Chapter Thirty Three
Disclaimer. The Buffy and Da Vinci Code characters are owned by other people. Other people who are not me.
Chapter Thirty Three.
Dorchester Hotel London.
As Giles entered the Foyer his cell phone rang. Looking at the display he groaned. “Edward.” He answered, a little too brightly.
“Ah, I’ve caught you at a bad time, haven’t I.” Said Edward on the other end, guiltily.
“Not at all, it’s just,….. Oh dear.“ He sighed. “I’m meeting Olivia for dinner and I’m running a little late.”
“Olivia eh! Sorry, old chap. Look, I’ll try and be brief. I’ve just had a very confusing call from a DC Ames at Biggin Hill. Your party of seven arrived as arranged. He escorted them to the hanger, but the plane was already being hijacked by someone, Bringers or demons I presume. Now, this is the strange bit. He says that Andy Jervis was there, and then the plane blew up…………..”
“What!!” Exclaimed Giles. Cutting Edward off.
“Let me finish, Rupert.” He admonished.
“Sorry, y-yes please do.” Apologised Giles.
“The plane blew up and took the hanger with it. A brunette that went in didn’t come out, but a blonde did. The blonde was Buffy, I assume, but how Andy Jervis was there I can’t get my head around. I know for a fact that he’s gone to Windsor with Geoff Burroughs to collect that other hit man for us. Where’s Carter; and where does the missing brunette fit in? I do hope it wasn’t Buffy‘s sister.” Said Edward.
Giles started laughing. Some of the passers by in the foyer gave him an odd look. He collected himself. “Edward, go home to Alison, have nice meal and put your feet up. Everything is in hand, I believe all is well. I’ll call you tomorrow with the details.” He said.
“Alright Rupert. As long as you’re ok with it all…. Have a nice meal with Olivia.”
Rayne Manor, Altar Room.
Willow watched with interest as the entity in front of her took shape. Not solid but very visible to the naked eye. She glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone else was in sight.
“Hi there, you must be Eleanor Rayne. I’m Willow, Willow Rosenberg.”
The ghost eyed her suspiciously for a moment. “You can see me? You are not of my family.” She asked. There was a rumble like distant thunder as the words were spoken.
“Yes, you’re pretty clear,……. for a ghost,… I-I mean, and I‘m here to help Ethan.”
The ghost ignored her for a moment and drifted over to the desk. “I am not a ghost, I am a memory, a spirit. You aligned the books correctly. I was brought forth.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t realise. Wasn’t I supposed to?”
“I knew that the day would come when it would happen. I expected someone from my family to release me. When are we? What is the year?”
“Twenty first of April, 2005.”
“Thirty four years, almost to the day. Half a lifetime in mortal terms.” A wry smile appeared on her face. “How, and where is my son, Ethan.”
“Oh, he’s around, somewhere. Whoa, thirty-four years!” Said Willow, suddenly catching up. “Can I ask. Is that when your physical self died?”
“You may, and it was.” Said Eleanor.
“Then that explains a lot. In fact almost everything. We need to have a talk about what your son‘s been up to in the last thirty odd years; a-an‘ I think your death started it.” Said Willow. “I think it kinda sent him off the rails.”
It took almost an hour for her to get the full facts from Eleanor on Ethan the child, the youth, and the teen. She needed the spirit to trust her, so she also gave what information she had on his activities over the years, Sunnydale, his incarceration by the Initiative, and the spell they had performed to remove his magical abilities. By the time Willow had finished the spirit gave her a regretful look.
“Had I known he would follow this path, I would never have embarked upon this course of action. The books needed protection though. The watchers were not to be trusted. The new senior watcher, Quentin Travers was not to be allowed to have them. He would have abused the power. That‘s why I cursed this place on my death.”
“Hey, preachin’ to the choir here, sister.” I only met him once. Not a nice guy. Buffy showed him the door though.” Grinned Willow.
“Buffy.” Said the spirit. “I really cannot believe that someone called their daughter ‘Buffy‘. Are you sure it’s not a nickname or a derivative of Elizabeth!” Said the spirit.
“Oh, yeah, I‘m sure. I wouldn’t mention it like that though. She’s kinda touchy ‘bout her name.” Said Willow.
“You have mentioned her a few times. Who is she, exactly?” Asked Eleanor.
“She’s the oldest living slayer.”
“Really.” Answered Willow. She paused, closing her eyes. “Allie’s coming back with Ethan. We’d rather he didn’t see you, we’re trying to keep him away from the supernatural.”
“I want to see my son.” She demanded. Then her tone softened. “You have to let me see him, to explain why I took the actions I did. I believe I can alter the course of events to stop them repeating themselves.” Pleaded Eleanor.
“You think he’ll try to go that way again. I‘m not so sure that it‘d be a good idea, even if he could.” Said Willow.
“Unless I can convince him otherwise, his instinct will compel him to research the reason for my death. That is where he first discovered the dark arts. That is what drove him to his association with chaos. He will listen to me. He turned his back on his heritage, his duty.” She paused. “Had he not travelled this path he was destined to become a watcher.”
“A Watcher. Like Giles.” Said Willow.
