FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (30/?)
“Mr. Bryce,” Holland smiled as the mage strode into his spacious office. “Always a pleasure to see a client, especially one as important as yourself.” He chuckled. “Not that all our clients aren’t important at W&H. Now,” he gestured towards the chair to the right of his desk, “please sit down.”
The businessman nodded. “Thank you.”
The moment his guest had sat, Holland spoke. “So what brings you here, Mr. Bryce?”
“My daughter and I haven’t been talking for some time,” the businessman began, “I know where she is, in Sunnydale. But every envoy I’ve sent to her has been rebuked.” Holland almost snorted, guessing that envoy was a polite term for thug. “I was wondering if I could impose on your office to send one of your teams to extract her. It’s a matter of great pain to me, I’ll be turning fifty soon you see, and I feel I won’t be able to celebrate without my daughter present.”
“Not to mention the deal you made with Yeska,” Holland said.
Magnus Bryce paled. “H….how did you know about Yeska?”
Holland chuckled at the man’s surprise. “Our firm prides itself on giving a full service to its clients. As such, we have to know everything we possibly can, so we can anticipate their every need.” And of course so they could blackmail them into furthering the firm’s goals should the need arise. “I think we can agree that any dutiful daughter would return to be at her father’s side at such an auspicious birthday.” He smiled. “And after all, a deal’s a deal.”
* * *
“My apologies for my tardiness,” Holland Manners greeted as he strode into the boardroom, “business, you know.”
“I know,” rasped Cyvus Vail, “that I’m a direct representative of the Senior partners and you kept,” the aged mage doubled up in a sudden explosion of wheezing coughs before straightening with a grimace, “me waiting.”
“My apologies,” Holland swallowed as he sunk into his chair. Angering a Black Thorn, even one as fail-looking as Vail, was not something to be done lightly. “However I have called you here to ask your help with a matter that is dear to your heart, the capturing of the Hellmouth.”
“Ahhhh,” Cyvus’ face took on an almost orgasmic expression. Wolfram & Hart had been cheated out of the Hellmouth over a century ago by the machinations of Mayor Richard Wilkins. If not for his relative lack of power and maverick nature, his brain would have ensured him a position in the circle. But now with Wilkins gone, all non-interference contracts signed with him could be considered null and void. “The Hellmouth, please explain.”
“Yes, sir,” Holland nodded. “You’re our most powerful mage,” Cyvus smirked, “we’d like you to portal Deathwok Clan warriors in from Pylea and into the Paladins’ apartments to hit them with a surprise attack.”
Cyvus stared at him through his narrow eyes. “You’ll want the Paladins taken alive.”
“Sir?” Holland queried, brow furrowing in confusion at the mage’s comment.
“The Circle are interested in the changes that these Paladins appear to have to under-gone,” Cyvus explained. “We want to see what exactly happened to them, how they’ve changed, and if possible, can their changes be duplicated. And to do that we’ll need to experiment.”
”Ah,” Holland nodded in understanding. He could just see the possibilities both for power and for profit. “Have you any particular preferences to which ones you want alive?”
“We want the Slayer, her abilities have exploded far beyond those of a normal Slayer. Mr. Giles’ purported mental abilities are far beyond any of the psychics in our care, and his girl-friend’s force field and invisibility powers intrigue us. Charles Gunn and Cordelia Chase’s changes have astonishing possibilities for our special operations teams if they can be duplicated. The potentials have some interesting powers too, so pick them up and their Watcher. Unfortunately such spells are taxing both to the caster and the dimensional fabric, I’ll only be able to open a certain number of portals simultaneously.”
“And the others?” Holland queried.
“Once the primaries have been located and secured, the warriors should hunt down the rest of them and kill them.” Cyvus smiled a death’s head smile. “And we’ll be moving into our new offices by the end of the month.”
* * *
Six. Seven. Eight.
Sweat streamed down Xander’s body as he struggled with the three hundred and thirty pounds on the bar, eventually racking the weight. He swung up into a seated position, head shaking. Normally he could easily bench four hundred for six reps, but after last night’s confrontation with Alonna, he just couldn’t concentrate.
Xander shook his head. Things had gone so wrong, so quickly. He hadn’t wanted her to find out like this, at least he’d actually broken up before doing anything with Faith, but he doubted she’d see-.
