Part 4 - Secrets Revealed
"WILLOW!?!" Buffy cried out in surprise. Even though part of her had already suspected who would be coming through that door, she was still shocked when her friend brushed past her without a word to stand before the mysterious figures in black, looking at them
for her salvation.
Jay immediately knew what she wanted. With a grimace of distaste he said, "`Elvis and the Beatles love disco.'" Seeing the astonished disgust on the faces of the others present, he shrugged. "Hey, I told you it was twisted."
"Thank you," said Willow gratefully. "I thought my head was about to explode." Facing Buffy at last, she asked, "How much do you know?"
"Just that your dad was kidnapped by vampires because his is an alien. Oh, and that Mrs. Edelson here is one too. That covers the highlights, I think."
"Given this is the Hellmouth, I suppose it's too much to hope you mean they're from another country?" came a voice from the doorway. "Though in the case of Mrs. E., I probably shouldn't be surprised."
"Xander Harris!" cried Willow in exasperation. "I told you to stay in the car."
"So what are you going to do, Will," replied Xander (who at this moment looked as pale as Angel), "eat my brain? Geez, you think you know a person. Next you'll be telling me Giles worked for the CIA!"
"Eat your ... XANDER!
You above all others know
how I hate junk food!" Seeing her lifelong friend was both horrified and hurt by her words, Willow apologized. "Sorry, I really didn't mean to say that. I'm just so worried about my Dad. And you don't need to worry; I'm as human as you are. Technically, Dad is my stepfather,
but he's the only father I've ever known. I literally couldn't
tell you, because mom and I were mentally conditioned not to talk about it."
"Excuse me," interupted Jay impatiently, "but we DO
have a bit of a crisis here." Turning to the Slayer as a fellow professional, he asked, "Can this guy be trusted?"
"Let's see," answered Buffy, feigning deep thought, "Willow's known him all her life, he's put his life on the line countless times to help me do my job, and he brought me back from the dead so I could slay a Master vampire and close the gates of hell. Yup, I guess you could say I trust him."Great, just what we need!
groaned Jay inwardly, "A hero type. He'll probably get us all killed when he rushes to the rescue.
In spite of being a bit of a `hero type' himself, Jay had never found that particular trait useful in others. Granted, he admired their courage but preferred professional expertise to amateur enthusiasm. Pasting on a patently false smile, he said, "Glad to have you on board, Mr. Harris. We need all the help we can get."
"Right," Xander responded uncertainly. Whoever this guy was, Willow seemed to trust him. While Xander had a hundred questions he wanted to ask, obviously this was not the time. "Mr. Rosenberg has been like a second father to me. Anything I can do..."
"The first thing," Giles spoke up, "that either of you can do is tell us exactly what occurred. Where did it happen? How many were there? What did they say? Which direction did they go? Any little detail you might remember could be a valuable lead to where they have taken him. Willow, you go first."
Willow took a deep breath to calm herself. "Xander and I were studying at his house for a history test on Monday. Because of all the stuff that's been happening in town lately, Daddy insisted that he drive over to pick me up. We heard him honk the car horn, but when we got out on the porch we saw three large vampires approaching the car. They smashed the driver side window, and the largest one dragged Dad out and held him in the air. Then he sniffed
Dad, and said to one of the others, `You were right. This one is very
special. It is good that you recognized his car. The Anointed One will be pleased -- with both of us.'
That's when I realized why
they were after Dad. By this time Xander had run to the car and was vaulting over the hood trying to tackle the leader. He didn't even look a Xander; he just backhanded him with his free hand sending him back across the hood onto the sidewalk. One of the other vampires said, `We'd better get out of here before SHE
comes,' (meaning Buffy, I guess) and leader just nodded and lead them off down the street. I think they were heading for the graveyard."
"What did you do then?" Giles asked.
"After making sure Xander was alright, I went around to the driver's side and opened the door, intending to drive here and get some help. That's when I saw my dad's cell phone, lying on the seat. He must have dropped it there when the vampires were distracted by Xander. While Xander went back to his house to tell his mom he was coming over to my house to do some more studying, I called the special number Dad made me memorize in case something happened to him."