“That would be Rupert Giles, I presume.” Said Eleanor. “I always considered him a bad influence. Do you know him?”
Willow grimaced. “Kinda. He’s the head of the Watcher Slayer Council now, He‘s a good man. He taught us most of what we know. In fact, he‘s Buffy‘s Watcher.”
“Hmmm. Oh well. People surprise you.” She said. “What happened to Travers, I thought he was head of the Council?”
“The First Evil attacked the Council two years ago, blew most of them up while they were in session.” Explained Willow.
“The First Evil?” Eleanor paused, considering. “Don’t you mean Primatu?”
Willow wrinkled her brow. “Not a name we’ve come across. We lost an awful lot of our library and information back then. He’s trying to take control of the slayer line. He’s Non corporeal, has acolytes called Harbingers.”
“Yes, that’s Primatu The Coercer. His name does have a basis in the word ‘first‘, he's a good orator, however, that is about as far as it goes. He’s one of the lesser Old Ones who should have been entombed in the Deeper Well, but he escaped to another dimension where he hides and gets others to do his bidding, by projecting his image as that of any dead being. So; he is trying to gain a foothold here, is he?” Eleanor laughed. “It wouldn’t work you know. Should he become corporeal in this dimension his power would be greatly diminished. Was that an acolyte of his that was here yesterday, trying to steal the book?”
“Yep. The body is a corpse that was taken over by Caleb’s essence after Ethan’s attempt at escape. From what I’ve read in the diary, he’s in for a shock.”
“Quite.” Said Eleanor with a smile. “The grail is so much more than legend has it appear to be.”
The light was fading as Althenea and Ethan came back form their tour around the house and gardens. They entered the house and made their way into the hall when they heard two voices in conversation.
“Ma’ma?” Whispered Ethan, puzzled. He made to dash into the room but Althenea held him back. “Wait a moment. It‘s not really her; it‘s a sort of interactive recording.”
“But it’s still ma’ma.” He said firmly.
“Wait here for a moment. I’ll check to see if it’s Ok to go in. Stay here.”
Althenea had already checked with Willow of course, but she wanted Ethan to exercise patience.
Willow nodded to her sister witch as she mentally asked if this was the right course of action. They planned their approaching task and Ethan was called into the room.
The Dorchester, London
Giles cancelled the call he’d made to Buffy regarding the incident at Biggin Hill, satisfied that all was well. That was except that there was yet another exposure possibility caused by his senior slayer. His thoughts meandered through the details and he came to the conclusion that Daniel had averted the possible threat by taking control of the aftermath and diverting Ames attention. He had a cool head on his shoulders and he didn’t panic. That was good, he was an asset. His thoughts were interrupted by a tap on his shoulder.
“Hello, Rupert. I believe we have a dinner date.” Said Olivia.
Giles jumped slightly. “Ah, yes. Terribly sorry. Something I had to deal with before I came in. Good evening Olivia, how are you?” He poked at his phone, making a pointed effort to switch it off. “There, no more interruptions.” He said.
“I’m impressed, you‘ve mastered technology since I last saw you.” She said. “Come on, our table awaits.”
He held out his arm, she gave a slight giggle and hooked hers through it as they entered the dining room.
At Olivia’s request, Giles spent most of the first and main courses relating the recent history of the scoobies and Sunnydale since her departure after the incident with the Gentlemen.
Her questions were gently searching. Had he had any other relationships since her? Was there anyone else currently? Did he see the future being any less fraught or dangerous?
He answered all as honestly as he could without trying to sound smug or harsh. He noted that unlike last time she seemed more at ease with his explanation of the evils that there were in the world; and he sensed a possibility that she might be willing to give some kind of relationship another try. Another thought crossed his mind that Alison Clewley’s comments might have had something to do with this change of heart. They ordered dessert and Giles asked of her news.
“When I heard about Sunnydale on the news, I really did fear the worst had happened and that any day might be the last any of us saw, I really thought that the world might end Rupert. After what you had explained to me about the demons, vampires and fairytales, it made me wish that I’d given you a better answer; tried to come to terms with it all. It scared me, and I ran away.”
“Running is sometimes the best thing you can do, it’s a natural instinct and a self preservation reaction.” He said, sympathetically.
She paused, her eyes averting from his for a moment. “I believe …I should have let you know how I really felt when I’d allowed my self more time to think; and I thought that I’d never get that chance again.”
“Is there something that you’re trying to tell me Olivia?” He said, smiling. “Something like the fact that you think we may have another chance?” He asked.
“There is that, yes. But there’s something more important that I have to tell you first.”
What is it?” He asked.
She gave him a worried look.
“Is it that bad?” He asked.
“Just a little, not necessarily as shocking as discovering that vmpires and demons are real. Although it does depend upon you point of view.” She said.
His voice was calm. “Olivia, if you don’t tell me what it is, I’m never going to know, am I.”
She took a deep breath. “Ok, here goes. You have a daughter…..We, have a daughter.”
The explanation took a while. His mother’s image did most of the explaining as he was enraptured by her presence. Althenea and Willow only listened carefully, gleaning anything that they thought might be useful; and only gave comment if there was a recent history that required elaboration.
