the doors had just finished informing the pair inside of the big motorcycle that had come up the drive, and were watching carefully before easing down the steps to take a look at, and then kill the interlopers. They never got a chance. Coat flying out behind, Faith brought the bike straight in, slid around the driveway circle until the front wheel was aimed at the stairs, and roared up the steps between them, their shots hitting the walk behind her. She gave it gas and brought the front wheel up at the top, just before the double doors, and the big bike hit and crashed the doors open and in before they could adjust their aim.
A pair of precise three round bursts caught them leaning as they were tracking her and they burned from the inside out.
The BMW came off the lower steps past the doors still on it's back wheel and sailed across the large entry way, Faith standing on the pegs, smashing in the inner doors and dropping down as it landed in the great room beyond. Her axe came out from under her knee and through the neck of the first vampire she passed and he crumbled into rot in her wake. It passed through the neck, chest and and out through the shoulder of the next one to rush her and she crumbled as well, before she let it hang from it's thong and she brought the bike around into a tight circle in the center of the large, torch lit chamber and to a halt.
Faith heard gunfire behind her, and snarling screams. She put down the stand, killed the bike, and swung her leg over the saddle, bringing the axe back up in her hand and striding forward. She thumbed a UV-grenade to life with her left hand and tossed it to her right, following it with another to her left and ahead of her. A third went to her right and behind her. A pair of vampires came in from either side and the axe blurred as she spun and they crumbled to rot as they slid apart. Her arm came back and swept forward and the next one moving in caught the double bladed axe through the chest at fifteen feet, the thong snapping like thread from the force of the throw. He went over backwards and landed with his spine cut in half.
Her sword came out and swept in an arc that bisected another charging, near invisible vampire at neck level. She switched it to her left hand, right hand drawing the big single action and thumbing back the hammer. It came level and barked twice, and a pair of ancient looking vampires near the head of the room caught fire from the inside. They screamed as they burned and came apart. She spun and the sword slid through a pair of reaching hands and the neck behind them and as she came facing around again she was stalking forward.
The UV-grenades went off then, one after the other, and things fell out of the shadowy places at the sides of the room and burned, shrieking...
The submachine gun went off to her rear from the doors leading in in precise three round bursts. She never bothered to look around at the things that burned before they reached her back. There were other sounds of gunfire from outside the mansion, and she ignored those as well, her eyes riveted on the small group of figures around the large ornate chair at the end of the room and the elegant looking vampire starting to rise up from it, his mouth gaping open in shock and a look of outrage on his features.
The big handgun spoke four more times, and two of the figures by the chair caught and burned, followed by two more that rushed towards her from one side. More submachinegun fire followed her, searching the torch lit shadows around the room. She slid the handgun back into its holster and moved forward again.
Faith came to a halt twelve feet in front of the ornate chair and the velvet clad figure still frozen half standing at it. Green flame crackled around her right hand and one of the Valdris blades came into it. "Well, if it isn't the vampire formerly known as 'Santos' but who's name is now an unpronounceable symbol." She snickered. Dark skin, long curly black hair, small mustache and clad in velvet and silk - the self-styled 'Prince' of Philadelphia was damned near a spitting image of the rock star. Only with fangs, and glowing eyes. "We're about to have words."
"You... " The vampire Prince seemed to be at a loss for an epithet foul enough. He gestured to one of the vampires standing beside him. "Kill her," he said, seating himself again. There was more gunfire from outside, closer now. One of the others by the.. throne.. glanced in that direction, frowning.
The taller, ancient, gnarled looking thing to the right of Santos raised his hand, crooking his fingers at her with a look of concentration and a smirk. A sickly glow built up around his crooked fingers. Faith brought the Valdris blade up instinctively in a futile attempt to block.
Green flames crackled around the curving double headed hellblade, and the smirk went away. Nothing else happened.
"Huh." Faith looked at her souvenir from the Pit and frowned, then looked back up at him from under a dark wing of hair. "Whattaya know?" She smiled malevolently, and her left arm blurred suddenly. The Darksoul sword buried itself through its length up to the guard into Santos' upper chest and through his chair and the wall behind it. Green fires crackled and the other Valdris blade came into her left hand.
