I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or V for Vendetta. They belong to Joss Whedon and Quality Comics respectively. I also don’t own Firefly. It belongs to Joss Whedon.
AN: This is a somewhat darker take then my usual fare, to say the least. You have been warned.
~~X for eXecutionNovember 1st 1997; 9:01 am
Sunnydale High School
“He’s missing. I don’t know what happened to him. He could be anywhere. Anything could have happened to him last night. I don’t know where he went or even if he’s alive. You’ve got to help me. Please…”
“Willow!” Buffy’s voice cut through Willow’s babble with a ferocity that caused the girl to flinch. “What are you talking about?”
“Xander’s missing! His parents say he never came home last night. We’ve got to find him quickly.”
Buffy froze for a long moment. Xander was rather irresponsible on the whole, but things had gotten rather wild last night. Was it possible he was hurt? “Calm yourself, Wills. We’ll look for him as soon as we get out of class. I’m sure he’s just fine.”
The problem was that Xander Harris was not just fine. In fact, as far as Buffy and Willow could find, Xander wasn’t anywhere at all. Days became weeks and weeks became months and still nothing could be found. Even by magic he could not be found. Willow was utterly devastated when Xander’s parents had him declared dead.
**November 4th 1998; 12:00 am
A Sunnydale Warehouse
Her breathing was ragged as Faith tore through a warehouse trying desperately to outrun her demons, both corporeal and mental. Kakistos was in town and, as had been true for some time, she was alone in the face of her certain demise.
Her fear, and the many vampires that pursued her, blinded her to the danger she was fast approaching at the other end of the warehouse she had intended to use as a shortcut to elude pursuit. And so, it was in complete shock that Faith skidded to a halt as the very object of her fear blocked her path. Kakistos… The Greek Freak… Diana’s killer.
Kakistos smiled, offering a death’s head grin. “Faith, my dear. It has been a merry chase, but now you are once again in my grasp. I believe it is time that we spoke of your most unkind treatment of me in Boston. I am forever marked by what you did to me.”
Faith shuddered, remembering clearly Diana’s fate. Diana’s death had been terrible and grisly, making even the hardened street kid that was Faith quail in disgust and pity. And now that fate looked to be in her immediate future, visited upon her, and the small child that was locked tightly within her heart just wanted to curl up and cry in a corner. “Please…”
Kakistos growled in rage. “Please? You marked me, me, Kakistos!!! I who have not been marked in 5000 years, not since my own departed sire did so in my ritual of rebirth. And you dare to ask me for mercy? Nay. You will be punished for your actions, like any other impertinent child.”
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me…”
All of the vampires in the room shuddered as the words of a psalm were calmly intoned by a cloaked figure who walked through the door as if he had naught in the world to fear in the warehouse.
Kakistos growled. This… person dared to interrupt his moment of triumph and speak those hated words of faith in his presence. “Kill the meddler. Do so now!”
Kakistos watched in shock and dismay as the cloaked man tore merrily through the vampires with a pair of well-forged daggers, making a mockery of Kakistos’ supposedly elite forces. And, to make matters worse, the man was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, the maniacal grin on the mask sending a shiver even through the powerful vampire.
And then it was over, leaving only three in the room; Faith, whose mouth was hanging open in complete shock; Kakistos, who was feeling fear bloom in his chest for the first time in hundreds of years, flexed his hands and prepared for the fight of his unlife; and the masked man in black, who had picked up a wooden staff and was looking at it contemplatively.
And then it happened. The man continued his hated recitation. “Thy rod, thy staff, they comfort me…” Even as Kakistos involuntarily shuddered at the words of faith, the man in the mask darted forward, ramming the staff ferociously through Kakistos’ thick hide. Kakistos growled deep in his chest, but it was already too late as he exploded into dust, his remains sprinkling down on the gobsmacked slayer.
Faith quickly drew herself up and on guard, trying desperately to piece together her thoroughly shattered façade of control. “Who the hell are you?”
She had a feeling the man in the mask was smiling at her, though it was impossible to tell. And then the man began to speak…
“Examine, in exaction, a humble extroverted eccentric, cast expeditiously as both extremes of moral existence by the excursiveness of Fate.