He groaned as the gym door crashed open and Gunn strode in. “My sister spent all night crying her eyes out because of you.”
“Look,” Xander swallowed as he rose, the fearsomely-strong black advancing on him, “it’s not-.” He ducked under an overhand right, his retaliatory kick to the knee bouncing off the hunter’s leg. And then there was a hand around his throat, flinging him into the far wall. Xander groaned as he slid to the ground, then rolled away from an attempted kick to the chest.
Xander scrambled to his feet, snatching a hold of a dumbbell, he swung his makeshift weapon at his friend’s head, hoping to at least stun him for a second. “Ahh!” Xander groaned as the super-strong black grabbed his wrist and twisted, the thirty pound weight falling from his hand as pain flared through his forearm. Then he doubled up when a right hook crashed into his torso, a knee following up into his forehead.
Xander fell backwards, knocking over a thigh extension machine as he fell. He rolled away from Gunn’s attempted kick, retaliating with one of his own to Gunn’s grounded ankle. At least this attack staggered his rival, knocking him several steps to the side. Xander grabbed a hold of the downed bench behind him and pulled himself up.
Just in time to duck under a swinging haymaker. Mainly because he was still conscious Xander guessed the super-powered African-American was holding back. He by contrast was going full-pelt, but was still losing.
Badly. But then no matter the comparative skill levels, nobody could hope to defeat someone eight.
Xander stepped in and under the swinging arm, driving a knee up and into his fellow Californian’s stomach. An elbow crashed into the side of his head, knocking him flat down on his side. Xander rolled away from Gunn’s attempted torso kick and then Cordelia came out of nowhere to block Gunn. Gunn stepped around his girl-friend only to be grabbed in a full-nelson. “Let me at him!”
”And what are you going to do?” Cordelia yelled as she restrained the struggling black. “Keep hitting him until he’s dead?”
”Please,” Xander tried and failed to stand, “don’t give him ideas.”
”You!” Cordelia shot him a furious look. “Shut up! Don’t think I’m on your side, not after I spent the whole night comforting your ex! I’m protecting my boy-friend here, not you!” With that Cordelia started dragging Gunn out of the gym. “This solves nothing you idiot!”
* * *
“You’re unusually quiet this morning.”
“Yeah,” Faith looked up at her Watcher across the breakfast table. A rare nervousness assailed her, she’d gone so long without caring how anyone else felt about her, telling herself that no-one’s opinion mattered. But Wes had been the first to puncture that armour, the first man to treat her as a person rather than a plaything. He was like the older brother or father she’d publicly disdained, but privately wanted.
For him to be disappointed in her… Faith shied away from that terrible thought with a shake of head. “Things on my mind is all.”
“Ahh,” Wesley nodded. “A problem shared is a -, good lord!” Suddenly her Watcher’s eyes flooded with alarm as he lunged towards the carving knife on the counter top. Faith turned in time to see the knife fly past her head and into the head of a green-skinned horned demon built like a wall.
Unfortunately there were several more of the bastards.
Faith leapt up, hitting the next of the demons with the stool she’d just been sat on, the wooden legs splintering under the impact as the demon fell over. Another lunged at her, attempting to grab her in a waist takedown, but she countered with a front facelock and snapped its neck, even as another rattled her teeth with a right to the face.
Dropping the one in her arm, she grabbed the kitchen counter behind her and kicked out, catching her assailant with two heels to the face. The demon tottered backwards, but another caught her with a clothesline that sent her flying over the table.
Faith came up in a crouch, catching the demon as it flew over the counter, grabbing it around the shoulders, twisting at the waist, and flinging it into the cupboards on the wall behind. Faith ducked another’s left hook, hooked her arms around her new assailant’s leg, and straightened, flinging the demon back over the table.
Something hit her in the back of her neck, dropping her to her knees. Before she could react a knee crashed into her face, blood’s coppery taste filling her mouth. And then the fists from the other invaders were crashing into her, beating her into her unconsciousness.
* * *
“I can’t believe you stopped me!” Gunn thundered.
“And I can’t believe I’m dating such an idiot!” Cordelia snapped. “What do you think Faith would do once she found out?” Gunn’s mouth opened. “And when were you going to stop, when Xander was dead? We’re a team here! You do remember that!”
