Vampire Wars Chapter Three
Vampire Wars Chapter Three
The next few days, and nights were busy. When they weren't training, the five squads were patrolling. When they weren't patrolling, they practiced with the weapons - Taser-like rifles, and flash-bang grenades - exploding with a blinding flash of light and an extremely loud, stunning noise. And hours of hand to hand martial arts instruction and application.
No one got more than 4 hours of sleep per day, often less than that. Xena was the only one it didn't seem to affect adversely.
While patrolling Xena and Buffy often combined their forces, consequently, their two squads together had better results than the remaining three squads' added together. They had more vampire kills, and seemed to get more information from the occasional prisoner.
Major English didn't much like his authority being usurped by Xena, but he couldn't argue with the results. Grudgingly, he admitted to himself that Xena had one of the finest tactical minds he'd seen in his twenty-five years of military service. Where had she learned it?
Xena was a natural born leader, or so it seemed to Buffy, and knowing a good thing when she saw it, she allowed Xena to command both squads when they were together. Xena still carried, and used with great effectiveness, her sword and steel rings. And Buffy still carried her two wooden stakes. They stashed them when reporting back to headquarters, and stashed the rifles when on patrol. Both women were highly respected by the members of their squads, so the use of the unauthorized weapons were never reported to the major.
Gabrielle, on the other hand, never got to use her staff again. And she was never comfortable using the Taser rifle. Most of her battles with the Enemy were hand to hand, with the finishing blows delivered with the stakes. That was the one thing the daily training did for her - she excelled in the arts of Jujitsu, Hapkido, and Karate.
But in her heart, she knew she didn't belong anywhere but with Xena. If it hadn't been for Riley, she would have gone back to ancient Greece after the third or fourth day. But he seemed to sense her uneasiness with the rifles and gave her more leeway than he would have another soldier. Soon, Gabrielle began to feel there might be something special growing between them.
But as many vampires that were taken out, just as many took their places. It wasn't long before Xena and Buffy realized that they weren't really getting anywhere. The major was happy that there were no human deaths, only injuries. What mattered most were the kills they reported, but not being in the field, he didn't realize the problem.
Buffy and Xena had had enough barracks life and decided to start spending days at Buffy's house. Gabrielle still had to return to headquarters with Riley and his men. But didn't really mind.
It was the first day at Buffy's that Willow had informed them of how abandoned Xander, Anya and Dawn were feeling. They were trying to find some way to get a message to them without actually having to switch bodies when Buffy came up with the idea of putting a note inside some kind animal to make the switch. Xena suggested switching a large fish for one of the chickens. Buffy said she didn't know if she wanted a chicken running through her house, so Tara told her they'd make the switch in the back yard. Xena said something about a chicken dinner, then left the details up to Willow and Tara, and they went back to planning their stragedy for the coming night's patrol. Then they showered and went to bed; training could wait for another day.
That night was different. There were still plenty of vampires around, but they seldom attacked. Rather, they hung back as if they were observing the squads, taking note of the weapons, the man-, and woman-power, and the tactics. And while the lack of combat produced no injuries, the frustration grew. They knew something was up; they just didn't know what.
The next night all Hell broke loose. Buffy and Xena's squads were fanned out through the park, but the only vampires they actually saw were at a distance, watching them. Then without warning, angry orange-red orbs of fire pummeled them. Buffy and Xena, having superior reflexes, only received minor burns. Most of the other men didn't fare as well. This night there were many casualties. Then as quickly as it had started, the attack was over. The two women tried to minister to their fallen men, but for most it was too late. As they radioed for help, they were informed that the other squads had suffered similar attacks and were reporting high casualty rates.
Both Xena and Buffy experienced fear and apprehension; Xena for Gabrielle's safety, Buffy for Riley's. After the dead and injured were taken back to Initiative headquarters, the only remaining squad leaders, Xena, Buffy, and Riley, who had twisted his ankle, were subjected to an intense debriefing. After he was sure they had told him all they knew, Major English dismissed them, and they immediately went to the infirmary to look in on the survivors. Fortunately, Gabrielle had only suffered a minor burn to her back, and had bruised her shoulder when she dived to safety behind a dumpster when the attack came.
