God damn it! How the hell could she have forgotten this was going to happen? Faith watched as Riley and Grae picked Oz and Amy off the floor while the Earth still shook around them.
“What’s wrong with them?” Kawalsky demanded.
“It’s the reality breach,” Willow yelled over the sound of shattering glass. “The power from it causes non-humans, like witches, werewolves, or aliens, to pass out.”
Yeah, and it was a huge pain in the ass. This was a delay they couldn’t afford. Faith remembered full well how disorientating passing out from these things were. God, the last time it happened, Jacob had been useless afterwards.
“Same thing used to happen to me and Red before the Powers fixed us,” Faith added. “We’re going to have to leave them behind.”
Grae tore his gaze away from his girlfriend. “As happy as the thought of leaving Amy behind makes me, we can’t fight the demons without her. Amy is the only other real witch here, aside from Willow. We’ll need her.”
He didn’t need to point that out to her. “We can’t sit around and wait for her to come to.” Even though the ‘quake had now stopped, they were useless to them. “It’ll take her too long to recover.” The demons and witch were here. “We have to move, NOW.”
“Faith’s right. We can’t risk the demons getting off the mountain.”
Up until this minute, Faith didn’t actually think that the demons would leave the mountain. She had figured that the Seer and her pets would wait until Red came to them. It was a good theory, but it kind of fell over if the Seer knew that reality breaches caused mystical beings to pass out, which considering the whole Seer thing, was a big
possibility. More than likely, they were going to try to catch Red when she was at her most vulnerable. They probably didn’t know that Red – all of them who had been affected – had been fixed by The Powers That Be.
“Kawalsky!” Faith shouted, pushing her current line of thought from her mind. “Get the weapons ready. We leave in two minutes.”
“If Amy and Oz have to stay behind, then we’re going with you,” Zack announced from behind her.
Faith’s eyes momentarily closed before she turned to face her brother. “You can’t.” She should’ve known he would have wanted to join the fight. In any other situation, she probably would have readily accepted his help but things were different now that she was a Slayer.
“You’re two men down and both of us can fight.” Zack motioned between himself and Tyler, who was standing just to his left. “You need us.”
“You’re right, I do need you… Here. Zack, if we lose this, then we’re screwed.” Faith looked over to see where Red was standing. The witch was too close. “Come with me.” Zack and Tyler followed her into the kitchen. She waited until the door swung shut before continuing. “If the Seer succeeds in taking Red, things will be bad.” Actually, if the Seer took Red, Faith was going after her.
“We know that,” Tyler said.
“If they take her but don’t kill her, then we still have a chance with Daniel,” Faith told them. “And we’re going to need every other Warrior for The Powers That Be here fighting if that happens. That means you have to find the people on that list Danny gave us. Buffy Summers, Xander Harris, Cordelia Chase, Charles Gunn, Wesley Wyndham-Price…. And I’m not talking about knowing where they are. We’re going to need all of them here
. Even if we win against the Seer, we’re going to need them.” B had said something to her just before Faith returned, something that had her gut telling her the whole ‘gang’ needed to be together.
“We can look for them once we’ve killed The Seer and all the demons,” Zack argued.
Faith shook her head. “You need to get on it now. Right after you take Amy and Oz to the tunnels.”
“On the desk in my room is a map to some tunnels Jacob and I created before our new friends arrived.” Faith held up her hand when her brother started to speak. “I’ve marked exactly where the tunnels are and how to get there. Take as many supplies as you can and set up camp. In a few hours two Tok’ra operatives will arrive. They’ll explain the tunnels to you.”
She cut him off. “It’s important that you don’t come to the rescue. We’re going to fight like hell to win this battle, but we need a plan B in case we don’t. You two are in charge of plan B.”
“I don’t like it.”
“You don’t have to like it; you just have to do it.” Faith started to turn around but hesitated. “Zack, if something happens to me, not that I’m planning it, but if something does happen to me… tell Oz and Amy they need to find the next Slayer.”
“The next Slayer?” Tyler repeated, frowning in confusion.
“Don’t ask me to explain, we don’t have time. If I die, they need to find the new Slayer.”
Zack opened his mouth, but was cut off by a voice from the living room.
“Faith!” Kawalsky’s voice came through the kitchen door. “We’re moving out.”
The Slayer reached out and gripped her brother’s hand, silently holding his gaze. She studied his face carefully, memorizing every feature. If things screwed up, she would never see him again.
“Stay alive, Faith,” Zack said, squeezing her hand back.