Ethan stared in shock. It was his mother. Just as he remembered her. His mind raced to figure out a way it could comprehend how this was possible. Surely there must be some kind of machinery to enable an image to interact with a person.
“I- I don’t u-understand.” He said, shakily. “This isn’t possible. You told me that…”
“Everyone thought that travelling to the moon in ‘sixty nine was impossible. But it happened.” Said Althenea. “Yes, I do remember what we told you, and we’re sorry we lied to you, but if we’d told you that all of this was real this morning you’d have been in an asylum by now, clawing at the walls.
“Might not have. Might have gone out and told the world.” He retorted.
“When you see Buffy, ask her that one.” Said Willow.
“Long story. Short version, she’ll be one of your school counsellors.” Said Willow.
“I assure you Ethan, although I am not physically here, I can understand you and help you through this ordeal. I know that what I have revealed to you has come as a shock. Perhaps more of a shock than the things that you’ve already been told, but they had to be said for your own health and sanity. You have been given a second chance by these people to make amends for the things you’ve done, things that you might not have done, had I not taken the course of action I did to safeguard this house and its contents. As for my part in your rehabilitation I will be here to help you every step of the way. In this form I do not need rest or sustenance. Let me be your guide.”
You won’t leave me again, will you Ma’ ma?” He asked.
“No son, the only way that could happen is if the books were destroyed.” She said.
“What about if they were relocated with your permission.” Asked Willow.
“As long as they are all together and are intact, this form and the memories will be with them. Should they be separated, the house will reclaim them.” Said Eleanor.
“Then we catalogue them and prepare somewhere safe for them, either at the school or the coven.” Said Willow. She looked at her watch. “If you’ll excuse me for a few moments. I have a couple of calls to make.”
As she left the room she spoke quietly with the two young watchers in the hallway. ”Do you have everything?” She asked.
“Good.” She said. “Leave now. Go straight back to the WSC and get it uploaded, we’ll deal with everything here.”
They left taking their equipment with them. She waited on the steps for a few moments to ensure that they made it off the estate, and made the calls she needed to. Then she reached out with her mind and listened to the voice of her sister witch informing her what was happening.
“It’s going bad in here. Put a barrier up in the exit. I’ll get us out ” Came the telepathic message.
Charles De Gaulle Airport.
The delayed flight from City Airport arrived forty minutes later than scheduled. Disembarking, the team ViXan, as Melanie had dubbed them, made their way through check-in and headed for the taxi rank.
The Chief Air Traffic Controller took a short sip of his coffee. It wasn’t everyday he had a call from the higher ups to give him instructions about incoming aircraft. All he had been given was the aircrafts call sign and the fact that it was a diverted inbound from Rio within the half hour. The more specific instructions were that he treat the passengers with anonymity. No-one should be allowed near the plane except a refuelling crew, if requested. When he asked if the passengers would be requiring transport, he was told that that was in hand, access and exit was to be via the south west service road, far from the terminals. He concluded that these people were extremely camera shy.
C141 Call sign: SlayAir One.
Kennedy reviewed the Louvre plans on the laptop in front of her. Her decision to bring a team to Europe that morning had been the right one She checked again, the text message she’d recently received from Willow, giving her the exact location of the Grail. Her brief was simple. Secure the east and south sides of the Louvre. Stop any bad guys from getting in. Piece of cake. They were ready, and she was spoiling for a fight.
The converted C-141 landed with precision after its nine hour flight. It taxied to the perimeter road and the rear cargo door began to lower. In the cargo bay the engines of four Hummers burst into life. In unison they leapt forward down the ramp, onto the perimeter road and into the night.
Environs de Versailles.
Buffy was dreaming, she’d nodded off leaning against Dan’s shoulder just after they’d entered France. He’d given over the driving seat to Sophie, it being her country and all. Her driving style was a little brusque for his taste, but he put it down to her Parisienne nature. It was a little like driving in Rome, Dawn had commented, if you didn’t get positive and forceful with it, you didn’t get anywhere, and just pissed everyone else off.
Dan glanced down and smiled as she frowned in her sleep.. “I wonder what you’re dreaming about.” He muttered.
Dawn heard him and leaned forward. “I’ve seen this before. Don’t wake her, she might just be getting some information we need.” she whispered.
Dan raised his eyebrows. “Visions?” He whispered back.
“She gets the prophetic type dreams occasionally, sort of portents of the things to come.”
Dan’s singular word of comment said it all. “Wow.”
Her dream was certainly of the weird. Flashes of her previous encounter with the First and Caleb were mixed in with those of Adam and the first slayer.
There was Tara, handing her the Manus tarot card, voicing the first slayers words. “ You think you know, what’s to come? What you are? You haven’t even begun.”
Then it flashed to the scene in her fight with Adam, when she told him. “You can never hope to grasp the source of our power.”
It faded to the Guardian in the temple just before Caleb snapped her neck. “A powerful weapon, crafted in secrecy. ….. It is for her alone to wield.”
In the Hellmouth. ….. “Oooh Mommy, this mortal wound is all itchy. …. You almost took me down.” ….. “Get out of my face!”
Snippets of the previous evening in the restaurant with Giles, Dan and Edward.
