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Human Potential

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Summary: What if Jesse was turned a year earlier? What would happen with no slayer around? Who would step up and stand against the darkness?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Other HetdazzlarFR18228,850137411,6659 May 0930 Jun 09No

Allies And Contacts - Part 1

Human Potential

AN:- This story starts off in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and will crossover into Stargate. There will be visits to The Adept book series, Vampires, Aliens and Predator movies.

Disclaimer:- I don’t own these worlds; I’m just playing in them. I’m not making any money from this story so relax. You might consider it free advertising though.

Summary: - What if Jesse was turned a year earlier? What would happen with no slayer around? Who would step up and stand against the darkness?

Canon differences: - Xander was into fantasy novels and games, not comic books. Willow was likewise into sci-fi. Xander was not physically abused by his parents. The magic system will be a little different and so will the vampires and demons.

Chapter 2 – Allies And Contacts - Part One

Beginning of October 1996

It was a warm morning as Alexander walked to school. A month had gone by since he started his exercise regime. It was a gruelling schedule but he was finally getting used to it and his muscles were no longer constantly sore.

The day had started with his paper run and small yoga routine. It really was a great way to start the day, not that he would let Willow hear him say that about work. After his shower and breakfast he was feeling pretty chilled out in the post exercise endorphin release. Hearing a noise, he turned around to see Willow rushing up to him.

She puffed, “Hey Alexander. I found out how Bruce Lee got so strong and fast. He learnt what’s called the gongs of kung fu. They are meant to be really advanced techniques that take on average five years for an advanced practitioner to learn. Apparently all masters know at least one.” The puffing eventually got the better of the babble.

Alexander exclaimed happily, “All right Willow! High five! Computer girl comes through with the knowledge again. I have so gotta ask, can we learn? Now I mean, or do we have to wait. You know that waiting would totally suck.”

Willow caught her breath and grinned at him. She said, “Hold your horses buster, all in good time. Now just listen up because I have a lot to tell you. The way it’s meant to go, at least in our kung fu style, is that up until black belt we get a solid basis in a variety of weapons, unarmed forms and meditation. After black belt is where more specialised training comes in. You pick certain weapons or unarmed forms that appeal to you and learn more of those ones. We are also meant to learn about pressure points because Jow Ga is actually a point fighting style. You know, like in acupuncture. You don’t just swing wildly at someone, but you aim at their pressure points to really take them out.”

Alexander opened his mouth, but got no further. Willow cut in, “Don’t interrupt, I’m still going. Somewhere along the line of learning all this you can choose to learn one of the gongs of kung fu. Now these include iron palm, iron claw, iron fist, iron body, leaping, speed, strength, levitation, combat intuition, suspended animation and body heat. Most of those seem pretty self explanatory. The body heat is something that allows you to survive in extreme cold, like the top of Mount Everest. Oh, there is also an advanced technique called Dim Mak, in which you send chi into your opponent and it kills them. I found mention of some other very advanced chi techniques that can strike their target from a distance.”

Alexander couldn’t help it. He burst out, “I have got to get me some of those! Can you imagine, just touching a vampire and it dies? Hell yeah! Sign me up! Hey we could like float along in the air and blast them from up high. That would be so cool. So where do we start? How do we get like that?”

Willow shared his excitement and said, “Well I did manage to find a book that talk’s about iron shirt kung fu. The problem is its fifth in a set of books. The author is called Mantak Chia. He calls what he does, internal alchemy. I really like that name by the way. His first book is called Awaken Healing Energy Through The Tao.”

Alexander actually frowned here. He said, “Hang on a sec Willow. Tao, is that like Taoism, the religion? How does that fit in with us being Catholic and Jewish? Would this make us like Taos? If we do that, is it bad?”

Willow sighed and frowned, slightly worried. She said, “I don’t know Alexander. I guess we could order the book and see how it is? You could try talking to your priesty friend too.” They spent the rest of the walk to school deep in thought.

* * * * *

The following Sunday, Alexander checked in with Father Abrahams and they discussed Kung Fu, Taoism, the Church and Judaism. It turned out that many years ago there were orders of Christian monks who studied unarmed combat. They were able to perform what some might call super human feats. That was worth looking into just on its own. It also suggested that learning from this Mantak dude might be ok.

The final result was inconclusive. Alexander and Willow would buy the book and read it. Alexander would discuss it all with Father Abrahams and receive guidance about the books religious nature. Depending on what they found, Alexander and Willow might put it into practice.

Sitting in Willows bedroom, Alexander had just finished telling Willow what Father Abrahams had said. The young Catholic and the young Jew were feeling better now their immortal souls were not in immediate danger.

Willow heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Well that’s a load off my mind. Of course it raises the next question; which gong do we want to learn? Each one has its own advantages but which one would be most beneficial to us?”

Putting on his contemplative face, Alexander pondered the question. Finally he said in a perfectly level voice, “To coin a phrase, let’s look at this in a scientific manor. We will go down the list.” He dodged an attempted shoulder whack from the redhead who thought he was making fun of her.

Feigning indignation he yelped, “Egad woman. I bruise easily don’t you know. I wasn’t totally being funny; we should actually go down the list. Hey I do bruise easily. Maybe we should do something about it, like iron body or iron shirt or whatever it’s called.”

With a huff, Willow said, “Ok buster, I’ll let it go this time. If you try to avoid the list my hand of great hurtyness attacks your bruisy shoulder again. Hey if we learnt an iron hand technique my hand really would be of great hurtyness.”

Holding up his hands, grinning wildly, Alexander said, “Hold it right there miss. Go no further on pain of tickles. We must keep to the list in order.” Willow flushed at hearing her own Willowness used against her. Before she could retort, Alexander said, “Why don’t you pull out your list and we can go through it?”

Willow adopted a prim and proper, snooty Cordelia like look and said, “What if I don’t have a list for this?” Alexander sent her a levelled look and she crumbled. She said, “Oh fine! You know me too well.” She pulled up the file on her computer and turned back to him.

At his questioning look and the waving hand indicating she should start, she said, “First up is, the various iron hand techniques. Like fist, palm and claw. There are probably iron finger techniques too. These basically make your hands into weapons that can pulverise stone, wood and bone. They could be very handy to attack vampires with. It is a close quarter fighting technique and since we will try to use weapons from range, it might not be the best for us now.”

Alexander responded, “Well put. I agree that if we can kill them from a distance, why go for close combat. If we knew this, we might be more eager to come into melee range. That would be plain stupid not to mention dangerous. I vote no for those Gongs. What’s next?”

Willow made some notes on her computer and said, “Iron body or iron shirt is next. This basically makes your body tougher. Your body can resist damage like a piece of iron. I think I like the sound of that. We know how hard Jesse hit and being able to shrug that off would be awesome.”

Alexander got up and went over to look at her computer. He said, “I’m with you on that one. Put it down for the next round. Put strength and speed down for the semi finals as well. Scratch the body heat thingy, I don’t see much use for that against vamps. Same goes for suspended animation.”

Fingers flying over the keyboard, Willow said, “Yeah I agree. What about combat intuition though, it sounded interesting. It grants you the ability to sense what will happen next in a fight and respond in the most favourable way. That has got to go forward.”

Alexander nodded, seeing the benefit. He said, “Yeppers on that one. I would group leaping and levitation together. Both would be useful, but down the track some. In order to use both properly, we would need to be advanced in gymnastics. With our schedule the way it is, I don’t think we can make the best use of them.”

Willow pouted and said, “But if we learn those, we could be like Luke Skywalker. Imagine flipping around with a dwarf painted green in a backpack on your back. How can we not learn those?”

Alexander groaned then got excited. He said, “I’ve got it. We get our black belts first off. Then we learn gymnastics and start those two Gongs. BUT! You need to find out how to learn them. Leaping and Levitation go directly to the grand final, with special dispensation. I just used a big word, yay me.”

