Xander joined the others as Sawyer was replacing the chain on her beloved Chainsaw and Shenhua replaced her shattered kukri blade with new and deadly sharp long blades.
"Let's See crazy Maid bite her way though these." Shenhua smiled wolfishly.
From the lack of discussion about money Xander assumed that Justine still had an oddly affectionate relationship going with the Taiwanese Murderess and the Gothic attired Cleaner. She even was managing to bond with Rotton the Wizard though Xander suspected that had more to do with the man's quirky yet dapper manner. Half the Slayers in the team were already tossing huge moon eyes at the man.
One of the Grey Foxes, Sanchez was his name if Xander recalled correctly was tapping away at a mini laptop. He noticed Xander looking at him and blushed sheepishly. "Just checking my e-mail, its programmed to let me know if I'm in a hot-spot."
Xander nodded , "Incidentally can you hack a PDA?" He handed him the unit he had taken from the dead FARC guerrilla. "Experience tells me knowing what's on that thing might come in handy."
Sanchez nodded, "Experience is very smart, give me a second."
Xander noticed Willow looking around the place suspiciously. What is it Willis?"
Willow furrowed her brow in concentration as she scanned the fast food restaurant. "This place feels weird."
Justine replied dismissively "That’s just the warding. After Xander rolled though town the last time, the staff agreed that the place need a little protection. I get a local witch doctor up here to re-cast and rebuild the screens about once a year. I can say this is the second best protected spot in the whole damn city."
"What the first?" Xander asked distractedly
"That would be the Church of Violence, Yolanda has some wicked mojo around that place."
"What’s she needing that kind of magic for?" Shenhua asked curiously.
"Honey this is Roanapur, you want to live long you keep your nose out of other peoples business. If Yolanda wants to turn the Rip-Off Church into the mystical equivalent of Fort Knox, that's her business."
"How did you find out about it?" Xander asked doubtfully
"Our Witch Doctor won't go near the place. Says that one of the first things he learned as an apprentice is that nobody who wants to live long goes near Roanapur and they sure as hell do not go near the hilltop that the Rip-Off Church is built on."
Xander looked at Willow who nodded and closed her eyes, she gave a startled curse. "I don't know what they have over there but I'm surprised I didn't detect it before. You can see it from practically anywhere in the city. Hell, a warding this strong can be seen from space."
"I guess Yolanda wants to keep the place secure."
Willow shook her head, "You don't understand the kind of Warding around the church isn't for defence. If it was, I wouldn't have been able to teleport us here in the first place. This warding is for restraint. There is something under this Church Of Violence of yours. Something that someone went to a lot of trouble to make sure can't leave."
They were interrupted by a scream. Xander rushed back to Revy who was doubled over in pain as he got her up off the floor it was immediately obvious why she was crying out. Gripped in her hands were the Carpathian Dragons.
The Guns had latched on to her and it was this that had caused her to cry out. Blood could be seen filling the clear chambers but if that was causing her pain you could not tell from the look of sheer joy and ecstasy on her face. "Jesus Wept, these are beautiful.” She said dreamily as her life blood flowed into the weapons energizing and powering them.
"You bond with it you bought it." Justine snapped.
Giles called then Xander brought him up to speed on what they had discovered and Giles gave him his take on the situation.
Willow scanned the weapons in Revy's hands then shook her head.
"They've alchemically bonded to you; you'd have to die to break the seal. Right now they will fire for you and you alone."
"Can you get them off?" Rotton asked curiously
"Yeah if I had a couple of hours of no zombie apocalypse time I might be able to hammer a spell or conjuration together."
"Hey I feel fine Red,” Revy sighed feeling strength flowing back into her body. "So how do these things work."
Justine sighed in annoyance, "Standard Point and Click; will the guns to fire what you want, auto fire uses the least amount of juice, then shotgun, then the RPG then there is..."
