Strike Team Clubhouse, The Barn.
Willow let herself sink into the sofa in the Clubhouse; she found it surprisingly comfortable. As she waited she slowly faded from sight. She napped for a while gathering her strength for what she thought would be a difficult few minutes when the Strike Team returned to their Clubhouse.
“Sorry boss we can’t find a trace of this guy!” Admitted Shane as his boss glared at him from across the table. Vic shook his head in disgust.
“Then look harder!” He almost shouted, “I’m not having this guy ruin months of work! We’ve set up a nice little balance of power on the ‘Farm’ and one guy is upsetting every thing! I want him found and then I want him dead!”
“Look boss,” Pleaded Shane, “No one wants to talk, and when they do they don’t make any sense! Credo told me this guy…Rathbone just walked into his club and dragged off his girl. He’s sure his boys shot Rathbone half a dozen times, but he just got up and walked away!”
“Crap!” Announced Vic bluntly, “You know half these ‘bangers couldn’t hit a house!”
“Even so Vic there’s some weird shit going down! They managed to hit the girl, she’s recovering in hospital!”
There was a knock at the door.
“Yeah! What’d’ya want?” Called Vic. The door opened and an unseen voice said, “Package for you Mackey!”
Vic got up and walked over to the door and took the package from the unseen police officer. As he turned and walked back to the table he ripped open the package. Looking into the package Vic is puzzled by what he sees. He upends the package and shakes the contents onto the table. A white blouse covered in what looks like blood lands on the table with a thud. Obviously there is something wrapped up in the blouse, Vic and Shane carefully pick through the folds of the blouse, it is a small blouse for a girl. Vic finds the object hidden in the blouse, he holds up a child’s finger. Shane checks the package once more and pulls out a folded piece of paper. He unfolds the paper and reads the message written in beautiful handwriting.
“I have Cassidy.” The message looks as if it has been written in blood.
The blood drains from Shane’s face as he silently passes the note to his boss. Vic reads the note and sits down heavily in one of the chairs looking stunned. He fumbles for his Cell and dials a number.
“Corrine?” He speaks urgently into the phone, “Where’s Cassidy?” He pauses as he listens to the answer, “Okay phone them up and make sure she’s there, then call me back, okay?” He turns to his partner.
“Shane call the guys. This has just got personnel!”
“I can find your daughter!” Came a female voice from out of no where. Vic turned to see a red-haired young woman, her pale skin made even paler by her black blouse and black jeans.
“Who the fuck are you?” Demanded Vic.
“I’m someone who wants Rathbone dead, and I know someone who’ll slay him for you!”
For a moment Vic was puzzled by the woman’s choice of words then his cell goes off. He opens his phone and speaks.
“Yeah?” He paused, “Okay get the kids, lock all the doors and windows, I’ll have the Sheriffs department ‘round in a hot minute. What was the address of her friends house?” Again he pauses and writes something down on a piece of paper. “Don’t worry Corrine, it’s probably nothing I just want to play it safe. Don’t let anyone in unless you’re sure who they are. I’ll get back to you as soon as I know something.” He folded away his phone and pushed the piece of paper over to Shane.
“Call the Sheriff’s department and have them send a car ‘round to my house and another to this address. Tell them that it’s a suspected kidnapping of an officer’s family member, and tell them to only call you or me. I don’t want Aceveda in on this.” Shane started dialling numbers on his own cell as Vic turned towards the woman. “Now you’re going to tell me everything you know!” He announced.
Willow sat across the table from Vic, for a moment she had thought Vic was going to get violent and she had muttered a protection spell to herself. She had not needed it as Mackey had rapidly calmed down. Willow looked him in the eye for a moment gauging how much of the truth he could handle.
“Here goes!” She said more to herself than to Vic, “What I’m going to tell you you’re not going to like or likely believe…”
“Talk!” Said Vic laconically.
“My name is Willow Rosenberg and I work for an organisation who’ve been trying to track down Rathbone for some years now. We almost had him in New York back in ’04 but he slipped through our hands and he ended up here. We sent another team to track him down and…eliminate him, but things didn’t work out so well and he killed one of our…operatives. That’s when I arrived.”
“So you’re a Fed?” Asked Mackey.
