4.The Cleveland Centre.
Stepping out of the travel tube that had brought him up from the transport module storage area, Group Leader Jafs found himself in a trading area of some kind. Stepping to one side to allow the small-group of fighters out of the transport tube, he gazed around at all the sacrifices, some of whom were beginning to take notice of himself and his fighters. Gesturing with his right hand he called the small-group commander over to him.
“Seal the main exits,” Jafs commanded, “prevent any of the sacrifices from leaving.”
“I obey,” the small-group leader bowed slightly before leading his fighters off towards the exits.
“Communications?” Jafs turned to the fighter who carried his communications array, “Contact Under-Leader Wengo and tell her to bring the rest of the raiding force through the portal.”
“I obey,” the communications fighter nodded before turning away and passing on his leader's instructions.
Looking around, Jafs noted that he and his men had become the centre of attention for quite a crowd of sacrifices. He noticed two sacrifices in what were obviously some sort of uniform push their way through the crowd and walk towards him. The taller of the two said something in what had to be the local language, Jafs shrugged under his body armour. He didn't understand these primitive's gruntings and even if he had he'd have paid them little notice. Pulling his side arm from the holster on his hip he shot the two uniformed sacrifices.
The sacrifices screamed in agony as they slowly disintegrated in front of his eyes. Smiling Jafs heard the Overlords whisper into his mind, 'More'. Pleased that the Overlords were amused by his actions, he turned his weapon on the panicking mob who were just now realising that their lives were forfeit. After gunning down several of the locals he heard them scream and watched them writhing in excruciating agony as their bodies were slowly consumed by the lethal, corrosive energy produced by his weapon. Jafs smiled in satisfaction as the Overlords once again whispered their approval into his mind.
Turning towards the travel tube as the door opened behind him, Jafs nearly shot Under-Leader Wengo as she stepped from the tube followed by her personnel guards.
“I see you've started already,” Wengo smiled as she gestured to the smouldering bodies lying on the floor not five steps away.
“I serve the Overlords,” Jafs explained holstering his weapon.
“As do we all,” Wengo inclined her head to her superior, looking up again she glanced around at the structure they were in, she could already hear weapon's fire and the screams of the sacrifices as they died for the Overlord's pleasure. “Standard procedures?”
“Of course,” Jafs nodded, “bring the adolescent females and males here along with any children you might find, the rest can be killed.”
“Torture?” Wengo asked, she smiled as she heard another burst of firing and the screams of more sacrifices as they died slowly and in extreme pain.
“Only after the building is secure and all the remaining sacrifices have been captured and subdued,” Jafs replied.
“Good,” Wengo nodded to her Leader again adding “I obey,” she lead her guards up the moving stairs to the upper level.0=0=0=0The Pink Dragon Nightclub.
The guy's name was Adam, he was tall and handsome and funny and Buffy liked him, perhaps one day soon she might get to love him. They'd danced a little but mostly they'd sat in a quiet corner of the club and talked.
“...so you're a teacher?” Adam asked.
“Sort of,” Buffy nodded as she sipped her coke through a straw, “I work at the adventure training school, y'know the one?”
“Where the old holiday camp used to be?” Adam replied, “Odd name that, The Slayer Adventure Training School.”
“It's named after our founder, Dr Horatio Slayer,” Buffy repeated the well used cover story, the same one that was on the internet.
“Never heard of him,” Adam admitted with a shrug.
“No you probably wouldn't, he's American,” Buffy went on to explain a little of the fictitious man's principles and how he'd been an outspoken believer in women's rights back in the early 1900's, “So, what do you do?” Buffy asked wanting to get off the subject of Horatio Slayer and she knew that guys liked to talk about themselves.
“Erm,” Adam hesitated for just a moment, “I sort of work for the government...”
“Very mysterious,” Buffy grinned, “what are you, a spy?”
“No,” Adam shook his head sadly, “nothing so glamorous...”
