Disclaimer : Joss Whedon, Dan Brown et al own the characters. There are some other characters fatured in thenext two chapter who are owned by some different people. Touchstone Pictures I think. Not me. I only own the plot.
Buffy's cell phone was vibrating on the table making it dance in a circle. Robert and David were still giving Giles and Andrea details of the Rose Line's direction and possible Grail locations. She picked up the phone and walked away from the table.
"Hey, Jenny, what's new." She listened whilst Jenny gave her the latest information from Kennedy. "They're Ok then. Good.....What about you guy's there....Uh huh ... Ok. Yeah, we're almost done here I think. Is Vi around?....... Great. We're gonna need another vehicle for Langdon's party. We've gotta keep them safe and we can't do that in a hotel or here. We might have to take them to the Coven at Avebury. I'll let Mary Ann know she's on her way."
She disconnected and spoke briefly with Mary Ann, who had been taking minutes for the duration of the meeting, and was now busy typing them into a laptop. She stopped, picked up the desk phone and called security to inform them of Vi's eta.
Giles looked away from the meeting at them. "Problem?" He queried.
"Willow and Kennedy were attacked at the school, they're ok though. All the girls and the watchers were out on a field exercise. Willow's put extra protection on the house. Angus McKenzie caught two Bringers trying to plant a bomb, it went off in the pool so it didn't cause any damage."
"Has everyone been informed?" He grinned and shook his head. "What am I saying, of course they've been told. I believe we're almost done here Buffy. Have you arranged transport for everyone?"
Buffy nodded. "I'm thinking of taking them to the Coven; there aren't the right facilities here or at the hotel to keep them safe and the new school isn't ready yet."
"Then we'd better call Althenea and let her know they're about to have company." Said Giles.
Buffy was already dialling the Coven's number. When Andrea ended the lockdown spell on the conference room, Mary Ann and Xander escorted the four refugees to their rooms to collect their belongings.
"Where's this place that we're going to?" Asked Dan.
"A place called Avebury, between Swindon and Devizes." Said Giles. "The Coven live at Avebury Manor in the village and the house is very well protected."
Dan was calculating. "Swindon's about two and a half hours drive, plus it's nearly eleven thirty. Food and drink may be an issue at some point along the route, unless you know a quicker way than driving there." Replied Dan.
"You’re very knowledgeable, geographically, Dan. Might I ask how?"
"My dad's got a small haulage firm out near Heathrow. I grew up riding around the country in his trucks." Dan replied. He's supposed to be retired now although you wouldn't think it. He and mum bought a pub restaurant a couple of years ago and they spend most of their time running that."
"You didn't go into the family business then."
"No. I think dad was a bit disappointed at the time. Actually, I wanted to be a sports teacher, so I went to Loughborough Uni to get my diploma. Sat in a pub one night and got talking to this group of blokes, discovered they were coppers and it went from there." Explained Dan.
"Ah, teaching. What was your second subject?" Asked Giles.
"Geography, as it happens." Grinned Dan.
"That's interesting." Said Giles.
Just then Buffy finished her conversation with Althenea. She passed the phone to Andrea who spoke briefly to her mentor before hanging up and returning the phone to Buffy.
Buffy noticed Giles and Dan conversing and gave them a smile. "I ask myself. Is this male bonding, and am I gonna have to watch my back?" She questioned.
"No Buffy it's called conversation, or 'small talk' as you would put it." Said Giles. "Although I daresay that Dan may term it as mild interrogation." He smirked. He's just been telling me a little of his background and family. Did you know he had a teaching diploma."
"See, no fair. You already know more about him than I do." She pouted, waving her hands in Dan's direction.
He caught them in his own and held them gently. "Is this jealousy I see before me?" He asked. He raised his eyebrows. "Don't worry, you'll find out much more about my boring life later at dinner. That is if we ever get out of here."
Andrea made some notes on her notepad before speaking. "I've discussed the methods available to us for transporting the group to Avebury. The first option is driving." She paused at Dan's raised hand.
"Takes a long time and is vulnerable to attack, without an escort." He prompted. "Also, we could be tailed." Giles and Buffy both agreed.