“I can assure you detective that I and none of my colleagues work for the Government of this, or any other, country. We are a totally privately run organisation.”
“So, you work for ‘The Mob’?”
“If you like. If that makes it easier for you!”
“You said ‘one’ of your people was killed by Rathbone are there more and how can they help get my little girl back from this murderin’ bastard?”
“To put it simply I will find Rathbone and my colleague will kill him for you!” Willow had to hand it to Mackey; he did not show much emotion. “You’ll get your little girl back and the other women and girls Rathbone is holding, but we have to do it soon…like tonight!”
“Why?” Demanded Vic, “Why should I believe a word you’re saying. Why can’t I take my boys down to where this bastard is and take him out ourselves…”
“Because you’ll all die!” Declared Willow, she caught Vic’s eye with her steeliest glare, “He will kill you and your men, he’ll kill your families and your friends! He’ll kill all the hostages and anyone that comes after him, AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU OR ANYONE WILL BE ABLE TO DO TO STOP HIM!” Willow yelled, leaning across the table her face inches from Vic’s.
“Don’t give me that crap!” Demanded Mackey, “What makes this guy so special that we can’t handle him?”
“Because he’s a monster…a real monster, and only my organisation has the knowledge and power to destroy him.”
“BOSS!” Shane looked up from his notebook. While Willow and Mackey had been talking he had been making calls on his cell and jotting information down in a notebook.
“Boss, the Sheriffs Department just called. They went over to the address we gave them and…”
“Well go on!” Demanded Mackey.
“Someone slaughtered the family who lives there, there’s no sign of you kid!”
Vic’s face went pale again, “Have they been ‘round to my house?”
“Yeah, they’ve got a cruiser parked up across the road watching the place.”
Vic turned back to Willow; “You better start telling me something useful I can use!”
Willow sighed; this was more difficult than she had imagined, “Look!” She said, “If you do nothing the chances are he won’t kill her or any of the hostages! But the little girl you get back in say six months time will not be your little girl, she’ll be…”Willow struggled for the right words, “She’ll be broken! If you let me and my slay…operative go in she’ll be back with you tomorrow morning and there’s every chance that the doctors can repair any damage done.” Willow continued to choose her words carefully. “Believe me I know how you must feel,” She said reaching across the table and touching Vic’s arm, “I had to leave my baby to come here. She’s with a friend I’ve known for years but it still hurts to leave her. If someone had taken her and threatened her I’d want to do everything in my power to get her back.”
Vic looked into Willows eyes and knew she was being sincere, but he still could not see what she could do to help him.
“Okay, say I believe you, what can you do?” He asked.
Willow sat up, “You said you didn’t know where Rathbone was?” Vic nodded his head, “Let me have your daughters blouse and I’ll find him for you!”
“Why? What are you some kind of psychic!” Vic reluctantly handed over the blouse. Willow took the blood soaked garment and laid it out on the table, then she held her hands about six inches about the piece of clothing.
“What’s your daughter’s name?” She asked.
“Cassidy. How’s that going to help?”
Willow did not answer she just took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
“Blood of the innocent, hear me! Guide me to Cassidy’s abductor.”
“What kind of crap is this?” Exclaimed Shane who watched from across the room, “Come on Vic lets leave the silly bitch and get out onto the street.”
A golden glow suddenly lit up the room; both detectives looked on in amazement as the blood on the blouse re-arranged itself into a map. The golden light faded to leave a small red light pulsing over the centre of the map.
“There you are,” Said Willow, “Do you recognise the area?”
“How’d you do that?” Asked Vic in wonder. Shane looked hard at the map.
“That’s the ‘Grove’ he said, “That looks like one of those houses that’s been bricked up to stop the junkies getting in before they’re demolished.”
“Okay!” Said Vic snapping out of his trace, “Get Lem and Ron down there to check the place out!” He turned back to Willow, “Okay say it’s the right place, where’s this operative of yours?”
“That’s easy, “ Smiled Willow uneasily, “She’s about twenty feet that way!” She pointed up wards in the general direction of the interview room where she had last seen Kennedy.
“What!?!?” Demanded Vic and Shane together.
