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There Can Be Far More Than One

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Summary: People have changed. People have died. Other people have died and come back to life. No one is the same. And they’re all going to meet each other.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR18516,25102314,25616 Dec 1216 Oct 13No

Chapter Five

Galleria Shopping Mall
St. Louis, MO

August 12, 2110


"Look out, Wesley!"

Reflexively throwing himself to the left in response to the shouted warning, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce felt the faint breeze on his cheek as his unseen assailant's claws missed his right ear by the barest fractions of an inch.

Half-turning his head to glance over his shoulder as he dodged, in order to more accurately target his would-be assailant, the recently naturalized American citizen tilted the AY69 10mm machine pistol in his right hand up slightly to reflexively align the targeting laser on the vampire's nose. Wes subsequently triggered a two-round burst of the alternating blessed silver and depleted uranium slugs he usually favored for most hunting excursions, completely destroying the leech's brain by blowing it clear out through the back of her skull.

Rolling on his shoulder as he hit the ground, Wesley quickly regained his feet. The former Englishman then let off a second two-round burst with his left-hand pistol at another vampire, who was apparently attempting to complete the task their now wholly, and inarguably, fully deceased associate had failed to accomplish. All this while also taking note of the non-typical blaze of green-tinged fire that consumed his would-be assailant when the blessed silver hollowpoint slug mushroomed and annihilated her heart

"Thank you, Jean-Claude," the United States Federal Marshall nodded his appreciation of the French vampire's warning as he spun back to face yet another minion of the undead Doomsday cult. The same cult which an unidentified caller to one of the Federal government’s tip-lines had warned them about earlier this afternoon.

While he might not fully agree about the wisdom of the United States government's recognizing the undead as citizens, Wesley did readily acknowledge that not all of the various now recognized and legally-acknowledged species of vampires were irrefutably and irredeemably evil. For the non-demonic varieties, from what he had witnessed in the past several decades, a significant number of the life-challenged segment of society (as their solicitors typically referred to them) actually differed very little from the natures and personalities they'd exhibited when they'd still been alive.

Although that was something he should reflect on further when he was less occupied with staying alive, Wes reminded himself as he doubled-tapped another would-be assailant rushing up on him from what they erroneously believed to be his blind side.

Several yards behind him and to his left, Anita Blake, Jean-Claude's human servant and Wyndam-Pryce's (current) teammate, was standing next to what, at first glance, appeared to be a summoning circle. The brunette's hands, along with those of the other six witches standing around the circle, were busy weaving a complex sequence of gestures literally etching a series of runes in the air as she intoned a barely comprehensible chant of what sounded, to the former Englishman's ear, like one of the innumerable Romany dialects he was only vaguely familiar with. Nonetheless, Wesley distractedly thought he recognized the chant as part being of a high-level banishment ritual, even if such things hadn’t been a priority for him to investigate in nearly a hundred years.

As the Bi-state's Regional Preternatural Investigations Taskforce, reinforced by the vampire Master of the City's forces, battled the dozens of zombies and enthralled still-living citizens who had been summoned and who were now being controlled by several of the vampiric cult's members. But even as they did so, Wesley and the majority of Anita's companions and servitors were being kept occupied guarding the brunette witch from the summoners' attacks, as she attempted to rescind the circle's arcane invitation to whichever eldritch hellgod it was the cult worshipped.

"Any suggestions about what we should do, next, English?" Ted Forrester asked as he calmly fired two expanding silver hollowpoint slugs through the forehead of a massive werebear battering its way through the outer line of Anita's defenders. He then turned his attention to the equally colossal lycanthrope following its now-deceased packmate's efforts, and conferred upon it the same fate.

"The kids look like they're starting to get a mite antsy," the blond bounty hunter noted in that barely noticeable down-home drawl he used when he wanted to subtly emphasize the ostensible redneck aspect of his background, Wesley absently noted to himself, as he took advantage of the opportunity to replace the magazines in both pistols.

