10.Mongo Defence Forces, Palace Battery Number 13.
Sitting in his command chair the battery commander dozed with his feet propped up on his control panel. The raucous sound made by the proximity alarm startled him from his nap. Putting his feet back onto the floor he blinked his eyes clear of sleep before leaning forward to study his view screens. Pressing buttons and watching the image on his view screen, the commander gasped. There, clear as day was the accursed Earthwoman, Lehane flying a jet cycle straight towards the Emperor's palace. He pressed another button which would put him in touch with the palace's defence headquarters.
“General Kala,” the battery commander spoke urgently into the microphone in front of him, “Faith Lehane approaching!”
“What do you mean?” Kala looked at her own screen and saw what the battery commander was seeing, “Faith Lehane approach?”
“On a Hawkman Jet Cycle,” the commander confirmed before asking, “shall I inform the Emperor?”
“Idiot!” Kala yelled at her screen and saw the commander wince, “the Emperor would have you shot for interrupting his wedding with this news...open fire when Lehane's in range.”0=0=0=0
Outside, Faith flew her rocket cycle towards the palace, flying low and fast she hoped to avoid most of the palace's defences. The jagged, rocky walls of the canyon she was flying down flashed by her as she drew closer to the palace. Just as she thought that maybe she'd avoided being detected, a hail of anti-jet-cycle fire reached up towards her. Ducking instinctively behind the cycle's control column, Faith started to weave the cycle from side to side in an attempt to put the gunners off their aim. Unfortunately the palace's gunners were not to be fooled so easily and several energy bolts hit the cycle in rapid succession. Turning the cycle away from the palace, Faith sped off back down the canyon in full retreat. It was time for part two of her plan, she only hoped that the enemy would fall for her faux retreat.0=0=0=0
“She's escaping, you idiot!” Kala yelled over her comm link at the battery commander; turning to another officer, Kala regained control of her temper. “Dispatch war-rocket Cif to bring back Lehane's body.”0=0=0=0
Glancing over her shoulder as she sped away from the palace, Faith saw the ponderous shape of a great, silver war rocket rise from the palace. Good, she smiled, they'd fallen for her plan, sometimes the bad guys were just too easy to fool. Coaxing a little more speed out of the jet cycle, Faith started to climb out of the canyon as if she was in full retreat. For the next part of her plan she'd need a large cloud formation, just like the one she could see a couple of miles ahead of her.0=0=0=0
“Charge the boosters!” Ordered the Captain of IMWR Cif; looking out of the forward window of the Cif he could just make out the flyspeck that was Faith Lehane and her jet cycle.
“Faith Lehane in range, Captain,” announced the ship's pilot.
“FIRE!” The Captain yelled.
The pilot pressed the firing button on the arm of his pilot's chair and bursts of deadly energy sprang from the Cif's main batteries towards Faith's tiny cycle. All missed as Faith's diminutive craft disappeared into a large orange cloud.
“Will we go in after her Captain?” the pilot wanted to know.
“No,” the Captain shook his head, “reduce speed...”
“She's not coming out, Captain,” observed the pilot.
“Charge the capacitors to electrify the cloud,” the Captain ordered, before turning to speak to another bridge officer, “Prepare skynet to catch Lehane's body.” Looking back out of the window at the cloud the Captain gave the order, “Fire capacitors!”
At the Captain's word of command a great beam of energy was directed at the cloud from an array on the spine of the Cif. The cloud glowed brightly as the particles of water and dust contained in the cloud were charged with electricity. However, no body fell into the waiting skynets.0=0=0=0
Having flown into the cloud in full view of Ming's war rocket, Faith had immediately changed course. Flying out of the side of the cloud, she dived to avoid being seen by the Cif. Bringing her cycle around in a wide arc she came up behind the Cif from below. Once again the enemy had proved to be predictable. She'd guessed correctly that the one place the Cif's crew wouldn't be able to spot her approach was from below and behind the war rocket. They'd even made her life easier by bringing the rocket to a halt.
Reducing speed, Faith brought her cycle along side the comic book style rocket. Up close the rocket didn't appear to be as large as she'd at first thought. Coming into land on the rocket's starboard wing, Faith jumped from her cycle, walked across the wing until she came to the craft's fuselage. Here there was a ladder built into the side of the ship leading up to what looked like a hatch. Taking hold of the rungs, Faith quickly climbed up the side of the rocket. A quick turn of the hatch's handle gave Faith access to the interior of the rocket. Climbing inside and dogging the hatch closed behind her, Faith went in search of her first victim.
