FIC: Hellmouth Heroes (31/?)
Owen and Scott exchanged looks at the woman’s question. “Have a go heroes?” Scott tried, weakly in Owen’s opinion
“You’re not normal,” the woman shook her head. Owen took a breath as he noticed the rusty-haired beauty’s cupid lips, enticing emerald eyes, and curvy body. Oh yeah, very nice. “The way you threw that man,” the woman shook her head again as she stared at him, “that was impossible.”
“Oh boy,” Owen took a breath, wondering how to explain everything.
”How long have you lived in Sunnydale?” Theresa interrupted.
“Huh,” the mystery woman stared bemusedly at the others before replying, “I’d just turned eighteen when I came here, it was the summer of ’98.”
”Right,” Theresa pursed her lips, “so you were here for Halloween ’98 then?” The red-head nodded. “What’s your name?”
“Veronica Benson,” the red-head said after a second’s hesitation.
“Did you go to a Halloween party that year dressed as a Marvel character?” queried Theresa.
“Yes, I went as Red Sonja,” the increasingly puzzled-looking red-head replied.
“I’m getting the image of you in a chain-mail bikini and I definitely approve.” Owen flushed as he noted the way his friends and the newcomer looked at him. “Oh, I said that out loud didn’t I?”
“Right,” Theresa smirked at him before looking back towards the woman, “well we dressed up as Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, and Vision, and we kept some of their abilities, so we try and help people. Did you change?”
“No way,” Veronica shook her head, “I didn’t change.”
“She fought like someone who really knows her stuff though,” Scott cut in. “Maybe because she didn’t have any new abilities like super-strength or any reason to use her new skills she just didn’t realise she had them.”
“You should come with us so we can test you!” Owen blurted out.
”Oh yeah,” Scot muttered, “that’s why you want her to come with us.”
A flush rose in the stranger’s pale cheeks. “Okay.”
* * *
“I don’t think you realise just how much you and Xander getting together complicates things-.”
“Gee, Wes,” Faith snapped at her lecturing Watcher, “that’s what relationships and feelings do right, complicate things?” It had been her idea, this patrol with just the two of them so she could clear the air, but right about now she could do with an entire country between her and her Watcher.
Wesley sighed. “Yes, but Xander was dating someone, a friend of yours-.”
”And you’re disappointed in me?” Faith whispered, her stomach hollowing even as her hackles rose defensively.
“Faith,” Wesley sighed, “I’m both proud and disappointed in you, those two emotions aren’t mutually exclusive. Proud of your wit, strength of will and resourcefulness, but you have made a poor decision in getting involved with Xander, and to be honest, shown a disloyalty that surprises me.”
Faith’s shoulders slumped. “That wasn’t my fault,” she protested, “Xan had broken up with her before we did anything. We just hadn’t told her that we were getting together before she found out.”
“Oh good lord, now I’m a bloody agony aunt,” Wesley rubbed at his forehead. “Don’t you think it would have been at the very least prudent to wait until Alonna was used to her and Xander being separated before you started dating him? And by the by, I refuse to believe you do anything other than ‘date’.”
Faith shrugged. “Never been one for prudence.”
“Oh really,” Wesley shot her a half-amused smile. “One hadn’t noticed.” Faith shot her Watcher a glare that lacked any real heat. She was too relieved he’d taken the revelation about her and Xander as well as he had to risk an argument. “Oh good lord,” suddenly the colour drained from her Watcher’s face, “Faith.”
”Shit,” Faith cursed as she looked towards her Watcher was looking. It was the park’s carousel, a boy’s grey-skinned corpse lying on top of it, a girl’s corpse lying in front of it, each child had one arm out-stretched, a black triangle drawn on their palms. “This job doesn’t get any better.”
* * *
Virginia kept her racing heart in check, but only just. First she was attacked by half a dozen men probably hired by her father, then she was rescued by these uniquely-powered youths who were perhaps the solution to many of their problems.
Plus Owen was sorta hot with his broad shoulders and muscles.
Her escort came to a halt outside a non-descript two-storey house in one of Sunnydale’s nicer but not flashy neighbourhoods. “I only hope they’re back from their date,” muttered Scott as he knocked on the door.
A minute or so later and the door opened to reveal a bleary-eyed short man with mussed hair and irritated expression. “Ach, not it isn’t grand to see you kids, but doesn’t the term ‘night off’ have any meaning for you?”