“This exhibit, no mere expression of egotism, is an example of the voice of an accosted population, now extinct, expunged. However, this most excellent explanation of an unexcised vexation stands exemplified and has expressed an acceptance towards expelling these exploitative and expendable excrements expectorating upon exorcisms, whilst accepting that the excessively exhumed may exceed their expirations exponentially.
“The only acceptable option is execution; an explosion, held as an exhibit, not unsuccessful, for the excellence and exactitude of such shall one day exonerate the wakeful and the exemplary. Inexplicably, this exordium of expression extends much too extremely, so let me simply add that it's my very good honour to meet you and you may call me X.”
The utter terror of the night, combined with the sheer unbelievability of her rescue finally took their toll on Faith as she fainted, dead away…
The man in the mask smirked as he hefted the unconscious Slayer into his arms. “I hadn’t intended to sweep you off your feet, my dear, but it appears I have no choice at this juncture. It simply wouldn’t do to provide a free meal to those I wish to see destroyed.” And with that, X calmly left the dust-encrusted warehouse behind them.
**November 4th 1998; 8:43 am
The Shadow Library
Faith woke with a start, shocked to find herself in a well-appointed bedroom. She was even more shocked to find herself still fully clothed. It was a sad fact that most of the men she had met in the past would have happily taken advantage of her in her unconscious state. So perhaps her shock was not unreasonable.
Slowly but surely, Faith scanned the bedroom she was in. There was no sign of anyone at the moment, a fact that calmed her, but there was a change of clothes sitting on the corner table that could only have been taken from her apartment.
A further cautious glance revealed no presence and so Faith rapidly changed into the clean clothes, not even considering the bath in the ensuite at this point. She was confident enough in her solitude that she was willing to risk giving her host a brief show, but she wasn’t about to take chances with an extended bath. There was no reason to tempt fate there.
It was after she was fully dressed that she heard the faint sound of classical church music playing softly in the background. With great caution she opened the bedroom door and found herself in a beautiful, old library.
The beautifully crafted shelves were filled with leather-bound volumes that were probably beyond price. Faith stared fixedly at one volume in particular. ‘A Hunter’s Guide to the Creatures of the Night’ by Abraham Van Helsing. She felt a nervous twitch at the sight of that book. It had once come up in conversation with Diana as being the definitive work on vampires, werewolves, demons and many other beings. It had also been mentioned that all of the remaining volumes were lost or in private collections. Its worth was astronomical.
“You can read it, if you like.”
Faith spun around, grabbing the knife she had in her boot in a smooth movement and pointing it at the speaker.
The man before her was someone who was probably quite handsome once, but the nasty scar on his face and the eye-patch that was perched where his second eye ought to be detracted somewhat from any physical attraction she felt for the man. What truly shocked her was the apparent youth of the guy before her. He was probably her age, give or take a year or two.
“Who are you?”
The man smiled benignly, detracting somewhat from the livid scar and the intimidating patch. “I believe that I already stated who I am, my dear. However, given that I am no longer wearing my mask, I suppose you can be forgiven for not recognising me. I am X. And this…” X spun about and waved his arms to indicate the entire area, “is the Shadow Library. My home, as it were…”
Faith allowed the knife in her hand to drop a little, but still kept it ready. “Why am I here then? Because if you have some idea about…”
The man’s smile did not lessen. “My dear Faith, I had no ulterior motive in bringing you here save that you were unconscious and would have been easy prey for the foul creatures that plague this once-fair town.”
Faith’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You could have just brought me to my motel room. You know where it is or you couldn’t have gotten me a change of clothes.”
X shrugged unconcernedly. “I suppose I might have been able to do so, Faith, but that would have been self-defeating. Any vampire with an ounce of power can enter a motel room.”
Faith shuddered at the pronouncement, even as she shook her head in silent denial. “That’s not true. A vampire can’t enter a residence without an invitation from a person who lives there. Everyone knows that.”
