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Summary: In the future, someone makes Xander a job offer he can't refuse.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered
Literature > Horror > Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Stargate > General
poeFR1820104,45457304195,01617 May 0916 Nov 14No

The Gathering Storm

A/N Sorry about how long this chapter has taken. My muse has only been visiting sporadically and then she wants me to write about other stuff. Anyway, here it is, finally. As always I have no claim on BTVS, the works of H P Lovecraft or anything else you recognize. Part of this chapter is based on the Lovecraft story "The Horror at Red Hook". Enjoy

The Gathering Storm

The Council had already been looking at the Esoteric Order of Dagon, but now they knew the background. They knew why that these nuts were interested in Dawn, and the group’s ties to Glory. This knowledge allowed them to focus their search.

The Esoteric Order of Dagon seemed to be almost as well hidden an organization as the Council itself. And like the Council, they seemed to exert considerable; if subtle, influence, most of which seemed to focus exclusively at maintaining their anonymity. Despite that, though, there were nuggets of information out there if you dug deeply enough. Willow discovered that most large cities in the world had at least one church run by the Order, and that included Jerusalem. Also, it didn’t surprise her to discover that the church that the Master had been trapped in for all those years back in Sunnydale was in fact the church for the Esoteric Order.

In the United States, the Order seemed to be concentrated in New England, which would make sense considering that they were brought to the New World by American traders. There were enclaves scattered through Europe, Portugal seemed to be a popular spot; but there were concentrations is Africa, Asia and even Australia. Ecuador seemed to be the hot spot for the Order in South America.

The information was out there and every hour of every day the Council was significantly adding to their knowledge about the Order. But none of it was coming easily and the information came in fits and starts rather than a smooth flow and Willow Rosenberg was getting frustrated. She hadn’t used magic for hacking in some time. She currently believed that she shouldn’t resort to magic for something that she could do with her natural ability, but now she was reconsidering that position. The need to find something, anything that would allow the Council to cut these lunatics off at the knees, allow them to keep Dawn safe was starting to over-ride her principles.

“You’re growling at the computer,” a voice said from behind her.

Willow whipped around to see Oz standing there with a familiar smile on his face. “I was?” she asked.

“Yep,” he replied tersely. “You used to do that when you were frustrated.”

“I still do,” Willow confessed. “I know that they’re out there but it’s like they’re doing everything they can to stay off the grid. They’re hiding too well the meany heads,” she grumped.

“Did you check the tax records?” Oz asked after a moment’s hesitation. “The land that a church is located on isn’t taxed. Those property records have to be out there somewhere. After all, every government in the world likes to keep track of folks that might owe them money; and someone has to request tax exempt status.”

Willow broke out into a wide smile. That was why they had worked so well together in the past, whenever she’d hit a wall, Oz would come up with a direction that she’d overlooked. Willow’s brain quickly grasped the merit of Oz’s idea and she quickly turned back to her computer. Her muttered “Thanks” was nearly lost in a fusillade of keystrokes.

Oz walked away, a small smile on his face. ‘Just like old times,’ he thought; Willow’s antics reminding him of how things had been back in Sunnydale. But then the reason for Willow’s intensity came back to him and his smile faded. ‘Too much like old times,’ he thought.

Willow had just sent an E-Mail off to that cute Major Carter and was turning away when her terminal beeped rather self importantly. She turned back and saw that one of her new search programs had already produced something, and it was even something close. Smiling at what she was reading, Willow printed out what she’d found and headed for Xander’s office.

“Heya Red,” Faith called out as Willow burst through the door.

“Faith,” Willow replied, a little out of breath; “Is Xander around?”

“Nah, he’s doin’ a guest thing for one of the Archeology guys, they’re studying Africa right now. He should be back in about half an hour, is it worth interrupting him?”

“No,” Willow replied. “I’ve just got a lead on the nut cases that are after Dawn, but a little time shouldn’t make any difference.”

“Cool,” Faith said, but her casual tone belied the intense look on her face. If Willow had found some way to put a hurting on the folks after Dawn, then she wanted to know about it. “So how’s the new place working for ya?” Faith asked; trying to be cordial with the red head. She figured that it was a lost cause but she gave it a go anyway.

