Spike in the City Of Angels, Episode 3:


In Hope Of A New Beginning


by John Cope



Part Eighteen



Treat loaded the 40 mm. shell into the breach of the grenade launcher and closed the mechanism of the M-79, it locked together with a satisfying click. *Shit Slayer I dunno what you got, but I got this baby and your ass is mine, Hellmouth here I come.*

Looking back the length of the bus, he saw a lot of busy vampires. They were stashing spare magazines around their bodies and loading the AK47's he had provided for them. *And there's her posse with just crossbows and a couple of submachine guns, shit the girl don't stand a chance.*

The Master Vampire fastened the coat he was wearing just that little bit tighter. *After all it won't do to let the brothers know I paid out for a kevlar jacket for me but didn't bother getting one for any of them. So a few vamps get it, there's gonna be plenty more where they came from.*

Treat still hadn't quite made his mind up to definitely go against the Slayer but it increasingly seemed like the best option.

First there was the fact that if he joined her he would have to work with the two Englishvamps and that idea held no appeal for him. It wasn't that he had prejudice against their colour or nationality, it was the fact that they had seniority over him in service and in the Slayer's affections. He had no intention of being low man on the ladder again, he'd had his fill of that under Trick and Kakistos. He was his own vamp now and nobody's minion.

Defeating the Slayer, though, now that was a different matter. As a mortal she had inspired fear but also ambition, every vampire considered that, whatever her reputation, she was just a human and therefore inferior and killable, and so they hadn't resisted the forces that drew them to the Hellmouth, confident that they would be luckier that their brethren.

All, of course, failed.

The Vampire Queen she was such a different proposition.

At first there had been a burning lust and an ambition in every Master Vampire's breast to own this creature to have her kneeling at their feet, and that had lasted for the first few months of Buffy's unlife.

Not anymore though.

Fear of her. It filled the night air wherever vampires met across America, fear that she might decide to start traveling, fear that she would come to their town. Fear of the kind of death they might meet one dark night in some forsaken alleyway on their hunting grounds.

Fear of the Slayer-Vampire. It had burrowed into their guts with its ice cold claws and made them dread the very thought of the town of Sunnydale.

Treat knew that if he killed Buffy he would be a hero to all his kind. Ok that wasn't that much to write home about since with that status would come a plentiful supply of ambitious rivals out to dominate him but he had the most heavily armed crew in North America and didn't have any ethical dilemmas over using them against his own kind.

*Hellmouth and LA mine, that little bitch in the hospital kept alive and unconscious as long as possible so no new Slayer to worry about, I'll have all California before any mutha-fucker can do a thing about it.*

"Ok my brothers." Treat raised his voice and obediently his vamps fell silent. "We's comin' to it now, time we bein' waitin' for. You all know that the Slayer is mine." He raised the M-79 up for all of them to see. "This little bastard here is gonna smear her all over the landscape."

"Right on homes!" A vampire shouted from the back of the bus setting off a chorus of. "That's right," and "Yes sir." From all the other passengers.

*Damn it's like some revivalist meetin' in here.* Treat smiled happy at the confidence his vamps felt in him. "Her crew are yours boys, they're seasoned vampire killers so don't you be lettin' the ages of the younger ones fool ya, shoot em down like dogs we can feed later."

He looked around at the nodding heads. "The vampires who kill the traitors Spike, Browne and Angelus. Well those lucky mutha fuckers get to be turnin' their choice from the local populace, tell me brothers anyone here that don't wanna be a Master to some pretty bitch or other?"

"Yes sir! Brother you just lead us on." The cheers filled the interior of the vehicle as Treat morphed and threw open the vehicle doors.

"Come on then let's go kill a Vampire Queen!"

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"Vamps inbound," Xander whispered into his throat mike. "They're starting up the trail now, nearly forty of them all armed to the fangs."

"Heads down you guys." Buffy had night vision binoculars to her eyes and could see the dark shapes starting to climb the trail. "Do not engage until I fire my Claymores unless you absolutely have to. We need to take them all."

Buffy began to load the two crossbows she had brought. "Jesus this thing takes some cranking." She exclaimed as she tried to load the outsized crossbow See's had made for her vampiric alter-ego. "What does she live on, spinach?"