X nodded amiably in response to that. “Not so, my dear. A vampire cannot enter a home without invitation from someone who lives there. The problem with homes is that there must be at least one person living in whatever residence it is that truly considers it their home. Now, I’m quite sure that a proper consideration on the issue will help you realise why a motel room has no protection from vampires.”
Faith uncomfortably considered the implications of X’s pronouncement. It was difficult to do so, because it stripped away the small blanket of security that had felt whilst sleeping in that motel room, content in the knowledge that no vampire could enter without her permission. “A motel room is, by its very definition, considered to be a temporary residence. That makes it next to impossible for anyone to truly consider a motel room to be their home.”
The young man clapped softly at her statement. “Exactly. I would strongly suggest that you move into a more secure residence now that you are aware of this fact.”
X looked up at her, curiosity painted upon his features. “Of course you can.”
Faith shook her head in response. “The motel was the best that I could afford.”
“Ridiculous,” The one-eyed man spat. “Your watcher receives a stipend in order to care for you.”
“My watcher is dead.”
The man grimaced. “And Mr. Giles?”
The man tsked softly in disgust. “G-man, G-man… Where is thine mind, dear G-man? You should ask him, Faith. If he denies you, then you should remind him that he could use Buffy’s stipend to cover your expenses until he begins to receive your stipend. Goodness knows that Buffy’s mother covers most of her expenses anyway.”
Faith eyed X with curiosity. “How do you know so much about watchers and slayers?”
The man grinned. “I have experience with both, my dear. I am far more… experienced then my age would suggest.”
The slayer nodded her acceptance of that explanation. “Then I guess I should go.”
X smiled benignly. “You could stay awhile, Miss Faith. I have plans for a… midnight service… tonight and would not mind some company. I assure you; no harm will come to you.”
Faith almost denied him, but then thought better of it. If the man had wanted to harm her, he had long since had the opportunity. Likewise, she had no idea where she was and could really use a guide. “Okay…”
**November 4th 1998; 11:58 pm
Sunnydale Police Station
Faith stared in confusion at the silent shape of the Sunnydale Police Station. “Why did you want to show me this, X?”
The man, once again in a mask, gave the impression that he was smiling. “My dear, Faith, you are here to hear my symphony. Look at that building, dear Faith. It is a mockery. A police station that closes its doors at sunset, unwilling or unable to aid its population once night falls. To serve and protect.” X’s voice gained even more venom as he read the legend that was emblazoned beneath the moniker of the Sunnydale P.D. “It is a lie. Listen closely Faith. Do you hear the music?”
Faith listened closely and quickly picked up a tune that was beginning to play at the edges of her slayer-enhanced hearing. “Ride of the Valkyries?”
As the music became audible to the human ear, X smiled broadly behind his mask. “It seemed a rather fitting choice given my companion this night.”
And finally, as the music reached its crescendo on the stroke of midnight, the empty police station began to explode spectacularly. Faith watched, aghast, as the station was torn asunder. “How…?” And then she noticed that X had vanished. “I don’t understand.”
**November 5th 1998; 4:15 pm
Sunnydale High School
“Giles!” Buffy Summers rushed into the library, school done for the day. “Did you hear about last night?”
Rupert Giles sighed dramatically and glanced up to meet his slayer’s gaze. “Yes, Buffy. If you are referring to the police station exploding last night, then I think everyone heard it as it happened. It was hardly the most subtle of events.”
“But what about the music?”
That caught Giles off guard. “Music, you say? What music? And what does it have to do with the police station exploding?”
“Duh, Giles! There was this whole music thing going on just before the explosion. I think it may be connected.”
“What kind of music was it, then?”
“I don’t know. It was old people stuff.”
Giles massaged his temples in frustration. This was both frustrating and vaguely insulting. “Old people stuff, you say. Could you be a touch more specific?”
“It was Ride of the Valkyries
Buffy and Giles both spun about to see Faith entering the library. “Ride of the Valkyries
. How fascinating.” Giles began digging through his books. “I suppose I’ll have to look into the various music-related demons out there. I seem to recall one called Sweet who…”
“It wasn’t a demon.”
Buffy shot a piercing glare at her sister slayer. “And just how would you know that?”
