After the Fall
AN: Warning in advance; main characters ARE going to turn up dead here, but it's necessary to effectively demonstrate the scale of the villain that the Coven are now up againstThe Satan War
"Ugh..." Spike muttered, clutching his head as he leant back to stare up at the blank ceiling; it might not be much to look at, but at least it provided something simple for his eyes to take in after so long reading. "How long do I have to do
"As long as it takes to find what we're looking for," Angel said, looking over at Spike with a pointed glare even as he continued to scan through the newspaper articles before them. After they had returned to their 'headquarters' after the last fight with the Gathering, Leo had orbed back to Earth had ended to grab a few papers from the various supernatural 'hotspots' in the world to better determine if there had been any significant activity there that they should have been aware of. Constantine and Hellboy had checked in with their own sources in case they knew anything that wasn't known to the more public sources of information- Papa Midnite's cross-dimensional knowledge might have been limited, but limited wasn't the same as nonexistent-, but so far neither side had been able to find anything new they could use.
"Damn..." Cole muttered, looking over the copy of The Bay Mirror
"Anything interesting?" Spawn asked with a grim tone that fitted his burned appearance (Something that the rest of the group were still trying to get used to; during the recent mission Spawn had mainly worn his 'mask', and the sight of his burned appearance wasn't entirely comfortable even if the Coven members all acknowledged that it didn't detract from him as a person).
"Well, my ex is continuing to dispense definitely
effective advice in her column, but that aside?" Cole said, shaking his head as he looked over at Spawn. "Nada
"Always tough to know they can move on, isn't it?" Spawn said.
"What- oh, your wife, right?" Cole said, unable to stop himself from wincing at the momentary devastation that crossed his new teammate's face after that comment. "Sorry about that; that wasn't-"
"It's OK," Spawn muttered, nodding briefly at his new ally. "I've got to face it if I'm ever going to get anywhere like this. It's not like she left
me, after all; I was dead for five years and she's a young, healthy woman with no reason to believe I'd come back when I did, I couldn't expect her to have stayed single for all
"I know what you mean," Angel said, nodding sympathetically at the former black ops soldier, recognising the resignation behind Spawn's words. "You can try to move on as much as you want... you can tell yourself that all you want is for her to be happy... but even if you think she ended up with someone who deserves
her, you still can't help but wish that it could have been you
she ended up with in the end."
For a moment, the three men simply sat in silence, looking at each other with the experience and sympathy that could only come from the shared experience of losing a loved one to someone else, until Illyria broke the silence.
"Enough," she said, her tone abrupt even as her voice demonstrated a slightly sympathetic tone that Angel and Spike couldn't help but share a surprised glance at; the sympathy was minor, but it was still the first time they'd heard something like that from Illyria. "We must continue with our research."
"Right..." Spawn said, nodding briefly at Illyria as he picked up the paper again, glancing over at Angel with a raised eyebrow. "Is it always like this between missions? I already had one
job involving a helluva lotta paperwork being dealt with just to allow me to kill people; last thing I want is-"
"Oh God..." Leo suddenly whispered, his eyes widening as he stood up, his face turned upwards as though looking at something only he could see.
"Leo?" Constantine asked, turning to look curiously at the team's only purely 'good' supernatural member. "Are you OK?"
"Something's wrong..." Leo said, his voice still low as he looked back at the others, the sudden tenseness of his appearance suddenly putting the others in mind of a child who was afraid to say what was wrong in case the problem would just go away if he didn't recognise it was there. "Paige... my sister-in-law... she's calling for my help, and whatever it is..."
He shook his head as he raised one hand to hold it, as though trying to make some sense out of what he was receiving, his gaze almost automatically fixing on Angel. "We have to go down there."
"Hold on; we
?" Spike said, raising a hand as he looked pointedly at Leo. "As in, all
of us? We've got issues of our own
here, you know-!"
"Do you really want to take a chance that whatever's happened to the Halliwells isn't
connected to what we've been looking into lately?" Angel said, shooting his own glare over at Spike. "It might be a guess based on nothing more than timing, but unless you've got something better it's all we've got."
