Easing One's Conscience III - Angel's Story
Disclaimer -- I own nothing. Credit for this goes to Joss Whedon for creating the Buffy/Angelverse, and to Troy Duffy for creating the Boondock Saints...Author's Note -- From this point the story begins to tie in heavily with "Turned from Darkness..." by DeepBlueJoy, thank you Blue for your wonderful tale, I hope I can do it justice. And by extension this story shall begin to tie in with elements of the Stargate 'verse...
Back at Angel’s flat, he and Smecker sat across from each other, Angel’s secure smartphone laying on the table between them. They looked intently into each other’s eyes. Their looks screamed at each other that there were secrets that had best be told in the next few moments.
At length Smecker spoke. “She called you Angelus.”
Angel took a deep breath, exhaled it for several seconds and began. “I wasn’t always human. Oh, I started off human alright. My father, in 1727, Galway, Ireland, named me Liam when I was born. After about my twentieth birthday, though, he became disillusioned with me and said I wouldn’t amount to anything, so I wandered through Ireland, squandering my father’s inheritance on liquor and women. One night in 1753 I met a woman named Darla. She was beautiful beyond description, I thought, so much so that I instantly fell in love with her. Of course any man would have fallen to her charms, she held so much power over them. How was I to know then that that power stemmed from her vampirism?
“She sired me that night and named me Angelus. Up until then my nickname was Angel, because it was whispered far and wide among women that I had the face of one. When a human is turned into a vampire, it involves an exchange of blood. The siring vampire drains you until you are near death from exsanguination, and then they pierce a blood vessel in their own body, usually the wrist because of its convenience, and they allow or force their own blood into your body. One taste of their blood at that moment dooms you forever to an appointment with severe, lasting thirst for living blood, and an eventual appointment with the big furnace down below. The reason for that is that when you taste the blood of a vampire, your own body dies that very moment, and your soul passes from your body. You lose your soul, my friend, when you become a vampire. I lost mine at age 36.”
“But you’re human,” replied Smecker. “How is that even possible?”
“One thing at a time, Special Agent Smecker. After my siring, Darla and I ravaged the countryside of Britain, taking lives as we drank the blood of innocent victims. I was particularly ruthless and creative in my pursuit of my targets. I was known to take the lives of whole families before I finally finished off my victims. On the night I rose from my grave I slaughtered the whole community, and then I finished off my own family. It was actually that night when I was renamed Angelus, because my sister that night thought that I was an angel, and she welcomed me back into our home without a moment’s hesitation. My last words to my father just before I drained him were that I had made something of myself after all. Afterwards, Darla and I cut a swath throughout Wales, through Northern England, and then we settled in London. I wasn’t a particularly intelligent vampire then, and I was reckless in my pursuit of blood. Darla abandoned me soon afterward in a burning barn; of course I wasn’t about to allow myself to die from fire.”
“I’m not going to bore you with the details of my later unlife, as vampires term their existence. Suffice it to say that we settled in a community and started to thin out the herd, as it were – forgive me for speaking of it in such terms; we both know how precious life is, why you joined the FBI, right? – before we attracted too much attention from the populace. It was more by my ruthlessness and lack of consideration for my surroundings or the circumstances that drew their attention. Then we would have to leave or face the final end of our existence. Our pattern repeated itself for decades, and then in the year 1860 I encountered a young woman named Drusilla. She had the gift of foresight, which she told me later on was considered by her mother as an affront to the Lord, though by the time I sired her she couldn’t have cared less. I murdered her family in front of her while posing as a priest. You can probably assume that then I was a most unwholesome and totally damnable excuse for a living being, yes?”
“Without a doubt. But do continue, Liam. You obviously have a long way to go before you get to the point where you became human again,” replied Smecker, the look of complete disgust evident on his face, however much he was putting it all aside. He knew there was more to Angel than Angelus.
