Spike in the City Of Angels, Episode 3:


In Hope Of A New Beginning


by John Cope



Part Ten



The Summers girls came to the front door of the Mansion and entered the house straight away as they were expected, neither Joyce or Buffy saw any need to knock.

Buffy didn't like to admit it but she was impressed by what she saw both inside and out, the place was castle like and the limited decor rich for all it's sparseness. Before she could comment on it to her alternate Mom however her Slayer kicked in on a grousing conversation from behind the stairs.

"Here we are workin' our mental fingers to the proverbial bone and do they thank , do they 'eck. Oh you can't do that lads, it's far to 'orrid to the poor defenseless vampires, they 'ave a right to a sporting chance to cut us to bloody ribbons with AKA's, and it ain't fair to deprive em of it after all their 'ard work. I mean are they serious?"

"I here every word you're saying man and I can't argue. Willow and Giles have smarts a plenty but sometimes they just lack on the practicalitiess. If you have to bulk slay then you need to examine the problem from all angles and come up with a suitable solution. Ours involves anti-personnel bombs admittedly but have they even got a plan."

"I agrees with you h'absolutely, to be 'onest I'm 'alf considerin' chuckin' the whole fing in and buggerin' oft back to LA. But as 'erself would be pissed if her mates get killed, I suppose I'll 'ave to stick with it. But I tell you it's a pain in the..."

"Area you don't want one, now what we gotta do is get Buff on side, convince her we're right and the people who look intelligent are in fact way wrong. I have to say with ordinary Buff we'd be hopelessly outgunned. This little lady doesn't look quite so smart though so I figure between the two of us we can finesse her to our way of thinking."

*Why you!* If Joyce hadn't started steering her towards the living room Buffy would have gone to look for the two individuals to give them a piece of her fist.

"I appreciate that son, I fink I'll leave it to you lad you communicates better with 'er than me bein 'uman an all, and ain't it nice to see we're gettin' on so much better than we was eh?"

"Sure, once you've worked with one blood-sucking monster you feel like you've worked with em' all."

"My sentiments entirely about 'umans with all their sentimental clap trap an' h'emotional baggage, fancy a fag son?"

"A what!...Oh a cigarette no thanks I don't those things will kill...But ok you already are."

And then Buffy lost the conversation as she got pulled into the living room and what looked like a conference of war gone bad.

While Oz tried to mediate, Giles and Willow were attempting to persuade Angel back onto their side of the argument whilst he sat firmly on the fence. He smiled at the sight of her but the happy didn't last long as the noise of her breathing filled his ears.

"Buff, would you tell Angel that there's no way we can be setting off bombs no matter how many vamps there are." Willow got her point home first being nearest the door. "It's just not us."

"It's quite out of the question," Giles added forthrightly. "I'm certain that between us we can come up with a better plan."

"That's great," Angel snorted. "Coming from someone who recently blew up a school to take out a demon."

"That's completely different," Giles snapped, turning on the vampire. "The fate of the world was at stake."

"Giles," Karen interrupted trying to sound supportive but at the same time having to argue that. "Isn't our fate kinda at stake here, is it a good idea to just dismiss our two military minds like this?"

Anya's emphatic nod in support of her boyfriend wasn't lost on Giles or an already fairly guilty Karen.

"Karen has a point..." Oz began before catching Willow's horrified look in his direction. "Sorry Will but....."

"Ok that's enough." Buffy gave the room the look. "I assume you guys arn't normally like this and are just falling apart a little because your wiggy about your Slayer, but this isn't getting you anywhere."

"Buff we just can't seem to..." Willow began before realizing she wasn't talking to her best friend.

"Err....Willow right." Buffy didn't know what to make of the girl responsible for bringing her here but she wasn't sure she should like her. "Would you stop with the Buff, my friends call me B."

"Oh!" The wiccan gulped picturing the fate of the last person to use that nickname. "Ok."

