Burn the Witches
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy nor the Covenant guys. They belong to their respective creators. I make no money off this.
A/N: No, you may not scold me for starting yet another story as this one is mostly finished and runs out at eight chapters, max. Thanks for beta go to Anneliese and Amusewithaview. If you manage to draw parallels between this and The Wolves
, that's because this story is the original. I lost interest in it and picked some of the concept back up for Dexter.
Warnings: I feel that I need to warn you, dear reader, about what you're getting into. This is a darkish, more in depth look at the mythology behind the Covenant and the consequence of power. Some might consider Buffy OOC because of the new background I gave her (yet again). Expect moral ambiguity and two truckloads of callousness, mixed with a bit of who-cares and a lot of not-me.
Apart from that, I hope you enjoy the ride and let me know what you think. Cheers.
(Art made by the wonderful Pax. Go check out their other stuff.)
+Some people wonder what their reason for living is. They want to know if there’s a plan for them, if they have a destiny. I have two. I was born with two jobs to fulfill, two things to do, two things to be. Except I didn’t know of the second one until I woke up at fifteen and the whole world was different. Sometimes I still think it’s some sort of fluke, that second job, that second power. The first one, on the other hand, that’s something I’ve been prepared for since…forever. It was the first thing I knew and it’s going to be the last one, too.
So this is who I am. Buffy Summers, vampire slayer. And Buffy Summers, one of the five heirs left of the ten families of the Covenant, the wielders of the power of hell since ages unknown.
Funny enough, it’s the first one that seems like a fluke.
+Burn the Witches
Buffy Summers listened half heartedly to her peer stumble and fumble through a report on the witch hunts of Salem. He had transcripts of orders of execution, numbers and figures.
The class sat slouched low in their chairs, not paying much attention and even the teacher looked bored. No-one cared. History was boring and everyone had heard of Salem before. Except they hadn’t.
Numbers, figures, a few names on a list. It made Buffy sick to listen to it. Made her sick because she had grown up with The Book of Damnation
for goodnight stories. Births and deaths, those who fled and those who were tortured, the families that were torn apart, the innocents that were slaughtered.
She’d been five the first time Mr. Danvers had taken her down into the hidden chamber under the old mansion and showed her the book. She hadn’t understood the words yet but the pictures she’d understood just fine. To her, Salem was real. The numbers the kid at the front of the class was stammering about were names, faces, people.
Why? Simply because for the ten families of the Covenant, their past was as important as their present. They learned from the mistakes of their ancestors. Learned about the need for secrecy through the stories of the four lines that had ended in the fires of Salem.
There had been ten lines once, five patrilinear, five matrilinear. They had come to America with their people, their clans and families and their powers. The power of hell.
No-one knew when the pact, the first Covenant, had been signed, just like no-one remembered the details. What the Sons and Daughters brought with them to the New World was only the basic outline of how their ancestors had gained their powers and Buffy knew every word of it by heart.
At the beginning there was no Garden of Eden. Instead there was hell on earth and humans were slaves to the demons ruling the planet. Eventually, the demons were ordered back into hell to hide from their rebellious servants, but many refused to heed the call and go back to where they’d come from.
Ten humans, five men and five women, called upon the Devil himself to make a pact with him. He would give them the power of hell and in return they would banish those demons that had refused to leave. They indebted themselves and their lines forever to the Lord of Hell in return for the power to protect their families and people. The Devil agreed and through the ages, five females and five males carried within themselves from birth the fires of hell, the ability to exorcise demons back to where they came from. Ten people with the power to protect. Ten people who were the Covenant.
And always did their people care for them and keep them safe in gratitude for the protection they received. But there was a downside to the pact. Channeling hellfire through human flesh destroys the host. Every time the ten used their powers, they aged. It was the price they paid for the good of all.
But eventually most demons were gone and those that remained were forgotten and all that remained with the people was the knowledge that there were ten families with unparalleled power. Ten families with the power to rule the world.
And saviors suddenly became monsters. Witches. Warlocks. Evil. So they fled to the New World in hopes of living a peaceful life and maybe finding a new reason for their existence.
They didn’t. The hate and jealousy followed them across the ocean and four of the ten families went up in flames.
What was left were four male lines and two female lines. The males decided to stay in their homes and houses, but to keep secret what they were. They formed a new Covenant, one of silence, to protect their families and themselves. Their names were Danvers, Sims, Parry and Garwin.
The females were angry though. They had lost their sisters and they refused to stay and protect the people that had killed them. Instead they left. They traveled the world together. For generations the two families never settled anywhere until one day, one of them got tired of constantly running.
