(Atlantis, three days later)
Xander paced up and down as the day for the big meeting arrived, he was tense but focused on the task he had set out to attempt. Soon his friends would arrive and then so would the heads of the various organizations they had contacted. At least he knew one of those heads was Sir Integra and that she supported his plans. He looked up as the doors to the meeting chamber opened to admit Tara, Janna, and Amy. They were the only members of his group who had remained in Atlantis with him while they got ready for this meeting. Alucard, Sir Integra, Lilith and Adrian had returned to the Hellsing Organization to prepare for such an important meeting. Prue had remained with her sisters who had begun to train Paige in the use of her powers. They would arrive together alongside Cole and Leo.
“Relax Alex, or you are going to wear a hole in the floor,” Tara said with a smile as she sensed the nervousness coming from him.
“I’m trying Tara,” Xander responded as he turned to stare out the window and into the deep blue sea, it still amazed him to see the view from the underwater city. To think of the pressure of how much water rested against the shield that kept it at bay, the ancient legend of the sunken city did not do the reality justice he thought.
“You have the support to pull this off Alex,” Janna reminded him as she quickly sat down, feeling more tired as she had of late. She knew in a few weeks she would give birth to either a son or a daughter, she could hardly wait as walking around for any length of time was growing difficult. She had been lucky that she had not caused herself any problems in pushing herself to still be of help during the last fight, but she vowed not to let Xander and the others stand alone. “All you need to do is make them realize this is the best way forward. The war has changed and when the Source returns and it and the First rebuilds their forces they will come at us like a tidal wave,” she told him. “If we do not stand together, we’ll be swept away by it,” she stated.
“You have to ignore any of your concerns about being the one doing the speaking at least at the beginning,” Amy added in. “You just have to get their attention, you know the champions who are coming Alex and you also know Sir Integra,” she reminded him calmly. “It is just the new Watchers Council heads and the Vatican leaders who are the unknown factors here,” she pointed out.
“I expect the Vatican leaders to be troublesome to convince to join the alliance, their beliefs and rules are unbending,” Xander mused aloud as he turned back to them. “They are going to come face to face with people their beliefs believe to be evil and I have to convince them they are not,” he told them.
“But you will have help there,” Leo said after he orbed in alongside Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige. A few seconds later Mandy orbed in behind them, greeting them with a smile. “The Elders as well as Cassandra and her Lord have ordered me and Mandy to help explain the truth about Witches,” he told them as Prue stepped up and kissed Xander in greeting.
“See we are not alone in this Alex,” Janna said with a smile, pleased they were going to get some help from the upper realms. “Now will you please try and relax, it will not do us any good for our visitors to see you so worked up,” she advised him gently.
Xander nodded in agreement and moved to sit down, his friends were right that he should try and calm down. He had to be focused if this meeting was going to go alright, and it had to go alright if they will have any hope of holding the darkness back once the lower powers reorganized themselves. They had time to form this alliance, but not too much. As soon as the Source regained a host, he would once more unite with the First and rally a host of demons to their cause. More than likely having suffered a defeat to them already, they would bring hundreds of demons against them next time. Before he could say anything else there was another flash of light, once it faded it revealed the arrival of Harry, Susan, Fleur, Hermione, Alice, Sirius, Dumbledore and Amelia. Xander smirked as he watched them look around in complete awe at their surroundings, each had seen wonderus things in the magical world,but he guessed Atlantis was beyond even those things.
“Where are we?” Hermione inquired before her eyes noted the nearby window and the sight it revealed. “Oh my god,” she muttered gaining the attention of the others. “We are under water,” she stated the obvious as Prue and her sisters giggled at her reaction.
“Actually we are under a lot of water, to be precise we are at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean,” Tara responded while doing her best to hold in her own amusement at Hermione’s reaction as well as the others.
“You were telling the truth, this is Atlantis,” Harry said in amazement as he moved closer to the window and stared out into the darkness of the Ocean. “This actually beats seeing Hogwarts for the first time,” he muttered mostly to himself although most of the others heard him. Dumbledore frowned, but even he had to admit this was a wonderful sight, but he refused to admit it was more wonderful than Hogwarts.
“Of course I was telling the truth Harry,” Xander responded with a grin still showing on his face. “Welcome to Atlantis,” he said in greeting.
“My god, how is the water kept at bay?” Hermione asked as she kept her eyes pinned to the window which showed the ocean outside.