"The second is teleporting. But it requires a lot of power to transport this many people would leave a whacking great signature that even air traffic control could see. Even over what is a relatively short distance in teleporting terms. Plus I couldn't do it, we'd have to get Althenea or Janine here first. Unless Willow's available."
She grimaced as she thought of her next answer. "The third is the Ghost Roads. Althenea says you've used them before Buffy, though I will have to test the rest of the group for supernatural signatures. If they don't have them we're limited on our options"
"Who's using the Ghost Roads?" Asked Xander as he and the others returned with their baggage.
"Just running through the options Xan." Replied Buffy. "Although it looks like this may be the least detectable one. "
"What are these Ghost Roads? I don't like the sound of them." Asked Sophie. Giles took over the returning group and started to explain about the otherworldly highway.
Dan, who was standing behind Buffy spoke quietly to her. "I was just thinking it sounds a bit dodgy, myself."
"And you'd be right." She replied, turning around to face him. "It's not the nicest of places to go, and you won't be able to anyway because you need to be supernaturally enhanced. It's possible that none of them will be able to use it, either.
Andrea crossed the room to the others and sat them down, one by one in a chair facing her. She held their hands and 'felt' their aura's. When she had tested all of the group she spoke to the rest of the room.
"Sophie and Luc are the most connected of them, however it's not enough to be able to manage the Ghost Roads. Marie is the next, and I'm afraid Mr Langdon has no supernatural connection at all, although his aura is strong, for a human." She leaned in to Buffy at this and whispered in her ear.
"I feel so much better for that knowledge.....I think." Said Robert, somewhat confused.
Buffy suddenly let out a growl and grunted several phrases that were unintelligible to Dan, although he was sure he'd heard something like it before.
Some people in the room looked shocked, but none more than Marie, Luc and Sophie. They all looked defensive and as though they wanted to reply.
"No we certainly are not, how could you even suggest that." Came the reply from Sophie.
"So you understood me then." Responded Buffy.
At the puzzled looks from the others Giles interjected to explain. "Well that certainly proves that these three are the descendants of the Merovingian Royal line. They all understand the 'languages of the beasts'." He looked at Buffy. "Fyarl, if I'm not mistaken." She nodded. "I do hope it wasn't too insulting Buffy."
"Why, what did she say to them?" Asked Robert.
"You really don't wanna know." Replied Buffy. She looked at Sophie and Luc apologetically. "Sorry, I only speak enough to trade insults really. It's not the most eloquent of demonic languages."
"Hey, did you use a big word there Buff, and can I say, which dictionary did you have for breakfast.....Owww." Xander yelped as Buffy slapped him across the arm.
"So the only two we are left with are teleporting or driving." Said Giles, glaring at Xander. "Andrea, will you speak with Althenea again. Is it possible that the signature would be reduced if we only teleported Sophie and Luc."
"What about us?" Asked Robert, indicating to himself and Marie.
"I believe that the threat to yourself and Mme. Saunier is not as great as that to Sophie and Luc. Would you not agree, Robert." Said Giles.
Robert thought about it for a moment. He had honestly thought that he would be able to protect Sophie after their encounter with Leigh in the Chapter House, now with these otherworldly demonic forces, making a play against their lives, he was wondering if they would ever have a 'normal' existence again. "Where will we go?" He asked.
"Well. Firstly we will return to our offices and gather the necessary items to create the focus for the coven. After that I would be grateful if you and Marie would assist us in the research for the location of the Grail. Your knowledge of the symbology and Marie's knowledge of the Priory will be a great asset." Replied Giles. As for somewhere to stay, there is suitable accommodation at the hotel that we are using, so we'll locate you both there. It will be safe enough, and I'll have your things collected from your hotel in Paris. Let Mary Ann have the details.
Andrea ended her phone call to the coven and turned to the group. "Althenea says that just two will be significantly safer and less noticeable, but we'll need to create a power circle in an open area to use as a focus. She's suggests St.James Park as it's closest to the Council offices."
"Right then, let's get going." Instructed Giles. They collected their bags and headed for the door.