The two Daughters of their generation fought, turning the power against each other and one managed to mortally wound the other. But while the woman lay dying she cursed the one she had called sister, cursed her whole line to never give birth to a female again so the power would forever remain dormant and the family would have to live with the shame of remembering that it had failed. The woman who died was called Seymour. The one who lived was called Summers.
It had taken over two hundred years for the curse of the dying woman to wear down enough for the power to take control once more.
Hank Summers had, the second his daughter was born, given the order to pull the old Summers mansion in Ipswich out of hibernation. He had uprooted his wife and his business to move across the continent and raise his daughter, the first Summers Daughter in centuries, alongside the Sons of Ipswich.
Hank was not stupid. He knew that even though the old family lore had never died and he knew of the potential he carried within himself, that he could never raise a true Daughter. Not without the help of someone who possessed the power.
His wife hadn’t quite known what hit her when her young and charming husband had suddenly ordered her to shut up about the move and simply do it
for the sake of their daughter. Joyce hadn’t been happy, but she’d done as he asked of her. It had, in a way, been the beginning of the end for her and Hank.
Four months to the day after Buffy Anne Summers was born Hank Summers rang the doorbell of the Danvers Mansion and asked to speak with William Danvers. He had left Joyce at home but carried his baby girl with him into William’s study where he introduced himself. He was pleased to see a spark of recognition in the other man’s eyes as he said ‘Summers’.
Then he pulled a sleeping baby out of her carrier, held her up for inspection and said, “I present Buffy Anne Summers, Daughter of the Covenant.”
The rest was, as they say, history.
Buffy sighed as she slid lower in her chair and played idly with her pencil. She only knew what Hank had done from the stories Mr. Danvers had told her and the boys about how the Covenant had regained the fifth family.
Only a few months after Mr. Danvers and the other Sons had agreed to help raise her, Caleb had been born. He’d been two weeks old when wee little Buffy had rolled on top of him and tried to shove her tiny fist into his even tinier mouth. He had flailed wildly, hitting her with a stuffed elephant and they had both started to scream at the tops of their little voices. After that, they’d been inseparable.
Pogue had joined their little club two months later, Reid another three months after that and Tyler only weeks before Buffy’s first birthday. They had learned to crawl together, to speak, to walk, to climb stairs and catch butterflies, to terrorize their mothers for more dessert. They had also learned how to read together and they had learned spells together and read The Book of Damnation
together and had nightmares together.
Buffy could not recall a single day of her childhood where she had not seen the boys or at the very least talked to them. Even when one of them was sick, which rarely happened, they spent hours on the phone, talking with each other. For a long time, they had not understood that they were in fact separate beings. They were always BuffyandTylerandReidandCalebandPogue.
Caleb hit his head and Tyler cried, Pogue shoved Reid and Buffy yelled at him, Reid tickled Tyler and Pogue laughed. Their mothers quickly got used to setting out five plates instead of one, of wrestling five children into pyjamas and making them brush their teeth. They always scolded five children instead of one, fed five, cleaned five, read to five, hugged five and bought presents for five.
One thing they had never needed five times though was a bed. As soon as they had grown out of their baby beds their fathers had, in a stroke of genius, insisted on buying queen sized beds and at any given time there were four empty beds in Ipswich and one with five sleeping children in it. One girl and four boys. Four Sons and one Daughter of the Covenant.
It was, all in all, a happy childhood, Buffy mused as she let her mind take a walk down memory lane. Their fathers, well, the boys’ fathers had been around for lessons most weekends and their mothers had put up with five times the normal trouble. Sure, Hank, Mr. Garwin and Mr. Parry spent a lot of time away from home on business trips and Mr. Danvers Used too much and their mothers were bitter and sometimes the kids had to tuck themselves in because no-one else would, but they always had each other.
That was just the way the Covenant families had always worked. Those with the power had done their thing, loving nothing and no-one but the power and each other even as they withered away. And their spouses, male or female watched helplessly as the people they loved turned into dried husks with no trace of their former glory while struggling to raise children they knew were genetically engineered to end up exactly like their parents, to pass on the power and bitterness of their line, to again love nothing but the hellfire singing in their veins.
Two thirds of every family were doomed to give in to the seduction of power while one third was meant to remain behind and pick up the pieces. Buffy wondered sometimes, if things had been different before the Covenant lost its original purpose. While they were still hunting demons, were the Sons and Daughters more human? Were they stronger? Did they cherish their families more?
Okay, so maybe there was a teeny tiny hint of bitterness there. Just maybe. She was the freaking vampire slayer and still managed to not be a complete jerk to the people she loved, didn’t she? The only birthdays the boys’ fathers had ever remembered had been their thirteenth, when they’d gotten the first taste of power.