"Guess you're going to have to do this the old fashioned way, huh?" Faith lifted an eyebrow at the vampire mage or whatever he was and gave him a mocking grin. Santos worked futilely at the grip of the blade pinning him to his seat, snarling and cursing.
UV-grenades went off on the balcony overlooking the room, followed by gunfire, and there were more screams. A long burst of submachinegun fire bracketed the vampire to Santo's left as he moved towards her and what fell at her feet was burning rot.
"Another time, human." The one who'd tried to spell her began gesturing again. A burst from O'Brien's submachinegun caught him and the air around him rippled, the bullets apparently having no effect.
"Oh no, you don't." Faith stepped in and hurled her right hand blade spinning like an overlong shuriken at him, leaning forward with the follow through. It hit whatever rippling effect had stopped the burst of gunfire and passed though without slowing. One gleaming, wickedly curved edge passed through the vampiric mage and he slid one half from another as the hellblade buried itself into the wall behind him. "You're not going nowhere, asshole."
Faith straightened, glancing around. Santos suddenly stilled in his chair, no longer struggling against the sword and glared at her, hissing. Everything had gone suddenly still and there was no movement to be seen except for the flickering flame of torches and candles. After a short while, O'Brien came up beside her. Moments later, a voice drifted down from the balcony to their left...
"Damn, girl." Gunn leaned heavily on the balcony rail, sword in one hand, and holding pressure to a bleeding shoulder with the other. "We almost didn't catch up in time for the party."
Faith and O'Brien glanced up, and shrugged. "Sorry, didn't know you were following." Footfalls from the other balcony drew three sets of eyes, and Frank Giambione came into view up top, breathing heavily. O'Brien took the gun muzzle off line and nodded to him, receiving a return nod.
Four pairs of eyes riveted the vampire prince, and he seemed to shrink back into his seat. Faith walked up and put a foot on the edge of the seat between his legs, sticking a cigar in the corner of her mouth. She gave him a long scrutiny as if she were examining something foul she'd found clinging to the sole of her boot, then lit the cigar and put the lighter away.
"Faith. Slayer." Dark eyes pinned him in place and he looked away. She put the tip of the Valdris to his chin and brought his head back around to meet her eyes again. "Don't look away from me when I'm talking."
"What do you want, Slayer?" She could see white all around his eyes.
"What... no threats? No bluster about how 'I can't possibly'? No talk about how the 'Rules' are supposed to go?" Something ancient and terrible looked out of her eyes and into his, something without an ounce of passion or mercy to it. "What do I want... let me think." Faith smiled slowly. She leaned in on the blade until a line of blood welled up around the edge and trickled down from it. "What I want, vampire, is to kill you. You can't believe how badly
I want to kill you right now." She leaned closer over the blade, her voice dropping almost to a whisper. "You can't believe how slowly
I want to kill you. I could take days at it."
Faith leaned back slightly, not moving the edge from his throat, watching the slow trickle of blood with fascination. "Spike you to the wall over there. Slice the flesh from your arms and legs, and watch it start to grow back. Feed you enough blood to keep you alive... Then stake you out on the roof and watch as the sun comes up and you burn to death, screaming." Her hand was tight on the grip of the double blade and her voice was shaking.
The blade came away from his throat and she put her hand on the grip of the sword through his upper chest. She stepped back and yanked the sword free and he gasped. "But I don't do that any more." She stepped down and walked over to stand beside O'Brien, and turned her eyes back upon him.
"Kay-oh. So, we do it different." That golden light was still in her eyes, and Santos wasn't sure he really believed that killing him slowly was off the table... "Think I've pieced a lot of this together. You contracted for Elora to eliminate the Draaken here after the Daywalker's people almost killed them out?"
"Yes." Santos' voice was quiet. Faith searched his eyes, and his body language, looking for signs of deception. She didn't see any, and nodded.
"Right. So as a side note, when someone spotted me in town, you gave her a secondary contract to kill or turn me as well."