In the time that Willow had shared her and Xander’s apartment, it had become clear that despite their shared love of Xander and their relationship with what went bump in the night, the two women just didn’t like each other. They were polite with each other when Xander was around and they could work together; quite well at times, but they would never be friends. The chemistry just wasn’t there; not to mention that there was just too much pain in their mutual past for either to let a true friendship happen. “It’s great,” Willow replied. “The whole area is quiet and there’s roof access from my apartment so I can be outside when I meditate.”

“Is that important?” Faith asked. “Being outside, I mean.”

“Sometimes,” Willow said. And soon she was launching into a mini lecture on some of the different deities that she dealt with and just how damned fussy they could be at times. “And these aren’t the guys you want to just casually upset,” she concluded.

“Sounds like it,” Faith agreed easily. She was going to say more but her hearing caught the sound of someone walking down the hallway and after a second, her sense of smell told her that it was Xander.

Willow saw an intent look come over Faith and she turned to see what the younger woman was looking at. Just as she turned, Xander walked through his office door. Willow noticed that as soon as he saw Faith, his face lit up and Willow felt a pang of jealousy. She recalled that such a reaction from Xander used to be her province alone and a part of her longed for those days when everything seemed so much simpler. Shaking the feeling off, she smiled as well and asked, “What took you so long?”

“I had a couple of students that wanted the ‘real’ story on some of the things that go on over there,” he replied easily. “They seem to be convinced that it’s just one big hoax,” his face went grim for a moment. “Sadly I had to tell them that what we hear over here isn’t nearly as horrible as it really is.” He froze for a moment, lost in his memories of the Dark Continent and then shook himself and looked at Willow. “What’s the rush?” he asked.

“I think I’ve got a line on the nutcases that are after Dawn,” Willow replied quickly. “And as soon as she and Oz show up I’ll break it all down.”

“Great,” Xander said, sitting behind his desk. “We’ve needed a new direction to look in.” The three of them talked about small matters while they waited and it wasn’t long before Dawn and Oz strolled into Xander’s office.

“”What’s up,” Dawn asked.

“Red’s got a new direction to look in,” Faith replied quickly and then turned to Willow. “So what ya got there Red?”

Willow shook off the odd feeling that she got whenever she saw Oz and Dawn together and pulled out a map; the others crowded around. “The place is in the Red Hook section of New York City.”

“Where’s that,” Dawn asked.

“This corner of Brooklyn,” Willow answered as her finger traced the section in question. “Now most neighborhoods or sections of a city start out as nice and then slide downward over time. Sometimes they’ll revive and sometimes not. Other sections never slide and stay kind of ritzy as the years go by or, like Red Hook, they start out as ghetto’s and never climb up.” She looked up at the other four, “Red Hook has been the skeevy end of New York almost since the city’s founding. It’s probably one of the last places you’d look to find a multinational organization like the Esoteric Order.” Willow paused for a moment as something hit her. “At the same time, New York is an obvious spot since it’s pretty much connected to everywhere.”

“So what drew your attention,” Oz wondered pulling the conversation back to its point before the tangent could take over.

“The same bank that handled the finances for that church in Cleveland handled the finances for a couple of properties in Red Hook. When I got a look at the City Records, it looks like the same group has controlled these properties for almost one hundred and fifty years. The true ownership is buried so deep you’d need years to dig it up but the same names keep showing up, names that were associated with the Order back when they were a bit more open.”

Xander sat silently, pondering what Willow had said. The situation had the potential for a big pay off. Finding and shutting down a major base; if not the headquarters, of the Order would go a long way to negating the threat to Dawn. Then again, it could be a trap. A group as paranoid as the Order seemed to be wouldn’t allow themselves to be tracked so easily; although, he had to admit, Willow wasn’t an ordinary hacker. The silence stretched out. “Okay,” he said finally. “Me, Faith and Willow are gonna pay them a visit. We’re gonna pack heavy in case it’s a trap and you two are going to stay here for the same reason,” he concluded indicating both Oz and Dawn. It was clear that Dawn wasn’t happy with this.

“So I just get to sit here and hope that you all are alright,” she yelled. “Screw that!”

Xander opened his mouth to answer, but Faith beat him to it. “You’re the target little D,” Faith told the younger woman. “If they get ya then it’s game over, at least according to what we’ve heard. So, just like with Glory, it’s our job to protect ya and it’s your job to not make ours any harder than it already is.” Xander shot Faith a look of gratitude knowing that the warning would have more impact coming from Faith as opposed to either him or Oz.

“Fine,” Dawn huffed after a second or two. “I’ll sit back and play ‘Damsel in Distress’ while the rest of you risk your lives.”

