Aborting a Haxil Beast
Walking into the gun club, Angel didn't take long to find Wilson; the man might have deleted his contact details, but he had too significant a reputation to completely drop off the grid at such short notice, so finding a picture of him hadn't been that difficult. Walking up behind the man as he stood at the firing range shooting at the target at the other end, Angel tried not to feel too smug at the sight of Wilson jumping at the sight of him when the other man turned around; considering the ear protection he'd been wearing, sneaking up the guy wasn't exactly a challenge.
"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that in here," Wilson said, casually removing his safety glasses and reloading the gun's magazine as he looked at Angel. "That's how accidents happen."
"Speaking of accidents," Angel said, leaning casually against the wall, "I'm a friend of Phoebe Halliwell's."
"This is a private club," Wilson said, briefly staring upwards in frustration before he turned to face the vampire. "Featured word, private
"You don't talk to me, I'll kick your ass," Angel replied. "Featured word; ass
"So… what are you to her, anyway?" Wilson asked, looking at him with a slight smirk. "Jealous ex?"
"I'm dating her sister, actually," Angel said, enjoying the slight shock that crossed Wilson's face at that comment. "Oh, that's right; Sarina said she didn't have anyone, right? That's something you clearly forgot about women, Wilson; sometimes, they'll at least bend the truth to get what they're after."
His eyes clearly panicked, Wilson raised his gun to aim it at Angel, only for Angel to casually grab him by the wrist and twist, watching in satisfaction as the gun fell from Wilson's grip before Angel spun him around and wrapped an arm around his throat.
smart," Angel said, releasing his grip to shove Wilson against the nearest wall, looking at him in an assessing manner as he quickly contemplated how Wilson had reacted to his attack. "You're human, so you're not the father, which means you and your friends are just a link…"
Wilson attempted to run past Angel, but that would have been laughable even if Angel had been human, never mind a vampire as old as he was at present, the vampire detective effortlessly grabbing Wilson's shirt and pinning him to the wall.
"So, how does this work?" he asked. "Because I'll tell you this for nothing; if Phoebe dies, you have no
idea what you're in for."
"Neither do you," Wilson said, glaring back at him. "You haven't got a clue
what you're dealing with…"
"Trust me, I could say the same to you," Angel began, before the sound of footsteps reached his ears. A quick moment of thought was all that Angel needed before he stepped back, releasing his grip on Wilson as he turned his attention to the group of young men now surrounding him.
If these weren't Wilson's associate 'surrogates', he would be very
"Someone's mommy didn't teach him to play nice," one of the men said, looking mockingly at Angel.
"And yours did?" Angel asked, looking at the group around him as his mind raced; if they weren't demons themselves- which, judging by their scents, was the case; there was something slightly off, but it wasn't enough for them to even be half-demons like Doyle-, there had to be some explanation for their connection to the entity responsible for Phoebe's pregnancy…
"I think I'm getting the picture here, anyway," he said, still looking around at the club members. "You guys proxy for the big daddy demon, right? He imbues you with his life force or whatever it is you're implanting in these women?"
"He has trouble finding his own dates," one of the others said, smiling with a self-satisfied manner that would have made Spike look humble. "We just… help him out a little, that's all?"
"Shut up, Jason," Wilson said, glaring over at the moustached speaker.
"And you get what in return; fame, money, success?" Angel asked, looking around at the group.
The silence and mocking smirks that greeted his question was all the answer he needed.
"That's it, isn't it?" he said, once again disgusted at how low mankind could sink; sometimes, it amazed him that the same gene pool could produce people as heroic as the Halliwells and as pathetic as these people. "How else would losers like you get ahead? I mean, you'd have to become procreative surrogates for a vile demonic entity…"
"Mostly, I do it for the sex," Jason said; Angel was going to have to make sure to give that guy a particularly powerful kick when the opportunity arose.
"Welcome to San Francisco," Wilson said with a smile. "Considering what else we could have paid, there are worse things to be in business with."
The fact that they knew enough about the supernatural to know that the demon could have demanded a more personal price almost made Angel even angrier at them; he might not approve of the idea of selling your soul to receive what you wanted, but at least that way the only person you were hurting was yourself…
"Where is he?" Angel asked, walking up to stand directly in front of Wilson. "Where is this thing you worship?"