Still pouting and not even cracking a smile at his humour, Willow said, “It’s just not fair. Can you believe the iniquity of life? We have the chance to get real Jedi like powers and we don’t have time or the teacher. Not even a how to book for dummies. That is sucksville.”

Laughing, Alexander gave her a one armed hug. He said, “Patience grasshopper. We must learn to walk before we can run. We must jump before we can jump higher…” He finished off lamely, his David Carradine knowledge failing. Willow giggled at him and hugged him back.

Willow said, “Getting back on track. We are left with a Dim Mak touch attack and the hints of distance chi attacks. Since they are only hints, we might have to leave them alone for now. Although the Dim Mak is cool, we would have to get into close range to do it.”

With an agreeing nod, Alexander said, “Ok. So we are left with speed, strength, psychic fight thingy and tough body. Looking at this in a logical and scientific manner, we are already doing two of those. The strength part we can’t do properly until we are 16 so that’s out for two years at least. The speed part should improve as we get further along in kung fu anyway. That leaves us with tough body and psychic thingy.”

Willow said, “I agree on the strength aspect, but not so much on the speed. Improving our speed would have so many advantages it’s not funny. We could dodge any hits and avoid attacks not to mention attacking back.”

Alexander agreed, “Those are valid points, but what about when you are cornered and don’t have room to dodge? Speed can’t help you much there. Only the tough body would. Although psychic thingy would help you avoid the cornering altogether.”

With an exasperated tone, Willow retorted, “It’s called iron shirt or iron body, not tough body. Call it combat intuition not psychic thingy. Apart from that, you have a valid point. So do we want to be intuitive or have an iron like body? Both would be very useful to have.”

Putting on his thinking face, Alexander thought. Willow waited, thinking herself. After a while he said, “I vote for iron body. It would probably take a lot of time to learn these and if we went with intuition, then it might fail before we have it mastered. If that happens we could die. On the other hand if we slowly get tougher and harder to damage we automatically get safer.”

Willow kept thinking for a while and then said, “Ok let me order that book for us. We can give it a go. If it is too Taoist then we go for combat intuition. I will keep looking for lessons and instructions on the other gongs, for future reference.”

Alexander was quiet while she was ordering the book. When she finished, he said, “If we are going to be hunting vampires and using awesome abilities, then we need a name. All those who crusade against the darkness need a group name. Since it’s just the two of us, you get to help me come up with it.”

Willow looked at him and said, “What the heck are you on about?” He replied, “You know like the Icewind Dale hero’s, the Hero’s of the Lance, the Knights of Myth Drannor, the Jedi Knights, the Knights Templar, the churches vampire slayer teams, they are all named. Since we are going to do that, we should have a name too.”

Willow indulged him and said, “Ok let’s hear your ideas?” He blushed and said, “I was hoping you had some.”

A smirk and a frown later, Willow said, “Of the ones you named; only two are from our world. Yes, we are going to be vampire slayers, actually we already are. There is no way I am going to be a Knight Templar, so don’t even think about it. It’s entirely too catholic for me, not that there’s anything wrong with it. For you I mean, but not for me, Jewish remember.”

Alexander said, “Why don’t we combine both religions. The Catholic Knights Templar and the Jewish version. If I remember correctly, Solomon was feared by all demons. Why don’t we be the Knights of Solomon?”

Willow smiled at him and said, “I like it. We are the vampire and demon hunters called the Knights of Solomon. If you call me sir, I will give you a thick ear buster.” He just laughed and said, “Sure thing my Lady Willow.”

In mid dodge, his brain suddenly remembered something and he received a whack to the shoulder for his lapse. With an exclamation he said, “Ow! No hitting when I am remembering. You might damage my brain. I forgot to mention something else I spoke to Father Abrahams about. I asked him if he knew any Rabbi’s who were in the know.” He held up his hands and gave the parenthesis sign.

Upon hearing the word Rabbi, Willow went into school mode. That is, she listened raptly and had a look of adoration on her face. Before she could grab a pen and notebook, Alexander spoke, “He said he didn’t know a Rabbi in particular, but he did know someone who might help us. Her name is Lady Doctor Philippa Sinclair. He is going to contact her when he is in LA next and see if she will help us.”

Willow said, “Well that is good news. Or it could be bad news if she can’t help us. So who is she? What is with the lady and doctor thing? How can she help us? Will she help us?”

Alexander held up his hands to stop her. He answered, “She is a doctor by profession, being a psychiatrist. She is a lady by marriage and possibly deed. Apparently she was a member of a hunting lodge that fought against Hitler’s black lodges during world war two. Now before you ask, lodges are like gangs of mages or mystics. We don’t know if she will help us with prayer magic or not. Father Abraham did speak very highly of her though. Being a doctor, she might be very busy and may not have much time for us if at all.”

Willow was very excited now. To hear about someone who fought that poopyhead Hitler with magic was awesome. She said, “She sounds wonderful. I really hope she can help us or at least point us in the right direction. I am going to look up all about lodges on the net. I didn’t even know Hitler had mages. I bet they were black mages of the evilest sort.”

With a nod, Alexander said, “Yeah I sure hope we can get in contact with her. She does sound pretty amazing.”

* * * * *

The same evening in Vatican City

Cardinal McCauley was sitting in his office doing some paperwork. There was a knock at the door and his aide came in. He looked up smiling and said, “What’s up Paul?”

Paul walked in and said, “There was a disturbance during the evening meal. One of our mediums, Father Bambino, had a visitor. Over a hundred people witnessed the event.”

The Cardinal leant back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. In a tired voice he said, “So who was the visitor and what was said?” Paul just handed him a piece of paper.

Unfolding the paper, the Cardinal read-

At 6:22pm on the 6th of October during the year of our Lord 1996

Father Bambino received a visit from Archangel Michael. The Archangel said these words-

Harken to me ye faithful. I bring the word of our Lord Jesus
We are entering end of days for the Ancients war
The Knights of Solomon have formed and perilous times are upon us
They shall lead the way in training, in knowledge and in battle
The protector of man shall wield the spear of destiny to great effect
Render them all aid they desire, teach them and in turn learn from them
Hinder them or try to control them to the peril of all

Now is the time to gather our forces but in secret
The time to strike is not yet before us and we are not ready
Develop your gifts of the spirit and practice the arts of battle
When the time comes the armies of the faithful will march to war
We will wipe the spawn of Satan and his demonic allies from the Earth
We will march on the demons realms and carry the fight to them
One by one they will fall until we are victorious and the Earth is free

Fear not the task ahead for you are not alone
I, Archangel Michael and my brothers will be with you
I will lead the heavenly hosts against the Ancient enemy
When the time comes, rise up and fight, but not before
To strike before we are ready will bring destruction down upon us all
You will be given a sign by the Knights when the final battle begins
Our lord and his brothers are with us all, forever more. Amen

The Cardinal sank back into his chair, aging a decade in the last minute. He murmured, “God preserve us all.” He steepled his fingers and sat there deep in thought.

Finally he roused himself and said to Paul, “First of all, ensure that word of this is kept within the Vatican. It is vital this is not leaked. Second, call a meeting of all cardinals and the Pope in an hour’s time. Any cardinal not in Vatican city will join us on a conference call. Make hast my son, important days are upon us”

* * * * *

At the same time, in Israel

The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem was on the phone with the Chief Rabbi of London. Malachi said to Joseph, “It is as I feared then. It isn’t just our seers that are effectively blind, but yours as well. You know what this means of course?”

Joseph of London replied, “Yes I do. The final days in the war of the God’s will soon be upon us. You know in addition to the whole slew of problems that brings up, there are others. Have you considered how the Orthodox faith will take this? They staunchly believe that there is only one God. I had a hard enough time believing about the Elder Gods and the Ascended Masters when I became Chief Rabbi. Jehovah willing, we win this war. Seeing our God along with his brothers and sisters all together will shock the bejesus out of them.”

