Chapter Twenty Five
Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters and never will. BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and Legacy of the Altendata belongs to John Ringo. I can only claim ideas that come from sleep deprivation and overdosing on caffeine and nicotine.
Chapter Twenty Five
A small group of individuals had gathered in a meeting room near the Mayor’s office. These were the men who ensured Sunnydale ran the way Mayor Wilkens wanted it to.
Duncan Roads, who was the senior Judge for Sunnydale and district, looked at the three other men in the room with him. “So still no word on either Alan or the Mayor?”
Michael Davidson, Chief of the Sunnydale police department and the man who had coined the phrase ‘Gangs of PCP’ to explain away vampire attacks shook his head. “No, as far anyone can tell the Mayor left for his weekly golf game and then vanished into thin air. That was two days ago.”
“What about Alan?” Greg Duff, who ran Sunnydale Memorial Hospital and made sure that there were no questions concerning bodies disappearing from the morgue or the large amounts of blood that went missing from the blood bank asked.
It was Timothy Cyrus, who operated and owned the ‘Sunnydale Times’ and the local TV station and made sure that any stories that might cause outside authorities to start asking questions were buried before they started, who answered. “Alan left work nearly a week ago. A ‘Confidential Informant’ told me that he was seen around the industrial district that night but after that nothing. Not even Mr Trick knew anything.”
The men considered that silently for a moment.
“And where is Mr Trick?” Judge Roads asked. Normally Wilkens’ pet vampire was never far from Town Hall unless he was doing something for the Mayor.
“It seems that when the Mayor didn’t show for his normal evening meeting with Trick the vampire decided that he should be elsewhere.” Greg Duff said quietly and then paused. “Perhaps we should do the same?”
The men looked at each other and Cyrus was about to speak when the door slammed open.
They looked around to see Alan Finch wearing a slightly dishevelled suit, as though it had been worn for a day or two without cleaning, standing in the doorway.
“Gentlemen!” He said as he entered the room. “I’m glad you’re here.” He took a seat at the table. “I apologise for being out of contact however once I heard that the Mayor has gone missing I immediately returned.”
“Where were you Alan?” Davidson asked. “No one has seen or heard from you for over five days.”
“Personal business called me out of town at short notice.” Finch explained. “I cleared it with the Mayor before I left. I’m surprised that he didn’t mention it to anyone.” He paused. “Now what do we know about the Mayor?”
“Nothing.” Judge Roads replied. “He left the office for his weekly golf game at the usual time. Arrived at the Country Club and spent some time chatting with the golf pro and the last person who saw him was a groundskeeper when he was teeing off at the fourth hole.” Roads looked at the others in the room before turning back to Finch. “It has been suggested that we seriously consider leaving town before people start asking questions.”
Finch looked at the group of men that Wilkens had relied on to ensure the smooth running of his town and saw the unspoken agreement in their eyes. Given half a chance they would be gone from Sunnydale before the sun set.
“That might be a very bad idea.” He said then raised a hand to forestall any comment.
“We all know that Wilkens had dealings with some… unique individuals. There is a chance that me might have miscalculated in one of those dealing and paid the price.” He said and saw nods from around the table. They all knew exactly what happened in this town once the sun had set and they all had had a part in insuring that events that happened were kept quiet.
“However it would be foolish to believe that had happened.” He continued. “Wilkens had something big planned for the centenary of the town’s founding. Something that he has been planning for some time.”
“You think that Richard is lying low until May?” Davidson asked.
“Yes I do. And what do you think Wilkens will do when he returns and finds out the men he has granted his trust have abandoned him?”
The assembled men looked at each other and cringed slightly. They had all heard the story. About how after the war a young boy named David Malecson had arrived in Sunnydale. The Mayor had taken a shine to the youth and begun grooming him to take a place in his retinue. For the next twenty years David had worked for the Mayor who by then considered him one of his closest confidantes.
Then one morning David had skipped town with large chunk of Wilkens’ discretionary funds and several books from his private library. The Mayor was furious and spared no effort in tracking David down. Eventually some of Wilkens’ ‘associates’ found David hiding out in a one horse town in Georgia and dragged him back to face the Mayor.
They said that David screamed for nearly a month before Wilkens finally let him die and afterwards the Mayor had kept his skull as a keepsake for years.
“So you think we should do nothing?” Cyrus asked, still feeling slightly queasy at the thought of the Mayor expressing his displeasure.
“No.” Finch said, shaking his head. “Obviously a statement has to be issued about the Mayor’s whereabouts. Perhaps that he’s gone off on vacation out of state?” He suggested.
