Faith, Chapter 2
Faith instinctively tried to draw a deep breath, but instead inhaled a lungful of particles that sent her into a coughing fit. Ignoring the burning sensation in her throat and ringing in her ears she pulled herself out of the collapsed dining room table.
What just happened? She‘d been talking to Rona in the kitchen one moment, and now she was lying in the dining room. There was a hole in the wall behind a cloud of thick dust, and she realized that she been blown through the wall and into the next room. An explosion?
“Rona? Rona!” Her own voice sounded like a dull roar in her ears and she hissed in pain as she pulled herself up against the remains of the kitchen door frame. Her back had taken the worst of the damage, shredded by the trip through the kitchen cabinets. Rona was crumbled up against the refrigerator. A blood splatter on the door marked where her head had collided. Faith stood there for a moment, hanging onto the shredded door frame, wheezing in the dusty air and trying to understand what just happened.
Everything suddenly snapped into focus as a large figure stepped into the kitchen through the outer door. The pain in her back faded and her vision cleared as she locked eyes with the man. A single word echoed through the primitive slayer part of her mind and everything around her faded into silence. Prey.
The man lunged forward, and within his first step Faith had taken everything she needed to know—linebacker big, with sharp claws that were meant for rending, long canines in the mouth and an insane look in the eyes. By his second step Faith had shifted her stance and weight to meet his charge while still giving the appearance of weakly hanging on the door frame. On the man’s third and final step before his pounce (and she knew exactly when that pounce was coming) Faith wrenched a two-by-four out of the door frame, breaking it off into a sharp four-foot stake.
As the man leapt straight, Faith darted right. She slipped around his outstretched claws and instinctively drove the stake towards the heart. His height and leap had taken him above her, so she went in through the stomach, under the rib cage and straight up into the heart. Rather than break through as she expected the stake stuck against his back. Faith adapted easily, pivoting and using the stake as a leverage point to send her attacker spinning into the now empty dining room behind her.
Turning her attention away from the downed enemy Faith went to Rona, going down on one knee to take a pulse—still steady. Faith’s ears were still ringing and she couldn’t hear her own voice as she called out to her unconscious friend. It was her slayer instincts that told her to roll.
The roll turned a kick to the head into a blow on her already injured back, and she went sprawling. Faith tried to come up on her feet, but her attacker was on her again, claws raking at her face. In desperation Faith threw up her arms to protect her head and screamed as his claw tore a chunk of meat out of her arm. He grabbed both of her shoulders and slammed her back into the ground, using his weight to pin her.
He said something then, but her ears were still shot and Faith couldn’t hear. Their struggle paused she read the final word on his lips. “Stay.”
He released her and backed away. Faith scrambled back and pulled herself up by the counter. She grabbed a steak knife with her good hand while cradling her injured arm against her stomach. She stared in amazement—he still had the two-by-four jutting out of his stomach.
He leaned against the crumpled refrigerator that still held Rona, said something she couldn’t hear and jerked the entire board from his stomach. The wound quickly healed over like a fast-forward nature video. He grinned at her amazement, then looked down at the unconscious Rona and licked his lips.
Now it was Faith’s turn to charge across the kitchen. She feinted with the knife and then turned the charge into a flying kick. The blow caught his chin, lifted him out of the kitchen and sent him sprawling back into the dining room.
Before he could recover she was on him, targeting his throat with the knife. A fury of slashes sent blood spraying, but it didn’t seem to be slowing him down. He brought an arm up to block a blow to the eyes, and Faith’s blade bounced off bone and snapped.
A back hand knocked her away, but didn’t cause any serious damage. Faith landed on her feet and immediately took off in a sprint to the living room. She’d need more to finish this fight. Her left arm was still shredded and mostly useless.
“Get your asses down here!” she shouted to the house, her voice barely audible in her ringing ears. Throwing open the weapons closet she took a second to glance over everything before grabbing a long dagger. It was small and light enough that she could easily use it in one hand, and a piece of yellow tape on the hilt was a standard Watcher’s sign that it was in some way magical—likely wiccan blessed.
The vibrations from her charging attacker’s footsteps alerted her, but she feigned ignorance until the last second. Darting around, she ducked under his claws and jabbed the dagger into his gut. She was dismayed to note that the earlier knife wounds were already gone. Continuing the spin, Faith got behind him and slashed the knife across the back of his knees.