“We have a situation,” Owen pushed his way in, the others following behind. Virginia listened as Owen told her story to the apparent Irishmen.
“Uh,” the Irishman’s wife, a woman with ringlets similar to her own, tapped at a computer, “According to this fan site, Red Sonja was a Hyborean Age heroine, a compatriot of Conan the Barbarian. As such she was skilled in swordsmanship, archery, horse-riding, tracking, and the other martial arts of the time.”
“Okay then,” Owen looked towards her and then Doyle. “Wanna give the speech?”
”Ach, okay,” the Irishmen looked towards him, his geniality replaced by soberness, “this world is far older than you know, the likes of demons, vampires, and mages all exist.”
“Oh I already know that,” Virginia interrupted. “My father’s a major-league mage in LA.” Virginia’s brow furrowed. “What’s confusing me is the power required to execute this spell-.”
“Is far beyond anything a human or run of the mill demon could manage,” her host finished with a nod before looking speculatively at her. “Who is your father?”
Virginia took a breath. She had to take a chance here, let these people in, but it was so hard, she’d been running, hiding for so long. “My name isn’t Veronica Benson,” she admitted, “it’s Virginia Bryce-.”
“Oh,” Doyle interrupted with a mutter, “your father’s Magnus Bryce of Bryce Industries.”
“Yeah,” Virginia nodded, “five years ago I found out that the reason he’d been so successful was because of a deal he’d made to sacrifice me to the demon Yeska on his fiftieth birthday-.”
”Sounds like a real prize,” Doyle sympathised.
Virginia nodded, the old betrayal rising up in her throat to choke her once again. After a moment she continued. “I was only fifteen at the time, but I already had a sizable allowance, so I saved every cent I could, raided my bank accounts, then ran the moment I turned eighteen.”
”Why come here?” Doyle’s wife queried.
Virginia grimaced. “I didn’t have a lot of money, at least not to live a life on. But the real estate prices in this town are really low…” Virginia looked at her companions. “But I do have plenty of cash in a trust fund my mother set up for me, but I daren’t touch it for fear of my father using it to track me down. But if you helped me, I’d be willing to fund your operation.”
Everyone looked towards the Irishman, their apparent leader. After a second he shrugged and smiled roguishly. “We’ll have to wait until we can round up the others, but what sort of knights of renown would be if we turned down a damsel in distress?”
* * *
“It was a real bad scene, G, I mean I’ve seen a lot of bad shit both before and since bein’ Called, but this was fuckin’ kids, G! It had to be a demon sacrifice or some such shit, right?”
Giles forced himself not to look away when the Slayer stared at him, her pool-like, expressive orbs filled with a heart-breaking hope. Beneath all her devil-may-care attitude and bravado, there beat a truly caring heart who sometimes wanted to believe the best in people even when life should have taught her better. “Perhaps we can look into it,” he allowed, exchanging doubtful looks over the Slayer’s head to his fellow country-man stood behind her.
”Wicked,” the young beauty nodded, “then Faith SMASH!”
”How delightful,” he murmured. The thought of the Slayer’s boisterous nature being augmented by the Hulk’s berserker rage sent chills through him.
“Where you gonna start?” the Slayer eagerly demanded.
“I rather thought we’d wait until the morning-,” he sighed at the brunette’s sudden puppy-dog look. Considering some of the sulphurous language he’d heard coming from the young ‘lady’s’ mouth that look shouldn’t have been effective at all and yet it was. “But there’s no time like the present I suppose.”
“Wicked!” Faith beamed. “I’ll go home. Wake me when you’ve got some results.”
“Wake you?” Giles gasped. The cheek of the bloody girl.
”Hey, a babe needs her beauty sleep, you two old codgers are already lost causes.”
Before either of them could defend themselves against the obvious injustice of the Slayer’s words, she’d disappeared from his house. Giles sighed wearily as he turned to his fellow country-man and glared. “Oh you did a fine job raising your waif and stray, she’s so respectful.”
Wesley sniffed. “I like to see it as a team effort.”
Giles shook his head. ”Oh, you say that now.”
* * *
“I’ve tried ‘Arcane Symbols’, ‘World’s Cults’, ‘Demonic Markings’, ‘Mythical Icons’, and ‘Sigils of Power’, nothing.” Wesley slammed the last book shut. “And on that note, just how long before your fiancée has her demonic database on line?”
Giles grimaced. “It’s apparently taking longer than she’d hope to safe-guard against something like the Moloch mess re-occurring.”