"Exactly," Leo said, a brief expression of gratitude on his face as he looked at Angel before it became apprehensive once again. "Anything that can make Paige as terrified as I'm currently sensing she is can't
"Eh, I've gone into fights with less hope of finding something useful than what we've got," Blade put in grimly as he glanced around at the other Coven members while automatically reaching under his coat to pull out his weapons. "Add in the fact that we owe them for their help in bringing this band of fuck-ups together, and I say we go for it."
Brief nods from the rest of the Coven were all that was required to confirm their willingness to accompany Leo in responding to Paige's call. Without even talking about it, the Coven automatically placed their hands on Cole and Leo's shoulders- or on top of each other's hands, such as when Hellboy's large flesh hand completely covered Cole's left shoulder and left Spawn with no other choice but to cover that hand with his own- before the two teleporters summoned the lights that would take them and their allies to the source of Paige's cry...
!" Leo yelled, running forwards almost as soon as the Coven had regained corporeal form, leaving the rest of the Coven staring in shock at the burning mansion before them.
"Oh my God..." Spawn muttered, his eyes widening in horror as he took in the other houses around them, the entire street in varying states of destruction, flames burning around the streets as the buildings around them lacked any sign of walls or . Halliwell Manor had clearly been the epicentre of whatever attack had just taken place, given that the buildings around it seemed to gradually become less damaged as you moved your vision away from the manor down the street in either direction, but the devastation was still significantly greater than even the more powerful demonic attacks could cause.
When factoring in the attackers' evident lack of concern about the fate of innocent bystanders- even the more powerful demons currently active tended to avoid drawing too much attention to themselves by murdering people on this kind of scale; secrecy was one of the few reasons that magic had survived this long-, it was definitely starting to look like they had found the situation that the Gathering had been created to distract them from.
"Come on," Angel said at last, his tone grim as he issued the order before he ran towards the remains of Halliwell Manor, the rest of the Coven close behind him. It might be slightly selfish not to be investigating the other houses for survivors, but when dealing with something powerful and dangerous enough to cause this kind of damage, it was more important to gather their forces than search for whatever was left of anyone who'd been caught in the crossfire.
It only took a moment after entering the manor's shattered remains to fully process the scale of what had happened. Practically the entire interior of the house had been virtually gutted, piles of rubble and debris lying against what remained of the exterior walls amid a few small fires located near the mansion's electronics systems, and the scent of blood was obvious even for those members of the Coven without enhanced senses.
..." Blade whispered, his eyes widening beneath his glasses as he saw a small arm sticking out from under a pile of rubble, the decaying scent of blood taunting his nostrils making it clear that there was no point trying to dig the child out. "Leo mentioned he had kids, but..."
His voice trailed off, the normally emotionless Daywalker unable to finish what he'd been saying, but his teammates understood him well enough; knowing that Leo was a father was far from the same thing as seeing the dead body of a child who'd barely even really had a chance at life.
Trying to push the matter from their minds, the Coven turned their attention to trying to find other survivors, but a quick moment of silence as those members of the Coven who possessed enhanced senses used them was all that was needed to confirm that there weren't any. Aside from the Coven themselves, there was one other heartbeat in their vicinity, and that was in the same room that Leo was in, and was doubtless already the subject of his attention; everyone else was clearly beyond help.
Entering the room apprehensively, the Coven couldn't help but stare in horror at the sight before them; Leo, standing sorrowfully over Paige's badly-battered body, his hands glowing as he worked to heal her various lacerations and broken bones, the barely-visible rising and falling of her chest the only indication that she was still alive, Piper and Phoebe's bodies lying against the remnants of a wall in such a brutally still manner that it was clear that none of the Coven could help them.
"Oh no..." Cole whispered, his eyes widening in horror as he crouched down beside Phoebe's virtually-mutilated body, his hands hovering over the various injuries for almost a minute before he finally accepted that there was nothing that he could do for her.
Unwilling to break the silence that had settled over their friends in their shared grief, the rest of the Coven simply stood off to the side as Leo finished healing Paige and moved over to Piper, clearly still determined to at least try and help his wife even if the rapidly-cooling entrails practically dripping out of her mutilated stomach made it clear that what had happened had been far too devastating for him to do anything.
