13.Inside the Wizard’s Citadel, Emerald City.
Turning quickly, Faith was just in time to shoot the first guard in the chest twice. A second guard stumbled over the body of the first but managed to get off a shot before Faith shot him too. The guard’s bullet flew wide of Faith’s head and ploughed into one of the computer banks; there was a loud *CRACK!* as the bullet smashed its way through the computer’s internal workings causing sparks to fly around the room and a small cloud of smoke to form over the damaged machine. Keeping the door from which the guards had appeared covered, Faith ran forward and started to pull the bodies clear of the door so she could close it.
“Hey, try an’ find another way out,” Faith called urgently.
Raising her own pistol, Cordy checked that it was loaded before heading off to search for a way out of what was rapidly starting to look like a trap. It didn’t take her long to discover there wasn’t another way out.
“Faith!” Cordy called across the room, “We’re stuck in here!”
“God-damn-it!” Faith snapped as she pushed the door closed and looked for something to barricade it with, “I’m open to any suggestions ya might feel like making.”
“Erm!” Cordy looked around; she could see no cunningly hidden secret doors, no air vents big enough to crawl through and no windows; her earlier assessment had been spot on, they were in deep crap!
“Well?” Faith asked as she heaved one of the computer banks into position in front of the door.
“Nothing,” Cordy moved to stand next to Faith, “we’re stuck in here.”
With a cry of alarm, Cordelia ducked down as half a dozen bullets ripped through the door, some smashed their way into the computers, others crashed through the door and impacted against the opposite wall.
“I think those guys are playing for keeps,” Faith announced as she searched the two dead guards for spare magazines.
“Y’think?” Cordy asked before adding, “I’m too young and pretty to die, there has to be a way…”
Cordelia’s voice faded away as her eyes drifted over to where the wizard hung in his web of cables and tubes. Desperately she tried to remember the episodes of Babylon 5 she’d watched with Xander Harris in his smelly, damp, basement. God, she must have been so lame to date him. Telling herself to suck it up and not let her mind get off track, Cordelia concentrated on her memories of that one particular episode, the one were the guys from the space station thing had got inside the planet and found the old guy who controlled the entire world. He’d been dying and machine needed a replacement, if it didn’t get a replacement then the machine would…
“I got an idea,” Cordy announced as more bullets ripped through the door.
“Will it get us outta here?” Faith wanted to know as they hunkered down behind their barricade.
“I don’t know,” Cordy admitted, “but I doubt it’ll make things any worse.” She took a deep breath, “You hold them here, I’ll go do my thing, okay?”
“You’re the boss, Marine,” Faith called as she watched Cordy crawl away across the floor.
“Only when it suits you, Ranger!” Cordy called back.
As soon as she thought she was out of the line of fire from the rounds passing through the door, Cordelia stood up and ran towards where the wizard was suspended. For a moment she stood and looked up at the husk of a man that hung there surrounded by wires, cables and tubes, she looked at all the flashing lights and dials that obviously monitored the wizard’s health and that of the city. For a moment she wondered how anyone could let this happen to themselves. Slowly she started forward and began to disconnect the wizard from the machine, it didn’t take her long to realise that it would take her longer than the door would hold out to completely disconnect the man from the machine. There had to be another way; almost as she thought the thought a solution popped into her mind. Stepping away from the wizard she raised her pistol and pointed it at the old man.
“Sorry,” Cordy shrugged, “but I don’t want to die just yet.”
Aiming for the wizard’s head, Cordy emptied her pistol into him; things started to happen almost immediately. Lights flashed urgently, warning buzzers buzzed for attention, the lights in the room flickered and the tapes in the computer banks started to whiz backwards and forwards faster and faster until some of the tapes broke and the spools span madly.
“What the hell did you do?” Faith demanded as she ran around the corner of the computer bank and slid to a halt next to Cordy; her eyes drifted up to where the headless body of the wizard hung covered in blood and brains, “Oh!” she gasped, “So that’s what ya had in mind.”0=0=0=0
Deep under the citadel in a heavily reinforced bunker the Orgone Accumulator started to shiver and shake like a living thing. Warning lights flashed as the Accumulator’s internal temperature started to rise. Pressure valves vented clouds of super heated magical plasma, but still the internal pressures within the containment vessels continued to rise. The accumulator was still collecting the free floating magical Orgones that powered the city and gave the wizard his far reaching influence. But at the same time the wizard’s spells were starting to become unravelled all over Oz.