Malachi of Jerusalem snorted and said, “You do have a way with words my friend. Please call them Angels not Ascended Masters, you know how much they like to visit mediums and I don’t feel up to it right now. The last thing I need is an angelic possessed medium beating down my door to berate you. If you think the Orthodox Jews are going to be bad, how do you think the Muslims will take it? It will be one thing when the Christians hear that Jehovah was not Jesus’ father, but rather Allah was, they are going to freak. When the Muslims hear that Allah was ambushed and killed, a jihad will be the least we can expect. It is going to be pandemonium.”

Joseph shuddered and said, “Let’s hope they direct it at the appropriate targets then. Still, it’s something we need to consider ourselves. What we do need to consider is, that it is very possible Jehovah will be killed too. You know we lost eight Elder Gods over the last 10000 years; dozens of angels were killed too. Now that we are in the last stages of the war it will be that much more dangerous.”

Malachi responded grimly, “It is right that we consider the possibility of that happening. We shouldn’t dwell on it though. We need to focus on what we can do to ensure that doesn’t happen and that we win the war. We have to put into effect the plans that were made based on the prophecies of Rabbi Isaac. Sometimes I almost wish he never touched the Wailing Wall half a century ago or if he did then no one heard him. They say knowledge is power but ignorance is bliss. I could handle a bit more bliss in my life.”

Joseph snorted, “If you want bliss, give your wife some flowers and chocolate. Take her out dancing and get a hotel room or something.” He then sobered and said, “The training of our forces must be stepped up immediately. We have puttered about for too long. It’s time to put the legendary wealth of the Jews to good effect. Our combat and surveillance teams will have the best training and the best equipment bar none.”

Malachi said, “That is the best for all of us. I will be speaking to the president tomorrow. I think Israel’s military budget is about to be tripled. The research and surveillance teams will have their work cut out for them over the next few years. When the time to strike comes we must know where all our targets are. If we miss just one…”

Joseph said, “It is too terrible to contemplate. Although it would be easier with seers, I like having our opposition blind. I know our tasks are difficult, some might say overwhelming, but what about the Knights of Solomon. Apparently compared to them we are meant to have it easy. We know nothing of what they are to do except it is crucial to the war. All we know is to give them aid and treat them like we would an Angel.”

Malachi replied, “The situation is most troubling. I have only been able to wheedle one hint out of the Archangel. They will be largely separate to our forces but highly instrumental during the war and beyond.”

Joseph raised an eyebrow and said in a teasing tone, “Malachi, I never knew you had it in you. Did you try the puppy dog eyes on Gabriel or just whine? And just why didn’t you tell me this before?”

Malachi went red and said, “I was putting it off for as long as possible. There is no way I was going to give you more ammunition to use against me.” Joseph laughed and Malachi adopted a chastising tone, “I’ll have you know I only use my puppy dog eyes on my wife, thank you very much.” Joe laughed louder.

* * * * *

Beginning of November 1996

Within a month, the book on ‘Awaken Healing Energy Through The Tao’ had been bought, read and discussed. It would have been done sooner, but there were other priorities for their money, like kung fu videos and training gear. The book talked a lot about the human body’s internal energy system and even had some pressure points in it.

It was a late Sunday afternoon when Alexander rocked up to Willow’s joint after his weekly visit to Father Abrahams. He had some more holy water for their supersoakers as well as a couple of surprises. Upon entering he found her, as usual, at her computer.

Rather than surprise the definitely armed red head, Alexander knocked on the door frame. It was a polite knock, not some booming surprise giving knock. It worked, mostly, as Willow spun in her chair, one hand grabbing a stake and the other grabbing a small water pistol. She seemed a little on edge.

Upon seeing who it was, Willow said, “Give a girl a heart attack why don’t you?” To which he replied, “I knocked softly and lightly. You know it might be an idea to move your desk. If it faces your door, then you can’t be surprised.”

A dazzling smile was sent his way closely followed by the red headed girl. She gave him a squeeze that would rival an orange juicing machine. Letting go, she said, “That’s a fantastic idea. I’m so glad you are here to help me move it all. Let me log off and we can get to work.”

When she dropped the w-bomb on him, he blanched. Even now, two months after he started work, the word still made him cringe. Sure the money and training aspects were good, but the word itself had so many bad connotations. His musings were cut short by an eager Willow in front of him.

A short time later the desk was in a better position, the bed was moved and it was all good. The chances of surprising Willow at her desk were now zero. He flopped down on her bed as she rebooted her computer. He casually said, “I learnt something today.”

This got her attention. At her questioning look, Alexander said, “Father Abrahams told me a nice piece of information today. It was funny really, the thought just popped into my head and I blurted out the question. It seems that this world has multiple Hellmouth’s. And, oh yes, there are also multiple Heavenmouth’s.”

Willow goggled at him with mouth wide open. He couldn’t help but say, “The flies. The flies Willow. You’ll catch flies with your mouth open like that.” Then he laughed.

It was proof that she was in shock, that his shoulder remained free from hits. When her mouth closed and brain started again he said, “Apparently there is an active Heavenmouth in the city of Shambala. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing that the city is hidden. Oh yeah, Jerusalem used to be a Heavenmouth too. Sometime around the middle of the century it was closed. Father Abrahams doesn’t know when or how either, I asked.”

As predicted, the babble came forth. Willow said, “That is so huge. Do you know what this means? I don’t know what this means, but its huge. It’s hugely major, massive even. What does a Heavenmouth do? Does it mean you can go straight to Heaven? If demons and vampires hang around Hellmouth’s, do Angels hang around Heavenmouth’s? I wonder when Jerusalem stopped being heavenly? I hope it wasn’t when Israel was reformed. That would be bad.”

As she took a breath, he jumped in, “From what I heard, the Mouths are always places of violence. That’s why Shambala is hidden, to avoid the violence. Apparently evil wants to close the Heavenmouth’s, for obvious reasons. I don’t know why the forces of good aren’t trying to close the one here. But then again, the Catholic Church has been getting its butt kicked lately. Oh well, maybe one day we can close this one. It might be nice to visit Shambala one day too, if we can ever find it.”

Willow said, “Yeah it would be nice to turn this town into a demon free town. Right now though we have no idea where Shambala is, how to close a Hellmouth or even what they are all about. Let’s leave that for a later time, like when we have a whole library of books and can fight really, really well.”

Alexander said, “You never know, we might find the answers in the first magic book we find. Then again we do know how Mr Murphy works.” She opened her mouth, but he held up his hands and said, “Don’t worry; I’m not going to jinx us. I’m just paying my respects to Mr Murphy. I think it’s safer to do so, don’t you think? So have you got your global translator ready to rock or what?”

Willow answered, “Yes, being polite to Mr Murphy is good. No I haven’t got the global translator up and running yet. I have only got a little of French put in.” He looked at her in surprise. He said, “Is that all? You are the computer queen. Shouldn’t you have it knocked up by now?”

She glared at him and put on her annoyed face. She ranted at him, “What do you mean is that all? Do you have any idea how much work is needed to make this happen? No obviously you don’t. I’ll have you know that I couldn’t just jump right in to the translator! I had to set several things up beforehand. I have been writing several programs at the same time. None of them are finished yet, so don’t start with me buster.”

She huffed, renewed her glare and said, “First I had to come up with a better scanning program. The current ones take up way too much memory on the hard drive. To scan one page takes about a meg of storage. So I am writing a new optical recognition program. For that program alone I had to hack into a large number of places and download their programs. Then I had to go through each one and see what worked and what didn’t. Taking bits and pieces from several I compiled them into a new program. Of course there were new bits I had to write from scratch and other areas I had to upgrade myself. With a lot of it done, there is one huge problem. It is only useful for English.”

