In England Lord Charles usually passed the daytime hours in luxurious apartments in suburban London, or in his Georgian town house nearer the city center, he therefore considered an abandoned warehouse in the San Fernando Valley to be somewhat of a climb down socially. Certainly it was well equipped and lavishly protected from the sun, his associate money had been well spent the LA clan had kept up there side of the bargain, but still he was slumming it and that he didn't like.
The Englishvamp was pissed, nothing was going right for him and at the rate he was progressing he would never secure the Slayer. It didn't help matters that it was all his fault.
A month ago the word had reached England, a slayer has been turned. It had been centuries since it had last happened and a shudder of fear had run around the world as one undead clan after another contemplated potential subjugation, or the hoped for destruction of the mortal world and the dawn of an age of blood.
At Club Tepes however eyebrows had merely been raised and then vampires had gone back to reading the Times, they might go running about worrying in other parts of the world but this was England. That was the general consensus except for one member who put his thinking cap on and with a cruel smile on his face rang some American sources to find out the truth of the rumours.
In the two weeks that followed Lord Charles had outlaid some of his own vast fortune and found out the important fact that the girl still had her soul, straight away an evil plan had formed in his mind and he made haste to put it into effect. He would give the Club back it's glory.
Think of it a captured Slayer caged for all to see and use, immortal, able to recover from the most painful tortures, kept naked save for delicate magically enhanced silver chains. Still better forced to feed on the blood of living human victims. What a draw to new membership that would be.
After prolonged negotiation the council of six had agreed to the finance. Five million pounds was placed at his disposal, for a minute he was happy at the prospect of reflected glory, then they informed him he must lead the operation and provide the minions involved and if he failed he need never return.
Nothing ventured nothing gained, he had traveled to Sunnydale and met disaster. The casual ease with which the Slayer destroyed Tighe had alarmed him beyond measure, he found himself faced with the prospect of spending the next few centuries amongst these 'Colonials', something had to be done. It had been and failure had resulted again.
As he walked to the corner of the building in which he had an office constructed the vampire reflected bitterly that the nothing had gone well. Two mortals servants of the local vampires had claimed they could, "Deal with the Mo Fo bitch," they had failed, and his associate's in England had now sent over two 'advisers' to protect their investment. They it had turned out weren't even gentlemen, but mere low common 'trade'.
So the office door slammed open and without looking round him Lord Charles stomped over and sat behind his desk a petulant expression across his face. Looking up over the desk he took in the unsavory company he was forced to keep due to his stupid lust for glory.
Firstly sat in front of him, sullen and disgruntled sat two gang bangers, leather jackets, black combats and teeshirts made them fairly nondescript but the jewelry that adorned their fingers and the jailhouse tatt's on their hands and necks marked them out for what they were, killers for hire.
Just behind them stood the man who had smuggled the noblevamp and his associates into America, Akhmed Bakull 'The Turk', he had an embarrassed look on his face as a result of the men he had recommended's failure. He would have to make up for the error, from his own pocket or face loss of honor that would result.
And leaning on the back stood wall, two smirking fellows, Harry Greenaway and James Cahill Browne, both of whom had informed Lord Charles he was wasting his time with this plan, now had the look of men ready to gloat.
"It wasn't our fault, you assholes never said the bitch's friends could move so fast," the larger of the two mortals said before Lord Charles could even speak. "It opened up on them but they was out of my sights before the first bullet left my gun."
"We should have been told, you mutha fuckers never even said what she was, shoot her and pick her up, it'll be easy, ha." The wheelman was a rat like fellow with an anchor tattooed on his cheek, he was the leader of the pair. "You owe us two thousand American you undead fuck and we aim to collect."
"Cash on delivery old fellow, no Slayero means no dinero," Lord Charles smiled as the little gangsters face twisted up in anger. "Surely Bakull told you the terms."
"We got expenses asshole, and we got guns." His hand slipped into his jacket and he sneered at the Peer. "You and the Turk can stick the terms up your ass, give me my fucking money."
"It's a pity that you won't be reasonable, still..." Lord Charles snapped his fingers. "You're easily deposed of."
Both men went for their guns, the driver only half drew his before a knife hilt appeared in the back of his right arm, the blade of the throwing knife was buried deep and he cried out as his fingers lost their grip on his own weapon.
The gun man drew a semi automatic, then wheeling tried to bring it up to fire at the three vamps behind who posed the greater threat. Bakull was ready though, a lashing kick sent the big man's pistol spinning across the room and before he could recover the turk had his fangs in the mans neck, his life's blood quickly poured away.
"You murdering Mutha fucka's I'm gonna kill you all," blood was running down the wheelman's arm and dripping from his leather sleeve but still he tried to pick up his gun. "Just let me get my piece you bastards."
"Excellent throw Browne, but the beastly fellows drippin' on me carpet." Bakull let his victim drop and looked round at the driver even as Browne moved in swiftly and kicked the dropped gun aside.