“That might work.” Duff said. “At least for a while. But what are we going to do if the Mayor doesn’t return?”
Alan took a deep breath. This was the question that had been on his mind since he had received the phone call telling him that Wilkens had been dealt with. During the drive back to Sunnydale he had considered his options, knowing that whatever it was he decided on had to be acceptable to these men.
“If the Mayor doesn’t return or we get confirmation that he is indeed dead I don’t see any reason why any of us need to stay in Sunnydale.” He paused and looked at his fellow conspirators. “I’m sure that all of us have a reasonable ‘Nest Egg’ stashed away for such an emergency.” He waited till he received answering nods from the rest. “And it will also give us a chance to locate Wilkens’ ‘Personal files’.”
The four men nodded again in understanding. The Mayor had ensured their loyalty not only with money and positions of power but information. Information that if it was ever made public would leave them in jail for a very long time.
Before Davidson had moved to Sunnydale he had given new meaning to the phrase ‘Police Corruption’ and there were several District Attorneys as well as criminal syndicates that really wanted to talk to him. Duff had run a hospital in Seattle where shipments of medical grade pharmaceuticals went missing on a regular basis. Cyrus was a special case in that no one apart from the Mayor knew exactly what he had done though there were hints. Like the fact that he made it a point to cover almost every little league game in Sunnydale and often vacationed in South East Asia.
As for Roads, the old saying that a public figure should never be caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy was even truer for him since both had been found in the motel room that he had foolishly used his own credit card to pay for. If not for the Mayor using his influence he would have been struck from the bench and found out exactly what happened in the prisons he had sent so many criminals to if they didn’t have the money for a proper bribe.
Yes they all had good reason to have those files either destroyed or buried so deep that they never would be found.
“So gentlemen, are we agreed?” Alan asked and looked around the room. Firstly Roads nodded then Davidson, Duff and finally Cyrus.
“Excellent!” Finch said, getting to his feet. “I’ll prepare a statement for release to the press that Mayor Wilkens is taking a short vacation in…” He paused.
“Maine I think.” Roads supplied.
“Maine then and is not due back for several weeks.” Alan finished. “If he hasn’t returned by then we can think of something else.”
Finch waited till the other men had left the room before walking to his own office, curtly informing his secretary that he wasn’t to be disturbed. Once inside with the door carefully closed and locked he sank to the floor and began to pant with deep, shuddering breaths, almost hyperventilating.
“That went better than I expected!” He gasped, allowing the panic attack that had been building in him since he entered the city limits wash over him. For several minutes he lay there, shivering and mewling before it passed and he dragged himself to his feet.
Crossing to his desk he slumped in his chair before reaching into a drawer for the bottle of vodka that he kept for emergencies. Ignoring the glass he drank directly from the neck.
“If only they knew.” He thought as he lowered the bottle. Finch never considered himself a brave man or any type of leader and he had been psyching himself up for his meeting with the Mayor’s ‘Inner Circle’ ever since he had gotten the phone call. All it would have taken was one harsh word from one of them and he would have confessed everything.
That he knew exactly what Wilkens had planned for Sunnydale and that he had run to the Slayer and her friends begging for protection. That he knew exactly where the Mayor kept the files they were so worried about and how to access them.
Taking another calming swig of liquor he sank further into his chair. “I just need a little time that’s all.” Time to access the Mayor’s hidden accounts and arrange for his own departure from Sunnydale to some place far away where he could live the rest of his life safe, happy and rich.
“Work to be done.” He muttered as he resolutely corked the bottle and put it back in the desk. There was a press release to write for starters and he needed to ensure that Willy knew that any information that he had would come to him now.
“I wouldn’t want one of Wilkens’ business associates to turn up without warning!” He thought as he began working. “Especially since they would probably target the Slayers and the last thing I want is that Mr Harrison looking for me!”
Quentin Travers stepped out of the school. It was a beautiful California afternoon, a brilliant blue sky with some high, fluffy clouds and temperature that was warm enough to be comfortable. But Travers didn’t see it. Instead the Director of the Watchers Council was furious.
When he had arrived in this accursed town he was sure that by the time he left he would have dealt with the two females who were a disgrace to their calling. He expected to find that this ‘Richard Wilkens’ was nothing more than a dabbler in the arcane arts who could be easily dealt with by the Council team under his command. Of course, during the minor confrontation there would be a ‘tragic accident’ that would result in the deaths of Miss Summers and Miss Lehane as well as most of their associates.