“Help!” Alonna screamed from their apartment’s spare bedroom.
Cordelia spun around as a hulking green demon flew out of the spare room’s doorway. “Burglars, how rude!” Cordelia caught the fist of a suddenly materialised demon in her hand and twisted, the sound of bone cracking ringing out, while at the same time kicking another demon in the stomach then elbowing him in the back of the head. The one whose wrist she’d just broken gamely slammed his uninjured fist into the side of her mouth, Cordelia retaliated with a kick to the knee that caused her rival to fall back.
His place was taken instantly by another two, grabbing her by her arms and throwing her up into the wall. Cordelia grunted as her head bounced off the hard brick, noting how her boyfriend was struggling with a trio of the demons, two already downed by him.
Cordy ducked another demon’s swinging haymaker then fell to one knee when a demon crashed a mace into the top of her head. Before she had chance to more than look up, the mace came down again, and then there was nothing but darkness.
* * *
Giles’ brow furrowed as he sensed something ‘alien’. Bemused, he started out of the bedroom he shared with Jenny.
And right into a straight right to the jaw that knocked him into the grand-father clock by the door. Giles stared dazedly at the green giant charging him. Then instinct kicked in and he sidestepped the on-rushing demon, grabbed the back of its head, and drove it face-first into the clock. The demon fell onto its back, the clock falling on top of it.
He ducked another demon’s right then grunted when he caught an elbow to the side of the head. His legs rubbery, he was helpless to avoid a kick to the shins that knocked him face down on the carpet, he rolled to the right, away from a stomp to the back but into a boot to the face that knocked him out.
* * *
Wood looked up the stairs. “Girls, you’re late for school get a -,” he spun around at a strange sound behind him, eyes narrowing at the demons stood there, “oh hell, looks like school’s cancelled.”
* * *
Xander groaned as he finished his wash, his ribs, shoulder, and head aching from the beating he’d taken from Gunn. Xander grinned reluctantly as he pulled his pants on, a rib-aching laugh erupting.
He never thought he’d be grateful to Cordelia for anything.
Xander made his way downstairs, wincing at every bone-jarring step. As much as he hurt all over, he had to fix up the gym to prevent anyone from asking too many questions.
Of course, they’d have to be blind not to notice the state of his face, but that was another problem and one he didn’t have any immediate answers for
His first job was pulling the leg extension machine up, wincing at how much the effort cost him. Hearing the door open behind him, he began to turn. “Look, I can-,” his eyes widened at the trio of demons entering the gym. “Ah hell!”
Discretion was definitely the better part of valour. Xander gasped as he ran to the back of the gym, his eyes fixed on the demons rushing towards him as he hurriedly tapped in the security key code, his left hand on the palm-print scanner. “Come on, come on,” he panted, gasping when the door slid open, Xander leapt inside. “Yes!” Xander trembled as the door shut just as the demons rushed up to it. Xander slumped against the security door, eyes on the camera displaying the horned demons thumping their hands against the door. “Okay,” he rummaged in his pocket as he started through the armoury, “we’ve got a problem.”
It was lucky he’d had Giles buy the Crawford mansion and secretly build an underground tunnel from the gym to the mansion, otherwise he’d be trapped.
And they called Frank Castle paranoid. Heh, what did they know?
Xander pulled out his cell, sending an one-word emergency burst to all members of the team. “Crawford,” he muttered, he’d just have to wait and see who turned up there.
* * *
Gunn groaned as he awoke. His arms pulled at his chains, the metal rattling. “Do not bother,” intoned one of the watching demons, “the metal is enchanted.”
Gunn glared impotently at the demon, not failing to note that although some of his friends were likewise imprisoned some of them weren’t. “Where are the rest of us?” he demanded, voice hoarse with anger.
”You were the priority of the Deathwok Clan, the others will be secured presently.”
Gunn grinned and laughed. He might not like Xander right now, but these spinach-men had no idea what they’d done by not first securing him. “What are you laughing at?”
Remembering a Steven Segal movie he’d quite liked, Gunn put on his best Jamaican accent. “You’re a dead man walkin’ and you don’t even know it yet.”
The demon rose, his fists beating him back into unconsciousness.
