FIC: The Nightstalkers (14/?)
“Who are you?” Holtz snapped as his eyes cleared and he found himself in a strangely designed room surrounded by several youngsters. In a second he was by the group’s apparent leader, a bespectacled man in his mid-thirties, his hand grabbing the man around the throat. “Sahjhan? Where is he?”
The man gurgled and tried yank his hand off even as the room’s youths lunged at him. Finally they managed to drag him away from the gasping man. A pair of elbows put the two weaklings down and he stared back towards the man lent against the wall. “Wesley Whyndhm-Pryce of The Watchers’ Council,” the man wheezed.
That brought Holtz up short. This ninny was a Watcher? My, how that once fine group had fallen since-. His brow creased as another thought occurred. “The year? What is the year?” he growled.
The man started at his gruff tone, pathetic really. “It is the year of our lord, two thousand one. You’re in America.”
“America,” he whispered, legs almost giving way under him with the shock. The grand-children of every-one he’d ever known would all be long dead by now. His eyes zeroed in on the Watcher. “The New World? Why am I here?”
“I…I must say it’s a great honour to meet you, your accomplishments and methodologies were taught at The Academy.” The Watcher straightened up, hand rubbing at his throat. Holtz stared impatiently at his fellow countryman. “We’re here, that is in the state of California because my Slayer is hunting Angelus.”
“Angelus?” Fire blazed through Holtz’s veins. “That murdering bastard is here?”
“Yes,” the Watcher started to speak but he didn’t bother to continue listening to the whimpering fool’s blatherings, instead striding out in search of the Slayer. One could only hope she had more mettle than her Watcher.
* * *
“Angelus!” James beamed at him as he approached James and Elizabeth, the pair of vampires dressed in of course matching denim jeans and shirts. “It is a bloody pleasure to see you and no mistake!”
“And you,” Angelus nodded before kissing Elizabeth’s proffered hand. He’d have to play up to the duo if he wanted them to aid him in his planned overthrow of Ripper.
”Charmed,” purred the blonde.
“And Darla,” James looked around, “where is the second loveliest vampire in all creation?”
“Dust,” Angelus snarled. “A Slayer got her.” He white-washed over his part in his sire’s death, the thought just making him want to grab the nearest blonde and spend the night teaching the human the meaning of pain. He hadn’t even gotten the satisfaction of Buffy’s death to soften the blow, Ripper had sadistically ensured he was never involved in the Slayer’s torturing or even saw her after her capture.
“Got Darla!” James’ blue eyes widened before looking towards Elizabeth. “Oh Angelus, I can only imagine your pain,” the vampire bleated. “To be without the one that makes your existence worthwhile must be-.”
“Heart-breaking!” Elizabeth continued. “Your pain must inspire sonnets, move statues to tears!”
“I know mine would!” James finished. “Should I-, no,” the twit shook his head. “I can’t even say the words.”
“My pillow’s wet every night.” Angelus fought back a groan. The two vampires stared at him, mouths agape. “From crying, not from -, never mind,” he shook his head wearily. At the time he’d thought the greatest danger about having this conversation would have been from someone over-hearing and reporting back to Ripper, but he realised he’d been mistaken, he was in far greater danger of staking himself to stop himself from having to listen to the two lovers’ insipid drivel.
* * *
Holtz strode impatiently through the house’s corridors, impatient to finally have his revenge on Angelus. He stopped as he entered the hallway to find a coal-eyed hussy dressed in lewdly tight leathers, her choice of clothing as unbecoming and unladylike as her apparent manner. Yet despite all that, she had a certain grace that identified her as something more than merely human.
“A tavern strumpet?” he sniffed. “In my time, Slayers were mighty warriors, women worthy of respect. In this time they’re nothing but slattern?”
The Slayer looked around, Romany eyes looking confused. “Slattern? What the hell’s a slattern?”
“Oh please,” the Watcher behind him muttered, “no-body tell her. The blood will be hell to get out of the carpet.”
“Oh I know that one from Literature” chirped up a painted blonde who looked like another tavern wench, “of course no one expects you to have read a book, Faith. He’s calling you a whore.”
“Huh.” Holtz felt a chill run through him as the beauty’s black eyes turned to ice. “How ‘bout yaw tell me who yaw are and why I shouldn’t be using your head as a punch bag.” Holtz’s mouth opened. “Oops, too late.” Holtz grunted as the girl’s backhand to the face drove him to his knees. The brunette turned from him to the blonde. “Want to call me a whore yourself, Harm?”
Holtz rose and glared at the Slayer, the impudent bitch, not knowing her natural place in the order of things. He wiped away the blood trickling out of the side of his mouth. “I am Daniel Holtz, vampire hunter.”
”Huh,” the Slayer seemed unimpressed. “After all the shit I’d heard, I’d thought you’d be taller.”
“A lady does not use such language,” he scolded.