“As it was explained to us a very powerful shield holds the water at bay,” Tara explained as she moved closer to the window. “You can’t see it but it is there, and thanks to us finding those power modules it will be there for many years to come,” she added.
“This is incredible,” Hermione whispered in response as her mind tried to grasp how it was possible for any kind of shield to hold back the full pressure of the Atlantic Ocean.
“I agree, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Amelia stated with no little awe mixed in with a little fear as well.
This was even more proof that the Magical World had fallen far behind the Muggle world, granted now the war was over and a new government was put into place that would ignore the long held practice of keeping their world frozen in time that would change. But change took time. She just hoped they would be given that time. Dumbledore remained silent as he considered what he was seeing and hearing, it was astounding and yet he could not help but think how this would impact the magical world as it recovered from the war.
“Are you sure we are safe from the ocean?” Fleur couldn’t help but ask. As she stared out the window she couldn’t help but think about the lake at Hogwarts she’d had to swim through during the tri-wizard tournament. That still ranked as one of her least favourite times of her life. Granted without it she would never have bonded herself to Harry in gratitude for saving her sister’s life. Still it was not a moment she liked to think about often, the dark waters had been terrifying as had the mere folk who had forced her to leave her sister in the water thus failing the task making it necessary for Harry to rescue her and thus leading to her bonding to him as he refused any reward for his actions. She felt Harry slip his hands into her own and give it a comforting squeeze as he sensed her disquiet over the bond they shared. A bond she had come to treasure since it had been offered to her and Harry. It had replaced the rather rudimentary bonding she had created after the second task. It was a much more powerful bonding just like the one Xander shared with Tara.
“We are safe Fleur believe me,” Xander assured her just before another flash of light signaled the arrival of some of their other guests.
When the light faded they noted Buffy, Giles, Willow, Kendra, Mr Zabuto, Oz and Cordelia had arrived. Like with Harry and his group they were quickly awed by the beauty of Atlantis, Xander smirked as he looked at their faces.
“Good Lord, is this what I think it is?” Giles inquired as he took in the city.
“Yes Giles it is,” Xander responded with a chuckle. “I bid you welcome to the city of Atlantis,” he stated, unable to resists a little grand standing with his usual sarcastic humor.
“How in the world?” Willow began to ask before being cut off by another flash of light which deposited Jack Crow and Father Adam along with Vincent Wilson and two other men dressed in the garb of the church.
“Kid,” Jack said with a nod of his head. “I’d like you to meet Cardinal Giovanni Bichi and Cardinal Marco Bedini,” he continued before introducing the two newcomers. “They both control the Vatican teams and can speak for the Church in this matter,” he told them.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Cardinal Bichi stated in English although they could all hear the accent showing he was born in Italy. “We have read much about you and your friends from the reports made by Jack and Vincent and their teams,” he said as he shook Xander’s hands. “You have done much for one so young and new to the fight. You have earned the respect of both our top Slayers and that is no mean feat,” he continued as he stepped back and allowed his fellow Cardinal to greet Xander.
“That you also convinced one of the watchers to give us the location of the Hellmouth after keeping it a secret for so long was of great interest to us,” Cardinal Bedini agreed speaking for the first time. His Italian roots showing through his accent which was heavier than his fellow Cardinal, both men seemed to be at least well into their sixties, but put out a picture of being much younger. “Now at the end of your quest you are trying to once more put forward the hope of building an alliance between the many champions and Organizations you’ve encountered along the way,” he went on with a small smile. “This, I’m sure has been told to you, has been tried before and it has failed each time,” he stated to which Xander nodded in agreement. “Then may I ask what hope you have it will work this time?” he inquired.
“Because this time it has to work Cardinal Bichi,” Xander stated with total conviction in his tone. “This past year things have changed, the war has changed and if we do not ally ourselves and prepare we will be wiped out one by one when the Source returns and along with the First rebuilds their armies and strikes back at us,” he stated as calmly as he could. “No one can be blind to this fact, not after everything that has happened,” he added.
Cardinal Bichi noted everyone, including Jack and Vincent, nodded their heads in agreement with the young man’s words, which told him far more than some would expect. The young man clearly had the trust of those within this rather strange, but impressive room they were in, some of them were far more experienced slayers and yet they trusted and followed this young man. He spoke as if he was far older, but then when he considered the things Jack Crow had reported along with Vincent Wilson that was not too much of a surprise. He glanced at his fellow Cardinal and noted him nod just slightly, clearly neither of their top slayers had been wrong about this young man’s potential or that of his friends.