Faith shrugged slightly. “I was there when it happened. The guy was as human as they come. Goes by X.”
Giles offered a skeptical glance. “You were there and you didn’t even attempt to stop him?”
“Hey, I didn’t know he was planning to blow the place until half of it was already gone and by the time I looked at X again he had disappeared.”
Giles sighed softly. “Did you at least get a good look at the man?”
“Yep. He was a big fella, ‘bout my age, wore a leather patch over one eye, at least when he wasn’t wearing this weird mask that he seemed to wear on patrol.”
“A weird mask. Could it possibly be something that was possessing him?”
Faith shrugged again, giving off an air of uncertainty. “I don’t think so. He seemed to be able to take it off when he wanted and he seemed to act the same with or without it, ya know.”
Giles nodded his acceptance. “Anything else?”
“He’s really good with knives and he’s damn near as tough as a slayer. Really freaky like. Definitely in the know, too. He’s got some books in that Shadow Library of his that would make you drool, G.”
Giles nodded. “A rogue vampire hunter of some sort, then. I’ll put a call into the Council about it.”
“I was wondering if you could arrange someplace for me to stay. I was staying at the motel, but X told me that wasn’t safe ‘cause a motel ain’t a home.”
Giles nodded sagely. “Of course, Faith. Just come back after patrol and we’ll move you into my spare room for now. That’s the best I can provide on such short notice, but I’m sure we can get you a small apartment soon.”
Faith offered a faint smile and followed Buffy as they left the library. Sunset was approaching. It would soon be time to play…
**November 5th 1998; 5:00 pm
Sunnydale City Hall
“What do you have for me, gentlemen?” The typical happy voice of Richard Wilkins III echoed through his office, a tone that was belied by the cold look in his eyes.
Bob Munroe, the Sunnydale Chief of Police, sighed in frustration. “Not all that much, I’m afraid. Right now we’re in a jurisdictional tug-of-war with the FBI. I’d really appreciate if you could get them off our backs, boss.”
Wilkins pinched his nose in frustration. He did not need the Feds investigating his quiet little town during the year in which he’d planned his ascension. “Well gosh. We can’t have the FBI looking about too closely, Bob. Agent Doyle owes me a favour for pointing him towards the Ross girl. I’ll get them dealt with. Allan?”
The rather shaky deputy mayor stood to attention as he was called upon. “Yes, Mr. Mayor. We have some reports of classical music being played prior to the explosion. It might have been Ride of the Valkyries
. Also, a vampire that was in the area says that one of the slayers was there, but that she looked as shocked as anyone.”
Wilkins nodded. “Bombs aren’t really the style of either slayer, Allan. Still, it was wise to check all avenues. Good work. Mr. Snyder?”
The unhappy little troll gave another dissertation on how Summers was trouble in the works. Wilkins gave an internal sigh. His dear departed wife had warned him there would be days like this.
**November 6th 1998; 6:00 am
666 AM ~ The Voice of Sunnydale
“Gooooooooooooooooooooooood morning, Sunnydale!” X grinned as he imitated Adrian Cronauer, an idol of his from when he was a semi-innocent kid.
The rather enthusiastic greeting woke a great number of people from their slumbers as their radio alarm clocks went off. It had taken a great deal of effort to sneak into all of the relevant homes and reset their alarm clocks to the right time, station and volume.
“This is 666 am, the voice of Sunnydale, here to offer you a wonderful morning. You may be wondering where your usual announcer is this morning. The truth is that he’s a little tied up at the moment and so I’m filling in.”
X offered a leering grin at the radio announcer on the floor before continuing. “Yesterday, many of you likely noted the destruction of the Sunnydale Police Department. What you likely have not noted is the reason for this explosion.
“The Police are meant to serve and protect the populace of this fine city and yet I can’t help but notice that no one was killed when I blew up the station. Why? Because all of this city’s finest were asleep in their comfortable little beds, allowing you to fend for yourselves.
“The time has come to let the Mayor and his lackeys know that you aren’t going to put up with it anymore. The time has come for the night to no longer be ruled by the creatures of our nightmares…”
The radio message continued for over an hour, as countless people listened spellbound. All of them had known the truth at some level, and now X was rubbing their faces in it.