“Oldest living slayer ……….. Shared your power ……. You are their mother. …. Untapped powers.”
“I am the vessel.” She heard her own voice echoing over everything else.
There was a last flashed image of an ugly demon charging at her on a motorcycle, it looked like one of the Hellions that she’d killed when Willow resurrected her, but she didn’t recognise the area. It was coming closer, she’d get a better look ………
She awoke with a start. Her cellphone was ringing. Althenea calling, she read on the display.
Caleb was pacing impatiently. “Why aren’t they here yet.” He turned to the desk he was passing and idly flicked through an art history book. The First, in Buffy form flashed into the room and looked out of the ballroom window into the night sky.
“A dozen Bringers were killed at the airfield trying to use the aircraft that the skin you’re wearing used to own. She was there with the watchers, the Chalice and Langdon. Obviously she had the same idea of using it to leave the country as they’d had.” It said.
He looked up from the book. “So, they comin‘, or not?” Asked Caleb, sullenly.
“Your arrogance and temper were your downfall last time. Don’t let it happen again.” Said the First, pointedly.
“The Claatic demons are here. They’re spoilin’ for a fight. I really don’t want to disappoint them.” He said.
“They need to be careful. She rousted their cousins the Hellions, in Sunnydale and she’d only just risen from her grave.” Said the First.
That’s why they want her. Revenge.” He said. “I got the same sorta issues, ‘cept, mine are a lot more personal.” He added.
“Are they all in position ready to enter when called.” Asked the First.
“Hiding out in the grounds keeping’ outta sight until they see them come in. The gates have been left open purposely.” Said Caleb.
Xander’s cellphone was ringing. “Hey, Allie.” He said.
“Where are you Xander.” She asked.
“North side. Café Ruc, just across from the Louvre. It’s closed to the public but we’re keeping an eye out. Small patrols, dusted a couple of vamps, no sign of our big bad though.” He reported.
“Ok, Kennedy’s just landed at Orly. She’s gonna take the south and east sides. ETA is twenty minutes, she’s got four teams with her.”
“Heard anything from the Buffster?” Asked Xander.
“Arriving at the Chateau in about fifteen minutes. She‘ll call you with what she finds there. We’re nearly done here Willow will get there as soon as she can. Be careful, Xander.”
“We will. Bye.” He said.
The Mercedes slowly moved through the gates and towards the Chateau. Its Headlights on full beam. The Claatic demons hidden in the bushes and outbuildings watched with anticipation, waiting for their leader’s signal. At the end of the drive there was a sweep left to the front of the house. The demons watched as the car didn’t make any attempt at negotiating the turn. Instead it’s momentum took it over the immaculate lawns toward the large French windows of the ballroom. There were several low steps and a patio area in front of them. It never made it over the first one. It jerked to a halt and stalled.
Their leader realised too late what had happened. As he opened his mouth to bellow a warning, the silver bullet from Dan’s silenced Glock hit him straight between the eyes and he dropped like a stone. His lieutenant standing just behind him got the same treatment as he watched his leader fall.
There were several grunts, groans and thuds from around the area as other members were taken out by the tag team of Heidi and Helga. Dawn watched with Sophie and Robert from the perimeter wall as Buffy dropped from a tree onto four of the gang. Several blows later four more were dead. That was when they all heard the roar of a motorcycle starting up.
Caleb had returned to his flicking through of the books, his eyes were bored of looking at the paintings and images of churches. That was when he opened the Louvre’s latest publication. The book fell open at the page showing a photograph of the Pyramide Inverse and the small stone phallus of the Blade! He stared at it for a few moments, the thoughts and possibilities registering in his mind.
I think I’ve found what we’re looking for.” He said.
The First appeared behind him, looking over his shoulder at the book.
“Are you sure?“
“Then what are we waiting for, lets go. I‘ll inform the Claa……”
The words were cut off as they heard the roar of a motorcycle outside.
Buffy stood between the charging biker and the house, ready for the game of chicken to commence. The bike reared up on its back wheel and aimed directly for her. She stood her ground until the last second, then, leaping into the air she performed a piked flip over the biker. As he passed beneath her she lashed out with the scythe, cleaving its head in one swipe. The bike and its headless rider continued on aiming straight for the French windows. There was an explosion of glass and wood as the doors imploded, showering the room with debris.
“Protege!” Shouted Caleb as pieces of glass flew towards him. A rippling shield appeared between him and the shards and they bounced off, harmlessly.
Buffy appeared in the gaping hole flanked by Heidi and Helga.
“Knock, knock. Anyone home.” She called.
Caleb answered with a fireball. Buffy ducked and it flew out of the hole behind her into the night. Heidi and Helga moved to either side and further into the room, spreading out.
“Now, that’s no way to treat an old friend Caleb.” She admonished. “C’mon, give it up now and I promise I’ll make it quick.” She said, brandishing the scythe.
“You aint getting’ near me with that thing again, bitch.” He spat.
“Hey, language, my students have delicate ears.” She retorted. There were sniggers from the other two.
