Imperium rising Chapter 07
Buffy watched her mother pace up and down the room, as she contemplated what she had just told her about Pike being in town and needing a place to stay. She knew that in the past her mother had not exactly approved of him, but she had felt that near the end, before she had burnt down the school gym and had been kicked out of school, she had come to like and maybe even trust Pike, especially when it came to her.
This was a big risk she knew that, as it reopened a lot of old wounds from their final few months in LA. Months she really did not want to think about if she could help it. The memories of her time in the asylum under a shrink when she made the mistake of trying to tell her parents about vampires and demons came to her anyway. She shook her head to clear her mind of those memories. That was a time she would rather never think of again, the loss of Merrick and the close brush with death at Lothos's hand had made her reckless. She had slipped up and made the mistake of trying to tell the truth about her life and she had paid the price. She had sworn never to allow it to happen again.
She just hoped that by bringing up Pike with her mother in conversation, that her mother did not start to believe those events were happening again. She looked up as her mother stopped her pacing and then finally faced her with a look that she could not decipher.
"I'm sorry Buffy, but I am not comfortable in letting Pike stay here during his stay in town," Joyce finally said after thinking it over long and hard.
She remembered the young man, who had dated her daughter during what was to her the worst part of her life in LA. First the clear mental breakdown of her daughter and then following up on that was the degeneration of her marriage with her husband Hank. Finally she had made the choice to leave LA behind, only for Buffy to run away with Pike for the next few months. When she had returned Pike was nowhere to be found and Buffy had made it clear she had been responsible for leaving.
As she looked at her daughter now, she noted Buffy looked slightly let down, but she could also see she had expected her response. She sighed and wished she could be more helpful, but in this situation she did not want Pike that close to her daughter. She was wary of a repeat of those very dark days, moving over to the sofa she sat down and decided to press on.
"Look Buffy, I know you consider Pike a friend, but I am not about to let someone who helped you run away from home for months stay in this house. Do you understand me?" she asked looking her daughter in the eye.
"Yeah mom I do," Buffy responded, not exactly surprised by this turn of events. "Thanks for considering it at least and don't worry I have no intention of disappearing again," she assured her, before she went up to her bedroom to get ready for the night ahead.
Joyce remained where she was for a few minutes before going into the kitchen and pouring herself a glass of wine and then she sat down at the table and she thought of the past. She truly hoped that it would not come back and bite her, now that Pike had come back into Buffy's life.
The Emperor opened his eyes, as he finished his scan of the planet and confirmed some of what his latent pysic scans had showed him already, there were many threats facing this world and the human race in general. Some of them even his new friends and allies did not know about.
He relaxed into a more comfortable position still getting used to having a corporeal body again, it was taking him time to adjust to the changes he had undergone since being brought here. Becoming joined to another human being in the same body was also taking time to come to terms with, but he found Xander to be quite insightful when he truly put his mind to work. He hid behind a facade of being a comedian, when on the inside he had the heart and mind of a warrior. This was no surprise, considering what he had chosen to commit his life to, he found the small group he was now a part of a unique assembly of people, each separate and yet part of a whole and now much expanded thanks to Halloween.
‘Strange isn't it,' Xander's voice whispered inside his mind. ‘When you consider what we're up against you would think we would have fallen already and yet we endure,' he added.
‘Humans are capable of enduring a great many things in my experience Alexander,' the Emperor responded. ‘I have see many people survive fighting things on the frontier of Imperial space that make your vampires and demons look small in comparison,' he informed him. ‘We are a durable species, we have to be to survive the darkness of the universe,' he stated.
‘I suppose we do,' Xander agreed. ‘So what do we do about these other threats?' Xander inquired, having seen exactly what the Emperor had seen during his pysic scan.
‘I do not know just yet Alexander. I am still contemplating our options,' the Emperor replied. ‘For now I think it best, if we concentrate on the vampiric and demonic threat in this town. I will continue to think over what we have learned and consider our best options before we bring this up with the others,' he continued.
‘I understand and now I think we best get ready to go the Bronze to meet up with the others,' Xander responded, as he assumed command of the body and the Emperor faded into the background for now.
As Xander went and got into the shower and prepared for the night ahead, the Emperor was considering what kind of life he was about to embark on. He would be doing things he had never done before, even if only in the background. He thought back to his reaction when Cordelia had been in danger and his body had responded without any conscious thought on his part to help her. Xander obviously cared about the young girl even if at this moment in time he was afraid to admit it.
His life had always been one of war and strife and so the things he had seen in Xander's mind surprised him and made him wonder what his life had lacked, but he quickly shook that thought off and concentrated on what was going on.