“You, too.” ~ * ~ * ~
It had started.
Daniel met Sam’s eyes, not surprised to see them full of fear. The quake had stopped and now… now the fight they had all been dreading had begun.
He would give his right arm to have Buffy, Angel and the Scoobies by their side.
“Dr Jackson?” The General was studying him closely. “Are you ready to move out?”
He shook his head. As much as he wanted to, he couldn’t. “Not yet.”
Like he’d expected, the General gaped at him.
Daniel didn’t wait for the question he knew the General was going to ask before he began. “Everything that happens from here on in has to be perfectly timed. It’s why the Powers That Be plan to send us a, er, sign when the time is right,” he said, carefully editing his words so as to not accidentally ‘out’ Sam. The last thing they needed right now was for the General to discover she was a Seer.
Just as the last thing they needed was to show up on the mountain a little too early.
“The Powers That Be are going to send us a sign?” the General repeated, not bothering to keep the disbelief from his tone.
He couldn’t help it, Daniel smiled. “It’s difficult to explain, sir, but trust me on this. Or, rather, trust Angel. He was the one who told me under no circumstances can we send troops to the mountain before the Powers give the okay.” He assumed this was because no one in this military facility stood a chance against these demons.
Daniel wondered if they
had a chance against the demons.
After all, he and Willow’s power was completely untested. No one knew for certain what the final separation had changed. It was why the Powers were so involved… well, one of the reasons at least. “This battle can’t be won by numbers.” It would be won by power. “Any unnecessary troops out there will only be cannon fodder. The Powers want the entire battled to be as control as…” Daniel’s words fell away as he caught the look on the General’s face. “General Hammond, what’s wrong?”
He… he looked guilty.
His stomach dropped to his feet. “You sent teams onto the mountain, didn’t you?” Please, God, no! Daniel couldn’t think of anything…. Wait! “Where’s Teal’c?” ~ * ~ * ~
“Pull over here,” Faith ordered, her eyes going to the top of the mountain. It looked different to her now, thanks to B, and she was going to do everything in her power to make sure the mountain, the world, stayed like this.
Her world was not going to become the wasteland the Magic Reality had become.
She stepped out of the car and her entire body went immediately on alert.
Her senses were going batshit. Not just Ky’s senses, but her Slayer sense. Her skin crawled, her body throbbed with adrenalin. She could sense, hell, she could practically smell the power, the evil… and it took everything she had not to run up the mountain.
Her entire essence yearned for a fight.
“Faith, are you okay?”
Damn. “I’m cool, Red,” she replied, giving the witch her most convincing smile.
Which, considering Red’s frown, was not all that convince.
“All right, Faith, we’re all here, what’s the plan?”
She blinked. Kawalsky was right. The three cars transporting them here were parked in front of her and everyone was out of their vehicles, looking at her expectantly… and Faith hadn’t heard a damn thing.
Her new Slayer powers were more distracting than she realized. Not
something she needed to discover right before a fight.
“Faith, are you sure you’re all right?” Red asked, looking worried.
Faith took a deep breath and ignored Ky’s subtle concern. “I’m fine, really.”
“And if she’s not, she’s going to have to be,” Kawalsky stated. “Everyone is going to need their wits about them for this.”
Including Red who still
didn’t look good.
“So, Faith,” Pops began. “You said you know how we can win this. So, what’s the plan?”
Faith reached behind her and pulled the dagger tucked in the back of her pants and held it over the palm of her hand. “My blood.” ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The room was quiet, too quiet. It set Sam’s teeth on edge. She didn’t have to be a Seer to know Daniel was angry.
“General, where’s Teal’c?” he repeated the question.
Sam knew and so did Daniel. The fact that he wasn’t here only meant one thing.
“I had no choice, son. The President gave the order.”
“How many teams?” Daniel asked, his face belied his devastation.
Daniel didn’t say a word, instead he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Daniel asked the General. “The Powers didn’t want anyone there because they would be cannon fodder or, worse, hostages! Now, instead of fighting the demons, our energy will be spent on saving their lives! These creatures aren’t aliens, they aren’t the Goa’uld. The Seer will be able to sense them from miles
away! She can capture them with a thought
. The Seer is a witch, like me and Willow. The Seer will sense them and use them to her advantage!”
Sam gasped. “Willow will try to save Teal’c.” She loved him as much as Daniel. God, who was she kidding? They would try to save every member of the four teams. “We have to warn her, warn the Colonel.”
