Ch20: Viva El Aquila
Disclaimer: Xander, Buffy, and anyone or anything else that pertains to BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon. Dracula belongs to the estate of Bram Stoker, or Francis Ford Coppola, or someone I think.
Larry Talbot, the Frankenstein Monster, and some others may belong to Universal Pictures.
NCIS belongs to Belisarius Productions, and CBS.
Ghost rider belongs to Marvel Comics, Dimension Films, Crystal Sky Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, and Sony (Whew!), and was played to perfection by Nicholas Cage!
OCs belong to me, and as always I remain…the man behind the curtain.
Ch20: Viva El Aquila
The assembled Nighthunters, and Team Slayer members filled the main conference room to standing room only.
Some of these solved this by sitting on one another's laps. Buffy sat comfortably on Xander, Drusilla cuddled into Doctor Hall’s shoulder, and surprisingly Willow lounged on Johnny’s lap looking very smugly contented.
“Willow I thought you were…” Buffy whispered to her friend.
“Apparently not completely,” Willow grinned. “I guess it depends on the person I’m attracted to, not the gender.”
Oz raised an eyebrow from across the table, and nodded sagely.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I had not anticipated the shear number of operatives involved when I called this meeting,” Mina said apologetically. She looked at the assembly and shook her head. “Therefore I shall ask you to follow Victor and the Prince to the buildings theater in an orderly manner. Buffy, would you and Xander stay behind for a few moments, oh and you as well Professor Burkle?”
When the others had filed out behind Vlad, and Mr. Mann, Mina handed the cryptic message she received to the woman Buffy knew as Fred.
The archaeologist scanned the missive for a moment. Then she said in a minimally shaky voice. “Human flesh tanned in a very ancient manner, the ink used is a mixture of oak gall, squid ink, and human blood. The message while not direct probably refers to an Aztec ruin, the Tower of the Eagles in Mexico City, and the Day of the Dead refers to November First, or Second. Since today is October Twenty-Third that gives us very little time to prepare, and equip an expedition.”
“In the words of an old song,” Xander said, without skipping a beat, “We got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”
Buffy grimaced, and elbowed him in the ribs. “Country-Western,” she groaned?
Her mate simply shrugged, and grinned.
“We need to acquaint everyone to this information, chose our teams, and prepare for the journey, and the coming fray, and get underway in less than a week,” Mina sighed tiredly.
The presentation in the theater became a simple information session.
When it came to an explanation of the meaning of the message Professor Burkle was joined on stage bay a colleague of hers, a lovely young werewolf by the name of Professor Laura Lee Boyle, an anthropologist.
The Tower or Temple of the Eagle was one of two prominent Aztec ruins, the other being the Temple or Tower of the Jaguar. These had been the primary home temples of two rival warrior clans. The Tower of the Eagle had been dedicated to Quetzalcoatl the creator god, the father of the Aztec pantheon; the other was dedicated to Tezcatlipoca god of sorcerers, warriors, night, death, discord, conflict, temptation and change. A sinister rival to Quetzalcoatl.
In the end when Cortez destroyed the Aztec culture the forces of the Eagle held a tentative upper hand. The conflict between the two houses had weakened the power of the Empire to the point that they had become relatively easy prey for the Spanish.
Still both Houses still had their adherents. The High Priest of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl) Still lived within the Tower of the Eagle, and held services (without human sacrifices, of course).
The Tower of the Jaguar no longer held the High Priest of Tezcatlipoca, however. It was rumored that the cult of Mictlantecuhtli, the god of death and Lord of Mictlan, the Aztec underworld ruled there now. At odd intervals human males with their hearts torn from their bodies were found in the vicinity of the Tower. Authorities were very careful not to investigate these deaths too closely lest the eye of the cult fall on them next.