"Rupert." Buffy took in further startled looks and a smile broke out on her scarred lips. "Oh I always call my Watcher by his first name, and we consult before every mission, and he doesn't order me around he says please and if I'm good afterwards I get a...."

"Buffy!" The Slayer caught the note in her Mom's voice and remembered that she wasn't as off the leash as she had thought. "Behave."

"Look Buffy the situation is this." Giles moved over by the map and the Slayer went to join him. "Treat is going to be coming to town with a lot of armed vampires, Browne and Xander have both agreed that our best plan is to lay remote controlled bombs to destroy their formation and then pick off survivors the old fashioned way with crossbows."

"It's quite straightforward then." Buffy looked at the map familiarizing herself with place names. "Do things the old fashioned way and be massacred or try something new and massacre? I've always preferred doing massacre to being a massacred, so I vote go with the vamps and the stupid kid I'm gonna hit later's plan."

"I best go tell Browne to get his source moving and Xander to start running." Angel didn't know what Xander had done but it sounded like he'd made an impression. "Even with the supplies delivered before Treat can probably start moving, we're not going to have much time to set this up."

Unhappy as Giles and Willow were they had to accede to what had obviously become the majority decision indeed Giles realized that Angel's point about the fate of Sunnydale High was quite telling. "You go on then Angel, we'll explain to Buffy the directions she's going to have to give Treat to get him into the ambush area. When's he due to ring?"

"Fifteen minutes." Angel answered. "Hope he's not on his way when he rings."

"If I'm a Vamp Queen I'll get met when I say." She glanced around and added. "So two in the morning suit everyone?"

Part Eleven

The sewer manhole cover came out with a pop and a hideous stench wafted up over the school lot. A group of already tense people stood round holding their noses and looking hard at the girl who had led them there as if to say. "Do you really mean we gotta go down into this?"

"Ok so it a little whiffy but its the best way in." Buffy however regretted having to breathe to speak and couldn't help but ask herself if sewers by a High School, (Even one as lacking in students as Sunnydale) were the best to use. However what kept coming back to her was the fact that she, and more importantly her group, needed time to adjust to the light down there. Vampires could see in the dark and other than herself and the Spikes, the vampire fighters couldn't so going in at the entrance nearest the vamp's might not be the best idea.

There were thirteen mortals who stood around the sewer entry. Twelve of them were going with her, the Mayor was there to see them off then he was going to join the above ground party which would even now be moving into position around the Bronze under Colonel Newsome's orders. The Spikes waited in Oz's nearby van, as soon as the sun slipped below the horizon they would emerge, and the Slayer side of the operation would get underway.

Aside from Jenny and her somewhat reduced team, Buffy had added an Englishman and two cops. They looked like outsiders in the tight knit group but the Slayer had no doubt they would manage to fit in. Giles, she had gathered from an earlier interview, had slain before and Officers Eddings and Seymour had more than demonstrated their commitment to the fight, the fact they could use firearms might make them valuable to.

Giles had dressed down for the evening putting on slacks rather than tweed and a sweatshirt and loose coat rather than his usual jacket and tie. His armorment was heavy aside from a crossbow and stakes he carried a cavalry sabre slung over his shoulder the profit from a raid the Mayor had staged on the Sunnydale Museum's Spanish Colonialism section. Honed to a razor edge it should prove more than deadly to vamps.

Axes, swords and daggers were in abundance among the group. The Mayor's shipment of weapons from a source of his in LA had arrived an hour ago and been rapidly distributed. The guy had gone round every martial arts store in the city and bought up their stock which had been flown out along with nearly forty hunting crossbows to supplement the supply available to buy in town.

"Well guess this about does it." The Mayor nodded as he looked around him. "You're good people I know that already, and the fight your about to take part in is to earn every mortal in this town the right to live free and without fear. Now I know that's a terrible burden to lay on you and I know you've already fought hard before, lost friends some of yours, but tonight you're not alone. Tonight dozens of people are waiting to help you destroy this evil for ever."

