CJ Cregg & the Uninvited Guest, and others
"I'm sorry, CJ', said Lord Marbury, "But I'm afraid duty calls. It will take me a few minutes to deal with this situation; would you mind circulating for a bit while I do so ? There are any number of people here who are dying to speak with you".
"Too many of them for my taste", replied CJ. "But as you say, duty calls".
He walked over to the small group of notables with a beaming smile, and greeted the Minister and his party.
CJ noted that while all of the group wore formal wear, in some cases it didn't fit them very well. That wasn't a surprise; professors and artists didn't always have large wardrobes, in her experience, and some of these tuxedos would have been supplied by the Ministry for the occasion. The Minister himself, of course, was impeccably garbed.
It was his "adviser", however, who really stood out. His tuxedo fit perfectly, his shirt practically glowed, his shoes shone like mirrors, and he wore a scarlet lined cloak over everything. He was tall and lean, with long black hair tied back, and carried a cane topped with a silver wolf's head. The overall effect was striking and a bit old-fashioned, as if he'd stepped out a historical romance novel. He smiled genially, if a bit wolfishly.
His black eyes met hers, and her breath caught. They were fascinating...mesmerizing. Without thinking, she began walking towards him.
"I know of your interest in historical curiosities, Minister", said Lord Marbury, "and it happens that I've recently stumbled across something that might pique your interest. Perhaps you and your adviser might accompany me to the Library ?..." He took the Minister's arm and began leading him towards a hallway in the back of the room. The adviser followed, looking amused.
Unnoticed, CJ followed him.
Equally unnoticed, two of the waitresses followed her.
The small group walked down the hallway, until ambassador Marbury stopped at a door on the right side. He opened the door and ushered the Minister and his adviser inside. CJ entered a moment later.
The room was small; and oddly for a library there was only one book. It was displayed on a table in the center of the room - a large volume, obviously old, with the word "Vampyre" on the cover.
The Minister looked a bit confused, and his adviser was beginning to look angry.
The two waitresses entered behind CJ, and the redheaded one closed the door behind them. CJ heard the lock click, and from his sudden start so did the adviser. He wasn't looking at all genial now.
"You know", said Lord Marbury, "I suddenly find myself rather parched. Dawn, is that water you've got there ?"
"Yes sir", said he slender brunette, pouring a glass from a heavy pitcher and offering it to the ambassador. He drank with gusto.
"Much better", he said, "perhaps a glass for the ambassador and his associate as well ?"
"Dawn" poured another glass and offered it to the Minister, who shrugged and began to sip. He suddenly jerked, and an expression came over him as if he'd suddenly realized something. He turned and looked at his adviser with terror. He leaped backwards.
The adviser snarled, and Dawn threw the contents of the pitcher in his face. She then smashed the pitcher itself over his head, and stepped back.
The man dropped his cane. His face was burning and melting, as if he'd been splashed with acid. CJ pressed herself back against a wall as the features shifted, the eyes turned yellow and the teeth lengthened and sharpened. He roared with rage and pain, and the redhead moved in.
Her foot came around in a roundhouse kick to the head, and she followed that with palm strike to the chin, a spearhand to the throat, and a hard stamp to the right instep. The vampire threw a punch which the redhead easily dodged, then he grabbed her with both hands and tossed her across the room.
He stepped towards the brunette, who held up a cross pulled from beneath her apron. The creature recoiled, and from the other side of the room the redhead threw a stake which struck dead center in his chest.
He swayed, and began to dissolve...first to bone, then to dust, and finally to smoke. The smoke drifted outwards, then suddenly flowed to a corner and coalesced.
An instant later, the creature stood in the corner, defiant. He reached out his hand and the dropped cane flew into his grasp. Ambassador Marbury pressed a crucifix into CJ's hands, saying, "dreadfully sorry about all this, Claudia". The vampire held the cane just below the silver head, twisted it, and drew a slim straight blade nearly three feet long.
The redhead reached to the back of her belt and drew a single-edged knife, which CJ thought looked Japanese. For a second, no one moved.
Then the creature lunged, the redhead sidestepped, and she slashed downwards across his extended wrist. As he dropped his blade and pulled back, she backhanded him across the throat. He staggered, a gaping but bloodless wound clearly visible. as the redhead stepped in, he seemed to partially dissolve, his form distorting as they watched.
The next instant, a huge wolf crouched in front of them, fangs bared and ears laid back. It leaped at the girl, who struck upwards with both hands, throwing the beast up and away. She was on it before it could recover, pulling the head back with one hand and sawing at the throat with her blade. The wolf began to shift again, shrinking and squirming, and the redhead was suddenly empty handed.
A large bat materialized in mid air and flew at the girl's eyes, and she slapped it down, then stepped forward, pinning it to the floor with her left foot. She leaned down and cut off the head.
The bat turned to smoke, and was gone.
They were meeting in the embassy kitchen, which was not what CJ was used to but which the others seemed to take in stride.
"We do a lot of our post-mission stuff around the kitchen table", said Dawn Summers. "That way, the Slayers can eat while they report; which can actually be a little gross sometimes, but they need to recharge after a fight".