“It would seem we have a lot to discuss then,” he finally said.
“Indeed, we are just waiting now on the arrival of the delegation from the Watcher’s council,” Tara spoke up into the brief silence that followed. “Then we can begin,” she told them all.
“Xander,” Buffy spoke up gaining everyone’s attention. “How in the world did you find this place?” she inquired.
“Long story,” Xander shot back with a grin which increased as he heard both Buffy and Willow growl at his answer which was lacking in information. “And not why we are here. I’ll tell you later,” he assured them much to their annoyance.
“What is this place?” Vincent asked as he looked around before taking note of the window and outside view of the Ocean. “Holy Shit,” he gasped before wincing as he realized what he had said in front of his bosses. But when he glanced back he noted they too were looking out of the window in surprise, clearly they had not heard him in their surprise.
“Don’t worry we are completely safe,” Amy said smiling as all their guests seemed to be stunned by the view the window provided of the ocean.
“Safe, Amy we are on the bottom of the ocean,” Willow squeaked still trying to wrap her mind around how they were not dead. “How can you call that safe?” she asked to which some of the others nodded in agreement.
“There is a very powerful shield around the city Willow,” Prue explained calmly. “It keeps the ocean at bay, we are safe,” she repeated Amy’s statement.
Another flash of light deposited Sir Integra, Lilith, Adrian and Seras, Lilith immediately moved to greet Xander kissing him slowly before moving aside.
“Welcome back,” Xander said in greeting as the others waved or nodded in greeting themselves.
“Thank you Alexander,” Sir Integra responded with a nod of her own head. Having already seen Atlantis before, she and her allies were the only ones not to take note of the view from the window, much to the surprise of some of the others.
“Is everyone here?” Seras inquired as she looked around.
“No, just waiting for one more group,” Tara responded.
Before anyone else could speak there was another flash of light which once it faded revealed four people, two were male and two were female. All were dressed in the sort of things Xander would expect watchers to wear. The women wore what he called business attire while the men were like Giles dressed in a tweed suit.
“Welcome,” Xander said as he stepped forward. “Now we are all here we can begin,” he stated.
“You would be Alexander?” one of the women inquired to which Xander nodded. “I am Alexia Bennings the new head of the Watchers Council, with me is my aide Sophie Nixton and my two best researchers and trainers Max Jenkins and Carl Winslow,” she introduced her companions. “To be honest we were quite shocked by your invitation coming so soon after the demise of Quinton Travers and his followers, to be honest some were suspicious of the timing,” she admitted. She missed the looks Buffy and Willow exchanged, Xander and the others however managed to remain straight faced.
“Building an alliance was always part of my plan even at the start of my journey,” Xander replied, knowing he had to be careful how he answered this slight accusation. “I just happen to finish my journey and begin to put out the calls for a meeting when news reached me of the deaths of your fellow watchers, from what we heard he was dealing with a drug cartel on the side to gain more money,” he stated, finding it easier to keep his features clear of any signs of lying thanks to Tara’s soft words over the bond helping him to focus. “I don’t know if any of it is true or not, but no matter what happened to Travers and his followers I still wanted representatives from the Watchers here for this meeting,” he told her calmly.
Alexia watched him closely as she was sure her fellow watchers were keeping an eye on his companions for any signs of deceit, but she could see nothing that hinted he knew any more than he was saying. She didn’t actually believe him to be responsible for the deaths of Travers and his followers, he was a boy in the grand scheme of things, but she promised to investigate the deaths because it mattered to those older watchers who believed it had been more than a simple drug deal gone wrong, especially as the offer of being at this meeting came so soon after their deaths. She had never liked Travers or his followers, but that didn’t mean she didn’t care if they were murdered. Still for now they had other things to discuss which is why they were here in the first place, glancing at her companions she noted they shook their heads slightly in the negative so clearly they hadn’t seen anything either.
“Of course, shall we begin?” she finally said giving nothing away of what she had been thinking.
“Please follow us,” Prue said and walked towards the large meeting room off to the side of the main gate room. “You will find plenty of room to sit and there is food and drink already prepared if you are thirsty or hungry,” she told them.