*Yeah.* Buffy half listened to the speech which seemed to be having some effects. *Till some big vamp comes along and offers to work with you, and even if you don't sell out the Hellmouth will draw them back here sooner or later no matter how many we kill it always does.*

"Good luck to you all." The Mayor beamed as he spoke thinking about the votes this might get him in Buffy's somewhat coloured opinion. "And I'll see you all at daybreak alive and well and victorious."

There weren't exactly Bronx cheers but most of the assembled hunters nodded at that and some smiled morale boosted that the town's authorities finally gave a damn.

Indicating to Buffy that he wanted her to walk with him, Wilkins set off for his car and the bodyguards that waited for him there. "Be careful tonight, Buffy, I don't doubt that a Slayer falling in battle in a world other than her own is bound to cause trouble on the arithmatic front. I'd hate our Slayer to have to commute and aside from that I'd miss you."

"Yeah well I don't have any intention of letting the Master kill me again." She went on quickly to avoid the inevitable,"That's my girl" by adding. "Despite our previous differences I gotta say I'm still sorta convinced that you don't really give a da.....a hoot about the people in this town." Then her voice changed as her features did. "Do you promise me you'll give me reason to change my opinion?"

"My but you growl prettily." The Mayor looked over Buffy's shoulder to make sure none of his bodyguards had noticed her transformation and were aiming to stake her. "Reminds me of what might have been, but to answer your question I'm intent on carrying on as Mayor here for as long as I can and if I can do that with the peoples respect so much the better. I have their best interests at heart my dear you have my word on that!"

"A politician's word?" She noticed a hurt look in his eyes. "Ok an immortal Politician's word maybe that's different, maybe you have to think further ahead. I'll see you tomorrow morning then Mr Mayor."

"You sure will, bright and early." With that Buffy walked back to her friends leaving the Mayor to watch her go. "My what a firecracker and to think she's leaving, oh well her alternate self will be here I've no doubt I'll have to see what I can do to help her out. Cursed blades and how to reverse their effects...I wonder what I've got stashed away in my research files on that?"

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Buffy checked her stakes were secure and her katana snug in its sheath. She had woken up in a good place, had an interesting discussion on her future mortal state with her secondary squeeze and was looking forward to kicking vampire booty.

"Mr Wilkins seems like a reasonable chap." Giles met her half way back to the group and conversed in a low voice so the others could not hear. "Can we rely on him do you think?"

"He's a one hundred and fortyish year old freakin' demon." Giles look of horror made Buffy wish she'd told him later. "But I think he wants his town back from the Master and I don't think he intends hurting people afterwards, but you and I, meaning your I not my Giles's I being me and I that is the me who works with you...oh....you had better keep your eyes on him."

"I think I see." Giles was beginning to worry that he might have taken one to many blows to the head and lost it completely this time. "And I suppose a town like this it stands to reason has to have somebody strange running it."

"Understatement of the year." She smiled up at him, he looked at her a little strange and that she remembered the picture of her alter ego. *I'm a vampire but I'm a happy vampire, that must be weird for him with his Buffy being so sad.*

And she was happy due mainly to all the things that had happened that afternoon.

*****

Buffy had awoken that afternoon from a comfortable dreamless sleep cuddled between too not exactly unattractive vampires to find their two smiling faces looking down at her.

"O..oh!" She smiled back still sleepy. "Either I have bed hair or I've been saying real embarrassing things in my sleep."

"Well kitten," her Spike answered with a laugh. "There was this little part were you compared my....attributes to Angel's that I really enjoyed listening to but..."

Noticing an impending swat Spike trailed off the rest of his comment, leaning in his lips met the Slayers in a deep passionate kiss. They lost track of everything else for a few seconds as they enjoyed the moment.

When their lips parted Buffy looked round to Altie who was lying there looking at her and her lover sadly. "Oh come here silly. Spike won't mind."

*Nice to be asked,* the vampire in question couldn't help but think, but all the same nodded. "Go on son it's all in the family."