“Oh, come on then tell me,” Buffy smiled brightly, “or would you have to kill me if you did?”
“No, no its nothing like that,” Adam sighed; he knew exactly where this would lead, as soon as he told this very attractive young woman what he did for a living she'd make her excuses, get up and walk away and he'd never see her again. “I...I work for HM Customs and Revenue...”
Sitting there Buffy took a thoughtful sip of coke and frowned, HM Customs and Revenue, that was like the IRS in the States.
“Hey!” Buffy cried, “You're a tax man, right?”
“Guilty as charged,” Adam admitted, “you can leave now if you like.”
“Why would I want to leave?” Buffy asked just as realisation hit, “Oh I get it, most girls don't want to...”
“You don't mind?” Adam asked in near shock.
“No,” Buffy shook her head; why should she mind the guy was only doing his job, if people didn't pay their taxes nothing would work.
“Marry me!” Adam slipped off the low stool he'd been sitting on and went down on one knee clutching one of Buffy's hands to his chest.
“Hey!” Buffy frowned down at the guy, he looked so serious she wasn't sure whether he was joking or not; she decided to act as if it was all a joke. “That's just a little fast don't you think? First dates are supposed to be for getting to know each other and perhaps a goodnight kiss. Second date is dinner and a movie followed by maybe some heavy petting, and the third date is...” Buffy grinned, “...well, what happens on the third date depends on dates one and two.”
“Oh I see,” Adam got up off his knee and let go of Buffy's hand, “you're an old fashioned girl who expects at least three dates before accepting any proposals of marriage?”
“Sorry,” Buffy leaned forward and touched Adam's hand; as she did her eyes locked with his and she started to hear the orchestra in her mind start to get louder and louder.
There was something about him that attracted Buffy like a moth to a flame, gazing into his eyes she moved her lips closer to his and then just as their lips were about to touch and Buffy was thinking that perhaps she could take the first and second dates as read. Something stopped her, something at the back of her brain jogged her arm and said, 'Danger, Buffy Summers, danger!'.
“Did you hear that?” Buffy asked as she stopped only an inch from Adam's lips.
“Hear what?” Adam blinked and saw how close he'd been to kissing Buffy's lips; he also realised that he'd not be kissing this enchanting young woman's lips today or at anytime in the future.
“That,” Buffy listened as she stood up and tried to block out the sound of the music and of people having fun.
Adam couldn't hear anything, which wasn't surprising; he didn't have slayer ears.
“Wait here,” Buffy gestured to Adam, “I've got to check something out.”
Yeah, right, Adam's shoulders slumped, it was always the same, as soon as he told a girl what he did for a living she'd up and leave him; perhaps he should start to pretend that he was
a spy. After only taking a couple of paces towards the door, Buffy stopped and turned around, she retraced her steps to where Adam was standing looking a little sorry for himself.
“Adam!” Buffy called over the sound of the music; she saw him turn towards her hopefully, “I will be back, I promise...I just gotta...” Buffy pointed hopelessly towards the door, of course she couldn't explain, she didn't know how to even begin, casting caution to the wind she stepped up to Adam, put her arms around his neck and gave him a strength six (possibly strength seven) kiss. “Look I'll be back...” she turned to head towards the door, “...I promise!”
Feeling just a little hot and 'unnecessary', Buffy made her way towards the door. The main entrance to the club was situated at the bottom of a flight of stairs where there was a sort of lobby which opened onto the food court and the entrance of the multiplex. Getting a stamp on her left hand from the female bouncer/door-woman at the top of the stairs, Buffy made her way down to the lobby. The stairs didn't go straight down of course, there was a landing half way down where the stairs turned through ninety degrees. Halting on the landing, Buffy cautiously looked around the corner to see the bodies of the two bouncers who guarded the entrance and the young woman, who took the entrance fee, lying on the floor.