Daniel shook his head. “They’ll be on their way to the mountain now, if they’re not already there. We could expose their position if we contact them by phone.”
“What about telepathically?”
Another shake of the head. “The Powers are still shielding us from one another and it will take more power than I’m willing to expend to break through them. Besides, I’m not sure what will happen if Willow’s senses my magic.” Sam had to agree. Daniel seemed to be barely holding it together as it was. Add grief to the mix and it could be a disaster.
“Maybe we could warn Teal’c.”
Daniel sighed. “Demons have enhanced hearing. If we activate the radios, we’ll give them away. If I try to contact them with magic… that
will definitely give them away. We can’t help them. They’re completely cut off from us.”
Until she had a vision. Prior to this, Sam hadn’t wanted her visions.
Now, she wanted one more than anything.~ * ~ * ~ * ~
“Your blood?” Jack repeated. “Personally, I would’ve preferred an Ion Cannon.” Or the SGC. Jack really didn’t give a damn what Faith said. Even if their weapons were useless, he still would have preferred having a couple of teams from the SGC with them. After all, they all knew how to fight without
Hey, they even had a collection of swords at the SGC now.
Faith rolled her eyes. “Blood’s not for you, Pops.” She looked to Willow. “It’s for Red.”
No. No! Absolutely not! “You do remember what happened the last time your blood mixed with Willow’s?” Things became extremely interesting after that happened. If Faith hadn’t tried that stupid blood oath the first time, they wouldn’t have gone to ‘876 without Willow and maybe, just maybe, she and Daniel might not have blended souls.
“Jack’s right, Faith, my system can’t cope with your blood,” Willow said.
“It can now,” she said, smiling almost smugly. “B told me when we were together The Powers fixed you, just like they fixed the rest of us. I mean, before The Powers took me, I was as vulnerable to reality breaches as Amy and Oz are.”
“They may have ‘fixed’ me, Faith, but you don’t know that I could take that kind of boost given the state I’m in. I mean, we don’t even know the extent my power has changed due to the separation.”
“Actually, I kinda do know. Not about the power, but about the blood. B told me we could do it, she was the one who gave me the idea.”
“Buffy told you?” Jack repeated. “So, what, your plan is to give Willow a power boost?” As far as plans went, it wasn’t a bad one. Not all that complete, but it didn’t totally suck.
Faith’s eyes didn’t leave Willow’s. “Yeah. Red’s weak now, if I give her a boost it’ll give us all an edge.” And it will get things moving. More than ever she was itching to go into battle.
Was this what her life was going to be like now? Yearning to hunt, kill?
“Look, you just gotta trust me on this. It’ll work and it’s the only way we’re going to win. B showed me what those demons can do. We’re not going to stand a chance against them without it. They tore
through that Slayer. Only a few of you have access to magic, and it’s all Red’s. How the hell are you guys going to channel her magic when we don’t even know if she’s powerful enough to save herself?”
Jesus, they were screwed, all of them.
“B wouldn’t suggest this if it would hurt Willow or if it put us out of the picture for any amount of time. It’ll be a power boost, that’s all. Her body will handle it.”
No one said a word.
Except Willow. “I’ll do it.”
Jack’s heart sank. He didn’t like. Not one damn bit… but then he liked the alternative even less. “If things go badly, I’m going to call the SGC, get some troops on the mountain.” He wanted the rest of his team here, including
“You got it, Pops. But if it doesn’t, we do things the Powers’ way.”
This was a bad
idea. ~ *~ *~ * ~
It was a nightmare, all of it. God, he was so stupid. He should have known something like this had happened. He knew
the SGC, what they were like.
Why did he not try to prevent something like this from happening?
“I’m going to call The President.”
“It’s going to be okay, Daniel,” Sam assured him.
Not for the first time since this whole nightmare began, he wasn’t sure. ~ *~ *~ * ~
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Grae asked, eyeing both Willow and Faith nervously.
Willow nodded. “If Buffy said it was okay, then it’s okay.” Giles – her Giles – had said they never left her, and she believed it. She also believed that her friends would never tell her wrong.
“Let’s do this.”
Faith nodded, took a deep breath, then sliced the palm of her hand.
“Not too deep,” Samantha cautioned. “You still need to hold a sword.”
“It’s cool,” her friend said.
Willow didn’t wait for the dagger, she used the sword to slice her hand ever so slightly. There wasn’t much blood, but it would be enough.
Faith held her hand out. “Okay, well…”
Taking a deep breath, Willow closed her hands over Faith’s.