Alternate Spike still tasted different cause of the residual booze in his system but for all that his technique had improved with sobriety. "Wow this is kinda fun for a girl, shame we're not still back at the factory to take things further."

"What you mean you'd...?" Original Spike was looking at her open-mouthed. "With both of us? At the same time!"

"Well my demoness would." Buffy's face took on a hurt defensive look. "Wouldn't you...be prepared to...not even for me?"

"It would be weird." Spike toned down the shock so as not to offend his two bed fellows. "But I guess if it would make you happy pet I'd have tried it."

"Me too." Altie nodded enthusiastically, he didn't have any choice the agreement with his alter ego was specific on the obeyment of orders. "Do you want to do it now?"

"No." Buffy looked up at the cellar's ceiling with a look of absolute frustration on her face. "There be a lot of shouting and screaming involved, nice orgasmic shouting and screaming you understand, we'd draw to much of a crowd, and I guess tomorrow night we get separated by Willow when she works her whammie, lets hope she gets the right one of you guys." She failed to notice the look the two vamps exchanged. "Though I suppose she can always send one of you back if the spell goes wrong."

"Yeah..." Spike answered cautiously. "Somethin' like that."

"I got to tell you guys something, too," Buffy went on hesitantly. "I may not be a vampire for much longer."

"Eh?" Two vamps answered together.

"Gee I'm in bed with the stereo twins." Buffy would have laughed at their expressions at that one but she was too scared about Spike's reaction to her news. "Sorry, you know the book Wesley's looking for? Well the Mayor has a copy and he's given me the revivication rite that will hopefully make me live again."

"I see." Spike's voice choked at the words and she saw a smile struggle onto his face. "Oh Buffy your Mum is gonna be so pleased, and Giles and the others, too."

"And you?" Her voice broke a little as she asked the question, tears weren't far away. "What do you think?"

"Me pet?" The vampire took her cold hands firmly in his, Altie's presence forgotten. "I love you pet, I want what's best for ya. Bein' a vampire isn't it, okay you get to walk in the sun but you got the right to a full life, to be able to move amongst your own people without having to bugger about raising glamours an such. An that demoness is gradually changin' you, Buffy, makin' you somethin' your not, somethin' horrid. Ok you won't be immortal anymore and one day..." Spike's voice broke as tears began to trickle down his face. "One day you'll be gone from me, my love, but till then..."

He closed his eyes, unable to say anymore but opened them as cold lips traced the path of his tears down his cheeks. "You know that I love you, don't you pet?" he suddenly found the strength to say. "And that's why I release you from the promise you made last night."

"What promise...Spike?" Her eyes dampened a little now as well. "What do you mean?"

"Tellin' Angel about us, makin' him share you, this changes all that." Buffy open her mouth to protest but he stilled her with a kiss then broke it and went on. "You're in love with him so deeply in blazes from within' you pet, you love me too, I know, but once you're human again you'll see that Angel's got what I haven't -- a soul."

"That doesn't matter and what if..." Buffy's voice broke again over the words she was trying to force out. "What if he says he wants to leave me again?"

"Could any bloke be that stupid kitten, of course he won't leave you." Spike gently stroked her cheek and then pulled her forward a little so that her cheek rested on his still chest. "He's got his soul back permanently now so he hasn't got any reason to be afraid of loving you like you deserve, and if you can't walk in the sun together...well so what?"

"But..."

"What if he says you need a normal life, and that he's going?" Spike tenderly caressed her as he spoke. "Why I'll be round your house in a flash and we'll both tell the dozy sod where he can go and we'll be together forever, or as much of forever as we can. I suppose it could be embarrasin' at the nursin' home but I'll be your grandson an' if Browne insist's on comin' with he can be an irritatin' bloke who's tryin' to sell you some..."

"Spike." The name was whispered. "Don't you love me?"

"What?" His body shook with the force of his emotions. "How can you ask me that....after all we've been to one another."