“I tormented Drusilla to such an extent that she was completely and utterly insane at the moment I turned her. After I massacred her family she fled to a convent. When I got there, I wiped them all out, right on the day she was to take her holy vows, and then I had sex with Darla on top of Drusilla. That was what broke her. After her siring she remained totally insane, ensuring that her abuse would never end. I had called her my masterpiece. Then we left the convent in flames, the three of us, and in 1880 Drusilla turned a young man named William Exeter into a vampire that everyone started calling Spike. He had a particularly disturbing penchant for torturing his victims with railroad spikes, which was what earned him his name. You mentioned Slayers, Agent Smecker. Well, William the Bloody, which he was called in life for his bloody awful poetry, or Spike as we call him in his unlife—“
“Yes, but don’t worry about him, he’s harmless now. But I’ll get to that too. When we travelled together, Spike gained the reputation of being a killer of Slayers. He took out one during the Boxer Rebellion in China, and one more in New York in the 1970s. He said the blood of a Slayer was particularly sweet, and he would pass up a normal human when he got wind of a Slayer, though of course, as I said, he only ever took out two in his unlife. We had ourselves what we thought was a blast, though for our victims it was anything but. And then in 1898 I had an appointment with destiny.”
“Obviously not my returning to mortal self, or I wouldn’t be here to tell you this most sordid tale. No, Agent Smecker, in 1898 I had my soul returned to me.
“Really? Now that is interesting…”
“The Chinese have a saying – May you live in interesting times. Well, after I raped and murdered the daughter of a gypsy chieftain in Romania my unlife became much more interesting. I was captured by the clan Kalderash and bound to my soul again by a gypsy curse. When we went to China, during the Boxer Rebellion, I found I couldn’t kill an innocent human. Oh, I could kill and drain murderers and rapists and the like, but that wasn’t what I found myself subsisting on. I found myself eating animals mainly. Not eating their flesh and digesting the muscle and organs, but drinking their blood. But I simply could not kill an innocent. Especially children – since my soul was returned to me as part of the curse, I found the idea repulsive and nearly impossible. Somehow Darla figured it out, thought she didn’t know that I was cursed. Vampires can smell souls as well as blood. The common variety of vampire finds the odour of a soul disgusting, filthy. Darla had challenged my refusal to kill and drain a human, and she thought she might ‘redeem’ me by getting me to kill and drain an infant child.” Angel shuddered as the memory returned in all its vividness. “I found myself unable to do it, and that’s when she smelled my soul. She was thoroughly repulsed at it, and she decided to kill the baby anyway, and so I took action, my first since being re-ensouled, and tore the babe from Darla’s grasp then dove out the window to get it as far from them as I could.”
“Sounds like that curse was the best thing that ever happened to you up until now,” said Smecker. “Keep going.”
“Afterwards I wandered through the world, living off of animals and the occasional violent criminal, and generally staying out of history’s way as much as I could. I found myself in the trenches in World War One, where I had my first brush with the Watchers’ Council. Ever hear of them?”
“Actually, yes. The Bureau maintains a classified file on Watchers sent into the field to train and support Slayers that are called into active duty, to use a government phrase. So far as anyone else knows, they specialise in archaeology of occult artefacts. There’s a Rupert Edmund Giles that heads the Council now since 2003, if my memory serves. You’re wondering how I know, right?”
“I could be curious about that later, but you wanted to know about me first.”
“OK, go on. I personally find it more intriguing how a man who claims to have once been the most feared and deadly vampire in human existence could have become human again.”
“Stranger things have happened, but they wouldn’t be relevant to our situation now. Ok, World War One. I was in the trenches when I was attacked and nearly killed by a Geoffrey Windham-Pryce. I happen to have known his son, but that’s another story. Geoffrey was a Senior Watcher who had been following leads on a cult that worshipped a very ancient vampire known as Kakistos. That’s Greek for ‘worst of the worst’, and Kakistos more than lived up to his name. When I destroyed the cult, Kakistos fled. It was rumoured he died in a plane crash just afterwards, so Windham-Pryce allowed me to leave in gratitude for my assistance. I wandered a bit more, eventually settling in Montana during the Great Depression. Then in World War Two an organisation known then as the Demon Research Initiative pressed me into service against the Nazis. I suppose the Bureau has a file on them too?”
“The Nazis, sure, but that was hardly clandestine. The Demon Research Initiative, yeah, we kept a file on them while they were in operation. That stays locked up in deep storage in case there’s ever a reference to them. You’d be surprised at the things we keep detailed records on. But keep going.”
