Las Vegas, NV
June 2, 1999
"Here you are, Mr. Clark. First class ticket to London, with a stopover in New York. Is there anything else I can do to help you on your trip, sir?" the smiling ash-blonde customer service representative behind the ticket counter chirped as she handed the boarding passes and tickets across to the tall, strongly-built man in the two thousand dollar business suit opposite her.
:: Judging by the waves of lust Little Miss Customer Service is practically radiating, 'Mr. Clark,' you could probably ask her to drop her panties and do you right here, and she'd be delighted to show you exactly how dedicated she is to making sure their airline clientele is happy. ::
Buffy's 'voice' was tinged with amusement as it flowed across their mental link as she waited in the passenger lounge for their flight, and Faith's response echoed a fraction of a second afterwards.
:: Yeah, that's true, B. And going by the way her partner there has been checking you out, I'm betting he was wishing you wanted to fly 'United,' too. ::
:: It's easy to see why neither of you two were ever picked for a spot on 'Last Comic Standing,' :: Xander dryly informed his two companions over their mental link as he nodded and gave the customer service woman a small, polite smile.
"Thank you, Miss Curtis, but that'll be all. I appreciate all your help," Xander said before he turned and began heading towards the escalator leading to the boarding gates.
:: Now, if only Quentin and the rest of the Council would be as cooperative as our admirers here are, :: he sent across their link. :: But I guess there really aren't a whole lot of people out there who're really all that eager to help someone looking to kill them as painfully as possible. ::
:: Not to worry, Xand, :: Buffy answered immediately, as she gave the male ticket agent eying her one of her 'vacant Valley-Girl' smiles she'd perfected while at Hemery High and then began heading for the gate a few yards behind her male bondmate. :: If they really were all that happy to help us stomp them into the ground, it'd take a lot of the fun out of it. ::
:: Yeah, stud, :: Faith agreed. :: B's right. Just how much fun would it be if Q-Ball didn't care all that much about me ripping off some of his favorite parts of his anatomy down south and then shoving them down his throat? Don't begrudge a girl her fun, okay? ::
:: Oh, it's not that at all, Faith, :: Xander replied. :: I just wanna make sure that we've got enough beer and pretzels available before we start, 'cause I don't want to have stop halfway through because we ran out of munchies. ::
:: Hate to tell you this now, X, :: Faith's mental smirk was clearly obvious to both of her bondmates as she 'spoke', :: but I don't think that there are all that many stores in London that sell Twinkies or Ho-Ho's, so you're probably going to have make do with whatever snack foods Teabag Central has available. ::
:: Okay, that's just one more thing that Quentin and his fellow Council assholes are gonna regret, :: the former Scooby Gang's joker of all trades informed his girls as he made his way down the boarding walkway.
:: With all the power they're supposed to wield, they could have at least introduced England to some decent snack foods! ::
Hertfordshire Center for International Anthropological, Cultural and Social Studies
(a.k.a. Watchers Council Main Compound)
June 3, 1999
"Hi there, Quentin. It's good to finally see you again, you scum-sucking bag of shit."
The head of the Watchers Council spun around in his seat in surprise upon hearing that greeting, an expression of mixed anger and fear filling his face as he recognized the three dark-clad figures filling the doorway of his office.
"Summers? Lehane? How the devil – what are you two abominations doing here, defiling this sacred institution with your presence?" Travers immediately snarled at the two Slayers. "And why did you bring that simpleminded idiot along with you?"
"Looks like you were right, Buff. He *is* some kinda inbred, major-league idiot," Xander commented in a bored tone of voice as he and the girls watched the traitor who'd betrayed them to Maggie Walsh try to surreptitiously slide his hand beneath his desk and press a concealed button. "I mean, even your garden-variety, congenital moron would be smart enough to realize that we've come by to follow up on your promise to rip out his intestines and use them to tie him to the top of the flagpole."
"Yeah, you're right about that, X, but don't forget – I get to rip off his balls and shove them down his throat, first," Faith reminded the male member of their group. "Remember, you promised me that I could do that while we were stuck in those tubes that bitch Maggie Walsh used to give us all these kick-ass new abilities we've got while trying not to go crazy."
"Faith's right, Xander," Travers was clearly a bit startled and was distracted from his intent focus on Faith's statement when Buffy's mellow purr joined the conversation.
"You did promise to let her rip his balls off – but only after I got to break all of the bones in his arms and legs," the blonde reminded the massive man standing beside her.
"And Faith also has to make sure Quentin doesn't bleed out or choke to death on his testicles, once she's done with him," Buffy pointed out helpfully, as she flashed the leader of the Watchers Council a smile which would have frozen the ocean solid. "'Cause we certainly don't want him dying too quickly, do we?
