"Down, boy!" Cordelia Chase commanded, while hitting a charging vampire upside the head.
He fell to the ground, and before he could get up again he was a dust bunny. "Gah," Cordy made a face, wiping off the dust. "That's five in one night. What, they having a party, and forgot to invite me?"
She scanned the park slowly for a few moment, making sure that she didn't miss any. Wesley would have a fit, and throw one of his famous lectures if she did. Worse, he might even make her fight him with a quarter staff. It would take days for her welts to disappear.
There had been an influx of vamps around here in recent days, and neither the Watcher nor the Slayer were thrilled. Something was up. Unfortunately, these vampires weren't the most talkative bunch.
Cordelia heard rustling in the bushes, and her body stiffened. Then, in one pounce, she was over there, stake in hand. The vampire she dredged up glared at her with furious yellow eyes. With a look of disgust, Cordy hit the vampire one, two, three quick times. He staggered back a bit, then lunged forward, knocking her off her feet. Without hesitating, Cordelia swung her long legs, kicking the vampire down to the ground.
Grunting, she jumped back on her feet, and kicked him in his stomach. When the vampire tried to cross his arms protectively over his chest, Cordy uttered, "Coward," kicked him in the face, and staked him.
"These second rate vamps keep on coming," she sighed, "I just might take a vacation, and let Amy and Oz deal for a while."
She heard a near nonexistent thud behind her, and muttered before turning, "Or not."
Cordelia's eyes widened as they settled on a tall, muscular black man. He was dressed in black leather from head to toe, his jacket covering his black armor. His brown eyes had a strange yellow tinge to them. And, most importantly, in his right hand was a large gun.
Without even giving the man a chance to blink, Cordy back flipped into the trees. She was the Slayer, and tended to be reckless, but not stupid. She knew when she was overpowered. Hand to hand was fine, but she was far from bulletproof.
As Cordelia ran through the trees, she heard him following her. He had to be incredibly fast to keep up with her; like a vampire.
She wouldn't be surprised. Cordy's "Slayer Sense" kicked in on high when she saw him. She had an urge to stop and confront the man, but the gun flashed in her mind, and she hustled herself behind a bush, and held her breath.
In no time, the large man was nearly in front of her. She watched, her heart in her ears, as he scanned the area. God, he was huge! He looked like a guy who exercised for fun. And beat the crap outta people in his spare time.
He grunted in a low, guttural voice. He was obviously not pleased that Cordelia had slipped away.
`Well, too damn bad for you, freako,' she thought.
Grunting again, the man walked away, leaving Cordelia to her thoughts.
"So, this huge guy, with a big, and I do mean big gun comes outta nowhere," Cordelia explained to her Watcher. "So, I made a break for it before he could ventilate my body."
Wesley frowned, and rubbed his chin. "And you're not sure he was a vampire?"
"Well, let's see, considering I had no intention of getting shot full of holes, dang it!" she smacked her forehead. "I forgot to ask."
"Well, there's no need to sarcastic," Wesley sniffed. "I'm merely trying to figure out who it was. These new vampires are really the fringe."
"Don't I know it," Cordelia made a face. "They all seem to be young enough, though. I haven't really come up across anyone that I had any trouble with. In fact, they all look like they shop in the same discount store, too. Disgusting all around."
"I don't believe they have a dress code, Cordelia," he shook his head.
"Well, they should. I mean, if they're gonna suck blood, which is disgusting as it is, they should at least be stylish," she crossed her arms.
Cordy didn't really believe that. It just seemed to relax her Watcher a bit when she was acting superficial. He'd role his eyes, and sigh, and she could see the tension leaving him. She'd rather a tense free Watcher, then one so stiff with anxiety he could break in half at any moment.
"What are we talking about?" Amy Madison walked in, her short, brown hair falling into her face as she tilted her head.
"Tacky vampires," Cordelia informed her. "And a big guy who chased me with a gun."
"A vamp with a gun? My, my, they're getting hi-tech," Amy sat down.
"Let's certainly hope not," snipped Wesley. "Vampires are hard enough to deal with without them using firearms." He looked down at the two girls for a moment, and then asked, "Where are Oz and Spike?"
"I guess they're still on patrol," Amy shrugged.
"I'm not sure I like the idea of Oz being alone with Spike," Cordelia pouted.
"Oh," Amy gave her friend a reassuring smile. "I don't think Spike will hurt him, Cordy."