"Whoa back up there sister, this thing can fire a grenade?" Revy asked incredulously
Justine slapped her in the head, "Dumb-Ass you better pay attention. The guns will still fire when the chambers are empty but they will take their fuel and by fuel I mean blood directly from you. By the way, I know your going to want to know so I'll just go ahead and tell you that the RPG isn’t the most powerful thing that gun can do."
"You mean the Blood Bomb is real too?" Rotton asked amazed. He almost sounded jealous now
"Blood Bomb?" Revy asked
Justine smiled "The shot will cause the blood inside a body to chain react. The effect is .. spectacular, a little gross but cool nonetheless."
Xander clicked off his phone call. "OK folks it looks like Hells breaking loose and we’re going to need our star players. Giles and the rest are headed for the Church of Violence. “
"Did your dapper Mister Watcher give you any idea what's going on." Balalaika asked
"Yeah, the evil Lawyers are on the move. Looks like they've been on the move since the beginning."
"Evil Lawyers, you mean this has all been some insipid plot of Wolfram and Hart."
"Yeah it turns out that Roanapur has its own Old One. I'm guessing from what Willis said that it’s been sleeping underneath The Church of Violence since the town was constructed."
"An Old One? “Willow asked nervously, "Are you sure?"
Xander told her about his fever dream and his encounter in the mental plain with the cloaked figure. "I got the distinct impression from what the thing said that if he or she woke up it would be bad, very bad."
"Well why would the Evil Lawyers want to wake something that powerful."
"My guess is they are trying to use its power. Either that or kill it." Xander pointed out, "Manuela kidnapped Garcia Lovelace. And it looks like she was working for the lawyers. Assuming their following standard operating procedure they'll want to download the old one into a warm body. A body like Garcia's would be able to host the god’s essence long enough for them to take it hostage or destroy it.
"I guessing Young Master not survive this." Shenhua snapped grimly. She had obviously taken a liking to the young man.
"Garcia, He'll be fine. His soul will be ripped to shreds when the Old One possess him leaving him a hallowed out husk of his former self but otherwise..."
"So the General was following The Orders of Wolfram and Hart."
"I'm guessing they might not have mentioned the whole zombie apocalypses part of their plans. That sounds like something I would not have agreed to if I was him."
"Where is he now?"
"Giles put the beat down on The General. He’s currently sleeping it off at Garcia's hotel room."
Balalaika nodded and tuned to Boris with a cold look in her eyes. "Comrade Sergeant, see that the General is made comfortable until I can give him my undivided attention."
Boris nodded and made a call on his radio.
"I'm still not buying that Manuela was behind all of this, Xander if you saw her ...she's barely aware of where she is at any given time. She’s always off in her own little world except when she’s actually fighting."
"That's because she’s channelling Slayer vision. She maybe has been since being called. I should have realized it she thinks she tried to kill me and described the scene pretty accurately. She has been viewing the world though the eyes of both living and dead Slayers."
"Then how would she know what to do when to attack?"
"I'll tell you exactly how. She been seeing everything including your secret operation though the eyes of all the Slayers involved, starting with Maria. That was how she knew that Roberta was dangerous enough to kill Slayers. She saw her attacking them. I'm betting that if you check the times she "wandered off" they will correspond to times when calls ere made or messages placed to keep the F-A-R-C in the loop about where you were going and what you were up to."
"I won't believe that." Riley snapped, "Not without proof."
Xander narrowed his eyes, "Sanchez you got anything off that PDA yet. It’s a good thing I borrowed this I don't know who he was but the uniform made him out to be at least a Sargent.”
Sanchez nodded, "Navel Special Forces, somebody really had a bug up their ass about this girl. The deployment numbers I'm seeing are amazing if this was just for one woman im not surprised she has such a bad ass reputation." Sanchez continued looking at though the PDA suddenly He gave a curse at what he found.
"Sanchez?" Claxton asked.
Civilian's right sir F-A-R-C has been getting updates regularly. The IP addresses on the surface look like they are from Lucentes.
"Lucentes is dead Dinkins told me himself." Xander reminded them.