"Not after everything he's done lately," the diminutive blonde suddenly snarled, and the Head Watcher felt a shiver run down his spine at the sheer hatred, rage and malevolence manifest in the blonde's voice.
"I did nothing at all that I regret in the slightest, you brainless strumpet!" Quentin snarled back at the girl who'd been the primary source of all of the problems that had been bedeviling his leadership of the Council of late.
"And the fact that you're completely sincere in saying that is what makes me think your mother shoulda drowned you the day you were born, buddy," Xander smiled at Travers with a feral intensity that made the other man involuntarily gulp, despite the self-assured, supercilious expression he currently wore. “I did some reading on you during the flight from New York, *old chap*. Apparently, your dad was some kinda hero during Word War II, when he saved a whole bunch of Potential Slayers after Spike and Drusilla decided to start offing them all around the world. Hell, John Travers actually married one of the Potentials, who eventually gave birth to you. So what *would* Mommy Dearest think of you right now, I wonder?”
Travers was seething as Faith snorted, “That she gave birth to a misogynistic creep who thinks he can treat women just like they did back in the Forties?”
“Oh, not necessarily women; I mean, I've heard how Giles' grandmother was pretty high up there in the Council way back when. It's *Slayers* this guy has a problem with,” Buffy said, her eyes glittering dangerously. “We're just weapons to him. Weapons who aren't supposed to feel, or think, or question orders. If he could have gotten away with it, my money says Quentin here would have murdered every single Potential that wasn't raised by a Watcher – to make *sure* the Slayer's always some kinda mindless robot that asks how high whenever the Council says 'jump'.”
By this time, roughly a minute had passed with no response to his having pressed the 'Emergency Alert' button, and Travers' arrogant façade was beginning to crack slightly.
"What's the matter, Quentin?" Buffy asked with a smirk as the three teenagers watched the Council head's expression begin to shift to a mixture of concern and worry. “Cat got your tongue?”
“What have you...” Travers trailed off uncertainly.
"What? Did you think that we'd somehow just simply managed to slip by all of the wards and the guards you've got surrounding this compound, and that all you had to do was just wait for your minions to come running after you pressed that alarm button under your desk?" Buffy asked, fully enjoying the slowly growing expression of dread and horror which was now slowly slipping over the Englishman's face.
"Sorry to break the news to ya, Q-Ball, but there's nobody left alive in this place to come save your worthless ass," Faith grinned with fiendish delight.
"Yeah, dude, you really should have held out for a better quality of mercenary when the Council was hiring the guards for this base of yours, Quentin," Xander agreed with his own malevolent smile.
"I mean, seriously, the guys you had outside guarding the grounds all broke *way* too easy," the male member of the trio noted offhandedly. "And the ones inside weren't all that much better, either."
"And that coven of witches that the Council hired to cast those 'Notice-Me-Not' spells on the estate here really should have sunk a lot more power into the ward stones they tied the spells to," Buffy informed the warily watching Englishman. "They probably should have added a better alarm component to the wards guarding the stones, too, now that I think about it.
"It only took me a little over seven minutes to pull all of your wards down, and that's only because I was being careful not to alert any of your people about what I was doing," she informed Quentin.
"And as you can see," Buffy added with a satisfied smile, "mission accomplished."
"Regardless of what you might do to me, the Council will hunt you down and eventually destroy all three of you like the vermin you are, you misbegotten creatures," Travers managed to utter his threat with a surprising amount of bravado, given the circumstances he was currently facing.
"If you and your companions possess any sort of sense whatsoever, Miss Summers, you would best serve your own interests by taking the opportunity to flee now as quickly as you can, and try to find some place to hide where our hunter teams will have difficulty locating you," Travers continued his bluff.
"See, it's like I told you, Xand; this guy really is an idiot," the blonde Chosen One staring at him with an exceedingly feral smile stated, once Travers had finished speaking. "He actually seems to think he's got a chance to get out of this, alive."
"You don't seem to understand what's actually going on here, Q-Ball," the brunette Chosen One announced as she, too, focused her attention on him. "We didn't come all the way to the land of scones and crumpets just for you.
"We stopped by Jeeves' cousin's place after we landed in London and before we got here and we burgled the joint, so now we've got a list of names that we're gonna be working our way down, one by one, over the next few days – starting with you," Faith informed Travers with a truly blood-chilling smile. "None of you bastards on that list are gonna be around to screw over whichever Potential gets Called in the future, so Jeeves and his people are gonna be the ones running the works from here on out.
"Now drop your pants and those tweed boxers you're probably wearin', old man, and get over here before I rip 'em off for you."
