The Emperor stared out of the window as he sensed a dark and evil presence he had only briefly seen before. It was in the town and its focus was squarely on his new allies. This increased his own worry about how bad things might get if alliances were not struck and quickly. He and Paul were already working on how to approach Stargate Command and hope the government did not try anything underhanded. Prue, Amy and Leo were working on how to let Prue's sisters know that she was still alive after a fashion and finally Sonja and Jenny were discussing how best to approach Lucian and let him know of her return to life somewhat.
This move to form alliances had been pushed forward by the many threats they seemed to be facing. First there was Spike, Drusilla and their vampire followers who still posed a great threat, then there were the Lothos minions in town hunting Buffy and Pike and he considered them a greater danger than Spike and Drusilla. After that there was the many threats from space he had sensed and even Paul was now beginning to take notice of them with his prescience, of course then there was the underworld full of demons that the Charmed Ones dealt with as well as the vampires led by Victor. This new evil was just one more problem for them to deal with, but this evil was able to hide from his senses nearly all the time, which presented them with a problem.
‘How do we track him down so we can stop him from whatever it is he is doing?' Xander's thoughts quickly registered in his mind as the two souls shared one body their thoughts always came through to the other no matter who had control at the time. ‘He is clearly up to something if he is hiding his presence from us. Most other bad guys come right at us,' he added.
Considering the memories he had viewed of Xander and his friends past battles forced him to agree. This evil, whatever it was, clearly wanted to stay hidden until such a time as it was ready to attack. He would talk to Mr. Giles and Sonja on this matter tomorrow. This was not going to be easy and then there was the brief but worrisome sign of the chaos gods at the edges of this dimension. Clearly even with his power reduced by half they could still sense him. He wasn't sure they could breach the walls that separated their dimensions, but if they could it would cause a problem he doubted any of them could solve.
He would have to keep a very close eye on them as best he could and if it looked as if they might find a breach he would have to take drastic measures and ask God for a big favor. But right now it was not a huge problem and so he released control of the body and allowed Xander to come forward and prepare for bed. He found being in a human body again a pleasant yet strange experience after so many years of being outside of one.
Xander quickly had a shower and then slipped into bed wondering if there would be any more problems they might have to go up against. It seemed they had tons to do already. He sighed as he tried to get comfortable and hoped their plans would pan out. He did not look forward to the next couple of days. He was also worried about Buffy and how affected she seemed to be after Pike told her about the minions of Lothos, who had chased him straight to Sunnydale. He had never seen such anger and raw hatred in her and it worried him because it might make her prone to mistakes and so he vowed to keep an eye on her.
Spike paced restlessly as he listened to the report from one of his minions, he was greatly surprised to hear there were some minions of Lothos in town. From what the minion had heard they were after the Slayer and one of her former allies who had come to town. He was unsure if he could use these vampires to his own benefit by offering an alliance, Lothos's progeny were not prone to being too smart.
He looked across the factory to where Drusilla lay sleeping and wondered if he should wake her and see if she had any advice on this matter, before reconsidering. He sent the minion away and decided to think on the matter some more, he was sure he could come up with a plan which would keep him and Dru out of the firing line should the plan fail. Maybe he could trick Lothos's followers into attacking the Slayer and her friends head on with some help and then he could attack with a second force when they were greatly weakened. ‘Yes,' he thought with a smile this seemed like a workable plan, but how to approach Lothos's minions without it turning into a full out brawl? Those of the Aurelius bloodline and those of Lothos's did not get on very well in the past and he was sure these particular ones would be in the mood for a fight with anyone since their master's death.
The Mayor listened as Alan read a list of regular reports, but he could not help but notice that he had nothing new of the new allies of the Slayer. Clearly they were trying not to advertise themselves or what they could do for reasons he could not yet fathom. He needed to know if these new players posed any threat to his ascension plans and he glared a little at Alan who began to shift nervously around in response. "Nothing new of the new allies of the Slayer then, Alan?" he inquired in a soft tone, yet anyone would be stupid to miss the hint of anger within it.