Cassandra watched through the viewing pool as the meeting room was filled, the various heads and champions still a little awed by the beauty of Atlantis. This was it. The beginning of what she hoped would be a strong and powerful alliance to stand against the dark. Alexander wasn’t wrong that that when the Source returned and had rebuilt its army of demons that it then would return with vengeance and it wouldn’t be alone. Even now the First continued to probe their defenses for a weak spot to strike, once the Source was back it was clear they would ally against them once more, especially if the alliance happened.
“Do you think they will agree to the alliance?” Jonas asked with a frown as he was unsure if the other heads, bar Sir Integra who they knew supported Alexander’s goal of building an alliance would go for it.
“They have the support of the champions now seated for this meeting,” Tanith pointed out. “That should go a long way in helping get past of the arguments they could put forward against an alliance,” he pointed out. “It is whether the Vatican heads will accept the explanations about the truth of witches and their roles in the war,” he mused aloud.
“Indeed,” their lord agreed with a nod of his head. “That is indeed one of the most important points they will have to iron out as they say,” he told them. “Also explaining the Charmed Ones and the magical world will also take time, this meeting will only be the first of many meetings,” he continued. “There will be no easy agreements, no this will take time, but it is time they have,” he paused as he considered his own words.
“Are you sure of that my Lord?” Tanith inquired.
“I believe so. While the First probes our defenses it will not commit to a full scale attack as its forces have taken a beating of late,” their lord answered slowly. “Even when the Source finally finds a new host it will not attack straight away as it will need to rebuild its own forces which were lost during the war in the magical world, that will be no easy task,” he explained. “The only real concern we have is that Lucifer might strike at them while they are distracted building their alliance, he has thus far played no part in what has happened, but he can’t be blind to what has happened has changed things, even for him,” he added with a slight frown.
“Lucifer has no reason to attack them as he only commands a small portion of the forces of hell. He takes very little action on the grand scheme of things,” Cassandra argued. “He is content where he is knowing all mankind baring those who know the truth believe him the actual ruler of hell. Alexander and his friends are no threat to him,” she added.
“Do not blind yourself Cassandra,” their Lord cautioned her with a slight frown in her direction. “Lucifer knows if we actually win the war between light and dark then he loses as well, he has already been cast from Heaven for trying to supplant the creator and he will not want to fall any further,” he told her, even though both Jonas and Tanith listened closely as he spoke. “As you know there are worse things in this universe than to be in hell,” he stated and Cassandra had to suppress a shiver as she knew he was right. “No, he will be watching them closely now, in time should the alliance prove more of a threat than even we expect he may ally himself with the First and the Source and do all he can to eliminate them, before they become anymore of a threat than they already have become,” he went on. “We must be realistic and think of all possible threats. Even those who we once believed might have remained on the side lines,” he told them all in a dangerously calm but urgent tone, making it clear he believed this was very important.
“Then they will have to be warned,” Cassandra said after a brief silence. She knew her lord was right, even though she did not truly want to admit it.
“And you will warn them tonight,” their lord agreed with a nod of his head. “They must know even with all they’ve done, it is not over and they must be on their guards always as must we,” he told them before he turned and exited the room, leaving his three companions silently reflecting on all he had said.
“Not a pleasant thought is it?” Jonas asked turning to Cassandra.
“No Jonas, it is not but it is the reality of the world we live in, no matter how much we wish it wasn’t so,” Cassandra answered, letting out a sigh as she did so. “Alexander and his friends have much to do, but I believe they will live to do it but only as long as they stand together,” she told him as she stared at the picture reflected in the pool. “That is why this meeting is so important, it must work,” she all but whispered.
“It will succeed or fail, depending on how well Alexander controls the meeting,” Tanith finally spoke up again. “He called the meeting, and it is he who has the trust of the others to pull this off,” he continued. “He belongs to no Organization, he stands by himself and his small group,” he reminded them.
“Yes, but some of the others might be wary of his rather close relationship with Alucard and through him Sir Integra,” Jonas pointed out. “Remember he has been traveling with them for the last few months. That is bound to be a sticking point for the other heads,” he explained at their looks. “Alexander will have to watch how he explains that, make it clear that while he was traveling and working with the head of the Hellsing Organization and some of her most infamous followers he has never been a member of Hellsing himself,” he concluded to which Cassandra nodded in agreement.