Stifling a groan of disappointment, yet another night ruined by death and destruction, Buffy made her way down the stairs. At the foot of the steps she pressed herself up against the wall and peeped around the corner of the open door to get a look at the outside world. What she saw didn't exactly fill her heart with joy, from her position behind the door, Buffy could see at least half a dozen burnt and smouldering corpses lying on the floor of the food court.
“Damn,” she cursed quietly, before going to examine the body of the bouncer closest to her.
The corpse was like nothing she'd seen before and to be honest, Buffy had seen more or less everything by now. The body, Buffy was fairly sure, had belonged to one of the male bouncers, or at least what was left of it had. It had been twisted into an unnatural shape as if the guy had been in extraordinary pain when he'd died. It also looked very much as if his body had been eaten up by acid or something. Anyway, there wasn't much blood and the wounds all appeared to have been cauterized. Standing up, Buffy was just in time to see a young man running towards the door of the club, his panicking eyes locked with hers for just a second.
“RUN!” He yelled, “THEY'RE KILLING EVERYAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”
There was a weird whooshing-whining sound just before the young guy started to scream as he was slowly consumed by what Buffy could only think was invisible fire. Gasping in horror, Buffy hurled herself back into the cover of the lobby as the young man's corpse crashed to a smouldering halt just inside the club.
This was just her luck, Buffy thought angrily as she hitched up her skirt and pulled her mobile phone from the waistband of her panties (she wasn't carrying a bag and her uniform only had one small pocket and that already had her wallet and the minibus keys in it). Pressing the button that would put her through to the duty slayer she lifted the phone to her ear...and heard nothing. Looking at the screen of her phone she saw the message every young, modern, woman dreaded seeing, 'No Signal'!
“Damn-it!” Buffy hissed as she stuffed her useless phone back into her panties.
Obviously there was something really bad going on and she guessed that it wouldn't take long for whoever was shooting people with weird guns, or whatever, to come and check the nightclub out; she had to get everyone out, but they couldn't go out through the main door. Casting about hoping to see something that might give her a clue as to what to do, Buffy's eyes fell on the fire alarm on the opposite wall. It was a risk, but one she felt worth taking as long as she could prevent people from running out the front door.
Not feeling the presence of anything evil close by, Buffy stepped over the body of the dead bouncer, grabbed hold of the lever that activated the alarm and pulled. Almost immediately the air was split by a very strident alarm. Not waiting a moment longer Buffy sprinted up the stairs and bumped into the female bouncer who was on her way downstairs to see what the problem was.
“FIRE!” Buffy yelled in the woman's face, before the woman could start to ask questions, Buffy began talking quickly preventing the woman from speaking. “Fire in the lobby,” Buffy explained urgently as she pushed the woman back up the stairs, “we can't get out that way, we need to get everyone out of the fire exits!”
Nodding her head in understanding the female bouncer started to help Buffy herd everyone towards the exits. The woman tried to use her radio to warn all her colleagues but was surprised to find it didn't work.0=0=0=0
Looking around, Emily grabbed hold of another slayer's arm and yelled into her ear, “HAVE YOU SEEN MS SUMMERS?” the girl shook her head, “OKAY,” the fire alarm was very
loud and made thinking, let alone talking very difficult, “GET EVERYONE OUT, WE'LL LOOK FOR MS SUMMERS LATER.”
Letting go of girl's arm, Emily looked around for the younger slayers; Emily was nearly seventeen and as the oldest she felt responsible for her younger sisters; she'd also been a slayer for longer so she was more experienced. Quickly counting heads as the young slayers gathered around her, she saw that only Buffy was missing. Ms Summers was probably involved with whatever was going on, she wouldn't want to be worried by a bunch of teen slayers getting in her way.
“OKAY EVERYONE,” Emily cried, “LETS GET OUT OF HERE!”0=0=0=0The Golden Lantern, Chinese take-away.