Both Gabrielle and Riley were fit enough to return to their barracks, but Xena and Buffy left the compound. Once again, Xena's intimidation worked, the major let them go, but with maximum protest.
Instead of going straight home, the two went to Giles' and woke him up, it was 3:30 a.m. After relating the events of the night, and discussing the possibilities, both Buffy and Giles came to the conclusion that even though no one saw her, it had to be Glory. She was the only one who had the power to ignite such an attack. After asking who Glory was, Buffy told her the story of Glory - that she was an evil and powerful god, and about Dawn being the Key that she was searching for, and how Willow and Tara had managed to transport her away, that they thought she was behind the influx of vampires, and what she was capable of now that it looked like she had returned and seemed to be really pissed.
As they made their was back to Buffy's, Xena was silent, deep in thought. When they got back to Buffy's she informed her that she had to return to Greece. She wouldn't explain why, but there was something she HAD to do. And even though Anya probably wouldn't want to leave Xander, there wasn't much she could do about it. So they called Tara, who was home, sleeping, and asked her to come over as soon as she could get there.
Tara showed up, with Willow, about 6.
"Since they have a few squirrels caged up, why don't we at least send a message so Anya will know what's going to happen, and she can put on something that will fit you, maybe even your own clothes."
"We don't have anything to use to switch with." Xena complained, wanting to get on with it.
"Sure we do," Willow chimed in. "We have fish outside in the wading pool I bought. And we have jars."
"Fine, write the note and get it sent. Time is getting short!"
Just before she switched, Xena told Buffy, "Keep watching Meg's farm. I am going to have to leave it for a while, and hopefully, when I get back there I'll have help. In the meantime, you need to get Virgil, Gabrielle and Riley here. I don't care what you tell them, but just get them here!"
After they had opened the fish and read the note, Anya was predictably unwilling to leave Xander, until Dawn reminded her of how nice a good, long, hot shower would feel. So without too much more persuading, Anya complied, and even put on Xena's leathers, but left off the armor. A few minutes later, Xena was standing where Anya had been. And Anya immediately demanded to be taken to the nearest bathroom, with its flush toilet and oh, so beautiful shower!
Xander was the first one to ask, "What's going on? Why has it been taking so long?"
"I really don't have time to explain everything right now. But things have taken a turn for the worst, and we need more help. So far everyone, Gabrielle, Buffy, Virgil, are fine, for now."
And with that, Xena left the house, barely speaking to Meg and Dawn. She went straight to Argo, who was more than happy to see, and smell her.
Dawn followed. "Did I do good?" She asked. "I fed and watered and brushed her two, sometimes three times a day."
"You did fine, Dawn. Thank you very much. But now I have to go." She hurriedly saddled Argo and rode off. But she only went far enough away from the farm that she couldn't be heard as she called out for Ares.
"Well, Xena, back from your little journey. I couldn't help but notice that Gabrielle and Virgil are gone too. I suppose they went to the place of healing Gabrielle went to."
"Ares, I need your help."
"Does this have anything to do with me owing you for my godhood?"
"This has nothing to do with that. Look, Gabrielle and I haven't been completely honest with you about where we have been."
Taking a deep breath, Xena started. "Buffy and Dawn are from the future, about 2000 years in the future. They have a friend named Tara who is a witch, a sorceress, and she can cast spells to make people travel through time. That is how Buffy got here, she was switched with Gabrielle so Gabrielle could be cured by the advanced healers they have. Dawn was switched with me so I could visit Gabrielle in the hospital - the place of healing. But this time, Buffy needed my help, so she switched with Gabrielle to come ask me. Since Virgil was dying, and you wouldn't help, then we switched him with Xander, Anya with me, and Dawn with Gabrielle, after Buffy and Gabrielle were switched back. We discovered that a powerful god named Glory caused thousands of vampires to invade Sunnydale, Buffy's home. We managed to fight to a stalemate with the vampires, but Glory must have realized something was killing them all, and showed up and killed or wounded a dozen or more of our men. Gabrielle was spared with only burns and bad shoulder. This Glory throws fireballs, much like Zeus used to, but they seem hotter, and more destructive. We can't do it by ourselves, we need help. And I was thinking that only a god can kill another god."
"And that "other god" is me." Ares stated.
"So, what do you say? Will you help?"
"Well, of course I will. For a the right price, naturally. I believe you know what that price is."