Rona sat on the sofa in her aunt's apartment watching the early morning sun climb higher over the Nevada skyline. The twentieth floor apartment had fairly decent views over the southwest side of Las Vegas and out into the desert. She wasn't comfortable. Her arm was itching like crazy inside the cast. Ok that was a good thing in a way because it meant it was almost healed, not bad she thought, at least the upside to being a slayer was fast healing. The downside of it at the moment was that she daren't take it off as her aunt would freak and want to know how a compound fracture of the lower arm could mend itself in five days. So she sat, occasionally using her stiletto knife to relieve the itch, and waiting for her aunt to return from her club.
Suddenly the door phone chimed its jingle, making Rona jump. She collected herself and answered it pushing the viewer button so that she could see who it was on the screen. When the screen flickered into life she saw a woman of about thirty, dressed in sweetheart cut tee top, jeans, sneakers and to cap it all; a wimple.
The woman smiled a sunshine smile at the camera. "Hello, I'm Sister Mary Robert. You must be Rona. Your Aunt Dolores asked me to call in to see if there was anything you needed."
Rona gaped at the woman for a moment, unsure as to what to do. There were rules as to allowing someone you didn't know access to a home.
"Err, Hi, I think.... Sorry, she didn't say there'd be anyone calling. Are you a nun? Cos my aunt, club owner. Kinda didn't think the two would fit somehow." She said, wryly.
The woman giggled. "We are one of the more progressive convents. Can I come in?"
Rona stiffened slightly at the request. She looked again at the woman who had turned away from the camera slightly and the sunlight from the doorway fell on her. No smoke. Good, not a vampire. Now she could deal. She pushed the door release.
Rona tucked the knife into the cast the cool blade giving her some relief from the annoying itch. A few minutes later the doorbell rang. Looking through the spy hole she saw the nun on the other side. She opened he door and stood to one side allowing her access without verbally admitting her. She crossed the threshold with no trouble at all, smiling, but at the same time puzzled as to the lack of conversation from the girl. Rona then noticed the delicate gold cross on the chain around her neck. She breathed a sigh of relief and indicated that they should go through to the lounge. Once there Mary Robert spoke. "Are you ok. You seem a little nervous of me, or is it just me being paranoid?"
"No, I'm good, really." Rona paused. "It's just...... I have a few issues with allowing strangers through a door.....It's a thing."
"Oh, you poor thing. You must have really had a trauma to have such issues. Did you grow up in a bad area?"
"New York originally, but it wasn't that bad. Look I'm sorry, I didn't mean to freak you out, I just wasn't expecting anybody. How do you know Aunt Dolores?"
When Dolores Van Cartier returned to her apartment an hour later, she found her niece and her friend giggling like a couple of kindergarten kids.
"I suppose this means that I'm the butt of this conversation." She announced. They both calmed themselves a little, glanced at one another, put their hands together as if in prayer and in unison said. "Welcome home, Sister Mary Clarence!" Then they collapsed in fits of giggles again. Dolores rolled her eyes and went into the kitchen to make coffee.
Rona collected herself first. She called out to her aunt. "I know where to come if I ever need a safe house. Although I'm telling you now...."
She never got to finish the sentence. At that moment the front door to the apartment shattered inwards as two Bringers burst through it. Rona reacted purely on instinct, pushing Mary Robert off the arm of the sofa behind a large chair. There was a squeak from the slight woman as she rolled to a stop. "Stay down." Ordered Rona.
Turning her attention back to the Bringers she saw two more in the hallway ready to enter. As the first two picked themselves up Rona drew the stiletto from her cast and threw it at the nearest one. It caught him in the heart and he went down. In fluid movement Rona charged toward the remaining three, collecting a tall lamp on her way, ripping the cord from the wall socket and whipping it towards the second who was now brandishing a short sword in her direction. Numbers three and four pushed through the doorway clambering over the debris only to see number two go down, garrotted by the cord that had wrapped itself around his neck.
As the momentum of the action took her around in a circle Rona used the lamp as a balance and turned into the third delivering a roundhouse sweep and connecting with his wrist shattering it and forcing him to drop his knife. Spinning around again she planted both feet on the floor and swung the heavy base of the lamp at full speed into the sword arm of the last attacker. There was a satisfying crack as his arm broke and his sword too went flying from his hand. Not yet finished Rona grabbed the sword of the first Bringer and swiped first backhand and then forehand across the throats of the two still alive, spattering blood across the room. She halted as she controlled herself, her senses reaching out to see if there were any more. There weren't. What she did sense though, were the two pairs of wide eyes watching her.