* * *
“Oh Xander!” Willow rushed over to him as he stumbled into the Crawford Mansion. “What happened to you, were you attacked?”
“Something like that,” Xander groaned as he lowered himself into a chair, he looked around, wincing again as he noticed that none of the Watchers or the group’s strongest fighters had made it here. It looked like it was down to them.
“Will,” Xander looked towards his childhood friend, “can you do a locator spell to find where Faith and the others are?”
“Um,” he was disappointed when Willow shook her head, “normally I could do a locater spell and locate somebody with Faith’s mystical powers anywhere in the country, maybe the world. The problem with the Hellmouth though is its ambient energy masks people’s unique signature making them impossible to distinguish.”
Given his aching head, Xander felt he did well to manage a bemused expression. “Eh?”
“I can find species of demons, but not specific demons or people,” Willow translated.
”See, isn’t English simpler?” Xander asked as a plan began to form. “Will, can you hack into the gym’s CCTV?”
Willow nodded. “But why-.”
“Just humour me,” Xander interrupted before looking around. “Say, has anyone got any pain-killers?”
“Yes,” Tara reached into her hand-bag, rummaged about and pulled out a strip of Ibuprofen and a half-full water bottle.
“Thanks,” Xander took the strip and bottle, before ignoring the Wicca’s protests when he swallowed no less than four of the tablets. “Willow’s how that hack coming along?”
“I’m in!” the witch let out an excited squeal. “There’s three demons in the gym, two trying at the armoury door, one pacing the gym.”
“Good,” Xander nodded as he looked towards Jonathan, “you’re still into remote-controlled cars aren’t you?”
The diminutive youth shrugged. “Yeah, but this-.”
“Good,” Xander interrupted. “Go and get your biggest most powerful car and bring it to the gym but don’t enter, just hide out of sight.”
“Huh,” Freddy pursed his lips, “I don’t think it’s time for a race really.”
“It’ll all become clearer later,” Xander soothed. “Oz, you and Freddy are with me. We’re going back down the tunnel and coming out on the demons fully armed. Willow,” he glanced at his bud, I want you and the others outside the gym watching on the hack, if any of them try and escape, it’ll be up to you to keep them inside.” Xander paused. “Will, what will you need to do the locater spell?”
“Either something valued by the person you seek,” it was Tara rather than Willow who answered, “or in this case, the blood of the race you wish to track.”
”Oh, blood,” Xander nodded grimly, “I think you can guarantee there’ll be plenty of that.”
* * *
“Okay,” Xander took a breath as he glanced at his shotgun-wielding companions, “I’ll hit the open switch, the moment the door opens open fire, take the guards apart, then burst through into the gym.” Xander paused. “Don’t stop firing until they’re all dead. This is no time to worry about taking prisoners.” Xander took a breath. “One, two, three!” His palm slammed into the door’s button.
Xander’s ears roared to the shotguns’ twin boom as Oz and Freddy let the two demons guarding have it, the demons rocking back on their feet, blood spewing from their wounds as they first staggered and then fell, their blood soaking the walls and carpet. Xander came in behind his companions, twisting to his right and pulling the trigger on his German-made sub-machine gun. The hot rounds spewed out of the muzzle ripping apart the third of the demons as he rushed at them.
”Wow,” Xander slumped against the wall, unbelievably weary now that the painkillers were starting to kick in. He shook his head to clear it, gun swinging to the door as it opened only to relax when the others ran in. “Willow,” Xander greeted, “there should be enough blood to do your spell.”
“I’d say,” Oz stoically agreed. “Never thought these walls would look good in this colour, but it really works.”
“I’ll lie down,” Xander lowered himself onto one of the benches and closed his eyes. “Call me when you’re ready.”
“Ooooh, I’ve done it!”
Xander sat up at Willow’s excited exclamation. “What are the results?”
”There’s three groups, two mobile groups of six - eight, one in the east of the town, one in the west, and a stationery group of about a dozen on Babylon Avenue in the disused warehouse there.”
”Right,” Xander nodded and winced as pain shot through his head.
“Are you alright, Xander?”
“Fine,” Xander waved Tata’s softly-spoken concern away with a smile. “Okay, this is what we’re going-.” He looked over his shoulder as Jonathan hurried in. “Got it?”