The Wicked Witch felt it in her field headquarters behind the lines of her troops deployed around the Emerald City. Smiling she ordered her troops to start their advance. Soon her forces would blast their way into the city and overwhelm the city’s security forces. They'd be no match for her brave, flying monkeys, the Emerald City relied too heavily on magic for its defences and now the magic was gone.
But still, deep under the city the accumulator kept on accumulating, putting more and more pressure on the containment vassal. No mater how much pressure the safety valves released, it would never be enough because now the mind that had directed the titanic forces contained within the accumulator was splattered across the walls of the control room.
Of course neither Faith nor Cordy knew anything about this; but they were soon to find out.0=0=0=0
“Yeah,” Cordy replied uncertainly as the room began to shake like they were in a minor earthquake, “shouldn’t you be guarding the door or something.”
“Pointless,” Faith admitted with a shrug, “there’s nothing I can do to stop ‘em getting in looks like our times up, Marine.”
“Hey!” Cordy looked at her comrade in arms in surprise, “Where’s that ‘never say die’ Ranger spirit,” Cordy tried to sound as if she meant it, “Where there’s life there’s…”
“WARNING! WARNING!” announced a voice like doom, “Orgone Accumulator containment vessel breach will occur in ten minutes. All personnel have ten minutes to reach minimum safe distance.”
“WHAT!” the two young women chorused as they stared at each other in shook.
“I thought ya said it couldn’t make things worse!” Faith demanded as the shaking got more violent and things started to fall over.
“How the hell was I supposed to know that it would all turn to crap?” Cordy demanded as the voice announced they only had nine minutes to reach minimum safe distance. “It didn’t happen like this on Babylon 5!”
“You mean ya based ya plan on some stupid, kid’s sci-fi TV show?” Faith screamed into Cordy’s face as the voice pointed out calmly they now only had eight minutes to get to the safe zone.
“Babylon 5 wasn’t a stupid kid’s show,” Cordy found herself defending Xander Harris’ choice of viewing pleasure, “it was well scripted and intelligent and for its time the special effects were ground breaking!”
“Hold it!” Faith cried over the sound of warning sirens and steam venting into the room as it rocked wildly from side to side, “Why are we arguing about this?”
“I don’t know,” Cordy replied hotly as the voice announced the passing of another minute, “you started it by saying B5 was a kid's show!”
“Whatever,” Faith shrugged resignedly as she realised the futility of trying to escape or even argue about whether Babylon 5 was a good show or not, “I don’t suppose ya know just how far minimum safe distance is?”
“Further than we could run in what…?” as if on cue the voice announced the passing of another minute, “Six minutes.”
“Yeah,” Faith caught hold of Cordy as she stumbled against her, “looks like everyone else has gone,” Faith pointed to the door that wasn’t being torn apart by bullets any more, “lets get outta here.”
Walking over to the door, Faith pushed the computer to one side and kicked open what remained of the door. Strolling out into the audience chamber they found it deserted by all but the dead. The room shook violently and pieces of plaster fell from the ceiling as they continued on to the centre of the room.
“I wonder if the witch would have sent us home,” Faith asked.
“I doubt it,” Cordy sulked, “she’d have tried to have us killed and we'd spend years fighting her until we won then we’d be stuck ruling the place.”
Another minute marched on by.
“Hell,” Faith took hold of Cordy’s hand and pulled her down to sit on the floor next to her, “that’s gloomy.”
“Yeah,” Cordy agreed, “and a major brake on my career plans too.”
“So what did ya wanna be?” Faith brushed plaster dust from her shoulder.
“First female Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Cordy announced confidently, “you?”
“Oh nothin’ so grand,” Faith laughed as another minute waved goodbye over its shoulder, “I just wanted to retire with a load of medals and grow old an’ fat…maybe be a sheriff in a one horse town or somethin’.”
“Sheriff Lehane!” Cordy laughed.
“You have one minute to reach minimum safe distance,” the voice prompted.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege, Cordy,” Faith squeezed Cordelia’s hand.
“Right back at you, Faith” Cordy replied as she listened to the voice give the final count down; she sighed sadly as the voice continued its inexorable journey towards one and finally zero, she held on tightly to Faith’s hand and announced quite calmly, “I wish I’d drunk more champagne.”