"What... the Hell
here?" Spawn asked at last, looking around at the devastated street with a grim stare. "We get caught up in dealing with the Gathering for a few hours
, and then something gets out that can do this
"We do not know
that-" Illyria began.
"You know, Blue, as much as we get that you're recognising that everything that happens here doesn't have
to revolve around you and yours, this isn't the time to start thinking that," Spike said with a pointed glare at their ally. "Add in the fact that two of us worked with these sods- even without
the fact that we were brought together just to rescue 'em in the first place, even if it was all rigged-, and we're definitely
involved in whatever happened here..."
"Ugh..." Paige muttered, cutting off further speculation from Spike as she sat slowly upright, blinking weakly as she held one hand to her head. "What the hell happened
Her eyes widened as she saw who was standing over her sister's body.
?" she yelled, a brief glance of shock at her sisters' bodies all the sign that she'd registered their presences before she turned her attention back to her old enemy.
..." Cole muttered as he turned to look at the half-Whitelighter. "Paige, I know how this looks, but-"
For a moment all further sound in the room was cut off as Paige screamed in rage and charged towards Cole, only to be halted mid-charge when Spawn extended his chains and wrapped them around Paige's waist, taking care to keep the spikes withdrawn as he did so.
"Sorry 'bout this," he said, turning Paige so that she was facing the rest of the Coven, "but we've got a bit
too much crap going on right now to deal with your issues with-"
?" Paige repeated, looking incredulously at Spawn. "After what he did
?" she began, only to be cut off at the sight of the vampire standing alongside her current captor.
"Yeah, it's me; the rest of the Coven are here too," Angel said, looking awkwardly at the young witch; evidently his role in saving her life in their last meeting counted in his favour, but that wouldn't help him unless he could convince her that Cole was on their side. "Sorry about Al's attitude- this is Al Simmons, by the way; he's our newest member-; he's bonded to a semi-sentient demonic armour that tends to react to things before he can tell it not to do things that way..."
"Uh... right..." Paige said, momentarily confused before her eyes narrowed as she regained her original train of thought and pointed urgently at Cole. "But that still doesn't explain what he's
doing here; you killed
"And I came back," Cole said, shrugging slightly as he looked back at Paige with a simple yet pointed stare. "Believe me, I wasn't expecting this any more than you were, and I get that this whole situation's really
awkward, but we don't exactly have much choice; whatever attacked you and your sisters could have done the same thing to our friends-"
friends?" Paige said, clearly trying to get the current conversation back on a level that she could more easily understand. "Hold on a minute
; the last time we saw you- you
you, not past
you-, you were trying to-!"
"He got better," Blade said, his usual blunt manner making his point clear as he looked at Paige, his stare somehow all the more effective with his glasses rather than the glasses detracting from its intensity. "Trust me, you weren't the only one surprised to see this guy come back after what the motherfucker he became in the present did to us last time, but the guy's proven his worth 'far as I'm concerned; he's back on the team, and he's... well, he's not the same as he was."
"Huh?" Paige said, her anger momentarily surpassed by her confusion at Blade's last comment; something in his tone made it clear that he wasn't just referring to Cole's new attitude. "What does that mean?"
"Long story, and we don't have time for it right now," Hellboy said briskly as he turned to look at Angel, a slight apprehension in his voice and stance that the Coven only noticed because they'd been working with him for so long. "Something this big goes down, I don't think whatever's behind it would just
attack these three; we need to check in with the Bureau and see-"
"Hold on; the Bureau
?" Spike interjected, looking incredulously at Hellboy. "As in, the sodding Bureau that 'employs' you to tackle demons? Red, from everything you've told us I wouldn't trust those sods to fight my minions
back in the bad old days; we're going to need a few Slayers-!"
"Yeah, a bunch of amateurs with a load of oomph
who've been doing this for a year; really
threatening, Spike," Hellboy spat back at the vampire disdainfully. "Manning might be a pen-pushing prick, but he's got a team that knows what they're doing most of the time; just because they're human doesn't mean they're useless-!"