What was known was that the High Priest in the Temple of the Eagle, one Itzli Quauhtli (Obsidian Eagle), more properly known as Juan Maria Jesus Rodriguez e Gomez had in his possession an ancient artifact known as the Cloak of Many Feathers. The cloak was said to have great mystical powers that conferred upon its wearer, among other things, invulnerability, perfect health, and greatly extended life.
Professors Burkle and Boyle had come to the conclusion that the cloak had to be the next target of their enemy.
Mina and Buffy weren’t quite as certain of this conclusion, but they WERE certain that they could not take the chance that they could be wrong.
Mina called off the names of the Nighthunters that she had decided would be of most use in Mexico City.
“When I call your name please report to the main conference room. All of those not called will be assigned necessary duties either here or in cities where other problems have reared their ugly heads. Let us begin: Prince Vlad Dracula (this followed by a grin), Professors Burkle and Boyle, Victor Mann, Kurt Lientz, Kharis Menkheperreseneb, Doctor Ian Hall, Lord Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, Captain John Bishop, Tony Bones, Marie Laveau, Elisabeth Bathory, and Father Martine LeDuc. Buffy it’s your turn,” she said solemnly.
The Slayer stepped forward a sheet of paper in her hands. What no one in the audience could see was that the paper was covered with names hastily scribbled, crossed out, and re-scribbled until it looked like a web woven by an insane spider.
“Um…ahh…yes the following people are to report to the conference room: SIR Alexander Harris, Ms. Willow Rosenberg, Mr. Johnny Blaze, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Daniel Osborne, Lady Drusilla Haw…Harris, Ms. Abby Scuitto, Doctor Donald Mallard,” she cleared her throat, “Ahem, the choices made were very difficult. Ziva you are being left behind to recuperate. Connor you are being left behind to see that Ziva does nothing to retard that recuperation.” She smiled at the two team members left behind.”
Mina stepped forward again, “In my absence Larry Talbot will be in charge, his second in command will be Pete Fisher. That is all people. Wish us good fortune.”
ONE HOUR LATER:
Mina and Buffy surveyed the group crowded around the conference table. When their joint effort first started the two teams had been tentative in their relationships with one another. Each had shown a guarded trust of one another, but held judgment in reserve. Now, however, there were not two separate groups there was one very cohesive team. What’s more each was better for having been associated with the others. Doctor Ian Hall, and Drusilla Harris were a case in point. Doctor Hall had been looked on with fear and loathing even by the other Nighthunters, and Drusilla had, at least by the Scooby members, been slightly mistrusted even after they had been assured by Whistler that she was redeemed. Now Doctor Hall was, while still seen as Red Jack, at least trusted and even honored by many of those he fought along side. Drusilla was now Lady Drusilla to everyone, and considered by Buffy and Xander as Xander’s sister by adoption at least. Other relationships, both romantic, and friendships had developed.
Both leaders knew that the mission ahead of them would succeed only if the utmost teamwork and precision was exhibited by EVERYONE involved. Spirits were high in the room, and everyone was talking, and joking.
Professor Boyle, and Professor Burkle were detailed to discover any items in Mexico City that were other possible targets for the enemy. They sat with their heads together talking to one another in their own professional shorthand.
The only Nighthunter that Team Slayer had not met turned out to be Kurt Lientz. He turned out to be a seven foot tall, golden yellow skinned, purple eyed, black haired, personage with three inch fangs jutting up from his lower jaw.
“Mr. Lientz is a being called a Golden Ogre. His sub-race while rare is the most civilized of the ogre species. They are probably an offshoot of the Greater Alpine Ogres of Switzerland., though Kurt is German by birth. He started out as a woodcarver, but has become a talented gunsmith, and was briefly a policeman in New Jersey just after the Second Great War. He joined us about a year ago. His immense strength, and skills have made him a valuable member. He is my good friend!” Victor said happily to the group in general.
“Folks,” Buffy said in a loud, very serious voice, “At this point in time I very much doubt that all of us will return from Mexico alive.”
Mina nodded, and bowed her head.
Everyone else sobered immediately looking stunned.