Hidden Past, Chapter Two
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
Apologies for another late chapter. The problem here was too much exposition and not enough development, in the first three drafts at least. I'm still not happy with this one but I need to send it out before I can get to the much more important next chapter.
I know this all seems like fluff right now, but there is a point.
Calling Rank'van slimy would be like describing a major metropolitan sewer network as smelly. The Warlord's son, a fact he waved in front of other Generals like a banner, was short, fat and glistened in the firelight as if he had been dipped in grease. It was all A'Zores could do not to sneer down at them lie the pond scum that they were.
The sight of folds of flab overflowing, one on top of the other, was enough to make even A'Zores nauseous. "What happened to my father?" Rank'van slobbered, his tombstone like teeth giving him a distinctive lisp. "How did five humans defeat him."
A'Zores refused to cringe, even at the hideous way he hissed the word humans or the growing trail of spit sliding down the true blood demon's front. "He underestimated them. As have I and all that have faced them."
"Kneel, you piece of half blood converted trash." Rank'van spat a shower of slime at him. The contempt in his voice even worse than the slime. "It's bad enough I have to look up your nose but be be told that mere humans can defeat my Father. To imply that my Father, the Warlord, scourge of a thousand realities, made a mistake is an insult."
Biting back the reply he wanted to give A'Zores took several steps back. Every part of him wanted to run the runt through with his sword stick and fry the snot with a lightning bolt, like he was cooking him on an enormous grill. In an instant the General knew he would never kneel, bow or scrape before this pampered fool.
"Listen to me, you stinking slob. You're father was a great warrior," The lie almost stuck in his mouth, but A'Zores pushed on. "He earned my respect and loyalty, you are not your father! You are going to have to prove yourself to me and the others."
Rank'van pulled himself up to his full hight, barely up to A'Zores chest. "I don't need to prove myself to some up start Converted filth." The blow was so incredibly slow that it was laughable. Still it had some strength behind it, if A'Zores did let it connect it could have hurt.
Side stepping A'Zores watched with contempt as the fat fist jabbed at thin air. There were other reasons, the very idea of touching Rank'van, even hitting him back was almost as repulsive. This time he couldn't hide the sneer. "Converted I may be, but that doesn't change the fact that we are of the same rank. The others are coming too. when they get here I will lay down a challenge."
"A challenge?" The sweaty bag of rancid puss lisped. "What need I of a challenge. These Humans will bow and scrape at my feet for the honour of surrendering to me."
A'Zores couldn't help but laugh. This was almost going to be too easy.
Faith winced, Dawn's punch was a good one and she didn't pull it. Spike staggered back, bumping into the counter and was barely able to keep his feet. "Ow." He complained before pulling his hand away and grinning with a bloody nose. "Good punch though niblet."
Dawn flashed him a bright smile and Faith knew what was coming. The second right punch flat out broke the vampire's nose. This time he held both hands in front of his face, groaning into his cupped hands Spike tried to keep an eye on his tormenter. "Bloody hell woman, lay off the nose!" Spike swore, muffled by his own hands.
Dawn, the sweet innocent smile not even flickering, shrugged before kicking Spike so hard between the legs that he was literally picked up from the floor for a second
Even Angel thought that was too much. "Alright that's enough." he said getting between the two of them as Spike bent double.
Dawn's boyfriend was suddenly at her side, "Dawn!" he almost shouted. "What are you doing?"
Suddenly all the strength seemed to drain out of her as she shook her head. "He should have told us, he should have told me." Dawn said, about to cry.
"Told you what?" Cassie asked, she was just as shocked as Marcus and neither of them knew what to make of Dawn's sudden change.
"I thought he'd died, he burnt up." She said as Angel helped the hobbling man stand up straight. Connor, much to Angel's surprise, got his other arm and the two of them got Spike to a seat. Dawn wiped her eyes and Faith was startled to see she was crying, or at least trying not to. Marcus saw that and looked torn between giving her a hug and just standing close. As far as he knew his girlfriend had just walked up to some stranger and started waling on him and then broke down.
Coughing Spike got his breath back and noisily re-set his nose. Then, to everyone's surprise, he actually laughed. "That's my pidgin, still remembering what I taught you. Ow."
The Billy Idol look alike actually sounded proud as Dawn shook her head again, like she was trying to get her emotions under control. "Why didn't you tell me you were still alive?" Her voice almost cracked. "What happened, and how did you end up with Captain Hair-gel?" She asked a little palliatively.
Angel took a moment from glaring at his son to scowl at the nickname as Spike barked out a laugh. "Would you accept that I couldn't find your phone number." She punched him in the arm. It was kinda funny to see the big bad vampire cringe away from her.