As the man crashed into the ground she slid the knife down through his calf into the achilles tendon. The flesh around the knife hissed and smoked as if burning, and Faith was relieved to see that the wounds weren’t healing as quickly. He bucked, trying to dislodge the slayer from his back. Faith jammed the knife into his shoulder, pinning him back to the ground, then drew it back to slash away a vicious backhand.
Hoping to end this, she drove the magical dagger deep into his back from behind the heart. The dagger hit a rib and slid away with the screeching sound of metal hitting metal. Faith cursed as the knife stuck, caught between two ribs.
Trying to use her good hand to draw the knife back, Faith was unprepared for the next backhand. It hit like a log to the head and she went down in a heap. A clawed hand grabbed her left ankle, fingers biting into flesh, and dragged her back. She barely managed to stay silent as the claws shredded muscles in her ankle, ruining her foot. A second hand grabbed her good shoulder and dragged her underneath the still prone man.
“Scream for me.” She heard that one clearly enough.
Faith slammed her head towards his nose, but he lowered his own head so that she met him forehead to forehead. The world blurred and everything started spinning as she felt a wave of nausea. That was worse than head-butting a brick wall.
“Scream for me!” The man yelled and a fist hit her head. Faith was already loosing awareness when he hit her again and everything went black.
Victor Creed hissed as girl collapsed underneath him. Damn-it! He needed her to scream. She was almost perfect, everything that he could want, but she didn’t scream. It’s okay, he would just keep her until she screamed.
Pulling himself up on an overturned couch, he listened to the sounds of running footsteps through the house. That damn knife hurt and his legs still needed another minute to heal. He tried to grab the knife from his back, but it was in an awkward place and jammed deep between his adamantine-laced ribs.
A gasp drew his eyes upwards at four young girls looking down on him from a stairway balcony. They were barely women, maybe fourteen or fifteen years old. Dressed in thin pajamas and tight tank tops stretched over young curves. Rubbing his own crotch, Creed made a come hither motion with his tongue. “Daddy’s home tonight.”
The girls acted in unison, vaulting over the balcony with small feet silently hitting ground. Creed swung at the lead girl, but she was fast like the brunette and ducked. Two girls grabbed each of his arms while another smashed out his still injured kneecaps, letting his weight drop. The two girls held him easily. Creed roared in rage as one girl clawed her fingers into his eyes and another pulled at the dagger in his back.
The one with the dagger managed to draw it along his ribs, get lucky, and jam it into his backbone. The knife severed nerves. The bitch then left it there so that they couldn’t grow back. Everything below Creed’s neck went numb and the two girls holding his weight finally let him drop onto the floor in a puddle.
The next two minutes consisted of four fifteen year old girls savagely beating Sabretooth unconscious.
Faith came awake with a jolt. Energy flowed through her. The pain in her arm and ankle was gone. Her senses flooded out and she was suddenly aware of everyone in the house. The beast-guy who attacked her was unconscious on the floor nearby, two slayers standing guard. Andrew was unconscious upstairs; he needed medical attention. Another slayer was seeing to Rona in the kitchen, but she would be okay. Ronald was dead; his remains were in the house entry way, which been at ground zero in the explosion. Three other slayers stood nervously about the living room, all armed and ready for action. Willow was standing in front of her, looking concerned. And the Slayer’s Scythe was in her own hands.
Faith let the warming power of the Scythe flow through her for another moment before looking up to Willow. “What happened? How long was I out?”
“Where’s Buffy?” Willow asked, ignoring Faith’s questions.
Faith closed her eyes and let her senses expand out again. The scythe was bonded with all slayers, but it seemed to have bonded the tightest with Buffy and Faith. They could use the scythe at levels far beyond the other slayers.
“Not in the house.” Faith searched farther. “She’s outside! Out toward the trees away from the road. Someone has her.”
“You two with us,” Willow pointed at a pair of older slayers. “Show me,” she said to Faith, but Faith was already out the door and running
Faith tore through the snow like a beast out of hell. Her scythe-enhanced senses zeroed in on four men and two women a couple hundred yards ahead of her. One of the men was huge; he may have been part ogre. He had an unconscious Buffy over his shoulder
Faith made straight for them. There was no way they wouldn’t see her moving against the white snow, and after a moment she heard the shout when someone spotted her. With her scythe enhanced speed she could have closed the distance in perhaps ten seconds. Unfortunately, that was more than enough time for one of the men to unsling a gun from his shoulder, line up and take a shot.