But she knew that wasn’t exactly the same. Being the slayer…the power she got from that was physical. The power of the Covenant on the other hand, that flash of hellfire that turned her eyes black…that was everything.
If you give away your power, you give away your life. That’s what they had been taught. Because the power was what they were, from the moment they turned thirteen on. There was nothing else left. The power was their air, their water, their bread, their…everything
They had tried to not Use once when they’d all been around fourteen. Tyler had managed longest. He’d gone ten days without Using at all. By the end of the tenth day he’d been shaking, shivering, running a fever and looked more dead than alive. Then he’d fixed his broken computer, turned Reid’s hair green and magic-ed away Buffy’s clothes and he’d been as good as new.
There was no way to describe how it felt to Use the power. No way to put it into words. It was like every time Buffy Used, another piece fell into place and she became a bit more whole. Her ascension on her eighteenth birthday had been the worst and best thing in her life. If she didn’t Use, all the pieces slowly fell away until she was just a wreck of herself, not Buffy anymore.
But the second she gave in to the pull and let the power do what it wanted… they were addicts. Every single one of them, back to the first that had signed the Covenant in their blood. The power ate their bodies, ate their souls, took away their ability to love and feel compassion for anything that was not black and red. It made them less than human.
It was a miracle, if she thought about it, that none of the families had died out simply for a lack of heirs. But then they always found their spouses when they were young, before the power took them over completely.
“Huh?” Buffy jerked upright in her chair, looking around wildly only to find Xander grinning down at her. The other students were already leaving the room, she’d been too deep in her thoughts to notice that the class had ended.
And for a second, as she came back to the land of the here and now, the temptation to thrust out her hand and fling one of her best friends away from her with a wave of power, to smash him against the far wall like a bug, was almost too big to resist. She had to close her eyes and concentrate like hell to avoid public man slaughter, simply because Xander had dared surprise her.
“You alright, Buffster?”
She nodded slowly, flashing her friend a quick smile as she grabbed her things. “Sorry. I totally zoned out there.”
“I noticed,“ he commented as he offered her a hand and pulled her to her feet, slinging an arm around her shoulder. She gritted her teeth and allowed it.
Keep the secret. Do not harm innocents. Do not Use in public. Do not give in. Don’t ever relax or let go or be who you are. Deny yourself at every turn.
It was what she had lived with for all her life, the knowledge, the power, the seductive call of darkness. The power they possessed, that was given to them on their thirteenth birthday, was the power of hell. It was the one thing demons really feared, aside from the slayer and a few other creatures with the ability to cause them harm.
And the only thing keeping the Sons and Daughters from spinning totally out of control, from giving in to the whispers in their mind and never looking back, were the rigid rules that were imprinted on the backs of their eyelids from day one on and the hold they offered each other.
And unlimited potential for disaster.
That’s what it meant to be Covenant.
Hours later Buffy grunted as she landed back first in a tombstone twice her size. She rolled under the foot coming her way and ducked past another grave before finally rolling to her feet only to jump back in order to avoid another kick aimed at her chest.
The demon she was fighting didn’t look like much, but damn, it was fast. Old too, if she had to guess. They always were better the older they were.
She flipped backwards, bringing her booted feet up in a mean kick to the jaw, landed and got in a right hook as well before her opponent shook off the dizziness and was fully back in the fight.
Even though she’d never admit it to any of her friends in Sunnydale, she loved patrolling. Not the way Faith did, mind you. Faith loved kicking the crap put of something, loved the feeling of power it gave her. If Buffy had to guess she’d say the girl had major control issues, especially when it came to men.
No, what Buffy felt when she was battling a demon had little to do with being a slayer. Fighting was what came natural to the slayer, to Faith, but it was the demon part of the equation that made the blonde’s heart beat faster.
The Covenant was meant to do exactly this, to fight demons, to destroy them and exorcise them from this plane. But the true demons had been gone from earth for a long time, leaving behind parasites and half breeds, more human than demon. The Sons and Daughters had lost their purpose. They’d become obsolete. An elite demon hunting squad with nothing left to hunt. It was no wonder most of them went around the bend at some point.
And yet they still existed. Sure, every now and then they had some work to do but most of the time…. They still learned their lessons, they knew their history and their spells, but the hell fire in their veins was never quite satisfied. It wanted blood. Demon blood.
And even though Buffy could hardly ever Use while fighting, the fact that she was doing what she was well and truly born for, not only chosen, was a feeling like few others. Now if only she could have her boys with her.