She continued, “Setting that program aside, we move onto the actual global translator itself. Once again I scoured the net for any translation programs available and any that are hidden. There was very little and it was mostly rubbish. So I took what was there and started to add and upgrade it. It is slow going as I have to deal with each word individually. Then there is syntax, grammar and meaning. Each language will need a different set of code written for it specifically. In time I will be able add the optical recognition program into the global translator. That will make it much easier and faster, but that day is a long way off.”

Losing the glare and adopting a frown she said, “Don’t get me started on how I am going to make the program adaptive. To have a program that can take a scanned page and add it to the database is monumentally hard. There is another thing too. This is all being done in English. It will take a lot more work to reverse the process. You know so it can translate English into Yiddish or even Yiddish into Latin. So don’t think this is a weekend project, because it will take years. If we want the program to be verbal and phonetic too, that is a whole new ballgame.”

Alexander was apologetic but also slightly miffed said, “Ok so it’s a big job. I apologise for not knowing more about programming than I do. It’s not like I don’t have my work cut out for me either. You aren’t the only one with a huge workload.” With that he pulled out a bunch of knives in sheaths and handed them to her

He said, “These babies are my latest invention. You know that throwing knife I bought a couple of weeks ago from the military Surplus store? Well these are some copies, with upgrades. Each one has a cross made from aluminium on either side of the blade. I also had Father Abrahams bless them. So when we throw them into vampire flesh, the cross will burn them on the inside and really, really hurt. I haven’t figured out how to yet, but I plan on putting crosses in the hilts too, so the vamps will have trouble pulling the knives out. I have to work out the proper balance issues when I adjust the hilt before I can though. It will be a bit harder than when I changed the balance with the aluminium in these. You won’t believe the calculations necessary for that!”

This was a subject he was passionate about so there was no stopping him. “I’m also thinking about a combination blade and stake weapon. There are several problems that I need to work out first. It’s a totally James Bond type weapon. There’s not just metal work, but finicky wood work as well. Oh did you check out the non metal sheaths I made as well. See non metal, I’m diversifying. If you ever tell anyone I had to use my mum’s sewing machine to make them, you are so cut off from any new weapons I make.”

Willow, wisely, didn’t laugh out loud at him. Inside she was giggling up a storm. She had noticed Alexander was very secretive about some books he borrowed recently and now the secret was out. He had learnt sewing, off his own bat. Actually, that was showing amazing initiative. Not to mention him overcoming, well mostly, the whole sewing is for girls, thing. She was actually proud of him. Ooh that felt nice.

Alexander continued, “These knives are only the first model. Eventually I want to make them out of high carbon stainless steel and the crosses from silver. The problem with that is of course money. Having contacts with metal suppliers would also be required as the steel isn’t something you can pick up at the hardware store. I figure computer girl can help me find a supplier. I think this phase one throwing knife will have to do for now. We will hold off on phase two until we have the funds, materials and equipment necessary. The phase three knives would be made out of a titanium alloy treated with a specific magnetic field to make it stronger than a katana. That would be the ultimate, although I haven’t finished the material composition for that yet. In the mean time, we need to learn how to throw these. In light of that, I picked up another book called ‘Knife Throwing: A Practical Guide’ which should help us immensely.”

Hubba, Hubba was the only thought going through Willow’s head. She was always attracted to Alexander but when he talked about a subject with such knowledge and confidence it made her feel warm and tingly downstairs. Cheeks flushed, Willow said, “I’m glad you have such long term plans. Those knives look really nifty. I like the cross idea, it will bring the pain on the sunlight challenged. So what’s the low-down on throwing knives?”

He pulled out the book in question and passed it to her. He said, “Make sure you read that. To start with, we need some targets, I’m thinking dart boards. We can check out some pawn shops and if necessary we can buy a new one. There are several different ways to throw knives. I reckon we should learn them all. We should also practice from different positions, like sitting and lying down. You never know when you will need to throw one in the middle of a fight.”

Willow nodded and said, “Fine by me. It’s another weapon in our arsenal. It might be an idea to change the order of forms we learn in kung-fu. Perhaps we should learn double daggers next?”

Alexander replied, “Ok, sounds like a plan. On another note, you said earlier that you were scanning books into your computer. Would it be possible to create a library on computer? That way we won’t have to keep borrowing the same books from the library. I had to get the book on weight training again, since we are about to finish our beginner workout. It would be nice to have the reference on hand whenever we want. It’s something to think about instead of buying books or even multiple copies.”

This brought a frown to Willows face. She said, “You love making extra work for me don’t you. Still, it is a good idea. I’ll get started on it soon. If we do that, we will eventually need some sort of library search program. I’ll check what’s available elsewhere. Who knows, maybe I won’t have to write a new program for it. Oh yeah, speaking of new books. You know that book your priesty man told us about, Vampyre. Well I found it in a shop in New Orleans and I ordered it. It arrived Friday and I just finished it. So now it’s your turn.”

With a grin he said, “Sweet. It’s kind of funny. We both just finished a non-fiction book and are lending it to each other. A year ago if you said that would happen; I would have hit you with a pillow to fix your dodgy head. Now it is kind of cool, I like it.”

Willow grinned at him and said, “Yeah it is good. I like to think that I have rubbed off on you and you have come to the light side of the force.” She waved her hand at him and said, “Books are good. School is good. You will search for knowledge and use it for defence only, never attack.” They both laughed at her Ben Kenobi impersonation.

When the laugher died, Alexander reached into his bag again. Pulling out some holy water, he said, “This is your share. I have one last surprise from Father Abraham. He got in touch with Lady Doctor Philippa Sinclair. Here is her email address. Apparently she is willing to help us out. She is also interested in getting more security for her computer. I think it might be best if you contact her first.”

Willow got really excited. She had been hanging for this for the whole last month. She grabbed the piece of paper from his hand and turned to her computer. She didn’t even hear Alexander’s fond laughter.

* * * * *

The day after receiving the Vampyre book was a Monday and that meant school. Lunch time found Alexander sitting in a classroom with the book in front of him. He still had another 20 minutes left so there should be no chance of getting discovered. He even had his folder on the desk ready to cover the book if necessary.

Of course, on the Hellmouth, Murphy’s Law was the cornerstone of existence. No one should have bothered Alexander, let alone seen the book he was reading, but someone did. Amy Madison walked into the room straight up to Alexander.

She stopped in front of his desk and said, “Hey Xander hows it going? You seen Willow about?” Alexander was flustered by her sudden arrival, having a dangerous book out in the open and then being called Xander. This meant he was off his game.

He responded, “My name isn’t Xander anymore, it’s Al…” he didn’t get to finish his sentence let alone his name because Amy did something unexpected. She picked up the book and looked at the cover. She said, “My mum has this book.”

Alexander went from flustered to gobsmacked. His jaw hung open and he was in serious danger of catching flies. Amy ceased looking at the book and giggled at the sight of him. She waved her hand in front of his face and said, “Yo Al, you in there? Close your mouth will ya, I don’t want to see your lunch.”

Alexander closed his mouth with an audible ‘snap.’ What the hell did she just call him? He shot her a glare and said, “The name is Alexander not Al. if you are quite finished with the book, can I have it back?”

Amy smirked at him. It seemed that the name was a button of his. She knew exactly what to do in this instance. You press someone’s buttons as much as possible, then press them some more. The smirk turned mischievous and she said, “You can’t change your mind Al, only girls can do that. It’s in the Rules you know. You specifically told me to call you Al and that’s what I’m going to call you, Al.”

Alexander was actually getting steamed at this point. He grabbed the book off her and gestured towards the door. He said, “Willow is in the computer room. Off you go now, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.”

Amy laughed a delightful little tinkle. She pulled up a chair next to him and settled in. His face was actually getting red at this point. This was so much fun. It used to be him and Jesse joking with her, but now he was so serious. Ah crap, Jesse had to be the reason. She sobered and said, “I haven’t seen much of Willow or you since Jesse’s funeral. I miss him too you know.”