"Then Lucentes has found a way to send e-mail from beyond the grave." Sanchez responded, "The last communication from him is dated just yesterday its confirmation that you and the maid are in Roanapur. They had orders from the top to eliminate her. Lucentes seems to have contacted them countermanding those orders. Someone called the Senior Partners wanted her alive. The FARC were to detain her instead and assist in her mission. I guessing he means the mission to kill us."
Riley was confused, "Why didn't they just come after us themselves?" He asked, "Why go to the trouble of attacking the Maid first knowing that they both had the same mission, They would have needed her help to take us down."
Sanchez prodded the PDA to give up more secrets, "They were supposed to wait until our primary objective had been contacted. They wanted us to take out the General. once that was done..."
"They help the Maid to take us out."
"Assassinate the Assassins. How much you want to bet that was the plan from the beginning. They wanted The Maid to come after you."
"...and catch up with us right after The General was captured or dead. Everybody dies."
"You got played General, someone set your people on Lovelace knowing that Roberta would come after you. They made it just hard enough for Roberta to find you so that you would have time to reach The General."
"They had no way of knowing that Roberta would find us so quickly. Or that she would have enough juice to take out anything in her path."
"But Manuela knew...she must have been the point of contact. She knew Roberta could take down a Slayer because she saw it happening. She had no way of realizing that her ability to do that came as a result of Roberta being attacked BY a Slayer. That's the way the visions work. Sometimes the connection between visions A and B aren't that clear cut."
"Bitch must have a death wish." Revy growled, "That’s the only reason I can see for riling up the Maid."
"But waking the Old One makes no sense." Willow questioned, "If she woke up an Old One especially one that has been sleeping since The Exodus she would be the first one killed."
Faith answered her, "That might be what she was hoping for. You saw her during the Warehouse fight she was trying to get herself killed. Buffy screwed up her plans though. I'm guessing her Slayer visions let her on Buffy’s big secret. Buffy is really bad with being jerked around. Our girl is definitely not a fan of the personal betrayal."
"As long as Buffy believed that Manuela was an innocent victim in all of this she would keep putting herself in harms way to save her from Roberta or anything else."
"Then we have to Find Buffy and Roberta. I have no idea how I can stop those two from killing each other but I’m going to have to find a way."
"I can see maybe talking Buffy down but how do you plan on getting Roberta to come down off her wire." Faith asked.
"Right now Manuela has Garcia and is about to kill him." Xander answered,
Faith nodded, "Sounds about right, you know Roberta's going to be in the hunt once she knows that Garcia's in danger.
Xander nodded, “I’m counting on it being the thing that snaps her out of her battle craze. Of course, once she’s back on the Slayer hunt I don't see her stopping till Manuela's in a box especially if Garcia's been hurt in anyway."
"That’s a risk we're going to have to take. "
Alright then Faith your on escort duty if you pick up anyone on the way, take them to the Church of Violence. Revy you’re with me. Guess it’s your birthday because we're going Bloodhound hunting are you up for it."
Fuck yeah I was wondering when this thing was going to start getting fun."
Buffy and Roberta were inside a building that was burning around them. They stood on either side of a load baring wall. They gave not a single thought to the smoke and flames surrounding them; their every sense was directed to the singular task of probing and scanning for that nanosecond of opportunity that only certain elite warriors who know fighting well could see.
They had been pounding on each other for what felt like hours or maybe days. Buffy was sure that she could beat this chick. She was the Slayer after all, but every time she seemed to be making headway, Roberta would find some hidden reserve of power some cunning reversal,
Roberta clutched her bayonets in both hands. These were all the weapons she had now. The Slayer was fast; lethally so. She dodged bullets and sometimes didn't even bother to dodge them, She'd just slap them out of her way as if they were annoying gnats.
Buffy's preference for up close fighting might have been a weakness but it was one she was well used to overcoming. Her Strength, her endurance, Roberta was being pressed as she had never known. The Devil's Root gave her an advantage but that advantage translated to, at best, evening the odds.