"Ares, you know I can't do that, I won't do that. Ask something else. . . . Please."
"I don't know, Xena. I've really got my heart set on having a child, having OUR child. I don't think there's anything else I want. It's either that - or nothing."
"Fine, have it you way, it's nothing. I'll just ask Aphrodite. She and Gabrielle are good friends. I'm sure she won't want to take a chance on Gabrielle getting killed."
"Aphrodite!?" Ares laughed out loud. "The Goddess of Love going against a the kind of god you're talking about? That's like Gabrielle going up against ME. She wouldn't stand a chance."
"Nevertheless, right now she's our only hope. APHRODITE! APHRODITE!!!"
"All right! All right!" Ares interrupted. "I'll do it. She's all the family I have left thanks to you. I don't want to lose her too. When do we go?"
"Just as soon as we can. We have to go back to Meg's, then I'll make arrangements for us to get there."
"You say we're going 2000 years into the future?"
"More or less."
"They must have some fabulous weapons there. This might not be so bad after all."
When they got back to Meg's, Xena's plan had taken shape. After explaining to Ares about the candles and bowl of Holy Water used to watch the time travelers, she spoke into the air, "Don't do any switching until Gabrielle, Virgil and Riley are there. Then, switch me with Anya. Then switch Xander with Virgil. And then lastly switch Xander with Ares."
"Why do you get to go first?" Ares asked.
"They have a saying where we're going, 'Ladies first.'"
"What does that mean?"
"It means I go first." Xena answered as she and Anya exchanged time periods. A half minute
later Xander was standing where Virgil had been. "It's sure good to be back." he said.
"Well, enjoy it while you can." Tara said to him, then began the spell that would switch Xander and Ares.
Seconds later Ares was standing where Xander had been, and standing on the clothes Xander had been wearing.
"Why isn't he wearing Xander's clothes?" Buffy asked.
"Hey." Ares answered her. "I AM a god you know. I do have a certain amount of control over what happens to me."
Back at Meg's, Dawn screamed at Xander's nakedness, covered her eyes and turned away. Anya just grinned her approval as Xander scrambled to find something to cover himself with. Meg didn't care. Her son was finally home, and was well again. She was hugging him tightly, not even noticing Xander.
"What the hell's going on?" Riley wanted to know.
"Riley," Xena said, "This is Ares, the God of War."
"Right!" Riley snorted. "And I'm the Queen of England."
"Riley," Gabrielle said. "It's true. He really IS the God of War."
Riley looked at Gabrielle, then at Ares, at Xena, then back to Ares. "I thought Mars was the God of War." He challenged.
"Mars?" Ares said. "That's what the Romans call me. But who cares? Just so long as they worship me."
"You don't look like a god."
"Riley, you saw Virgil and Anya disappear, Xander come and go, and you saw Xena and Ares appear. How much more proof do you need?" Gabrielle asked him.
"Well, Xena looks, and acts, more like a god than he does. Some of the things she can do. . . ."
"Maybe it's because she's half god." Ares said.
"What did you say?!" Xena asked Ares.
"Nothing. I didn't say anything."
"Ares. What did you say about me being half god?"
"Xena. . . . it's nothing. It's just something I heard that might, or might not be true."
"Spill it!" Xena demanded.
"Okay. You obviously don't know it, but I used to get a lot of kidding from the other gods about . . . my feelings for you. They thought it was odd that I would fall in love with a mere mortal. Especially since I could never even get you to my bed. As he usually did, Hades was going on and on about it, and one time he said something to the effect that he once was with your mother. I just ignored it, figuring he was saying that just to make me feel even more inadequate. There's no evidence it ever happened. And even if he did, it doesn't mean you're his love child. It could have happened long before you were born, or long after you left Amphipolis."
Xena's head slowly lowered as she walked to the nearest chair and sat down, disturbed at the idea that Hades could be her father.
"And so what if it was true?" Ares continued. "Would it be so bad? Haven't you ever wondered why you have the abilities and skills you have? How many mortals do you know who can do the things you can?"
As Xena continued to sit silently, brooding, Gabrielle walked over to console her, to be by her side.
Not knowing what else to say, Ares announced that he was going to try to locate Glory and disappeared in a flash of blue.