“… the Mayor of this city has allowed this to go on for too long. I am giving the Mayor a personal ultimatum. If he does not clean up the streets of the inhuman monsters that prey on us at night, I will personally visit Armageddon upon him at City Hall on November the 5th of this coming year. I invite all of those who have seen the light of truth to march with me on that day. I now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.”
With that said, X leaped to his feet and slipped out of the building, just as the SPD finally managed to bring down the door in the door.
**November 6th 1998; 7:00 pm
The Shadow Library
The Guy Fawkes mask sat on a table, discarded, as X stared into a mirror, trying desperately to recapture the image of who he had been.
The images of who he had become just would not die.
Caleb gouging out his eye was a memorable one. If he ever met the preacher who had taken his eye in another lifetime, they would certainly have a reckoning.
The next notable memory was Buffy, coming after him with the slayer scythe. The thrice-damned thing had allowed the First Evil to control her and any other slayer it came into contact with. What’s more, the thing was almost indestructible. They had been forced to kill a dozen slayers, including Buffy herself, before they finally dropped a nuke on the accursed thing.
That’s when things had got really out of hand. Adam Sutler happened. And V was created. Many terrible things ensued, to the point where X… V… in his last dying moments had left the choice in the hands of a girl named Evey Hammond. X growled at the hated image of himself. He was young again, but he still kept the scars that age had given to him. He smirked faintly. No one had ever realised that V had a blind side. The experiments done to him had rendered him so fast and durable that it was difficult to notice.
“Ah, dear Richard. You hope to ascend during graduation this year. That, my dear fellow, is something that I cannot allow. I believe it is time for you to begin fearing the dark… But where to begin?”
**December 25th 1998; 7:31 pm
Reginald Snyder, Principal of Sunnydale High was happily chowing down on the stew his wife had left on the stove for him. It wasn’t something she normally did before she left on her business trips, but who was he to spit on his good fortune? God knew he deserved it for putting up with that Summers girl all day.
A stiff breeze entered through the open door, causing Snyder to frown. He could have sworn he had closed it. As he stood to deal with the mild disorder in his life, he felt an iron grip on his shoulder.
“Just let it lie, Principal Snyder. You won’t have to worry about it for long.”
Snyder spun in his chair, falling down onto the floor. He stared up at the man in the mask, trying to figure out who he was. “Who are you? I’m friends with the Mayor, you know…”
The temperature seemed to lower somewhat. “I was fairly sure of that, yes. Thank you for the confirmation though, Herr Snyder. It rids me of any pesky, lingering remnants of guilt I might have felt over your demise.”
“You… you’re going to kill me? Please, don’t do it. I’ll do anything. I’ll, I’ll…”
The man in the mask raised his hand to silence Snyder’s panicked babbling. “Come now, Snyder. Meet your fate like a man. Besides, I’m not going to kill you…”
Snyder felt relief pouring through every pore of his body. “I’m glad to hear you’re being reasonable about this.”
“No, Mr. Snyder, you misunderstand. I’m not going to kill you. You killed yourself. I just carried the poison awhile.”
The man in the mask jerked his head towards the empty bowl of stew. “Merry Christmas, my dear principal. When you get to hell, tell them X sent you. I understand Satan is considering a group rate considering the number of your fellows that will follow you.” With that, X turned and left the former Principal dying on his kitchen floor.
**February 9th 1999; 12:03 am
A Dark Alley
Allan Finch stood watching the two slayers duking it out with members of El Eliminati. This was the time. He had to tell the slayers about Wilkins and then they would get him out of this mess.
“Could you hold this for me?”
Finch jerked to see a strange man in a mask holding out a sheet of paper to him. “You with them?” he asked, wondering why he’d never heard of this guy before.
The man seemed to be vaguely amused by Finch’s question. “Yes, I suppose you could say that. Now if you don’t mind?”
Finch flinched violently, remembering what had been asked of him. “Oh yeah, sure.” He took the sheet of paper. “What is it?”
Finch could almost sense a smirk. “Half of a message.”