Cordy scrunched her nose. "Who ever said that I was worried that Spike might try something?"
"Nothin' over here, mate," Spike called out on the far side of the cemetery.
"Well, whoever might have been here, that certainly scared them away," Oz shook his head. Sometimes Spike forgot what the phrase, `being stealthy' meant.
Oz frowned as he walked to meet up with his vampire friend. The recent vampire activity had abruptly soared, straining Cordelia to her ends. She once came into the Library with so many cuts and bruises, Oz almost didn't recognize her. If she hadn't been the Slayer, she would've been dead. He didn't like that idea.
"Nothing over there, either," Oz said. "Which, considering how everything has been for the past few weeks, is very strange. Did you get anything yet?"
Spike sneered. "Nah. They all know about me. They're not connected to Angelus and Drusilla, but they obviously know about them. I don't like it. If they're not with Angelus' gang, then they've gotta be with someone else. No lone vamp would be here unless they're with Angelus."
"Or unless they're crazy. Or in another gang," Oz added, feeling his stomach twist.
They had come across Angelus and Drusilla a while back. All the vampires in Sunnydale were part of their gang. You'd have to be suicidal to go against the insane couple. The scar across Spike's cheek was testament to that.
Back in the day, Spike, Angelus, and Dru had been a trio of terror. They streaked across Europe in a bloody rampage, laughing all the way. Angelus was the leader, Dru, his psychotic lover and fortune teller, and Spike had been the man with the plan. They had been unstoppable.
But, while going through a gypsy camp, Angelus had munched on the wrong person; the Gypsy leader's daughter. The gypsies had tried to put a curse on him, to give him back his soul and live eternity with the guilt of all his sins. The curse had fallen upon Spike, instead.
Unfortunately for the gypsies, not only had they gotten the wrong vampire, but Spike had never been a good human to begin with. His name when he was alive had been William the Bloody, and you didn't get a nickname like that without doing some...pretty unpleasant things.
Spike stayed with Angelus and Drusilla. But not for long. It wasn't that he felt guilt, just...boredom. Pointless killing bored him. So he had left. But not before Angelus had scarred him with a holy water covered knife. Spike never did go into details of what had happened, but the knife must've gone in deeply to leave a scar on a vampire's face.
Barely fifty years ago, Spike had been in London. He had been stalking the streets, picking out victims. He had gotten used to finding the riffraff. They were good to have; nothing but trouble to the humans, and they were never missed.
During a rainstorm, Spike had heard a scream in an alley way. A young, waif of a woman was being attacked by a mugger. Spike never did know why he did what he did; maybe he actually felt something akin to empathy for her. Or maybe is was the fact that he just liked hearing bones snap. Whatever the reason, Spike had jumped the would-be mugger, hitting him senseless before ripping out his throat.
Surprisingly, the young woman hadn't run away terrified. Instead, she had gotten up, dusted herself off, and had said in a high-class accent, "Thank you for saving my life. You must be the one they call Spike."
That had nearly knocked Willy boy for a loop. And then the young woman had told him about a society of humans called the Watchers Council. Humans whose destiny it was to help the Chosen One. The Slayer, a lone girl born to each generation to stop the flood of evil from overwhelming the world.
The young woman, Daliah Jeckles had been her name, she had given Spike a choice. Join the Council, help the Chosen One for the rest of his eternal life, and live without the worry of being killed by one of them.
Spike had laughed at that. Why did he give a damn about the Slayer? He could handle a little girl.
But then Daliah had promised him something substantially more appealing; the chance to get even with Angelus. Angelus had moved to an American town called Sunnydale. Daliah had said some nonsense about it being on a "Hellmouth," and the Slayer had to move there.
But Spike hadn't give a damn about that. He had only heard that the Slayer and him could kill Angelus. He could kill Angelus. He had liked that.
So he had agreed. And off to America Spike had gone. With Daliah. Apparently, she was the girl's Watcher, the Slayer's guide through life, so to speak.
Spike had liked Daliah. He had liked her a lot. She had been smart, and had never taken any of his crap. It was something that she had instilled in the Slayers that she had gone through with him while in Sunnydale. Spike would have liked to have taken it a step higher, but Daliah had not allowed it. She had said that their relationship was to be friends, and nothing more. It couldn't be more.
And soon, Daliah had grown too old to keep up with the Slayer, and she had left when Buffy had arrived. And then Giles had appeared. He was, much to Spike's chagrin, less pleasant to look at than Daliah had been. Oh, well, there was always Amy.