Riley looked questioningly at Willow, then Tara. They both shook their heads; they didn't know what was going on. So Riley went to Buffy. "Do you know what they're talking about?" He asked her.
"Oh? So now you're talking to me?" Buffy answered resentfully.
"Why wouldn't I talk to you?"
"Well, it's been pretty obvious you've been ignoring me up until now."
"I thought you didn't want anything to do with me. I waited as long as I could, but you never came."
"But I did! I ran as fast as I could!" Tears were filling her eyes as the pain spilled out. "I got there as the helicopter was taking off. I yelled and I yelled, but you never looked down. You never saw I was there!"
Riley was at a loss for words, and was about to take Buffy in his arms when Gabrielle left Xena and walked toward them. Even though her concern was for Xena, she couldn't help but overhear Riley and Buffy's conversation.
"Are you telling me that you two had a thing together? And you didn't tell me?" She asked Riley.
" I . . . I thought it was over."
"And why didn't YOU say something?" She turned to Buffy.
"After seeing how he was around you, I thought he didn't want me." Buffy managed to say, choking back more tears.
"Well that's a fine kettle of fish!" Gabrielle was angry, but didn't know who to be angry at. She couldn't really blame Buffy, or Riley, so that left only herself. She got even angrier, and not knowing what else to do, she left.
Feeling bad for Gabrielle, and confused over his feelings for her, and for Buffy, Riley also left. But seeing the direction Gabrielle was going, he went the opposite way.
Buffy looked Willow, then at Tara. Then she sat down near Xena. No one spoke for a long time.
"I suppose we need some kind of plan." Buffy finally said.
"Yes, I suppose we do." Xena quietly answered.
"Is anyone up for some lunch?" Willow asked, hoping to break up the melancholy depression.
When no one answered, she motioned to Tara that it was time to leave. They quietly left.
"Any ideas?" Xena asked.
"I suppose we should wait until Ares gets back to see if he found anything."
"What if we set a trap?"
"We'd need some kind of bait."
"We could make her think we have the Key."
Gradually, due to the crisis with Glory, the two women pushed aside their personal problems, for the moment, and started concentrating on what they needed to.
As the hours passed, both Xena and Buffy were beginning to have concerns about Ares.
"What if he found Glory and she killed him?" Buffy asked.
"That's not likely. But I wouldn't put it past him to make a pact with her. Then we'd be in real trouble."
"That'd be really great. That's all we need, two of them to fight."
"But I don't think it would happen. I don't think."
"What would stop him?"
"Ego. He likes to be in charge. Plus his only living relative, Aphrodite, is still back in Greece. But if he did turn on us, Tara could just reverse the spell, send him back, and then we'd only have Glory to deal with."
"Back to Square One."
Just then, Ares materialized. "Well, I found her. She is quite the god, I must say."
"If she is a female, why aren't we calling her a goddess?" Xena asked.
"Glory is apparently a sexless god. I guess she had her choice of being male or female and decided to be female. But she doesn't seem to be from our world. There must be some other existence somewhere, like a different underworld."
"Does she know you're here?" Buffy asked.
"I'm not sure. I think she suspects something, but it may just be Xena she's sensing, seeing how she's half god." Ares said, adding the last phrase as a joke.
"You and I are going to have a talk when this is all over."
"Sure, Xena. Anything you want."
"We have a plan." Buffy said. "And it might work."
"This ought to be good. Let's hear it."
"Glory is here for one reason, she is looking for this Key. If we can get word to her that we want to trade the Key for an end to this Vampire War, then we have her meet us somewhere. She will probably appear in front of me, since I am the one she thinks has the key. You and Xena can be hiding, and when she appears, you can throw those balls of blue fire at her, catching her from behind. And that should be that."
"So you want me to ambush her from behind? Not even give her a fighting chance? I do have my ethics, you know."
"What?! Ethics?! This from the god who was going to sacrifice his fellow Olympians to Dahok? Now you have scruples?" Xena was beside herself.
"It was just a thought. We'll just have to see how things go. So how are you going to get word to Glory?"
"Well, I thought I'd capture a vamp, they're still plenty of them around, and have him tell her."
"So where do we meet her?" Xena wanted to know.
"It would have to be somewhere you two could hide. How about in one of those abandoned warehouses down by the tracks? We could be there and in place by the time Glory shows up. Now if we can find us a vamp."