Faith decided not to waste time dodging. The scythe enhanced her instincts. It wanted to help her kill them all. She held the scythe out in front of her, the flat of the blade between her and the gun. She let it tell her how to block the shot.
That was a mistake. Instead of the expected bullet, a red blob of energy hit the Scythe’s blade and splashed like water. The Scythe took most of it without problem, but part of the shot splashed against the left side of her body. She felt a sharp burning in her leg—the same one that already had a damaged ankle.
The leg gave out and she collapsed into the snow, skidding forward another fifteen feet. The scythe knew what to do and quickly took the pain away. Faith wasn’t on the ground for even a second before she rolled to the side and was back onto her feet. Several more shots slammed into the ground where she’d been, but Faith wasn’t going to let him hit her again.
This time she took a zig-zag approach. With her scythe-enhanced reflexes and instincts she knew exactly where he’d shoot next and simply made sure not to be there. The man kept taking shots, but now he was only slowing her down now. She’d reach him soon enough. There was no way he was getting out of this alive.
One of the men behind the gunman finished messing with some device on the ground and the air behind him ripped open with a burning tear. Faith didn’t have much experience, but she knew a portal when she saw one.
The big man that held Buffy jumped through and Faith cursed. She hadn’t made it in time. One of the women made it through the portal by the time Faith closed with-in thirty yards. The gunman was still trying to take shots, but Faith figured this was close enough. She stopped dodging and came straight at him.
The gunman got one more shot off, but this time Faith jumped and let it pass underneath her. She came down sliding through the snow in front of the tightly packed group. Another man jumped through the portal, but Faith knew that none of the others were going to reach it. Two men and one woman left.
These guys were pros. They weren’t panicking. The gunman dropped his gun and tried to roll away while drawing a knife. The girl held out her hands like she was ready to cast some kind of spell and the remaining man dropped into a combat stance.
Faith killed the gunman as she turned her momentum towards the spell caster. The scythe took the top of his head off as he came up from the roll. The girl got her spell off and the world went upside down. Faith didn’t know which way was up or how to put one foot in-front of the other. She went sprawling through the air.
Unfortunately for the woman, Faith’s charge had already turned into her direction, and the sudden vertigo did nothing to change Faith’s momentum. She’d hit the group while running about fifty miles-per-hour, and much of this was violently transferred from the Faith into the woman as they collided in an in-elegant sprawl of limbs.
The vertigo in her head cleared as Faith as the woman skid through the snow. The scythe went spinning out of her hands. Faith was up again in a second, her head clear again. The woman didn’t get back up.
That second was enough for the last man to start spinning, and a mini tornado sprung up around him. Shurikens started spitting out from him in all directions like machine gun fire. A dense cluster of them went directly at her.
Faith immediately dropped back into the snow, flattening herself against the ground. She pushed down the feeling of panic. The deep snow was providing adequate cover, but he had her pinned. The magical rush from the scythe was fading quickly and the left side of her body was burning in pain.
She had just a moment to wonder if she should try to rush him or wait him out when the decision was taken from her. One moment he was advancing while spinning, his unnatural tornado kicking up snow with the portal light spilling across the ground. Then there was a loud bang of thunder, and the portal and man both disappeared.
She sat up and looked around. It took her a moment to spot the shuriken man. His body had impacted against a tree with enough force to wrap him around the trunk like a twist tie. The thick oak was still shaking from the impact. She couldn’t see any evidence of what had hit him. The portal was gone. It was only her and three bodies in the quiet of the night’s snow. Had the closing portal somehow caused something to hit the spinning man?
Faith spotted the scythe and limped towards it. Compared to seconds earlier, she now felt as slow and sore as old lady. She picked up the weapon and energy rushed back through her body and washed away the pain.
“Faith!” She heard Willow shouting her name from a distance. Willow was struggling through the snow, perhaps only twenty yards from the house door.
Another sixty yards ahead of Willow two slayers were charging through towards her position.
“No!” Faith shouted at the slayers. “Get Willow! Get Willow up here now!”
One of the slayers tossed a sword to her friend, turned around and ran back to Willow. Sweeping up Willow in a fireman’s carry she came bounding across the snow with the shrieking witch with over her shoulder.