"Only that we've identified another of the people involved," Alan answered, doing his best not to sweat. "Aura Greenway, one of the rich and popular crowd," he informed the Mayor. "Her reasons for helping and what she brings to the table is as yet to be found out," he added.
"Another of the rich crowd's children has joined them?" the Mayor asked for clarification to which Alan nodded. "Strange, I would think they would stay well clear of them, there must be something we are missing Alan," he mused. "Tell our spies to try harder. I want to know why these people are getting involved now and I want to know just what the Slayer is up too," he ordered. "Is that understood, Alan?" he asked glaring at the man again.
"Yes Sir," Alan answered quickly nodding his head a few times before turning and leaving as fast as he could. Each meeting was getting more and more uncomfortable for him and it was getting harder to ignore the evils of the man.
The Mayor watched his deputy flee as if the devil himself was chasing him and let out a chuckle. Alan was round a little tight, but he was at least loyal and did not question him. He leaned back in his chair and wondered if he would have to remove the Slayer and her group before his plans could go forward. He hoped not as he wanted to snack on them all once he had ascended.
Jenny Calendar breathed deeply as she prepared for what was about to happen. Leo and Amy stood with her ready to help her set up a meeting with Lucian. She prayed Sonja knew what she was doing by moving this along so fast without informing the others. Sensing that all was ready she let go and allowed Sonja to take control. Leo watched as Amy also released control of her own body to Prue, he wondered just how hard this was going to be. At least this would give him some kind of look at how a meeting between Prue and her sisters would go when it was time, he knew hard would not even cover it at that time.
"Are we ready?" Prue inquired as she glanced at the other two. "Yes we are Prue, now I know this is not going to be easy, but I think the sooner we get these meetings out of the way the quicker we can form an alliance and prepare for what is to come," Sonja responded.
"I can see your point Sonja, but we are dealing with reunions which will involve a lot of emotions and will not be easy to work through," Prue replied thinking of how to deal with telling her sisters about her semi return to the living. "Lucian may not, will not accept you as you are now," she argued, her eyes showing this was one of her own fears.
"I know, a thought that chills me," Sonja responded with a shake of her head. "But I believe our love will prevail, it has guided him since the day I died all the long years since," she explained. "It has sustained his will to live, I have to believe he will recognize me for who I am no matter the body I am in and accept me," she stated as confidently as she could.
"Let us hope so," Leo put in as Prue did her best to look confident as well. He offered his hands to both women who after a second or two took hold and prepared for the meeting ahead, Leo orbed them all to the hidden layer of Lucian.
Buffy stalked through the graveyard with Pike, Max and Aura by her side. Giles was back at the library researching Lothos and his minions even though Lothos himself was dead. He had said any information they could gain was helpful in the end. She had to agree, since Halloween she had been reading more and more doing her best to make sure she was not caught off guard by any potential threat. She knew Giles was not always going to be on call to aide her. Anything could happen in the future and thus she had to start being smarter how she faced her calling.
At the moment though she was trying to finish some very old business, the idea of any of Lothos's minions being in her town brought out a dark bitter anger that she had not felt since she had slayed Lothos himself and avenged her fallen watcher. She would send each of these foul beasts to hell to join their Master in what she was sure was a painful afterlife. She gripped her stake tightly ready for a fight. She wished Xander was with them, but he had wanted to think over how to deal with the government unit the Emperor had sensed. They were also missing Amy and Jenny who had begged off for some reason.
"It's getting late Buffy," Pike's voice broke though her thoughts and made her refocus on the here and now. "Maybe we should call it a night and try again tomorrow" he suggested.
"I think Pike has a point Buffy," Aura agreed. "The darker it gets the more chance we will run into a group of vamps not even we can deal with," she argued. "Something tells me these vampires are not going to be stupid enough to attack us without help," she added.
"I agree," Buffy reluctantly agreed. "Ok, we'll call it a night, but tomorrow we'll come out in force and see what we can find," she stated annoyed, but only at the fact she would not be able to slay Lothos's minions. "Let's go home," she said before turning around and heading home.