Alexander lost his bright red look and his miffedness went away with it. He looked at her long and steady, causing her to squirm a bit. He stamped on the brief surge of triumph he felt at that. He tapped the book with his finger and said, “It was a tough time for a lot of us. It is good you remember him. A lot of people forget those that die or go missing in this town.”

This attitude completely threw Amy. This was not the Xander she knew. This Xander was mysterious and serious. Looks like a new attitude to go with a new name. She said, “What are you on about Al? Of curse I remember Jesse, why wouldn’t I?”

He looked steadily at her again and said, “Haven’t you noticed how people in this town are oblivious to what goes on around them? We have more people go missing in this town than in Washington DC itself. Most people just carry on like nothing weird is going on.”

She scoffed at the ridicules thought that Sunnydale could have more people dead or missing than the murder capital of the country. Then she thought about it. There were an awful lot of people going missing or getting dead. Maybe he was onto something. She said, “Ok so that is pretty freaky. So what’s the story with that? You seem to know something.”

He smiled grimly at her, causing her freaky scale to rise. He then said, “I know some of the story and have theories for the rest. Now you said your mum has this book in her library. Why don’t you read it?”

Amy winced at him and saw his eyes soften in concern. That was sweet and at the same time, slightly annoying. She said, “My mum would hit the roof if I did. Her library is completely out of bounds. Once took a book from there to flick through. I put it back, but she knew. It was like she had some camera on them of something, but without the camera.”

Hearing this made Alexander even more cautious. He said, “It sounds like your mum knows some of what the story is too. One way or another you have to read this book. Until you do, just stay inside at night.”

Amy knew he was holding out on her but then again so was she. She wasn’t going to tell anyone her mother was a witch. A full, spell casting, cauldron using, witch. How on earth can you just tell someone spells and magic are real. Oh and by the way, my mum is the wicked witch of the West. She gave him a flinty look and said, “Fine. If I can’t read it at home, then you are going to lend it to me.”

He looked uncomfortable for a moment then said, “It’s not mine actually. I can check if it’s ok for you to borrow it, if you fizzle with your mum’s one.” She had a pretty good idea about who would lend Al a book. She relented and said, “Ok.”

The rest of the class started to come in at that point, so conversation stopped. Both of them knew it was far from over though. Where it would lead was anybodies guess.

* * * * *

It was evening on the same day Amy had spoken to Alexander. Her mum had picked her up from gymnastics practice and they were on their way home. As usual her mum was grilling her on how training had gone. It was like her mum had a one track mind.

Eventually her mum wound down and she said, “I saw someone at school today with one of your books.” This caused her mum to look at her sharply, swerving the car in the process. With some swearing and squealing of tires, the car was brought under control.

Catherine Madison regained her equilibrium with some slow deep breaths. That statement had come as quite the shock. She asked in a level tone, “So which book, did you see?”

Amy replied, “It was called Vampyre. He freaked when he saw me looking at it. All he would say is to stay inside at night. It was kind of strange since you won’t let me go outside at night without you. What’s going on mum?”

Catherine breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t one of her spell books or even a book on magic. It was just the basic vampire book, nothing dangerous after all. She thought for a moment on how best to handle this then said, “I’ll tell you what. You can read the book but then that’s it. No more books, no more questions, nothing. Got it?”

Amy looked at her with wide eyes. Her mum was actually letting her read one of her special books. This was an event of epic proportions. She had to be very careful here. She quickly said, “Sure thing mum, thanks.”

Catherine said, “Don’t thank me Amy. You had better not let this destroy your focus. Keep your eyes on what we have been working towards. Now who is this little pissant who had the book?”

A spike of fear ran through Amy. Her mums temper was on the rise and this was very bad. If she didn’t watch out she would get punished. There was a good chance Willow and Al would cop it too. That was something that had to be avoided. She answered, “His name is Jack O’Toole. He is kind of creepy actually.” She hoped her mum bought it and her friends were safe.

Catherine smiled grimly to herself. So Jack O’Toole knew about the real world eh? He was creepy too. Well she knew all about creepy and just what to do with those types. It would not do to have him distract Amy a year out from her target. Oh no, this would not do at all. Perhaps Jacky boy would have an accident very soon. After all, this town was dangerous. People disappeared all the time, especially when their youth could be used to return her own.

* * * * *

The following Sunday saw Amy at Willows place for a junk food pig-out. They were sitting in her room munching away on god’s own special gift to women, chocolate. Around a mouthful of pure pleasure, Amy said, “I finished that Vampyre book you and Al read.”

Willow started to cough and choke. A piece of chocolate went down the wrong way. Amy thumped her on the back, clearing her throat. With a glare Willow said, “You did that on purpose. No more chocolate for you.”

The blood drained from Amy’s face. It had been months since she had junk food and a simple prank denied her again. Her thoughts were interrupted by a giggle from Willow, who said, “Got you.” The giggling continued.

Amy grabbed another piece of chocolate desperately and shoved it in her mouth. All she could really say was, “Touché.” Willow smirked at her and said, “We’re even now. So what did you think of the book?”

Grabbing a brownie, Amy said, “It had a lot of information about vampires. Normally I would just think it was one of John’s role playing books. When I take into account your’s, Al’s and my mum’s reactions to it, I have to question that conclusion. So is it real or what?”

Willow looked her dead in the eye with her serious face on. She said, “It is real. Vampires exist and they prey upon humans.”

Amy sighed. She had hoped it was some sort of elaborate joke, but it wasn’t. If her mum could cast spells and deal with the supernatural, then vampires’ existing was not much of a stretch. She was shocked when Willow continued, “In addition to vampires, there are also demons and magic. Oh we also live on a Hellmouth.”

Amy said in a scared tone, “What the heck is a Hellmouth? I know about magic, but aren’t demons what vampires are?” Willow answered, “The Hellmouth is exactly what it sounds like, a gateway to Hell. It is the exact opposite to a Heavenmouth. As for vampires, well you read the book. When their victims are drained and receive vamp blood in return, they get inhabited by a demon. There are also heaps of others, apparently, but I haven’t seen any of those.”

It was official, Amy was freaked. Demons, Hellmouth’s and Heavenmouth’s! This was all too much. Vampires she was semi prepared for but this was a whole new level of freaked. So she did the best thing she could do at the time, ate some chocolate. That helped a lot. She ate some more and then said, “Did you just say you haven’t seen any demons? That implies that you have seen a vampire. What the heck are you into Willow?”

Willow ate a brownie and said, “I have seen one vampire, Jesse!” Amy shrieked, “OH MY GOD!” Her hands covered to her mouth and she stared at Willow in shock.

Several brownies and half a block of chocolate later, Amy calmed down. Willow was sitting there wistfully, absentmindedly eating, staring off into nothing. Amy thought she looked so sad sitting there. Then the gears in her mind started to turn. She said, “Jesse came after you, didn’t he? They said he was killed by a gang on PCP, but it was a vampire wasn’t it?”

Willow nodded and said, “Alexander and I were sitting Shiva at his grave when he came out. He attacked us, we all fought and Alexander killed him. It wasn’t Jesse exactly, the demon inside was really terrible. I have never been so mad, as I was that night. Alexander and I think all those gang attacks are really vampires. There are a lot of them, let me tell you.”

What she just heard boggled Amy’s mind. She asked, “How the heck did Al kill a vampire? Those things are twice as fast and four times as strong as a human. You two wouldn’t even be considered as strong as one human.”

Willow simply said, “We were very lucky. We fought it and Alexander rammed it into a tree that had a broken off branch sticking out. It dusted immediately. We might have survived on luck then, but next time we will stack the odds in our favour.” The last sentence was full of determination.