Metropolitan Police Service, New Scotland Yard
June 6, 1999
The Fleet Street newspapers had gone even more insane than they normally did when stumbling upon any sort of sensational story once they found out about the slaughter which had occurred at the Hertfordshire Center.
Everyone involved in the police investigation had also agreed it was the bloodiest and messiest massacre they'd ever seen, considering the way the various body parts had been scattered across the mansion, not to mention the surrounding landscape.
And the message that had been left, painted on the main salon's walls with the blood of several of the victims made the puzzle even more confusing. What, exactly, had the people responsible for the slaughter meant when they wrote, "Their job was to support the Chosen One, not enslave her!"?
What was making the investigation even more difficult was the fact that the coroner had yet to determine exactly how many victims were actually involved, since the various forensic teams checking out the mansion were still trying to identify which dismembered body parts belonged to which incomplete and still unidentified torsos they'd recovered – assuming, of course, that they had managed to locate all of the victims – and the teams scrutinizing the grounds were still finding various pieces of human flesh. Curiously, most of the aforementioned tissue, for some unknown reason, was still untouched by the scavengers who would normally have been happily dining upon them to their heart's content.
Another complication for the investigation was that the number of perpetrators who might have been involved was also still being hotly debated by the various experts, since dozens of people had been employed there, and the forensics technicians were going to have to spend a lot of time simply eliminating the people who were supposed to be there as suspects, before they could determine who was not.
Now, under normal circumstances, one would expect that it would take at least a dozen people, trained and working as a team, to be able to inflict such widespread carnage; however, all the usual indications of such a large force invading the mansion were missing in this case, as were any indications of the ordnance that would have been necessary to perpetrate such a slaughter.
It had taken one forensics team several hours before they'd finally managed to get hold of an elevated bucket truck to remove the naked, mutilated body of the middle-aged man that had been hung from the top of the flagpole and secured there using his own yanked-out intestines. And what puzzled the investigators was the fact that there were absolutely no traces of any sort to show that any similar sort of equipment had been used to place the body up there in the first place.
Lacking any feasible explanation for how the dead man might have been placed there, one investigator noted that it almost seemed as if the murderers had flown the body up to the top of the flagpole, somehow!
Regardless of how it had been accomplished, though, this was one incident that wasn't going to be forgotten for a long time!
Office of Holland Manners
Wolfram & Hart building
Los Angeles, CA
July 5, 1999
"I'm telling you, Holland, whoever it is that's behind all this is starting to get way too close to me for my comfort!" Senator Robert Kinsey declared vehemently from his position in the visitor's chair before Manners' desk
"They've managed to eliminate seven NID bases over the past month," Kinsey complained bitterly, pausing to take a quick gulp from the glass of Scotch in his hand before continuing his tirade.
"Seven bases!" Kinsey reiterated. "And each one was completely destroyed and every single one of the people staffing them was killed! There wasn't even a single survivor!
"Those bases were essential to our plans, man! It's going to take *years* for us to replace all of the equipment we lost there, and probably at least as long to find people we can be sure we can trust to replace the dead personnel," Robert lamented as he moodily stared down at his glass.
"Based on what I've seen of the reports from the investigators, it looks to me as if someone's figured out for themselves what your plans are, Senator – and they're taking their own steps to neutralize them," Holland replied, once it was clear that Kinsey had finished his rant.
"And whoever it is that's behind this, they're clearly just as ruthless as you are," Manners noted reflectively after a moment's further consideration.
Anything further the future head of the Special Projects division might have been about to say was interrupted by the unexpected blaring of an emergency klaxon, which was accompanied by the abrupt entry into the room of Manners' primary legal aide – although the fact that he had broken through the door and flown through the air the length of the room before slamming into the far wall made it clear that his entrance was completely involuntary.
Both Manners and Kinsey turned from their stunned examination of the broken body which was currently leaking putrescent-looking yellow-green blood onto the carpet to see a tall, smiling dark-haired man in a clearly expensive business suit push open the splintered remains of Manners' office door and then politely step aside to allow two incredibly beautiful women, a blonde and a brunette who were dressed in equally top of the line designer business suits, to precede him into the room.
"Hi, there, guys."
The blonde woman who'd spoken was smiling at both men with a gaze which caused Kinsey to gulp involuntarily as he quickly jumped to his feet and joined Manners behind the lawyer's massive oaken desk – while still trying to appear casual as he did so – especially since the blonde's predatory expression matched those on the faces of both of her companions, and Kinsey recognized the man from his ill-fated trip to the Initiative base a few weeks ago.