Xander was soon dressed for the night ahead and quickly picked up a couple of stakes and a bottle of holy water that he placed in his inside jacket pocket, when he was finished he headed out saying a goodbye to his mother as he passed her, but refused to even look at his father who was passed out in the living room again.
Pike was getting ready to leave to meet up with Buffy and her friends when he considered telling Buffy that he was being chased by one of Lothos's damn minions. He had been since hitting LA again a year ago. He ran a hand through his hair and let out a sigh as he weighed up the pros and cons, as he knew deep down Buffy still had nightmares about Lothos, especially where they concerned Merrick.
This had played a very large part in Buffy running away for a few months, when her mother had made the choice to move here from LA. He sat down on his bed and wondered what the best thing to do was. They had their own problems to deal with at the moment, considering what they had told him about Spike and Drusilla and so he wondered if he had the right to bring one more. He could leave and lure Bracus away from here, but he promised to stay and help Buffy. He guessed he had no real option, but to tell her the truth. Getting back up he headed out of the door ready for the night ahead and hoped that Buffy would not react too badly to the news about Bracus. She needed to keep her head clear and focused for what he feared may lie ahead.
Spike snarled as he paced up and down, trying to plan out his next moves on the Slayer and her group of friends. He was still annoyed beyond all reason at losing the best chance to kill her and add a third Slayer to his tally of kills on Halloween. He had been so close to tasting her blood and watching the life drain out of her eyes. Growling in pain he punched a nearby lackey right in the face with enough force to break his nose with a satisfying crunch. Not even bothering to look down at the fallen vampire he walked back over to where Drusilla sat and was playing with some tarot cards. He wondered if she had any insight he could use.
Most people considered his lover insane and completely out of her mind, but he knew better, as had Angelus before him, that Drusilla had a special gift. One that had allowed him to avoid or to deal with many problems over the long years they had been together. Thinking about Angelus made him remember that the ensouled version of his grandsire was also in Sunnydale. The idea of killing him was just as appealing as killing the Slayer. He may have some problems with Dru in that regard, but he felt it might be worth it, to forever remove the threat of Angelus' return. A return he was unsure if he would even survive, but off one thing he was sure and that was that he would lose Drusilla to Angelus.
"Darkness falls on the mouth of hell, but standing in the light are the guardians," Drusilla's voice broke him out of his current thoughts and made him concentrate on his lover. "They strive to protect all and threaten all with evil in their hearts. They must be killed, if darkness is to ever rule," she added, with her eyes looking lost in something only she could see, whilst her voice held a vagueness he had become used to, when she had her visions.
"The double eagle rises over the battlefield, lighting the way for the forces of order and legions of followers flock to its banner," she continued. "At its head the golden haired Emperor reigns supreme and the darkness falls before him, unless he is killed quickly," she warned him with her eyes darkening. "The time of chaos is close, the dark gods wait in the shadows for the time to strike," she finished before she collapsed.
He quickly checked her over and noted she was out cold, which was unusual, when she normally had visions she had never passed out before. He picked her up and carried her over to the nearby bed and placed her in it. He then began to pace and wondered what was so different about this vision then any of the others she had seen.
Clearly more was going on here than he was aware off. He decided to have some of his minions check the books for any prophecies, he may not be aware of. He quickly lit a smoke and went to find Dalton and have him and the others get to work on those books, he needed answers before he could make a plan.
The mayor read over the reports that Alan had just given him and noted that his remaining spies had not found any evidence of trouble from the chaos mages actions. He leaned back in his chair and wondered if the Slayer was just better at hiding the changes. Still with no proof for now all he could do was keep a closer eye out on her and her friends, as well as keeping his ascension plans as hidden as possible. He glanced over at Alan who stood near the door. He looked slightly nervous, but then he always seemed nervous in his presence, something he found very amusing. He wondered what Alan truly thought of his long term plans, before he shook that idea out of his head, as he knew Alan was loyal and so it did not matter what he thought.
"Any more news of this childe of Lothos who is heading to town?" he inquired, moving onto other business.
"From what sources I have been able to contact, his name is Bracus and is one of the few childes of Lothos left alive," Alan reported. "From what they told me, he is currently hunting a human named Pike, who used to be an ally of the Slayer in LA when she first became active," he continued. "Pike, it seems has made himself quite well known in certain vampiric circles, since helping Buffy Summers take down Lothos and most of his followers. Bracus wants revenge for his master's demise," he finished his report.
"So are you concluding this Pike is in town or is Bracus coming here to fight Miss Summers?" the Mayor asked, as he stood up and looked out into the darkened skies of Sunnydale from the nearby window.
"I believe that Mr. Pike is indeed in town, as reports have come in of a new human who met with the Slayer's group this morning," Alan replied. "From what I know, none of Lothos's remaining children do know where Miss Summers currently is," he added.