"She's just built like that." Browne loaded Spike's Heckler and Koch and set it beside him with a smile. "It's nice to find you're such a reasonable girl, so unlike 'er."

"We'll you slay how you gotta slay." The debate had been heated for all that before she gave and agreed that in the event of things going wrong he could use all the weapons he'd brought. "Just be careful were you point it."

"Fret not luv, I ain't never had a blue on blue yet." Browne watched the approaching column intently. "This reminds me of a time up on the Khyber back in 96, we was......"

"96 I thought you bored me with the story of how you trekked home in the Forties and Fifties earlier, so why did you go back?"

"Er.....1896."

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Xander squeezed down a little lower behind the trunk. He could hear the vampires feet on the path but didn't need to see them. If they felt his and Anya's presence Buffy would let him know and they would fire the mines anyway. All he had to do till then was keep his nerve and breath very, very quietly and try to stop his heart from beating too.

His hands were sweating on the triggers of the mine detonators despite the cool night air. *Please god let them walk on, we're on your team big fella, please just let them walk on by.*

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"Why the hell do we have to meet on the top of this damn ridge?" Treat grumbled as he walked his breath starting to labour as the slope steepened. Having to breathe was a bitch if you weren't used to it. "Next time I kill a turned Slayer I's gonna make damn sure it's happenin' someplace flat."

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Willow crouched lower in the snug little foxhole she was sharing with Oz and tried real hard not to wish she was someplace else.

Neither of them were very happy about the mines, ok they had helped Xander steal a rocket launcher one time and it had done good work but that had been with Buffy's approval and this was going behind their Buffy's back.

Another thing upsetting the Wiccan was the doppelganger not wanting to make any effort to be friends with them. She had tried hard, offered to take the girl to the Soda Pump for Mochas. (A dumb idea she'd realized later since Buffy didn't have a scar and any guys who saw her with one would freak.) Buffy hadn't wanted to go, though. "Look I got enough problems missing my own friends I don't need to be worrying about you guys as well, ok."

Later however she caught the Slayer staring at a picture on Angel's hall table. A picture of Buffy taken two months before it happened, taken at a studio in Sunnydale at Angel's expense to finally compensate for the not in the yearbook this year mopage.

"Why did it have to happen?" Willow had heard Buffy whisper. "God why couldn't you have vamped me instead of this?"

"You wouldn't have had a soul," Willow began only to see the startled Slayer slam the picture back down. "Sorry I didn't mean to startle you."

"I knew you were there," Buffy pouted in a manner so familiar. "This magick stuff's all very well but it still won't do anything about my face. I think I'd almost trade with your girl, soul or not, and that's not a good feeling, not a good feeling at all."

Willow had wanted to hug her then but Buffy had walked away without a backward glance and gone and sat by her Mom cutting her 'best friend' out.

*I hope Buffy's ok, I so need her back here, demon and all.* The footsteps drew level with their position and Willow stopped thinking about Buffy and started thinking about staying alive.

*I touch this switch and that's it.* Oz thought to himself. *It's kinda like taking slaying into a whole new age but is it really were we wanna go? Effective, but at the same time de-personalized, next thing you know we'll be replaced by robots...*

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*Well this is new, I never thought for one second I'd be sat in a hole with a Principal and a vampire waiting to blow up mines. Honestly Spike's bad enough but Browne is an utter thug constantly wanting to shoot things or blow them up. I don't know why she puts up with him I really don't. Rupe indeed, as if I'd ever.....*

*God this is like paint ball gone mad, Giles doesn't look to happy...but guess I might still have time after this to really cheer him up. Older men can be such fun.*

*So why the hell wouldn't she share a trench with me, was it something I said? But then again I guess I shouldn't be spending to much time round her, that heart beat only makes me brood.*

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"What the bloody hell?" Jason put the binoculars down and shook his head, relieved of his Wesley guarding duties he had come out with Albany to check out the new arrivals. "What is it about this 'effin country even the vamps have shooters, and that is some kinda arsenal their luggin' out there."

"Perhaps they're technically an organized militia." Albany looked at his working class colleague and then at the dart guns they both carried. "I suppose one aught to do something to help, vampires the common enemy and all that?"