“Anyways, the DRI wanted me to infiltrate a Nazi submarine and rescue the crew from a small group of vampires that the Germans were experimenting on. After the US Navy retrieved the sub, the vampires proceeded to assassinate the crew, with the survivors hiding inside a secure compartment. Now two of those vampires were relatively new to me, but there was one that I had known for a long time. In fact, I knew him since he had been sired in 1880. Can you guess who that was?”
“The very same. After I ejected the vampires from the boat, I had to turn a human in order to save the submarine. I needed the government off my back, and they wanted their sub back. Sam Lawson was the only crewmember left who could repair the damage. I had a choice, to either turn him and save the sub, or to allow him to die and therefore trap me on the bottom of the North Atlantic. Well, I turned Lawson, rescued the sub, and then disappeared out of public view for a while. I ran around the US for a few decades, eventually settling in Los Angeles—“
“I said, ‘fitting’. As in, it’s fitting that a vampire who calls himself Angel would make his home in the City of Angels; given its reputation, I imagine there was no shortage of good deeds you could have accomplished there. Please continue.”
“Well, in 1996 I had what some might call a vision. Now before I get to that I have to tell you about demons. You heard me mention the Demon Research Initiative from World War Two. You understand what that means, right?”
“Yeah, the Bureau kept an extensive classified database at the behest of the White House’s classified paranormal division. Every type of demon that the government encountered, good or bad, has an entry in that database. I suppose that demons, in that way, are like us humans. Some are rotten to the core and just need to be wiped out of existence. Others are good and try to make a difference in the world, whereas still others that are good just want to be left alone to live their lives the best way they can. They don’t like to make waves, they don’t want to attract attention, they try to blend in with humanity as best they can, and the ones that can’t try to stay hidden from the public eye. But every one of them has an entry in that classified Bureau database, and the government looks at them all the same. They aren’t human, so they’re basically the enemy.”
“Yeah, sounds like the government. Well, in LA I encountered a man you might call in best terms a Balance Demon. He called himself Whistler, said I was destined for great things. He pointed me in the direction of Hemery High School, where I had another run in with the Watchers’ Council. Specifically, I encountered the Slayer, and her first Watcher, a man named Merrick. This new Slayer goes by the name of Buffy Summers.”
“Goes? Not went
“Yeah. She had just been Called only a day or so before, as it turned out, and this Merrick showed up to help her come to terms with her new powers, and with her destiny. The Slayer is a girl, one girl in all the world, Chosen to wage war against the vampires, the demons, and all the forces of darkness.”
“Yeah, I know the legend. I also know that after some years one Slayer somehow became thousands in a single moment. How that happened I have no idea. Don’t think I really want to know either.”
“We’ll get to that some other time. Anyway, I swore that I would protect Buffy with every effort of my being from that point on in her struggle against evil. Soon after she was Called, the vamps started showing up in LA with everything they could get to work against her. She had to fight a Master Vampire named Lothos at the end of it all; she burned down the school gymnasium in the process. She got expelled and then committed to a lunatic asylum for her trouble, and then her parents got divorced and she went with her mother to Sunnydale, California upon her release. I followed, and that’s when she met Director Giles. Back then he was just a Watcher recently assigned to her upon Merrick’s death at the hands of Lothos. After a couple of years of helping her wage the good fight, meeting and helping her and her new friends there – they called themselves the Scooby Gang after the cartoon because of their extracurricular activites, as it were – we ran into Darla again. She was working for an ancient vampire who called himself the Master. Darla and I knew him from my time as Angelus, and he had set up shop in Sunnydale on top of an interdimensional nexus that we call a Hellmouth. Well, Buffy killed him, then I killed Darla, and the next year we ran into Spike and Drusilla once again.”
“Quite the family reunion, wasn’t it? Can’t say that I envy you having to do what you did under the circumstances,” said Smecker.
“Not quite. Most vampires and demons that come to the Hellmouth tend to want to destroy everything, bring about an apocalypse that destroys humanity, but not Spike or Dru. They came to Sunnydale looking to rule the roost, as it were. Spike didn’t give a damn about the Master or his Anointed One; once Buffy killed the Master Spike killed the Anointed One and started his tenure as the big fish in a not so small pond. Dru had retained her ability as a seer, as well as her insanity, and Spike used her talents to anticipate all our moves. I suppose it was luck or fate that permitted us as the Scooby Gang to come out on top as often as we did, but that changed when Buffy and I fell in love.”