The deputy mayor narrowed his eyes. “What’s the other half?”
The former public servant dropped to the ground as a knife pinned the piece of paper to his chest in a sick parody of a message board. “You are, Mr. Finch. May your fate be as you deserve it to be.”
X walked away, ignoring the two slayers. They would triumph. They already had, after all. And this time Faith wouldn’t have to tie herself up in knots over a monster like Finch. X sneered at the dead man. He felt no pity for Finch. The man had helped the mayor to do all sorts of atrocities before he had decided he lacked the stomach for it. X would not allow such a man to live. Not when he could do something about it.
**February 9th 1999; 5: 32 am
Sunnydale High School
“Good lord.” Giles shook his head in disbelief as he handed the letter off to Wesley. The new man was rather pathetic, but Giles would take what assistance he could get on this one.Dear Slayers, Watchers, et al.
Wilkins is planning an ascension. Just thought you should know.
The letter was brief and uninformative. The fact that Faith had found it pinned to the corpse of the deputy mayor made it all the more sinister. Giles sighed in frustration. “Do we have anything on the knife, at least?”
“It belongs to X, just like the note implies. I saw X use those on vampires that night I met him.”
Giles pursed his lips as he looked at Faith consideringly. “Hmmmm… Do we have anything on what an ascension is, then?”
“Good heavens!” Wesley paled a dangerous shade of white. “I believe I’ve found a reference.”
A mere glance told Giles that this was going to be messy. “Willow, find out everything you can on the Mayor through that infernal machine. Wesley, you check the city’s physical archives. Buffy and Faith, get home and get some rest. We’ll need you in top form tonight.”
The various members of the Scooby Gang went about their assigned tasks with nervous energy in the air.
**February 10th 1999; 7:37 pm
Sunnydale City Hall
“A report, if you please, Mr. Trick.”
The cool tone of his boss sent a shiver up Trick’s spine. Wilkins was usually so genial. For his façade to be cracking hinted that trouble was in the air. “Well, Finch’s murderer seems to have done us a favour. It looks like he was planning to sell out to the slayer for help getting out of town.”
Wilkins’ genial façade seemed to return a little at that. “Gosh, it’s so hard to get good help these days. I do hope you cleaned up the man’s remains, Mr. Trick. I simply can’t have such messes cluttering our fair streets, especially with the magicks that keep our citizens in line fluctuating after that atrocious announcement.” A hint of threat hung in the mayor’s voice.
Trick smiled winningly. “Already taken care of, Mr. Mayor. Anything else?”
Wilkins shook his head and turned to Munroe. “Hello there, Chief. How goes the investigation into dear Reginald’s demise. It’s been a couple of months now, hasn’t it?” The threat of violence was getting very real.
Munroe was sweating profusely, despite the faint bite of February in the air. “According to our investigations, it looks like his wife poisoned him, Mr. Mayor. She denies it, of course, but all the evidence bears that out.”
Richard narrowed his eyes. It was too clear cut, too neat. This was especially true with Allan’s death having happened now. Someone was killing his people, to what end he wasn’t entirely sure. Still, he had a suspect. He was certain this X was responsible. The problem was finding the man. He was a ghost. “I would suggest you redirect your efforts to finding this X, Mr. Munroe.”
Munroe nodded eagerly. “Whatever you say, sir. I’ll get right on that.”
**February 12th 1999; 5:12 pm
1630 Revello Drive
Detective Paul Stein smirked triumphantly at Buffy Summers and her mother. “You were at the scene of yet another murder, Miss Summers. It’s a pattern I’m really beginning to take not of. First there was your mother’s boyfriend whose body has disappeared. Then there was that foreign exchange student, whose body was taken away to be buried in her home country. And now we have our own, beloved deputy mayor. No one’s going to take this body away from me, Miss Summers. I would suggest that confession would be good for your soul.”
Joyce shrugged unconcernedly. “You can’t arrest someone for chronic bad luck, Mr. Stein. There is no evidence to suggest my daughter had anything to do with Mr. Finch’s death. She may have had the opportunity, but she had no motive whatsoever. I’m quite sure that she’s never even met this town’s deputy mayor.”