"If you wanna fuckin' die sir." Jason started to crawl back to the van. "Boss is just gonna have to like it or lump it, his immortal Slayer is about to get done over."

"He's apt to be upset." Albany paused for a few seconds as he tried to think of a solution. "I have it, Wesley can prove his loyalty another way."

"How?"

"Killing Faith." The Watcher looked back towards the scene of the impending battle. "And by doing so putting us firmly back in business."

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*There almost at the corner.* Buffy put her finger on the trigger switch that would send a cloud of lead shot into the head of the vampire column then spoke into the throat mike. "On three everybody, one, two......"

Part Nineteen



Pressing her face to the ground and closing her eyes as instructed Buffy said the word, "Three!" And pressed her triggers.

Two explosions filled the night air with a hail of death, and then within a second all down the row of mines detonations lit up the night.

"Moth...." Treat got no further as a shower of ball bearings struck him ripping into his arms and lacerating his face. The legs of the vampire in front of him disintegrated and Treat's lower body was sprayed with dusted remains. He dropped onto his back, screaming in agony as the pain lanced through him.

Vampires spun round under the impact or disappeared in a second as their bodies dusted a destroyed heart still meant a destroyed vampire. Some went rolling down the slope to their left, their flesh ripped to pieces by the ball bearings and now slammed agonizingly into rocks and trees. Weapons clattered as they struck against rocks on the way down the hill.

Some not too badly hurt tried to run, or play dead and hope to get a chance to hit back. Some just lay there and waited for death.

The Slayerettes didn't watch this. Though the mines were designed to just throw their deadly contents forward that didn't rule out a mistake creeping into the home made weapons and blow back hitting them. Secondly, Browne had emphasized the point of not losing their night vision the vamps would be blinded by the explosions, it would be so much better if the good guys weren't.

"Bloody hell that was loud." A second after the last explosion had ceased to rumble, Browne poked his head out of the top of the foxhole and through the camouflage to look at his handy work. "Shit mate your good."

Bodies littered the track, some still, some writhing. Here and there ragged clothing lay beside rifles the remnants of a dusted vampire, branches from the nearby trees littered the track there was a loud groan and a cracking tearing crunch as a medium sized tree suddenly collapsed and fell back taking a section of the slope with it.

"Destructive much?" Buffy aimed along her crossbow. "Think we got em all badly enough to stop them fighting?"

"Wow!" Willow scanned the scene below her. She and Oz both took aim at the remaining figures. "Do we fire at them Buffy, over."

"No." Buffy waited for definite movement. The vamps wouldn't know what or who had hit them but incoming crossbow bolts would provide them with proof they had targets within rifle range. "Not unless they try to get up, over."

"So we just sit here?" Angel whispered off air. "If anybody heard those explosions they're gonna come running."

"Not necessarily." Karen tracked her crossbow back and too as she spoke nervous at the quiet after that horrendous noise. "It's real late and this is Sunnydale."

"Where people can deny a rocket launcher got fired in their Mall and keep a perfectly straight face whilst they do it." Giles switched his mike onto send all the same. "Buffy we can't sit here all night, we have to start dusting the vamps we can see."

"Just give it a few seconds ok, and you're supposed to say over, over." Buffy turned to James. "What do we do if they carry on like they are doing?"

"You an I pick the buggers off whilst the rest stay down and ready, unless we just wait for sunrise." Browne sighted along his crossbow at a crawling vampire. "But then I'm a vampire too, I think I've spent too long with you blokes."

Buffy didn't even smile. *A good joke and nobody to appreciate it, ain't that bloody typical.*

"Anyway give it a few seconds though just in case some of them are lying doggo then we'll start."

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"Browne."

There was a group of people lying around Jason and Albany, now all of them intently watching the trail up ahead, waiting for something else to happen. Jason's one word summation of the situation raised no eyebrows amongst the Watchers but one of the young Americans they'd acquired hesitantly spoke up. "Who sir?"

"Bloody vampire from my neck of the woods, vicious bloke who used to do hatchet jobs for gangsters and the upper class of 'is own kind. He hung around in the pubs of the East End bold as brass actin' like he owned the manor and scarin' the shit out of people. It was only after I joined the Watchers council that I realized what 'e was."

