FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (26/?)
“Right, well, thank you all for coming.” Giles nodded first at Wesley and then a little more uncertainly to Wood, but he’d decided that if they included the African-American more he’d feel more part of their planning. “It’s been a month since we formed Vigilant Holdings, as such I’d like to know how all our businesses are going.”
Wesley pursed his lips and shifted uneasily in his seat. “Custom Armoury’s set-up costs are running about ten percent higher than we’d budgeted for, however we’re getting a considerable amount of hits on the website Ms. Calendar,” Wesley nodded towards Jenny, “set up for us, and our order book is filling up nicely.”
“Excellent, the book store is turning its usual steady if not extravagant profit,” Giles looked towards Jenny. “Jenny?”
“Marvellous Computing,” Jenny grinned at the name, “already has a number of local clients, we have two realtors and a gymnasium signed up for databases, computer security for Sunnydale Finance, three restaurants who want booking systems as well as one for Sunnydale Cabs, and I’m meeting to discuss a system with Sunnydale Personnel.”
“That’s splendid,” Giles beamed. “And from what I heard, Xander and Charles’ odd job business is going very well.”
“I suggested they go topless as a promotional gimmick to draw in the housewife dollar,” Jenny grinned. “You wouldn’t believe how bashful those two boys are!”
“Bashful?” Wesley shook his head. “Sensible more like.”
“Indeed. Housewives.” Giles shuddered. “They’re more predatory than vampires.”
“And how would you know how predatory Sunnydale housewives are?” demanded
“Ah,” Giles scurried for cover. “I was talking about my experiences in England before I um-.”
“Had a lot of experiences in England did you?” Wood chuckled.
Giles shot the black a volcanic glare before hurriedly changing the subject. “I understand you’ve completed the re-testing of everyone’s powers?”
“Yes, the results were surprising,” Wood glanced down at his clipboard. “No-one’s developed any new powers, but Jenny, Alonna, and Kennedy all exhibit considerably more control over their powers than when they received them.”
“That’s to be expected though,” Jenny commented, “practice makes perfect after all.”
”That’s true, but they weren’t the surprising results,” Wood continued, “Jonathan and Oz’s senses, bar Oz’s eyes, senses have all improved to a point beyond anything in the animal world.” Giles whistled at that. “However, the truly exciting results come from Faith, Gunn, and Cordelia.”
Wood paused. “Well please go on,” Wesley demanded.
Wood half-smiled at the Watcher’s impatience. “We did a number of exercises, Faith is now about as strong as fourteen strong men, the amounts of weight she can lift are truly mind-blowing.”
Giles gaped, the average Slayer was usually five to six times stronger than the average human. ”So you’re saying Faith now has the strength of two Slayers?”
“Yes,” Wood nodded. “There’s been other improvements too. Wesley’s initial records indicate Faith could initially run thirty-five miles in an hour, slightly above the average Slayer’s thirty miles, but nothing exceptional. Immediately after the incident, you measured her speed at forty miles in an hour. Now her speed is forty-eight miles an hour.”
“G…..good lord,” Giles stuttered.
“As for Cordelia and Gunn, those two have now improved to the strength of ten strong men. Moreover I blunted several blades trying to pierce Gunn’s skin.”
“Bloody hell,” Giles shook his head, then grinned viciously. It seemed things would be getting ever more difficult for their enemies.
* * *
Jay-Don whistled as he drove into Sunnydale and pulled up beside a cemetery, the Hellmouth’s stench exciting his senses as he jumped out of his silvery Hudson Hornet. The Hellmouth had been too long without a king, it was time he claimed it as his own.
It wasn’t as good as hangin’ with Ol’ Blue-Eyes and Dino in Vegas, but nothing lasted forever. Well except for vampires.
”Oh man,” he turned to face a pair of heavy-set males ambling towards his car, “vintage set of wheels.”
“Hey,” Jay-Don stepped in between the pair, peering over the edge of his sunglasses. “Don’t be touchin’ the wheels. Two things bring in the chicks, the wheels and the threads. Don’t be messin’ with either.”