"And it seems like they're even more desperate to get to my wife and stop her than they were a couple minutes ago," the muscular hitman pointed out as he paused in his annihilation of the enemy's forces only long enough to replace his weapon's drum magazine with its twin.

"I agree fully, Ted," the one-time (and many decades earlier) Watcher to the Vampire Slayer concurred, as he took a moment to evaluate the situation facing them.

Richard Zeeman, the St. Louis Triumvirate's third member, had positioned his werewolves around the smaller group in an unyielding ring of supernaturally-powerful foot soldiers, who were at least as strong as the vampires and zombies currently assaulting them, for the obvious purpose of protecting Anita's efforts to offset the summoning ritual their opponents had initiated. Also reinforcing the werewolves' ranks were other members of the area's lycanthropic confederation – the city's wererats, werelions, werehyenas and wereleopards – as well as several lamias and even one naga who'd allied themselves with Jean-Claude after he'd claimed Mastery of the City

Unfortunately, even though Richard's lycanthropic followers and their other preternatural supporters were superhumanly strong and possessed a truly incredible regenerative ability – they could still die if they sustained sufficient damage to overcome their ability to heal themselves, as was clearly demonstrated by the various hideously dismembered bodies scattered across the plaza.

The werebears who were obviously being controlled by their as-yet unidentified opponents and who were currently battling against Richard's werewolves and Jean-Claude's vampiric minions, had also contributed their own share of carcasses to the carnage. However, it was also quite obvious that their undead masters were clearly still animate and sentient, unfortunately. This was evidenced by the ongoing waves of suicidal lycanthropes continuing to batter themselves against the St. Louis pack's living wall of fury and righteous anger, while ignoring the numerous opportunities offered them to turn away and retreat.

Unless, and until, the malign intelligences directing the assaults were neutralized, there remained a still significant chance that the clearly hateful and malevolent beings responsible for the initial summoning could disrupt Anita's coven's own banishment ritual and allow whatever had originally been invited into this universe to enter, the expatriate Englishman realized. Wes then gunned down yet another animated, bloodsucking corpse attempting to attack the brunette necromancer, doing his part to try to save the world.

{ Bloody hell,} Wesley thought to himself as he felt an abrupt surge of supernatural power roll across the area, { whoever's responsible for the summons has apparently decided to go all out, now... }

Taking the opportunity offered to find the beings behind this catastrophe, Wesley cast a quick and dirty locator spell – and a grim smile creased his face, as the spell provided him with the coordinates of the spot from which the unexpected burst of arcane power had originated.

{ All right, then, } the centuries-old demon hunter and now Federally-authorized Vampire Executioner thought to himself, { there's no more time to waste. }

"Ted, I believe that our opponents are finally exercising whatever remains of their reserves," Wesley noted as the pair observed the scores of various corpses littering the urban battlefield around them begin stirring.

"Sonuvabitch," Ted swore as he saw the first of the now demonically-reanimated bodies push itself up off the macadam and begin tottering its way towards the group surrounding Anita.

"Go help protect the coven, my friend," Wesley suggested, giving Ted a light shove on his shoulder in the witches' direction. "It's even more urgent, now, that they complete the ritual than it was a moment ago, if it's come to this.

"On the plus side, however, our primary opponents’ action has finally allowed me to pinpoint their location," he added.

"They're in the sub-basement of the Royen building, there," Wesley informed his colleague as he indicated a building three down from them, on their left.

"Right, so what’s the plan?" Ted asked hurriedly.

"Get as many people as you can spare from Anita's defense, and then meet me there," Wesley directed the freelance hunter.

"And while you're ensuring both Anita's safety and her successful disruption of their ritual, I will do my best to frustrate our opponents' efforts to initiate Armageddon," the Immortal said, as he started towards the building he'd identified a moment before.

"We'll join you as quick as we can, Wes," Ted nodded, as he headed towards the coven to help reinforce the ranks ensuring their safety.

"Just try not to let yourself get killed, okay?" the merc called over his shoulder, even as he blasted away the knees of one of the zombie werebears starting to make its way towards the witches.