"No?" Faith pushed her hair back with one hand and lowered her head, gazing at him from under her eyebrows.
"No. The various Kindrel lords avoid bringing us to the attention of the Slayer. Your kind generally doesn't notice us, and we prefer it that way - especially now that there's many of you. Sending an assassin after one of you, especially after a senior slayer, would be idiotic." His voice was wry, and he shrugged with one shoulder. Faith thought that was rather impressive, although she'd never say so. "I am many things these few hundred years, but an idiot is not one of them."
"Who did, then?"
That liquid one-shouldered shrug again, "Haven't the foggiest. Some outlier or renegade, perhaps? One of the Elders? Although... they would merely hunt you themselves if they saw you as a threat, not send an assassin. Someone you've annoyed in the past? Unusual for an assassin to work outside the Clans - but Elora has always been an outlier." Santos glanced around the shambles of his court and gave a wry slight smile, "You'll forgive me if I find I really don't care who paid her and I'm merely saddened that she didn't kill you ere now."
*snort* Faith swallowed a soft, harsh laugh. 'I'll bet you are,'
"All right," Faith too a step forward and looked down at him. "I've met your assassin four times now. I'm still here. The next time I meet her will be the last, and I'll still be here after." Faith glanced around the large room, then riveted his eyes again. "All of your clan lords that were gathered here are dust, and all of your court. Your power is gone. Word will spread that the Dark Slayer paid a visit to your lair, pinned you to your seat and killed everything that moved... and walked back out. You'll never command respect in any vampire circles again, anywhere."
She watched while he digested that and it sank in, and he met her eyes again and nodded slowly. "By this time tomorrow night, be out of this city. I check, I don't want to find out that you're not. If I do... there won't be a Kindrel living in a four state area by the time I'm finished. We level?"
"yes" The Prince's voice was a quiet whisper.
"Didn't hear that." Faith cocked her head slightly, her face expressionless.
"Yes. There's no need to make additional threats." His voice was slightly louder, but still a whisper. "I'll be on my way far from here before then with what few retainers I might have left."
"Good." Faith nodded. "Put the word out as you're leaving: The Thing The Darkness Fears is pissed. This is a vampire free city from here on in. Any of your kind that stay, die." She smiled slowly. "Don't worry about your competitors. They're getting the word even as we speak." She paused, regarding him, "And you really don't
want to feed or kill before you're far, far away... Avoid killing or feeding on humans, even then. Or else."
"I understand." He nodded, slumping into his seat and holding his neck.
"Gunn?" Faith looked up to where the black lawyer was still leaning.
"Did you bring any of those incendiary charges Nightstalker passed out?"
"Yeah. Pocketful of them." Gunn had to be in a lot of pain judging by the way he was leaning, but his voice was still strong.
"Good. Pass some to Frank up there and set them around the mansion. Torch it as we leave."
"Faith?" She looked up to where Giambione was, her eyes dull. "There's a room full of human types on the ground floor in back, and another on the ground floor. They weren't armed, so I locked them back in and moved on." She shook her head and her eyes met O'Brien's, both of them with sick expressions.
"Are they Familiars?"
"No." The response came from Santos, not from Giambione, and she looked at him. "If they're in here alive," he waved a hand towards the balconies, "Then all of my familiars and ghouls are either dead or they ran away. Those people are subjects - cattle. They're innocents."
Faith gave him a bleak look, then closed her eyes. "Christ." She opened her eyes again. "Can you and Gunn get them out? We'll call an ambulance when we leave this place." She looked up at Gunn. "Throw the charges down. O'Brien and I'll place and set them."
"Right." She heard Gunn groan slightly as he worked his jacket off, then a moment or so later it hit the floor with a soft sound. O'Brien went to pick it up and she heard Gunn move around the balcony toward Giambione.