Buffy looked into the smoke and fire searching for anything that might turn this to her favour. The smoke was cruel in its silence.
For as far back as she could remember Buffy had always hated foes who seemingly wanted to talk her to death. Roberta had no interest in bantering indeed she maintained an almost eerie silence no matter how hard Buffy hit her. She would just hit back as hard if not harder.
Was she a demon Buffy though some human off shot of the various warrior clans out there someone who's parentage was lost to the far mist of time? But no, Buffy wasn't about to delude herself. Roberta was a human woman determined and maybe so insane that her mind and body now held a singular purpose the death of any one in her way and tight now that meant Buffy Summers.
"Are you sure we can't talk about this?" Buffy said into the smoke.
"What is there to discuss. I want The Slayer to pay for allowing Master Diego to die. You want to save her life and the lives of the Americans whom I'd also like to see buried up their eyeballs in raw sewage. One of us is not going to get what she wants either you or I must die it is that simple."
"Listen to yourself, how is this Slayer responsible for a death that someone else planned and executed."
"I have seen her eyes Senorita Summers; a warrior can always tell truth by what is in the eyes and her eyes hold nothing but Death. She hungers for it, craves it. "
"How can you know that? How can you just say one person is a killer -- one person is not?"
Roberta laughed, her smoke-filled lungs made the laugh into a rasping cough, "Are you telling me you can't tell a demon that is dangerous from one who is not. Surely you will not try and con me at this point."
"I've been hunting demons and vampires for almost a decade."
"...and I’ve been hunting and killing since I was child." Roberta screamed, "I know a killer when I see one So do not tell me that she is not dangerous because I have seen her eyes and she is dangerous if you will not deal with her then I will."
"Then I guess you are right we have nothing left to discuss except..."
"Thank you, Xander tells me that you saved his life. I care about Xander so that means something to me. "
"He loves you and your Demon fighters."
"I know that, trust me I know, but did he tell you about one of his favourite movies.
"You mean that Star Wars movie?"
"Those are good but I think I like Blade Runner better."
"What?" Roberta sounded genuinely mystified.
Buffy sounded genuinely delighted, "Blade Runner it's really cool and it's where I got this trick."
The wall above Roberta exploded as Buffy reached though it to grab the Maid and haul her though the wall. She rained punches on the Bloodhound and then hurled her though still another wall.
Buffy jumped though the hole Roberta's body had made crashing through the the wall and landed on top of her, driving the scythe downward intending on impaling the Maid. Roberta locked her fist around Buffy's hands. Suddenly the floor beneath them let go and both women tumbled to the floor beneath. Roberta swung herself around so that she landed on top of the Slayer.
Buffy struggled to get back to her feet But Roberta was even faster. She grabbed a flaming two by four and swatted the Slayer flipping her backward. She marched across the floor after the rolling woman until she was above her raining blow upon blow down on The Slayer. Buffy finally fed up with taking her blows grabbed at the board and kicked out at Roberta sending the Maid flying backward.
Buffy marched over and picked up the woman as she lay sprawled on the floor.
"Well it seems you know the eyes of death yourself senorita." Roberta slurred, "For the first time since this began I have seen them in your eyes."
"I'll do what I have to do to protect my people." Buffy snarled,
Roberta spit up blood, "That's good, you know it’s amazing, everything that’s happened and there’s still enough power in the walls for a live wire or two."
Buffy finally noticed that she had something behind her back. Roberta had somehow grabbed hold of a sparking wire and she shoved the broken lead into Buffy's stomach. Buffy held onto the Roberta for as long as she could before painful convulsions caused her the throw the woman away from her bodily. The sparking wire tore itself from Roberta's grasp and fell sparking to swing dangerously close to a gas main spewing volatile fumes into the air.
There was a roar of heat and light and the rest of the floor and much of the remaining building caved in if the still brawling women inside noticed, they gave no sign as both had long ago realized victory or defeat would turn on the answer to the simple question whose will was stronger, The Greatest Vampire Slayer in history or the Bloodhound of Florencia.