That time in Africa...
The Hard Way Out of Hell
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series, along with the characters from their respective shows are owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
Description: Facing the after-effects of an apocalypse isn't supposed to be easy. It's who steps up, and is willing to make the hard decisions that matters.
A/N: This story will have multiple, main character deaths.
A/N 2: This story will be entirely Xander POV unless otherwise noted.
:-:-: - Denotes the beginning/end of a flashback.:^^^:THAT TIME IN AFRICA...:^^^:
I sat up with a start, before I realized it was just the damn alarm. I thought about hitting 'snooze', but that just seemed like a tease. Sighing, I hit the off button and flopped back against the pillow.
I'd been back in London for a month, and I still wasn't used to modern technology again. The awful '86 Datsun pickup I'd driven hadn't had air conditioning, and sometimes, the brakes.
There was nothing like trying to maneuver an almost twenty year old pickup down a mountain road with no way to stop. I probably would have cheered when it finally got totaled, except I put my head through the side window when it happened.
Overall though, I'd enjoyed my time in Africa. I'd found seventeen slayers during my tenure there. I'd even brought two of them, plus one girl's sister back to London with me. Those two girls had been challenging though...:-:-:After two weeks of searching, I'd found fifteen year old Sabi Obasanjo in Kribi, Cameroon. It was mostly a resort town, but since it had a port, it had plenty of sailors. Her aunt had her running a small stand selling bootleg DVD's to them. I had to buy all of them just to get a meeting with the woman.
Her Aunt Ajuma had been less then pleased to find out I wanted to take her only worker away to a 'private' school, located in Mali. She'd actually made me buy the poor girl.
Since Council funds had been severely lacking at that point in time, I'd had to trade her the gold-inlaid pocket watch Giles had gotten for me as a Christmas present. In the end though, it was worth it.
Sabi hadn't wanted to go to the school in Bamako, instead she insisted on traveling with me. I'd been resistant at first, until I realized she spoke several different African dialects. Plus, living in a resort and port city, she'd learned a decent amount of English. She had to, if she was going to be able to sell her DVD's.
It had been a lot tougher to find the next slayer, seventeen year old Ann Powell and her younger sister, Emma. They had lived in the Darfur region of Sudan with their mother Yamile, a Sudan native, and father Thomas, a former British aid worker.
After their father had been killed by the Janjaweed militia, their mother was able to convince a group of U.N. peacekeeping troops to evacuate them out of the region. The problem was, no one was sure where.
Sudan had been the first foreign country I'd ever felt really uncomfortable in. It was bad enough that I'd invested in a Type 56 assault rifle, a Chinese version of the AK-47. When you're a white guy with an eye-patch in the middle of Africa, looking for young girls, you tend to stand out.
I was okay with that, but it was the vibe I got off the people in Sudan that bothered me. In other African countries, I'd been greeted with smiles and hand-holding, something I had to get used to. In Sudan, they just didn't like me, period.
After a month of searching, we'd finally located them fifteen miles south of Kusti, along the Nile River. Apparently the peacekeepers had found distant relatives of the two sister's mother, living in a small town called Warif.
The initial contact hadn't gone well at all. The relatives had noticed Ann's strength, and put her to whatever hard labor they needed. They'd also rent her out to others in the town for things like carrying bricks, or moving broken down cars.
Emma was even worse off. Since she had no slayer powers, she was reduced to scrubbing floors and other menial tasks the relatives could find. From what Sabi was able to translate, they were too 'light-skinned' and too 'westernized' for the family's liking.
I made the mistake of trying to 'buy' the girls like I had Sabi. When they realized I had money, they started making outrageous demands. Then it was dowry's, which made me sick to my stomach. I could almost understand Sabi's aunt, at least she thought the girl would be going to a school. These people were willing to marry the two girls off to a stranger for the right price.
After explaining the situation to Giles via satellite phone, he promised he'd wire the money to a trusted bank near the slayer school in Nairobi, Kenya. A watcher would then bring the cash to me, and I could get the poor girls out of the slavery they'd been forced into.
Since the money problem had been worked out by that time, Giles agreed to send some extra cash for me to use in my travels. I'd soon be able to get a newer car, so I made a deal with the family. They'd let me 'rent' Ann until the cash came, and they'd hold my '94 Corolla.
I'd had Sabi and Ann training together for about a week. I'd gotten to know Emma as well by giving the family a CD player. I wanted her to be comfortable around me for when the watcher finally got there.