"You'd give me up, without a fight...how could you do that if you love me?"

"Is that what you want?" Spike's voice grew cold. "For me to fight Angel for you? I'd kill him, Sire or not, for you but then you'd hate me, or hate him if he took my unlife." She felt his tears fall damply in her hair as he added. "You would, wouldn't you...hate him?"

"Forever." Her hands crept slowly up his back pressing tightly into the leather of the duster. "What will you do, will you go back to Dru?"

"Never in life." Spike's eyes locked with those of his doppelganger and he silently nodded his head. "I can't go back to killin'. I may not have a soul but you don't need that to start to like people. And with Sol Gelfman backin' me I think I could get quite a career as an bodyguard in Hollywood, specially after that 90210 business. People want protecting and Browne and I..."

"Pretty people?"

"Well there was some talk of Kate Holmes." He laughed and was delighted when the Slayer joined him. "I'll always be your friend, my darlin' I'll never be far from you whatever happens, an' for as long as I exist so will your memory, I swear it."

"Thank you." It was all Buffy could say, but her heart told her that this was good and though she grieved that Spike had been forced to say what he had she knew that it was the best thing for them both. Also she knew that it wasn't her demoness who was responsible for the faint spark of hope that burned somewhere in the recesses of her mind. *Maybe Angel will walk away......maybe.*

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Three minutes after sunset, two of the minutes had been spent kissing Spike whilst her troops fidgited, Buffy led the way down the ladder into the smelly darkness of the sewer.

She was going to war.

Part Twelve

"It whiffs a bit in here." Spike opinionated before they'd gone twenty yards.

"You don't say, you know I thought it smelled just peachy." Buffy could hold her breath for days but even so it reeked. "God I'm certain the sewers don't smell this bad back home."

"Is it any fuckin' wonder?" Eddings gasped out through the handkerchief he had tied round his face. "You think the public works can get anyone to come down here? Last group that tried to do maintenance was nearly two years ago and not a man came back...or at least not alive."

"Oh right." Buffy kicked a rat off the walkway that ran down the side of the pipe it lasted with a splash in the goo down below. *Sorry rat, I know you gotta think that was unnecessarily harsh.*

The troops were in column, Buffy first her Katana drawn, them Eddings with his twelve gauge, then Original Spike followed by Giles and Jenny and the hunters. Altie and Seymour were at the rear.

Buffy had thought hard on the arrangement of the group. The tunnels were pitch black, all points through which light either natural or artificial might enter had been sealed by the vampires over the years since the Master rose. The vamps way of making the sewer system a perfect thoroughfare for their kind and making it of vital importance to have a vamp at front and back to see the way and spot ambushes.

Not needing clean air to breathe mean the vamps efforts at light blocking had pretty much cut-back on ventilation, too. Morphed they had no reason to fear the deadly mixture of gases emitted by the waste so the methane had built up and the stench with it. All evening on the Mayor's orders city workmen had been lifting man hole covers and carefully setting them to one side to let breathable air in and the stench out but things were still pretty bad for the humans in the column. A couple of times Buffy heard vomiting behind her, she was careful not to look round.

Another point in Buffy's considerations had been the prospect of meeting things other than vampires in this subterranean world, hence Eddings behind her with a twelve gauge. Opposed to guns she might be but there were a lot of creatures out there that would have at least second thoughts about attacking after being on the receiving end of a solid shot from a gun of that size. She would drop in an emergency and Eddings blaze away as required.

Talking ceased as the hunters moved along only the occasional slithering of boot soles on unseen residue on the path broke the silence. The humans were still fairly blind but their eyes were slowly adjusting and every now and then they caught a glimpse of what they were walking past.

"Good grief...sorry." Someone gasped out at the sight of a body floating past.

"That's ok, Giles." Buffy whispered back loudly. "It's not like we're alone down here after all."