Inside his shield Caleb gathered his power. “I’ve got what I need from here. I’ll be back for you when I’ve got the power of the grail. Then you’ll pay, bitch.” He looked at the First. ”Get me some backup over there. I don’t trust her”
With that he disappeared. The First who had been watching from the sidelines nodded, as Caleb left, then saw Dan coming in from the rear. Smirking, it morphed into another guise and appeared behind him.
Dan spun around. “Mandy.” He said, slightly shocked.
Outside the perimeter Dawn looked up and down the road. She beckoned to Sophie and Robert to follow silently. They crept towards the gate looking around for anymore demons. As they entered the grounds two demons pounced from the bushes. Dawns Katana flashed upwards cutting through an arm, the demon bellowed and tried to roll away from her. She took two steps toward the scrabbling demon and the katana swiftly ended it’s pain.
Robert only just managed to bring his short sword up to waist height before the other closed in to attack him. As he prepared to fight the demon gave a scream and fell forward, disintegrating in a ball of fire.
Dawn looked in the direction of the house. “That was helpful. The bad guy’s are killing their own for us now.” She said, brightly.
Dan started to edge away from the vision in front of him.
“What’s up Danny, aren’t you pleased to see me.” Said the First, acting hurt.
“You’re not real, she’s dead, y-you’re the First.” He stammered.
“What’s in a name.” It said. ”You used to love me, once.”
Dan collected himself. “I used to love the person she was, I still love the memories of what we had together. You aren’t her. Get lost, creep!” There was anger in his voice.
“Now that’s not nice. I could haunt you every night, every day. You can’t hide from me. I can follow you anywhere. It’d drive you nuts. You’d never be any use to her again.” The First nodded in Buffy’s direction.
“Yeah, true, but whilst you’re doing that you can’t be anywhere else, right.” So other people would be safe.” Argued Dan.
“I can multi task if I want.” The image said.
“Want to put it to the test.” Said Dan. He saw the look of uncertainty in its face and his confidence grew slightly.
“Don’t get cocky with me, lover boy.” Said the First.
“I wouldn’t get ‘cocky' with you if you were the last thing on the planet. Wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole.”
“Actually, you couldn’t, non corporeal an’ all that. Said the First, smarmily. “And I thought you were smart.”
Dan opened his mouth to reply but Buffy came over and stood adjacent to them. “Excuse the interruption, but is this a five minute argument, or a half hour one.” She said, solemnly.
Dan grinned at the Monty Python analogy. “I’m done.” He said. He looked at the First. “Now why don’t you piss off back where you came from. We’ve got places to be.”
He took Buffy’s hand and they walked out, leaving the First standing there, speechless.
It morphed into the image of Spike. “See you later luv.” It said and disappeared.
The Louvre Paris
Caleb’s teleport took him to a side street close to the Louvre. He took out a pocket watch and looked at the time. “Not yet. Too soon.” He muttered. He stepped back into the shadows as a patrol of slayers came past, they didn’t see him. He needed a distraction, if there were more slayers, he’d need a big distraction. Where had the First gotten to.
Buffy glanced behind her as they walked out into the gardens. Not seeing the First there she pulled out her cellphone and dialled.
“Kennedy, Caleb teleported out a couple of minutes ago. The First has just left, probably gone for reinforcements. Watch your backs. We‘re on our way. See you in twenty minutes.” She hung up and redialled.
The same message was passed to Xander. Dan went over to the car. Opening the door he took the dagger off the accelerator and restarted the engine. There was a nasty grating noise from under the bonnet and Dan grimaced. He jumped out and opened the bonnet. A smell of hot oil came from the engine and a puff of blue smoke. He looked underneath and let out a groan.
“Bugger. Step’s ripped the sump open. This isn’t going anywhere.” He said.
Dawn came running up with Robert and Sophie. Heidi and Helga returned from scouting the area.
“Ist Kaput, ja?” Asked Heidi. “Neffer mind there ist another car in der garage over there.” She said, pointing.
“Any keys?” Asked Dan.
Helga held up a bunch of keys with a smile. But is only ein small car vee vill not all fit in. Only fife vill fit.” She said.
“Dan looked around. He nudged Buffy. “Ever ridden pillion?” He asked.
“‘Scuse me? What‘s pillion?” She asked.
“On the back of a bike.” He said.
“Oh, yeah, long time ago. Someone I knew in LA had one.” She said.
“Then it’s time you got reacquainted.” Said Dan. At her unsure look he added. “Come on, it’ll be fun.”
He grabbed the motorcycle that had crashed through the French windows, gave it a once over and straddled it. He pumped the kick start a couple of times and the engine roared into life.
Buffy grabbed one of the tie backs from the ballroom curtains and made a strap for the scythe. Slinging it over her shoulder she mounted the bike behind Dan.
“Get there as soon as you can.” She shouted to Dawn over the noise. “And…..”
“I know. Watch your back.” Finished Dawn, grinning.
Buffy put her arms around Dan’s waist and they took off, gravel flying up from the rear wheel as it dug in for grip. Helga threw the car keys to Sophie.
“You know der vay, so you drive.” She said, commandingly.
Sophie raised her eyebrows at the arrogance of her tone. Robert opened his mouth to complain but Dawn got there first.
“Helga.” She said, warningly. “We ask, not command.” Her German was perfect.