The pair exchanged amused looks. “I don’t see girls stampeding for guys wearing lilac shirts,” commented one.
“No offence, Larry.” The other chuckled. “But you’re no expert on the fairer sex.”
”And how many dates have you had recently, Owen?” queried the other.
Jay-Don scowled at the bantering duo. “You dissin’ Jay-Don and his wheels?”
The one identified as Owen smirked. “The wheels are fine, it’s mostly Jay-Don,” Owen paused. “However we’d like to make you an offer for the car.”
“Jay-Don doesn’t sell his wheels,” he replied.
“Shame,” he started to turn at the voice behind him, gasping at a sharp pain in his chest, “because I was going to give you this piece of wood for your car.”
* * *
Lance grinned as the vampire exploded into ash. “I heard those cracks about my boy-friend, Owen.”
Owen half-smiled. “Diversionary tactics, Lance.” Owen glanced at the shiny black Hudson Hornet. “We should get a few thousand for this car,” he remarked. “Money into the fund.”
“Cool,” Lance jumped behind the driver’s seat, grinning at the others’ protestations. “I did the kill, I get to drive the car.”
They were soon pulling up outside the Doyle house, Lance backing the car up the drive. Then they piled out of the vehicle and into the house to find their companions already waiting for them. “Get anything?” queried Doyle.
”A vampire, called himself Jay-Don,” Owen said.
“Jay-Don?” Doyle opened the hard backed A4 journal he’d been using to record their activities both before and since their joining together. “Heard of him. He was one of Joe Masseria’s cronies back in the 20s, got turned by an unknown vampire in either the late twenties or early thirties. He’s no-one exceptional in the vampire world, but he had a rep as muscle for hire.” Doyle scribbled down the date and name in the book before grinning at them. “Well done lads, you did a canny job.”
“Okay,” Kate looked around the room, “we’re all here now, so I think we better start. Now we’ve joined forces we’re even stronger than we were before. The question has to be what do we do from here, do we attempt to join with the Slayer gang or do we keep separate?”
“What about this Council you told us about?” Theresa queried. “They might not want us interfering?”
“I’d say they’re not an issue, lassie,” Doyle replied. “The Slayer has far too free a hand and far too much assistance to be working to their edicts. She’s gone independent.”
“Then if we do ally ourselves with the Slayer, are we putting ourselves against the Council?” queried Devon.
Doyle nodded. “Yeah, but although the Council used to be a major power in the supernatural world, their power has largely dwindled. Their major weapon has always been the Slayer, and as generations have passed the Watchers themselves have become more desk-bound and less field orientated. Unless you’ve gotten the Slayer coming after you, they’re not really a concern for people with our powers.”
“Then who is?” Lance found himself asking.
Doyle grimaced. “There’s a lot of organisations involved in the whole ball of wax. Some are on our side, supposedly anyway, like the Vatican, or the Romany Clans, or The Knights Of Byzantium. Then there’s the bad guys, the Hellfire Club, a cabal of businessmen who use the supernatural to fuel their own successes, the Order Of Taraka, an ancient order of assassins for hire, and the Scourge, a demonic organisation committed to wiping the plague of humanity from the face of the earth.” Doyle paused. “However the biggest player in this dimension, unless we’re talking about actual gods, is Wolfram and Hart, powerful international and interdimensional law firm, the biggest and most powerful on earth. Wolfram and Hart, and its many incarnations in other dimensions, is actually a front organization for the Wolf, Ram and Hart, an ancient cabal of demons known as the ‘Senior Partners’. Wolfram and Heart branches are created over unconsecrated ground throughout every one of the world’s sixty largest cities. As a law firm, Wolfram & Hart typically defends unscrupulous and detestable clients, including dictators, mobsters, arms dealers, corrupt politicians, and a number of demonic individuals and groups. While many of these clients are rich or powerful, the firm is also known to work some cases pro bono, especially when it has a secondary interest in the client. In addition to the many legal functions the firm performs, Wolfram & Hart also maintains a Special Projects Division. Special Projects is responsible for a wide range of activities, from bribery, intimidation, blackmail, and even murder of those deemed threatening to the Senior Partners or the firm in general. They’re extremely rich and unscrupulous.”