"So," Oz sighed, snapping himself out of the flashback, "we're basically back to square one."
"As in we don't know who the bloody wonkers are?" Spike asked. When the werewolf nodded, the vampire said, "Well, in that case, yeah, mate, square one it is."
Oz grunted, annoyed. "This is just great. We're never going to find out who these guys are, are we?"
"Oh, sure we are," Spike smiled, his fangs gleaming. "We just have to be a bit more...persuasive."
A brow lifted on Oz's face. Spike's idea of persuasion left something to be desired. It normally had something to do with bleeding and pain.
A growl from behind him made Oz tense, just in time to be pulled back by a vampire.
"Ah, and here's our first customer," Spike rubbed his hands together. "`Scuse me, chum, but I don't think that boy's cutie will take too kindly to you eating him. Do you mind?"
The vampire never got to answer that question. It was hard to answer when a werewolf and a vampire were beating your head into the ground. However, he did answer some other questions, before finally seeing a wooden stake fly down upon him.
He sat there in the darkened room, behind a large oak desk, his feet tapping on the floor the only sound. His unruly brown bangs fell into bright blue eyes, but he didn't push them away; they'd just fall back, anyway.
Slowly, almost casually, he rubbed his stubbly chin. But nothing this character did was ever casual. Everything was deliberate. Cold, calculated.
The vampire that sat tied up in front of him went by the name of Farsel. He was stout, with ragged red hair, piercing grey eyes, and a bit of a gut covered by a huge brown leather flight jacket. He had been a top member of Angelus' and Drusilla's gang. An old vampire, at least four hundred. Strong, and loyal. He had served faithfully for over twenty years, and his reputation for ruthlessness proceeded him.
But that was before he had been captured, and had been beaten to a near unrecognizable state. All by the seemingly young, dashing man before him.
"So," the man's blue eyes were like a frozen lake, "you're still not going to talk to me. It would benefit you greatly."
Farsel sneered. He was a killer, not a traitor. "You can rot in the Hellmouth for all I care, ya bastard! I ain't telling you where they are."
"Well, now, that's a shame. `Cause, you see, if you don't tell I'm gonna have to hurt you more," a small, sadistic smile played on the man's lips.
"Do your worst."
And Farsel had sealed his fate.
"As you wish." Without another word, the man got up, and walked over to the stout vampire. With a quick twist of his wrist, he brought out a clear bottle, opened it up, and proceeded to pore the contents over Farsel's eyes.
The holy water burned holes through his iris', and Farsel screamed in pain.
The blue eyed man chuckled, and put the bottle down. He then pulled out black gloves, and put them on. Carefully, he took a silver cross from his desk, and shoved it viciously into Farsel's mouth. The vampire's screams of agony were choked on the cross, but the room smelt of burnt flesh.
"Angelus and Drusilla," the man said for what seemed the hundredth time. "Where are they?" he pulled the cross out.
Farsel slurred something over his burnt tongue. He was almost glad he couldn't talk. He was afraid the pain might make him weak, and he'd submit. Finally, he managed to utter out, "Shove it, young one." In a final act of protest, he spat at the blue eyed man, who scowled.
If Farsel had anything more to say after that, no one would ever know. He was just so much dust on the floor now.
The man went back behind his desk, and sat down. This was most disturbing. He'd never get anywhere with these guys. But there had to be a weak link, he just had to find it. And finding it would take patience and skill. And that would take time.
Fortunately, time was one thing Deacon Frost had plenty of.
Cordelia looked over the large volume of Wicca she was reading, and saw her Watcher, exhausted, and sleeping at his desk. A wane smile appeared on her face, and she sighed.
Wesley had been working just as hard as she had for the past month. He couldn't seem to figure out where these new vampires were coming from, or why they were here. The scariest part of the whole ordeal was when Amy had tried to scare a vamp away by flashing a cross, and nothing happened. The vampire had actually laughed at her! If Amy wasn't a witch God knows what would've happened.
Wesley had strained himself thin. He was determined to find out exactly what his Slayer was up against. He hadn't succeeded yet, and he decided lack of sleep was his only option now.
Cordy frowned, and put the book down. She walked over to Wesley and almost woke him to tell him to go home when something caught her eye. It was a picture of the late Slayer, Buffy Summers, her two friends, Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris, and most important to Wesley, the deceased Watcher, Rupert Giles.
