FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (29/?)
Kyle let out a wild laugh as they crashed through the front of the jewellery store, the shop’s reinforced front and bullet-proof cases no obstacle to their powers. The store guard, a portly guy who looked old enough to be supplementing his police pension, waddled up to him, nightstick raised. Kyle roared, his amusement growing when he allowed the man to nightstick him across the face before snatching a hold of his collar and flinging him into the farthest away pillar, the man’s broken body sliding to the floor.
Kyle gloried in the customers’ panicked screams before looking towards to his companions. “Grab everything you can, clock’s ticking. Two minutes is all we’ve got!”
* * *
“Well I um,” Giles glanced towards his girl-friend who smiled encouragingly, but didn’t say anything. Big help she was. “I called you here,” he licked his lips.
”Jeez, Giles,” Cordelia interrupted impatiently as she filed at her nails. “There’s a sale on at my favourite boutique and shopping hours are limited!”
“Thank you, Miss. Chase.” Giles glared at the avaricious-spirited former cheerleader before digging in deep inside and finding his nerve. “What I was about to say is,” he cleared his throat again. “I have asked Jenny to be my wife,” an excited murmur ran through the group, “and to my intense surprise and wonder she has consented.”
“Oh yes!” It was once again Cordelia who was first to speak. “There has to be a ring! Let me see the ring!”
“Well, well.” Even as the girls descended on Jenny to pass their ever so fussy judgement on his choice of ring, he was sure he’d get a full critique off Ms. Chase later, Wesley rose and walked over to him. “Congratulations old bean.” His country-man stuck out a hand.
”Thank you,” he shook his fellow Watcher’s hand, unable to do anything but smile.
”You’re a very lucky man,” Wesley replied.
“The luckiest,” he confirmed with an ever-widening grin.
* * *
Xander sneaked out of the gym\meeting place, his brow furrowed in worry. He was happy for Giles and Jenny, but their own contentment only put into starker contrast what he was going to do to Alonna. But then there was Faith, the girl with the heartbreak eyes and the body of a Playmate. He shook his head.
”Hey, if you’ve changed your mind, it was one kiss, no harm, no foul.”
Xander spun around, surprised as always just how stealthy a Slayer could be. And there it was, the uncertainty and expecting to be hurt he alone seemed to see in her luminous eyes. “No, I haven’t changed my mind,” Xander stuffed his hands in his pockets as he peered down at the vulnerable yet awesomely powerful Slayer. “It’s just-.”
”Just what?” Faith’s dark eyes flickered with impatience. “I ain’t sharin’, I don’t play that game. And I ain’t cheatin’, you don’t do that, not to your buds. I don’t do disloyalty.”
“When I, when the Slayer before you was in town,” Xander shook his head. “I fell for her, fell for her bad. I thought I was in love, but it was nothing compared to how I felt about you and Alonna, both.” Xander paused as he remembered Faith’s arrival. It all seemed so long ago. “It was just a crush really. But when she turned me down,” Xander shook his head, “man it hurt so much. I’m not looking forward to causing the same sort of pain to Alonna.”
“Yeah,” Faith’s forehead creased as she joined him in stuffing her hands into her pockets. “Life’s shitty like that, seems sometimes no matter what path you take or decision you make, someone gets hurt.”
* * *
“Hey Bill,” Fred talked as he dug, “you going to the Fish Tank tonight?”
“Yeah,” Bill paused to wipe at the sweat streaking down his brow, “sounds like a plan to me.” Bill spat at the ground, then gasped as the ground seemed to shift under them. “What’s- hell!” he gasped as the ground broke under him, pitching him into a hole. “Ahhhh!” Bill grunted as he hit the ground and looked around, eyes scouring the inky darkness. His eyes bulged as he looked up and peered at what looked to be a nineteenth century mission. “I’m okay, and you won’t believe what I’ve found!”
* * *
“It’s good news about Giles and Ms. Calendar,” Alonna enthused as Xander walked her back to her dorm room after the engagement party. “They both deserve some happiness and you can tell they really care about one another.”
Alonna turned towards her boy-friend, noting the worried look on his face. “What is it honey?”