“And if we team with the Slayer we’ll be putting ourselves squarely in their path?” guessed Theresa.
Doyle nodded. “The amount of power that lassie has and the way she’s using it, they’ll have their eye on her for damn sure. This ain’t staking a few vamps, this is the major leagues.”
A long silence followed Doyle’s words.
* * *
Xander swung his arm up, blocking his rival’s spin-kick on his forearm, before lunging forward and driving a hook into the side of his opponent’s face.
At least that was the plan, instead his rival dropped his head forward and Xander’s punch flew over him at the exact moment his rival leapt at him. Xander smirked as he hooked his rival’s left arm and twisted at the waist, flinging his rival over him and to the mat.
Except instead of landing on his backside, his rival managed to land on his feet. Feet that Xander took from under him with a leg sweep to the hamstrings. His adversary grunted as he fell to his knees, Xander immediately looping an arm around his neck and cinching in tight. “Wave your hand if you wanna give.”
His foe tried to bend forward, but Xander just leaned back at the waist, countering any attempted momentum. His rival’s hand came up and waved weakly in the air. Xander immediately released his grip, his opponent slumping forward, his breath coming in heaving gasps. “You did well Freddy,” Xander praised.
The former school reporter looked up. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Xander grabbed the journalist’s hand and pulled him to his feet, “your reflexes, strength, and speed are better than mine.” His old insecurities no longer bothered him, secure in the knowledge he was now superior to ninety-eight percent of the world’s population. “You just need more training and experience that’s all.”
“Thanks,” Freddy still looked doubtful.
”What’s up?” Xander pressed.
”Fitting into the group is harder than I thought,” Freddy admitted with an embarrassed flush.
“Yeah, I know how you feel,” Xander admitted as he picked up a towel and daubed his sweating forehead. All through school he’d been an outcast, an outsider, someone no-body wanted to claim as part of their clique. “It can be hard breaking into an established group, it’s not that anybody doesn’t want you there, they’re just deciding where you fit, how you change things. But we’re a friendly bunch, just give it time, communication’s the key.”
* * *
The clock-tower chimed one in the morning as a pair of greyish hands opened an ornate box inside it. People throughout the town opened their mouths, a mist emitting from them. The mist travelled through the town to the clock tower, the greyish hand closing the box.
At ten to two, six creatures dressed in black formal wear with grey white faces, silver teeth stretched in perpetual grins, white eyes, and drawn back skin over a bald skull with a hooked nose, glided out of the clock tower, their feet about half a foot over the drab pavement.
Half a dozen lackeys with pinkish bandaged heads wearing untied straitjackets shambled behind them, their backs bent and their gait chimpish. The groups split into three groups and enter the Sunnydale UC dorms, the sleeping students oblivious to their intrusion.
Finally a group stopped and knocked on a door. After a minute or so the door creaked open to reveal a bleary-eyed teen. The boy’s sleepy eyes shot open, his mouth opening in a silent scream as the two lackeys grabbed the youth and bundled him down on the bed, his mouth continually opening in a futile scream. The grey-faced monsters exchanged smug looks and peered down at the struggling teen then the one on the left passed the right one a scalpel. Once they’d completed carving the heart out of the boy’s chest, they floated back to the clock tower to join their companions in placing their heart in a canning jar.
* * *
Faith yawned as she awoke, stretching cat-like as she flung her sheets off and rose into a sitting position. Grabbing up her sweats, she tugged them on before picking up her wash-bag and towel, and rising. Opening the door, she started out of the room and across the landing to where the bathroom was. Seeing the door to Wes’ open, she opened her mouth to yell a greeting, then stopped when no sound came out.
Wesley stepped out, his hair mussed and chin stubbly as he rubbed at his eyes, his brow furrowing as his mouth moved, but nothing came out.