"Look," Angel said, stepping forward before the confrontation between his teammates could degenerate any further, "in the end, you both make good points; the Bureau has more experience, but the Slayer headquarters has more people who can actually help
us if things get physical, given that most of the BPRD are only human-"
For a moment the vampire paused, evidently uncomfortable with the implications of what he'd just said, before he turned to look awkwardly over at the Coven's most human member. "John, I didn't mean-"
"I get it, Angel," Constantine said, nodding reassuringly at his friend with his trademark grim expression. "Humans can
do some useful stuff in a fight, but you'd rather make sure the superhumanly-strong Slayers are all right before you worry about a bunch of human spies without any major talents themselves, right?"
"Good strategy, anyway," Blade said grimly as he glanced over at Hellboy. "Red and I'll take Blue, Spike and Leo to check things out at the Bureau- whoever we're up against is less likely to send anything really
heavy there if he was only dealing with humans-, and the rest of you can see about the Slayers; you'll probably need healers more there anyway."
"Blade," Angel said, looking over at the Daywalker in exasperation, "firstly, I thought that I
was the team leader here?"
After a moment's silent staring between the two, Angel smiled, breaking the momentary tension that had settled over the group in the face of a possible power struggle between the two vampires. "Secondly, good strategy."
"I do what I can," Blade said simply, the brief apparent tension dismissed as quickly as it had arisen, the two exchanging a brief smile as the Coven began to split into the groups that the Daywalker had suggested.
"All right," Angel said, looking between the two groups, "if you find anyone there you can clearly identify as an enemy, just incapacitate without killing, and try and save anyone you can; we need information and allies more than we need our enemies dead right now."
After Angel's words had been met with a confirming nod from his teammates, the two groups vanished in gold and white light, leaving the Halliwell mansion and its deceased inhabitants to burn as its few surviving residents sought the people who had caused such devastation in the first place.
As soon as he had arrived at their next destination, Angel's eyes widened in horror at the burning building before them; even without actually seeing
the newly-established Slayer headquarters, he'd received a few photos of their new facilities from a few of his independent operatives- he might have respected Buffy's independence, but he also wanted to make sure that she was taking care when setting up something like this-, and the majestic structure that he'd approved of upon first seeing it had been completely decimated by a similar attack to the one that had destroyed Halliwell Manor.
Unlike the manor, however, the large structure before them- almost resembling a castle more than a school, although there were enough modern adaptations such as additional wings to the main building which showed that it had undergone recent refurbishment- was seemingly filled with bodies, as though the person responsible for its destruction had simultaneously gone out of their way to ensure that the inhabitants were killed in the most brutal way possible. Even a cursory glance over the remains as the small group walked through the shattered corridors was enough to confirm their demise in most cases, no sign of life being found until they reached the main office of the building, Angel and Spike instantly recognising one of the bodies lying before them.
..." Angel whispered, his voice filled with a pain that none of the Coven had ever heard him express before as he knelt down beside a small figure that had been reduced to little more than a head, an arm, and half a torso. The hair on the figure's head was only just recognisable as blonde through all the blood that had covered the woman, and her body had been torn apart to such an extent that hair length and the vague shape of a breast were all that allowed her to be identified as female, but the rest of Coven didn't take long to realise who this was.
"Buffy?" Constantine said, awkwardly shrugging as the vampire turned to look sharply at him, leaving Constantine feeling uncomfortably like he'd just interrupted a private farewell between Angel and the woman before them.
"Look," he said, trying to show his regret while making sure his team's leader remained focused on their current task, "I'm sorry about... well, all this..., but if we're going to do anything-"
"NO!" another voice suddenly screamed, a dark-clad figure leaping out from behind the shattered remnants of what had once been a wall to charge at the Coven, its attempt to decapitate Constantine with its sword only just being averted when Spawn parried the blow with a blade that had suddenly erupted from his armour.
"BASTARDS!" the figure screamed, its voice and figure now identifiable as female as she rapidly launched blow after blow at Spawn, the former assassin only just managing to keep on the defensive. "You killed most of us already
; you don't
The yells were cut short when Spawn suddenly changed tactics and extended his chains to swiftly and smoothly bind the woman's outstretched wrists, twisting them just enough to make her lose her grip on her sword without causing any further damage.