“Well I never thought I’d be desirous of modern technology,” Wesley opened another book. “Oh,” Giles noticed his younger country-man stiffen, “we have a problem.”
“I’d say,” Giles glared at the book his fellow Watcher pushed over to him, something brushing against his head.
”You realise what this means of course?” Wesley asked.
”Yes this town is in dire danger, we’ll have to round-up the others,” Giles commented.
“Of course, not Faith and the witches though.” Wesley added.
”No of course not,” Giles grunted. “They’re the root of this problem after all and we need to catch them by surprise. After all, they’re powerful, crafty, and not to be trusted.”
* * *
“I trust you have all seen the symbol?” Giles queried as he paced the floor, impatient to have this terrible threat dealt with.
”Yeah,” Gunn nodded, “it was a big thing on the news.”
“Those children,” Xander shook his head, “their poor parents.”
“The evil has lived in this town for too long!” Cordelia declared. “And wearing such tacky clothes.”
”Yes,” Giles shot the former cheerleader a pained look, “fashion should be our first concern.”
“Well it should be somebody’s! Some of those outfits Faith wears would make a stripper blush, and hello Willow and Tara, the seventies want their flower power back!”
“Oh dear,” Giles rubbed at his forehead, “perhaps we’ll deal with both problems at once.”
”Yeah,” Gunn cracked his knuckles, “this town has been dirty for too long.”
“Excellent,” Wesley nodded, “then we’re in agreement. And this is how we’re going to do it….”
* * *
Jenny looked up from her laptop as Giles walked in. “Hello honey,” the gypsy witch smiled, seeking to entice him from the path of righteousness with her wiles but he was wise to her now, “how did-.” The Romany gasped as he sent a psionic blast into her head, pushing her beyond the edge of unconsciousness, her head dropping on the desk as she passed out.
Giles smiled down at his former girl-friend as Freddy walked in. “Inject her with the drugs, I’ll cuff her.”
* * *
“Hey Oz!” Willow beamed as her boyfriend walked into their off-campus apartment.
“Hey,” Oz smiled then in an uncharacteristic display of emotion, her boy-friend threw his arms around her shoulders. She gasped as she felt something prick her neck, then gasped again as her eyes blurred. She raised her suddenly heavy head and tried to look at Oz only to find her vision had blurred.
And then the blur turned to black.
* * *
Amy and Tara broke off from their extended and enthused make-out session at a knock at the door. Amy giggled at Tara’s flushed expression before letting out a shout. “Who is it?”
”Alonna,” the former street kid shouted back, “hurry up, we’ve got news about the kids.”
“Ohhh,” Amy climbed off the bed and rushed over to the door, Tara following behind. “What do you know?” she asked as she opened the door.
”That,” Amy gasped as a wind picked both her and Tara up and flung them into their apartment’s far wall, “you won’t be hurting any more kids.” Her mouth opened in something, a protest or a question, she wasn’t certain, but before she could speak Heidi and Joanthan ran in and injected them both with something.
* * *
Faith forced herself to relax when Wesley walked in with Xander, Gunn, and Cordy. Probably trying to Chamberlain a peace truce, although she should kick Gunn’s ass for what he did to Xan. “Hey,” Faith rose and strutted over to the quartet, “any news on just who killed the kids? Owwww!” Faith ducked under a right cross from Xander, grabbing her boy-friend’s wrist and pulling him into Wesley’s path. “What the fuck?”
“Owwww!” she gasped when in the course of sidestepping a right from Gunn she caught an elbow to the side of the head from Cordy. Dazed, she stumbled back into Gunn’s path and caught an uppercut to the jaw
“Shit!” Faith grunted as the blow lifted her from her feet and flung her into the foot of the steps, back arching from the painful landing. Faith shrugged the pain off, ducking under a left from Cordy while grabbing Wesley by his arm and throwing him face-first into the wall, her foot slamming up to catch Gunn on the thigh, knocking him back a step. “What the hell is-, oooof!” Faith grunted as Cordy caught her with a knee to the gut, doubling her up and into a knee to the forehead from Xander that she managed to slap away.
”Oh fuck!” Faith saw stars when she caught a karate chop to the neck. Shrugging it off, she straightened into a right from Gunn that knocked her on her back. And then a dart thudded into her neck.
Faith grunted as she rolled up to her feet, her body becoming lethargic. She was too slow to block a left to the head from Cordy, too late to parry a heel to the instep from Xander that took her to her knees, leaving her helpless to a right to the jaw from Gunn that meant lights out.