Sneaking along a grey metal corridor, Faith was momentarily surprised to find herself coming face to face with an equally surprised looking crewman. Unfortunately for the crewman, Faith recovered first; grabbing hold of the man, she smashed his head into the corridor bulkhead. Dropping him on the floor, Faith bent down and retrieved his sidearm. Hefting the weapon in her hand, Faith guessed that it was probably some sort of small ray-gun, whatever it was she'd use it to great effect in the next few minutes.
Continuing down the corridor, Faith heard the sound of boots on the metal floor up ahead of her. Dodging into a side corridor, Faith waited for the boot's owners to appear. Hearing the crewmen come down a ladder, Faith sprang from cover and gunned down four or five crewmen in a flashing confusion of bright energy beams and smoke. The enemy screamed as they fell to the floor victims of the slayer's deadly accurate fire. As Faith stepped over the bodies of the downed crewmen she heard an alarm start to blare. No time for stealth now, Faith told herself as she climbed up the ladder to the next level. It was time for a good old fashioned stand up fight, just the sort of thing that she excelled at.
Over the next five minutes or so, Faith fought her way through the ship killing most of the crew as she went. By the time she'd got got to the hatch to the bridge she'd acquired a much more powerful weapon. Powerful enough, in fact, to blast open the hatch that was preventing her getting to the bridge. Triggering the weapon, Faith blasted open the hatch. Shoulder rolling through the remains of the hatch she bounced to her feet as the bridge crew went for their sidearms. It didn't help them, in fact the movement made by them reaching for their weapons just drew Faith's attention to their positions. Once her eye fell upon them an energy beam was soon to follow.
In a welter of white hot beams, blood and screams, Faith had the bridge to herself in less than five seconds. Stepping over the corpses of the crew, Faith reached the pilot's chair. Resting her weapon against the side of the chair she heaved the pilot's dead body out of the way before sitting down and examining the ship's controls. Like everything else in Mongo, the rocket was easy to pilot, being only slightly more complex that Aura's small rocket ship. Smiling, Faith grasped the controls. Increasing speed slowly she turned the ship around and headed back towards Ming's palace.0=0=0=0Ming's Palace.
“Attention all wedding guests,” General Kala's voice echoed from the palace's PA system, “behold the face of you Empress of the Hour!”
A giant sized portrait of Dawn was unveiled high up on one of the audience chamber's walls.
“HAIL, MING, HAIL!” Chanted the wedding guests in appreciation that Ming had invited them to his wedding and was not going to execute them...at least not today.0=0=0=0 Deep under Ming's Palace.
It had taken Willow longer than she'd imagined it would to find the upper levels. However, she'd persisted walking through the lower corridors and dispatching any guards she bumped into with a dismissive wave of her hand. Had there been anyone left alive to follow her they'd have found a trail of eviscerated and flayed bodies all leading to the red haired witch who marched determinedly onwards and upwards.
Coming to the door of an elevator, Willow tried to activate the call button. Nothing happened as she waved her hand in front of the electronic eye. Sighing heavily, she muttered words of power under her breath and watched as the door obediently opened in front of her. Stepping into the lift she pressed the button for the upper levels where she should be able to find the command centre.0=0=0=0Ming's Audience Chamber.
A band played the 'Wedding March' as Dawn was dragged into the chamber by two pig faced guards. Over on a balcony the Princess Aura was also being dragged out into the open by several more guards so she could witness her father's happy union with the Earthwoman Dawn Summers. Above the palace a rocket ship flew by in salute to the Emperor, the ship trailed a long banner which said, 'All creatures are to make merry...on pain of death!'0=0=0=0Mongo Defence Forces Headquarters.
“IMRS Cif is returning,” announced the battery commander from Kala's view screen.
“With Lehane's body?” Kala asked evilly.
“I presume so,” replied the battery commander with a shrug, “communications are out for some reason.”
“Are they in the proper approach pattern for today?” Kala asked suspiciously.
“Negative,” replied the commander.
“Open fire!” Kala ordered realising something had gone horribly wrong somewhere.
“On the Cif, General?” quieried the commander.
