Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and Gilbert Shelton characters are the property of their original owners.
*Well, Paula, what are your thoughts about our wonderful guests tonight?*
*Gosh, Randy, I find their massed chanting really versatile, and it’s truly inspiring how they manage to hit the low notes of ‘Ah, ah, ah, uh, uh, uh’ without hacking their lungs out. Their choreography is tops, too, as shown by nobody colliding with each other at all during the ceremony. Let me tell you from personal experience, wearing heavy robes and full facemasks while doing the proper kneeling, bowing, and brandishing the sacrificial knives puts you absolutely at risk of multiple stab wounds from your fellow performers. These kids are staying true to who they are, and I’m really proud of them!*
*Thank you, Paula, for that unceasingly gushing drivel we’ve come to expect from you. Now, let’s go to Simon for his expected vicious reaction.*
*ARE YOU PEOPLE INSANE?! This is the most putrid black magic rite I’ve ever had the misfortune to witness! I don’t hear any true sadistic emotion in this pitiful crowd’s monotonous chanting, and their robes look like the rejects from a Halloween costume shop! Every one of those witless participants deserves to be dipped in gravy and tossed to a pack of rabid poodles! The only performance I’ve seen here tonight that shows the slightest spark of true drama is the sacrifice himself, who manages to present to the audience real defiance just by glaring with his single eye at us, despite being wrapped like a mummy from his nose to his toes in his tight ropes.*
Xander Harris continued snarking to himself in the privacy of his mind, as he kept on calmly sawing with his fragment of a razor blade he’d managed to tug out from the cuff hem of his long-sleeved flannel shirt. His fingers busily working away at his bonds, Xander now casually took a look around, checking to see if anybody was paying extra attention to him in his tied-up position lying flat on his back on the sacrificial altar. Nope, they were all occupied in their--
Abruptly cringing, as the sound of the struck yard-wide gong right behind him pushed his chloroform headache into near-death levels, the wincing man about to be offered to slake the unholy desires of probably a demon or hell-god (well, for all he knew, he was going to be sacrificed to boost the Giant’s chances for the pennant) momentarily stopped his slicing of the ropes holding him, to instead glower at the chanting crowd standing in their robes and masks inside the dimly-lit warehouse space, and making a silent vow to himself to do something really nasty to every one of those idiots once he got free. Grimly, Xander went back to work with his razor blade, knowing he had plenty of time. The leader of this gang of dimwits hadn’t even started his speech yet, reciting all their plans for world domination, so the representative from the New Council had at least five minutes in hand before things got serious.
As Xander continued his discreet freeing himself from his bonds, the one-eyed man allowed himself a few moments’ diversion from his plight to grudgingly admit that his captors, however stupid they were in everything else, had managed to do one thing right. No matter how hard Xander tried, he couldn’t get through to Willow in his mystical link with her, which meant there were serious magical shields around this place. There wasn’t any likelihood of being rescued by someone else, either. He’d come to San Francisco on his own, without any other Watcher or Slayer accompanying him, just to pick up some kind of spell-book that had fallen into the hands of a trio of reputedly very hot-looking witches, who’d contacted the New Council and suggested it was more in their line of work than theirs, offering to pass it on to any of their representatives who could come to collect this magical tome.
Xander had been in Los Angeles, finishing off constructing that city’s Slayers House with his schedule open after that, and Giles had called him to ask if the former Sunnydale resident could perform the minor errand in San Francisco, during his main task of investigating the possibility of establishing another Slayers House in that city. Once the head of the New Council had finished explaining to Xander exactly who Prudence, Piper, and Phoebe Halliwell were, the man who’d gone a REALLY long time without a date had been more than happy to take the next private jet flight to the City by the Bay. Unfortunately, Xander hadn’t even managed to contact the three gorgeous sisters, with the man proudly holding the title of Council Handyman having been seized by those jerks here with him in the warehouse right after he’d left the airfield. So, even if the Halliwells became concerned about their visitor never showing up and called the New Council to inquire about a missing Xander Harris, the whole kidnapping and sacrifice thing would be basically over before anyone else of his family -- Willow, Buffy, Dawn, Giles and the rest of the Watchers and Slayers -- getting involved.