At first, she didn’t feel anything. Then, it hit her. Her eyes widened as the power exploded inside of her. She staggered at the impact, the only thing stopping her from hitting the ground were the four hands she could feel at her back.
She could hear swearing beside her, but she couldn’t see
anything… even though her eyes were open.
All she could see, feel and taste was power… A power that didn’t feel foreign at all. No, it was familiar. So familiar that it made her heart slam against her chest. She had only felt something like this once before, but it was something she could never forget.
It was power she had felt when she, Giles, Xander and Buffy had merged to fight Adam.
She was feeling the power of a Slayer. ~ * ~ * ~Damn
Faith struggled to breathe as the power flowed through her. It made her a little unsteady on her legs, but not enough to hit the ground. No, she didn’t feel off balance at all.
If anything, she felt as though nothing could knock her over.
She couldn’t quite explain it. It felt different than before, when she had tried to access Willow’s powers on the Ha’tak or when they first did the blood oath. It was… It felt as though she had so much energy her body was about to explode with it. It didn’t make her Slayer Powers feel any more enhanced – though she wasn’t so sure about what it would do with Ky’s power – more than anything she felt stronger
… so did Ky.
A whole lot stronger.
A smile crept onto her face. It was going to work. B’s plan was going to…
The words in her mind halted when she brought her eyes up to Red’s face. Instead of looking energized, like Faith felt, she looked devastated.
“What did they do to you?” The words were barely audible.
“What did they do to me?” she repeated, confused.
Faith froze... No… Red… Red couldn’t have sense her Slayer Powers, could she? Her stomach dropped to her feet.
Like hell she couldn’t! Damn
. ~ *~ *~
If he was a lesser man, Jack would be screaming a big ‘I told you so’ right about now. Oh, both women were standing and there were no comas, but something was definitely wrong.
“Is everything all right?” Jack asked, his eyes quickly going to Jenny and the Professor. Both were watching Willow with the same unease Jack felt. Willow was upset, but he couldn’t tell how
upset. Jack could sense magic coming from her… but the problem was he had been feeling it from the moment Willow and Faith’s blood blended. He couldn’t tell if this was ‘I’m pissed as hell’ power or just power.
She was looking at Faith like she had grown a second head… or taken on a Tok’ra symbiote. It was the exact same expression Jack had seen when Willow first felt Kyanna after Faith returned from the Tok’ra Homeworld.
Both woman remained silent, as though they hadn’t heard his question.
“Red,” Faith began, “I…”
“Don’t!” Willow said, moving away from the brunette. “Don’t!”
He was beginning to lean towards ‘pissed as hell’ power…
“They gave me a choice, Red,” Faith said calmly, her words echoing the same conversation they had had when Willow found out about Ky.
Which, of course, didn’t make an ounce of sense because Willow already knew about Ky.
“They gave you a choice
?” Willow repeated, almost laughing. “They never give
any of the girls choices.”
“What are they talking about?” Jack heard Miller ask.
“I’m not sure,” Riley Finn mumbled in response. “But I know we don’t have time for this.”
No, they didn’t… although Jack wasn’t sure interrupting them would be a good idea either. Willow had just lost Daniel and, from what she was saying to Faith, it appeared that the Powers had done something to Faith.
This was not
going to end well.
“B gave me the choice, Red, not the Powers.”
“What was the choice?” Willow wanted to know.
“Whatever your thinking, Red, that wasn’t the choice.”
“Oh, so they didn’t give you a choice of being a Slayer or watching us all die a painful death facing the big powerful demons they
?” Charlie repeated, looking between the two women. “They made you a Slayer?”
Faith’s opened her mouth to reply, but instead of speaking she froze.
“What’s wrong?” Kawalsky wanted to know.
Faith tilted her head to the side. “Did you guys hear that?”
“I heard screaming.”
“I didn’t hear anything,” Miller said. “But then I don’t have preternatural senses.”
Preternatural senses? “You know what, I think we said…” The rest of the Jack’s words were lost in the horrific scream that pierced the air. That
scream everyone heard.
“Move! Now!” Willow screamed.
Without hesitation, the rest of them followed Willow up the mountain. No one said a word as they ran, the screams making it impossible to hear even if they had. What started as one scream, now sounded like a chorus of them. The sound chilled Jack to the core. He knew pain and he was more than a little familiar with the sound a man truly made when he was being tortured…
This was that sound.
It took them far too long, but when they reached the top of the mountain and Jack’s eyes took in the sight of what – who – he was seeing in front of him, he knew one thing…