“Sorry, but she was arrested last night. She accidentally cut the arm off on of your uniformed officers…She’s very sorry!”
Vic turned to his sidekick, “Shane go find out what’s happening!”
“Her names Kennedy!” Willow called as Shane headed out of the Clubhouse.
Ten minutes latter Shane returned, Willow had had an uncomfortable time trying to deflect Vic’s questions and was relieved when Shane re-appeared,
“The Captain’s releasing her!” Said Shane.
“Huh?” Replied Vic.
“Great!” Cried Willow.
Vic looked over at Willow, “You and your friend must have some powerful friends.”
“We’ve done a few favours for people.” Replied Willow cryptically. “I need to see her, we’ve got stuff to plan. Mr Rathbone’s little reign of terror has gone on long enough!”
Vic turned to Shane, “Go and find this Kennedy woman and bring her in here through the back way, try not to make it too obvious.”
The Observation Room, The Barn.
“I can’t believe they’re cutting her lose like that!” Exclaimed Dutch.
“Pressure from on high!” Replied Claudette, she stood up and looked out of the window into the main section of the ‘Barn’. “Dutch! Come here!” She ordered. Her partner got up and wondered over to where she stood.
“What do you make of that?” Asked Claudette as she pointed to where Shane Vendrell walked up behind the recently released Rosenberg. He whispered something to her then guided her out of the front door.
“Now, that’s interesting.” Mused Dutch.
“I’ve got that tape hidden away somewhere safe.” Replied Claudette, “What’d’ya say we keep an eye on things?”
When Kennedy entered the Clubhouse she was almost knocked off her feet by a near ballistic Willow, only her Slayer strength and reactions prevented them both from ending up on the floor.
“I take it you know each other.” Commented Vic sarcastically. The two women disentangled themselves from each other’s arms. Willow turned to face Vic.
“This is Kennedy she’s a Slayer and she’s going to kill Rathbone and release the hostages for you! She’s also my girlfriend!” Willow bounced up and down in a mixture of pride and excitement.
Kennedy turned to Vic. “Have you been giving her coffee?” She demanded.
“Now I’ve heard everything!” Said Vic throwing his hands up in resignation. “What are you people?” He demanded.
“We’re the people who are going to save your ass!” Declared Kennedy, “Rathbone’s already killed one of ours so I’m going to dust this bastard tonight with or without you!”
It took over an hour of hard bargaining, a couple of bent metal pipes and one minor spell, plus a long phone call to Lt. Dan Brewer in Cleveland to convince Vic that he’d do better working with Willow and Kennedy than without them. By the time they’d finished talking it was nearly dark.
“I’ll need some weapons, I’ve got our SUV in a lock up here.” Kennedy indicated a side road on a map of the area; “Can you take us there. It might be best if you get your people to meet us, they’ll need some of the specialist equipment I’ve got.”
Vic nodded his head in agreement. Willow had noticed that after a little hesitation Vic seemed to think that Kennedy was talking sense and he was more likely to go along with what Kennedy said than anything she suggested. It was obvious that Vic saw Kennedy as a fellow ‘warrior’ so Willow kept her mouth shut unless Kennedy asked her a direct question. It was part of the Willow/Kennedy dynamic that although Willow was the dominant partner, when it came to Slaying Kennedy was in charge.
“What about your sword?” Asked Willow.
“Doesn’t matter, sweetheart, it was only my third best I’ll learn to live without it!”
“Third best?” Asked Vic.
“Yeah, World War Two Jap officers sword, mass produced but still effective!”
“Sword?” Was all Shane could say.
They left the Clubhouse and made their way to where the Strike Team’s SUV was parked. They climbed aboard and drove off into the night.
They arrived at the lock-up where they met up with Ron and Lem the two other Detectives on Vic’s team. Kennedy unlocked the garage door and pulled it open to reveal the SUV inside. She opened the tailgate and started pulling boxes into easy reach.
“Okay?” She asked, “What have you guys got? I usually carry a .40 cal, but I’ve got .45 and 9mm as well. You’ll need to empty all your mags of normal ammo and load up with these!” She placed several boxes of ammunition in front of the detectives. The detectives looked questioningly at Vic. He picked up a box of .45 ammunition and started to swap the rounds in his spare clips.