Hands moved nearer to stakes at that particular piece of information, but for all that, Buffy had sounded fairly glib on the subject and the hunters assumed she didn't mean vampires right now, this minute, in their fairly-unseeing faces.

Indeed Buffy was only sensing fleeting glimpses of individuals and small groups scurrying along before her. The Master's vibes she could feel dead ahead in the Bronze with the intense core of evil that his band of minions represented surrounding his aura. *These guys are the stragglers and the runaways, the guys too scared of me to stand beside the Master and too scared of him to go back home. The smart asses I think I'll have to call them, the one's who get to go on unliving if they get clear of town.*

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"Oh you're such a good doggy...oh that's it my dear...yesss right...there!!" Willow's head fell back as her latest orgasm tore through her, her clit ached from the attention it had received from Xander's tongue, but still she saw no reason why he should stop. "Go on..keep going you bad boy."

Xander had tried to rebel again just as Willow had been about to allow him a compensatory cum. An audacious act she intended he should pay for at least the next six months. The prospect filled her with such delight she almost forgot about the hurt she felt at his not being willing to just love her.

Even as she'd lowered her half naked body onto him ready to impale herself on his cock his broken hand had locked round her throat and he'd reared a fist back to punch her. That explained the cuts on Xander's face where Willow's ringed fingers had slammed into him, and the amusing whimpering sounds he was making, she had kept her boots on and hadn't been very careful were she stamped.

Suddenly though, her pleasure was forgotten and Xander sent flying onto his back as she shoved his face hard back from the source of her pleasure. "Leaving now!"

"Huh?" Was all Xander's pain-filled mind could manage as he saw his lover stand and put her leather pants under her arm, his jaw ached and his tongue felt so swollen he wondered if he would ever speak properly again. And as for the pain in other areas....but the damp triangle of red hair between the vampiresses legs still looked good to him, so he shuffled forward again meaning to resume his ministrations.

"No." A sharp driven right boot connected with his sternum. "No time for that, the Slayer's coming."

Willow moved to the tunnel mouth leading to the sewer on her right, yes it was that one that the slayer was in. Grabbing Xander by the shoulder, she hauled his clothed and her bare ass in the opposite direction. "Come on dearest we don't want that naughty girl dusting you do we?"

"Fhy.....fhy dont fwe go fwarn....?" Xander began before Willow's open palm slapped him hard across his scarred face.

"Are you questioning me?" Willow smiled as Xander shook his head fear all over his face. "The Master lives or dies as fate dictates. I don't give a fuck for him anymore, and I'm your ruler now boy and don't you ever forget it."

Xander resisted the urge to scream but only with difficulty, but at the same time an inner voice told him that as soon as he had healed, Willow would be certain to let him screw her in to a mattress. It was just what she planned to do to him till then that had him worried.

Willow pushed him along at a fast pace, heading for the mall. "I got an idea lover, I hope you'll like it, a cock ring, just the job to make you very aware of what pain truly is all about, remember that lovely little store near the garages were they sell that kinda deal and they don't mind vamps."

Silently, Xander began to pray as the implications struck home. *Oh god please I know I'm a demon and all but please could you get your Slayer to come after us, I'd really like to die now...*

*****

The hole in the sewer wall was plain, a ramp of earth and shattered brick ran down into the drain itself. The filth all over the pathway showed were the vampires had clambered out of the mire.

*Sorry guys guess you're gonna get a little smelly.* Buffy however had other plans. Sheathing her sword she tensed to leap the gap.

The leap itself was easy even from a standing start but the landing nearly led to disaster, Buffy's left boot heel came down on a brick which shifted under her, only frantic arm waving restored her balance and prevented a topple backwards into the sewers contents. Suppressing a deep sigh of relief, she knelt and listened for any movement in the lighted room she could see up the tunnel ahead of her. There was none.

*That jump's not a good plan for the likes of Giles.* She flashed a grin at a worried looking Spike he was next for the long jump. *Ok once more into the breach young Buffy.*

She brought her crossbow round her body and pulled the string back until it locked with a click then fitted a bolt, thus armed she proceeded alone into the cellars of the Bronze.