"No problem." Ares said as he disappeared in a blue flash. Almost immediately he was back with a vampire in tow. Buffy told him to tell Glory she was ready to trade. Ares released him and he ran out the door.
"How did he get in here? I didn't invite him in!"
Ares shook his head. "I AM a god, you know."
"Well, if we're going to beat Glory there, we have to go."
"Again, no problem." Ares told them, then held out a hand to each of them. As they took his hand, they were transported to the interior of the warehouse Buffy had described to the vampire. After looking the place over, Buffy chose the best place for her to be. Xena positioned herself off to one side, just out of sight behind an old crate. Ares simply disappeared. Seeing there was no blue flash, Xena assured Buffy he was still there. Then they settled in to wait for Glory.
They didn't have to wait long. And as she predicted, Glory suddenly appeared in front of Buffy, and without hesitation, demanded the Key.
Buffy stalled, waiting for Xena and, hopefully, Ares, to make their move. "Well, you know, I've been thinking, maybe you don't really deserve this Key after all."
"Don't play with me! Your life depends on it. Where's the Key?"
Suddenly Xena launched two of her steel throwing rings, but Glory batted them away before they got within fifteen feet of her, as though swatting gnats. Then she sensed another presence - Ares had appeared, but before he had a chance to throw his blue fire, she hit him with one of her fiery orbs, knocking him back more than twenty feet.
Before Ares could recover, he was hit a second time. This gave Buffy an opening. With Glory's back to her, she launched herself at her, hitting her with both feet between the shoulders and hurling the evil god forward and to the floor. As Glory turned to Buffy, Xena threw three more of the rings. Glory managed to divert the first two, but the third hit her squarely in the face, cutting a large gash across one cheek and the bridge of her nose. She bled only momentarily, then her face was healed.
But this gave Ares time to recover, and as Glory turned to Xena, Ares threw his own brand of burning orbs at her. She was hit from the side and thrown several feet.
"So now we have some Inferior who thinks he can fight me?" Glory sneered. But once again she was hit with Ares' blue fire. And again she was thrown several feet, but recovering quickly she hurled one of her own. Ares' cast one and they collided in an incredibly bright, yet soundless explosion.
"Inferior?!" Ares shouted at her. "I'll show you inferior!" And he launched two more orbs. Both were countered by Glory, but they hit closer to her, and she was driven back, and back again.
Now Ares was throwing them with both hands, first the left, then the right, then the left. Glory was no longer able to counter with hers, but was trying to absorb them as they hammered her, hopefully to minimize the damage.
Ares was now in his element, laughing and starting to enjoy himself. As the blue orbs were pummeling Glory, Ares roared at her, "Who's Your Daddy? Did you actually think you could defeat The God of War in BATTLE? This is ME, Baby! I'M the God here!"
Realizing she was losing and could actually be destroyed, Glory began to shimmer, trying to rally up enough energy to escape. Seeing what she was up to, Ares redirected his orbs to surround her. First circling her horizontally, then vertically. Two more orbited her diagonally until she was imprisoned, looking like a human nucleus surrounded by fiery blue electrons.
Ares then directed it upward until it was hovering near the rafters. Then with a final burst of energy, the entire blue-flamed atom disappeared.
At first no one spoke, waiting to see if it was really over. But Ares, exultant in his victory, was not to be silent.
"Oh Xena! You don't know how good that felt! To actually be in battle again! I feel GOOD!"
"So she's dead?" Buffy asked, just to make sure.
"Dead? NO. You don't kill a god that powerful so easily."
"WHAT! You didn't destroy her!? What if she comes back? How could you not finish her off?"
"Relax. Where I put her, she'll not be going anywhere for a long, long time, if ever. And speaking of going back, I'm ready to go home. After being here in this world, have I got ideas!" Ares laughed. "Poor Aphrodite, if she thinks I've given her problems before, well, she has no idea what's coming."
And with that, Ares transported them back to Buffy's where Willow and Tara were waiting. Gabrielle had also returned, not knowing where else to go.
"Okay, young witch," Ares said to Tara, "Send me back. I've got work to do."
"Wait a minute," Buffy said. "What about the vampires? Can't you do something about them while you're in such a good mod?"