"Yes," Albany interrupted. "Charming history lesson, I'm sure, but what do we do about him?"

"Let me think..."

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*Hold on brother hold on, you can still get them, you can still do this thing." Treat lay on the pathway, looking up at the night sky through the one eye he could still see with, a lancing pain burned in the other one a ball bearing having struck it. His face was shredded and bloody, his arm ached like hell but his right hand still firmly gripped the stock of the M-79. His finger was loose on the trigger but he knew he had the strength to pull it still.

His ears worked perfectly still and he lay there listening intently waiting for his enemies to make their move. *Come on mutha-fuckers make some noise, show me where's you's at, I got something for you.*

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"Vampire moving down here." Xander and Anya's bows were slowly tracking down hill as a vampire his legs trailing in bloody tatters behind him crawled towards the bus. "Do we let him go? It's not like he's gonna get far, over."

"Do we wanna have to hunt these guys down?" The Slayer turned to the vampire crouched beside her. "They scatter into these woods and we're in a world of trouble."

At Browne's nod she answered. "Ok Harris take him, over."

*Harris?* Xander scowled a little as he turned to Anya. "You wanna do it or shall I?"

"He's a sitter." Anya shrugged. "We get a more difficult target you're more likely to get it than me."

"Ok." Xander nodded his agreement and taking careful aim Anya fired and the vamp was dust.

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"Start of with the ones nearest the top of the trail." Browne instructed as he himself took aim at the nearest vamp. "Bloody shame none of us knows what Treat looks like."

"Should have got your girl to draw a picture." The two fired as one and the two vamps nearest them exploded. "Well I guess we'll just have to do the......" Buffy ducked and grabbed her trench mate as an apparition rose before them and one handed pointed a short barreled squat weapon at them.

Treat was a horrific sight his face smeared with his own blood and torn by wounds but his one handed grip on his weapon was rock steady as he aimed up the slope. He couldn't see the vampire killers but he knew where the sound their crossbows had made had come from.

BLOOP!

Buffy pulled Browne down beside her as the launcher fired. They tumbled into the bottom of the fox hole even as the grenade struck the hillside fifteen feet beyond them. Stones and earth rained down but the soft soil on the hillside absorbed most of the blast and it's shrapnel. All the same it left a shaken dusty vampire and Slayer wondering what the hell was going on.

"I ain't dead yet you honkie bitch!" Treat shouted as he tried to break his weapon open to reload. One-handed the task was impossible so, cursing, he threw the gun away and pulled out his pistol. "You wanna fight me come out and do it, vamp to vamp."

Angel took careful aim with his crossbow. "Goodbye Mr Treat." The bolt sped to the target and struck with a hollow thud before falling back to the ground. Angel shook his head stunned by the failure of the bolt to penetrate. "What the......?

"Kevlar motherfucker." Treat turned and fire the bullet whistled over Angel's head as he dived back into cover. "Which I bet none of you ain't got."

Treat looked behind him at his vamps. "Homies if you can fight, fight, if you want to die here then stay laying where you are, come on brothers you cain't all be dead."

Weapon chargers were drawn back here and there as vampires somehow managed to get damaged hands and arms working and brought their guns up to send streams of copper jacketed rounds into the trees and undergrowth around them.

"Jesus Christ Browne." Buffy hugged Browne as their cover disintegrated around them. "Is this the way your plan was supposed to work?"

"Well....." Browne frantically aimed his SMG over the lip of the trench and sent an unaimed burst down hill in reply. "No actually......"

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The Watchers and their allies from the Initiative were crossing the stream that ran at the foot of the slope when the firing started their enthusiasm waned noticeably at the sound.

"Are you certain this is a good idea?" Albany asked his acting military advisor as his troops hugged the ground looking nervously at their commander. "We could all get killed here."

"Or not boss." Jason wasn't surprised in the least that the toffee nosed git's bottle was disappearing, it was so typical of the wanna be stock brokers the job was attracting these days. "Their shootin' the other way, we help out and then we see what happens. Let the Americans do the talkin' and find out how trustin' this Slayer is who knows what might happen all of a sudden like......."


Continued

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