"Even if we did tell you where to find him," Wilson replied dismissively, "it won't matter, because you're about to have an accident."
The sensation of a gun being fired and a bullet penetrating his chest were a slight shock- Angel hadn't pegged these guys as the type of people who were willing to do their own dirty work-, but that thought quickly became irrelevant as he registered the casual stances of the men standing around him; clearly, they thought that the bullets would be enough to take him down for good and were already dismissing him as a threat.
Without a moment's hesitation, he reverted to his vampire appearance and stood up, knocking the gun out of Wilson's hand with a kick that would be too quick for them to stop while not quick enough for them not to be able to see him move.
don't like it when people shoot me," Angel said, glaring at the shocked men around him before he flew into action, kicking the gun out of Wilson's hands. Jason tried to charge him from the right, but Angel effortlessly grabbed him and threw him into another man standing to the left, subsequently turning around to send a fourth man to the ground with a punch to the face. A kick to the chest knocked down the man he'd earlier hit with Jason- evidently the guy hadn't received the message to stay down- before he threw another two men into the firing range behind them, turning his attention back to Wilson in time to kick him through the glass door that led to the club's entrance.
"Now," Angel said, looking down at Wilson with a cold glare, "you're going to tell me what I want to know, or I'm going to have to make this even less
pleasant than it already is."
What he'd done might be an excessive use of force against humans, but considering what they might be up against and what they'd done to innocent women for the sake of nothing more than their own careers, he felt that it was justified.
Groaning in frustration as she blinked her eyes open, her head smarting from the beating she'd sustained that had left her in that position, Paige ran over the last few details that had taken place before she was knocked out.
The four of them- Piper, Leo, Doyle and Paige- had been working on trying to figure out what they were dealing with while Phoebe waited in the kitchen- at one point she had actually drunk some of the blood the Halliwells had taken to keeping in the fridge in case Angel became thirsty while he was visiting them-, when Wesley had come over to reveal that he'd identified the creature based on the sonograms and a few descriptions in his books. Paige hadn't had time to see the picture herself, but once Phoebe had looked at the book Wesley had brought with him, she'd… well, the best term that Paige could come up with was that she'd flipped, hitting Piper and Leo in the head with the book before they could react, subsequently taking Paige, Doyle and Wesley by surprise before they think of a better way to put her down without hurting her.
That was the annoying thing about fighting a pregnant woman; even if Phoebe didn't want
that baby, Paige hadn't wanted to risk her sister's health by hitting her while pregnant…
"Ugh…" Paige heard someone mutter off to the side, raising her head to look over at the source of the sound, smiling in relief at the sight of Piper gradually regaining consciousness.
"Piper?" Paige said, looking at her sister anxiously as she sat up, noting Doyle, Leo and Wesley lying around the kitchen with no sign of Phoebe, the sound of crying upstairs indicating that Wyatt was awake.
"Where's…?" Piper began, before she registered her son's cries, shaking her head as she got to her feet and hurried up the stairs, leaving Paige to crawl over to examine the three unconscious men. Leo was already beginning to stir, but Wesley still appeared to be rather battered, and considering the punishment that Doyle had been through lately she thought it best to err on the side of caution. Holding out her hands over their heads, Paige concentrated for a few moments- healing Doyle's injuries was trickier, but so long as she just focused on the times she'd seen him in his human guise in her head she was able to 'trick' her healing ability into treating Doyle as human-, and finally stepped back, as Wesley and Doyle blinked their eyes open and looked up at her.
"What…?" Wesley said, looking at her in confusion.
"Phoebe went nuts when you showed her that book," Paige said, reaching over to pick up the text that Phoebe had used as a weapon earlier. "I take it the demon was responsible for her sudden protective instincts?"
"Most- ah!- most likely," Wesley said, wincing as he sat up and took the book from her, opening it to a page to indicate a large creature with massive horns and a very muscular physical structure.
"Oh God…" Paige said, her eyes widening in horror at the sight.
If Phoebe was pregnant
with something like that- with seven
somethings like that-, Paige was amazed her womb hadn't torn itself apart already…
"Well, these sixteenth century engravers tended to exaggerate-" Wesley began, looking awkwardly at them.
"We don't have time to think about that
," Paige said, just before the sound of a phone ringing redirected her attention as she reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell. "Yeah?"