Max kept an eye on the rear as they exited the graveyard but saw nothing. He found it strange that they had not encountered anything other than three normal vampires during the patrol. He wondered if something big was going on elsewhere, as they walked he took a hold of Aura's hand without really thinking about it. He missed the look Aura sent him not that she seemed to mind his act of affection, finally the group broke up with Buffy escorting Pike back to Giles' place where he was staying.
(Lycan's Lair, Budapest)
Lucian the great Lycan leader sat in what passed for his private quarters looking at the only painting he had of his precious Sonja, murdered at the hands of her own father Victor for daring to love him and even more dangerous, at least to Victor, to have his child. He had relived that day over and over again, having to watch as she was burned alive unable to do anything to save her except scream her name in agony. He had escaped his own execution by forcing the change on himself and attacking Victor. He had wanted to bathe in the elders blood, but he had noted more vampires coming into the room to protect Victor and so had fled. The only thing he had of Sonja's was the pendant she had always worn even before he had met her. He touched it and ran a finger across its surface from where it hung on his neck. Leaning back in his chair he wondered what Sonja would think of his plan to finally end the war and more importantly avenge her death. Would she approve his risky gambit or would she consider it to risky. He missed her council so very much, he had walked this earth for so many years without her, set on only one goal to free his people of the danger the vampires posed and avenge his wife's death. Not once in all those years had he taken another lover, not once had he allowed himself to be swayed by another. He had remained loyal to Sonja's memory, only Raze his best friend and loyal second in command understood his reasons and he helped to keep the rest of the pack under control.
He was startled out of his seat when he noted what looked like a pack of small lights appear of to the side. His eyes widened in surprise as they coalesced into three people. A man with blond hair and sharp green eyes stood in the middle of two women, one seemed older than the other with longish dark hair and brown eyes which immediately locked on him, while the other also had black hair but had blue eyes.
"Hello Lucian," the greeting came from the older of the two women and was spoken with deep longing which stopped him from calling out for his body guards. He was confused as he had never met any of his guests and yet he could see the raw need and longing in the woman's eyes as she stared at him. ‘What was going on?' he wondered.
"Who are you?" he demanded to know. "And how did you get here?" he added moving his hand to one of his desk drawers where one of his pistols lay.
"Easy Lucian, we mean you no harm," Sonja responded, doing her best to keep her emotions at seeing her husband again. Face to face it was so much harder than she had originally believed it would be. "We are here to seek an alliance and to aide you as best we can and as to who we are well you might find the answer to that question somewhat hard to swallow," she explained.
Lucian frowned at her response not to sure how to take it. He glanced at the other two newcomers and noted they looked uncomfortable or at the very least uneasy. He sensed no threat from them and he had to admit he was intrigued by their offer of an alliance. Maybe they could aide him in destroying Victor without relying on such a fool as Kraven. He was no fool and knew he could not trust Kraven not to try and double cross him at some point. The man was a proven coward who had only survived this long due to Lucian tolerating him. Finally he indicated that they should sit down and he reclaimed his own seat. Something told him this was going to be interesting.
"Please regail me," he said with a smile, maybe this could distract him from the choices he would have to make soon.
Sonja took a deep breath before she launched into her tale, hoping Lucian would believe her. She could feel Jenny was just as uneasy about this as she was. In fact Jenny was fearful this would back fire and give the group more enemies to deal with. She prayed her host was wrong, she could not imagine ever taking arms against Lucian.
Buffy sat on her bed thinking over how to go about finding the minions of Lothos and ending the threat they posed. She needed information and a small smile graced her lips as she decided to pay a visit to Willy tomorrow night before patrol. She was sure that snitch would have some clue as to where they were. Looking out at the darkened town she knew things in Sunnydale were about to heat up. Settling down in bed she closed her eyes and hoped for good dreams. She let out a sigh and wondered how Angel was getting on before she yawned and slowly fell asleep.