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"That's the last of them Master." Zachery bowed as he saw his lord watching him. "And as instructed one was chained to the outside of the door at sunset."

"With the list?" The Master hissed.

"Yes Sire as per your order." Zachery had been surprised that some of the longer-serving pets had been able to remember their real names anymore but had dutifully written them down. "Sire may I ask...?"

"Why?" The Master noted how his Minion's eyes widened with fear as he climbed down from his throne to stand beside him. "Fear not Childe, a thirst for knowledge is a wonderful thing, a human mob must be motivated by a shared goal if it is to stay together. Now think what the kin of our hostages will say when they find their people not yet dead but alive within this building. How will they react?"

"By forgetting all thoughts of fire..." Zachery smiled as the plan opened before him. "By storming the doors and coming in here to fight hand to hand against a vampire no mortal has ever faced and lived."

"See how you learn."

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"Sir." The soldier snapped quietly to attention and handed the list to Colonel Newsome. "Pinned to the prisoner, sir."

By the light of a torch, Newsome studied the list and the bloodstain on it where the pin had been driven into the prisoners flesh. "Mayor Wilkins, perhaps you should look at this."

Wilkins had arrived on the roof of the warehouse opposite the Bronze ten minutes before he was moving the last of his volunteers into position, back up for Newsome's soldiers. He regarded them curiously, feeling someone should have pointed out the uselessness of cam cream against creatures capable of hearing your beating heart at fifty meters. But there was no point distracting them now.

"Oh hold on." Wilkins looked at the grimey sheet of paper in the Colonels hand and reached for his rubber gloves. "The germs there must be on that."

"I think you should let your people know their family members may be alive in there." The Colonel actually managed a smile. "It'll help their moral..." He stopped smiling as he saw the Mayor shred the list. "What the hell did you do that for?"

"What makes a man fight best Colonel? I'll tell you -- utterly loathing his enemy with every fragment of his soul, add a burning desire for revenge to that and you have something unstoppable." Wilkins took the gloves off again and drew his sword. "Let's not detract from that with hope shall we? We'll get those people out but if some get killed in the battle, well it'll be kinder to their friends in the long run if they don't have their hopes raised, don't you agree?"

"I suppose...sir." Still feeling uneasy Newsome moved towards his command group. *All up to the Slayer now I guess, god be with her.*

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Buffy was relieved to find no guards in the area of the two deepest dungeons and doubly relieved to find the two cells still occupied.

Cordelia cowered back against her cell's rear wall, the crossbow the vampiress was holding out ahead of her did nothing to make her yellow eyes and ridges look any less scary. But the worried smile on Angel's face gave her just a shred of hope.

"Buffy?" The name was whispered but the hope in it was plain to hear.

"Yeah Angel that's me." Buffy whispered back as she lost the game face and gave her vamp-friend's nude doppelganger a wink. "Cavalry's here baby, cavalry's here."

Part Thirteen

Steadily, Buffy ran the wires from the carefully screened claymore mines back up the slope to the vampire who was digging a trench some fifteen to twenty yards behind her. As she went she whispered, "Having to share a shallow grave with a vampire, not a good way to spend an evening, not good at all."

"We right Missie?" The vampire in question asked, putting his entrenching tool to one side. "Ere' let me 'ave those."

"Sure." Buffy handed the wires over and watched the vampire attach them to the handheld triggers. "That all you use to set those things off?"

"Yeah." Browne checked that the safeties were on then flicked up the covers that covered the switchers. "Press these and the badmasha go straight to shaitan."

"Fun for them assuming you mean bad guys and Satan?" Buffy looked down the slope, Treat and his vamps would be straight ahead of them walking up hill hopefully in column when the ambush struck them. Buffy and the vetala would strike from the front whilst the Slayerettes hammered home the message from right down the vampires left flank. "Smart of you to find a piece of ground like this with a curve in the track that we can overlook from two sides."