Absently nodding his assent, Wesley continued heading to the building in question, giving his special equipment a last minute inspection as he did so.

{ I'm sure that, were he still alive to witness it, whoever this 'Booster Gold' person was would appreciate my putting his equipment to a much more practical use than simply trying to pose as a so-called 'superhero,' } the one-time Watchers Council member thought to himself as he checked that the energy cells on both his combat suit and his gauntlets were fully charged and ready for use.

{ Although, from what I can recall of the expression on his face when he materialized during that battle in Vail's home and first caught sight of Cyrus Vail, I somehow doubt he expected to find himself appearing in the middle of an incipient apocalypse, } Wesley reminded himself with a grim smile.

The memories of Vail's sneering face as he sat in his throne-like chair, looking down at Wes as he lay dying – waiting for him to undergo his First Death, so that the demon warlock could steal his Quickening in order to rejuvenate and further empower himself – were seared forever in the former Englishman's mind.

As was the sight of a muscular blond youth, dressed in some formfitting bodysuit, who had abruptly materialized right in front of Vail, flamboyantly declaring, "Don't worry, people! Booster Gold's here to save the day!", in the moment before Wesley died.

The ex-Watcher had wondered for over a century exactly what sort of clash might have occurred following his First Death since, when he finally did awake some indefinite time later, Wes had discovered the corpses of both Vail and his would-be rescuer lying on the floor of Vail's ritual room, each of them showing signs of a fierce conflict. Vail's body had a hole nearly twice the size of a man's fist blown through his chest, while the blond-haired man's purple face seemed to indicate that he had either been choked to death or somehow suffocated from a lack of oxygen.

A mystery with no answers. Anyway, he'd then returned to Vail's home several days later, once he and the rest of the Reformed Council's forces had finished dealing with the army of hell-demons unleashed by Wolfram & Hart’s Senior Partners. And at that point Wes had basically looted Vail's home of all interesting, useful and/or dangerous arcane paraphernalia, and his unidentified savior's body of any still intact and undestroyed equipment.

Wesley had then spent several fruitless months, along with the majority of the Council's witches and warlocks, as well as the entire technical staff, trying to analyze the various devices recovered. Annoyingly, they’d learned only enough to realize that the equipment was clearly based on several fields of study currently completely unfamiliar to any person or facility known to the Council. It was also the opinion of several of the researchers, based on their findings, that this 'Booster Gold' person was either a traveler or a refugee from some metaphysically distant alternate dimension.

While the investigations had sparked the birth of several new and intriguing fields of scientific study, no one had ever been able to duplicate the equipment Booster had left behind. So Wesley had claimed the unquestionably unique equipment as his personal 'spoils of war,' and incorporated them into his own demon hunting techniques.

The armored, formfitting bodysuit, once he'd discovered how to control its chameleon-like appearance, was altered from its original rather garish eye-searing golden-yellow and navy to a mottled 'urban warfare' pattern. Subsequently, it had served its purpose – of protecting him from virtually all forms of melee and projectile weaponry – admirably, while the gauntlets he'd managed to salvage allowed him a limited number of energy-reinforced strikes capable of shattering steel structures.

Combining those capabilities with the legendary Icelandic enchanted sword Mistilteinn (a birthday present from his wonderful wife) and the two 10mm machine pistols he'd taken to carrying – and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce had truly become a force to be reckoned with, one more than worthy of standing side by side with any of the world's other Champions.

It had been the death of his wife and their unborn child in a car accident, six months into the blonde Slayer’s first pregnancy, which had come closer to destroying Wes than anything else he'd ever encountered in his long, apocalypse-filled life.

And it had only been his friendships with the still surviving Scooby Gang members which had enabled him to finally come to terms with Buffy's and their baby's deaths, although it had left a scar on his soul which had never really fully healed, quite unlike those on his body.

