On Roberta's first visit to Roanapur, She had arrived in the morning and spent the day looking for the Colombian Mafia who had kidnapped Garcia. She had walked around the town, talked to people and gotten the lay of the land. She had, of course, been memorizing every street and alleyway for tactical use later.
That was why she knew that less then a block from the warehouse district on the way to the port was an illegal arms cache owned by someone with good taste in weapons and poor taste in locks. While his supplies weren't anywhere near as impressive as The Church of Violence, what he had would more then suffice for Roberta to replace and reload her equipment.
She effortlessly picked the lock on the gate that barred entry to the shop at that late hour.
Within minutes she'd replaced her auto pistols and cleaned out his supply of clips taking extended auto loaders as well. She also selected an automatic shotgun. In design it looked not unlike the one that she'd had modified to look like a common parasol and had used so effectively on her first rampage though this city. She selected a sniper rifle. It was not as powerful as the Barret but it would do the job. She added them all to a rapidly filling duffel bag that she'd found in the corner.
That was when she saw them. Military issue Bayonet swords.
Someone had devoted many hours to their upkeep. The edges were viciously sharp; someone had even included a set of holders that would allow the things to hang at her hip. Roberta's vast combat experience included a session of bayonet fighting. Against a Slayer, common bayonet fighting would be useless. But as she had observed Slayers preferred close quarter fighting relying on their speed, strength and stamina to overcome their opponents.
Roberta smiled, tactically that gave her the advantage. She was deadly from almost any distance. Even the witch Rosenberg would need line of sight and concentration time to equip any suitably dangerous magic.
Quick surgical strikes were her best defence and weapon. Summers was the leader and therefore the dangerous one. Cut off from her, the other Slayers would panic. Panicked enemies were much easier to deal with. Roberta had already encountered enough Slayers she knew what to expect. It would just be a matter of stamina vs. stamina. Will vs. will and Roberta's will, her desire for vengeance and justice was strong.
When she heard the sound of a shotgun being racked and cocked she didn't even flinch. She was well aware she was not alone and had heard the owner approaching even despite his attempts to remain quiet and stealthy in his movements.
"Bad Luck Girl, I ain't the type you want to be stealing from." the old man hissed his voice thick with the booze that had no doubt kept him form hearing her breaking in earlier.
"I'm making a purchase," Roberta explained as she zipped up the duffel bag.
"Customers come when the place is open. And they generally don’t monkey with my lock." The Owner whined his gun wavering slightly in its targeting of her back.
"Customers come when they come and in Roanapur the only thing anyone cares about is if a customer can pay..." Roberta held up a wad of cash. Enough big bills could be seen that the old man was quickly mollified. "I assure you I am such a customer."
He lowered the shotgun and snatched the wad from her fingers. His alcohol seeped eyes cleared enough apparently to recall her first visit to the town. "You looked nicer in the maid's outfit. It was kind of classy and all. Way you look now I'd as likely bury ya as anything else."
Roberta looked at her gore covered civilian garb and shrugged indifferently, "You may get your chance."
"It's usually good policy not to ask why someone is buying an arsenal at this hour of the night. But ..."
"You will have no conflicts with the Russian or Chinese Mafia They'll soon have far bigger concerns."
"I ask Hunting-Dog, because you've chosen a pathway that is a dark and twisting one. If you lose your way this time, you might not find the pathway back to the light."
Roberta turned with a rebuke on her lips to find the man flat on his back his shallow breathing and pasty complexion said that he was passed out and had been for some time. Roberta had seen enough drunkards to know that he shouldn't have been able to move, let alone speak. Either she was seeing things again or something else had empowered his carcass to speak and act in its stead.
"Either way,” She thought to herself, "I will see this war though to the end no matter what I will see Master Diego avenged."
Clutching the tools of her vengeance in her hand, Roberta slipped back into the night leaving the comatose shopkeeper behind.