The other slayer arrived first. Seeing the dead bodies in the snow, she started to lower her swords and kneel beside one, but Faith shook her head. “No, keep your guard up. They’re using some kind of portal.”
“You killed them,” she said.
“Yeah, I’ll do that sometimes.”
“They’re wearing spandex.”
Faith glanced at the gunman. The younger slayer was right, he was wearing spandex. “Not the best clothes to be wearing when you die. Kind of embarrassing, huh?”
Seeing that Willow wouldn’t arrive for several more seconds Faith took a moment for herself. She turned the power of the scythe inwards and inspected her own body. The man from the house had done some damage. Both the gash in her arm and the puncture wounds in her ankle were bad. Both nerves and muscle were damaged. Those limbs were operating more on the scythe’s magic rather than any biological processes. Fortunately, none of the bones were broken. The blood loss wasn’t too bad, but might become an issue if she kept pushing herself.
The burns on her left leg were bad, but not as critical. They would eventually hurt like hell, but wouldn’t cause any functional problems as long as she held the scythe.
Compared to the other wounds, the skin that she’d shredded on her back when she went through the cupboards and the blows to the head from the big man were ignorable.
As long as she still held the scythe she had plenty of fight left in her. Without the scythe she’d probably be operating at thirty percent.
Faith came out of her revere in time to watch the slayer carry Willow the last few steps and set her down.
“They took Buffy through some kind of portal. Right here,” Faith said.
“I can still feel it,” Willow held up her hand to where the portal had been and closed her eyes. “The dimensional walls are still weak here, but they’re healing quickly. We need to move now if we’re going to follow.”
“Open it,” Faith said. “There’s only three left. I can take them.”
Willow shook her head. “I need more power. I just teleported here from the other side of the world. Even if I was at full this would be beyond me.”
“Don’t give me that I can’t
bullshit, Willow. They got Buffy. Open the damn portal.”
“Give me the scythe.”
Faith handed over the scythe and flinched as the pain returned.
“I’ll need just a moment.”
Faith turned to look at the two slayers standing ready. Cleveland was primarily a training location, and these girls were young. Maybe seventeen at the top end. She didn’t even know their names.
“You girls stay here,” she told them. “Tell the others what you saw and where we’re going.”
“Where are you going?”
“Hell if I know,” Faith paused for a moment and considered her turn of phrase. “Hopefully not really Hell.”
“I’m ready,” Willow said.
Willow breathed in and the scythe flashed with magic, flowing into her body. Streaks of her hair turned white and her eyes glowed.
Willow breathed out and the magic flowed out of her. Her hair went back to normal and the area where the portal had been crackled with a white fire that flashed and quickly burned itself out, like a lighter that failed to catch.
Willow inhaled again and her body flooded with magic.
She exhaled and the portal crackled with fire again. This time the fire almost caught. It flared for several moments before dying back out.
Willow breathed in again. This time she took a longer breath and held the magic for a bit longer.
When Willow breathed out the final time the area where the portal had been finally caught. It lit with a white fire that blazed with a fierce intensity, but no heat. It burned away at the air, revealing the portal underneath it. After few moments the fire burned out and the portal floated in front of them.
Willow handed the scythe back to Faith. This time there was no rush of power and her aches didn’t completely fade. Faith could still feel the power in the scythe, but the usual intensity was gone. Like Faith, the scythe was going to need some time to recuperate.
Willow plucked a hair from her head and handed it to one of the girls. “Keep this. Put it somewhere safe, but don’t ward it. It will be my anchor home, my lighthouse in the dark. Faith, take my hand and hold tight. We don’t want to get separated.”
Faith nodded and took Willow’s hand. They stepped into the portal together.
Something incomprehensible happened, barely registering with Faith’s senses, and then she was falling.
She tumbled head over heels as the roaring wind whipped at the open wounds on her back and burned leg. She forced her watering eyes open and immediately slammed them shut again. She must have been at least a mile above a forested ground, which was approaching fast.
“Willow! Willow!” She spun through the air. The red-haired witch was nowhere near her.
Something flashed to her side and Faith reached out, her fingers just missing the scythe that was falling alongside her. She lunged again and this time her fingers brushed along the edge, but only sent the scythe spinning farther away.
“No!” was the last word Faith shouted before she crashed through the trees and hit the ground. She didn’t survive.