After a moment or two her aunt found her voice.
"I just know we'll never get that out of the carpet."
Riley Finn was pacing. He didn't pace often, in fact he rarely paced at all. His wife had gone with the extraction teams to pull Rona to safety; and since Giles' conversation with Rayne, the prisoner had become less co-operative. It was possible that the threat of having him shot had provoked this reaction and Riley was secretly wishing Giles had ordered it, because after four years, they were no further to either controlling him or rehabilitating him; the situation they were in now had shown him that much.
To cap it all, when Willow had called, to give him the details of the attack on the school, and also to interrogate Rayne further; the prisoner had refused point blank to talk to her. He had sat on his bed and faced away from her like a petulant child. Riley was mad at him for doing this, Willow even more so. Riley wasn't quite sure what happened next but suddenly Rayne was tipped forcibly from the bed and the bed was inverted. Considering that she was several thousand miles away was amazing enough, the fact that the bed was secured to the floor physically and magically by his own team of mages reminded him yet again never to piss this witch off. Ever!
After that she had decided that she would visit in person rather than conduct the interview by video link, she was just waiting until all the slayer teams were accounted for back at the school before she could leave.
He felt like a cadet on his first parade again. Since the Sunnydale battle had gone down the way it had; the President had granted the new Council full co-operation rights with the initiative forces. There had been a few changes. First had been the command structure. He and his wife were now top of the food chain, apparently at the request of Buffy herself, there were no civilian bureaucrats involved, and definitely no scientists. The only people who didn't wear uniform of some description were the various watchers in training and the groups of slayers that came in for educational purposes.
He was just beginning to wonder how long it would take Willow to transport herself to the facility when his cell phone rang. It was Kennedy calling to say that Willow was just about to set off. He thanked her an ended the call. No sooner had he replaced the phone in his pocket, than the lights dimmed slightly, there was a breeze and a bright flash in the room, and Willow appeared beside him.
"Thanks for that." She said. "I needed to get a fix on you so that I didn’t materialise in a wall or something. Concrete; not good for exfoliating." She paused. "You Ok Riley, y' look kinda green?"
"I'll be fine." He said. "It's not every day I get you popping in to see us......Literally popping in!"
"C' mon." She smiled. "I'll buy you a coffee." The we'll deal with Mr. 'I wanna be left alone'."
Major Samantha Finn assessed the scene. All seemed quiet, too quiet. She tapped the comms button on her earpiece. "Lilac Two to Red One, you receiving. Over."
"Red One receiving." Came the reply.
"Any signs of more hostiles. Over."
"Negative. Lilac Two. Do we have a go?"
"On my mark." She nodded to her lead ops. Mark."
The three teams moved like a well oiled machine; one coming in from the rear of the building, the other from the front, stepping over the bodies of the Bringers they had taken out. The third team stayed on perimeter watch as a rearguard. The warning that had come from South America about the enemy’s penchant for explosives had not been founded in this case as they hadn't discovered any; but they still exercised caution as they made their way up the inside of the building.
When they reached the nineteenth floor they heard the muffled sounds of battle above them. They moved swiftly into the zone to take down any threat to Rona or her aunt's safety. As they entered the floor the sounds ceased culminating in a spray of blood exiting through the doorway. Sam's first thought was 'Oh god I hope that wasn't Rona's blood'; but she needn't have concerned herself, after the initial quiet, the sound of a woman referring to the mess on the carpet told her that things had probably gone well for the young slayer.
Sam silently signalled to her Ops team to take up covering positions. She called out.
"Attention in the apartment. Federal Agents. Identify yourselves."
Rona, heard the voice from the hallway and answered immediately. "Rona Van Cartier, WSC. Sam, is that you?"
"Yes Rona, are we clear to enter?"
"Yeah c'mon in. Bad guys are all dead."