Sabi had been doing her prayers and I'd been making a jewelery box for Emma. I was really enjoying working with the different kinds of wood Africa had. Then everything went to hell.~~~~~The sounds of frantic screaming were never good. I picked up a hammer to go see what was happening, but I was beaten to it when Sabi came bursting into the room.
"Emma's hysterical, someone kidnapped a few of the local girls! Annie tried to stop them and she was shot!"
"Son of a-." I grunted, as I dropped the hammer and headed toward my bedroom. Unlocking the trunk at the foot of my bed, I grabbed the Type 56 and several magazines, stuffing them into my pockets.
"What are you going to do?" The slayer asked, fearfully.
I ignored the question and turned back to her. "I need you to get Emma ready to go."
"I don't know where Ann or the other girls are. I'm not searching the whole town with an assault rifle like some kind of maniac."
Sabi ran out of the room, practically in tears. I'd have to worry about hurt feelings later.~~~~~We'd run several blocks, looking for the men that had killed Ann. As I went to turn a corner, I could see two armed men dragging a body down the center of the street by the arms.
I stayed at the corner, hiding behind a car. I didn't want to be seen as I tried to come up with a plan. The people in the neighborhood could see what was happening, but they were obviously too afraid to do anything.
Sabi stopped next to me, but Emma kept going.
"There! That's them!" Emma screamed, pointing at the men.
I watched as the two men dropped Ann's body, reaching for their rifles as they turned toward her sister.
Leaning against the car to steady my aim, I fired at the two of them. The stock bounced against my shoulder at first, causing the rounds to go wild. But after pulling it in tight, I managed to stitch both men across their torsos.
As I ran to Ann's body, I cursed my severely faded soldier memories, this could have gone a lot better. One of the men was still moving, so I passed the rifle to Sabi and told her to cover him.
As I leaned over my fallen slayer, I could see her chest rising and falling. I knew something was wrong though, it took a lot to knock a slayer out. Seeing blood in her hair, I turned her head to the side. There was a bullet graze along the left side on the back of her head.
Taking the rifle back from Sabi, I pointed the Type 56 down at them man who was blubbering like a baby, staring down at the blood pouring from his stomach.
"Kalla! Kalla!" He yelled as he saw the barrel in his face.
"English?!" I screamed at him.
"Kalla!" He shook his head repeatedly.
I knew the basics of Arabic, he was saying 'no'. I told Sabi to ask him what the hell he was thinking. They went back and forth for several minutes, before she turned to me.
"It's hard to understand between the blood and the accent, be patient. He said that Annie was interfering with..." She was struggling trying to get the translation right. "...a- a ritual I think- I'm not sure."
A ritual, that was never good. I stood up and pointed the gun at the mans temple.
"Astagh-Ferrullah!" Anything else he had to say was cut off by the 7.62 round that entered his brain.
Nobody fucked with my girls. I looked around and saw the townspeople who had come to see what the gunfire was about, scatter once again. I'd been trying to be friendly with the locals, but now, I couldn't give a shit.
After stripping the bodies of their rifles I turned back to Sabi. "Take Ann back to the house and stay there."
"What about Emma?" She asked, as she lifted the slayer into a fireman's carry.
Looking back, I saw the thirteen year old hiding behind the car we'd started out at. I hadn't wanted to kill the men in front of her, but it was her or them.
I handed the rifles to her once Ann's body was situated. "She's going to show me where the girls are. Now listen, anybody tries to stop you, shoot them."
After a moment of hesitation, Sabi nodded. "That slayer rule applies to you as well." She informed me, before she took off back toward the house.
"How far away is that building Emma?" I asked, as I walked up next to her.
She seemed really out of it, probably in shock. I grabbed her hand and she suddenly focused on me.
"I know you're really scared right now, but we have to hurry before your friends die. Show me, please."
Emma stood up and tugged me down a side street, avoiding the bodies. I just hoped we'd get there in time.~~~~~Emma took me to a house a few blocks away. "There." She told me, pointing at a detached garage about twenty feet further back. "I saw the women drag Mercy and the others in there."
I got down on one knee in front of her and put the rifle down. "You did good Emma." I told her before I brought her into a hug. "Now listen, I want you to run back to the house. You don't stop for anything, understand?"
She pulled back, tears in her eyes, and nodded.
"Good," I told her grabbing the Type 56 as I stood up. "Now go."
I watched as she took off down the street, back the way we had come. Once she was around the corner, I headed toward the garage, and kept an eye on the house as I passed.
That changed when I heard the screams of a little girl. It sounded like she was being tortured. As I stood next to the door, I could hear words, just none I could understand.
"Audhu-Billah!" The girl kept screaming over and over.