“Sorry, Bitte. Pliss vill you drife.” Said Helga, lowering her eyes.
“Sophie nodded and a small grin appeared on her lips as she led the group to the car.
Robert followed on, amazed that a normal teen could admonish a more powerful person and get away with it. Perhaps it had something to do with her being Buffy’s sister, but there was something else that made her stand out. He just couldn’t put a finger on what it was.
Buffy couldn’t recall having had such an exhilarating ride when she’d ridden with Pike ten years ago. Ok her hair was a mess, and the destination was Paris not Vegas. What the heck, she felt safe with Dan in control, he was fast, but not reckless, like Pike, and from what Andrew had said, Spike had been much the same. Maybe there was some similarity because of the name.
As they entered the Paris they crossed the Seine at Sainte Cloud, and through the outskirts of Boulogne-Billancourt, Dan taking the signs for Notre Dame. As they approached the Jardins du Trocadero, the Eiffel Tower came into view and he wound the throttle open a little more.
Buffy’s senses began to twitch. It was the sensation she got when vampires were around. She glanced over Dan’s shoulder and spoke into his ear. “We got company, from the feel of it, lots of company…….Vampires.” She said.
“What do we do?” He called back over his shoulder.
“Keep going. I’ve got these neato new powers, I’ll see if I can get us in close without being seen.” She said.
He nodded. She concentrated on what had happened at the airport and recreated the scenario in her mind.
Dan concentrated on the job in hand. Turning into Place du Carrousel he mounted the pavement and into the square, coming to rest near the glass pyramid.
A group of three vampires were standing guard at the entrance to the pyramid. They neither heard nor saw the motorcycle approach them and pull up close. When the first one turned to dust the other two looked into the darkness to see if there was a bowman aiming at them. As his companion exploded the remaining vamp decided that running into the building might be his best option. It wasn’t. He wasn’t even looking where he was going when the stake plunged into his chest. Dan coughed at the dust.
Buffy smiled and said. “At least you got the heart on your first attempt. I missed first time.”
“I just have to hope that there’s nothing contagious in the dust.” He said, wryly.
A noise from behind made them start. A large number of vampires were moving towards them from the Jardin des Tuileries. Dan pulled out the Glock and checked the clip. Buffy readied the Scythe. Suddenly there was the sound of running feet from their left. Ten slayers appeared from the shadows of the south side headed by Kennedy.
“Get down there!” She called out. “He’s just gone in. We spotted him teleporting out of a side street a minute ago. We’ll take care of these.”
Buffy nodded and entered the Pyramid. Dan mounted the bike.
“Where are you going?” She asked, grabbing his arm.
“There’s another way in over there, I’ll create a noisy diversion, let you get in close.” He called out over the starting engine.
“Be careful. Don’t do anything stupid. I like you in one piece, remember.”
“I remember.” He leaned over and kissed her. “Now go.” He said, looking behind him at the slayers with crossbows launching several volleys of bolts at the approaching vampires. “Before we become someone’s midnight snack.”
She smiled at him and ran into the building. Dan stomped on the gear lever, wound the throttle and dropped the clutch. The rear wheel slewed round, leaving an arc of rubber on the square. He balanced, steering bike speedway style, in a slide around the pyramid and raced towards the other entrance.
Willow muttered. “Protego.” And a barrier formed in the doorway. Then she dissolved the glamour surrounding her and Althenea returned to her own guise.
In the Altar room Eleanor Rayne’s look had darkened. “I wasn’t sure before but now I am. That was your intention all along, wasn’t it. To steal the books, the heirlooms for your own gain. I won‘t allow it!” She said. There was a rumbling from the house.
“You will never leave here with the information. I have my son returned and I will show him the truth. His regeneration will mean he can go on to be more powerful than you could imagine.”
The young Ethan looked perplexed by this. “What does she mean?” He asked.
The woman he thought was Althenea explained. “Your mother’s a pretty powerful spirit, and more than a little power hungry, if I’m not mistaken. We thought that she might not give the books up without a fight. Memory spirits tend to want one thing. To manifest in the physical world. Usually some unfinished business, or perhaps in this case, unfinished training.”
“Aha! It finally dawns upon you. Do you think you can fight me. I am the essence of the house. You are the weaker witch. You will not survive what I can throw at you.” She spat. The house rumbled again. Ethan looked more scared.
“What about your son, would you kill him as well. Are you certain I won’t kill him?” Asked Althenea.
“You are not like the other one. She could if she wanted, if needed. I feel it. You are more passive, less powerful.” Boomed Eleanor.
“Is that what you think. That I’m weak.” Althenea sounded annoyed.
“I know it. I was right about the council. They are greedy, insignificant men on a selfish mission. Rupert Giles put you up to this didn’t he? He was always an insolent one.”
“Giles didn’t put me ‘up’ for anything. I’ve known Giles for almost ten years, and I’ve never known him to be greedy.” Her face brightened as she realised what the original problem was. “He was competition, wasn’t he? Competition for your son; and you didn’t like it, did you. This isn’t about the council, this is about your jealousy……….” She was abruptly cut off.