They entered the apartment, Two of the team immediately covering the dead Bringers on the floor with their weapons, Sam signalling to another two of the team to check the other rooms. When she came to Rona and her aunt she pulled her ski mask from her face, and held out her hand to Dolores.
Special Agent Samantha Finn, ma'am. Sorry we were a bit late, we weren't able to land as close as we would have liked without compromising the situation."
She glanced at Rona, and then at the bodies. They sent four up here, you must be special, they tried to get Willow and Kennedy with two; Although they did have a bomb."
Rona shuddered at the mention of bombs. The two men who went to check the other rooms came back and reported the 'all clear'. Sam acknowledged the information and radioed the order to stand down and operation clean sweep to commence.
"Don't worry, in two hours you won't even know we've been here." Grinned Sam.
"Oh I' think it's gonna take more than a couple o' hours for me to forget that I just saw my niece take down four guys in robes who smashed their way into my apartment." She looked at Rona. "Damn girl. You good. Where'd you learn moves like that?"
Dolores questioning was interrupted by a small voice from behind the chair. They turned to see the face of Sister Mary Robert peering over the top of the chair and chanting Hail Mary's like there was no tomorrow.
Dolores went over to her, led her out from her hiding place and sat her on the sofa.
"Mary Robert, I sorta think that these guys are beyond saving honey. C ‘mon look at me. Breathe. Good, that’s better.”
The nun started to come back into the land of the living. Sam asked one of the ops team to get some water for her.
Dolores gave Sam the eye. “So if I heard right, you’re the Feds. So what does that make my niece? She a Fed too?” She asked looking at Rona.
“Not exactly.” Replied Sam.
“She’s a Vampire Slayer!” Came the reply from the petite nun.
Everyone looked at Sister Mary Robert in complete surprise. Dolores gave Rona a cynical look and then turned to the nun.
“Excuse me! Nah, you gotta be mistaken. It’s the shock. Aint no such thing as Vampires. The Mob maybe. Yeah, they’d be the closest thing to what you’d call a vampire around here. They’d bleed anyone dry.”
Mary Robert shook her head. “No, I know what I mean. I’m right aren’t I Rona.”
Rona sighed and nodded. “How’d you guess?” She asked.
There was a novice who came to the order about four years ago. She’d originally been placed at a convent just outside of Sunnydale. As I’d only just taken my Holy Orders, I was assigned to assist her in taking hers by Reverend Mother. She was very quiet at first but she eventually told me that she’d been attacked by a demon in the convent grounds one evening and a blonde girl had fought and destroyed the demon. Anyway the girl asked some questions about what it was like to be a nun and how one might become a nun. Eventually, Sister Teresa Joseph found out that it was a vampire that had attacked her and that this girl was the Slayer.
Rona’s eyes grew wide. “Buffy!” She exclaimed. “It was Buffy who saved her! Buffy was looking to become a nun! HA! Oh. Wait ‘til Faith hears this one.”
“You know her?” Asked Mary Robert. “I was under the impression that there could only be one at a time.”
Rona nodded. “It was at one time. We sorta changed the rules.”
Sam interjected. “Hate to interrupt the story here folks. Rona, Xander has asked us to extract you and keep you safe. Under the circumstances it might be wise to take all three of you back to the Initiative. The cleanup crew will make good here and keep it secure. Get some things together, it may be a few days.
“Where are we going?” Asked Dolores.
Sam considered for a moment. Then she answered. “Area 51”
“OK, but can I get this damn cast off first, otherwise I’m gonna go crazy.” Said Rona.
The sun had reached its highest point over London’s April sky, and was warming the car park area in between the Embassy buildings. As the council party exited down the steps towards where the car was parked. Dan noticed the four hooded sweat tops gathered around it and his spirits sank slightly. He reached for his Warrant Card.
“Wait here, looks like we’ve got a car jacking attempt. I’ll move ‘em on.”
He started to move towards them. Buffy called after him.
“Dan, wait. This isn’t right.” her eyes narrowed as she glanced around the courtyard.
The group around the car turned to face them, their hoods falling back revealing their rune laden visage. Buffy spun around only to see about fifteen or twenty more appear from behind parked cars cutting off their retreat.