The Rising Tide of Chaotic Events
Not mine, never been mine. I own all original characters, content, plot points and setting concepts.
Thanks to Starway Man, my BetaThe Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 17: The Rising Tide of Chaotic Events15 to 21 Days until the Red MoonTemple of Sineya
“Start from the beginning and explain everything.” Nikki Wood ordered Xander as he sat across from her, in front of her desk. For her part, the high priestess was standing up.
Unfazed by that, though, Xander looked the Slayer squarely in the eye. “Am I your prisoner?” He looked meaningfully at the closed double doors to the side. “Or can I just get up, walk out and leave?”
“No. You aren't a prisoner. But we can't exactly let you wander around the temple freely without supervision.” Nikki replied, trying to be patient with the former House Chase guard.
“So, in other words that aren't absolute bullshit, I am a prisoner, and you just don't want to admit it. Why? Because you thought I'd be too dense to figure it out on my own? Honestly, if that's the case, do I look
like someone with a sign on his back that says 'complete idiot'?” Well, clearly...Jesse seemed to think so...
Harris felt yet another stab of pain as he remembered his old friend, who was now one of the undead.I promise Jesse...I'll kill that thing wearing your face one day...
One of the first lessons a child of this day and age learned concerning vampires, something that was drummed into them over and over again as they grew up – it was that a vampire wearing the face of a friend, or a loved one, or just someone you knew...it wasn't
that person you knew, not anymore. No matter where in the world you were born and raised, it would be beaten into your head over and over and over again...vampires were real, and they would kill you given the slightest opportunity. The collective fear of the menace that was the undead was perhaps the only thing that united all levels and aspects of human society. In some ways, said society was oriented around it. In others, of course, not so much.Not that being told that it isn't the person you knew over and over again really helps, when push comes to shove...
Because Xander had had a chance to end the Jesse vampire, roughly a week ago...but he hadn't. He'd let it pass, avoided it...refused to 'kill' his friend... a friend that was already dead...
Before Xander could muse further about all that, though, the High Priestess interrupted his thought processes, her fingers steepled. Nikki didn't seem amused by Xander's suggestion; both that she thought he was a fool, and that she didn't think he would figure it out.
“If you really want to be a prisoner that badly, I've no doubt that we could manage to find room in the temple dungeons for you. Perhaps you could share a cell with one of the training demons?” she asked. The Daughters of Sineya kept a number of non-sentient demons in holding cells beneath their various temples for the final test before a Slayer was allowed to operate alone in the outside world. No Slayer was allowed to die in the tests – more experienced ones, as well as a witch or two were always on hand for every such test – but a Slayer that failed simply failed, and would have to retake the test, eventually.
“Now.” Nikki continued, voice as cold as ice, “explain to me everything that happened in Sunnydale between the arrival of the vampires and you leaving the town. Before I lose all patience.”
Xander rolled his eyes and scoffed. “You think going
to intimidate me into obedience? Woman, compared to what I had to deal with back in Sunnydale, you're not even remotely frightening.” And this was no mere bluster...the high priestess was a mite scary, but compared to the vampires, even the ones he had managed to kill... Father Gabriel had always said it was one of Adun's gifts to man, the deep, abiding fear of undead.
Xander was a little more skeptical about divine origins for a very healthy amount of fear for something that could throw you through a wall, tear your throat out and then turn you into a walking corpse. Then again, that was probably just because Xander had never liked Father Gabriel all that much.
Nikki growled, “Are you trying to help the vampires' cause?”
“No.” Xander declared. “But I do have a big problem with authority figures like you, acting like they can just order me around like a big dumb dog. And unlike Lord Chase, you even aren't paying me for services rendered. If you had just asked me nicely, I would have already told you what you wanted to know.”
Nikki offered a quick mental prayer to Sineya for strength and patience, and then took a deep breath. “Very well. Then please tell me what happened in Sunnydale, with the vampires?” Just barely managing to avoid gritting her teeth as she asked the question.
“They attacked and killed everybody they could, of course. Lady Chase, her daughter Cordelia and I were the only survivors of the vampire attack on the Lordship's castle. As for which vampires I personally encountered, apart from Jesse there was a crazy female one with black hair, plus a jackass with blonde hair and a leather coat that apparently can bounce swords off it - he said something about-”
“-it being enchanted?” Nikki finished the young man's sentence for him.