“Got it!” Jonathan held up a gleaming black car.
“Good,” Xander picked up the car and fastened a lump of semtex to the bottom of the car.
”You can’t blow it up!” Jonathan weakly protested. “It cost-.”
”Bill Giles for a new one.” Xander looked towards Freddy. “Freddy you’re the best tracker and scout out of all of us. I want you to find the east group, let them see you, and then lead them even further away from Babylon Avenue.”
“All the skills I have were jungle-related,” Freddy commented.
“This is the urban jungle,” Xander replied. “You’ll do fine.” Xander commented. “Oz, get the van, you’ll be going through the doorway.”
”What’s the plan?” Willow eagerly asked. Xander leaned forward and begin to explain.
* * *
Xander peeked between two trash cans and watched as the automated car whizzed its way across the street and over to the two green-skinned demons lurking there. The moment one of them crouched over the car and picked it up, Xander pressed the detonator.
The ground shook as the warehouse’s door exploded inwards in a ball of fire, the explosion lifting the two guards from their feet and flinging them inside, their screams drowned out by the blast roar. Right on cue, Oz’s van roared around the corner, raced down the deserted street, and through the smouldering entrance. Xander rose with a groan and followed his friends in, limping as fast as he could.
By the time he got in it was all over, the witches pretty summarily kicking the caught by surprise demons’ assess, Willow just about having finished unlocking their friends’ chains.
“Jesus, X,” Faith started towards him, them suddenly stopped, conscious of everyone’s eyes on him, “they fucked you up pretty bad.”
“Indeed,” Giles shot him a curious look, “you’ve done well master-minding our rescue, but perhaps you should go home and leave the rest to us.”
Xander opened his mouth to argue, but then common sense took over. Even in his best condition, there were perhaps half a dozen of his friends who could kick his ass. In his current condition he was nothing more than a liability. “Okay,” he nodded.
“I’ll drive him home and stay with him to make sure he’s not attacked,” Oz volunteered.
“Thanks.” Faith nodded at the guitarist.
Xander groaned as he unlocked the apartment door and staggered wearily inside. “I’m glad this day is over with.”
* * *
“With Teeth and the boss gone, this town is wide open!” the three ski-masked thugs whooped and laughed as they hurried out at the brightly-lit 7-11.
”Oh,” Stein stepped out of the shadows, grabbing the last man out of the shop in a triangle choke, his knee to his lower back putting the hood on his knees, “I wouldn’t say that.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his team-mates handily put down the other robbers, but then they had super powers, all he had was technique. The moment the robber in his arms went limply unconscious, Stein looked towards his companions. “I’ll head inside and get the CCTV, then we’ll take them into the police station.”
“Actually you’ll take them in,” Finch grinned. “We don’t want to be too overt about our actions.”
“Fine,” Stein scowled. “but you’re helping carry them there. You’re both super-strong, I’m not.”
* * *
“Oh, oh, oh,” Owen muttered as they walked home after an uneventful patrol, eyes narrowing as he noticed the six men dressed in black uniforms fighting with a solitary woman in an alley, “trouble.”
“They’re not vampires,” Scott pointed out.
“It isn’t all about taking down demons,” Owen commented as they started across the road, “it’s about helping people too.”
“Corny but true,” Scott conceded, “she’s doing okay though.”
“Six to one,” Theresa muttered, “she still needs help.”
“Lucky we’re here then,” Scott replied.
As they neared Owen noticed the woman moved really well, but even as he noticed that the red-head caught a forearm to the face that put her down on the ground.
So it was fortunate for her the three of them entered the alley at just that point.
One of the men spun to face them, but Scott took his legs with a leg-sweep and ended his part of the fight with a stomp to the face, the man’s head bouncing off the ground with a wet smack. For his part, Owen grabbed the nearest man by his collar and the seat of his pants, lifted the struggling man off his ground and threw him into another man advancing on him.
The two men crashed into the wall behind them and Owen was on them before they could move, snatching their heads and ramming them together. Their skulls cracked loudly in the night, the two men sliding down the wall to the ground. And just like that, the fight was over, the others having dealt with the woman’s other attackers. Owen grinned, he’d had harder nights.
”W…who are you people?”