“It’s like a band-aid,” her boy-friend muttered. “Just rip it off.” Alonna blinked, bemused by Xander’s rambling. “Anyway,” Xander gulped as he ran a nervous hand through his hair, “I’m sorry but I think we should break up.”
And just like that, the bottom dropped out of her world. “W…why, I thought things were going great!” she gasped, her heart and stomach hollowing.
“I…I,” Xander licked his lips and shuffled from foot to foot, “ah hell. I really care about you and I’ve really enjoyed our time together, it’s just that I think our time together has run its course.”
”W..we can talk about this,” she babbled as her heart broke.
”I’m sorry,” Xander shook his head, pain in his eyes, not that she cared, not when she was dying inside, “it wouldn’t matter. It’s over.”
“Is there someone else?” she demanded, her tone harshening.
“No,” Xander shook his head, “It’s just-, I want to remain friends.”
Tears rolling down her face, Alonna spun on her heel and strode off. “Go to hell Harris!”
* * *
“Palefaces,” Hus snarled as he peered through the darkness and at the strange buildings that made up the city. How the plague of white men had grown since the days his people had suffered at the mission. Suddenly his scowl changed to a smile as he dropped into a fighter’s couch. All the more of the enemy to butcher.
First though, he needed his knife back.
* * *
Gerhardt couldn’t help but beam as she entered her office, her mind filled with just what the recently discovered mission meant for her career. Increased recognition, increased grants, articles published in the academic press, maybe even a position in a more prestigious -.
She reared back and gasped as a green smoke swirled out of nowhere in the centre of the office before solidifying into the form of a tall, hard-faced man dressed in traditional Native American clothing. Before she could react the man had leapt onto the desk, scooped up the ceremonial knife they’d found there and shoved it in her stomach. She gasped as her legs went weak, dropping her to the floor, blood spurting from her mouth as her strength ebbed. “You want Hus’ knife?” the man laughed throatily as he crouched over her and yanked it out of her. “You can borrow it, but you can’t keep it.” The last thing she was aware of was the man grabbing her ear.
* * *
“Hey G,” Faith greeted as she entered the book store before nodding respectfully at Tara’s mother, “Mrs. M.”
“Hello Faith,” Louise smiled at the rambunctious but soft-hearted Slayer.
Faith smiled back at his assistant before looking towards him. “Hey G, have you heard about the murder at the college?”
“Yes, yes I have,” Giles nodded, “a terrible business.” He groaned as he realised too late what the question meant. “Oh dear. You think the murder has something to do with the supernatural?”
“Thinkin’ it might be a possibility,” the Slayer jumped up and perched on the counter, “bit of a coincidence for this to happen just after the Prof gets the biggest discovery of her career. Not only that, the murderer apparently stole the ceremonial knife that they found at the mission.”
”Yes,” Giles nodded thoughtfully, “what do you suggest as your investigation’s next step?”
“My investigation?” the Slayer looked momentarily pleased. “Always wanted to be a gumshoe, can I have a fedora and a trench-coat? Hey if I had a trench coat I wouldn’t need any other clothes-.”
“Please,” Giles rubbed at his forehead as Faith started on her rather cruder version of Willowbabble, “just answer the question?”
Faith smirked at his irritation, the blossoming beauty clearly pleased that she’d managed to irritate him. “I remember me and Red had to do a report on local history when we were at Sunnydale High, we went to interview this local history buff, a Father Gabriel. I figure I go see him, find out what he knows ‘bout the history of this area, pre-Sunnydale.”
“A commendable idea,” Giles nodded then shook his head, “no Faith, interviewing Father Gabriel not the trench-coat and fedora.”
Faith pouted. “Spoilsport.”
* * *
Faith strode into the church, eyes narrowing as he noted the ajar door. Then she stopped, the blood draining from her face as she saw the priest’s naked corpse crucified on the cross at the front of the church. “Oh my god.”
Faith ran to the front of the church and punched the native American stood by the altar in the stomach, knocking back several steps. “You can’t stop me!” the native American warned as he dropped into a fighter’s crouch.
Faith glanced at the cross and scowled. “You’re very wrong about that.”
The Native American rushed her, but she sidestepped his charge, grabbed the back of his head and drove him face-first into a pillar. The man stumbled backwards and into a knee to the lower back that doubled him up as he twisted around and slashed at her with his knife, Faith leaping back to avoid the gleaming weapon.