"Paige, it's Angel
," her boyfriend's voice said over the line.
"Angel?" Paige repeated almost automatically, suddenly wondering what had prompted this call. "What's going on?"
"I found Wilson and some of his buddies
," Angel replied, sounding like he was wincing as he spoke. "Whatever it is Phoebe and her friends are carrying around inside them, those guys aren't the fathers
"We know," Paige replied, glancing at the text in front of her; it wasn't English, but she thought she'd identified the part referring to this thing's name. "Wes has identified it as a… Haxil beast; it's some kind of inner earth demon."
?" Angel asked.
"Attacked us and ran off after Wes identified the father," Paige said grimly, before putting the phone on loudspeaker so that the Watcher could contribute to the discussion.
"She became, ah, insanely protective when we identified the Haxil as the parent of her… her, ah…" Wesley said, before he picked up the book once more, scanning over its pages. "I fear she may have gone to rendezvous with it."
," Angel confirmed. "Wilson and his buddies gave me the location of the shrine they made to it; that's probably where they're heading
"How would Phoebe know that?" Doyle asked, leaning over to better address the phone.
"She's telepathically linked to its unborn
," Angel clarified. "According to Wilson, that's how it can connect with the mothers; they ensure that the children are taken to the right place to b safely born
"A psychic umbilical cord?" Paige said, looking at her friends sceptically.
"It makes sense," Wesley said, nodding thoughtfully. "The shock of such rapid growth would normally be self-defeating as the mothers would be unable to cope with the sudden strain; the Haxil must be controlling and empowering its unborn spawn to ensure their survival…"
"So all we have to do to kill the kids is cut the cord
," Angel concluded.
"In other words, once it's dead its kids automatically abort themselves?" Paige said with a relieved grin. "Well, that's simple."
"Unfortunately, there's still just one tiny problem," Wesley said, looking awkwardly at the book.
?" Angel asked.
"Well…" Wesley said, looking uncomfortably up at the other four in the room as he continued to speak, "I don't like to use the words 'impossible to kill', but… fire won't kill it, decapitation won't kill it… and it's really huge."
"Oh," Piper said, looking awkwardly at the book; she couldn't quite make out anything defining the creature's size, but anything that looked like that and was described as 'huge' didn't create an encouraging picture. "And… I take it magic won't be an option?"
"It doesn't look likely; something powerful enough to create this link is probably resistant to most forms of magic," Wesley said, grimly studying the book before him. "Add in the fact that this thing is so physically grounded that vanquishing potions probably won't work, and…"
," Angel said, an edge to his voice that suggested to Paige that he'd just had an idea, "can you shoot straight
"Pardon?" Wesley said in surprise, Piper and Paige exchanging their own confused glances at the sudden change of topic.
"If you're thinking we can just blind this thing or something-" Piper began.
"I was actually thinking something more… thorough
," Angel said, his voice firm as he spoke.
Paige had a sudden feeling that, whatever Angel's plan was, that Haxil beast was really
going to get it…
Looking up at the abandoned chemical factory that Angel had identified as the location of their enemy, Paige wondered what it said about her that she was actually feeling rather relaxed about the situation she found herself about to face.
Here she was, going up against a nigh-invulnerable demon with only an ex-Watcher and a few small weapons on her, her only potential back-up being Angel who was currently absent- Piper and Leo were staying behind with Wyatt, although Paige knew that Leo would be on call if needed- and she felt just as comfortable doing things this way as she would feel when dealing with magical demons with her sisters.
A part of her missed the closeness that Piper and Phoebe clearly shared with each other, but the rest of her had to acknowledge that there were advantages to the training she'd experienced with Angel; she wasn't completely dependent on spells and her sisters to deal with a threat, even if she enjoyed spending time with them.Family
, she mused to herself as she and Wesley entered the warehouse. It's complicated, but it's worth it when it works
Entering the main part of the factory, Paige had to resist the urge to throw up as her nostrils detected the scent of something so revolting she couldn't even find the words to describe it. Walking along a corridor surrounded by various pipes, they finally reached the source of the stench; a large vat, with a short staircase leading up to the top and into the vat, filled with some kind of yellow-brown liquid. More significantly, Phoebe was inside the vat along with five other young women, dressed in white robes that put Paige uncomfortably in mind of the attire stereotypically favoured by sacrifices.