The redhead was hunched over a plate that would have fit right in at a professional football team's training table. She nodded in agreement but didn't stop eating.
"I'm sorry that you got dragged into this", Dawn continued. "You shouldn't have been, but I guess he must have caught your eye back in the ballroom. You got a touch of thrall. That's not a big deal; Buffy's been thralled a couple of times, one of them maybe by him. It shouldn't have any long term effect".
"Except the part where she chases cars sometimes", said the redhead.
"Yeah, but it's not like she ever actually catches any of them", said Dawn.
"Is this Slayer humor ?", asked CJ. She hoped
that's all it was.
"Mary Elizabeth is a Slayer", answered Dawn. "I'm a Watcher. And like I said, I apologize; we kind of threw this op together on short notice. We didn't get suspicious until we got a tip about a 'Sold' sign on a castle in Georgetown, and we had to set this up on the fly".
"There's a castle
in Georgetown ?", asked CJ.
"That was the suspicious part", said the redhead while mashing up a loaded baked potato.
"Do you actually have any vegetables with that ?", asked Dawn.
"I've got fruit", said the redhead, pointing to the apple pie next to her plate.
"Okay, then", said Dawn. She turned back to CJ and continued, "He always
has a castle, and a coffin with his native soil, and a cape, and minions...especially
minions. In this case, it was the Minister of Culture, who got him in here. The holy water was mostly for the Minister, by the way, to break the thrall. It would have been nice if we could have gotten the vamp to drink it too, but we didn't really expect to. We were actually hoping to catch him at the castle, but the beta team got there too late. They did catch his brides, though".
"He always has them, too", said the redhead. "Usually three of them...(cough)*skanks*
"So that was really who I think it was ?", asked CJ.
"Yeah, although we're not sure if he's the original
who-you-think-he-was", replied Dawn. "It might be kind of a franchise deal, like the Dread Pirate Roberts. Also, he might not be all the way dead. Supposedly, that shape shifting thing is gypsy magic, maybe just a glamour; but whatever it is, it makes it hard to be sure of anything".
"So he might be back ?", CJ inquired.
"Probably not here", replied Dawn. "since Buffy ran him out of Sunnydale, he's generally avoided crossing her path".
Buffy Summers had run Dracula
out of Sunnydale ? That hadn't been in her briefing material.
"Anyway, his usual deal is to try to infiltrate the target group before turning anybody, so it figured that he might show up tonight, 'cause it's a target-rich environment; and we were already planning to be here anyway, so it kind of came together", said Dawn.
"Why were you planning to be here ?", asked CJ.
"The embassy often hires extra help for the catering staff, for large events", said Lord John. "Dawn and Mary Elizabeth have worked here before. It gives them an opportunity to observe things, without being observed themselves".
"I waitressed in college, for a while", said CJ. "You're right...lots of people don't really look at their waitress. It could be a good option for somebody working undercover".
"It's not just a cover", Dawn said. "We don't charge for slaying, and we still have bills to pay. Slayers have to eat just like anyone else".
Lord John glanced over at the petite redhead, who seemed to be inhaling her second T-bone steak without bothering to chew. He replied "If you believe that, miss Summers, then one can only assume that you've never actually seen
anyone else eat".
Dawn laughed. "Yeah, she can be kind of impressive like that. There are some people who think that Slayer digestion is actually way more
efficient than a normal person's, and that that's what makes the whole thing work. Like they're able to ingest and store three or four times the calories and nutrients, so they have three or four times the energy. But there's no medical evidence on that that we know of".
CJ had a thought. "You know, Dawn", she said. "the government could probably help you out if there are money problems".
"Buffy won't go for it", answered Dawn. "She says if we're on a government payroll, then we'll be under government control. 'The power to withhold wages is the power to destroy', or something like that. Plus no other
government would trust us if it got out".
"Yeah", threw in the redhead, "plus she's kind of a libertarian in a lot of ways. Not as much as Faith, but still".
"Okay", said CJ, "but we actually do have a lot of things that you could do, where a Slayer's talents might be useful. Guarding the President, for one thing. You'd make some money, get some training, and it wouldn't be that different from what you're doing now".
"I'd need to talk to the board first", answered Dawn. "I can tell you right now that they won't be crazy about it".
"You trust the British
government, don't you ?", asked CJ.
"We trust Lord John, and a few other people", said Dawn. "That's different. It's a personal thing, not a government thing".
CJ remembered what the ambassador had told her; 'it's a familial connection, not a professional one'
. The ISWC wouldn't trust a government, but they might trust a person
who worked for one. They seemed to trust her; they might trust Jed Bartlet.
"Dawn", she asked, "would there be a way to set up a meeting between some of your people and the President ? I get why they don't want to be seen at the White House...maybe at an event like this one ?"
"That might be doable", said Dawn. "I can take that to the board, and get back to you through Lord John".
CJ nodded. For now, that was probably the best she could hope for. For the future, the idea of Slayers on Ron Butterfield's team was a tempting one. But that wasn't the most interesting possibility.
The most interesting possibility was Slayers in the SGC.
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