Despite that very public battle during 2004, the Awakening – the revelation of the existence of magic and the supernatural to the world at large – had occurred during the second decade of the twenty-first century. That was when several arcane portals had opened, simultaneously, in the middle of the Northamerican Nevadan, Australian Central and Southern Mongolian Gobi deserts, and hordes of insectoid demons had poured through, like water issuing from pipes.

The resulting deaths and widespread devastation had caused a major societal upheaval worldwide, as the chaos had spread almost everywhere. And so the Vampire Council had taken advantage of what appeared to once-in-a-lifetime (so to speak) opportunity, and had instructed their vampiric and lycanthropic minions to reveal themselves and fight with humanity, against the invaders.

And from that point onward, the world had changed significantly from the one Wesley had grown up in.

Be that as it may, though, the inevitable, and unavoidable, eventual deaths of everyone with whom he'd labored for so long in order to establish the Reformed Council of Slayers and Watchers had grown increasingly difficult to deal with. Cordelia, Xander, Dawn, Andrew, and even Willow the über-witch had all succumbed to the ravages of time – so he'd eventually left the Council in the hands of a handful of people he thought could best live up to the Scoobies' ideals and legacy, and Wesley had made his way alone into an exceedingly strange world.

Several months of consultations, soul-searching and contemplation had led Wesley to the decision that becoming a professional demon hunter was the career choice best suited to his interests and abilities, and so he'd made use of some of his by-now extensive contacts to acquire a vampire executioner license, as well as the status of a Federal Marshal.

And then, he'd gone out into the world and begun making his presence known. In more ways than one.

Shrugging off his somewhat depressing recollections, Wesley refocused his attention on the door in front of him and cast a quick cantrip to determine whether the building was warded against intruders.

"Indeed," Wes murmured to himself, as the spell alerted him to the fact that even touching the door handle would impart a lethal electrical shock. Well, 'lethal' being a relative term, of course.

"One would think they didn't want any visitors," he noted with a grim half-smile as he reached down and activated a control on his belt.

Instantly, Wesley felt an almost imperceptible sensation surround him – as though something had embraced or enfolded him in some sort of enclosure, and reached out, to grasp the door handle, absently noting in passing the large spark which was immediately absorbed by the force field covering him.

Easily ripping the door off its hinges and tossing it off to the side, Wesley quickly made his way down to the stairwell leading to the sub-basement he'd identified to Ted as the location of their opponents.

Pulling Mistilteinn with his right hand, Wyndam-Pryce almost negligently decapitated each of the four Master vampires which attacked him as he moved down the close confines of the stairwell and into the hallway leading to the room which, Wesley realized, had to hold the summoning circle their unseen enemy was invoking.

Kicking open the door, Wesley paused for a moment, examining and evaluating the interior of the room beyond.

To the right of the now-shattered door, a huge man dressed in black robes, trimmed in scarlet, was standing next to a sacrificial altar, which held nearly a dozen human hearts. The man appeared to be well over seven feet tall, and probably weighed over five hundred pounds, with very little of it mere fat, from what Wes could determine from his initial examination. The giant was chanting in a guttural, disturbing language which sent shivers down the spine of anyone listening to it.

Wesley was horrified to see a translucent greenish sphere hovering above the altar and the mound of hearts piled atop it, realizing that this was the portal through which the forces responsible for this catastrophe were pouring their malevolent influence.

Immediately to the left of the doorway stood a petite blonde woman, dressed in a white blouse and red leather jeans-style pants. Wes was stunned silent for a moment, as he gazed at her classically beautiful features.

"Hey, baby," the blonde smiled at him with an expression he remembered as always making his knees go weak. "It took you long enough to get down here.

"I've been waiting for you for far too long, y'know?" Buffy Wyndam-Pryce told him. "Now come here, darling, so I can give you a kiss you won't ever forget."

Wes stared at the petite blonde with a mixture of love and desire for another instant before he stepped forward with as a wide smile on his face, and the tiny beauty took her own step towards him.