“Yeah...” Xander saw the hard, hateful look in the Slayer's eyes. “You know something I don't about all that?”
“Of course.” Nikki replied. “He stole that coat from me, actually. Took it from me a few decades ago, after he thought I was dead.” She looked past him. “Congratulations; you actually survived a meeting with Spike and Drusilla. Next to Angelus and Darla, they're the most ruthless, bloodthirsty, destructive pair of vampires vampires in the Five Kingdoms. Young, too, for all that bloodshed. There's always been something about them, something that separates them from your ordinary vampire. Ten Slayers went after him back then, the youngest of them myself...and I was the only one left afterwards. And even then, I survived only by playing dead.”
Nikki suddenly drew her face into a fierce snarl. “It will truly be a joy facing him again.” She looked Xander in the eye, and this time, the rage he saw there really was the scariest thing he'd seen lately. “Now tell me the rest.”
So Xander told her, without comment or complaint.Temple of Sineya
Xander looked the redhead directly in the eye, and said something very hard for her to hear. “Jesse's dead, Willow.”
They had, for the last hour or so after Nikki had kicked Xander out of her private chambers, avoided the gigantic demon in the room. Mostly the childhood friends had been talking about their lives since they had last met, their infrequent letters not enough to get any sort of real insight in to what the other was like nowadays. Willow had told him about Tara, and Xander couldn't help but smile at Willow's babbling about the other witch...
But eventually, there was no point trying to avoid it any longer...he'd had to tell her the bad news. And he had.
Willow said nothing for a moment, her green eyes immediately huge and disbelieving. “Jesse's...no...no, he's not...I mean, when you say dead, you don't mean dead dead...do you? You mean he's sleeping like the dead, or, or, or, dead drunk, or as thick as the dead, or or-” Willow's babbling quickly reached the point of incomprehensibility much quicker than Harris remembered she was capable of.
Xander said nothing, just looking at her. His face was unreadable, like a stone statue. Seeing this, Willow's babbling wound down, and she realized he'd meant exactly what he'd said. Wordlessly, she broke into tears and embraced Xander. Harris just held her, not saying anything...not sure what he should or could say...
Finally, Willow pulled away. “How...how did he die...?” She had already figured out it had to be vampires...but...had Jesse died...bravely? Or...begging for his life?Or did they kill him in his sleep....?
“Willow...I don't know how he died...I just...I don't know details, I wasn't there. All I know is one of them found him...killed him...drained his blood...turned him into one of them. Jesse...he's a vampire now, Will. We talked that one time, while he was trying to get Cordelia and Lady Chase.” Xander was surprised he'd managed to get all that out so calmly...but he'd had time over the past week or so...time to accept it...and he'd seen the result...seen the demon that was wearing Jesse's face. “Jesse's gone, and now there's a demon walking around that used to be him. A demon that I'm going to kill. I may not have been able to end Jesse before...but now? The next time we meet...”
“Xander! No! You don't have to do that! I mean, the Daughters of Sineya can - you don't have to kill Jesse...look, you may know, here, in your head,” She put a hand on his head, “That he's not the person we grew up with anymore. But...in your heart...you can't have accepted that...I know...in my heart...I haven't...” Her voice trailed off.
Xander shook his head firmly. “You weren't there, Willow. You didn't see what he's become, you didn't witness the things he did...the things he would
have done, if he'd gotten the opportunity. Which includes raping Lord Chase's daughter, either before or after killing her. But even if that wasn't the case, I'm the one that needs to let him rest in peace. Jesse was my friend. I have to be the one to kill the demon that's inhabiting his corpse nowadays.”
“No!” Willow yelled.
“Willow, I have to!”
“Xander! Please! I've just lost one childhood friend...I don't want lose you too...” She embraced him again, crying once more.