Faith closed her eyes again and the Valdris blade went back to wherever it came from. She sheathed the sword under her coat and went over and pulled the other blade from the wall and sent it away. She looked at the former vampire prince. "Go help them before you leave. Your... slaves might respond better to you telling them to leave than to strangers." She locked eyes with him as he stood up slowly, nodding. "If you have any thoughts of killing Gunn or Frank... "
"Slayer," he gave her a bleak look. "I don't want to see my people burned alive. And I'm not stupid enough to give you reason to come after me. I'll do this, and then I'll be on my way out of the city before daylight."
She looked at him hard, then nodded, and went to gather up her spent UV-grenades and axe, and help O'Brien set the charges. He glanced over at her as they started, "You weren't watching your back much, back there."
"Knew I had you to watch it for me, Five-oh." Faith shrugged. "I didn't have to worry about anything except what was in front.".................................................................................
The mansion was starting to burn behind them as they went out the gates. Santos had been true to his word, helping Gunn and Giambione to herd the drained, terrorized human cattle out the doors before disappearing into the night. Faith pulled the bike up at the street, vaguely amazed it hadn't taken more damage from its impact with the two sets of doors. If she ever got a chance, she'd have to ask Willow if the red headed witch had given it any helpful additives while she wasn't watching...
O'Brien was driving the big, armored Wolfram and Hart Mercedes as they slowed to a stop next to her. Gunn's shoulder had been patched, and he sat in the back with his head leaned back against the seat rest, Frank riding shotgun. The older cop rolled down the window on his side, looking over.
"Let's meet up with the others and go finish this," Faith suggested. "Then we can hole up after daylight, rest, and get ready to start mopping up tomorrow night."
O'Brien nodded. "You think they'll clear out after?"
"Like I suggested?" Faith shrugged. "If they don't, then things'll get kinda bloody for awhile." She looked over her shoulder at the flames rising higher from the old mansion. The sound of an ambulance siren came from the distance, still a long way off. "They'd best. I tend to follow through when I give my word."
The tiny convoy moved out in the direction of the abandoned Bolton estate and flames lit the sky behind them..................................................................................
"Well... it sure ain't stopping the Pits of Hell, but that don't mean it wasn't fun," Vince looked around the shambles of what used to be a Draaken high court. Piles of ash lay everywhere, and the bodies of the occasional Familiar. Flames roared from what used to be one of Philadelphia's major historical landmarks.
Blade snorted and looked pointedly at the demon mobster's bleeding shoulder and the inhuman blood leaking from his leg. "Maybe a bit too fun?" Blade's lip curled slightly in a faint smile.
"Nah. I've gotten worse than this closing down a business rival. These people are amateurs." Vince took a short step and winced. "Ok, maybe a bit
too much fun. Forgot how much a 12ga slug in the leg hurt. Bastard." He spit on a pile of ash.
Blade nodded, looking around. There was still sporadic gunfire as Hannibal, Winchester, and Faith's cops wandered through finishing off small pockets of resistance and the odd Familiar. "Hope the girl didn't get herself dead."
"She won't." Vince stated, giving Blade a hard look.
Blade lifted a hand and lowered his shades just a hair and gave the demon a slight eyebrow raise over them. "You sure about that?"
"Yeah. Been thinking." Vince nodded, ignoring Blade's look. "Mood she was probably in, I'm thinking there's more danger of the Dark Slayer taking over again and her losing it than of her making mistakes and gettin' dead." He shook his head, "I'm more worried about wether or not she's still human."
"Sounds like a funny concern coming from a demon," Blade said, softly.
"Ain't it just?" Vince made an odd sound in his throat. "Don't know if you heard anything about her the last time she went dark. It was all over the demon communities: when a Slayer
goes bad, it makes ripples. Big ones." He shook his head, "Took the Summers girl to take her down last time, and Angelus to bring her back from it. Faith's gotten a lot bigger since then... not sure what it'd take now."
"No need." Vince gave him a sharp look. "She's gotten big enough to stop herself now," Blade stated. He returned the look, "Doesn't mean it can't break her doing it, though."
"Yeah, well... " Vince tested his leg and found it had healed enough to take his weight. "Let's finish up and move out before half the Familiar cops in Philly show up to express their displeasure, huh?"