“If you think we’re just gonna let you lounge around while we do the heavy lifting, then you’re in for one heck of a disappointment young lady,” Willow shot out in an eerily exact imitation of Joyce.

Everyone froze for a second, staring at the red headed witch and then simultaneously broke into raucous laughter. The mood thus lightened, Xander, Faith and Willow started to prepare for their field trip while Dawn and Oz headed back to their office to continue Willow’s work on finding the Order.

New York City was an unusual spot for the Council. There just weren’t many vampires there and the ones that were quickly relocated. The Council now knew, due to Xander’s research, that it was due to the presence of a large community of Ghouls. But while the city was almost devoid of vampires, the demon community was as large and diverse as the city itself. This mixture of both violent and non-violent demons meant that the slayers stationed there had to be up on their demonology much more than slayers stationed elsewhere. This also meant that the Council sometimes found itself in the unusual position of defending one demon clan from a more aggressive neighbor. All in all, it was a posting that called for a lot more tact and diplomacy than usual, which was why neither Xander nor Faith had ever been stationed there.

One other thing that was unusual was that due to the sheer size of the city, there was the main house and several satellite houses scattered in the boroughs. Their cover was a small string of dojos. The main house was in Manhattan and took up most of the building on the corner of Third Ave. and East 51st. There was a much smaller house on Staten Island off of Victory Blvd near the College. The Bronx house was also small and located on Southern Blvd near the zoo. The house for Queens and Brooklyn almost as large as the main house and was on Wash, just kitty-corner to the Brooklyn Museum.

Nigel Glen-Allyn loved his job. His was an old Watcher family that had fallen out of favor back in the nineteen seventies due to some fundamental disagreements with the ruling clique. When the New Council had started looking for Watcher’s; his was one of the first numbers that they had called. Nigel had spent some time learning how to deal with multiple slayers, something that obviously hadn’t been a factor before; and then had done a year of field work in Paris. When the position in New York had come open, he had let Mr. Giles know that he was interested in the posting, citing both his extensive demonology knowledge and the time he’d spent in Great Britain’s diplomatic service. Soon Nigel had been installed as the head Watcher for New York. He allowed Mr. Tanaka, his assistant, to directly supervise the field work while he focused on the diplomatic functions of the position. All told, New York City was smoothly run and as free from chaos as any slayer posting could be; which was why Nigel was so content.

Now that contentment was being threatened by the three people that had just walked through the front door of New York House. Nigel almost gave an audible sigh as he saw who it was. The most prominent was Alexander Harris, who was even now being mobbed by a swarm of slayers who all seemed to worship the ground that he walked on. Nigel would quickly acknowledge that Harris was a superior field watcher, but that the young man often failed to see the big picture and had an almost pathological disdain for tradition.

The second was Faith LeHane, who was watching Harris being swarmed with an amused look on her face. Again, Nigel would acknowledge that LeHane was almost otherworldly in her skills as a slayer. That being said; when she was in one place for any length of time the junior slayers would start to emulate her style and lone wolf attitude, but without the skills or presence to come through unscathed. Simply put, the problem was that she gave good slayers bad ideas.

Finally there was Willow Rosenberg, who appeared serene despite the bedlam that was going on around her. Willow just scared the hell out of Nigel.

Realizing that the quickest way to getting these people out of his hair and restoring order was to be polite and give them what they wanted; Nigel plastered his best diplomatic smile to his face and went to great them warmly. He sincerely hoped that they’d be gone inside the hour and wouldn’t require anything too outrageous.

“How’s everything Nigel,” Xander asked once they were safely in the local watcher’s office.

“We’re doing well Alex, very well indeed here,” he answered sincerely. Nigel saw the younger man wince at the name “Alex”, but he just couldn’t force himself to call the man “Xander”. Trying to do so made his back teeth hurt. “No losses in the last year and only three serious injuries and only one of those to a slayer.” He then leaned forward, “Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, what can I do for you?”

Xander was a little surprised at the abruptness of the question, but not so surprised that he couldn’t go with it. “We were wondering if there were any records from the old Council about any sort of incidents in Red Hook, here in New York; over the last one hundred and fifty years?”

“Well nothing leaps immediately to mind, but we can sort it out in two shakes,” Nigel replied absently while tapping away at his computer.

“Have you all put the old Council’s records on computer,” Willow asked.