"Can I help you, miss?" Holland politely offered the intruders his best professional smile, his thoughts awhirl as he rose to his feet after frantically punching the emergency button on the underside of his desk several times, and tried to stall for enough time for the firm's ERT (Emergency Response Team) to arrive and deal with these interlopers.
"Sure, you can," the blonde said as she flashed Holland a dazzling smile which would have ensured her picture on the cover of pretty much any weekly entertainment magazine, while her companions moved up to either side of her in order to present their opponents with a united front. "If you'll just hand over the not-so-honorable Senator there to us, tell your minions not to get in our way as we're leaving, and validate our parking ticket – well, I'd say, everything will be fine.
"But if you don't do that, then I think things probably aren't going to work out nearly as well as you'd like," Buffy warned.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't do any of that." Amusingly enough, Holland's sigh actually sounded as though he truly were sorry not to be able to comply with Buffy's request, but the trio attributed that to the evil lawyer's ability to lie fluently and easily.
:: Looks like we're gonna have to do this the hard way, after all, :: Buffy observed to her bondmates, as the shimmering half-sphere that had appeared along with the lawyer's answer made it obvious that the law firm wasn't going to be making it easy for the three Scoobies to take Kinsey off their hands.
:: Yo, since when have we ever done the things the easy way? :: Faith asked, her tone of voice indicating it was clearly a rhetorical question as she reached out a hand and began analyzing the force field in front of them – while Xander turned and headed out into the hallway, to deal with the ERT whose thudding footsteps broadcast their impending arrival, leaving Buffy to negotiate with their opponents.
:: Good point, :: Buffy took a moment to agree, before she refocused her attention on Kinsey and the guy who was apparently his legal mouthpiece.
"Well, I'm pretty sure both you and everyone else around here are going to be *very* sorry you didn't do that," the blonde Slayer concurred with the lawyer's comment, as the brief and muffled sounds of battle echoed in from the outer hallway.
:: Got the solution, :: Faith declared triumphantly a moment later, as Xander reentered the room to join his girls, a small, satisfied smile on his face while adjusting his jacket.
:: The field resonates across this frequency band according to this timing cycle, :: Faith informed her bondmates, visualizing the range and time periods she was describing, :: so we just need to produce a similar field one hundred and eighty degrees out of phase with it with the same cycle and we're through. ::
:: You good to go, B, X? :: the brunette Slayer asked as she prepared to initiate the out of phase field to neutralize Kinsey's protection.
:: Any time you're ready, Faith, :: Buffy agreed with a mental smile.
:: Same here, Faith, :: Xander confirmed with a nod.
:: Okay, here we go, :: the younger Slayer said, as she initiated the jamming field.
Unfortunately for the trio intent on grabbing a criminally corrupt politician who harbored plans of one day becoming President of the United States, as Faith canceled the protective shield the lawyer had invoked, a small portal appeared inside the protective hemisphere and both Kinsey and Manners dove through it a scant instant before their defensive force field collapsed.
At the same time the pair escaped to whatever safe haven had been offered, a hairless, white-skinned demon with curved, antelope-like horns, pointed ears and piercing yellow eyes and dressed in dark embroidered robes appeared off to the side of Manners' office, a disapproving, narrow-eyed expression on his face as he looked over the three interlopers.
"Hmm, you three might possibly have enough combined power to be more than just a minor inconvenience," the demon commented thoughtfully, before lifting his hands and gesturing in their direction.
"And we definitely can't have that," he added, an instant before the floor beneath the trio began swirling around them in an iridescent whirlpool of energy that abruptly shot up into the air to form a globe before almost immediately winking out of existence.
A few seconds later
The churning vortex of otherworldly energy rose up into the air to quickly form a shimmering sphere that brilliantly reflected all light impinging upon it as it appeared to spin wildly upon its axis before unexpectedly silently exploding in a miasma of haze and vapor, and depositing its contents in an ungainly sprawl on the ground below
"Goddamn! What the hell just happened?"
"Son of a bitch! What the fuck's going on?"
"Mother pus bucket! Who was that bastard and what the hell did he do to us?"
The outraged expressions of the surprised and disgruntled recipients of the unscheduled transport cut off abruptly as Buffy, Faith and Xander looked around – and they quickly realized that they didn't recognize anything at all about the site where they now found themselves.
Oh, the long grass underfoot looked to be approximately the proper shade of green, and the sky above was a magnificent shade of blue, with various clumps of white clouds scattered across it, and the sun looked to be a brilliant golden-yellow in hue and approximately the proper size they'd expect it to be…
…but the two moons also clearly visible in the azure sky, as well as what appeared to be a fairy tale castle situated on one of the larger clouds floating above them were clear and definite indicators that the trio – already quite harshly treated by Fate – weren't anywhere even remotely familiar to them.
FIN (for now)