(Imperial Palace Earth, Horus Heresy)
The Emperor looked out over the palace grounds as the battle for the planet continued to rage. He saw so many of his loyal soldiers dead or dying all over the place. His sons Sanguinius and Rogal Dorn were doing all they could to stop the followers of Chaos breaching the palace walls, but he knew in the end they would get in. The war was coming to an end and it would be a very bloody end. Somewhere up in space was Horus on his battle barge, corrupted by the powers of chaos his favorite son now intended to kill him.
‘How had it come to this?' he couldn't help but wonder. Everything had seemed to be going to plan, but somehow the Chaos gods had managed to corrupt not only Horus but eight of his fellow Primarchs, all now lost to him. They had been so close to uniting the human worlds under one banner, they had driven the powers of Chaos to the brink and now it was all falling apart. He should not have come back to Earth before the Great Crusade was finished. Had he not come back he could have kept a closer eye on Horus and the others and helped them resist the temptation of the Chaos gods. He was certain he could have stopped this before it got this far had he remained with his sons out there in the darkness of space. He had made a critical mistake coming back so soon.
"Father, the outer walls have been breached," Rogal Dorn reported as he came up behind him. "There was nothing we could do to keep them out," he added with a touch of bitterness in his voice.
"I am sure you did all you could to keep them out," the Emperor responded. "We must prepare for our final defense, we must...," he started to say before he trailed off. He could sense Horus and his exact location above them on his battle barge, for some reason he had dropped the shields around the ship and left himself open for an attack.
‘He is challenging me to come for him,' the Emperor realised. ‘I will accept the challenge and maybe just maybe I can stop the final assault by slaying Horus,' he decided.
"Father, what is wrong?" Rogal Dorn inquired as he noted the frown on his father's face.
"Gather your brother Sanguinius and a group of loyal Terminator suited Marines and Adeptus Custodes together and quickly," the Emperor ordered. "We may have one final chance to stop this madness, but we must move quickly. Horus has slipped up and we must take advantage of it, even if it is possibly a trap and we die in the attempt," he explained. "The last moves of this war are upon us," he finished.
"Yes Father, I will do as you order," Rogal Dorn said with a nod of his head before moving to comply with his orders. He hoped he would get a chance to face the traitor Horus and make him pay for all he had done. He knew that it was a chance Sanguinius would want as well.
Thirty minutes later the Emperor walked into the room which held the teleporter banks of the palace. He noted Rogal Dorn had managed to form a group of twenty Terminator suited marines made up from both Blood Angels and Imperial Fists legions. They were joined by twenty of his Adeptus Custodes bodyguards and he hoped it would be enough to break through whatever defenses Horus had in place on his ship. No matter what else happened he had to confront Horus face to face, stepping onto the teleporter pad he waited until the others had joined him before ordering the Servitor to begin the teleporter process.
When the teleporter process was done they found themselves in the belly of a clearly corrupt vessel and he noted their group had been somehow split up. The walls were coated in blood and the Emperor noted many arms and other human appendages sticking out of it including human heads. It was a grotesque sight and was enough to drive five of the Marines accompanying him insane, this was just more evidence that Horus was truly lost to him. He had to be destroyed for the good of all mankind, it was a bitter thought.
Xander woke up and quickly ran to the toilet and was sick as the images the Emperor had seen on that ship continued to play in his mind, it got worse the deeper they had gone into the belly of the ship heading for its command centre. Finally it stopped and he took a deep breath and stumbled over to his bed, running a hand through his hair he wondered how the Emperor had managed to win that final fight.
‘With everything I had left in my body,' the Emperor responded to the question he had just thought. ‘I might have won that fight and saved my people, but it cost us dearly. My body was all but destroyed and we lost Sanguinius,' he explained. ‘Many more died during the final hours of the war and they were not easy or painless deaths,' he told him with a sigh. ‘I know it is not easy to see what I have seen Alexander, but examine my memories and learn from them. A war is coming or at least a far more active part of a war that is already raging and you will be on the front lines,' he advised.
Xander couldn't disagree with him on that point, with the events that were happening and what Metatron had told them he knew the Emperor was right. The war was about to explode into a much bigger one than ever before. He closed his eyes and prayed even with the help the Emperor and the others brought to their group they were up to the challenge ahead of them.