“Silence!!. What does it matter, I will fuse your power to mine and I will be whole again. Then we shall see who really has power.” She bellowed. The house shook again, several ornaments rattled off the shelves and shattered.
Althenea continued. “Giles did teach me one thing though, do your homework, plan your strategy; and when in England, never trust the weather. Especially the RAYNE.”
At that she dissolved the glamour and returned to herself. Willow stood before the shocked entity, and an even more shocked Ethan.
“Don’t leave me here with her.” He pleaded. “That can’t be my mother. She was never that nasty.” He looked terrified.
The entity recovered slightly. “You, …. But she……. How…...You will never have the books. I will destroy them first; and you along with them.”
“Already got ‘em, actually. Y’ know, thirty four years is a long time. Technology, kinda moved on. It’s the digital age now. My watchers were busy while you were, well, busy.” Said Willow.
THIEF.!!! She boomed, the house shook violently, sparks emitting from the chandeliers. There as a fizzing and popping sound from the hallway as the fuse box blew and flames burst from the light fitting. It spread swiftly, engulfing the ceiling in seconds and setting the curtains alight.
Willow heard Althenea’s voice in her head, “Come on Will, time to go.”
Pushing Ethan forward, she dashed for the doorway. Eleanor’s voice boomed through the house. “SEAL” All the doors and windows began slamming shut, They barely made it out of the Altar room before that door slammed; only the front doors between them and freedom remaining. The fire had spread rapidly, flames already licking along the walls and door frames. They raced for the front doors where Althenea was holding back the straining doors with her personal shield.
Willow paused to grab Ethan’s hand; there was a brief flash, and they appeared outside on the driveway. Althenea let the shield drop and dashed onto the driveway herself. They stood and watched from a distance as the flames engulfing the house rose high into the night sky. Before too long there was nothing left to burn and they died down to a more bearable level.
“Guess the maintenance plan went out the window a while back, huh. Hope you’re insured, though I doubt ‘Act of crazy mother’s spirit’ will be a good thing to put on the claim form.” Quipped Willow.
“What do I do now?” He asked.
“Don’t worry, we’re not going to abandon you. There is a problem in that you know all of this is real now; so, probably summer school to start. Bring you up to speed, kinda thing.” Said Willow.
“What about the magic and demons and stuff?” He asked.
Althenea laughed. “ Ha, ha. Not a chance with the magicks sunshine. Part of the reason you asked to have your powers drained was because you said that it nearly killed you the last time you used it. They’re gone. You can’t get them back again. On the demons are real side of things, well we’re going to have to trust you; but what Will said earlier about mental asylums is true. Be warned; if you open your mouth people will think you’re as nutty as a fruitcake.”
“Oh. That’s not good. Is it?” He answered.
“Definitely not.” Said Willow. “I think the plan went well, deciding to pull the old switcheroo on her. We must do it again sometime Allie.”
Althenea grinned in agreement.
Willow looked at her watch. “Crap, it’s eleven. That means it’s midnight in Paris.” She said. “I gotta fly, literally.”
Althenea gave her a reassuring look. “Don’t worry I’m sure Buffy and the others have dealt with it successfully. I think we’d have both felt it if something was wrong.”
The Louvre. Paris
Buffy looked at the lift in front of her. She shook her head, and turned for the stairs. Taking them three at a time she was soon on the lower floor. She turned and ran along the gallery, her boots squeaking on the polished floor. She could hear the sound of the bike echoing through the level as Dan gained access from the retail end of the gallery.
As she neared the chamber that housed the pyramide inverse, the noise of the motorcycle went quiet. “That’s not of the good.” She thought. Quietly, she came around the corner and froze. Caleb stood with his back to her, arms outstretched, chanting the Hebrew prayer. As he intoned the last line he smashed the two flasks over the floor mounted Blade, and it began to split open. A beam of light shot upwards and filled the Chalice. That began to split open too, and in seconds there was a mass of misty light filling the space between the two. It began to swirl in a vortex like fashion, and Caleb stepped back to admire his handiwork.
A thought occurred to her and She smiled to herself as she formulated her plan. Placing the Scythe out of sight, she concentrated on not being seen and walked casually into the chamber. She moved to the far side of the vortex and saw the reason that the bikes engine noise had stopped. The bike was lying on its side at the far end of the retail section.
Dan was being held up against the wall by two burly vampires, one of which, was trying in vain to take a piece out of his neck. It’s teeth just wouldn’t penetrate the protection shield. After a couple of attempts the vamp gave up and Buffy’s heart skipped a beat as it made to snap Dan’s neck. Just then Caleb spotted them.
“No. Don’t kill him. If he’s here then she can’t be far away!” He commanded.
The vamp glared at Dan, grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him towards the chamber. Dan tucked and rolled into the fall, standing upright as the two vamps came after him. They caught up to him just as he slipped the stake from his sleeve and the nearest vamp took the point in the chest. It exploded in a shower of dust just as the failed biter grabbed Dan again.
“He was my sire, you bastard.” Bellowed the vamp.
“Oh dear, what a pity, what a shame. Now he’s broom fodder.” Said Dan, sardonically. Hold still for a second and you can still be together.”