“No ma’am,” Nigel replied quickly; a little affronted by the notion that the sacred Council records might be treated thusly. “But we do have them cataloged and referenced so that we know where to look if there are any records that match Alex’s request.” He had no more than finished when there was a subtle chime from his desk. He read for a moment and then said, “There is one record matching what you’re looking for. It’s in archive two, row fifteen, shelf thirty six.” He gestured to his secretary, “Miss Adamson can show you where everything is unless you would like me to accompany you?”

“Thank you Nigel but that’s not necessary, I’m sure that Miss Adamson can handle anything we’ll need.”

“Well then,” Nigel replied. “Do let me know what you find.”

“Of course,” Xander said, rising and shaking the Englishman’s hand.

They found the file easily enough. Then Xander and Faith spent their time discussing decorating motif’s for the different rooms of their new house while Willow read the file. The red haired woman really wished that she had brought some ear plugs because listening to the couple’s mutual, and surprisingly sappy, endearments was a bit nauseating. Fortunately it was a thin file and she was done quickly. “So do you guys want to hear what’s in the file,” she asked grumpily.

“Sure Red,” Faith replied. “Enlighten us.”

Willow glared at the slayer, but as usual it did no good. “Fine,” she finally bit out with a huff. “Back in the early 1900’s there was a guy named Suydam who took an interest in the area. He was old money and not the kind of guy you would expect to become a slum lord. Soon there were rumors of devil worship, human sacrifice and that kind of thing going on in buildings that he owned. Eventually the unrest grew to the point that the police raided the area and cleared a lot the buildings out. A lot of magic paraphernalia was found and confiscated and many of the people either locked up or deported. The story was that Suydam was a devil worshiper and recruited his followers from the buildings that he owned but then the worshipers turned on him because he wasn’t willing to go as far as they wanted him to and so they killed him as a sacrifice.”

“So that’s the story,” Xander said. “What’s the real story according to the old Council?”

“They seemed pretty interested in this guy,” here she shuffled the report; “Malone. He was the police officer who first figured out that something was up. The Council was interested in recruiting this guy as a watcher, but when they tracked him down a couple of months after everything they realized that his nerves were too shot to go back on the front lines. Anyway, according to the Council records, only about half of the people who were supposed to be arrested and/or deported were.”

“So what about the rest of em?” Faith asked.

“No one knows, not really,” Willow replied. “The police records at the time were sketchy at best and there was soon another scandal or atrocity to make the general public forget what had happened and before long the slums in Red Hook were just as full as before.”

“They consolidated their position,” Xander muttered quietly after a moment’s thought. He turned to the two women. “Think about it, your people are intermingled with a group that is similar to yours but you don’t want to play with them. You engineer a situation that demands official response and then sit back as the government clears out your rivals and your followers just fall back through the cracks to right where they were before, but this time you are in control and can load your position up with your people. Soon there would be a stranglehold on the position, a position of absolute security.”

“So you think that the Order has been operating out of Red Hook for over one hundred years?” Willow asked.

“Yep,” Xander replied briskly. “And I’ll bet that they’re still there.”

“So where to next, Xander?” Faith asked.

“I wanna talk to the Brooklyn house to get some idea of what’s gone on around there recently and then I think we’ll take a tour of the historic Red Hook district of New York.”

“That area is kind of a mish-mash,” Diane; a new slayer from Tennessee answered. “You’ve got some apartment buildings a couple of office buildings and the usual Starbucks and what not around it.”

“And that church,” Belinda cut in.

“What church is that?” Willow asked.

“Saint Raphael of Brooklyn,” Belinda answered. “It’s an Eastern Orthodox Church but it gives off some weird vibes.”

“Weird vibes,” is that all?” Faith asked.

“Yeah, that’s all there is,” Diane cut back in. “Because the place is dead; nothing ever happens around there.”

“Nothing?” Xander asked, surprise coloring his voice. “No demons of any kind or vampires or those ghouls you all were told about a few months ago?”

“Nothing,” both slayers and the senior Watcher replied as one.

That bit of information tickled something in Xander’s mind, but the notion was gone as soon as it showed up. Mentally he shrugged and went on. “Well the three of us are going to do some recon and see if it’s what we’re looking for. I’d appreciate it if you all were on ‘stand by’ in case we need some back up.”

“No problem sir,” replied Mitchel, in addition to being a watcher in training, he was a Xander fan as well.

“Then I guess we’re off,” Willow said.