* * *
Wood nodded as he picked up the phone and listened to Giles’ message. “You’ve got them all? Well done, I’ve been doing as you asked, ringing around formalising support. I believe there’s a consensus, we should take Faith and the witches down to the town hall, have a trial, and then burn them at the stake. Yes, it has a certain historical symmetry. It’s time this town was freed of their blight.”
* * *
“Did you hear what Wood was talking about?” Vi gasped.
”Heard, but didn’t believe it,” Kennedy shook her head. “Something is badly wrong.”
“No kiddin’,” Rona whispered back. “What we gonna do about it?”
Kennedy pursed her lips, falling into her natural role as group leader. “First we need to know about the kids.” Seeing the others’ blank expressions, she continued. “I see no-one’s shown any photos of their families on the TV. We know everything about their deaths, but we don't even know their names. And if no one knows who they are, where did these pictures come from?”
“Yeah,” Vi nodded, “that is strange.”
Rona looked puzzled. “I don’t get your point. Isn’t what is happening to Faith and the others our priority?”
“They’re both related,” Kennedy insisted. “We need to get some information.”
Vi opened her laptop. “I can look around.”
The red-head started typing as Rona looked towards her, fear in her fellow potential’s eyes. “Do you think they’re really going to kill Faith and the others?”
“They will if we don’t stop them,” Kennedy replied.
“Oh.” They looked towards Vi. “'Two Children Found Dead. Mysterious Mark...' No. No. These children were found near Omaha fifty years ago.”
“Yeah, they ain't ours. Keep going.” Kennedy instructed.
”Wait,” Rona shook her head, “that can’t be right, but don’t they look as the two kids in the newspaper?”
Kennedy blinked. “Yeah, they kinda do.”
“There’s more,” Vi added. “One hundred years ago. Utah... Two Children... Rural Community Torn Apart by Suspicion.”
“Okay, all these years apart,” Rona gasped. “I’m guessing demon.”
”There’s more,” Vi added. “This one is dated three hundred and fifty years ago and has a hand drawing of the two children. These kids have never been seen alive, just dead. A lot.”
“And really who dies more than once?” Rona queried.
“Let me read that report,” Kennedy ordered, “I’m the one doing German. Written by a cleric from a village near the Black Forest. He found the bodies himself. Two children. Gretta Strauss, age six. Hans Strauss, eight.”
”Oh boy,” both she and Rona looked towards Vi. “Hans and Gretta. I remember one night Wood and Wesley were here talking about some fairy tales have a grain of truth running through them.”
Kennedy furrowed. “You’re saying they’re Hansel and Gretel? Yummy gingerbread house?”
Vi nodded. “Of course! Well, it makes sense now.” Kennedy exchanged an amused look with Rona. If she was the leader, then Vi was definitely the nerdy trainee Watcher. “Some demons thrive by fostering hatred and persecution amongst the mortal animals. Not by destroying men, but by watching men destroy each other, they feed us our darkest fear and turn peaceful communities into vigilantes.” Vi pursed her lips. But there’s one thing I don’t get. Why aren’t we affected?”
“Even I can work out the answer to that,” Rona confidently exclaimed, “all the mobs were made up of adults. None of us have turned eighteen, the demon only affects adults, we’re immune.” Rona paused. “What’s our next move?”
“Wood said they were at City Hall,” Kennedy replied. “We’ll have to head there and break the others out. Killing the demon should end the spell.”
“I like the way she said should,” mused Rona.
“I like the way she ignored all the super-powered muscle between us and the would-be sacrifices,” Vi replied.
Kennedy threw her hands up into the air. “Don’t give me problems, give me solutions people!”
* * *
“You’ve heard the stories!” Giles ranted, eyes filling with hatred as he strode the conference room in front of the five restrained women, the room’s tables chopped to firewood under their feet. “Felt the heartache of lost children! Well it’s time this town said no more!” He pointed at the captives. “They’ve hidden amongst us for too long, it’s time they were put to the fire and sent back to the hell they escaped from!” He pointed at the blown-up photo of the murder victims. “For them, for all our children!”
* * *
“Holey moley,” Kennedy whistled as she looked through the streets outside the city hall. They were thronged with placard-wielding and chanting protestors, their faces all masks of hatred. “McCarthyism is live and well in little ol Sunnydale.”