“She fell in love with you? Did she know then that you were a vampire?”
“Not right away, but that soon became a moot point after I slew Darla; Buffy and I realized then that we were in love. After Spike and Dru arrived in Sunnydale they had tried a couple of times to end the world, once with a construct called the Judge, and later with a demonic statue called Acathla. We tried to keep the Judge from being reassembled, but on my way to a ship that was bound for China we were ambushed by Spike and his lapdogs, and they were going to make Buffy watch me die, but we ended up fleeing the scene. That’s when I learned about the second part of the gypsy curse that had been placed upon me.”
“The curse that restored your soul,” remarked Smecker.
it on me, actually. But if ever I were to experience a moment of true happiness, then my soul would be lost once again, and I would again become Angelus. We were in an abandoned apartment after we fell back from our encounter with Spike and company, and I tried to comfort Buffy. I suppose we both thought that the end was coming, that we couldn’t do a goddamn thing to stop it, or something like that. But it ended up with me and Buffy making love for the first and only time. Only moments after that, things got a whole lot worse. It felt like I was watching everything from a distance as Angelus ran amok, first joining with my childe and hers, and then tormenting the friends that I had made only the year before. We had just unearthed Acathla when Buffy’s friend Willow Rosenberg, a rather shy tech-head who was lately studying witchcraft, found an artefact called an Orb of Thessula. This was used to capture souls of the recently dead and hold them for one purpose or another before they have a chance to cross over, and Willow used it to find and reacquire my own soul, then she restored the curse upon me. But when Acathla was triggered, Buffy had to run me through with her sword to close the vortex Acathla had begun to generate. Only the blood of the one who opened it could close it, and that was me as Angelus. It was about as painful for either of us as you can imagine.”
“And that was pretty much the point where we decided, Buffy and I, that our relationship as it stood needed to end. I had been sucked into Hell then spewed out after what seemed like a hundred years for me, but was actually a few months here. Then a few other things happened throughout the following year that convinced me that I would better serve Buffy by leaving. Staying was too painful for either of us, so I returned to Los Angeles.”*******Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado NORAD secure facility
Brigadier General Jack O’Neil was frustrated. The newcomers to the SGC were not a savoury bunch by any means. When he viewed the roster he first did a double take, and then he slammed his tablet down in outrage and summoned LTC Carter to his office. It was going to take all his powers of persuasion to convince the President to rescind the order for this newest batch of recruits courtesy of Bio Research Solutions.
When he heard the knock on the door, he all but shouted “Get your ass in here!”
The door opened very carefully and the face of Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter only halfway presented itself. In frustration, O’Neil sighed loudly and said, “Does it look like I’m gonna zat' you, Carter? Sit down and talk to me.”
“Sir?” She evinced confusion as she took the proffered chair before his desk. He tossed the tablet PC to her and leaned back into his chair, spinning it once as he took a moment to gather his wits.
“Look at that roster, Colonel, and tell me what you think that says.”
“Lots of serial numbers where there should be names. A mistake, I’m sure, sir, but the attached memo from the President says we’re supposed to take these troops.” She tossed the tablet back onto his desk and looked him in the eye once he had finished his chair’s rotation. “What do you want to do about that?”
“I want to tell the President he’s being an ass and an idiot and only an idiot would accept these things
as soldiers in their command, but I can’t do that, now can I?”, he responded with a sarcastic smile.
“We don’t even need them, sir; we have the Slayer refugees from the Groom Lake complex, and they’ve been more than adequate on missions. Vi and Rona have outperformed even Teal’c on occasion when they have a melee weapon in their hands.”
“Yeah, every System Lord inside of ten parsecs went nuts trying to find a hole to hide in when they heard what we had. SG-3 and SG-5 have outperformed every team for the past five years since we assigned them those Slayers. Now DOD is sending us these clones
and the President says we’re supposed to just take them? I don’t buy it, Sam. This shit has to be faked; I’m not putting any one of them on a team, and that’s a fact.”
Carter's slow shake of her head punctuated the words that next came from her. “I wish I could tell you this was a fake, but it’s got none of the markers that indicate a forged document. No change in the source code, no unknown signature, all the authenticating data match up; sir, this is authentic.”