So, he was basically on his own. In his bonds, Xander just shrugged, and as the ceremony continued, the man kept on slicing through the ropes, already starting to plan what he’d do next when he got free. It really was too bad that there wasn’t any likelihood of the Charmed sisters saving his ass. At this point in his life -- not just currently being held prisoner by this latest group who clearly thought the ability to wear garish hooded robes without cracking up at each other gave them any substantial mojo chops -- Xander Harris was perfectly fine with being rescued by super-powerful women. After all, he’d been through it ever since high school, long enough to come to terms with the perk of being able to get away with giving very sexy females thankful, strong, and lingering hugs that allowed the rescued male to discreetly check if his savior was or wasn’t wearing a bra. So far, he was at the .345 lifetime mark, and with three sisters, the numbers could only go up. Regrettably, there didn’t seem to be any chance of--
The chanting of the massed robed cultists broke off, with every one of these misguided idiots snapping their hooded heads around to stare in shock at where this interruption of a kicked-open door had occurred, somewhere on the left side of the sacrificial altar. To be precise, on Xander’s blind side, which he was now cursing as that man unsuccessfully tried to turn his own head in its bindings to see whoever had done that. The abrupt sense of delight he felt at seemingly being rescued, even if he didn’t know who it was, suddenly changed into sheer bewilderment, as Xander now heard a trio of totally unfamiliar voices:
“Hey, guys, this is utterly uncool! C’mon, let’s get the dude and then boogie!”
“Fat Freddy, there’s a lot of them! So, YOU go first! Phineas, follow along and get that guy out of those ropes!”
“Gotcha, Franklin! What’re you gonna do, though?”
“Create a distraction, what else? Yo, Freddy, I think one of them at the back said your old lady had cooties.”
“NOBODY INSULTS MY MOM! KREE-GAH!!!!”
At that point, all hell broke loose in the room, with Xander concentrating on frantically cutting himself loose and ignoring the sudden anarchy of a blonde fat guy with curly yellow hair and in a white t-shirt, baggy cargo pants, and tatty sneakers, rushing past the altar pell-mell into the crowd, his meaty fists swinging as he hammered various cultists to the floor. Another taller and skinnier guy in a flat-brimmed brown cowboy hat over a long ponytail, orange long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots edged past the robed mob fighting to get closer to their obese opponent and stopped by a pile of wooden and paper junk heaped up against the far warehouse wall, to then snatch a Zippo lighter from the back pocket of his jeans and use this to set alight the mound of very flammable trash, and after that, the cowboy ducked under the maniac slash of the sacrificial knife of the cult leader attacking him, to straighten up and kick his masked adversary very, very hard in the balls. As the principal cultist shrieked in agony and collapsed to the ground in a curled-up position, all while the wall of the warehouse now went up in flames, the cowboy joined in the fight with his fat friend against the other cult members, giving expert jabs and punches to put down anybody who hadn’t already fled the burning warehouse.
Xander had finally managed to get his hands free, and he was now yanking the ropes over his head, only to suddenly stop as the man then warily regarded someone approaching the altar he was still lying upon. This unknown person in his purple Grateful Dead t-shirt, black pants, and low boots was extremely hirsute, with a thick mane of prickly black hair on his head that merged without a break into his bristling beard, showing only through this bright eyes, a pointed nose, and a cheerful grin. In a much-too-happy tone that made Xander a bit irritable, this guy now looked at where the Council Handyman still had his legs bound with rope, and chuckled, “Way to go, man! Lemme help you with that!”
In the next moment, Hairy Guy pulled from his pants pocket a small glass with a lid, some clear fluid sloshing around in this container, and holding it over Xander’s legs, the glass had its lid twisted off, and the liquid in it was promptly poured onto the ropes wrapped around his lower limbs. An alarmed Xander now watched in astonishment as the ropes immediately dissolved, with the pleased person who’d accomplished this approvingly exclaiming, “Cool! I can’t believe it actually worked! Now, you tell me right away if you feel your flesh being eaten away, man.”
“WHAT?!” screamed Xander, as he jumped off the altar and began frantically stamping his feet on the warehouse floor, flicking off any remaining drops of that potentially harmful liquid from his untouched pants legs.
Glaring at the hirsute man, Xander listened in disbelief as his helper started giggling, to then gasp at the angry man with the eye-patch, “Just a little joke to break the tension, man.”
As he opened his mouth to further yell at the guy with an unnecessary sense of humor, Xander instead flinched, along with the other man, as the ceiling of the burning warehouse now burst in flames with a mighty roar and a blast of light. Both now turned at seeing the other pair running up to them, with the cowboy barking out, “Time to beat feet, guys! We got the others out, and if the pigs do their job, they’ll wake up in jail. Like I give a shit, but we gotta haul ass!”
Looking around, Xander blinked at seeing the warehouse now bare of people other than themselves, as flaming debris now began to rain down among the quartet. Right after, the former Sunnydale Hellmouth hero had a beefy hand clap around his upper right arm, as the fat guy started hauling him along in their rush out of the building. Shaking himself loose, a bemused Xander ran for his life with the outlandish trio, all while reflecting to himself during their flight, that if these people were indeed three beautiful witches, as described to him today by the head of the New Council, then Giles must have guzzled down an entire bottle of Scotch for his lunch.