Amy leaned back with a, “Whoa! Let me also put in a wow too. Just what do you mean by next time and stacking the odds?” Willow answered, “We live in vampire central, of course there will be a next time. As for the odds, well we have been training and when ready, we will go hunting.”

Amy just looked at her. This was totally unbelievable. Little Willow was talking about going after vampires who were so far out of her league it wasn’t funny. In addition to strength and speed, they also healed really fast, along with having claws and fangs. Willow had to be insane.

Willow noticed the expression of her friends face and could tell what she was thinking. She said, “Although vamps have their strengths, they also have their weaknesses. You just need to know how to exploit them.”

Amy looked at her with an expression that said ‘yeah, right.’ She then said, “I know all about their weaknesses, but it won’t make any difference. What if you meet more than one? They will probably try to turn you, and then you would come after me.”

This made Willow think. She said, “I know Alexander was looking into some armour, I might have to have a chat to him about it. As for dealing with more than one of them, do I look stupid to you? We aren’t going after more than one nor any of the older vamps. We will be going after fledglings until we are really, really good. We have our escape plans made up just in case things go bad. We will be doing everything possible to make sure we live and they don’t. That being said, if you think we are going to sit back and let Jesse’s killer and his kind get away with killing everyone, you have another thing coming.”

Amy said, “Ok so you have some plans, but this is dangerous.” Willow replied, “So is going out at night. What happens if there is an emergency and you have to go outside at night? There is a good chance you get dead. That’s one of the reasons we are training. We will be armed and if we get jumped, then we stand a much better chance of survival. We know where the hot spots are and will stay away from them.”

Hearing that, made Amy stop and think. Knowing how to fight did sound like a very good safety precaution. She said, “What hot spots? What are you talking about?” Willow said, “Alexander and I have maps of the whole town. We know where most of the killings take place and when we go hunting, we will stay away from those spots.”

Amy just asked, “How?” Willow replied, “We do a paper run each weekday morning. We pay attention to any attacks, killings and missing persons. We mark the areas on the map. It paints a pretty decent picture of where to stay away from at night.”

Amy said, “I’m going to have to take a look at that map. I see what you mean about being prepared in case something goes wrong. But come on, what are you doing that could possibly prepare you to take on vampires?”

Willow smirked at her and went to her wardrobe. She rummaged around and pulled out her large supersoaker. She smiled widely and patted it. She said in a very bad Al Pacino impression, “Say hello to my little friend.”

They both giggled at that. Willow said, “This is full of holy water. I also wear a cross and carry a stake everywhere I go. I have to be careful my parents don’t see the cross, or they would hit the roof. Give me a bit more time and I will have the Jewish side sorted out.”

Amy started to think crosses and stakes might be a good idea. She yelped when she saw Willow with a knife in her hand. Willow just smiled and showed her the blade. It had a cross on it. She said, “Alexander made this recently. I take this with me everywhere too. I have to admit, being armed does make me feel safer.”

Once again, Amy’s mind was boggled. She was having a hard time associating this Willow to the Willow she thought she knew. Carrying knives and stakes was very out of character. More chocolate was needed.

Willow put the knife away and said, “Alexander and I are also training a lot. We are doing fitness, flexibility and strength training. Add to that kung fu, military fighting, knife throwing and mental training. With time we will get our hands on some magic books too. Did you know there is Jewish and Catholic prayer magic? We are definitely going to check that stuff out.”

Amy thought about what Willow had just said. Improving physically and learning combat would certainly be the way to go. She was unsure about the mental training, but the magic talk did arouse her curiosity. She asked, “So what types of magic are there?”

Willow answered, “We don’t know much about that part yet. We know for sure that religions have magic, usually in the form of prayer. When you consider how many religions there are, there should be heaps of different types out there. With all that we are doing, learning about magic isn’t the top priority, but we will get there eventually.”

This was the chance Amy had been waiting for. Finally there was someone she could talk to about her mum. She said, “My mum is a witch.”

Now it was Willow’s turn to boggle at her. It was only for a brief moment before she said, “Of course! Alexander told me your mum had the Vampyre book among others. So what other books does she have? Do you think I could look at them? Are they in English? Can we go ask her now?”

Amy put a stop to the babble before it could really get going. She said loudly, “Stop!” A stunned face and blinking eyes were the result. Amy continued, “My mum is really scary. As in bad witch type scary. I couldn’t even risk telling her the truth about who had the vamp book I saw.”

Willow went white. She said, “So your mum is a bad witch and she almost knew about Alexander and me? Thank you so much for not telling her. This town is very strange and people in the know disappear all the time. So, umm, who did you say had the book?”

Amy matched Willow in face whiteness. She said, “Jack O’Toole.” Willow went even whiter. She said, “I read that he disappeared this week. Oh no! Do you think it was your mum?” Amy just nodded.

They both ate some chocolate and tried to process the conversation so far. After some more brownies Amy said, “So how are you looking into magic? With my mum the way she is, it’s kind of important I learn about it too. I need to watch out for myself.”

Willow blanched at the thought of a mum who was like that. Her own mum was bad enough, going away a lot and not even really there when she was home. She said, “Well I am writing a translation program at the moment, so I don’t have to learn a new language. If it was only one language it would be fine, but Jewish magic alone would need at least three. I have also just found out about someone who should be able to tell me a lot about magic or at least point me in the direction of the right books. Say, do you know the names of the books your mum has?”

Amy shook her head and said, “When I was ten I saw her books and I copped it bad enough to never go back. She must have had some sort of spell on them, because she knew. She actually handed me the vamp book so I didn’t get a chance to see them again.”

Willow got excited and said, “Have you thought about hypnosis for memory? Some of the mental exercises Alexander and I do are self hypnosis. I could lend you the books or even guide you through myself, if you like.”

Amy gave Willow a very flat look and said, “No way in hell! Keep your mind benders to yourself thank you very much. No one is going to mess with my head. If you think I am risking anyone knowing my secrets or making me squawk like a chicken you are sadly mistaken. You have any other ideas that don’t involve screwing with my head?”

Willow back-pedalled, “We don’t have to do any hypnosis. No hypnosis for Amy. Got it. See imprinting in my head hypnosis and Amy equals bad. All better now. Actually I do have another idea. Is it possible to take a photo through the door or window?”

Amy shook her head saying, “The books are either in the basement, which is banned, or in her bedroom, which is on the first floor. The basement is out completely and looking through the first floor window during the day is a really bad idea. So I have to say no to the camera, but it was a good idea.”

Willow shrugged her shoulders and said, “I guess we have to do it the hard way then. Hopefully I can get the names of some good books to start with from the contact I have.”

Amy nodded and said, “That would be good. In the mean time, how about you show me some of that self defence stuff.” Willow smiled and said, “Sure thing. How about we start with the videos first? There is no way I will be able to give a decent demo after that much junk food. Better let it settle a bit.”

They went downstairs and watched three videos on kung fu. Each video showed one form and the techniques for that level. Kung fu forms are like really long and involved katas. The forms were called Small Tiger, Staff and Kung Lic. Small Tiger was an unarmed, animal based form. Staff was a form using a six foot long quarterstaff that was slightly bendy. Kung Lic was an unarmed form placed in all styles by the kung fu association.

Amy was pretty impressed by what she saw. There was just one problem though, a severe lack of time. She said, “I would like to learn all that, but I don’t have much time at all. First there is school then every afternoon I have gymnastics until 7pm. Saturday is all gymnastics until 5pm. All I really have is Sundays. I don’t know how much I can learn in just one day a week.”

Willow said, “You are already in great shape from your gymnastics. You are flexible, strong and have great balance. You are well ahead of Alexander and me already. We may know more techniques but you have us beat in other areas. You took several types of dance when you were younger, so picking this up shouldn’t be too hard.” Willow pointed at herself and said, “Computer geek, remember. Sure I am on my way to being a kick butt computer geek, but I have only just started.”