Jack let out a long, low wail as he rolled back his head and simultaneously spun his chair once more. "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
Carter, can’t I just say it’s a fake and tell the President to stick this memo where the sun don’t shine, then tell those clones I don’t want them?”
Sam laughed softly at that one. She had always found his occasional petulance to be rather endearing, and she sympathised with his consternation even now. “We could give them to the Slayers, retask Vi and Rona to head up several new teams, with just the clones, and then send them to a planet where the Slayers have orders from us to kill them off. Or we could get Miss Chase to come in for a bit. Thor’s been asking about her…”
“Ha ha….” Laughed Jack, as he remembered encountering her and Drusilla about eight years back. How strange a fate it was that he would bump into a young woman who just happened to be a hybrid Slayer and goddess, and another one who was even stranger. Drusilla Carpentier had revealed herself to be not only a vampire, but a Vampire Slayer as well. And now she was one of the only three vampires in existence to be able to go shopping during regular hours and not worry about extreme sunburn, and that was understating things. And she was his direct ancestor, to boot. A strange fate indeed….
“Good old Thor’s got a soft spot for her, does he? Ah, maybe we could hand off the clones to the Asgard, let them tinker around with them to see what makes them tick. We could always say it was Loki…”
That got Sam rolling in her seat in laughter. Better the clones be experimented on by that mad scientist than one of them, the Old Guard of SG-1. She and Jack together then wondered what that Rosenberg woman would do if she found out some aliens had gotten their hands on some of her products; no doubt she would have a conniption fit at the very least…
When Sam’s laughter finally subsided, she managed to take a deep breath, wipe one tear from the corner of one of her eyes, and smile. “So we take them, then?”
“Yeah, sure, why not?" Jack shrugged. "Anything goes wrong, we could always put one of our plans here into action. Get them down here, let’s have a look at them….”
Vastia smiled as she read the reports from the squads she had sent to New Zealand and Colorado. Streaming data was a lovely thing, she mused, noting the real-time updates from each of her soldiers that her Master had loaned to her for her mission. Loose ends needed to be tied up, and the memo that she had one of her charges forge and transmit to the SGC in Cheyenne Mountain was a masterpiece, in her mind. The clones were able to hack the DOD server and penetrate the firewall in less than ten seconds. From there it was a matter of figuring the encryption protocols and the frequency of their rotation, and it was cut, copy, and paste from there. Now the Stargate Command had a unit of clones under their authority, but which answered ultimately to her and Lord Hera. Soon the possibilities had become manifold to the point of being inexhaustible.
The Sith could expand their empire to the stars.
The surviving Groom Lake Slayers would be found and eradicated once and for all.
She, Darth Vastia, would soon have her own clone force to act on her behalf when it came time to take her place as Master of the Sith.
She was rereading the last report from her New Zealand contingent when something in a vid caught her eye. A bit of black armour on a woman that had not been seen before. Actually, the tall woman was clothed head to toe in black armour, and a masked helmet that topped it off. She froze the vid, and then she zoomed in on the masked woman. What she saw had her rolling in the earth in insane laughter.
A femme Darth Vader. The grim symbol of terror and evil grafted onto the face of a woman, then turned to goodness. Suddenly it was no longer funny.
She resumed the playback of the vid, and watched as the Vader woman walked. Something familiar…
A multitude of red flags suddenly went up, one after the other in rapid, panicking succession.No…..
, Vastia thought in increasing alarm. This is not possible….
Lady Vader walked just like the sister of Dawn Summers.Like BUFFY….but I killed her. I felt her die. It’s not possible, people don’t come back from the dead!
Then realization dawned in the Dark Lord’s mind, as old memories resurfaced. People didn’t come back from the dead…unless they were Buffy Summers…
And she’d come back from the dead at least three times in her lifetime. This was disconcerting news; her Master would not be pleased in the least bit. Somehow Vastia would have to finish what she started. If she did not, then Buffy Summers would become their greatest threat.
She would have to confront Buffy again. But this time, she would do it herself.
On her own terms. In her own way. She would not be satisfied until Buffy Summers was in pieces at her feet. Let her try to resurrect herself from that….********