There were two entrances to the ship that the Listers could defend, and they lined both these corridors and were prepared to take as many soldiers of the Scourge down with them as they could. Given that the Scourge were bulkier than the skeletal Listers, this meant that at least two Listers could fight every one Scourge that came rough the narrow corridor, giving them a massive advantage. However, the fact that they were untrained and the Scourge were probably veterans of countless slaughters somewhat nullified that.
Unfortunately, there was another access point to the ship that the Listers couldn't defend, because they wouldn't stand a chance in a fight in an open area. The top of the ship could be opened to gain entry to the ship's hold, so that the cargo could be loaded or unloaded by crane. Given the size of the Beacon that Cole's shadow had seen, he knew that the only way that the Scourge could get the Beacon near enough to the Listers to be sure they would kill them would be to lower the Beacon into the hold. That was why Cole, Drusilla, Angel and Cordelia were waiting up there for the chance to sabotage the Beacon. If and when they succeeded, Cole would shimmer them down and hopefully put the Scourge, demoralised by the loss of their greatest weapon, to rout. Then the captain would take the Listers far, far, away from here.
It seemed like a good plan.
The Scourge came marching through the docks, just as Drusilla had envisaged it, a rolling, implacable tide of ants. Those who were guarding the Beacon were nowhere to be seen, yet.
Incredibly, the Listers didn't lose hope at the sight of such overwhelming opposition. Perhaps they didn't have any hope to lose, and now they were fighting because there was nothing else they could do.
The Scourge began losing their soldiers when they neared the ship. Listers, those too young or too old to fight the Scourge directly, were dropping everything they could get their hands on - bricks, chairs, plates, tables - to slow the oncoming tide. Even the hardened skull of a demon couldn't stand a brick falling on it from several feet above, and even those who didn't die from the impact but were merely knocked out soon died as those that followed trampled them unmercifully into the ground.
A wild cry leapt from one of the throats of the younger Listers, in the old demonic dialect that was the language of their race. Few but the oldest spoke it anymore, although everyone knew it. "Ka-kos, Ka-kos, Ka-kos!" he cried. Soon, others took it up, then yet more, until all the Listers were calling it triumphantly at the oncoming army. Was it just them, or did the Scourge falter slightly when they heard it? "Ka-kos, Ka-kos, Ka-kos!
" they chanted rhythmically, over and over again.
"What are they saying?" asked Cordelia mildly. She had been standing on the very edge of the ship - she would've stood on the other side of the protective railing, with nothing protecting her from the drop, had Angel not prevented her. Although Drusilla hadn't seen anything about Cordelia in her visions, she got the feeling that the girl was fey, that she'd go berserk when the Scourge came close to her. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps it would help her find some closure.
Cole had been rather surprised when the battle-cry went up - not because of what it said, but the fact that he understood it. It was a slight variation on the language of one of the demons in his own dimension, which was odd given that the Listers looked and acted nothing like the aggressive Horthalp demons whose language it was. "Out, Out, Out!" he said, in answer to Cordelia's question.
The battle-cry quietened somewhat when the Scourge met the front line of the Listers, although those who were still dropping things from windows kept it up. The Scourge, whether they were angry at the losses that they had already suffered or whether they were fighting with their customary brutality tore through the first Listers they found, their greater numbers at the opening of the entrance meaning that those who had defended it didn't stand a chance. However, having planned for that, those behind them lanced out with crude, make-shift spears, consisting of knives lashed to the end of sticks. They sought throats, and found them. The normally pacifistic Listers were surprised at the surge of savage joy they felt as their long hated and feared foe died by their hand.
Then the battle began in earnest, the Scourge forcing their way through the narrow corridors, the Listers making them pay for every step they took. Angel felt sure that the captain would be wanting to get a new ship after this, all that blood wouldn't wash out and would be impossible to explain. Well, the captain did owe him a lot of money, so Angel thought this was the least the captain could do to repay it.
When the Listers were fully engaged in the fight, too occupied now to sing their battle-cry, two vampires with excellent night vision and a half-demon whose night vision was only slightly worse saw an oncoming crane, something dark and round dangling like a Christmas bauble from it. The Beacon was on its way, and soon they would destroy it, and the victory would be theirs.
Then the Beacon began to light up, slowly, like the rising sun, illuminating the platform and the small squadron of elite Scourge soldiers guarding it.
"That wasn't supposed to happen!" Angel breathed. None of them could get close to the device if it was activated, it would be impossible to destroy. Unless, that is, one of them was willing to sacrifice themselves for its destruction.
Drusilla smiled bitterly.
"Can you shimmer over there and turn it off?" asked Cordelia blankly, as though both the question and the answer were irrelevant. Angel wondered if she had gone into shock. As painful as it had been to see, he was sure that the grieving Cordelia had been healthier, psychologically speaking, than this indifferent, uncaring Cordelia.
The crane came closer, and the ship's hold slid open - the Scourge must've found some way to do that remotely - and then a squadron dropped lightly from the platform that was now swinging above their heads, no doubt to make some kind of preparations for the Beacon's activation. Cordelia gripped the sword that Cole had gotten from Angel's office, preparing to charge the murdering scum that killed Doyle, but Angel put a hand on her shoulder. Cordelia had spent enough time around Buffy to know that, as gentle as a grip like that might seem, it could easily change in a moment to one which she wouldn't be able to escape from. She subsided.
The four of them looked out at what the squadron was doing, and couldn't quite believe their eyes. The Scourge had split into four groups, and each were pulling parts from their back packs and fitting them together to make four bridges, each spaced equidistantly apart, for easy access to the platform on which the faintly humming, glowing Beacon. They saw that the Beacon was fixed up to some kind of generator, and that all they would have to do, quite literally, would be to unplug it.