After Giles and Rock had departed with Lovelace and Fabiola, the group had begun heading out with Hotel Moscow's troops covering the streets. Buffy and Willow were not alone having brought a small strike team of Slayers with them. The girls were buzzing with excitement, for many this was their first time in the field with the legendary first team of Slaying.
They got to witness a genuine freak-out as Buffy and Willow engaged in a little classic tag team ranting at Xander. One would yell incoherently at him while the other was taking a breath then they would switch.
Others were impressed by Faith who, despite her mauling at the hands of the demented Roberta, still carried herself with an air of cool menace. The razor sharp Katana helped considerably.
The Slayers were anxious that one of their own could be manhandled so easily by a normal human being. Xander would have quietly pointed out that such a reality check was good for them all but at the moment he was wisely keeping his opinions to himself allowing Buffy and Willow to rant on until they both ran out of steam.
Also drawing a fair share of fascinated interest were Rotton who had recovered almost completely from Roberta's vicious attack. The secret was the hard plastic codpiece that he wore and had BEEN wearing for some time. Apparently he always assumed someone would attack his groin one day and as he replied to Faith's incredulous stare. "I believe in being prepared."
Faith saw no need to warn her Slayer sisters that Rotton was effectively spoken for. Sawyer and Shenhua were flanking him as they walked and combined they exuded such an air of grim menace that Faith quietly reminded herself to take some notes.
Revy was also projecting badass like it was perfume. She alternated between cussing out Xander for dragging them into yet another weird situation and bitching to Balalaika about the missed opportunities for profit. Hotel Moscow's leader was clear, she would deal harshly and permanently with anyone who crossed or defied her in her decision to aid the Grey Foxes in their departure.
Still the trip was not all companionable banter and that was what eventually got Buffy started again. "What the hell is up with you two?" Buffy was finally tired of the dark glances Xander and Riley were firing back and forth.
The Grey Foxes were heading toward the port. While they were not under guard exactly, it was made clear however that straying too far from the protection of Balalaika's commandos would be a bad idea. Claxton wasn't arguing the point since everyone was obviously still freaked by both the ferocity and then sudden disappearance of The Maid.
During the journey Xander and Riley had been continuing their not so subtle hostility.
"Ask Harriet Tubman over there," Xander snapped, "He's the one who thinks turning slaves in to Red Shirts is doing them a favour."
"I've had just about enough of your crap Harris. I was following orders and besides it's not like I forced them into this. According to Dinkins Manuela practically begged to come along. Said they wouldn't be able to finish their mission without her. I'd say that was right all things considered..."
"All what things considered?" Willow asked
"Capitan White Bread here claims that nobody told the GI-Joes that Diego Lovelace had an ex-terrorist in residence."
"Considering the body count the two of you have racked up thus far I'd say she's not nearly as retired from killing as you'd like us to believe. Manuela was pretty banged up after her encounter with the both of you and I doubt that was all your work."
"I'd like to know how she knew about this Maid. And where is she anyway?" Buffy asked looking around for the absent girl.
Riley waved her off, "She wonders off sometimes, but she always manages to come back or find us. Manuela's been very insightful. Her predictive abilities are almost off the charts. Better then yours."
Xander snapped, "Yeah, so good she sometimes think she sees things other Slayers have experienced. Don't forget that part."
"Will you let that go; it's not like I told her to kill you."
"Dinkins told me you were their handler; if you didn't order her to kill me, who did?"
"That would have been Dinkins; He was in charge of that operation." Claxton smiled wryly. “This is why you should never trust information gained through ...enhanced interrogation."
"I told him not to," Riley explained to the shocked Buffy, "I told him that trying to kill Xander would just cause problems down the road but Of course he pulled the whole secret operation-no witnesses thing."
"What I don't get is -- why off the old man in the first place," Revy growled "seems like the kind of guy you'd want to get on the good side of not kill."
"We had solid Intel that he was cartel puppet, that if we allowed his actions to move forward the cartel and the F-A-R-C would get a better hold on the drug production and trade coming out of the country. Washington was very interested in preventing that at all costs."