Amy smiled at her and said, “An armed kick arse computer geek. Ok so I should be able to pick it up faster than you two. You have to know that the further along you go, the faster you will pick it up. Once you become used to moving in a certain way, it gets much easier.”

Willow smiled back and said, “That sounds good. Can we hurry up and get to that point already though?” Amy giggled at her. Willow continued, “We could try showing you bits during lunch time at school. Maybe spend the first half showing you, then the second eating. We won’t be able to video tape you during the week though, only on Sunday.”

This puzzled Amy. She asked, “Why would you want to video tape me? We already have your master on tape. He can do the forms and moves better than we can.”

Willow responded, “We use the video tapes as a teaching and training tool. We don’t have a large room full of mirrors to train in, so we can’t see what we are doing, a lot of the time. The video tape helps us to see what it looks like. We can compare how it looks to how it feels and make adjustments to improve our technique.”

Amy nodded and said, “That’s a great idea. You never quite know how you look when you are doing it. It’s funny to see myself at gymnastics competitions compared to the other girls. I think using the video camera will speed up your training a whole lot.”

Willow grinned at her and said, “We also do what’s called mental imagery and visualisation. The video helps for that too. We go over in our heads the forms and techniques. We do it from the inside as if we are actually doing it, then we go through it from an observers perspective. It really helps cement it in your head. It’s like we are training, even though we are not moving.”

This was something new to Amy. She said, “That sounds like a good thing to do. Do you have a book on it or something? I might try that for my gymnastics.” Willow shook her head and said, “I borrowed it from the local library. If you want to borrow the book, I can see about scanning it to computer then I can give you a copy on cd. Then you will always have it.”

Amy nodded vigorously. She said, “Definitely. I think I can convince my mum to drive me this week. Anything to help my gymnastics is good in her book. Now enough talk; show me how to punch someone will you?”

For the next couple of hours, Willow and Amy did martial arts. Willow showed her the basic straight punches, both arms, regular and southpaw stance. She also showed her the groin kick and the defence against the attacks. The Small Tiger form was started on and that led into showing her the various stances of kung fu. The safety aspects were also covered, like not locking out your elbow or knee joints when you kick or punch.

When Alexander showed up, training kicked up a notch. They cycled through different pairs. Some would work on the focus pads and kick shield, while the other did form practice. Amy also got to watch them sparing. Liberal use of the video camera occurred all afternoon.

During training and when they finished, Amy had a lot of questions about technique and why something was done a certain way. When Willow said they didn’t know to some of the questions, Amy suggested an email asking the master. Willow thought this was a great idea and rushed off to her computer. The email ended up having several pages worth of questions from all three of them.

* * * * *

Middle of December 1996

It was late Sunday morning on a cold winter’s day. The sky was overcast and there was a chill wind blowing. Most normal people were inside. The few that were outside were all rugged up against the cold. The two girls in the Rosenberg backyard were certainly not normal.

Willow and Amy were dressed in tight lycra exercise clothing. They were currently packing up their kung fu gear and getting ready to head inside. Although the day was cold, they were both dripping in sweat. It had been a very productive workout.

Heading inside, the girls re-hydrated and towelled themselves dry. After a five minute warm down stretch, both threw on a track suit and hoodie. There was no sense showering since they would be working out again later on.

As was often the case, Willow’s parents were out. So getting lunch was up to them. In the past, junk food would have sufficed. But today healthy sandwiches were made and quickly consumed. Lounging around the dining room, the two teens felt the contentment that post exercise always brought.

Alexander wasn’t due there for another couple of hours, so it was time to act like teenage girls. This was something that had become a bit of a tradition lately. Neither girl really had any other female friends, so it was a very pleasant change. For a few hours on a Sunday, wicked witches, vampires and training did not exist. It was just two girls watching romance movies and talking about Johnny Depp.

Alexander rocked up mid afternoon. Luckily the movie had finished and they were just gossiping. He had suffered through Pretty In Pink one time too many for any guy, which was of course just the once. Today was much better than last week, when he had seen through the window that some period piece with women in absurd clothes was on. He had to do several laps of the block to avoid watching any of it.

The usual greetings and small talk occurred when he went inside. Once that was done, instead of getting straight into training like normal, Willow led them upstairs. She had something to show them. Switching on her computer screen, she called up some images.

When Amy and Alexander leaned closer to the screen, Willow said, “These are pictures of the Vatican’s slayer team memorials. I hacked into the church’s servers and downloaded a heap of data. Unfortunately it’s all encrypted. These pictures were the only parts that weren’t.”

Alexander blew out a heavy breath and said, “There sure are a lot of dead here. All these people died fighting the good fight. They are real heroes. Is there any information linked to these pictures?”

Willow shook her head and said, “There is, but even that is encrypted. Although we can’t read the files, these pictures tell us plenty. Have a closer look and tell me what you see.”

Amy answered first, “All of them are wearing some sort of armour. There are lots of different types, but certain pieces are worn by a lot of them. I think they all have some sort of gun too. There are a lot of weird spear type weapons, lots of chunky stakes and a couple of crossbows.”

Alexander nodded and said, “Do you see how all of them have some sort of neck protector? Some have collars and the others have a coif of some kind. Some of them are very lightly armoured while others are fully suited up. With what I know about armour, some of that stuff looks really bad. Sure there is some really good protective gear on them, but others are just plain stupid, suicidal even.”

Willow turned her head to him and said, “I’m glad you said that, because I thought so too. Some of that armour does look really dodgy. These photos give us some very good ideas though. You had better come up with a more effective set for us to wear Alexander.”

Alexander smirked at her and said, “You just love giving me more work to do don’t you?” At her affronted look he said, “Turnabout is fair play Willow. Don’t worry; this face is on the case. I have already got some plans in the works and seeing this will help even more. I am going to need a copy of these pictures for further study.”

Amy took control of the mouse and scrolled quickly up and down the pictures. She then said, “Look closely at the figures of these people. They look really out of shape. Sure a couple look strong, but most have beer bellies.”

Alexander looked closer and said, “Yeah you are right. They look really out of shape. I don’t think there are any military or even ex military people there. What are they thinking? It doesn’t make sense to go into the fight like that.”

Willow said quietly, “Maybe that’s one of the reasons they died.” Amy looked at her sharply, but Alexander said, “Maybe. I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, especially heroes, but I tend to agree. Being out of shape is a big hindrance in any fight, especially against vampires who are so much stronger and faster than humans.”

Amy said, “That may well be, but they do have a lot of good ideas. They use guns, so we now know that they are useful against vampires. If you look at the team photo’s they have on average teams of ten, including one priest per team.”

Willow said, “Yeah all the teams have a priest each. That says blessings and maybe spells to me. Now who do we know that might be able to fill that role?” Both Willow and Amy looked pointedly at Alexander.

He frowned and said, “Hey I’m not the only magic person here. I’m willing to stand up and do the Catholic version, especially in light of recent information. Willow, you have been practicing your Jewish warding prayers haven’t you? And you Amy, have you decided on what branch of magic you are going to learn?”

The two girls shared a smirk and Willow said, “Of course. I have been practicing the prayers on the phone with Philippa. I don’t have all the reagents yet but I do have the movements memorised. Have you?”

He huffed and said, “I spent the last hour going over the correct Latin pronunciations with Father Abrahams. I should be ready to ward and cloak my place in the next week or so. I’m really glad Philippa explained it all properly. If I just had the book, I would have been in serious trouble. Could you imagine what might have happened if I just did the warding without the cloak? It would have set up a beacon for anyone with decent magical talent to notice.”

Shudders went through all of them at that thought. Warding their homes had many benefits, but calling that sort of attention to themselves was very bad news. Amy was lucky that she didn’t need to bother with any wards. Her mother already had plenty of spells on her house and any more from Amy would not be a good idea.