The problem was Faith could pretty much get where Dawn was coming from. She was happy to see Spike alive, well undead, and well again. At the same time she was extremely pissed that he was and hadn't told anyone.
Faith knew that Buffy had a complex relationship with both of them, but she hadn't figured on how Dawn saw him.
Spike seemed to deflate, seeing this too. Going from cocky londoner to a haunted skinny man. "I'm sorry niblet, really I am. It, it wasn't easy for me to stay away."
"Then why did you?" Dawn asked again
Cassie though interrupted, "Um hi. Remember us? Will someone explain what is going on? Who are these people and why did Dawn just try to kill you?"
Angel folded his arms and brooded, obviously looking for a way to introduce himself. Faith decided to bite the bullet and do it for him. "Guys, this is Angel and Spike. Two of the meanest, down right nasty vampires to ever walk the earth. Then of course they went and got souls and became good."
"I was first." Angel scowled at Spike. If the wind changed his face would probably stay that way. Then again, two hundred plus years of that look would explain his oversized forehead.
"Yeah the big poof here went and got himself cursed by gipsies, I got mine back because of a girl." Spike winced, wiping his nose and then sucking it off his hand.
"So you're both good vampires?" Marcus asked looking a little wary. "How you know Dawn?"
"We've both dated Buffy for a while." Angel explained, shortly.
"Oh, alright." Cassie said to Dawn, smirking. "Looks like your sister played the field a bit in her day."
"Hey." Both Spike and Angel protested but Faith smirked
"She did kinda have a thing for the whole reformed bad boy thing." She joked.
"I didn't reform." Spike almost whined
Dawn laughed out loud. "You're the one that when in to the deepest darkest parts of Africa, consulting ancient forces of darkness for a soul."
"Forces of Darkness, see Darkness. I'm evil." He almost shouted. Given the fact Dawn had just pummelled him into the ground it was sort of like watching a puppy yapping about how bad it was.
"Then you went and got yourself killed closing the Hellmouth.' Dawn pointed out. 'We thought you'd died."
"He did, for about three months." Angel said, his fingers held in front of him in that creepy way of his. "It was the jewel I gave Buffy, it trapped his spirit and for a while he was bound to it and Wolfram and Hart."
"I was a sodding ghost for months. Thought the chip was a nightmare, forget not being able to hit people. I couldn't touch anything. Then kept getting sucked into hell and spat back out again, like some blasted yo-yo." Spike growled. "When I finally did get my flesh and bones back Angel here was up to his neck in the whole End of the world, apocalypse thing."
"When isn't he?" Dawn asked, flicking an eyebrow at the brooding statue.
"Seriously?" Cassie asked "Is there ever never an apocalypse? I mean how many have you guys stopped?"
"There's always some witch, warlock or demon spawn trying to suck the world in to hell." Angel said. "The only thing that changes is the players."
Faith was trying to think of a way around that conversation killer when, as one, their watches bleeped their familiar tune.
"What the hell was that?"
"Nothing, nothing." Dawn babbled.
"Urm, phone ringtone." Sari suggested almost at the same time.
"Yes that's it, I better answer it." The Green Ranger quickly left out the door, fumbling in her pocket. Faith could tell neither Spike or Angel bought it, but as long as they kept the two of them busy it would just be a mystery.
"So what brings you guys here?" Faith desperately tried to change the subject before realising she'd just stepped into the mine field everyone was trying to avoid.
Pulling out her phone Dawn made some show of answering it when she was really fumbling with her wrist. "Dawn here." She said into her watch. This was really, really bad timing. As soon as she realised who Connor really was Dawn knew Angel would turn up sooner or later.
That was if he had survived LA, but to find that Spike was still around too. She needed time to deal with it all. Whacking Spike around hadn't helped nearly as much as she thought it would and she still wanted to get to the bottom of just what the hell he was doing.
"Dawn." Alpha answered. "It's General O'Neill, his boss wants a meeting with you and the other Rangers."
"His boss?" Dawn asked. "I thought he didn't have a boss, other than…" She trailed off.
"The President." Alpha finished for her. "Yes, the General says he's worried about what's happening and needs you to smooth his feathers. Whatever that means."
Dawn's mind raced. This was the worst possible timing, well not quite, but she quickly slammed down on that thought. No sense tempting fate. "Is the General on the line over there?"
"Right, patch me in." Swallowing her nervousness Dawn was glad they couldn't see her face. "Hello, General?"
"Hello young lady." It wasn't the General.
"Oh Okay. You're on the line." It was the President. Of the United States. "Urm…"
It was like being thrown into the deep end of a ice cold pond. "So you're doing this, talking to me, through your watch? Wouldn't a phone be better?"
"Well it works like a phone." Dawn said lamely. "And it's a lot harder to lose it. Only problem is it doesn't tell the time."