“I thought we’d established I ain’t a lady.” The brown-eyed beauty’s full lips quirked up into a smirk. “’Sides, times have changed, oldster. Women even have the vote now.” The midnight-tressed temptress’ curved lips rearranged themselves in a pout. “Not that I’ve actually ever, well yaw get the point.”
“Times may have changed,” Holtz sniffed as he looked around the carnage, glancing briefly at the corpses. “But they have not changed so much that I would expect a vampire hunter to tamely allow a stranger into their house after dusk.” He sniffed again. “An ineffectual Watcher, a slovenly Slayer, and amateurish vampire hunters, no wonder you need help.”
“Hey!” snapped a battered-looking youth with streaked-grey hair. “We made a mistake.”
“In vampire-hunting your first mistake is most often your last,” Holtz retorted before shaking his head. “Ready yourselves, the night is wasting, we may not have a real Watcher,” the one called Wesley winced at that, “or a properly-trained Slayer but we fight nevertheless.” The girl growled, whatever her faults she had at least spirit.
“Who put you in charge?” the battered boy demanded.
“Your lack of leadership did,” he retorted. “Gather your weapons; we leave in quarter of an hour. You,” he impaled the Watcher with a steely glare, “tell me more of your world.”
* * *
“Ah,” Ripper forced a grin as Lyle Gorch entered his inner sanctum, “Lyle, good to see you.” Ripper leaned into the vampires and bit her milky neck, tasting her cold blood. The turned witch wriggled in erotic, blissful delight. “I must compliment you on your childe, she really is exquisite.”
“Thank you, Ripper.” Lyle’s eyes burnt as he glanced from Ripper to Tara and back again. Despite his anger the bulky-shouldered vampire was at least smart enough not to voice his irritation at Ripper usurping him as Tara’s master. Maybe Ripper wouldn’t have to kill him after all.
“I have the horses you requested, seven quite superb stallions.”
Interest flickered in Lyle’s eyes. “Do you ride?”
“It was a hobby of my youth,” Ripper airily replied. His human alter-ego had spent his childhoods on a Welsh farm his family had owned. There hadn’t been much to do but ride or muck-out pig shit. He’d chosen riding. “Get your men and ride out. If those meddlers patrol out after the surprise I sent them, I want you to finish them off!”
“Yes sir,” the cowboy hesitated, eyes flickering towards Tara.
“Go,” he smirked. “Don’t worry,” he licked the moaning vampires’ neck, “I’ll take good care of Tara, and I think her fighting days are over.”
“But not torturing,” the unread New Mexican giggled.
“Of course not dear,” he assured the vampire beauty. “A talent such as yours should be nurtured.”
* * *
Faith pursed her full lips, worry creasing her beautiful features. “Maybe you should stay out of this one?” his girl-friend suggested, a rare tentative note in her husky voice.
“No,” Jonathan for his part had to force an unconcerned note in his. “I should be there.” For you, he silently added.
“No,” Faith shook her head, brown eyes determined. “You’re tired after bringing the asshole,” Faith’s eyes glittered briefly, “from his prison. You should stay-.”
“A Slayer with a lover, demeaning herself like a common tavern harlot!” And just like that, Holtz appeared in the hallway, scorn in his dark eyes. “Where is the legendary Council discipline?”
Faith’s jaw clenched, her hair snapping as she spun to face the antiquated demon hunter. “Listen you son of a bit-.”
“As I informed you,” Wesley appeared by Holtz’s shoulder, “the Council has moved on from your days-.”
“Moved on?” Holtz snorted. “Been overrun with weaklings and idiots more like!”
Wesley looked like he’d been punched in the gut, but to give him credit the Watcher tried. “Faith’s greater independence and ability to think for herself has helped her in situations where a more controlled Slayer might well have perish-.”
“And yet,” Holtz sniffed, “the world has fallen and Angelus lives.”
”Hey!” Faith snapped. “That ain’t my fault! I wasn’t even Called when that shit went down!”
Holtz strode away, glancing at Xander’s group of Xander, Cordelia, Larry, Owen, and Harmony, the others staying behind as security. “Come,” the centuries-old soldier snapped. “Let’s see if you match up to the lads I once led.”
The group made their way out into Sunndyale’s darkened streets, the atmosphere even more grimly oppressive than normal, either because of their recent losses or because of the hard-faced angel of vengeance marching with them. Jonathan and Faith were at the head of their patrol, Holtz and Wesley hovering with a varying degrees of menace just behind and Xander and Cordelia at the rear, the others between them, their crossbows at ready in case-.
Suddenly Faith dropped to one knee, her hand reaching out to feel the road’s hard tarmac. “What the fuck?” his girl-friend’s brow furrowed. “I can feel the ground trembling, what the hell-.” Suddenly Faith’s eyes widened. “Everyone! Get to cover now!”