Too bad for the witch, Xander knew he couldn't tell Willow what she wanted to hear. He had to be the one to kill the vampire that Jesse had become. 17 to 23 days until the Red MoonSunnydale Church, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
“So...why exactly are we still staying in the church, if the vampires aren't even around anymore?” Amy asked them all as the sun set once more over Sunnydale town. “There's any number of better lodgings available all over the place, so I could at least sleep in another building; and you wouldn't have to have someone watching me every night, like I know you people do when you think I'm asleep.” Amy's eyes were solid black again – they had been the entire day, but at least the witch hadn't tried to kill her companions – or even use any magic on them. Or acted particularly insane. Just...moderately nuts, like she'd already been. A vicious, evil bitch who they probably really
shouldn't be keeping around.
“Like I'd ever trust you out on your own.” Faith said, not taking her eyes off Amy, flipping a knife idly in one hand. “You'd probably try to burn this place down if you weren't in here too.”
Amy shrugged. “I considered it. Not worth my time and energy, though. If I decide I want to kill you, by the way, I'd probably just bounce you against the walls a few times, see if I can make your head crack open like a melon.”And there it is again. Why am I keeping her around again?
Buffy knew the answer...still...
“But I've been asking myself lately – why are you people still insisting that I stay, anyway? Truth is, you can't stop-” Amy barely managed to magic off to the side the knife Faith threw at her, letting it clatter on the stone floor. “-me from leaving, so why do you not want me to go?”
“If I can't just kill her, then I say, make her get lost.” Faith said to her sister Slayer, deliberately ignoring the witch. “Fuck it; the farther she is from us, the better I'll sleep.”
“No. She stays. We may need her.” In fact, I have a distinctly nasty feeling that we will...
Slayers were taught to trust those gut instincts...so despite her better judgment, Buffy was sure that this was the right decision. “Besides, if she really wanted to leave, we wouldn't be able to stop her. So why don't you just leave, Amy?”
“Why don't I leave?” Amy looked at the Chosen Two, then got up, walking towards the exit. “Why don't I leave?” She actually cackled for a moment, standing at the doorway. “Can't you feel it? Can't you feel it?! The energy! The power! The power!” She held her hands out a moment, out of supplication or lust; it was impossible to tell which.
“What power?” Angel asked slowly, worry in his voice as he finally appeared out of the church's shadows.
“Oh, come on, Angel, don't tell me you can't feel it as well!" She then turned to the Slayers and said, "It's calling to him. I can hear him demanding to answer the call.”
“Who are you talking about!?” Buffy interrupted “Calling to who? What's calling? What are you talking about?!”
“You fool. You blind, lust-filled idiot! It's calling to the demon inside your would-be lover. We're standing on the Mouth of Hell, Buffy. Can you even imagine the power it can emit? We're standing on the Mouth of Hell, and after all these centuries, it's finally waking up.” Amy glared at the blonde Daughter of Sineya.
“And it's going to drive you mad if you keep tapping its power. You're human. You can't-”
“Who are you to tell me what I can or can't do, you pathetic excuse for a demon? Why do you even think I came to this nowhere little town?” Amy interrupted the vampire. “It certainly wasn't the money. I could have gotten much better pay from one of the great Merchant Houses. Believe me, I had several such offers. I came to Sunnydale for the Hellmouth! For exactly this sort of dark energy!”
“How did you know...I mean, I've never heard of this...Hellmouth...?” Buffy said uncertainly. “I mean, the High Priestess would have told us about -”
“You really think so? Well, we've already established that you're an idiot, Buffy, but in this case, I'll admit - even that stuck-up bitch Nikki Wood didn't know.” Amy interrupted with a smirk. “Come on; why do you think I spent my time researching everything in those dark magic texts I stole from the coven's library? No one had even read those books in decades. Those idiots just keep the power locked away. They should use it!” She threw her hands out and fireballs formed in them. Chuckling, Amy threw them both at Angel - just as Buffy and Faith started to run at her.
Oddly enough Angel, unfazed, just stood still. Moments before the fireballs reached him, Amy waved her hands and the fireballs vanished into puffs of smoke, dissipating harmlessly.
“You can relax.” Angel told the two Slayers, even as Buffy hugged him intensely before she let go, looking embarrassed. The vampire then added, “She was never going to kill me. Because Amy needs us alive...for now.”
“Oh? And why would that be?” Amy cocked her head. “I'm so thrilled to find out that you can read my mind, soul boy.”