"OK then, lady; who the hell
are you?" Spawn asked, hauling his new captive up so that he could see her face better. "We came here looking for some Slayers, and-"
"Oh, you got one, you fucking bastard; the last 'Chosen' One, if you wanna get 'technical'!" the figure yelled, spitting at Spawn in disgust. "So get the fuck
"Hold on; you're Faith
?" Cole asked, snapping his fingers as recognition hit him; he knew
he'd recognised that face from the dream he- or at least his insane alter ego- had given Angel before Angel had killed him. "How the hell
did you get through something like this
kind of shape; you don't even look like you're scratched-?"
"Fell behind some debris when those dogs attacked, OK, asshole?" Faith spat at the Goldlighter. "What is this, your friends missed me- what the HELL
Paige was the only person present who needed to look to know who had prompted that reaction from the new arrival, and she made a mental note to ask about Angel's history with this woman as soon as she could; this situation was difficult enough without adding in any more
mystery to it.
"Yeah, it's me," Angel said, looking back at Faith with a grim expression tinted with regret. "I'm sorry I wasn't here before, Faith-"
"STOP IT!" another scream suddenly sounded, a wave of energy hurtling towards the Coven almost before Cole could erect a protective energy barrier to protect himself and his teammates from the assault.
"Oh God, what's attacking us now
?" Cole said, lowering the barrier to try and generate a less potentially hostile appearance as he looked in the direction of the last attack. "Look, whoever-you-are, if you were here when this attack took place, we're not here to fight you-"
"NO!" the new voice said, another wave of magic hurtling towards them before Cole was able to stop it. "You can't do this
"OK, you know what?" Constantine said, rolling back his sleeves as he raised his arms, revealing two elaborate half-circle tattoos on his forearms as he held them up in front of him, the tattoos coming together to make a whole one as he did so. "I've had enough of this; into the light I command thee!"
He acknowledged even as he did this that it might not work- the rules of magic in this dimension compared to his own were something the Coven had never really studied in depth; spells weren't something they used that often, and his natural weapons tended to work fine whatever world he was in-, particularly since whoever they were dealing with may just be hidden naturally rather than concealed by any kind of glamour, but it was the best he could come up with.
"Into the light I command thee!" he repeated, glaring in the direction that the magic blasts had come from "Into the light I command thee
Before he could repeat himself again, the world around them seemed to shake, and the group found themselves facing a pale, red-haired woman in somewhat tattered clothing, looking at them with a shaken expression of fury and fear.
"Red?" Faith said, looking at the new arrival incredulously.
"Faith," Willow said briefly, before her eyes narrowed as she looked at Angel. "And what are you
going here, Angel... or is it-?"
Angelus," Cole said, his tone resolute as he looked at Willow, Constantine raising his shotgun slightly as Spawn and Cole shifted into a subtle combat stance, each clearly ready if either of the two women tried to attack their leader.
"I still have my soul, Willow," Angel said, looking earnestly at the witch as he tried to ignore the memory of Buffy's mutilated corpse even as her blood continued to tease his nostrils; he had to stay focused right now if they were going to get anywhere. "I know I probably just... dropped off the map after the incident in Los Angeles, but-"
"NO!" Willow yelled, staring angrily at Angel with a sudden intensity he wasn't sure he'd ever seen her display even in her long-ago yelling about coffee after Buffy's near-disastrous frat party incident. "You don't get to just... show up
after vanishing and say that you were doing stuff
! We needed you here
- we needed help
; we weren't ready
for something like this-, and you had to go and disappear on us for months
, only to show up with... with that
"Firstly, without getting into a 'who did what' argument, you did
leave us alone first; I called you for help when Fred was possessed, remember?" Angel countered, allowing his bitterness over their abandonment at that period of their lives to briefly shine through before he forced himself back on track; even if she hadn't shown up to help when Fred was dying, this was hardly the time to start holding grudges. "And second, these are my friends, John Constantine, Al Simmons, Paige Matthews, and Cole Turner; they might look a bit... rough..., but we're here to help-"
"'Help'?" Willow interjected, looking at the vampire incredulously; Angel wasn't sure if she wasn't bothering to respond to his comment about Fred or if she just didn't want to. "Now
you want to help? You vanish off the face of the Earth, leave us spending months
looking for you, and then you show up after
Buffy and most of our army's been torn apart by a bunch of demon dogs-!"