Stein frowned. He hated parents. They were almost as bad as lawyers. And Munroe had ordered him to conduct this investigation strictly by the book. That had reputedly been the problem with the Buchanan murder investigation. Paul sighed internally. He’d get her yet. “Don’t leave town, Miss Summers.”
Buffy sighed mentally. “Not an issue, Detective.”
The police detective nodded and turned about, walking out into the descending twilight. He’d have to get home fast if he wanted to avoid any potential unpleasant encounters. Sunnydale was dangerous after dark.
“Where are you rushing off to, Detective?”
Stein spun about to find a man in a mask standing there. “Who the hell are you?”
The man seemed to smirk. “No one of consequence. But you, sir, are a very special man. Hundreds of people die of barbecue fork incidents, gangs on pcp and wild animal attacks each year. All of these occur under your jurisdiction, Mr. Stein, and yet none of them are ever solved, let alone investigated. Meanwhile, whenever someone dies in even the same zip code as Buffy Summers or one of her associates, you suddenly investigate with the full force of your office. One might find such a coincidence to be very much un-coincidental…”
Paul snarled at the brat questioning him. “You’re one of Summers’ little band, aren’t you? Which one? The librarian? The musician?”
The man in the mask tilted his head in a seemingly playful manner as he drew something out of his pocket. “I am the one with the barbecue fork. You may call me X.”
Stein froze as he saw that the object was, in fact, a barbecue fork. He strongly suspected this was going to be a bad day.
X definitely looked smug now. “After I have finished with you, I think I’ll leave you in the zoo’s hyena pit. That way this can be a wild animal attack, as well…”
**February 15th 1999; 12:37 pm
Sunnydale City Hall
Bob Munroe sighed from his temporary desk at city hall. The police station was scheduled to require another month to rebuild. And now his chief homicide detective had apparently been killed by vampires. How else could he explain the coroner’s choice of ‘barbecue fork incident’ and ‘wild animal attack’ for Stein’s cause of death?...
**May 4th 1999; 9:12 am
Richard Wilkins smiled broadly in the mirror. Since the unfortunate death of Paul Stein at the hands of vampires, it seemed that Sunnydale had finally begun to settle down. Granted, the populace was still bubbling away and he was expending many of his mystical resources by keeping them from truly grasping everything. That was unpleasant.
On the other hand, Richard was well into his hundred days of invincibility and was looking forward to his ascension soon. All he need now was for one more thing to g his way. Mr. Trick was busy dealing with it for him. He only hoped it worked out as he expected it to. Otherwise Mr. Trick was going to join Richard’s former maid in the dusting…
**May 4th 1999; 9:17 pm
Mr. Trick smirk as he slipped through the quiet streets of Sunnydale. Wilkins was reputedly keeping the slayers and their lackeys busy with a slime demon on the other side of town. They still didn’t have much on Wilkins at all. What little they did have didn’t give them enough information to thwart the steps toward the mayor’s ascension.
Trick glanced at the relatively innocuous-looking Box of Gavrok. Such a tiny thing that would give the mayor the necessary nudge to make his big ascension on Sunnydale High’s graduation day. He briefly entertained the idea of screwing the mayor over and running. No. The mayor would find him and Trick had not lasted over a hundred years by needlessly provoking a psychotic control freak like the mayor.
“Earth to earth…”
Trick hissed. He recognised that phrase.
“Ashes to ashes…”
Trick began to glance around wildly, trying to catch sight of whoever it was that was quoting the Book of Common Prayer
“Dust to dust…”
Trick felt a terrible piercing sensation as a crossbow bolt penetrated his heart. Before he could even register the pain well enough to scream, Trick was dust in the wind…
X sat on a nearby roof, crossbow in hand and mentally patted himself on the back for placing those microphones. To a vampire, hearing words of prayer coming from all directions is extremely unsettling. Especially when they can’t see the one doing the reciting and kill them.
X leaped down and picked up the Box of Gavrok. “Gotcha. And now to destroy you…”
X froze as he heard the feminine tones of Faith. “Working for the mayor, or the Scoobies, my dear Faith.”
