Chapter 2: Conspiracy Theories
“Giles!” The middle-aged watcher that was posing as a high school librarian’s head shot up from where it had been buried in the odd book he’d discovered the other night in the the local occult store called the Magic Box. He’d as of yet been unable to discern the origin of the text and was unable to properly translate it.
The watcher stood from his seat, and pulled the book shut just as Buffy pushed open the swinging doors at the entrance of the library and strode through.
“You’re here early.” Giles comments, somewhat surprised as her glanced down at his wrist watch, and confirmed it was only 6 am. “Too early for my liking actually, what’s going on?”
“I’ve called a meeting, the others are on their way here as well, including Faith and her two friends that showed up last night, just in time to keep her from accidentally killing the deputy mayor.” Buffy explains.
“Dear god, is the man pressing charges?” Giles sputters, pulling his glasses off and wiping them off with the small cloth he kept in his front pocket.
“No, he’s dead.” Buffy replies grimly. “Someone shot him from a rooftop with a crossbow, we got out of there and went to Faith’s motel room.”
“He’s dead? Did you get a look at the shooter?” Giles exclaimes, falling back into the chair he’d been occupying several moments earlier.
“No, it was dark and the shot came from above. The rest of us were trying not to get hit and running.” The eldest of the two slayers pauses for a moment and then her mouth draws into a thin line. “Speaking of, we need to get Faith out of that fleabag craphole, should have a while ago.”
“Faith’s living at EZ-Rooms?” Willow Rosenberg asked horrified as she entered the library, Xander Harris and Daniel Osbourne trailing behind her.
“It’s being taken care of.” Faith’s own voice answers the redhead’s question, the five scoobies turning to face the second level stacks as the brunette slayer and the Bostonian werewolves emerge from the rows of shelves. “Came in through the window, figured it was easier than avoiding that troll principal of yours.”
“Faith?” Xander questions, glancing at the two newcomers to the Hellmouth.
“X, Red, Ozzy, G, meet James Foley and Ava Rivers. They’re both old friends of mine from Boston.” Faith introduces the scoobies minus B to the wolves. “So didya tell them B?”
“Tell us what?” Willow asks, moving up to where Buffy is standing.
“The deputy mayor was killed last night, and we don’t know who the killer is.” Buffy replies, receiving a gasp of shock from the novice witch, a widening of the eyes from Xander, and a quirked eyebrow from Oz. “It gets better. Finch knows about us, everyone in this room, and Wesley, Cordy and Dawnie. He told us before he died that all of us needed to be at the Von Hauptman crypt tonight around midnight. I’m gonna go, but Dawn definitely isn’t, and I don’t trust Wesley. I don’t know what’s there, so I can’t ask you guys to-”
“We’re with you Buff.” Xander cuts in, cutting of the ex-cheerleader’s speech.
“We’re behind you too, maybe whatever is at the crypt can shed some light on how he knew who we were.” Ava adds, pulling a lock of her dyed pink hair behind her ear as she, Faith and James come down the small staircase to join the others.
“Something isn’t right about this, if the deputy mayor is dead, why wasn’t on the early morning local news?” Oz inquires suddenly. “I watch every morning from four to five-thirty. There was nothing on this.”
Buffy gives a helpless shrug, turning to Giles who just shrugs. “Uh, maybe they didn’t find the body yet?”
“Nah, we left him in one of the warehouses still active, one of the first shifters would have found him by now.” Faith disagreed, and smirks at the looks of surprise on the scoobies’ faces. “What? Shitty as that damn motel is, it still costs, so I’ve been working down at the docks four days a week for the past couple months. I know how things go down there, they’d have found him by now.”
“Maybe we should go and check it out.” Xander suggests, eagerly looking for any excuse to ditch school.
“No.” Faith replies. “I’ll take James and Ava while you guys do the school thing. I won’t be bothered neither since most the people down there know me.”
“And what about the crypt?” Giles asks.
“Seventeen hours to go on that G.” Faith says, tapping James and Ava by the shoulder and then leading them out, the latter two exchanging a brief look with Oz as they pass their fellow werewolf, subtle nods letting each party know that they know what the other is. They didn’t know it yet, but a pack had just formed.
“Faith’s right, we can go over what we’re gonna do about the crypt issue later tonight.” Buffy decides after the second slayer has left.
“Is Ava single?” Xander blurts out, and then lets out a yelp as Willow cuffs him on the back of the head. Buffy and Oz shake their heads in amusement, and Giles just walks away, muttering about hormonal teens and idiot boys.
Los Angeles – Wolfram and Hart
Lindsey grinned as the seer’s eyes opened and the irises faded from the pure white back to the girl’s normal blue.
“James Foley and Ava Rivers arrived in Sunnydale last night and have reunited with the slayer Faith Lehane, and have also met Elizabeth Summers and her group.” The girl tells him. “Everything is going according to plan so far.”
“Very good Cassie. Now we need to get to New Orleans to meet with the rest of the team.” The lawyer tells the girl, who gives a tired nod. “Come now, you can sleep during the flight.”
Fifteen year old Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Newton nodded and allowed Lindsey to put his arm around her shoulder and lead her from the private conference room. The odd pair make their way to the elevators and then down to the garage before getting into Lindsey’s vintage Mustang, bound for LAX.
Sunnydale – The Docks
The transit bus pulled to a stop at the edge of the docks and eight people disembark, with Faith, James and Ava taking up the rear of the group. The trio breaks away from the other five and begin retracing their steps from the previous night, quickly reaching the warehouse that they’d left Finch’s body in. Coming up to the entrance, the three old friends exchange a look of confusion between them at the complete lack of any police presence, either now or at any time since Finch’s death, which added to the bafflement that none of the workers milling around the area seemed to have any interest in the building.