Surprisingly, they were the only ones getting off the subway at that particular stop, yet another strange occurrence to add to the list. Faith’s slaydar was already pinging before she even got to the street; there was definitely something off about this part of the city.

For Willow it felt like the magic in the area was curdled somehow. She felt like any spell she might try would be doomed to failure before she even started, it wasn’t a feeling that she was a big fan of.

Xander was flashing back to his days on the Hellmouth. There was that constant presence in the back of his mind telling him that things were off. In addition to that, he was sure that they were being watched somehow but he couldn’t manage to ID the shadow that was marking them.

The three of them were clearly wierded out when they got to the street. The neighborhood was as the slayers had said, some newer office style buildings surrounded by apartment buildings that looked like they’d been there since the city was founded. Then there was the church, which was so clearly off that it was practically screaming at their senses. First of all, the proportions were off. Xander couldn’t seem to pin it down as to exactly what was off, but the whole structure just didn’t seem to fit with itself. Try as he did, the only thing he could clearly say about it was that the thing looked ‘wrong’. The outer stone was bleached and weathered so that it looked more like bone than stone and the trees were twisted. Their trunks were gnarled and covered in strange growths while the branches looked like hands reaching out in pain. As they stood there, regarding the structure; Faith murmured, “I don’t know much about church in general, but somehow I don’t think that it’s God who’s worshiped there.” The other two simply nodded in agreement and then they collectively turned away, they had other business.

“Can you sense anything Wills?” Xander asked.

“Nothing’s really hitting me other than the church,” Willow replied.

“Can you take an active look?” Faith asked.

“All things being equal,” Willow began, “I’d rather not with that thing behind us.” She sighed, “But I probably should.” Her eyes closed in concentration. Immediately her brow creased in obvious confusion. “Guys, something is really wrong here.”

“What’s up,” Xander asked.

“Most of these buildings are empty, even the office ones,” Willow replied, sounding confused.

“Completely,” Faith asked, making sure she understood.

“Yep, except for that one,” Willow replied, pointing to a red brick office building. The brass plate by the door proclaimed it to be the ‘Septimus Bishop’ building. There were the usual cluster of shops on the ground floor, but all of those looked empty as well. “What’s weirder is that the number of people in there is shrinking.”

“Are they leaving or being killed,” Faith asked anxiously.

“I can’t tell,” Willow answered. “Not without using a spell and I really don’t want to do that here.”

“Then we’ll just do this the old fashioned way,” Xander replied and headed for the front door.

“How can you know this stuff if you’re not using the mojo?” Faith wondered.

“I cast the seeing spell before I got here,” Willow answered, hurrying to keep up with the other two, “that’s why I can use it.”

“Any idea about where to start?” Xander asked from in front of a bank of elevators.

“Start at the top and work down,” Willow suggested. Xander just nodded and hit the button for the top floor when the elevator door opened. The ride up was silent from the tension until Faith’s eyes went wide and she slapped the button for the next floor.

“What’s up?” Xander wondered.

“Just a feeling,” Faith replied. She’d been looking at the floor numbers and suddenly her slayer sense had ‘pinged’ for lack of a better word.

Neither Xander nor Willow said anything, they’d gotten used to Slayer hunches a long time ago. They exited the elevator to find that this floor seemed empty. It had a fairly open floor plan and was mostly filled with cubicles; however, there were a row of offices along one wall. The three weren’t aware that one of these offices was occupied until someone started shooting at them from it. They all hit the deck at the opening shot and started moving towards the occupied office using the cubicles as cover. Willow could still feel people dropping off her radar and assumed that there was a portal of some kind in the office that was being defended until everyone could leave.

Faith was close, close enough to consider charging the office when she heard Xander pop off a shot or two in the general direction of the office. She figured he was trying to distract the shooter so that she would have a better chance. Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well. As the sounds from the shots died, Faith heard the office door slam shut and some heavy duty locks engaged. Then she heard more shots, but these were going off in the office. She yelled for the other two to hurry up but already knew that it was gonna be too late as she ran the last few feet towards the door.

Ignoring the door for the moment, she slammed her foot into the plaster board next to the door jamb, creating a hole more than large enough for her arm. No shots were fired in retaliation. She reached through and quickly undid the dead bolts that had been fastened. As soon as she pulled her arm out, Xander threw open the door. The office was a slaughter house, with dead bodies stacked on top of each other on the floor. The one bare wall where it was assumed the portal had been formed was covered in blood, brains and bone chips. It was all Xander could do to not add the contents of his stomach to the mess. He turned, breathing deeply and then looked at the two with him. “Faith, you start drawing us an exit back to Brooklyn house,” he said handing her a charcoal pencil. “Wills, you check the other offices and computers or whatever you can find. Let’s figure out just who these nut bags are and where they are.”