After changing the clips, I took a deep breath. Three, two, one...
I kicked open the door, rifle at the ready. I came across the most vile sight I'd ever seen in my life. Nothing I'd seen on the Hellmouth could ever compare to what was happening in that small garage.~~~~~Two women were holding a naked girl down on a table, while a third held a knife in front of her. To the left, another naked girl was on the dirt floor, bleeding badly from between her legs.
A fourth woman was kneeling over her, a needle and thread in hand. Even as the girl on the floor continued to scream, all the women had stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
"Min fadlak saadni!" The girl on the table screamed. "Saadni!"
I was pretty sure she was begging for help. Pointing the Type 56 at the woman with the needle, I gestured for her to join the others by the table.
Next I turned to the bitch in front of the girl on the table. "Drop the fucking knife."
One of the women started talking, and then the rest started and soon they were having a full blown argument. Seeing an opening, I kicked out, and knocked the knife free of the woman's hand.
She looked up at me, shocked. I stuck the barrel of the rifle to her head and looked at the others. "Let the girl go, or I blow her brains out."
The woman who'd had the needle and the one holding the girls left arm just looked at me stupidly. The one on the right, who started the argument, almost let go, before catching herself. She understood at least some English.
"Mafhoom?" I asked her.
She looked down, not wanting to answer. She understood.
I stared directly at her. "Tell them to let the girl go, or you all die now."
As the woman started talking to the others, I felt nothing but disgust. I'd heard of this kind of stuff happening, but I hadn't thought it was actually real. I needed to get these girls to a hospital fast. What scared me though, was that I still hadn't see Emma's friend, Mercy.
The women released the girl, who promptly threw herself off the table and knelt beside her friend on the floor.
"Kif Hhalik?" I asked her, as she tended to her friend.
She looked up at me fearfully. "Tayib."
Good, she was okay. I was running out of words I knew though.~~~~~"Abhatu 'an Mercy?"
"Hunak." She pointed toward a door, behind the now cowering women.
I gave her a nod. "Shukran." Then I turned back to the women. "Let the girl out, now."
The English-speaking woman suddenly got very frightened. "I can-not."
"Why can-not you?" I asked sarcastically.
She- bleed... she die."
The door I had come through was suddenly thrown open, I turned and saw that it was Sabi, an AK-47 in hand. Slayer speed was a great thing.
"Barakallahu feek!" The needle lady called out, upon seeing her.
Another round of Arabic started, this time between Sabi and the women. They were talking so fast, I could hardly catch a word they said.
Sabi turned to me, disgust on her face. "They thought I was here to rescue them from you."
I shook my head. "According to them, Em's friend bled to death before I got here."~~~~~We made the women move into a corner, and Sabi opened the door. I saw that it was a small closet, and she was lifting something out of it. As I got a better look, I realized it was indeed, Mercy.
The young slayer gently lay the poor girl down onto the table. Unfortunately, I could see her injuries and all the blood that was coagulating on her legs.
"Sabi, cover them."
After seeing her pick up the assault rifle, I peeled off my shirt and handed it to the girl from the table. "Put this on."
As she was doing that, I turned back to my slayer. "Grab the girl on the floor and get back to the house. Take the other one with you too."
She knelt down and scooped up the bleeding girl. She then turned to the girl that had been on the table. "Ta'alay ma'ee." The girl nodded.
As they went through the door Sabi gave one last parting jab. "Sallem ala 'Allah men ajlee."
Whatever it was she said, freaked the women out real bad.
The knife woman started to scream 'Aesef' over and over to me. The others just looked stricken.
I didn't care though, as soon as Sabi was clear, I squeezed the trigger on the Type 56. I didn't stop until the magazine ran dry.~~~~~When I had gotten back to the house, things had been bad. I had a little girl bleeding to death, and I couldn't take her to the hospital. It was kinda tough to do after killing six locals.
Going into my room, I picked up the sat phone and called Kaptajn Jens Grønkjær, a Dane working for the UN peacekeepers that I'd met when I was looking for the sisters.
As I spoke, I checked out the front windows to make sure there wasn't an angry mob forming. Things could get ugly real quick, especially since I was an outsider.
After quickly explaining the situation, he promised a medical team for the girls and soldiers to keep the locals at bay. He told me they'd arrive by helicopter in a nearby field within an hour.
After hanging up the phone, the girl who had been on the table came out of the bathroom. When she saw me, she ran up and hugged my legs. "Baaraka Allahu Fiik!"