“The thing you need to remember is these rounds are lighter than normal ones.” Kennedy explained, “Stopping power and accuracy drop off badly at twenty to twenty-five yards! If you see Rathbone aim for the heart and keep firing until he’s dust, okay!”
“These rounds are wood!” Exclaimed Ron, the detective with the badly scarred face.
“Think about it,” Replied Kennedy, “Ever wondered why you never see this guy in the day light? Ever see a photograph of him?”
“That’s just crap!” Lem shook his head in disbelief, “Are you trying to tell us this Rathbone guys a vampire or something?”
“Look! I really don’t care if you believe me or not,” Explained Kennedy, “Use normal rounds if you want, it’ll just piss him off more and make your own deaths that much more interesting!” She pulled another box toward herself and pulled out a .40 cal pistol and several pre-loaded magazines. She stuck the pistol in her belt and the magazines in her jeans pocket.
“Every body wearing armour?” Everyone but Willow either nodded yes or went over to the police SUV and pulled ‘Bullet Proof’ jackets out of the trunk and put them on. Kennedy put on a spare jacket from her own store of equipment and passed one to Willow, “Put it on!” She ordered. Next she passed Willow a loaded 9mm pistol, Willow started to refuse the weapon.
“You’ve done the course. Take it or you’ll spend the next couple of hours tied up in the back of the car!”
“You know I’ve dusted a few vamps in my time,” Pointed out Willow, “Buffy never made me carry all this extra stuff!”
“I can’t imagine what she could have been thinking!” Said Kennedy flatly; “Also you weren’t my girl then! There’s no way I’m going to tell Tara that her Mom got killed cos she was too proud to carry the right equipment! So what’s it to be? Car or gun?”
“Gun.” Said Willow dejectedly.
The four detectives watched the interplay between the two women with perplexed amusement. Finally Kennedy pulled a long box towards herself. She opened it and pulled out a beautifully made Katana.
“This,” She explained, “Is my very best sword!” She made a few passes through the night air letting the blade catch the light from streetlights. It seem to flash as it moved. “It’s nearly three-hundred years old and it’s dusted over twenty vamps!” The detectives seemed to be mesmerised by the sword as they had stopped making disbelieving comments whenever ‘vamps’ were mentioned. Finally Kennedy pointed her sword at each of the detectives in turn.
“Tonight,” She said, “It’s not about justice, it’s not even about doing the right thing! It’s about vengeance!” She turned to Vic, “Shall we take your car?”
Vic nodded dumbly and lead the way to the police vehicle, Willow came up behind Kennedy.
“Nice speech Ken! Short and to the point! So much better than what Buffy used to come up with!”
“Ah! But she can pun so much better than I can!”
Dutch and Claudette watched from down a side road as the disparate group piled into the police SUV and drove off.
“What do you think they’re up to?” Asked Dutch.
“If it involves Mackey, nothing good for sure. I’d say after that little display with the sword, someone’s going to loose their head tonight!” Replied Claudette, “Come on lets get after them!”
The Grove, Farmington.
After arriving at the target house Vic and Kennedy did a rapid circuit of the building.
“There’s only one way in and out. All the other doors and windows are bricked up” Explained Vic when they returned to the SUV.
“What I’d like you to do,” Asked Kennedy, “Is for Shane, Lem and Ron to do area security. Prevent anyone interfering and then get the hostages to safety.” She turned to Vic and Willow, “You two back me up! Willow you got your spells ready?” Willow nodded nervously, this was like going up against Spike not something she had enjoyed in the past. “Vic I’d like you to keep an eye on Willow and help get the hostages out. You all good with that?”
Again the detectives looked to Vic for confirmation, “What the hell!” Vic said, “Let’s do it!” The detectives scattered and took up positions around the house.
Vic found himself walking openly up to the house accompanied by a woman with a sword who called herself a Slayer and another who said she was a Witch! ‘Why me?’ He thought ‘Don’t I ever get a break?’ He asked the universe. The door looked metal and very solid.
“What’s your plan for getting in?” He asked Kennedy, “You got some ‘Secret Agent’ stuff to blow the door off its hinges?”
She looked at him and smiled, it was a real predators smile.