“OPEN FIRE!” Kala yelled at the man on her view screen, “ALL WEAPONS! Now charge the lightning field...” Kala struck a heroic pose, “...I take personnel responsibility in the Emperor's name.”0=0=0=0
Back up in the audience chamber, Dawn had stopped trying to fight her guards and was now walking slowly towards what looked like an altar, it might as well have been a hangman's noose as far as she was concerned. The altar was set up in front of a huge arch that looked out over the desolate surface of Mongo. There was a cry from the guests and Dawn looked up to see a great shimmering cloak of light had enveloped the entire palace. Next, Dawn's ears picked out the sound of heavy weapon's fire as the palace's defence batteries started to shoot into the sky. Dawn smiled, this could only mean one thing, Faith was coming to get her!
“Attention all wedding guests,” once again General Kala's voice echoed from the PA, “There is no cause for alarm, the city's weapons are being fired in continuous salute in honour of His Majesty's wedding.”0=0=0=0War Rocket Cif.
Gripping the controls of the mighty rocket tightly in her hands, Faith steered the ship through the blizzard of fire directed at her. The rocket shuddered and shook as it took multiple hits, but, Faith held the craft on course. Her plan was simple as all the best plans were; she was going to crash the Cif into the palace were the explosion would hopefully give Dawn and Willow a chance to escape. With just a little more luck it would also kill Ming and stop whatever power was being used to destroy Earth. It was a desperate plan and one that would probably kill her. Faith looked on it as a rational transaction, one life for billions.0=0=0=0Ming's Palace.
Coming out of the lift, Willow found herself in some kind of control room. Looking to her left she saw General Kala, the woman who'd helped Klytus in his unsuccessful brain washing attempts. Waving her hand at the General, Willow didn't even stop to watch as the General exploded in a pink haze of blood and body parts. Turning towards the operators sitting at their control panels, Willow smiled as they screamed and writhed in agony as they all fell dead on the floor. Stepping over the carpet of bodies, Willow touched the panels of flashing lights and read outs.
Instantly information was delivered straight to her mind, she now knew exactly what was happening in and around the palace. Her first instinct was to rush to the audience chamber and eliminate everyone there before rescuing Dawn. But, the more logical part of her mind told her it would be better to stay here and help Faith in her attempt to attack the city. Seeing exactly what Faith was trying to do, Willow gasped at the bravery of the dark slayer. Faith was trying to crash the war rocket onto the city so as to destroy Ming's power once and for all and save Earth at the same time.
Unfortunately, Kala had activated the city's lightning field. If Faith's rocket touched the field the rocket would be destroyed before she'd even had a chance of killing Ming. Willow needed to shut down the lightning field before it was too late. Searching through the programs contained in the defence computer's memory banks, Willow quickly found what she was looking for, with a smile she switched off the lightning field. There was nothing she could do about the defence batteries as they were on local fire control. However, at least Faith now had a fighting chance to succeed.0=0=0=0
Up in the audience chamber, Dawn found herself standing in front of the altar, there was a priest and Ming had come to stand beside her. This was not how she'd imagined her wedding day, lifting her eyes to the sky she caught a glimpse of a battered smoking wreck of a rocket ship making its way through a barrage of fire towards the palace.
“Faith?” Dawn sobbed quietly.
“Do you, Ming the Merciless,” intoned the priest, “take this Earthling, Dawn Summers to be your Empress of the Hour?”
“Of the hour, yes,” Ming replied evilly.
“Do you promise to use her as you will,” the priest continued, “and not to blast her into space...” the priest noticed the warning look Ming was giving him, “...until such time as you grow bored with her?”
“Certainly,” Ming smiled even more evilly.
“I DO NOT!” Dawn yelled into Ming's face, she was grabbed from behind by two guards before she could attack Ming.0=0=0=0
Aboard the Cif, Faith held her course with grim determination as the pilot's chair was enveloped in smoke and flame. The rocket was little more than a flying pile of junk now but Faith nursed it towards her target. There was less than half a mile to go when she noticed the field of light surrounding the palace vanish. Ramming the throttles all the way forward, Faith gritted her teeth and waited for the end to come. In her life she regretted doing and saying many things, but most of all she regretted not being able to spend the rest of her life, no matter how long or short it might be, with Dawn.
“Good luck, Dawnie,” Faith called knowing that Dawn would never hear her last words, “I love ya so much...”0=0=0=0
The rocket was now so close that no one could ignore it any more. First the wedding guests started to scream and run towards the exits. Next Ming himself looked over his shoulder to see the great flaming wreck heading right towards him. As the priests made a rapid exit to avoid going to their eternal reward some what earlier than they'd bargained for, Dawn broke free from her distracted guards and pounced on Ming. Kicking him in the shin she pushed him towards the approaching rocket. Hoping and stumbling across the great balcony, Ming was too late to stop Dawn diving for cover. Looking up once more he saw that the rocket was almost on top of him now, he turned to run but he was too late.