“Zero,” said the voice.0=0=0=0
The engineers who’d designed and built the bunker in which the Orgone Accumulator had been housed had done their work well. The bunker walls held together just long enough to channel nearly all the magical energy upwards. Of course Faith and Cordy were vaporised a fraction of a second after the containment vessel finally breached, as was most of the wizard’s palace. A hole was blasted in the dome above the palace and many nearby buildings were destroyed or badly damaged within the city itself.
However, the damage was nowhere near as devastating or wide spread as had been feared. In fact had Faith and Cordelia started to run when they’d got the first warning they’d have in all likelihood have reached ‘minimum safe distance’. The Wicked Witch’s troops who were advancing on the Emerald City as the Accumulator exploded received casualties as flying monkeys tumbled out of the air after being hit by the shock wave. However, these losses were slight and did little to stem their advance.
Closing with the city, flying monkeys from the 103rd’s Combat Engineer Battalion rushed forward with demolition charges and blew down the city’s gates. Before the smoke had cleared, assault troopers had entered the city and gunned down the few members of the city’s security forces that tried to resist. Within ten minutes of entering the city all resistance had ceased and the flying monkeys had joined the citizens in their rescue operations.
True to her word the Wicked Witch did try to find Faith and Cordelia and once the truth of their actions was learnt she directed that a statue should be built in the main plaza to commemorate their bravery; she also directed that High Schools should be named after the two heroes. Secretly the Wicked Witch was glad that the two human women had died as she’d no real idea if she could have sent them home. In fact she doubted that even the Wizard himself could have sent them on their way. No, she told herself, it was better this way the human women were heroes and heroes would have objected to her plans and the long retirement for which all her plans for the last hundred years would have been for nought had she had to fight the heroes.
But sometimes, in later years, as she sat on her sun lounger sipping a tall, cool drink on a beach somewhere, she’d remember Faith and Cordy and shed a little green tear.0=0=0=0Kansas.
The Springfield Volunteer Fire Department truck sped along the bumpy country road, every so often the driver would have to swerve to avoid a piece of wreckage left behind by the storm. The twister had come out of nowhere, it had been one of the largest that anyone could remember, but it had done relatively little damage. Some out lying farms had been hit badly but the twister hadn’t come anywhere near Springfield itself.
Truck Number Two and its crew had been despatched to investigate reports of a helicopter that had crashed near one of the narrow country roads that criss-crossed the area. Coming over a slight rise the crew saw the small, bug-like chopper embedded nose down in a drainage ditch. The fire truck screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust and fire fighters jumped down from the cab and quickly got to work. After deploying hoses in case of fire, two firefighters with paramedic training advanced on the helo.
Peering into the cab of the chopper the firefighters saw the crew slumped over the controls. The firefighters looked at each other hopefully, the two women where still strapped into their seats and they didn’t appear to be suffering from any major trauma. Reaching out to the female soldier in the passenger seat one of the firefighters checked her pulse.
“We've got a live one!” he called to his buddy.
“Same here,” the other firefighter confirmed as his patient groaned and rolled her head. “Hold on Marine,” the firefighter quickly and efficiently slipped a brace around Cordy’s neck, “we’ll soon have you out of here.”
More firefighters with stretchers and tools rushed over to help pull the two women from the chopper. An ambulance was called and swiftly arrived just as Cordy and Faith were pulled from the wreckage. As they carried the downed pilot and her passenger to the ambulance, Lt Cordelia Chase, USMC was heard to moan; “Champagne…”So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road.*The End.
*: 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', Sir Elton John.0=0=0=0Author's Notes.
Two chapters and the finale tonight. The normal posting schedule would have meant that at least one chapter would have been posted on a Saturday night. I've noticed this isn't good idea.
Right, I've got two Fita stories left; one is nearly all about Cordy and the other has Faith and Cordy returning to Yemalia. There was a third but I'm going to have to do a massive rewrite on that one, basically scrap it and start again! After that I don't know what I'm going to do with this series, but more of that at a later date.
Lastly (Thank god I hear you moan), reading this through again I find I really
like the idea of Faith being a super-soldier and not a slayer. I wish I'd thought of it earlier and made it the sub-plot for the entire series.