Hus straightened and slashed at her face. “I am vengeance. I am my people's cry. They call for Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice!”
“This ain’t justice, it’s murder.” Faith blocked the knife’s descent by shooting up a forearm and knocking his knife-arm aside, then rakied the demon’s eyes. He stumbled back a step, then blocked her knee to his torso with his arm before retaliating with a slash that she leaned away from.
“You slaughtered my people. Now I slaughter you.”
Faith gasped as the man turned into a group of bats and flew past her and out of the church.
* * *
“Hus?” Wood groaned and shook his head as Faith finished her report. “Oh no.”
Giles looked towards the African-American Watcher, the group crowded into his book store. “You’re aware of this Hus?”
The big black man nodded. “Oh yeah, as a Watcher I extensively researched the Native American myths. There’s plenty of them, but Hus is mentioned in many of them, a vengeance spirit the Native Americans would call upon to wreck vengeance on their enemies. Often the tales about Hus would detail his brutality and ruthlessness.”
“Marvellous,” Giles sniffed, “sounds absolutely delightful. I don’t suppose you could direct us to books where we could research him?”
“The question is, why is he here?” Xander queried. “And most importantly how do we kill him?”
“It's not that simple,” Willow interrupted.
“He’s a demon, you don’t talk to demons, you kill them,” Faith said.
“To be specific he’s a spirit, not a demon,” Wesley commented. “We really don't know what will kill it.”
Willow shook her head. “Again with the killing.”
Giles spoke up. “Figuratively speaking. Or bind it or whatever. Yes, Willow, we all appreciate your perspective.”
“Sometimes vengeance is justified. “ Willow appeared to be on a roll. “I don't think anyone appreciates the truth of the situation.”
Giles rubbed at his glasses. “Oh, I think we do. The truth is Hus won't stop. Vengeance is never sated, Willow. Hatred is a cycle. All he will do is kill.”
Faith looked towards Wood. “Hey, Nottingham anything in those books about how to stop this Native American spirit guy?”
“Hey!” Willow let out a shocked cry. “I'm not on board with this.”
Xander shook his head. “What choice do we have?”
Willow glared at her best friend, eyes flashing. “This isn't a western. We're not a fort with the cavalry coming to save us. It's one lonely guy. Oppressed warrior guy who's just trying to-. “
“Massacre a lot of people?” Freddy finished for the red-haired witch.
“I didn't say he was right,” Willow pouted.
“Oh for crying out loud,” Wesley shook his head, an irritable expression on the Watcher’s face. “Let’s look at the facts, shall we? Settlers came in and killed them, taking their land. That's what conquerors do, Cyrus The Great, Alexander The Great, Caesar, Genghis Khan and Attila all did. The history of the world isn't people making friends and playing patty-cake, it’s about war. It’s not pretty, but unfortunately that’s the way the world works. End of story.”
“And you think that’s all right do you?” Giles rolled his eyes as Gunn snapped. Oh bloody hell, the madness was spreading.
”No of course not.” He had to give Wesley credit though, years ago a snarl from Gunn would have sent the younger Watcher scurrying for cover behind Faith. “But it’s pretty bloody stupid to hold onto generations-old grudges, one must learn to let go otherwise one will permanently live life in a circle.”
“Easy to say when you’re not the one being wronged!” Gunn snapped.
“Oh spare me,” Wesley sneered, “have you heard of William Wilberforce? The British government outlawed slavery several decades before the American.”
“And now you’re trying to wriggle out of repatriation?” Gunn snapped back.
”I hate to be blunt old bean,” Wesley was practically psychotic with irritation, “but I don’t believe the tribes of Africa were particularly good at keeping records.”
“Meaning?” Gunn demanded.
“Wow,” Xander muttered, “isn’t this a fun conversation?”
“Meaning,” Wesley snapped, “that frequently the slaves were delivered to the white slave-dealers by rival tribesmen greedy for gold. So if you want to track down who was responsible for your great-great-great-grandfather’s enslavement, by all means track down the tribe who actually captured them.”
“Oh it’s on!” Gunn snapped.
“That’s enough!” Giles suddenly roared. “Look at us! We have whites, Romanies, Jews, and blacks here. We’ve all worked together for years and I won’t have our group falling apart over crimes that were committed generations ago!”