Drusilla wondered if the Scourge had stolen the technology from someone. It seemed unlikely that a race famed for their rabid speciesism would have the capability of creating such a device as the one before them, even if it was so clumsily made that all it would take to stop it would be to pull the plug. But that left the question "Who made it?
Once the squadron had extended the bridges to the platform, they seemed content to wait. Apparently the Beacon took some time to warm up, as it were, and when Cole had seen it through his shadow, it had already been warmed up. So, they only had a matter of time before the device activated and they died anyway.
Although no signal passed in the group, each of the four split up to tackle one of the four groups.
Cole shimmered into the midst of one, emerging as Belthazor, a dazzling energy ball in each hand. That group lasted for only a few seconds, for all that Belthazor tried to spin the fight out. He just got carried away.
Drusilla stalked her group, cat-like, emerging from the shadows to cut their throats before sneaking away again. At first, her group were too surprised from the light show that Belthazor was making to notice their own members dropping silently. By the time they did, it was too late.
Angel had had the best part of two centuries to perfect his swordsmanship, and these demons were hardly up to his standard. After all, he had stood up to a Slayer easily enough. He mowed through the demons as though they were grass.
Normally, Cordelia would have had the most trouble in a situation like this, but Drusilla had been right. She fought with a careless abandon, slashing rapidly as she laughed, not even trying to defend herself. The Scourge soldiers were so busy trying to defend themselves against her wild attacks that they didn't have a chance to attack her themselves, and one by one they dropped when they were too slow to parry Cordelia's assaults.
Although Belthazor was the first to kill his group, it took him some time to quash his blood lust enough for Cole to take control again, which meant that Angel, in his normal, I'm-the-ex-evil-vampire-who-has-to-atone-for-my-evil-deeds way, was blithely heading across to the now-unguarded Beacon, ready to sacrifice his life to turn it off. When Cole saw that, he promptly shimmered over to Angel and shimmered him away again, and the pair began to argue who it should be to give their life to save the Listers. Several times in the argument Cole wondered what it was that was leading him to seriously consider suicide, but he dismissed it every time. He was a man of action.
Meanwhile, whilst the men argued, Cordelia was heading, unnoticed, towards the platform. She wasn't really thinking about what she was doing - she had stopped thinking shortly after Doyle died, it was too painful - but nevertheless, she knew that this was something that she had to do.
If Drusilla hadn't seen that Cordelia would do exactly what she was doing now in her vision, she would've been too far away from her to stop her from turning off the Beacon and dying. As it was, as soon as she had finished killing the Scourge, she had gone over to the grieving woman, and grabbed her by the arms and easily lifted her and carried her away from the platform. Cordelia didn't struggle - for all that Drusilla looked like a consumptive on the verge of wasting away, she was still a master vampire and considerably stronger than Cordelia was - and besides, she didn't see the point. It was over.
Then Drusilla herself headed towards the platform, where she would turn off the Beacon and save everyone. Her last act, and her only good one. It was strange - if Drusilla hadn't Seen her own death then she wouldn't be doing what she was doing, Angel would've gone instead, blithely going to die, safe in the assurance that he knew that he was right in doing so.
Halfway across the bridge, Drusilla began to feel a prickling, burning sensation. She wished that she had thought to bring one of the Scourge's corpses with her, perhaps it would shield her somewhat from the Beacon's effects. But then, she hadn't Seen herself doing that, so she knew she wouldn't.
By the time Angel and Cole noticed what Drusilla was doing, it was too late. She had already pulled the plug.
Drusilla turned to face them, smiling beatifically even as she began to disintegrate.
Cole, heedless of his own safety, uncaring as to whether there was some remnant of the destructive energy of the Beacon still around, shimmered over to Drusilla, catching her in his arms as she collapsed bonelessly then shimmered away again.
Neither of them came back. Angel moved over to Cordelia, who was staring, wide-eyed and unblinking, at the space where Drusilla and Cole had stood moments before. Angel didn't know whether Cordelia had taken it in, and, right now, he didn't care. He enveloped Cordelia in a hug, burying his face in her hair. He didn't notice that she clung to him, sobbing into his shoulder. For all that Angel had protested it, Drusilla had been like a daughter to him - a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship, to be sure, but a daughter nevertheless. And now she was gone.
Holland started violently when Cole appeared in his office. The man looked as though he had suffered a bad case of sunburn, but that was as nothing to what he carried in his arms.
Drusilla was somewhat more than horribly burnt. The left side of her face - the side that had been nearest the Beacon - was a skull, tattered shreds of flesh clinging to it here and there. Her eye was ruined. In comparison, the other side appeared as though it was unblemished, even though it was heavily burned. She was missing three fingers from the blackened claw that was her left hand. At that point, Holland stopped looking. He couldn't help but be glad that Drusilla was unconscious.
"Save her." Cole grated, harshly. "You wanted her? Save her."
Holland knew that Wolfram & Hart had some of the best medi-demons in the world, but he had no idea whether they were good enough to save her. However, judging by the look on Cole's face, that was exactly what the half-demon didn't want to hear. "We'll do our best." he said in a mollifying tone.
"I don't care for your best. Save her, or you'll die, and all your lawyers will die, and every branch of your firm will die." Cole said harshly.
Holland strongly regretted his decision to get Lindsey to summon Cole. There were a lot of people out there who would be glad to see Wolfram & Hart be destroyed, but the law firm's defences were such that it was impossible to launch an attack against one of their offices. But with someone who could cut through those defences like they weren't even there...
Holland called the best medical warlock in the world, and ordered him to get here as soon as demonically possible.