“What about you?” Faith asked.

Xander paled a bit but replied, “I’m gonna go through this place and see if something important was left behind, maybe get some ID from these bastards that will point us in the right direction.” The other two nodded and left and Xander took another deep breath as he turned back into that Charnal house. His search lasted all of one minute and twenty four seconds, that’s how long it took for him to find the detonator in the garbage can. “Hurry it up Faith,” he yelled as he charged out of the office. This whole floor is wired to blow in less than a minute.”

Faith paled but her hands sped up and Willow began typing furiously on one of the computers, trying to get any data at all off of the thing. Xander just stood there looking at his watch. He wanted to tell Faith to hurry up, but he didn’t want to add any additional pressure; that always led to mistakes. “Now Willow,” he called out when there were twenty seconds left. Just as she hurried over, Faith stood up with a smile. “Done,” she said. Without hesitating, Xander grabbed both her and Willow and hurled them all through the portal. They crash landed in the entry hall of Brooklyn house; a couple of seconds later the corner that they had come through seemed to waver and ripple, leaving the plaster cracked and the woodwork splintered. It was clear that this was a result of the explosion on the other end. The three of them simply lay there, trying to catch their breaths and process what had just happened when the sound of running feet intruded.

Xander looked up to see William Sanderson, the head watcher, flanked by Belinda and Diane; all three of them well armed. “What the Devil was that?” Sanderson asked.

“They knew we were coming,” Xander replied. “They were evacuating before we even got there and then had the building rigged to blow.” He slowly started to stand, helping both Willow and Faith up at the same time. “We just barely made it out.”

“How did they know you were coming?” Diane asked.

“Because someone here told them,” Xander replied.

“Are you suggesting that we have a traitor here?” Sanderson demanded with a bit of heat.

“No,” Willow replied. “We’re telling you that you do.”

“I refuse to believe that,” Sanderson shot back.

“Then let’s do a head count,” Xander said. “If I’m wrong you will have my sincerest apologies.”

“And if we’re right, then we’ve got another lead,” Faith said, thumbing the edge of a rather wicked Bowie knife.

A quick search of the house produced the body of Evan Miller, a researcher that had been there a couple of years. He was lying in bed, having cut his own throat. The window to his room was open and there were still papers smoldering in his garbage can when Faith and Diane broke in. “Any chance you can salvage any of that, Wills?” Xander asked, indicating the burned papers.

“I doubt it, but I’ll try,” she replied.

“I don’t like this X,” Faith said suddenly. “Guy like that is a true believer,” she said, gesturing at the body. “So why did he cap himself. Burning up the intel I can understand but he wouldn’t crack for days and by then anything he gave us would be useless, assuming he gave us anything straight.”

“I know,” Xander muttered. He paced for a moment or two and then froze, turning to Willow. “What is it that they want?” he asked.

“Dawn,” Willow finally replied.

“And what’s the easiest way to get her?”

“Get her away from Miskatonic, or . . . . .”

“Get us away from there so she isn’t as well guarded,” Faith concluded.

There was silence for a second and then Xander exploded. “God dammit, we’ve been played,” he yelled pulling his phone out as fast as he could.

“You think they’ll try for little D at the Repository,” Faith asked, sounding skeptical.

“Why not?” Willow wondered.

“Cause most of em will die,” Faith replied.

“And how much do they seem to care about their own lives,” Willow said, waving her arm at the dead body.

Faith had no answer; she just stood there wide eyed, considering all of the implications until Xander's voice snapped her out of her contemplations. "Faith, get going on a portal, cause I want to get there as soon as we can," he yelled while waiting for Oz to pick up.

“Oz!” Xander shouted into the phone when it was picked up. “Get out of there, get out of there now,” he continued. “They know that we’re here and not in a position to help, take Dawn to the fall-back position right now.” He slapped the phone closed, “I hope that was in time,” he muttered.

“They had a portal almost ready to go,” Willow said in the quiet. "They'll be gone in under fifteen seconds."

“Hey," Faith said from the corner where she was working. "I imagine a few of 'em will survive the University's defenses so we've got a chance at catching a live one".

Xander’s face broke into a smile that was in no way pleasant.
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