Faith noted the term Scoobies with interest. It was not one she had heard of before, but she readily suspected who he was referring to. “The Scoobies, X. And you?”
X smirked behind his mask. “The same, after a fashion.”
“Really? I don’t recall seein’ you at the meetings…”
“Hence the after a fashion, my dear. I work for the same side, but my methods are different.”
“I know. You killed the deputy mayor and probably Snyder. Why?”
X shrugged. “They worked for an evil man and were well beyond redemption. Why don’t you ask me about Trick?”
“Trick was a vampire. That’s reason enough on its own.”
“True enough. Why haven’t you led Buffy and the Scoobies to my door?”
“I thought you were on the right side. I wanted to make sure I was right…”
“How’d I do?”
“You have to ask?”
X shrugged. “I’m human. If you disapproved of my actions and then killed me, you’d be the worst sort of hypocrite.”
“True enough. You’re clear. I’ve been looking into the mayor’s operations. There ain’t no innocents there. You wanna keep the box?”
X considered a moment. “No. Have Giles and Wesley deal with that for me, would you? I’ve never been good at magic.”
“I can do that.”
“Excellent. Encourage them to hurry. The mayor will become suspicious if he doesn’t receive it soon.”
**The Intervening Time
As May ended an eclipse occurred, allowing the vampire population to rage during the day and murder as they would. The public fought back ineffectively, growing more and more angrily as they realised that the police had been given the day off to celebrate the graduation of SHS’ latest batch of seniors.
The mayor sat in his office, head in his hands as he tried to figure out how to get out of his current mess. The ascension had failed without the Box of Gavrok and he wouldn’t be able to attempt it again for another twenty years, at least. His invulnerability was gone again and Trick was missing, presumed dust.
Months passed and Bob Munroe had reputedly skipped town during an angry riot by Sunnydale citizens on their useless protectors. The police station had been burned down in the riot and still Wilkins did not know who X was so that he could arrest him and charge him with murder, arson and whatever else he could think of.
**November 5th 1999; 9:02 am
The people were marching outside of city hall. Wilkins had barricaded the door himself, given that none of his employees had wanted to be here for this day. Munroe had been discovered a week ago in Las Vegas, head from a pistol shot at close range. People were still debating whether it was suicide or X.
Wilkins did not want to be here either and would have happily joined his employees if he could have. Unfortunately he was bound to the hellmouth. The bond empowered him greatly but also tied him to the town as tightly as if he was chained up. The only way to break it would have been to ascend and that just wasn’t an option.
A shadow shifted. “Well gosh. Where are my manners? Is that you, X?”
“Yes, Richard, it’s me.” X calmly walked out of the shadows.
Richard stood there calmly, not really sure what to do at the moment. “Why?”
X pulled off his mask with an implacable expression. “For all the lives that your city has taken. For all the lives it will continue to take. For sacrificing others to feed your own ambitions. For making a mockery of the police force and the education system of this town. For a hundred major crimes and a million minor transgressions. For all that you have done, still do and would continue to do if you lived beyond today. But most of all, for a high school sophomore named Jesse McNally, whose only crime was being born in this hellhole…”
Richard studied the scarred and damaged face before him, swiftly recognising it from his files, despite the changes that had been made. “That was quite a speech, Xander. Is that how you justify your murders to yourself? It’s my fault?”
Xander sneered at the soon-to-be former mayor. “You can’t make me feel guilty for killing those monsters, Dick. I don’t blame you for their deaths. I take full credit for them. I would go so far as to say that I’m proud of ending them. Just like I’ll be proud to end you. Xander knocked twice on Richard’s desk. “Bomb Voyage.” And with that he stood to leave, ignore all of Richard’s comments about his cowardice and weakness.
Richard finally gave up and ran to his desk, ducking under it to find a bomb wired there. He sighed. Three minutes left on the timer. Three hours before he could go to lunch without mystically killing himself. Richard closed his eyes. “Bomb Voyage indeed, my boy…”
Did anyone catch the paraphrasing of Malcolm Reynolds? ;)
The opening address by X to Faith took me three hours and a thesaurus. :p
Happy Halloween to all!