"OK, so vamp-boy here wasn't there for you
; most of the time he's been away he's been dealing with some serious
shit and just hasn't had time to check in," Constantine interjected, his eyes narrowing and the Holy Shotgun raising slightly in his grasp as he stepped forward to stand between his leader and the two women in a subtly defensive manner. "Right now, we can either play the goddamn blame game, or we can get to work on finding out who the hell
did this and work things out from there-"
"'Work things out from there'?" Faith repeated with a sarcastic glare at the exorcist. "That's
your big plan, gun-boy? We're dealin' with something that tore our army
"An army that you've barely been training for over a year and that you were probably never expecting would have to fight something on this scale; I'm not saying it wasn't tough, but it probably had the edge given that you weren't prepared
for it while it was
prepared for you," Spawn interjected with a brief shrug. "Got the full details from Angel here when we started working together; your girls were probably good, but you weren't training for something capable of doing this
For a moment, Willow and Faith simply stared at the man before them, his red cloak waving slightly as he looked back at the two women, his arms folded in a grim stance that effectively added to his message even with the obvious handicap of his face being concealed by his 'mask', until Faith groaned in resignation.
"Point..." she admitted briefly, holding up a hand to stop Willow saying anything about that. "You gotta admit, he makes a good point, Red; you said yourself that we didn't exactly cover what to do after this kinda attack in training..."
After that brief comment, the two women were once again left to silently contemplate what had just been said, leaving the Coven to do nothing but wait for them to be ready to continue before doing so.
"OK," Willow said, sighing slightly as she looked between the small group in front of her before her eyes narrowed as they settled on Angel. "Just so you know, even if you're here now, I'm still
not happy about you running out on us like that, and I'm definitely
going to want some info about where you've been before we start being all 'pally' again..."
"Don't worry, we'll answer any questions you might have when we get the chance to talk about them," Angel said, as he looked solemnly at the woman a part of him would always consider a kind of sister. "What matters right now is that we find out who's behind this and work out our next move; I've got some allies who might be able to help us find what we're looking for, but any help you can give us would be appreciated right now."
?" Faith yelled, waving a hand at their immediate surroundings in exasperation. "Have you even seen
what we've got left here, Angel? The Academy's been decimated
and we're down to under a tenth
of what we had before, and that's just what happened here
; we were getting reports of other attacks on our other HQs before the system went down-!"
, it's a larger problem than we're used to dealing with, but if the alternative is to just give up I know that I'm definitely
more interested in fighting than sitting back and waiting for something else
to happen," Angel said, staring at Faith with a renewed intensity. "Simple question, Faith; are you with us, or not?"
"And keep in mind that if you're not interested, you're staying here while we head off to our next destination," Spawn put in, his voice somehow sounding even grimmer than usual as he looked at her. "We've got such serious shit going down that somebody stuck eight of history's most indestructible psychopaths together just to stop us getting involved in it earlier; we don't have time to play nice and comfort the victims."
Faith's only response to Spawn's comment was to glare at him for a few moments and then grab the nearest weapon of a large axe and tighten her grip on it, glaring at the former Al Simmons all the while.
"If it means ass-kicking, I'm with you all the way," she said simply.
For a moment, Willow simply looked uncertainly at the group before her, evidently still shaken at what had taken place before their arrival, before she raised both arms and clicked her fingers, sending what looked like electricity crackling between them as she glared at the Coven.
"You think you can find who did this?" she asked.
"We'll be trying, anyway," Constantine said with an affirming nod.
"Then I'm with you," Willow said resolutely, her eyes narrowing with a dark intensity. "And when we find this thing..."
"Trust me, Willow," Angel said, briefly swinging his sword as he looked grimly at the red-headed witch, fully in agreement with her implied threat, "when
we find whatever did this, the challenge will be getting our piece of it before everyone else does."
As Willow nodded in satisfaction, Paige and Cole placed their hands on their colleagues' shoulders, vanishing into white light once again...
After seeing what had happened at the last two locations they'd visited, Angel supposed that he shouldn't have been surprised when he arrived at the location where Hellboy had lived and worked for so many years before he joined their team, but the sheer precision of the destruction still surprised him.