Buffy almost giggled out loud at the comment but stopped herself in case she was heard. She had to move as the vamp dragged Dan into the chamber in front of Caleb.
“So you’re the new boy. Where is she?” Sneered Caleb.
“Where’s who?” Dan wasn’t going to answer easily; he wanted to give Buffy enough time.
“The Slayer, you idiot. God you’re as big a dunderhead as that one eyed carpenter. How about I give you one to match.” He said raising his thumbs.
“I’d be careful where you shove those, you might lose them.” Said Dan, defiantly.
Buffy had heard enough, she concentrated on being visible. “I can work this.“ She thought. She appeared just behind Caleb, out of arms reach, just in case. “You might not want to do that. He could be better insurance if he’s in one piece.” She said.
Caleb jumped slightly. “And just where have you been.” He admonished.
“Hey, you’re not the boss of me. I distinctly heard you ask for some backup. It takes time to do that.” She said. She looked over at the swirling light. “I see we have a pretty light show.”
“Yes, it is kinda beautiful in a way. Almost makes you feel bad about using it.” He mused.
“So, the next step.” She asked. At his sideways look she continued. “Is what?”
“We join, and then I step into the light.” He said.
“Sounds icky.” She grimaced. “And gross” She thought.
“Caleb had postured himself with his arms open and eyes closed, ready for the joining. He squinted at her. “Aw, you know this is a sacred moment for me. It has to be done right.”
Buffy huffed and held her posture as a mirror image of his. Caleb closed his eyes as a voice behind them shouted.
“Just what do you think you’re trying to do.” Said another voice. The First had arrived.
Caleb’s eyes widened as he realised his mistake.
Buffy gave him a quick grin. “Psyche.” She said. Then she struck.
The first punch hit him in the solar plexus. He doubled over in pain and the follow through uppercut hit him under the chin, lifted him off his feet and sent him flying into the wall. He slid down the wall but wasn’t beaten yet. Before he even got to his feet he released an energy bolt at her. She dived away, rolled out of the chamber, and collected the Scythe.
The vamp holding Dan dragged him around the chamber between Buffy and Caleb; using him as a shield Caleb shouted a warning. “If you come back in here he dies!”
“Don’t listen to him Buff. Don’t trust hi…..” Dan’s words were cut off as the vampire put his hand over Dan’s mouth. Dan bit down on the fingers and it screamed in pain. “Now you know what it feels like.” Said Dan, stomping his heel hard on the vamps foot and slipping from its grasp. The vampire stooped to nurse its foot and Dan tried to slip away but Caleb was faster. Dan felt himself being lifted off the ground and pulled through the air backwards as Caleb levitated him towards the vortex.
“Throw in the weapon now, and I’ll spare him.” Said Caleb, as Buffy appeared in the entrance with the Scythe raised.
“And I’m supposed to believe that. C’mon Caleb. We both know it’s me you really want, so what d’ya say we end this, now.” She said.
The vampire recovered slightly and rushed at Buffy. He never saw the movement, never felt the strike, never felt the pain. The Scythe flashed in an arc so fast even Caleb had difficulty in believing that it could be wielded so quickly. The vampire stopped dead; its eyes widened as its head slowly slipped from its shoulders and it crumbled to dust.
The First’s eyes widened at this too. “She’s more powerful, somehow. This has got to be something the witch cooked up.” It said.
Buffy shook her head. “Nah, you guys are just getting’ slow in you’re old age. I mean, c’mon Caleb. That body. That look. It’s so passé. And as for you Primatu.”
The First’s eyes widened. Buffy continued.
“Oh, yeah. We got our sources. I thought I told you to get outta my face. For those of you who are mentally challenged, that means stop looking like me.” She explained.
The first glared at her.
“I still hold the ace here bitch, in case you haven’t noticed. One flick of my wrist and your lover is gone for good. Now drop the weapon.” Commanded Caleb.
Buffy gave Dan an anguished look.
“No, don’t.” Called Dan. His eyes flickered down to his chest. “I’ll be ok, just get the scumbag.”
“No. Too risky.” She said. She placed the Scythe on the floor and pushed it away with her foot.
“That’s better.” Said Caleb. An evil smirk came over is face. “But he was right, you shouldn’t trust me.”
He flicked his wrist and Dan’s shocked face was the last thing Buffy saw before he disappeared into the eddying light.
She let out an grief-stricken scream, tears forming in her eyes. She fell to her knees, looking at the lights. Caleb advanced towards her, as he did he conjured a fireball in his hand ready to unleash upon her.
As he approached, he heard her sobs. He stood over her holding the fireball sneering at her. “It gets you right there doesn’t it.” He said tapping his chest. “Now I’ve got a ritual to finish, and you’re gonna die and let me take my rightful place in this world.”
“You want it so bad.” She said glaring angrily at him from under hooded eyes. “You can have it!”
She grabbed his ankles and lifted him off the ground. His arms flailed and he lost the fireball. It crashed against the wall and it exploded. She winced with pain as the blast caught her side and pushed them both off balance towards the light. Buffy let go and dived sideways, Caleb falling into the swirling light. There was a brief moment of silence and then the screams could be heard.
End of Chapter Thirty Three