Shoving her confusion to the back of her mind, Faith strides over to the warehouse door and quickly twists the knob and pushes it open. She enters the building and is quickly joined by the two wolves, each of whom share an identical look of shock as they stare at the spot where Finch had been seen last, only to find the floor cleans and a whole bunch of sealed crates and cardboard boxes littering the interior, none of which that had been there the previous night.
“What in the fuck?” Faith curses, glancing around the area, and walking up to one of the crates. She tilts her head at the sight of ‘D.R.I.’ stamped in bold black lettering on the top of the crate, a quick glance at the other nearby crates reveal they all share the brand. “What the hell is D.R.I.?”
She frowns at the sudden paling on both wolves faces. “Tell me.”
The pair share a look before James answers. “The Demon Research Initiative. Only they’re supposed to have been defunct since about 1980. Something happened on one of their bases, but it was kept very hush hush by the feds. Word got around on the underground that one of the members of that group went crazy and killed a bunch of the staff due to some mystical backlash or something that fried his mind. Least that’s the rumor.”
“Regardless, if they’re back and here of all places, then we’re all in very big trouble.” Ava adds, her face ashen.
“Do you think they were the ones to kill Finch?” Faith questions, staring at her friend with concern.
“No.” Ava says immediately. “Crossbows ain’t their thing. They’d have gone with a sniper rifle from a further distance. Finch was more likely then not killed by someone who’s lived here a while, maybe even the same person who gave him all our names. If it had been them, Finch wouldn’t have lived long enough to tell us anything and the three of us and Buffy would be in cages or dead.”
“So what do we do?” Faith wonders aloud.
“For now, let’s just settle for getting the hell out of here.” James suggests, turning to leave. “Regardless of who killed that guy, we don’t wanna be here when whoever left this stuff behind comes to get it.”
The two girls share a quick nod and follow him out.
Sunnydale High School – Local History class
Cordelia Chase turned in her seat and threw an annoyed look at her ex-boyfriend as a folded up piece of paper lands on her desk. After a moment she turned back and opened it, quickly reading the contents.Something happened last night, Buffy is calling a meeting. You gonna come?
Cordelia throws a withering look at Xander, but nods reluctantly. She then grabs the piece of paper and quickly writes something down.For the sake of continued existence, I’ll come. I still hate you.
was the response Xander found when he opened up the note after she’d passed it back. He frowns slightly and stares at the back of her head, a look of regret coming into his eyes.
He remains silent for the remainder of the class, his gaze focused mainly on Cordelia, but she just blatantly ignored him and then left in a hurry before he was able to speak with her.
Sunnydale High Library – Noon
“So what’s this about?” Cordelia demanded as she pushed the door to the library and strode in with the flair of a queen.
“Someone murdered the deputy mayor last night.” Buffy says, not looking up from where she’s sitting at the table in the middle of the room looking over the information that Willow had been able to dig up on Finch during the computer class. Cordelia’s mouth drops open in an ‘o’ of shock.
“And then covered it up.” Faith adds as she enters the library with James and Ava, and this time Buffy does look up.
“What?” she asks, looking just as shocked as Cordelia now. Xander, Willow, Oz and Giles all look just as confused, as Faith’s words sink in.
“We got ourselves a bon-A-fide conspiracy here B.” Faith replies. “Finch’s body was gone, no sign that it was ever there and the warehouse is now full of D.R.I. property.”
“The Initiative?” Giles questions urgently. “Those sodding arses almost caused an apocalypse back in the early eighties. They were supposed to have been shut down.”
“Sounds about the same as what we know… thought we knew.” Ava speaks up, the perturbed look she got while at the warehouse still plastered across her visage.
“We don’t need to worry about them, not yet.” James says confidently. “The fact that the warehouse is full of their property tells us that they’re still setting up. It’s gonna be awhile before they’re up and running, so we’ll have time to prepare.”
“He’s right, we need to focus on the issue of Finch and this crypt… Von Hauptman, you said it was?” the watcher asks, turning to face Buffy.
“Something like that.” She agrees with a quick nod of the head.
“So what’s this got to do with me then?” Cordelia inquires impatiently, glancing around the assembled group.
“Before Finch died last night, he listed off twelve names and told us that everyone on his list needed to be at the crypt tonight at midnight.” Faith answers. “Unfortunately, he didn’t say what was there, or why we had to go.”
“So you’re walking into this blind? Are you crazy?!” the cheerleader demands, her tone incredulous.
“We got three werewolves and Angel to sniff out any danger, plus the strength of two slayers.” Willow points out, speaking for the first time since Cordelia had entered, and the queen herself throws a shocked look over to where James and Ava are standing together.
“More werewolves?” She questions, her tone slightly shaky.
“Kinda my fault, but yeah Queenie.” Faith replies. “Me ‘n’ these two go way back.”
“Faith, for the last time. It wasn’t your fault.” Ava says sternly, throwing a slight glare at her longtime friend. “Neither James or I blame you, so let it go already.”
The Bostonian slayer gives a small nod and turns back to face Cordelia. “So you gonna come, possibly help save the world?”
Cordelia’s mouth snapped shut as she finally regained her composure. “What the hell?”
Note: Minor edit to first chapter, added Angel’s birth name to Finch’s list of names.
The Stoner Guru thanks Oxnate, Ltlconf and SJYU for their reviews, and to all the people who have taken the time to read my drivel, thank you.