Willow said, “You are very lucky in a way Alexander. Your Catholic magic is very much suited to demons and Hellmouth’s. Jewish magic is primarily for large scale battles. There are very few spells that only one person can do. Thankfully there are a couple of wards I can put up. If I had nine more Jews, then I could put up several more and they would be much more powerful.”

Alexander frowned and said, “What’s this about large scale battles? You didn’t tell me about that? For that matter what’s with the large number of people needed to ward better? Pretty much all the prayer spells I have read about are individual ones.”

Willow put on her teacher face and said, “Well your magic is very different to mine. The book Philippa put you onto was based on Templar magic. Sure they fought in large battles, but they cast their spells as individuals. Jewish magic on the other hand was done by many people together. We are most effective when casting as an army or as a people. Surely you remember the ten plagues of Egypt and bringing down the walls of Jericho?”

Seeing him shake his head she said, “You saw The Ten Commandments didn’t you?” Recognition flared behind his eyes. She continued, “The plagues, the parting the red sea and the pillar of flame are all examples of Jewish magic. It’s pretty much all large scale with large numbers of people. Unfortunately it’s also one of the reasons Hitler targeted the Jews. Together, as a people we are very dangerous. If Israel had been around during the Second World War, we would have put him in his place quick smart.”

Amy said, “That puts a whole new spin on the second world war. What about individual spells though? Are there any that you can cast to help with demons or vampires?”

Willow replied, “Possibly. At the moment, the answer is no. The key to that sort of magic is Solomon. From what Philippa has told me, there are some items that Solomon had that could banish or kill demons. In this day and age nobody can do that on their own; it needs at least ten Jews. Perhaps if I had access to Solomon’s spells I might be able to. Those are either lost forever, hidden or kept very secret.”

Alexander said, “I guess that means you won’t be big with the spells any time soon. I hardly have any spare time at the moment, but during the summer holidays I will try to learn Latin. That will give me access to some spells at least. What about you Amy? You never answered my earlier question.”

Amy rolled her eyes and said, “Trying to get a word in edgeways around you two is a monumental task sometimes.” She smiled at the looks they sent her and said, “Yes I have decided what magic I am going to learn. I won’t be learning any type of religious magic. If I did, that would make me a hypocrite and that’s not a good idea when dealing with deity type magic.”

Seeing two bewildered faces, Amy said, “One of the books Philippa recommended was The Nature of Magic. It goes into all the different types of magic and how they work. Make sure you read it sometime, it’s very informative. Basically it says that for magic to work, power is needed. Where you get the power is the key. Some get power from a deity, which is the basis behind religious magic. Some get power from themselves, from within, like those kung fu gongs you told me about. Some get power from the world around them, like the Elementalist. Some like Wicca, Shamanism or Druidism combine several ways. Then there are the evil ways. Think ritual sacrifice or stealing another’s life force, and necromancy. The evil ways basically steal their power or bribe some demon for some of theirs.”

Amy continued, “I have decided to learn Elementalism to start with. I will also look into Wicca, Shamanism, Druidism and American Indian magic. Elementalist’s are probably the closest to the classic fantasy mages. It is the most useful I could find for direct combat. The other aspects I will study for the rituals they use. I have to admit, it sounds absolutely fascinating.”

Alexander grinned at her and said, “I like the sound of that. So I will be like a paladin, you can be the druid mage and Willow will be a fighter thief.” Willow looked outraged at that and smacked him in the shoulder, quite hard.

Alexander yelped and said indignantly, “What was that for?” Willow glared at him and said heatedly, “I’m no thief!”

Amy came to Alexanders rescue and said, “What do you call hacking?” Willow tried to keep the indignant look going, but quickly wilted. She said, “Ok you got me. But that’s not really bad is it?”

Amy answered, “Damn straight it’s not bad. It’s actually very good for us. It’s not hurting anyone and it’s actually helping us get ready to kill vampires.”

Alexander weighed in, “It is going to be what we all do very soon anyway.” Seeing two quizzical looks sent his way, he clarified, “You know, vampires. When they die, they leave their clothes. Their clothes usually have wallets. When you kill the monster you loot the corpses, it’s what all heroes do. Even Drizzt Do’Urden would loot some baubles from the enemy’s corpses.”

Both girls thought about the idea for a moment before nodding. Alexander kept going, “I couldn’t help but notice that Amy included herself when talking about getting ready to kill vampires. So are you going to come hunting with us Amy?”

Willow looked eagerly towards her friend. Alexander had a slightly smug and triumphant look on his face. Amy was looking at her lap quietly. She said, “Well I guess I am. I don’t want you guys to get hurt and three people are a lot better odds than just two. Besides, now that I know how many people disappear in this town, I can’t just sit idly by and let it happen. It’s one thing if there was nothing I could do, but I think you guys will actually be able to pull this off. Not right now of course, but eventually.”

Willow grabbed her in a rough hug and Alexander clapped her on the shoulder. Alexander said, “I guess I will have to make some weapons for you then.”

Amy leant back quickly with an eager look in her eye. She said, “Can you make me a bow and arrows?” He looked at her quizzically and said, “Huh. Where did that come from?”

Amy rolled her eyes and said, “From the slayer team photographs. Several people used crossbows. As far as I am concerned, the crossbow is something only incompetents use instead of a bow. Why spend time stuffing about trying to wind or crank the string back on a crossbow, it takes too long. With a bow you can send several arrows at the target per shot of a crossbow.”

Willow said, “It does make sense. All the slayer team members had guns, but Alexander is the only one who can shoot one or even has access to one. It is much easier and cheaper to buy a bow. I saw one recently in a sporting store. A bow gives us some more ranged attacks plus you can get arrows made of wood. Shoot a vamp in the heart with a wooden arrows and it will go dusty.”

Alexander smirked and said, “Let’s not forget that Amy seems to really like bows too.” A mock glare was sent his way. He continued, “I can’t make you one at the moment. I couldn’t even make an arrow. With time, research, practice and equipment, I could, but that won’t be for a while. We are going to have to buy one.”

Amy wilted and said, “Money is a bit of a problem. I don’t get pocket money, my mum doesn’t trust me not to buy chocolate with it.” Willow leapt to her friend’s aid with, “We will buy them then. It makes sense for Alexander and me to get a bow each. We need the ranged attack and we have no guns to use. The Supersoakers are pretty much close range only.”

At first Alexander was put out at having his money spent for him. Then he thought about it and decided that it was a good idea. He said, “We will have to find a place to practice in. We can’t do that in our basements or backyards. It might be an idea to avoid populated areas too. A football field could work, but do we want to practice in town, where anyone can see?”

Willow said, “Sounds like a bike ride out of town and into the desert then. Although it will cut into the Sunday kung fu training, I think we should do it.” Amy nodded at her and Willow continued, “Ok so next Sunday afternoon we jump on our bikes and hit the desert for some archery practice. That means we had better make this afternoons session count.”

The three got up and headed downstairs. They did their warm up in the kitchen then went out into the cold to train. Within minutes they were hot and had to take off their outer layers.

The two girls enjoyed seeing Alexander train in shorts and a singlet. The exercise program was definitely paying off. Amy just plain enjoyed the eye candy. Willow was another story entirely. Each time they trained together it affected her heart and lower area. It was lucky that she was red from exercise so her blush was camouflaged.

The girls weren’t the only ones to enjoy a show. Alexander is a teenage male in the middle of puberty; this means he can get aroused from just sitting over the wheels on a bus. To see a gymnast in lycra whacking the daylights out of focus pads or a kick shield was truly tissue worthy. What really worried him though, was how much he liked to watching Willow train. He never knew she had such a cute body. She was usually covered in clothes her mother picked out. To see her in lycra was a real eye opener. It was quite frankly disturbing how much he liked it.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Human Potential" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 30 Jun 09.

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