"Those vampires are nothing to me. Besides now that they know Glory is gone, they have no heart to fight. You all can handle them easily. Come on witch, I'M READY!"
"Not so fast, Ares. You and I have things to talk about."
"Look Xena, this thing about Hades, there's probably nothing to it. He most likely was just bragging. All the gods boast about their conquests of mortal women. I think Hercules was probably the only person a god actually fathered. Believe me, most of the time, it's just talk."
"Sure," Gabrielle said. "You certainly don't have Hercules' strength. Although, I must admit I've never seen him jump the way you do." She added.
"See there Xena? You're getting yourself all worked up over nothing."
But Xena wasn't to be appeased so quickly. "That's it! When you convinced the Furies to make me go insane because I never avenged my father's death, you knew it was Hades all along. Even when I convinced them that you were my father, you never said anything. And that's why you have never stopped trying to seduce me. You KNEW it wouldn't be incest! You knew all along, and never said anything!"
Knowing his back was against the wall, Ares commanded Tara, "DO IT. Do it NOW!" Not wanting to anger the God of War, Tara started reversing the spell to bring Xander home.
"Oh, one last thing." Ares said, "This makes us even, Xena. No more blackmail about my restored godhood." And he and Xander were switched.
"Boy am I glad to be back! I am back aren't I?" Xander asked cautiously.
"You're back." Buffy answered.
"So, Anya's next, right."
"Sorry Xander, Anya is going to have to stay a little longer. We still have some mopping up to do." Xena told him.
"Xena," Gabrielle said, "I think I'm ready to go back. You don't need me now. But I need some time alone."
"I'm sure. And I know Dawn is probably ready to come back here."
"Okay. Then I guess I'll see you when I get back." The two women hugged each other, then Gabrielle looked to Tara, who began the reverse chant. Gabrielle looked at Buffy, but since neither knew what to say, neither spoke.
As soon as she arrived, Dawn's first action was the same as Anya's, upstairs to the shower.
That night as they patrolled there was little conversation between Xena and Buffy. And Ares was right, they saw few vampires, and only manage three slayings.
While they were gone, Riley had called. The major was requesting that Xena, Buffy and Gabrielle report to him ASAP. Willow explained as much as she knew to Riley, leaving him to make up something to tell them major about the sudden end of the Vampire War. And why Gabrielle and Xena wouldn't be coming back.
As dawn broke, Xena and Buffy returned home. "Well, I guess it's time for you to leave. Couldn't have done it without you." Buffy said.
"Don't forget Ares."
"But you brought him here."
"Yeah, but I kind of tricked him."
"What about this thing with Hades?"
"I'm not sure. It's something I'll just have to work out somehow. But before I go, what about you and Riley?"
"I don't know. I thought we had something once, but now. . . thinking about Riley and Gabrielle, seeing them in my mind lying together. . . ."
"Stop right there. You don't know Gabrielle like I do. She doesn't go to bed with every man she is attracted to. I know for a fact her first time was with her husband, on their wedding night."
"Oh, that's right. I forgot she was married. Didn't she say he died?"
"He was murdered the very next day. She's been a widow for many years, and she's never been with a man since."
"How terrible! Poor Gabrielle. But even so, how can I be sure Riley and I . . . I mean . . . ."
"Let me tell you a story. There was a time in my life when I did bad things, terrible things. Things I can never make up for. Thankfully, Hercules helped me find a different path, but I was still lost. Then Gabrielle came into my life. At first I felt like she was just an irritating tagalong. But then one day, I don't know when or how, I realized that I could not imagine my life without her. She says we're Soulmates, destined to be together throughout the ages. I think she's right. We're connected somehow."
"Well, I don't really believe in all that destiny stuff."
"Maybe you don't, but how do you feel about Riley, deep down inside? Without Gabrielle, it's like I'm only half a person. She gives something to me that I can't exist without, something I wouldn't want to LIVE without. Think about your feelings for Riley. Does it feel like that to you?"
Blinking back tears, Buffy could only nod.
"Then don't give up on him. Go to him, tell him how you feel. If you are true Soulmates, he will feel exactly the same way."
Again, Buffy nodded.
Xena hugged her, placed a hand to her cheek, then stepped back, nodded to Tara, anxious to return to her own Soulmate.