Perhaps the most powerful man in the country laughed and Dawn blushed so hard you could probably toast a sandwich on her cheeks. "I'll have to look into it!" he joked. "Look I know a girl like yourself has a lot on your plate, after all it's finals week!" Dawn squeaked. "The problem is, miss Summers, and I'm being honest here I'm taking a pounding politically with you and your team dealing with these attacks."
Taking a shuddering breath Dawn wondered how many curve balls life could throw at her today. "I kinda get that. That's why I don't want to go into politics. What do you want with me?"
"Smart girl. Given what have had to deal with the last few years I some times wish I was that smart." For some reason Dawn doubted that, she'd never really kept up with politics but when she had caught some of Hayes's publicity she knew he was good at it. She wouldn't trust him an inch, but he was good at it. "I know you can't do a publicity run or do a CNN interview, but there's a lot riding on this. Not just political, you're our first line of defence and to be honest I need to know just how strong that line is.
"Now Jack's stood up for you and you have no idea how much that means to me, but these news reports. It's been nine months and there's no end in sight. I need to know just how long this is going to be."
Dawn's head was still spinning, this was all just too much. "If it was up to us we'd never have started." She admitted. "But this is our fight, it will take as long as it takes."
"I get that from my general's all the time."
"Yeah, but we're not paid by the hour." Dawn winced, sometimes her mouth ran away with itself. "Sorry."
President Hayes chuckled. "They're more paid on a war by war basis. Think I should change that, don't you? Dawn, I'm not looking to throw anyone under the bus but I need to know who you are. We need to meet."
"Meet, as in same room?" Dawn asked, suddenly thinking of a very famous, very pail, house in Washington.
"Yes, is tomorrow afternoon good for you, ten past one?"
Angel heard those two words and suddenly knew just how bad this whole thing was. They knew, that meant Dawn had told Buffy, which meant that things were about to go very badly
"Know what?" Spike asked and Angel winced, this time he couldn't hide it.
"That Connor here is Angel's son."
"What!" Spike virtually shouted, "How?"
"Darla?" he repeated.
"Can I please finish. When Darla was brought back something happened, I'm still not sure what, but it fulfilled a prophecy. Connor was the result of that."
"Then Holtz kidnapped me and I was raised in a hell dimension." Connor finished.
"Holtz, that wanker? Thought he gave up and died a century ago."
Angel didn't miss the little twinge Connor gave at the description Spike gave of Holtz. He could think of much harsher words for the man that corrupted Wesley, subjected his baby son to the worst nightmares possible and then had Angel thrown into an ocean for three months in a metal coffin.
What was more worrying was how Dawn and Faith's friends weren't blinking at the talk of demons and vampires. Their scents didn't even show shock.
Taking a deep breath Angel tried not to show his own shock. Their scents were all wrong, even his son's had some unfamiliar twists to it. Power, electrical mostly but there was also something else. All of them had the same overtones of this power, Spike hadn't noticed otherwise he'd have said something by now.
There was something going on, they were all in on it. Dawn, Connor, Faith. Whatever it was it had to be connected to the so called phone call Dawn was answering. He hadn't bought their excuse for a second.
As Connor quickly sketched out the so called foster family Angel had arranged for him he lent back. Angel tried not to be too obvious as he looked at everyone around the table. Connor seemed calm on the surface, but he was ready to jump. Angel could easily see the signs. Dawn's dark blonde friend, Cassie, was harder to read. She'd been just as scared as everyone else when the sound bleeped, but the strangeness of her sent had flared for some reason. They all had, but young Cassie was more tense than the others.
The red head, that hadn't said much other than the lame excuse, was the real mystery. She wasn't human, not even close. She wasn't a demon either, she was something else. He wan't getting a sense of magic. More electronics, but no oil or chemicals he usually associated with that. Just a faint smell of ozone.
Faith was more calm and controlled than she had ever been before. She almost seemed relaxed, he wouldn't go as far as saying at peace but she was a lot closer than he ever thought she could be.
Dawn though, Dawn was the bigger problem. She was ticked, well and truly ticked at Spike and everyone took their lead from her. She was the centre of this little group. Angel remembered Dawn as this gawky kid with a smart mouth and gangly limbs. A pre-teen girl still getting used to her own body. She'd always been a little scared of him, even before Angelus. She always kept away from him one way or another. Now though, now she was different. Stronger, more confident. It was something to do with that elusive new scent. Her's was sharper, fresher. Each had their own twist but hers was cutting. Almost like fresh cut grass in warm summer nights.
Something was going on and he was going to find out what. It was then that Dawn came back in, looking like she'd just been invited to lunch with the President.
End Chapter Two