"Gives the survivors a chance to run." Browne was still busy covering the soil he had dug out with rocks he had found out easier. "Box em in to 'ard and they'll fight to the death, it's always best to give the buggers a slim chance to get away, secret of a good chapao that."

"Please speak English." Buffy was rapidly wishing she'd been allowed to share the cute vampire's hiding place. Not that Browne wasn't handsome he was just too...menacing looking for her liking, like the guys who played non-lead male gangsters in the movies. She watched another rock get dropped into place. "What are you doing?"

"Buildin' a sangar." Browne heard what almost sounded like a warning growl from the Slayer and looking up at her scared face couldn't help but momentarily reflect on how bloody dangerous she was. *Don't forget mate this one's not got no reason to like you.*

So somewhat apologetically and moving into what passed for proper English Browne went on. "H'its a breastwork, designed to keep bullets h'out. We sits behind it nice an' snug, and when Treat reachs that dead tree on the corner -- boom."

"Ok." Buffy considered hitting him to see if that would improve his use of the language but decided that could wait. "We have things that go bang and crossbows to go, I got stakes and you have scary looking knives...so what's in the bag?"

"What bag?"

"That bag." Buffy pointed at the black holdall Browne was trying to stand in front of. "With the gun shaped thing in it."

"Ah.....now I was 'opin' you weren't gonna notice that...."

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"How much longer?" Anya had neglected to put on her watch and was having to rely on Xander for the time. The two of them were supposed to be dug into the last position in the line down the hillside and would have been had not God so thoughtfully provided Xander with a fallen tree.

"Three quarters of an hour or so, and just think a half hours shoveling already saved." Xander was sitting back on a patch of dry earth he had carefully cleared of all stones and sharp pointed objects. His trigger mechanisms were carefully set on the ground under the tree the wires buried so they wouldn't show and spoil the plan. Now all he had to hope for was that the vampires didn't spot the bombs or hear his or Anya's heart beat.

If they did then he had a fair idea he and his girl would die, the three mines they would trigger from their position were designed to take out the tail end not the vanguard. If the vampires did spot them then they would get off the track and bring their guns into the fight rolling up the ambushes whole flank.

"Sorry your first big battle has to be such a tough one." Xander patted his girlfriend's hand reassuringly. She sat beside him, biting her lip in a way she was really likely to regret next time she looked in a mirror. "But short-handed like we are...."

"It's every person to the pump." Anya had gotta used to being detailed to watch Faith and had started to feel left out, but now she yearned for her uncomfortable chair just off the corridor. "I hope she's ok."

"Who?"

"Faith." Anya had the jealousy, sure enough she would have liked to be Xander's first, but it had cut down on the fumbling. "Nobody's watching over her."

"She'll be fine don't sweat it." Xander secretly had a little bit of worry on the subject but needed a calm Anya in what was a deadly dangerous situation. "After what happened last time do you seriously think that the Watchers would try anything again? They may be British but that doesn't necessarily mean they're stupid. Look at Giles..."

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"What the hell are the blighters doing up there?" The tall black clad man lowered his thermal imaging binoculars and turned to the man who crouched in the forest beside him. Both wore balaclavas and full combat gear, though the dart guns they carried showed their non-lethal intent. "It looks like they're digging bloody trenches."

"I wonder if a certain somebody might have found a way to tip her off." Lurking guy number two replied in the same clipped Home Counties accent as his colleague. "I think we'd better go and ask him don't you?"

Stealthily they got up and jogged back to the two vans they had parked in a dip in the road a quarter of a mile down from the trail. Several black clad men guarding the perimeter around the vehicle exchanging nods with the duo as they passed too the rear van.

Throwing open the door, lurking guy number one with a smile addressed the handcuffed, besuited, bruised individual who was sitting under pistol armed guard inside. "Wesley old chap is there anything further you wish to share with us?"


Continued

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