Crashing through the great arch the rocket didn't explode as it ploughed its way through the altar towards the fleeing Ming. Although heavily damaged the long spike on the nose of the Cif had not been hit. The long tapering metal spike pierced Ming's back and the momentum of the heavy craft drove the spike through Ming's body until two feet stuck out of Ming's chest and yet he hadn't died! Transfixed like a butterfly on a collectors pin, Ming struggled weakly to free himself. Slowly he slid from the end of the spike, falling to the floor he forced himself up on one knee as his green blood stained the front of his red uniform.
Surprised to still be alive, Faith pushed herself from the pilot's chair. Collecting up her weapon she climbed out of the bridge to find herself standing on the rubble of the great audience chamber. Walking around the nose of the war rocket, Faith saw Ming kneeling on the floor with blood oozing from his chest. Seeing her arch-enemy helpless before her, Faith raised her ray-gun to finish Ming once and for all, Ming saw her and raised his hand and pointed his ring towards her. Suddenly Faith found she couldn't move as she was enveloped in a purple haze.
“Pitiful fool,” Ming gasped as his strength ebbed away, “my life is not for any Earthling to take...”
“Screw you!” Dawn kicked Ming's hand knocking the ring away from Faith.
The instant Faith was free of the paralysing beam she fired her ray-gun. Hit by multiple bursts of energy, Ming screamed hideously as he disintegrated and fell as a great pile of pinkie-grey dust onto the floor.
“FAITH!” Dawn cried as she rushed into Faith arms knocking her weapon to one side as she did so, “YOU'RE ALIVE!”
Just to check Dawn pressed her lips hungrily against Faith's as she felt her lovers arms enfold her in a strong comforting embrace. This was how Willow found them when she eventually made it to the ruins of the audience chamber several minutes later.
“Hey guys?” Willow called as she approached the couple, they didn't move or appear to notice her, “Erm, guys?” Willow called once again, as much as she didn't want to intrude on this touching reunion she could hear firing in the distance and she thought it might be a good time to leave. “HEY! GUYS!” Willow yelled, this time Faith and Dawn did hear and stepped away from each other.
“Hi Red,” Faith smiled as she held onto Dawn, her arm around the younger woman's waist, “You okay? Ya look okay...?”
“Yeah I'm fine,” Willow went over to the couple and started to shepherd them towards the exit, “Ming's dead and I've stopped the attack on Earth, by the time we get home the moon should be back where its supposed to be, now lets move!”0=0=0=0
As the trio walked across the multi coloured sands of Mongo heading back towards the portal, Faith glanced over her shoulder to see smoke and explosions engulf the palace. The sound of heavy small arms fire drifted across the desert sands and to her ears.
“What's going on back there?” Faith asked.
“I expect its all the different factions fighting over who's going to rule Mongo now Ming's dead,” Willow suggested.
“Good riddance to 'em, I say,” Dawn said as she held onto Faith tightly, “can we go home now?”
“Yeah, lets,” Willow nodded before leading everyone back to the portal and home.0=0=0=0Faith a-ah!
Saviour of the Universe.
She'll save every one of us.
(Radio Anchorman: “Seemingly there is no reason for these extraordinary intergalactical upsets.”)
(Emperor Ming: “MAW-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!”)
(Dawn: “What's happening Faith?”)
(Radio Anchorman: “Only Dr Willow Rosenberg, formerly at UC Sunnydale, has provided any explanation…”)
She's a miracle.
(Radio Anchorman: “This morning's unprecedented solar eclipse is no cause for alarm…”)
Queen of the impossible.
She's for every one of us,
Stands for every one of us.
She’ll save with a mighty hand
Every man, every woman
Every child, what a mighty
(Minion: “General Kala, Faith Lehane approaching.”)
(General Kala: “What do you mean Faith Lehane approach? Open fire! All weapons! Dispatch war rocket Cif to bring back her body.”)
(Prince Vultan: “Lehane's alive!?”)
She'll save every one of us
Just a slayer,
With a slayer's courage.
You know she's
Nothing but a slayer
And she can never fail.
No one but the pure at heart
May find the Golden Grail…
(Dawn: “Faith, Faith, I love you, but we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!”)