”Wow,” Faith let out a breathless sigh, “I totally see what you see in him, Jen. He’s like totally hot when he loses his temper.” Giles glared impotently at the suddenly impishly grinning Slayer. “Oh, if only you were just a little younger.”
“Oh don’t you bloody start,” Giles shook his head.
* * *
Hus smiled as he completed his ritual and the unjustly butchered tribesmen re-materialised around him, So far only the spirits of tribesmen indigenous to California had returned to life, but as more blood was spilt, so would his spell’s power grow. Then the spirits of the tribesmen in other states would re-take solid form, and then they would wreck vengeance throughout the nation, the deaths of the invader only making him stronger until he was the most powerful being in this dimension.
Hus smiled at the cold-eyed warriors surround him. “You know the enemy, the liar and the invader. For far too long their crimes have gone unpunished. Now is the time we will exact a blood price from all those who have wronged us!”
* * *
Once he was satisfied that everyone had fallen silent, Giles nodded. “Good, now here’s the plan, I, Wesley, Robin, Jenny, and yes you too, Willow, are going to stay here and research Hus to see if we can find any clue how to defeat him. In the meantime, the rest of you should split into two groups and patrol. Xander,” he glanced towards the Sunnydale native, “I want you to take Faith, Alonna-.”
“I’m not going with Xander,” Alonna interrupted in a flat tone.
”Very well.” Giles resisted the compelling urge to roll his eyes. His life was like an episode of bloody Coronation Street. “Xander, I want you to take Faith, Amy, Freddy, and Oz. Gunn,” he looked towards the Los Angeles demon hunter, “you take Cordelia, Tara, Alonna, Jonathan, Freddy, and Heidi.”
* * *
“Oh boy,” Scott gasped, “is it Halloween?”
Owen shot his friend a puzzled look. “No, why?”
“Because I think it’s a re-enactment of the Battle Of Little Bighorn and we’re playing the badly out-numbered cavalry,” Scott pointed to the right and left. Owen gasped as he saw the dozens of spear and tomahawk wielding Native Americans charging towards them. “Hell of a night for the Doyles and Lance and Larry to take off.”
Michael summonsed up a fireball in his right hand, sending it crashing into the first of the onrushing Indians. “Lucky we’ve got a few tricks Custer didn’t have.”
“Yeah,” Owen lunged forward, grabbing a tomahawk in each hand and kicking the warrior to his left in the stomach and head butting the one in the right in the face. “Let’s hope they’re enough!”
Devon let out a maniacal shout. “I love a good fight!”
Owen shook his head as Devon dashed head-long into the wild melee, throwing bodies right and left. Halloween certainly had changed them all.
* * *
Xander led his group through Sunnydale’s darkened streets, uncomfortably conscious just how close his new but unannounced girl-friend was. Heck, he hadn’t even had time to tell her that he’d broken up with Alonna.
“Quiet!” Freddy suddenly whispered.
“They’re coming from the rear and left!” Jonathan whispered, the rock guitarist spinning to face them and yanking out his broadsword.
“Oh hell,” Xander muttered as he took in the numbers, eschewing his sword to draw his shotgun. “Use your guns until they’re in range, then go to the melee weapons.”
* * *
“Oh good lord,” Giles looked from one book and to another, “I think I’ve made a break-through.” Conscious of everyone looking at him, he cleared his throat. “Tell me, has anyone read an account or myth relating to Hus that doesn’t make mention of his knife?” Giles smiled when each of his companions shook their heads in turn. “I thought as much. Remember how Faith said the knife was stolen from the murder scene, that knife’s very important to Hus.”
”You think it’s the cornerstone of his power?” guessed Willow.
“I think it’s a possibility,” Giles replied.
”That is a reach,” Wesley commented doubtfully.
“Perhaps, but we don’t seem to have anything else, and I would suggest our time is running short,” Giles countered.
“And even if you’re correct, we don’t know what the weapon means,” Wood added. “Should it be destroyed? How can it be destroyed? Is there some special ritual required? Or is it required to kill Hus?”