“Normally I just kick the door in then kill the bastards!” She said matter of factly.
“She does!” Put in Willow from behind Vic, “Not great ones for the subtle are Slayers!”
The little group stopped a few feet from the door.
“You’re not going to be able to kick that in!” Said Vic.
“No? Watch!” Kennedy took a firm grip on her sword and ran at the door. She hit it in the middle with both feet. It burst from it’s hinges and landed with a clang on the floor of the house.
“Knock! Knock!” She yelled, “Slayer calling!” Then disappeared into the darkened house.
Vic felt Willow come up behind him, “See what I mean about the subtle?” She hissed. Vic sighed and the two of them followed Kennedy in.
“Looks like they’re raiding the place!” Said Claudette, “Wonder what’s in there?”
“And why aren’t Vic’s boys going in?” Dutch asked, “Look they’re just holding the perimeter, shall we call it in?”
“Not yet, lets see what they do next!”
“HERE VAMP!” Called Kennedy as she entered the main room of the house. The walls were hung with curtains and there were a lot of muted red lights amongst the chairs and sofas that made up the room’s main furnishings.
“Come on Rathbone lets get this over with.” Kennedy called again. This time she got a reply as one of the doors leading off the main room opened, and in walked the vampire, Rathbone.
“Ah! Watcher! Come to avenge your little Slayer?” Mocked the bloodsucker, he cut the air with the sabre he carried.
“You don’t mix much with the other vamps do you?” Asked Kennedy as she leaned on her sword. The vamp looked puzzled for a moment. “If you did you’d know that there are no Watchers anymore, they’re called Guardians now. You’d also know that there’s more than one Slayer now, and guess what? I’m a Slayer!” She leapt at the vamp almost taking him by surprise, but he dodged out of the way. Katana and sabre flashed together sending sparks flying from their blades.
The battle between Slayer and Vampire raged across the room, many pieces of furniture meeting a terrible fate. Vic gave up trying to get a clear shot at Rathbone and dodged his way over to where Willow cowered behind a heavy table.
“Aren’t you going to help her?” He asked as a chair smashed into the wall above their hiding place.
“WHAT!?!?” Willow squeaked, “And loose a few fingers or worse? It’s dangerous out there! An’ Ken would yell at me for getting in her way! This is Slayer stuff!”
Vic looked at Willow in mild confusion, “But can’t you magic him away?”
“If I was here by myself, old vampy there would already be just so much dust! But, Ken doesn’t get much of a chance to fight real vamps. So, when she does she likes to go to town!” Willow gave Vic a look that pleaded for understanding. There was another flurry of sword strokes that took a large lump out of the table that the cop and the witch were hiding behind.
“I think we better try and find the hostages,” Suggested Willow, “I think this is going to go on for a bit.” Willow indicated the fight with a nod of her head. The fight itself had entered the ‘I can do really cleaver things with my sword’ stage.
Vic and Willow scurried across the floor on their hands and knees towards the door from which Rathbone had appeared. It turned out to be a bedroom, lying on the king-sized bed was the naked body of a young woman in her twenties. Willow checked for a pulse, “She’s alive! Looks like she passed out from blood loss. Let’s find the others.”
Willow and Vic looked out the door into the main room. The fight still raged, most of the furniture had by now been reduced to match wood and the only lights left unbroken were those hanging from the ceiling. Kennedy had now got the vampire cornered on the far side of the room. Vic and Willow made a dash for another door. Vic was first to get to it. It was locked, he put his shoulder to the door and burst into the room. The room had once been another bedroom, now it held half a dozen young women who lay or sat on stained mattresses.
“Where’s the kid?” Vic demanded. One of the women pointed vaguely to a pile of blankets in the corner. Vic ran over and pulled the blankets away from the still form of his daughter. Willow stuck her head around the door; Kennedy still had the vamp cornered. The fight had entered the ‘I’ve got you cornered and I’m going to kill you soon’ stage.
“Dust him Ken!” Yelled Willow, “We need to get these people out of here!”
Kennedy said nothing but launched into a vicious series of attacks on the vampire that ended with the vampire losing his sword arm. Rathbone looked down in dumb surprise at the stump of his arm. He never saw Kennedy’s sword sweep in towards his neck. There was a soft explosion of dust and the vampire was gone.