They had all been killed by the Master, who Cordelia had subsequently killed herself. Cordy remembered Willow and Xander. She used to make fun of them. Putting people down had been her way to ignore the wackiness that was her life. It was hard to be normal when some British guy came up to you at the age of thirteen, and told you you were some sort of Chosen One.
How was Cordelia to know that Willow and Xander would ever get mixed up in it? She had always thought that the Slayer was to act alone. Buffy Summers had defied that. And, because of it, after the Master had snapped her neck, he had destroyed her Watcher and two friends. It was a miracle Spike hadn't been killed as well. At the time, he had been out hunting down the Slayer, not knowing that she was already dead.
Wesley had admired Rupert Giles. In fact, all the Watchers did. He was apparently a legend. As much as she liked Wesley, Cordy had always wondered what it would've been like to have Giles as a Watcher.
"I-I'm awake," Wesley suddenly mumbled, sitting up slowly.
"You should go home," Cordelia said. "A sleepy Watcher is a cranky Watcher. And I can't stand cranks."
"Nonsense," he waved his hand, dismissively. "Research must be my first priority. We need to find out what you're up against," Wesley unsuccessfully stifled a yawn.
"How can you be effective at research when you can't keep your eyes open?" she folded her arms.
"Straight, black coffee does wonders," was his mumbled answer.
"Go home, Wesley," Cordy narrowed her eyes. "Don't make me hurt you."
"You wouldn't dare," he took off his glasses, and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"Try me, oh Watcher mine," she smirked. "I'll drag your butt to your car if necessary."
"I love it when you're rough," a soft voice behind her chuckled.
Cordelia smiled and turned, "You have yet to see me rough, Oz."
The short redhead shrugged. "I don't know about that. You were pretty rough on our first date."
"You were also kinda wolfy on our first date, if I recall correctly," she retorted.
It had been a rather odd date. They had just gotten out to go to the Bronze, and the next thing she knew, Cordy was facing Oz--with a lot more hair on his chest. She had knocked him out, and dragged him to the cage in the Library. Best of all, as far as Cordelia was concerned, she got to wait up all night until he woke up the next day human. And naked.
"How was I to know?" Oz asked, and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hmmm. Where's Spi-oh, never mind," she sighed.
Spike was at the research table, leaning over Amy, who didn't seem to mind in the least. The two were notorious for their flirting.
"And what have you been doing tonight, my Sabrina?" Spike asked, and twirled a lock of her hair.
"What do you think, Deadboy?" Amy snatched back her hair, a smile on her lips. "Research. Some of us do contribute to the group, you know?"
"Hey, I contribute! Don't I, Oz?" he looked up, waiting for his friend to back him up.
Oz nodded, straightly. "Absolutely. We even got some info tonight."
That seemed to wake up Wesley, whose had snapped up. "Really?" he pushed his glasses back up with his index finger.
"Yeah," said Oz, as he sat down. "Something about a new vampire gang in town, and--what was it?--a House." He thought for a minute. "House of Erebus, that was it."
"The House of Erebus?" Wesley seemed to pale. "It's just a myth. At least, as far as the Council's concerned." He turned to Spike, who shrugged.
"Really can't say, mate," the vampire apologized. "I've been out o' the loop for a while now. I heard of it, though."
"What's it about?" Amy asked, obviously curious.
Spike leaned back and closed his eyes, trying to recall the stories Angelus had told him. "The House of Erebus stands for vampire clans. All the clans are from different regions of the world, each one with special talents. The clans are supposedly what they call `Purebloods.'"
"Purebloods?" Cordelia winced, disgusted. "You mean like, born as vampires?" He nodded.
"That's impossible," she huffed. "Vampires can't reproduce."
"The Turned can't. Like me," Spike explained. "But the Purebloods can. At least, that's what I've heard. It's all a lotta nonsense if ya ask me. No such thing as a Pureblood. Or the House of Erebus. Lived for over two centuries and I ain't come across no clan. It's a lotta crap to keep the young ones scared and in line."
"On the contrary, vampire," a deep voice said, causing everyone to jump. "The House does exist."
Cordelia looked up, and gasped. At the library doors stood the man who had chased her only a few hours before.
"Purebloods as well as the Turned, like you do live. And I cannot stop that. However," the huge man pulled out a gun, and pointed it at Spike's head, "I can stop you." He fired.
And that's when the fecal matter hit the oscillating unit.
Go on to Part Four
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