“Hello,” Faith started at Giles’ strong, certain voice in her head, “as you’re all probably aware, we’ve all been struck dumb. An affliction that appears to have engulfed the entire town. I would suggest -.”
“Yeah,” Faith replied mentally to the Watcher, “research I know. Give a girl the chance to have a shower, ya know?”
“Oh yes,” Giles sniffed, “I wouldn’t want you turning up smelling fragrant.”
“Oh bloody hell,” Giles muttered. “That hurt.”
` * * *
Giles’ brow furrowed as he got the paper out of the porch and glanced at the front page to see several articles about murders where the victims’ heart had been taken. Sensing Jenny behind him, he turned and lifted the paper up for her to see. “Whatever’s happening,” he telepathically said, “we need to stop it and fast.”
* * *
Giles waited until everyone had sat in the closed book store, sat around the room’s tables, before beginning. “Can everyone hear me?” A ragged chorus of ‘yeahs’, ‘yes’, and ‘yeps’ filled his head. “Excellent,” he continued, “Jenny, Wesley, Robin, and myself, have been brain-storming and researching while you checked out the town for any related evidence.”
“The first question is who are our attackers?” Giles looked towards his notes before continuing. “They’re a group of demons called the Gentlemen who roam from town to town seeking out the seven hearts they need to stay alive for one year when they’ll need to re-enact the ritual again. They’re humanoid, fanged, clawed, bald, pale, mute and dressed smartly in black suits. They’re also served by another group of demons called Lackeys. Their M.O. upon arrival is the stealing of everyone’s voices so they can’t scream, then they start killing.”
“They’ve already gotten three hearts,” Faith commented. “How do we kill them?”
"In the tales ‘No sword can kill them’," Wesley put in.
“Comforting,” Faith snarked.
"But the princess screamed once... and they all died."
“Heh, Cordy,” Xander snarked, “you’re up.”
“Wait! Wait! Wait!” Willow held up a CD.
”No,” the red-headed wicca’s face fell at his head-shake. “Only a real human voice works."
“Brass tacks, G,” Faith said. “How do I get my voice back?"
Giles threw his hands up. “We couldn’t find anything.”
“So, I’ve gotta kill the Gentlemen by screaming or some shit,” Faith flew her hands up in frustration even as she ranted in his head, “but no-one has a clue how we’re supposed to get our voices back? Have I missed anything?”
“No that seems succinct,” Giles weakly admitted.
”Right,” Faith shook her head, “fucking A, I better get out there and start patrolling.”
Xander nodded. “Okay, we’ll have to work out teams-.”
“No,” Faith shook her head again. “If you can’t communicate in a fight, hear where your buds are, you might hurt someone on your side. I can’t take the risk.” Xander shot Giles a hopeful gaze. “Don’t look at him for help,” Faith snapped. “This is my call!”
* * *
Jonathan rose from his seat, then slumped down back in his chair as Faith streaked out of the book store at a pace he couldn’t hope to emulate. His eyes caught Heidi and he smiled.
* * *
Faith stalked down the darkening street, eyes shooting around her as she surveyed her surroundings. It wasn’t as if she actually needed the others in a fight most of the time, not with her enhancements, ‘cept against the big bads, it was just comforting having them around, a reminder that she, the daughter of the crack ho, had friends, people who thought she was worth a damn. If they couldn’t talk, that companionship wasn’t really there.
‘Sides it didn’t look like there was anyway to handle these bastards, and she wasn’t putting her crew in an unwinnable fight if she could help it.
Faith’s eyes narrowed as she saw one of the Gentlemen gliding on the other side of the street. And then suddenly something leapt out at her.
Faith bent forward at the waist as the creature grabbed her around the shoulders, flipping it over her head and to the ground. A fist from another slammed into her mouth, her foot snapping out in retaliation, catching the second lackey square in the face, sending it crashing back into the bushes it had leapt from.
The first lackey bounded up as she straightened, launching itself into an attack that Faith foiled with a roundhouse kick to the side of the head that sent the demon staggering and then fleeing, Faith in hot pursuit.