“Twenty-seven.” She said, wiping Vampire dust from her blade before sheathing her sword.
“Yay us!” Was Willows only comment, before she started herding the hostages out into the night air. Vic had wrapped his daughter up in a blanket and was about to carry her out of the room.
“Vic wait!” Called Willow, “We have to check!”
“Check what?” Asked Vic urgently.
Willow removed a vial of what looked like water from a pouch on her belt. She sprinkled some onto the girl’s forehead, there was no reaction. “Go on, get her outside.” She ordered.
Dutch and Claudette watched in fascination as half a dozen semi-naked women were bundled out of the house, and the rest of the strike team moved in to shepherd them away from the building. Then they saw Vic appear carrying the bundled up form of what looked like a child.
“Call it in Dutch, and call for Ambulances!” Claudette started up the car and drove towards the action.
Shane Vendrell walked over to where Willow and Kennedy stood concealed by the shadows. The lights on a multitude of emergency vehicles flashed in a multi-coloured light show around the Grove.
“Vic says thanks. He’s saying that he got a tip off that this guy was hold up here after he snatched Cassidy. By the time we got here the kidnapper had escaped. He’s keeping your part in this quiet.”
“Tell him thanks.” said Willow, “How’s his kid?”
“Bastard raped and beat her…she’ll live though.”
Kennedy could feel Willows indecisiveness; “Go on Will.” She encouraged.
“I might be able to help her, I know some stuff that might help. Where have they taken her?”
“Vic took her to the Hospital, I can take you there if you want?” Volunteered Shane.
Willow turned to Kennedy, “You want to come?” she asked.
“No Will, this all sounds like Wicca stuff. I need food and a nap! I’ll go back to the car and pick you up at the hospital latter okay?”
“Yeah, sure I can do this!”
Shane looked over at Kennedy, “Go ‘round the back of this building, I’ll get Ron to give you a lift.”
Kennedy watched as the detective lead Willow to a waiting car.
Mission Cross Hospital, Farmington.
Willow watched through the glass panel in the door of the hospital room as Detective Vendrell had a whispered conversation with Vic. Willow’s eyes were drawn to the distraught woman sitting by the girls bed, ‘Hope that’s never me’ she thought. Her musing was interrupted as Vic opened the door.
“Willow, Shane says you might be able to do something for Cassidy.” He asked, Willow noticed that even now he found it difficult to ask for help.
“ There’s stuff I can do,” She explained, “ I can’t repair the physical damage, but I could help with the memories!”
“Is this like the stuff you showed me earlier?”
“Yes it’s magic, if you agree I can make her forget what’s happened.”
Vic stood in thought for a moment, “ I’ll have to talk to Corrine.” He turned and went back into the room where his daughter lay.
A few moments latter Willow found herself in the room with Vic, his wife and there daughter. Shane stood outside stopping anyone from seeing or getting into the room. She had set up a small metal bowl on a table at the foot of the girl’s bed. She placed a crystal and a sprig of Leaths Bramble next to the bowl.
“Before I begin, I must explain that this is not a precise science.” She explained, “I will be able to remove the memories of what’s happened to Cassidy over the last twenty-four hours. But, I might take other memories as well. At worst she won’t remember who you are or who she is, at best she’ll just forget what Rathbone did to her. Do you still want me to go one?”
Both parents nodded their agreement.
Willow took a deep breath and placed the Bramble and crystal into the bowl, then put a match to the bramble.
“For Cassidy this I char,” She began, “Let Leaths Bramble do its chore. Purge her mind of memories grim, of pain from recent fears and sins. When the fire goes out, and the crystal turns black. The spell will be caste. Tabula Rasa, Tabula Rasa, Tabula Rasa.”
She handed Vic the blackened crystal.
“If you ever need to break the spell, smash the crystal and she’ll remember everything. For now just tell her she had an accident and hit her head.” She gave the two parents a small smile, and turned to go.
“If you ever need anything…” Called Vic.
“We’ll let you know, thanks Vic.” Replied Willow.
“Thanks Willow.” Called Corrine.
Continued in Chapter Three.