Xander snorted in laughter, “Your kidding right, Lovelace hated the cartels. That was probably why he took Roberta into his home. She hates the F-A-R-C especially that they are step-and-fetch boys for the cartel."
"Not anymore they aren’t; intelligence shows that they found themselves new backing; new benefactors with deep pockets.”
Xander asked the obvious question, “How deep are we talking here?”
Riley smiled grimly, “Deep enough that they’ll be able to finance turning most of South America into one giant cocaine field with slave workers harvesting every acre.”
"Where were the slaves supposed to come from? The ones helping them harvest all the coke?"
"Lucentes and Dinkins said that the Triad was bankrolling a camp with slaves stronger and tougher then any other. Dinkins checked it out and bought our two slayers as physical evidence of what they were up to."
Shenhua snapped defensively, "Boss Chang no slaver -- he hate Triad Slave business. Xui Han was man in charge. If he say Boss Chang was slave trader he was liar as well as scumbag."
"Triads are a big operation sometime the right hand doesn't know what the left foot is doing.
"Well there is a fast and easy way to find out isn't there." Balalaika pulled out a mobile phone and dialled a number. Chang answered quickly.
"Well if it isn't my favourite Russian crime boss,” The overly cheery crime lord said over the line.
“I’m nothing but a legitimate business woman. “ Hotel Moscow’s leader said with a sardonic grin on her face.
Chang amended himself laughingly “Excuse me, legitimate trader in foreign goods."
"According to the Marines you and your brotherhood have been branching into trading yourselves."
"Yeah I was hoping to get that cleaned before the Watchers got here. I was especially hoping that you wouldn’t find out since you tend to take such things as a direct challenge to your power base.”
“Spare me the diplomacy what’s going on?”
“Sheu Yan sits on one of the bigger patches of poppy field in Asia and that makes him very important and influential. He confirmed he was bank rolling that forced labour camp that was in our backyard. Of course I was a little pissed when I found out and was kind of insolent to him so now he wants payback."
"What made him think he could do that and get away with it?"
”He’s convinced the Triad bosses that if I was a real man I would have among other things sent you packing a long time ago. He’s made no bones about how he’d kick you out if he was here and then take over the running of Roanapur for himself.”
"Really,” Balalaika said coldly.
“Well haven't you heard? I’m weak. I take crap from a vodka soaked fry-faced bitch -that’s a direct quote from their last meeting -- These morons don’t get that we have to keep the peace around here or everyone loses.”
"You've lost the support of the triad bosses then."
"Let's just say they are officially staying out of this. The General has found a new business model that doesn’t involve the Triad Bosses. That's pissed some of them off since he’s not sharing any of the profit. They’ve let it be known that if things get – interesting around here they’d… overlook --the repercussions. Would you believe he even threatened to burn his poppy fields when they wouldn't back off?"
"Burn his fields? What is he selling if it isn't drugs?"
"Hell if I know; but I guess you were right. All that peaceful co-existence crap I spew got me in trouble just like you keep hinting would happen."
"I don't believe for a second that you are sitting around crying into your booze. You say you pulled your people off the streets. I can only think of one reason why you wouldn't want to field a force to deal with an attack on your territory. You think I'm going to fight your war for you."
"Well I admit it doesn't take a genius to know that the Grey Foxes wouldn't be happy that their target came waltzing into town and they ran like scared rabbits. As for the Watchers, I'm betting The Cheerleader they got leading them might want to have a few words with the General. I already know how YOU feel about being challenged, so really what's the benefit of me putting my people into the meat grinder."
Balalaika smiled grimly, "You manipulative son of a bitch."
You could almost hear Chang smile. "You could always leave me twisting in the wind."
Hotel Moscow’s leader gave a harsh bark of laughter, "A foreign aggressor on my turf who insults me and challenges my authority?"