If, one the other hand, Wilkens was the threat that Giles report made him out to be… well he was sure that once the Slayers had given their lives to distract and perhaps weaken the mage his team could move end and end the threat and then Travers could return to England bloodied but unbowed and all of his detractors, who seemed to be multiplying over the last few months, would have no choice but to agree that he was the only rightful leader of the Council.
Instead he had arrived here in this godforsaken town to find that not only was Wilkens just as dangerous as the reports made him out to be but he had been defeated with nothing more than a tranquiliser gun, a barrel, some cement and a boat that had taken the entombed Mayor to be dumped into deep water.
With an effort of will he forced his rage down, now was not the time to allow his emotions to get the better of him. Even though the thought of sending Team Claymore and Spatha in to kill everyone inside was enough to make him smile he knew that he’d never get away with it. Undoubtedly either Giles of Whyndam-Price had already sent their reports back to England and there was no way he would be able to stop Lady Haversham from informing all and sundry what had happened.
He would have to find another way to deal with those impertinent Slayers and it had to be something that could not be traced back to him. Staying here in Sunnydale was not an option, all it would take was one disrespectful comment from one of those slatterns and his carefully cultivated veneer of gentility would be gone. He gestured to one of his assistants.
“Contact the pilot and tell him to prepare the plane for departure. I want to leave this country by nightfall. Inform Lady Haversham of our new schedule.” He ordered brusquely.
“Um Sir.” The junior Watcher said diffidently. “The pilot called while you were in your meeting. He said that a fault has developed in the main engine’s oil pump. It will be twenty four hours before it’s repaired and the plane recertified.” The Watcher paused. “And I believe that Lady Haversham and her companions are staying here in Sunnydale for some reason.”
Quentin found himself grinding his teeth in exasperation. Of all the times for those witches to decide to commune with nature! If only the coven was under the control of the Council! Then those foolish women would understand who was in command and his orders were not mere suggestions to be ignored when convenient.
Taking a deep breath in an effort to calm himself. If he could get away with it he would leave Lady Haversham and her companions to make their own way back to England. Looking around he saw a slim figure step out of the school. Unlike the other members in his party the woman was not dressed in Tweed or a neat business suit but sturdy hiking boots, jeans and a well-worn leather jacket.
“Miss Cranson a moment of your time.”
“Yes Director?” Sophia Cranson asked.
“Lady Haversham and her colleagues are determined to stay in this benighted for a bit longer.” Travers said shortly. “Since you understand the ridiculous road rules in this country you will stay here until she is ready to return.” The leader of the Watchers Council paused before continuing. “Remind her Ladyship that the plane will be returning to England tomorrow morning whether she is there or not.”
With that Travers left the junior Watcher and stalked to the car that was waiting for him. He was about to get in when he stopped and motioned for the leader of Team Spatha to join him. Once the two men were inside the driver hurriedly started the car and drove off swiftly followed by all but one of the vehicles that had transported the Watchers to Sunnydale.
Sophia waited until the cars had turned a corner and where out of sight before turning to re-enter the school and inform Lady Haversham of the change in travel arrangements.
As she walked through the doors she didn’t realise that she wasn’t the only one who had been watching the departure of the Council team. Xander shook his head. The arrival of the director of the Watchers Council hadn’t impressed him all that much. He had seen Darhel administrators with smaller entourages than the gaggle of Watchers that Travers’ had brought with him.
“Jessie” He said to what looked like a chunky watch strapped to his wrist. “Start looking into Quentin Travers. I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of that one and if does come back and tries to throw his weight around I want to be able to throw something back.”
“Of course Xander.” His AID said. “What do want me to look for?”
“Not sure Jessie. But I think Travers is the type who considers that rules don’t apply to him. Start on his financials and then go from there.”
“Of course Xander I’ll get right on it. And you asked me to remind you when you’re due to meet Gunn for training.”
Xander blinked then realised that Jessie was right. Gunn would be turning up at the warehouse for training very soon. The young mechanic and former gang member had taken to the training that Xander was giving him like a duck to water. Not only CQB, which wasn’t all that surprising since he had been brawling for years but he was also good at the tactical lessons that Xander was giving him, in fact he was doing better than Xander did when he first started training.
He was about to leave when the sound of approaching footsteps made him pause. Outside in the corridor he saw one of the Watchers that had come with Travers walking towards the library. There was something about the young woman, who he guessed was in her mid to late twenties that had caught his eye the minute he had seen her walk into the library. He shrugged, he didn’t even know her name and he doubted he’d ever see her again since she was probably heading back to Merry Ole England along with the rest of the Watchers.