"OK," Paige said, walking up to the edge of the vat to glare at her sister, "I know we've had our differences, but for the sake of our noses, can you please
get out of that stuff?"
"We don't expect you to understand," Phoebe said, looking at the ex-Watcher with a stare that was almost more disturbing than the blank that Paige had come to expect when dealing with mind control; aside from her fixation on protecting her demonic offspring, Phoebe almost seemed normal.
"Yeah, good guess, and you really
need to get out of this before things get any more sick," Paige said, walking up the steps to stand on the rim of the vat to better address her older sister. "Look, Phoebe, you've already gone through one horrible demonic pregnancy, and these things don't even look
human; can we please
call time out on this mess before someone gets hurt?"
"We serve our master," Phoebe replied with a malicious smirk that was definitely not normal.
"Please come before…" Wesley began, only to be interrupted by the sudden sound of approaching feet, belonging to something of such size that the ground around them shook. Exchanging a brief glance with Wesley, Paige turned to look at the source of the footsteps, only to find herself staring at a demon that seemed to be the size of the manor, with rhinoceros-like grey skin and sharp, protruding teeth, walking through a large hole in the wall just behind the vat.
"Who are the interlopers who think you could disturb the birth of my children
?" the Haxil said (For some bizarre reason, Paige was suddenly reminded of the voice of the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin
), as it raised itself up to its full height. "Who are you
"Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, rogue demon hunter," Wesley replied.
"Paige Matthews, witch and sister of one of your expectant baby mamas," Paige added.
"And we are here to fight you, sir," Wesley said, raising his fists and glaring at their new foe. "To the death; preferably yours."
?" the Haxil beast said, looking scornfully at them.
"As a heathen I wouldn't expect you to be familiar with the biblical story of David and Goliath," Wesley said, "but I assure you it's of particular relevance to this situation."
"He's always like this," Paige said, smiling up at the Haxil while trying not to give in to the urge to panic; she was used to facing enemies that she could actually hit if she couldn't use magic on them, but this guy would probably barely feel anything she had to throw at him.
"You said you came here to do battle
," the Haxil said, raising its hands in a beckoning gesture. "Then let's fight and be done
"Yes, well," Wesley said, slowing inching towards the demon as he remained on the rim of the vat, "as a point of courtesy, I like to get to know my opponents, before I engage them in mortal combat. Do you, ah… do you have any hobbies?"
," the Haxil said scornfully.
"Couldn't agree more," Angel's voice said from the corner of the room, prompting the demon, Wesley and Paige to turn and watch as the vampire rolled a gas tank down the ramp at the other side of the room.
"Sorry I'm late to the baby shower," Angel continued, walking down the ramp to pick up the recently-discarded tank. "But I did
bring a gift."
As Angel picked up the tank and threw it at the Haxil beast, Paige just had time to see the 'Liquid Nitrogen' label on one side of the tank as the create instinctively caught it before Wesley pulled out his gun and fired at the tank. The demon dropped the tank, but a stream of liquid nitrogen was already shooting out of the hole towards the monster, the demon letting out a terrible scream that was mimicked by the women in the vat. Paige turned around, but was relieved to see that the only thing that appeared to be happening to them was rapidly-deflating bellies as their pregnancies came to an end, the rapidly-generated offspring losing physical coherence without their 'father's power to preserve them.
As the steam faded, leaving a creature that looked more like a massive ice sculpture than a living being, Paige didn't stop to think; reaching out with her power, she silently summoned another empty container lying on the ground around them and hurled it towards the Haxil beast, allowing it to become sold just before it struck its target, leaving the creature shattered on the ground around them.
The wonders of the modern world could be a double-edged sword at times, but when it allowed them to take out things like that, Paige wasn't going to complain.
"Well," she said, turning to look at her sister with a smile as Phoebe climbed slowly out of the vat, looking shakily at the other three, as her fellow near-mothers just stared around them in confusion, "I think we can chalk that one up as a win."
The former surrogates all looked a bit shaken and confused at what had just happened to them, but at least Phoebe looked like she was already working on collecting herself; with a bit of time, Paige had little doubt that her sister would be back to her old self.
AN: OK, with that storyline concluded, we'll be returning to 'Charmed' episodes for the next couple of chapters; next up, 'Nymphs Just Wanna Have Fun'