The escaping lackey led Faith to the clocktower. The moment she entered, another lackey leapt out of the shadows at her, Faith resorting to leaning back from her knees with a speed and suppleness that would have made the most expert of limbo dancers green with envy, the demon flying over her and into the far wall. Faith straightened in time to block the first lackey’s punch on her shoulder before retaliating with a head butt that sent the demon cart wheeling into the stairs, her foot snapping out in a waist-high side kick that sent the second demon flying back from where he’d come.
The first lackey staggered to its feet and stumbled up the stairs, a smirking Faith in hot pursuit.
* * *
Faith made the lower level at a run, just in time to drop on her side and roll under a flung barrel. Leaping back up, she thrust-kicked a lackey charging her from behind back out of the entrance.
Faith flew into the air at the one who’d flung the barrel before he could pick up another, her fists smashing into the lackey at chest level, propelling him into the wall behind. Even as the demon slid to the ground she scooped up a barrel and flung it at the two lackeys racing in behind her. The barrel exploded on impact, levelling the pair as she turned on her heel and charged up the stairs to the top level.
* * *
A single glance took in the entirety of the darkened clocktower, and then she was moving. Suddenly five lackeys fell on her, grabbing her and dragging her down to the ground despite her struggles. Faith’s eyes bulged as she saw a scalpel wielding Gentleman floating purposefully towards her.
Muscles writhing in desperate harmony, she arched her back and in a single fluid effort threw the monsters from her as she leapt to her feet in time to duck under a back-handed slash. A lackey attempted a waist tackle from the side but was kicked away, Faith simultaneously back-handing another lackey from her.
Faith grunted as another kicked her in the back, the sudden pain sending her stumbling forward and almost to her knees. Faith’s arm shot out to block a stool swung by another of the demons, the stool exploding on her arm.
Faith grunted at the pain, but shrugged it off, knowing to dwell on it would only mean her death. Faith twisted at the waist as another lackey lunged back at her, then twisted back, arm swinging out in a clothesline that smashed into the lackey’s jaw with enough force to shatter it and send her would-be attacker to the ground.
Faith leapt up into the air, legs streaking up into split-kicks that connected with the lackeys on-rushing her from left and right, sending them flying through the air and into the walls. Faith sidestepped a Gentleman’s scalpel lunge, grabbing it under the jaw and flinging it up and into the huge tower bell while leg-sweeping another lackey away.
Faith gasped as she felt a knife sink into her lower back, pain blazing through her back. Flinging the Gentleman in her hand away, she roundhouse-kicked the Gentleman behind her in the head.
Suddenly two of the Lackeys were on her, flinging her into a giant spool of rope that they hurriedly wrapped around her shoulders and neck from behind. Weakened by her knife-wound, Faith failed to get loose until she swung her legs up behind and above her prone body and kicked the demon full in the face.
Faith gasped as she saw a box next to three jars filled with hearts. A sudden instinct claimed her, catapulting her towards the box. A lackey leapt at her, blocking her path, but Faith hurdled over it, her fist swinging down to crash onto the top of the box with enough force to splinter it, mist erupting out of it and into her throat.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Faith screamed and then laughed as the Gentlemen’s heads exploded like melons, gooey sounding splats all around the room as head parts sprayed across the room.
* * *
Faith grinned as she skulked through the night’s shadows, creeping towards her boytoy’s house. It’d be a hell of a trip to climb up the drainpipe by the side of her man’s bedroom window, peek in and yell ‘boo’.
Oh yeah, her grin widened as she stole around the back of his house, she was just evil.
Faith was up the wall like a blur, her enhanced abilities making it even easier than for a normal Slayer. Then she leaned across to bellow through the window.
The blood drained from her face as she saw Jonathan laid on the bed with Heidi beside him, the two of them kissing passionately. “No,” she croaked, Jonathan’s eyes met hers, and then she was moving, sliding down the side of the house, and fleeing into the night, tears streaking down her face.