Willow looked at the MiBs pointedly. "Dad said they'd probably send someone around to check things out and touch base with him after he saw the article this morning. I could only hope they were already in the area and would be willing to let Buffy help." Shaking her head she concluded, "I guess we're just lucky that you had already made contact."
Elle admitted, "According to company policy, we aren't to involve civilians unless absolutely necessary. If we hadn't seen your friend in action with our own eyes, we'd be trying to handle it ourselves."
Buffy bristled at this. "Like Willow said, we were lucky. This is our
turf, and we know the enemy very
"Xander," Giles asked, "do you have anything to add Willow's description of events? Something that you heard or saw differently than she did, or that she missed altogether?"
"Well," Xander responded, "I don't know if this means anything, but while I was lying on the sidewalk after the big guy hit me, I heard one of the other vampires mutter something about being allowed to watch the X-Files with `the kid' tomorrow night. I think he meant the Anointed One."
Hearing this, Buffy frowned. "If the Annoying One is an X-Phile, that means he'll being expecting MiBs to show up."
"Of course he's an X-File," Xander protested. "He's a VAMPIRE!
Didn't you see the episode `Three'?"
Willow corrected him. "That's `Phile' with a P-H, not an F. It's what the fans call themselves."
"Right. I knew that."
"How does this help us," asked Giles, "aside from warning us that a sneak attack is out?"
"Cable!" Angel blurted out. "The only way for a vampire to survive these days is to remain as undocumented as possible. This means if he wants to watch T.V., he probably has an illegal cable tap. Any outside receiver, be it satellite dish or broadcast antenna, runs the risk of being spotted and traced back to the lair."
"So what do you recommend?" Xander asked sarcastically, "Should we call up Sunnydale Cablesystems and ask them for a list of their unauthorized users?"
"I was thinking," Angel answered patiently, "that our new friends might have the technology to run a trace."
"Give me a break!" objected Elle, "You don't really think ..."
"Does that system have a high speed line?" interrupted Jay, pointing at the library computer.
"Uh, yes," answered Willow, "Ms. Calendar had it installed when I explained how much -- special work -- I do for Giles."
"Excellent!" Jay went around the back of the computer, and clipped a small unmarked silvery box around the incoming phone line.
"What is that thing?" asked Giles, concerned about the risk to school property.
Willow explained. "It's a Procyon Encryption Matrix. Dad has one attached to his cellular -- that's why he dumped it. Nothing made on this planet can touch it. Not only does it scramble the signal and prevent tracing, it makes the receiver impervious to any
remote monitoring or recording."
"Drives the SIGINT guys at NSA absolutely nuts trying to figure it out," Jay added as he sat behind the keyboard donned his shades. "This is shades-only stuff, meaning even your memory stop recording once the images hit the screen. Unless you want a memory gap, you had better stand behind the the monitor." It's too bad I'll have to neuralize them anyway when this is over.
He suppressed a twinge of conscience as the others moved into position.
While by now he was familiar with the procedures for accessing the MiB information network, this was the first time he had done it from a remote site using conventional equipment. After placing his hand on the page scanner (which had been reconfigured electronically to scan genetic and metabolic patterns too), MiBNET.org (which had already started backtracing the cable system the instant automatic tapping of the library's phone detected Jay attaching the P.E.M.) listed all the unauthorized cable hookups it had found, then deleted the entries with previously established identities until there were only four entries left. Jay pressed the Print key, then placed his hand back on the scanner while he confirmed the command. As a page popped out of the laser printer listing the locations of the four unknown taps, the computer speaker said "Thank you for using MiBNET" and the line went dead. Total session time: 28 seconds.
Buffy was the first to reach to printer, and thus the second to read the list. Her jaw dropped as she read the third address. "Oh my god," she gasped, "I don't believe it! That's the address of the gallery where my mom works."