"You know how some people can be Balalaika, they get a little money and power and they think they own the world. Do me a favour you old Cossack and don't die. Ohh and call me when you’re ready to cut him up I want to hear him beg you for his life."
Xander smiled wryly "Sounds like we have a problem."
"Are you saying that the guy behind the slave camp is in town ...now?" Buffy asked coldly
Balalaika nodded "...along with a several dozen mercenaries he doesn't yet know are walking dead men."
She issued orders to her men in Russian. Hotel Moscow’s troops fanned out separating into squads arming for war. She turned to Xander. "Mr. Harris, Major General Claxton is leaving Roanapur. Can I count on you to see that his departure is as quick as possible?"
"If it's all the same to you ma'am I'd like to stay." Claxton interrupted grimly "My people have expended a lot of time effort and energy to tag and bag this asshole and now that he's within reach I want to see this through."
"The point of getting you out of the city is to end your war with the Maid. As long as you are here she still has reason enough to hunt you."
"Don’t worry bout her,” Buffy said confidently, “My people will cover the Marines to the port. If this Maid makes a move, we can handle her."
Revy cackled "That’s a laugh, trust me cheerleader you haven’t seen what this bitch is capable of."
"She’s a thug and a terrorist I'm not that impressed so far." Buffy snapped dismissively.
Xander looked at his friend incredulously, "No Buffy, you can not do that. You cannot underestimate her.” He took her shoulders to make sure they were looking at each other, “Look Hun, you remember Angel? Well this chick is only a few years older then we are and she already has a kill count that would make Angel and Spike sit up and take notice. Right now she cares about only two things." he pointed at the marines and the Slayer Maria. "...And guess what Buffy we the only things keeping her from getting to them."
"She can't take on all of us." Buffy insisted.
"She doesn't have to," Revy muttered, "All she has to do is take you out and I don't care how bad ass you are. A bullet fired from a kilometre away, kills you just as dead as one fired point blank range."
The group chewed on that news for a while. Willow complained of being hungry. Having left Scotland she said before she could finish eating. Xander reached out as they passed a closed fruit market.
"I wouldn’t trust most of the food they serve here but this looks edible." he smiled as he tossed her an apple.
The fruit exploded right in front of the Willow who screamed and startled. There was a whizzing sound and dust at their feet kicked up. Someone had sniped at them from afar. Xander’s random toss had been their only warning of the oncoming bullet.
"It's her... I'm on it get them to the port." Buffy snapped pointing at the marines. Then she tore off at a run leaving Xander screaming at her to stop.
What’s wrong if she attacking us and she’s as tough as you say ..."
"She is and she wasn't the one firing at us."
"How can you tell?"
"Cause Glasses Bitch doesn’t miss. Take it from someone who knows a thing or to about guns. I don't care how lucky you and Xander normally are a Sniper as good at The Maid doesn't miss especially a fluke miss like that one.
"She wouldn't make the shot until she had us dead to rights."
Riley nodded in understanding. "This area is all wrong for an ambush there are too many places where we could hide."
Balalaiak nodded "...and not enough places were she could hide. No sniper worth the title would fire on us here."
"Then who shot at us?" Willow asked,
Xander asked thoughtfully, "I got a better question why arent they still shooting at us. There hasn’t been a follow up attack. that doesn't make sense."
"Maybe that’s your answer over there." Rotton answered pointing down the dark street.
Figures were shuffling toward them. Their bodies seemed deformed somehow. They were all holding a wide assortment of weapons which several of them raised to open fire on the group.
"OK, who ordered the attack of the waking dead? Cause I know that was not me." Xander deadpanned.
Indeed the dead in Roanapur were walking and although their ranks consisted of people from every era that had called the island home many of them were those who had died that very day.
Revy turned and punched Xander hard in the shoulder. "Why is it this kind of crap only happens when your Dumb Ass shows itself? What are you some kind of trouble magnet or something?"
Willow was forced to snicker. "Oh honey, you have no idea."