“Yes, these are all interesting questions,” Giles agreed, “nevertheless we at least have a route in which to direct our research-, aaaaah!” Giles gasped as the shop’s window front exploded inwards and a towering, hard-faced Native American that could only be Hus strode in. Wood and Wesley leapt up and charged him only for both skilled fighters to be summarily put down by the vengeance spirit.
“Faith!” Giles cried out in his mind. “Hus is here! We need help, and the only way to kill him is through his knife!”
* * *
Xander groaned as he crashed into a gravestone, a brave running onto his sword. “Hold ‘em here!” Faith yelled as she drop-kicked a brave into another time-zone. “I just got a 911 off G, Hus is at the store!”
* * *
Faith surged through the chaotic streets, feet pounding the tarmac as she rushed towards where Hus was. Faith burst through into the shop’s wrecked front, gasping as the Native American spun to face her, growing two foot and broadening considerably in the turn as he changed into a hulking Grizzly. “Holy fuckin’ shit!” Faith ducked up one of its paws as she kicked the monster in its hairy gut.
“Faith!” she glanced around the monster to see Giles crumpled on the floor, his face a mask of blood as Jenny stood guard in front of him. “Get his knife and destroy it, I think it’s the only way!”
”You think?” Faith screamed in disbelief as she bobbed and weaved around the snarling bear. “Vague it up why don’t you!” Her eyes widened as the monster began shape shifting into a mountain lion and she noticed something else. “When he’s shapeshifting he doesn’t have the knife!” She gasped as the lion leapt at her, spinning away as she grabbed it in a headlock and threw it from her and into the street.
”Don’t you see!” Giles’ voice reverberated in her head. “That proves it! The knife is part of him, his power source! When he changes back, use it to kill him!”
When he changes back? Faith raised an eyebrow as the cougar sprang back up and scurried around to face her. Didn’t the Watcher mean if? “Oh shit!” Faith cursed as the mountain lion began charging her, changing into a shaggy-haired bison as it did so.
Faith powered up through her legs, somersaulting over the mammoth creature, and landing in a crouch behind it. “Why,” Faith spun to face it, “do I feel like I should be carrying a red cape for this job?”
“Faith,” once again the Englishman’s voice boomed in her ear, “he’s toying with you. Although he’s only vulnerable in his natural form, he’s also strongest in it. You have to force him back into it by attrition.”
“Oh you have got to be fuckin’ kiddin’ me,” Faith groaned as she set herself, readying herself for the bison’s charge.
This time she didn’t seek to avoid the animal’s charge, this time she met it full on, hitting it in the snout with a shoulder-charge. Faith grimaced as the bison’s formidable power vibrated through her body, then grinned as the bison staggered back a foot. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”
Before the vengeance spirit had time to react, Faith hit it with a left-right combo to its snout and finished with a toe-kick to the mouth that flipped the demon onto its side. Faith’s eyes widened when the bison pounced up as a cougar, his toothy maw gaping open.
Faith reacted instantly, leaping into the air and meeting it with a double-heeled drop-kick to the torso that sent the cougar crashing back to the floor. She herself hit the ground on her side and rolled up instantly, dust billowing around her as she rose to see Hus had regained his normal form.
Faith ducked under the knife slashing at her, kicking at Hus’ knees. The vengeance spirit leapt back, then lunged forward, knife leading the way. Faith sidestepped the thrust, kicking the man’s knife wrist then leaping into the air, snatching the knife as it fell to the ground, then ramming it point first into the ground.
”NOOOOOO!” Hus screamed as the knife crumbled like tinfoil, sparks erupting from the ground as the Native American seemingly exploded into a green mist that was dragged into the ground.
“Heh,” Faith looked towards the shop. “What do ya know, it worked.”
Giles sniffed inside her head. “I never had any doubt.”
* * *
Alonna gritted her teeth as she climbed up the outside steps that led to Xander’s first floor loft apartment. She wasn’t going to give up on her and Xander without a fight, they’d been going out too long for that.
“I don’t think we should be up here.” Her brow furrowed as she heard Xander’s voice, who was he talking to? ”I mean I only broke up with Alonna today and we haven’t even been out yet, not on a date.”
“And you know the reason for that, we don’t wanna rub Alonna’s nose in it do we?”
Alonna stopped, gazing horror-stricken at Faith and Xander sat on the bed. “A little late for that aren’t you?” she wheezed between sobs.