Sitting in the cab of her ambulance, Dawn listened with growing concern to the information coming in over the radio. Picking up the microphone she acknowledged the message and then stuck her head out of the open door of the cab.
“GEORGE!” Dawn shouted, “We've gotta move!”
“Damn!” George left the cartons of Chinese food that had been going to be Dawn and his supper and headed for the ambulance, “What's up, Lass?”
“Not sure,” Dawn closed her door and started the ambulance's engine before strapping herself in, “its all very confusing. Sounds like a fire at the Cleveland Centre.”
“Okay,” George slammed his door and fastened his seat belt, “what are you waiting for Lass?”
“You, you old fool!” Dawn replied with a grin; putting the vehicle into gear she pulled away from the curb and hit the buttons that started the sirens wailing and the lights flashing.0=0=0=0The Cleveland Centre.
“What is that noise?” Jafs demanded.
“Some sort of emergency alarm, Leader,” announced one of the nearby fighters.
“I had guessed that,” Jafs snarled, “find out what it is and silence it!”
“I obey!” replied the fighter as he headed off into the building.
Annoyed at the loud noise, which was starting to grate on his nerves, Leader Jafs looked down at the huddled group of sacrifices that cowered on the floor before him. Their fear was feeding the Overlords as would their pain when the Overlords started to torture them to death. He'd noticed that the sacrifices felt great sympathetic pain and torment when one of their children were killed. Smiling her drew his sidearm and then picked out one of the smaller sacrifices, a female child. He fired his weapon at the sacrifice's feet and laughed as the child screamed in agony as first its feet then its legs were slowly dissolved as the weapon's energy slowly ate away the sacrifice's flesh. Laughing at the child's screams and the fear and pain of the other helpless sacrifices, Jafs holstered his weapon and felt the gratitude of the Overlords in his mind. Soon the Overlords would come and use the sacrifices themselves.0=0=0=0
After pulling the ambulance over and into a parking bay, Dawn switched off the engine and stared for a moment through the windscreen; she'd never seen so many flashing lights. There were police cars and vans, fire tenders and ambulances, it looked like every emergency vehicle in northern England was outside the Centre. In between the vehicles she could see police and emergency workers moving with purpose towards the Centre while all around them civilians ran for safety. It was only as she opened her door that she started to hear the screams of the casualties.
“Come on, Dawn,” George said quietly, “work to do Lass.”
Jumping out of the cab, Dawn ran around to the rear of the ambulance and opened the big double doors. Reaching inside she grabbed an emergency pack and passed it to George before picking up her own. Leaving the doors open (the police could be relied on to keep an eye on the vehicle's supplies), Dawn and George jogged towards where they were needed.
They hadn't gone far when they came across a policeman and a member of the public trying to hold down a man who was screaming in pain and writhing about on the floor. Dropping his pack on the ground George went into action as Dawn knelt down next to him and started to check the casualty's vitals. At first Dawn couldn't see what was wrong with the guy, not until George managed to cut the charred clothes from the man's arm. Dawn couldn't help gasping in horror. It looked like the man's hand and about half of his forearm had been burnt off. Horror was heaped on horror as Dawn realised that the man's arm was still being eaten away.
“Dawn!” George called, “Morphine, quick!”
Looking at the man, George knew he couldn't do anything until he'd stopped the man from screaming and writhing about. He watched as Dawn injected an ampoule of morphine into the casualty's thigh before noting the time and size of the dose in Biro on the man's forehead. The man calmed down a lot but the morphine didn't appear to be as effective as it normally was. Looking at where the man's arm was slowly being eaten away, George realised there was nothing he could do to treat something that was still active and that he'd never seen before. This called for radical measures...if he could get ahead of the injury he might be able to save the man's life. Looking up and around he saw a couple of Firefighters near by.
“Hey Lads!” George called, “I could do with some help here...bring me a cutter I've got to take this man's arm off!”0=0=0=0