"I find that hard to believe, considering she is supposed to be guarding the Hellmouth, which must have gotten out into the various rumor mills of the various vampiric and demonic circles," the Mayor countered and glanced at his aide in slight disbelief.
"As you said yourself sir, the remaining children of Lothos have gone very quite since their master's demise," Alan answered. "It seems they have little thirst to do much without their master's presence," he speculated.
"Strange that some vampires lose all their heart if their masters are destroyed, isn't it Alan?" the Mayor asked with a slight smile to which his aide nodded. "Whilst others become either insane or just take their fallen master's place. That is why I am so careful in trusting the vampires I employ, as they can be quite tricky and untrustworthy," he added, as he went and retook his seat.
"Yes sir," Alan agreed. "What should we do about Bracus and Pike?" he asked, moving the conversation on.
"Nothing for now, if we made a move on Mr. Pike it may tip our hand to the slayer and her friends and that is something I want to avoid for as long as possible," the Mayor ordered. "As for Bracus let him in and hopefully he may remove Mr. Pike for us, as well as some of the Slayer's friends, although I doubt he will succeed going up against the Slayer herself, when even his master could not," he added with an oily smile that made Alan shiver.
"Of course sir," Alan nodded, before he left the office. As he walked into his own office, he thanked his lucky stars he was still able to maintain his facade of disinterest.
He knew that one day he would have to either take action to prevent the Mayor from succeeding in his plans or hope that when the Mayor became a first circle demon that he would not be killed. He downed a glass of whiskey, before issuing the orders he had just received.
Pike looked over the dancing mass, somewhat surprised that Buffy and her friend would come here, as to him it was a death trap waiting to happen. He had seen places like this before, where people could easily be killed or worse turned by vampires, as there was no way to keep them out. He finally saw Buffy at one of the tables at the back, her friends Willow, Cordelia and Xander were already there and he quickly headed over to join them, but he kept an eye on his surroundings.
"Hey Pike, glad you could make it," Buffy said with a smile, which he felt was slightly off, so he guessed she had some bad news for him. "So what do you think?" she asked indicating the club.
"Not bad and I'm pretty impressed to see a live band in such a small club," Pike replied, as he indicating the current band on stage.
"That's Oz and his friends," Willow spoke up. "They are called ‘Dingoes ate my baby'," she added with a smile. "I've been getting to know Oz since a small incident we had a couple of months back with an assassin," she informed him.
Buffy almost blushed as she recalled the brief meeting with the guitar player, as it was still a very vivid memory for her, she had become very paranoid about the assassins Spike had sent after her and she had accidentally almost assaulted Oz, thinking he was one of them. He had been very forgiving about the whole thing and even slightly more amused than angry or annoyed.
"Anyway I'm afraid to say Pike that my mother refused to let you stay at the house," Buffy said, moving the topic onto something else and tried to be as apologetic as she could.
"I'm not surprised really, considering what went down before you came here," Pike said with a smile. "Tell her I understand and I apologize for my actions in helping you run away for a few months, as for the room, don't worry. I managed to find a motel to stay at for now," he added, as he took a seat. "So are the others coming?" he inquired.
"They should be," Xander replied from where he was sitting next to Cordelia, both very aware of each other and yet they tied to ignore the continuing changes in their feelings for one another.
"Buffy I think we need to talk later," Pike finally brought up the subject he was dreading to get into. "There are some things I need to discuss with you in private," he added.
Buffy looked Pike over before she nodded her head, not exactly liking his tone and something about the look in his eyes chilled her to the bones. She looked away and noted Max, Amy and Aura headed for their table and she pushed whatever Pike wished to discuss out of her mind, as she greeted them. As they all discussed recent events first and then moved to more normal subjects Buffy let her mind wander, as she looked around the club.
As she looked up onto the upper floor she froze as her gaze looked onto three individuals looking down at them all. Her senses screamed at her that they were vampires. She reached out and shook the nearby arms of Xander and Willow, who sat beside her and they stopped talking and looked up as well, when they noticed her distraction, from there the rest of the table all looked up as well. The lead vampire snarled at them, before that changed into a cruel smile, as he backed away from the railing and moved off, followed by his two friends.
"Vampires?" Aura asked, still getting used to the things she had come to learn truly existed.
"Yes they are and I have a very bad feeling they are not alone," Buffy answered. "Is everyone armed?" she asked, as she looked around the table.
The others nodded. Even the newcomers had quickly learned that it was best to have some stakes and holy water on hand, whenever they went out at night.
Buffy got up and made her way to the back of the club towards the exit. She was confident that they could deal with whatever awaited them. Especially in light of the fact there were more of them now, with a lot more skills available to them.