Lady Haversham looked around the comfortable but cluttered office of Rupert Giles and thought of how much that man had changed since she had first met him over twenty years ago when he approached the coven for help dealing with his actions that led to the death of his friend.
At first no one at the coven had been willing to aid the degenerate thug known as ‘Ripper’ Giles. But eventually the witches realised that the young man was truly committed to changing his ways and they began to help him recover from the magical addiction he suffered
A tap on the door interrupted her musings and she turned to see two teenage girls standing in the doorway looking a little unsure of themselves.
“Ladies.” Agatha said with a smile for the pair. “Please come in.” She waited till both girls were in the room before speaking again. “We weren’t properly introduced earlier but I am Lady Agatha Haversham, I’m part of the Devon Coven.”
“You’re a witch?!” Willow asked in surprise.
“And you know who we are?” Amy said immediately afterwards and wondered why she felt a tremor of fear run through her. She had heard about the Devon Coven and she knew they were the most powerful of White Witches in the world.
“Yes I am a witch Miss Rosenberg and I’ve been one since I was about your age.” Agatha said. “And Rupert has been most effusive with his praise about you two. Though to be honest I didn’t need him to tell me. The moment you both entered the room I could tell that your magical potential is extraordinary.”
Lady Haversham paused to take a delicate sip from the tea cup on the desk before continuing.
“The reason that I wanted to talk to you is that if your teacher agrees, I wish to extend an invitation to both of you to join me at the Devon Coven.”
The two girl’s eyes widened as they realised what this genteel, elderly lady was offering them. The opportunity to study magic with some of the greatest practitioners in the world.
“Umm excuse me” Willow said. “But we don’t really have a teacher. We mainly use the books that Giles has.”
“Or my mother’s spell books.” Amy chimed in. “And we always check our spells with Mr Giles before we cast them.” She added quickly when she saw the look on Lady Haversham’s face.
“So neither of you have had any real instruction in magic?” Lady Haversham asked with a frown before turning to regard Amy. “And you mentioned your mother’s spell books? Is she a witch as well? Why isn’t she teaching you?”
Amy found herself lowering her gaze. “My mother isn’t teaching us because she’s gone.” Taking a deep breath she continued. “She went a little crazy a couple of years ago and swapped bodies with me so she could relive her glory days as a cheerleader. Buffy and Willow worked out what she was doing and when they tried to get her to reverse it she tried to use magic on them and it back fired. No one’s seen her since.” Even after all this time it still hurt that her mother had thought so little of her that she was willing to destroy her daughter’s life.
“Oh you poor child.” Lady Haversham said as she laid a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder. Amy looked up and gave the elderly woman a shy smile of thanks.
Lady Haversham smiled back at the young witch before turning to Willow.
“Rupert tells me that you got your start in magic thanks to Janna Kalderash of the Kalderash Clan correct?”
Willow started slightly. “You knew Miss Calendar?”
“Yes I did. In fact Janna actually studied with the Coven for a time before her Clan called for her. We were all saddened to hear of her passing.” For a moment there was a touch of sadness in her eyes as she remembered that vibrant and charming young woman who had been her guest and her pupil. Giving herself a slight shake she concentrated on the matter at hand. Two inexperienced, potentially powerful witches practising their art on an active Hellmouth. If they weren’t given instruction soon who knew what might happen to the poor girls.
“Even though you don’t have a teacher my offer still stands. The Coven would be delighted to meet the both of you.”
“Lady Haversham, your offer is really flattering but I don’t think my father would allow me to move to England even if he could afford it.” Amy said though what she really wanted to say was that she would be ready to go as soon as she packed her bags.
“Oh I don’t mean move to England permanently child, only for the summer for a start.” Lady Haversham said. “And as for the cost the Coven will pay for all your expenses.” Generations of thrifty women with an eye for long term investments meant that the witches were not short of funds.
Reaching inside the small but tastefully exquisite purse that was on the desk Lady Haversham withdrew two cards and handed them to Willow and Amy.
“Please think about my offer. Once you’ve made a decision or you have a question call me.” She said. “I hope to see you both soon.”
Getting to her feet Lady Haversham was quietly pleased to see both girls stand up as well.
“Now if you’ll excuse me I must talk to Rupert before I leave.” She gave Willow and Amy a gentle kiss on the cheek. “The Lady’s blessings on you both.” She said then left the office.
Willow looked down at the small embossed card in her hand. “I guess we have a lot to think about.” She murmured, almost to herself.
Next to her Amy nodded, silently wondering how much the Coven would be able to teach her.