“I don't need to read your mind to know how you think, witch
. You want this...Hellmouth. And unfortunately, it's got a bunch of vampires close by ready to do a ritual that will free their leader, and then stand at his side as the Master brings back the Old Ones. Which, I suspect, would ruin your plans to fully tap the Hellmouth for its foul power. And you're not going to try to face upwards of a hundred vampires all on your own. Why bother, when at least two dozen Slayers and at least half a dozen witches can show up and handle it all for you?”
Amy briefly looked impressed. “Got it in one, surprisingly.”
“You do realize that they'll never let you get away with what you're planning to do, right?” Angel added.
Bored again, Amy exhaled. “You act like they'll have a choice. Trust me, when I have the full power of the Hellmouth at my disposal...there won't be anything any of them can do. Especially not that little red-headed bitch.” She smiled. “I'm going to enjoy killing her, I can promise you that.”
"Just try it." Buffy growled, almost like a vampire. Luckily, Angel quickly managed to calm her down with just a touch, which didn't surprise anyone much. Then the former Angelus turned to face Amy, his face tight and drawn.
“You won't be killing anyone, I'm sure. You don't have the guts for it. Personally, I've killed hundreds, thousands of people. You? You've killed no one, apart from a few vampires. Besides, just looking at you - it's sad, really. You're still caught up in exacting petty revenge against Willow. There's so much you could be doing with your power, witch. Even without the energy from this Hellmouth, you could have established yourself as a real power in the magical world. Instead, you're going to throw your life away going up against Willow and the coven.” Angel briefly chuckled, shaking his head. “Have fun going exactly nowhere with your life, Amy Madison.”
“Yes, because such words of wisdom mean a great deal coming from you, Angelus. The legendary vampire who let himself be castrated by magic, and his feelings
for an idiotic, necrophiliac Slayer.” Amy headed for the front doors of the church without looking back. Before she left, the Madison woman said, “I'm going to find somewhere to spend the night without having to worry about one of you watching me while I'm sleeping. That's rather creepy.”
Faith watched Amy leave, not making any move to stop her. “Creepy? She's one to talk.”5 to 8 Days until the Red MoonAn Hour Away From Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
“We've almost reached Sunnydale Town.” Wesley said, rolling up the map and sticking it into his pack. “Just another hour or so, and we'll be there.” He grimaced at the thought.
Lilah saw the grimace and smirked. “You can already feel it, can't you? Creeping inside you, crawling inside your soul. Like spiders racing around, underneath your skin.”
Lilah's words, and her tone...it was worrying. “Feel what?” Fred demanded. “What are you talking about?”
“The Hellmouth.” Wesley answered her, gritting his teeth a little. “It must have awakened already, if even I can feel its dark energy this far out from its heart.”
“Why can't we feel it, then?” Gunn asked, then answered his own question. “'Cause you've got an in with the magic, or something like that?”
“In essence, yes.” Wesley affirmed. “I can't feel all that much of it, though, luckily. I'm not powerful enough of a spellcaster for that.” Wesley was strong on theory, knowledge, and understanding of the practice of magic...but he lacked the raw power to truly use that ability in any significant way.
“Should we be worried...?” Gunn asked slowly.
“If my eyes start going solid black, then you may want to give me a solid whack on the back of the head with something blunt. But otherwise, no. Right now, it's just giving me a headache.”
“And what happens when we get closer?” Fred asked, looking concerned.
“I don't know,” Wesley admitted. “The headache will get worse, certainly. But as long as I don't use magic much, if at all, then I should be fine.”
“Alright. But you don't mind if I keep an eye on you, all the same?” Gunn said, half-smirking.
“No, please do.” Wesley replied, then blinked against the sun as it came out from behind the cloud cover. “I do wish you'd warned me, Lilah.”
“No point. You have to feel it to understand it.”
“And we're still waiting on that so-called important information you say you've got.” Fred scoffed.
“If I told you now, woman, you simply wouldn't get it. Look, I don't want the world to end anymore than you do. So I'll tell you what you need to know, when you can actually use the information. Not one second before, and not one second after." Lilah said dismissively.That line is really getting old,
Wesley thought to himself wearily, as he saw Fred and Gunn glare at the woman. And if it wasn't for the fact that I'm sure she's not lying about that part of it, I might actually have smothered Lilah in her sleep by now...