If anything, the damage here was comparatively less than what it had been in the last two locations. With the Bureau's 'offices' primarily located underground, it would have almost been easier to destroy the facility before them, but the damage sustained here appeared to have been delivered in such a manner as to prevent the base from collapsing in on itself while also making it clear that whoever had been here had no interest in leaving anything standing afterwards.
Most of the walls had been totally smashed through even as the support pillars between them remained standing, various shattered and damaged weapons- both modern and ancient; the ancient ones were most likely some of the supernatural relics that Hellboy had said the Bureau had gathered over the years- were scattered around the floor, evidently having fallen from their owners' hands in the last fight, and there were more than a few bodies lying around as well.
Spotting a blue-skinned form lying against one wall that was almost certainly Hellboy's old colleague 'Abe Sapien'- shortly after first coming together, the Coven had made a point of sharing what they could about their previous lives and enemies with each other in case it ever became necessary to contact their friends for assistance or fight someone that someone else had already fought-, Cole walked over to the battered body and knelt down to try and heal it, but a few seconds was all he needed to confirm that Abe had died too long ago for him to do anything about it now.
..." Faith muttered, the slight tension in her stance the only sign of fear visible even to those who knew her as well as Angel liked to think he did as she grimly took in their new surroundings, clearly shaken by the scale of the destruction before her. "What the hell
The sound of an almost agonising roar cut off what the dark Slayer might have been about to say, sending the Coven running down the corridor, drawing their weapons in preparation for a fight, only to arrive at the room at the end of the corridor- evidently originally a library, judging by the damaged and torn books scattered around the floor- and find the source of the roar.
Hellboy was crouching in the middle of the room, his head lowered as Spike, Illyria, Blade and Leo looked in sorrow at their teammate's massive red form as he held a still body in his arms, the left side of the body badly burned as though it had been directly exposed to an intense fire while the shapelessness of the limbs on the right side made it clear that the body's bones had sustained serious damage in whatever had happened to it.
"Oh no..." Angel whispered, Hellboy's stories about the Bureau helping him almost instantly realise who Hellboy now held in his arms; the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman, the woman Hellboy loved.
Judging by the still-present-but-fading flames on some of the books in her immediate vicinity, Liz had evidently put up quite a fight against whatever had killed her, but it nevertheless failed to change the fact that she had clearly died when whatever had done this had attacked the Bureau (Angel wasn't sure what to make of the burns, however; the idea of something capable of generating enough fire to burn a pyrokinetic was definitely not
an encouraging image).
"What-?" Hellboy began, his eyes momentarily narrowing in rage as he looked up, only to soften slightly when he saw that it was only his teammates. Faith and Willow briefly tensed up at the sight of the large red-skinned demon, but the evident grief and pain in his eyes as the state of their surroundings was evidently enough to convince the two new arrivals that he wasn't one of the demons responsible for the current state of affairs.
"Oh... you're here," the being who had once almost been the Nazis' secret weapon said, his tone doing an admirable impression of concealing his still-evident pain as he laid Liz's body back on the ground before him and stood back up, squaring his shoulders as he looked at his teammates.
"Yeah, we're all here all right; the question is, is anyone else
here?" Blade asked, raising his sword slightly as he carefully studied his surroundings, trying to spot something that he might have missed earlier. "This is the third location we've been to since Paige called to Leo for help, and so far all we've done is find where this thing's been
; we might get that it's tough, but we still don't even know what it is
"Allow me to answer that question, Daywalker," a new voice suddenly said from behind them.
Spinning sharply around, the group were surprised to see a man standing amid the rubble who hadn't been in the base earlier. Dressed in a black suit and tie that somehow went fairly well with the blood-red shirt underneath, the man had slicked-back black hair and a casual smile as he studied the Coven with his arms folded, as though he was waiting for them to get the joke.
am the 'it' that is responsible for... recent events, shall we say?" he asked, raising a casual eyebrow as he looked at the various men, women and demons before him. "And as for who or what I am..."
He shrugged casually, his bored expression suggesting that he was surprised that the Coven hadn't figured out the truth of his identity already. "I am Satan."