An instant later, the smile on Wes' face transformed into an expression of rage and fury, and Mistilteinn, which was now glowing with an almost incandescent light, suddenly swung up and penetrated the woman's chest, slicing through her heart like a spike through warm butter.

With an expression of shock on it, Buffy's face abruptly shifted to that of an equally stunningly beautiful brunette, who gaped at him with disbelief – before looking down at the holy sword currently transfixing her.

"How –?" she began, before she was interrupted by Wes' enraged roar.

"You DARED use HER face to try and entice me?" the Immortal growled, as he lifted his now faintly-glowing left fist and drove it into the vampiress' horrified face.

The bloodsucker's head collapsed around his fist like a mass of modeling clay being hit by a sledgehammer before it was finally torn off by the impact, and Wes yanked Mistilteinn from the quickly decomposing body and spun to confront the still-chanting sorcerer

"Bech?" Wes then said in a disbelieving voice, as he finally caught an unobstructed look at the man's face. "Anita killed you last year – and you're not a vampire…"

Shrugging off the incongruity of the other man's presence at this point in time, Wes refocused his attention on the immediate priority – disrupting the ritual Bech was performing – and so he immediately leaped forward, driving Mistilteinn through Bech's torso, in an effort to halt the ritual.

Regrettably, the sorcerer more or less ignored Wes' attack, backhanding him away with a blow that would have killed a normal human being, and one which still shattered Wes' jaw and left him woozy for a long moment. In that brief interval, Bech pulled Mistilteinn out of his stomach and casually tossed it aside before resuming the ritual he'd been performing before Wesley interrupted him.

{ That can't really be Bech, } Wesley reasoned to himself as he pushed himself up off the floor and back to his feet, flashes of blue-white lightning appearing as his Quickening healed the damage to his body. { So, therefore, it must be some kind of demon. }

{ And therefore, it needs to either be exorcised from Bech's corpse, } he decided, { or Bech's corpse needs to be destroyed, so that it doesn't have anything material tying it to this plane. }

His plan decided upon, the demon hunter turned Federal Marshal reached over and grabbed Mistilteinn, even as he checked the readings on the energy cells powering his suit and gauntlets.

Agilely avoiding the next backhanded blow Bech's demon-possessed body swung at him as he darted forward, Wesley drove his sword into his opponent's right eye, feeling the momentary resistance as the blade's point grated for an instant against the back of his enemy's skull before releasing the sword entirely.

Ducking the retaliatory fist that drove at his head and feeling the brush of air as it missed his skull by only a fraction of an inch, Wyndam-Pryce then threw himself forward and latched onto the chest of the former sorcerer's corpse, his left hand seizing hold of the face while he slammed his right palm directly over the heart.

Unleashing the full power of both gauntlets – energy sufficient to blow a hole through three feet of the finest alloy steel – the decades-retired former Watcher smiled to himself as he felt Bech's body fragment into miniscule pieces from his assault, completely destroying whatever arcane energies it might have contained and focused, and which allowed the demon possessing it to remain in this dimension.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. But then again, it almost never was. The swirling energies which had been contained within Bech's cadaver reformed into a thin, but towering eighteen-foot-tall figure with long lizard-like legs, an elongated, serpentine neck and a vicious-looking beak. And Wesley quickly threw himself to his right to avoid a disemboweling swipe by the demon's long talons.

Over its shoulder, Wesley could see that the slowly growing portal was flashing an ever-changing rainbow of scintillating colors as it fluctuated chaotically with its control completely disrupted.

{ I only hope I've redeemed myself sufficiently for all my failings, so that I can finally see my darling Buffy again, } Wes thought to himself as he watched the portal explode outward in one last paroxysm of uncontrolled chaos, and then everything went black.

***

When Ted and his reinforcements arrived four and a half minutes later, Anita having finally succeeded in her work, all that remained in the sub-basement was an almost unbearable stench, some rotted fragments of a long-decayed corpse, and a handful of ashes to mark the apocalyptic battle.

~/~/~

The End?

You have reached the end of "There Can Be Far More Than One" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 16 Oct 13.

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