I looked to Emma, who'd come out after her. She was shaking slightly, and I could see tear stains on her cheeks. Sabi must have told her about her friend.
"She said Allah bless you."
"Thank you." I told her as I tried to calm the girl with the death-grip on me. "Listen, I'm really sorry-"
"It's not your fault. I know you would have saved her if you could."
I knew she meant it, but it didn't stop me from feeling like crap. Christ, how many times had I gotten there 'too late'?
"How's your sister?" I asked, desperate to change the subject.
"She's awake, but still dizzy. Sabi said she should be fine."
"And the girl she brought back?"
"She doesn't know if Adjoa is going to make it." She started crying again. "Sabi thinks she might have lost too much blood."
"I need you to do me a favor Em, watch out the front windows, tell me if anyone comes toward the house, okay?"
Emma rubbed at her eyes and sniffled. "I can do that." She disappeared into the kitchen, before coming out shortly after, dragging a chair. She sat it in front of the window, keeping watch.
I thought of checking in on Adjoa, but I was uncomfortable with the idea. I couldn't do anything more then Sabi already was doing anyway.
That taken care of, I gently pried the girls arms from around me and led her over to a couch. If I could keep her calm, it would make things that much easier.
She looked at me strangely, I knew it was the eye patch, people always were a little weirded-out by it. "Ma esmouk?"
"Esmee Xander." I told her, introducing myself.
"Hal tatakallamu alloghah alarabiah?"
I was pretty sure she wanted to know how much Arabic I spoke. "Qualeelan." I said with shake of my head.
I knew I should have brought Mister Malloum, one of the watchers from the Kenya school with me to learn faster. At the time though, I was more concerned with finding slayers as quickly as possible.
"Thobeka." She replied with a sweet smile.
We were going to get along just fine.~~~~~For the next hour I tried to calm Emma and Thobeka, and keep them occupied as best I could. The less noise and movement that went on, the less likely we'd be noticed.
"People are coming!" Emma screeched, breaking the silence.
Getting the two girls together, I shoved them toward the back of the house. "Tell Sabi to bring one of those AK's and stay back there!":-:-:
Luckily, it had been the men Kaptajn Gronkjaer had promised. While the soldiers formed a perimeter around the house, the medical team came in to help Adjoa.
When we had first spoken, he'd noticed a wooden stake peeking out of my pocket. After that, I explained that my job was to help girls who were made
to fight such things. He'd given me his sat number in case I ran into any problems with the locals.
Jens had warned me that there were a lot of problems
in the Sudan, and I should just be happy that the girls weren't still in the Darfur region. From what I'd heard of the area, I definitely was.:^^^:
The worst part of the situation, had been that family was was behind it. Mercy's mother had been involved, she'd left before I got there, too distraught to continue.
Thobeka's mother had been the woman holding her left arm. Adjoa's had been the one with the needle. I'd later learned that if I hadn't offered to buy
the girls, Ann and Emma would have been taken too.
Things were looking up for the girls these days though. A surgeon in Copenhagen offered to do reconstructive surgery on Adjoa for free. After receiving asylum, she was adopted by a nice couple who'd immigrated from Zaire.
Thobeka was now a go-for at the Johannesburg, South Africa slayer school. At fourteen, she was too young to be a watcher, but she was learning a whole lot. I had high hopes for her.
Ann and Sabi were now best friends. They roomed together and patrolled together. I'd made sure to make the recommendation that wherever they were stationed, it was in the same location.:^^^:
Giles was one of the few within the council that knew what really happened. While he agreed with what I did, saying he'd have done the same thing, he thought it was better if the watchers and slayers at large didn't know.
I didn't blame him. Buffy held a lot of weight, and her no-kill ideas on humans, regardless of the reason, could really ruin my reputation. I was never one for the spotlight, good or bad anyways.
With a grunt, I finally dragged my ass out of bed. I had a language lesson to go to in forty five minutes. Considering how many nationalities of slayers there were, watchers were now supposed to be able to speak at least one additional language.
I'd chosen Arabic because I'd learned a lot working in Africa, plus I just didn't have the time to learn any other. The best part, was that it gave Emma something to do. Some non-slayers, mostly siblings, that lived at the headquarters seemed to get an inferiority complex. That was the last thing I wanted for her.
After throwing on some clothes and my patch, I went down to breakfast. I knew I had to hurry it up, my thirteen year old teacher was a total slave-driver.:^^^:A/N 3: I have never been to the places used in this chapter. I have tried to be as accurate as possible with regional names, locations and language. If anyone is aware of a mistake I've made regarding any of these things, please let me know.:^^^:END