”Yeah funny,” Rona snorted. “But your comedy routine doesn’t get us inside. How are we gonna get through the mob?”
”Didn’t the old Mayor used to be a demon with vampires on staff?” Vi commented. Kennedy joined Rona in starting at their fellow potential. “There must be sewer access,” Rona groaned, “it’s just a case of finding it.”
“Hurry,” Kennedy said, “I get the feeling we haven’t got long.”
* * *
Faith groaned as she forced her eyes to open, her head throbbing. Bile rose in her stomach as she raised her head. “Oh boy, shouldn’t have done that-.” Faith gasped as she registered the wood piled at her feet and her arms tied to a pillar. “Just for reference, not into bondage.” Her eyes widened as she saw Giles approaching holding a torch. “Hey G-Man -.”
”Silence witch!” The man slapped her across the face.
”Slayer not witch.” Faith grunted at the backhand, then pulled her head around and glared stonily at the Watcher. “You better be under a spell, otherwise your new nickname is gonna be ‘Wheels’ and not ‘cause you got a cool new hog.”
The elderly Englishman flinched at her tone and then stepped forward, a sneer on his face. “You do not frighten me.”
”Unfasten me,” Faith strained at her ropes but thanks to the drugs pumping through her system couldn’t snap them, “and I‘ll show you what fear is.”
“We need vengeance. Kill them all.”
“Kay, that’s just creepy.” Faith blinked as the two murdered children appeared by Giles’ side. “Is it strange that I’m the one with the raging hangover, but I can still see how weird it is to be ‘Sixth Sensing’ it?”
Faith groaned as the Watcher set the wood by her feet on fire. “I guess that’s a yes then.” Suddenly the roof crashed in and the three potentials fell to the floor. “And just when you think things can’t get any worse…..”
* * *
Kennedy looked at her companions. “Ronnie, you hold off Cordy and Gunn!”
“Oh boy!” the potential groaned as she rushed to the duo guarding the doors. “This is going to hurt.”
“Vi, see to the rest, I’ll deal with Hansel and Grettel.” Kennedy conjured a fireball up in her hand. “Little children shouldn’t play with fire,” she jibed. The boy and girl screamed as the fireball hit them, grabbing one another in an embrace. A moment later the two children morphed into a seven foot all demon with pointed ears and huge fangs, its long, tangled hair dangling down to its wide shoulders. “Oh, I really should think my plans through.”
“You’re telling me,” Faith muttered as the room erupted in screams, people stampeding to the doors, the fight between Rona, Cordy, and Gunn coming to a shocked halt.
“Protect us! Kill the bad girls!”
“You know what?” Kennedy heard the snap of Faith’s ropes snapping. “Not nearly as convincing in that outfit.” The Slayer flew past her and at the demon. “Oh and BTW, thanks Ken, you and the kids did great.”
* * *
Magnus looked through the papers arrayed on his desk, his attention diverted by thoughts of his daughter’s return and plans for the upcoming ceremony. His head snapped up and his mouth dropped open when his office’s doors crashed open and Benny flew in, his flight only ending when he crashed into his desk and slid to the floor, a dazed expression on his face. “You know,” a group in their early twenties to early thirties strode in, “you just you can’t hire good muscle these days.”
Magnus started to rise only to be shoved back down in his chair by a broad-shouldered boy. “Try a spell,” he gasped when one of the youths produced a fireball in his palm, “and I’ll deep-fry you.”
Magnus’ eyes bulged as his daughter strode in, immaculate in a trouser suit. “Ginny!” he blustered. “I’m warning you-.”
”You’re going to do what daddy?” Virginia perched on the edge of his desk and started going through his correspondence. “Have me killed? Sacrifice me to a demon, perhaps?”
“Ach,” a small Irishman chuckled. “I like this lassie’s style.”
“Here’s how it’s going to be daddy,” Ginny’s alabaster features turned to stone. “You’re going to give me all the paperwork relating to that two million dollar trust fund Mommy set up for me before I was born,” Ginny smiled slightly. “Um, it’s been twenty-one years, imagine how much it’s worth with all that lovely interest. And then you’re going to leave me alone, or my friends will make a bigger mess of you than any one demon can manage, understand?”
“I understand.” Magnus nodded weakly. “The papers are in the safe. I…I’ll just get them.”
“Oh and daddy,” Virginia smiled sweetly, “your sacrifice wouldn’t have worked anyway, I haven’t been a virgin in a very long time.”