She ducked past a flailing arm and delivered a sharp elbow to the demon’s chest, shoving it backwards a few feet. She took a step back to get out of the thing’s reach and waited for it to come back.
She did, however, miscalculate as the demon used its tail to shoot forward again much faster than anticipated, ramming both fists into her rib cage at an angle that sent her flying even as she could feel her ribcage shatter.
A second later she hit the side of a mausoleum with a sickening crash as more bones broke. She’d seriously underestimated this opponent. And yet, as she slid to the ground, the power inside her unfurled, turning her eyes black as night as her bones realigned and healed with the speed of sound. By the time her feet hit the soft graveyard soil again she was fully healed and very pissed off.
From her crouched position she looked up at the demon that had come close to finishing her off. The green humanoid jerked back as if bitten the second it met her black gaze and fear flashed through its every cell.
It recognized her. No-one knew what the Covenant members looked like, as they were careful to stay hidden, but she guessed the black eyes were a dead give away to any demon that knew the old lore, the stories of five men and five women riding across battle fields, wielding magic, slaughtering anything not human.
“Daughter,” it hissed quietly, almost reverently and so very afraid.
Buffy couldn’t help but grin sharply, baring her teeth. The demon had tried to kill a mere slayer and ended up waking something a lot worse than any one girl. It had drawn all the fury of hell onto itself and it seemed to understand that as it dropped to its knees in front of her, all the fight gone from its face.
“Giving up so easily?” The blonde snarked as she stood, the dirt and blood gone from her clothes and hands with a mere thought. Gods, it had been too long since she’d Used, almost five days. Every cell in her body was begging for her to Use and Use hard.
The demon quirked half a smile. “I have wandered this world for a long time, Daughter. I am not stupid. There is no fighting the Covenant Packs. Especially not if one of them is a slayer. How did that happen?”
She snorted amusedly. “Who knows.”
The demon shook its head. “You’re serving two masters, Daughter. That’s a risky path.”
She was, wasn’t she? She had the Devil’s power inside of her and at the same time was the Power’s Champion. Funny that.
She gave a short bark of laughter, almost feeling sorry for the demon. It seemed like it was a decent conversationalist. Then she flung her left arm forward, a blast of ghostly energy leaving her palm and hitting the demon in the chest like a train, flinging it backwards into…nothing. With a scream of pain that echoed through the silent cemetery, it was gone. Banished back to hell where it belonged.
Twirling in place, Buffy let more power stream from the tips of her fingers, freeing broken tombstones and cracked trees from any traces of her fight, touching the bodies deep inside the earth, feeling the last remnants of their souls, feeling the grass and the trees and the small animals in them, feeling houses and cars filled to the brim with human lives, so easy to wipe out, so easy. Just like blowing out a candle. If she only blew hard enough…
Buffy pulled back into her own body with a jerk of effort as her eyes slowly turned back to their normal startling green. The power was receding. She’d won the battle against it one more time. And, damn, it felt good.
With a wide grin she bent to pick up the dagger she had dropped at the beginning of the fight just as her cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her jacket and flipped it open.
“Hi, Tyler,” she chirped.
“What the hell did you just do? You woke me up all the way across the continent.” He wasn’t mad, just curious. That’s just how Tyler was. He was the youngest of them all and he knew how to preserve his energy.
“Exorcism,” she offered, unable to keep the smile out of her voice. She felt good
“That was more than a simply exorcism.” There was some noise at the other end of the line, as someone tried to wrestle the phone from Tyler. A second later Reid’s sleepy voice greeted her, demanding, “Sugar, what’d you just do?”
She rolled her eyes. She loved them both dearly, well, all four of them. But they had a tendency to go overboard with the worrying, especially since she’d moved away from their immediate reach.
“Banished a demon and let loose for about…five seconds. I’m sorry for waking you guys but it couldn’t be helped.”
Reid grumbled for a second before accepting her explanation. She could hear him lay back in bed, growling as Tyler complained about this being his
“Put the speaker on, Reid, let Baby Boy hear,” she ordered, laughter in her voice.
Anyone watching the tiny blonde girl walking around the cemetery at that moment would have seen a simple teenager chatting with some friends on the phone, laughing at the antics they told her about. They would have seen a girl sure of her place in the world and in her friends’ hearts. A girl that was never alone.
That too, was what it meant to be Covenant.
+Maybe that demon is right and I am serving two masters. Maybe I’m right and this slayer thing is a fluke. Maybe one day the power will go away and I’ll be no more super human.
I don’t really care.
There are five things in the world that matter, five things that I care about. They are called Caleb, Tyler, Reid, Pogue and hellfire.
That’s all the reason to live I need.
Pst, now's a good time for a review.