"A knife, you fucking coward what kind of bastard uses a knife....." The wheelman made only choking noises from then on as the vampires left hand closed round his neck. From his waistband Browne drew a twelve inch knife, like a butchers blade but etched with silver in bold patterns, a tiger hunt down one side, a falconry scene on the other.
"Chubbarao you banchut bastard or by Kali I'll mat karo you now."
Browne stood five foot eight, he was heavily built, his hair had an old fashioned cut, a short back and sides, and he reeked from the brylcream he smeared on it. He wore an extravagant mustache that completely covered his lower lip but not his fangs. There was a glint in his yellow eyes as he delicately ran the tip of the knife across the anchor tattoo sending a line of blood running down his captives face.
"Huzoor." He addressed his employer. "Shall I hallal the infidel dog now or do you want me to cut some pieces off him first."
"What's he on about Greenaway." Lord Charles turned to Browne's companion. "He knows I can't understand a word of that heathen lingo."
"Jamie wants to know do you want the blokes throat cut, the hallal." Harry Greenaway had found himself hooked up with Browne when the fellow had turned up in London in the 1950's and had killed the first four vampires who'd challenged him. Browne had not even attempted to secure submission just offered them a violent death, the Vampires Council had liked the thought of such a man in their employ and Greenaway had found himself lumbered with making sure the apparent madman was aimed in the right direction.
"No he's made enough of a mess in here as it is." The Peer turned towards the Turk who was looking even more embarrassed by the turn of events, as well he might. "Get rid of the bugger Bakull, and see this doesn't happen again."
There was an unrestrained snort of derision from Browne, nobody buggered up an operation he was running and lived . However Bakull would it seemed get away with in, for now. One handed he threw the mortal to the Turk. "Remember by Shaitan that the knife in him is mine."
"All right," fangs gleaming the Turk dragged the man outside, muffled screams could be heard and then just the sound of someone noisily drinking.
No one in the office raised an eyebrow at that or the body on the floor, Lord Charles looked at his 'advisors' and asked the question they were waiting for. "Well, alright what do we do?"
"Jamie 'as a plan boss, you won't understand it but he 'as." Greenaway knew how much his friend would enjoy what followed, so let him get on with it.
"Huzoor even with a Lashkar you couldn't take this bahadur of a girl, even I would not attempt it, but......" And hear the vampire raised a hand, "A source from back in Sri Lanka has told me of a pig of a human right here in LA, a badmash who unlike those two loose wallahs will be able to 'elp us take the Slayer. He, I and my brother 'ere will do the task in a pukka razzia."
"What's he on about." Lord Charles regarded the two with the utmost contempt on his face, ill educated ruffians the pair. "I know he's ballie English same as you and me, why does he have to spout that gibberish."
"Yes boss, 'e was born in England but 'e spent seventy odd years in India, Afghanistan and points East, 'e's gorn a little native." Harry looked at his friends beaming face and translated. "He says with a hundred blokes you couldn't take her, she's a hero. An old eastern contact 'as fixed us up with the name of a man who can help us. He's a scoundrel but better than the two thievin' bastards we just offed. We get the bloke on side and we'll go on a properly organized raid."
"That's wot I said." Browne nodded his affirmation
"How much." Lord Charles was spending other peoples money still, but the point was drawing near when he would have to start laying out his own.
"We h'aint done the bandobast yet but a jirga's been arranged at a bar were the cunchunee's can distract 'im."
"We've arranged a meet at a strip club, a place were vamps aren't frowned on, we'll talk the business over there," Harry got to the difficult part. "The blokes a professional so it'll cost, we 'ope to get him for $100,000 but it could go higher. It'll be cheaper than the Taraka though."
"I'm being a 'untsman I expect well 'ave I'm, an for h'about that." The Indian sub continents only white vetala hastily concealed his Khyber knife. "Then oft we go grab up your Slayer an it's all tik hai."
"It had better be." Lord Charles regarded them coldly. "Don't come back here without her, you saw what happened to the last two failures."
"With a great peri like you in charge how can we fail." Browne winked at Greenaway, sending him the message, 'Go on translate that.'
Having no intention of calling his temporary superior a fairy Greenaway simply added. "Well we're off then M'lud, expect us back in a couple of days, and please 'ave the spondulicks 'andy the bloke will want to be paid."
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"You really are starting to get on my tits you know with all this Indian nonsense." Harry had waited till he got into the lot before turning on his friend. "You made us look like a right couple of berks in there."
James just tapped his nose. "An that's why everyone finks I'm mental see, they under estimates me. A lot of people have met fatal h'accidents as a result of that old son, as you should well recall."
"Yeah I know it," Harry Greenaway had seen some chilling things during his association with the vetala. "But 'is nib's ain't like all those blokes you've nobbled back in London, 'e's got connections."
"And a screw loose," Spitting contemptuously in the direction of the building Browne opened the car door. "There's no way I'd 'ave that girl chained up in my living room like 'e would. Gods it would be as bad as keeping a couple of full grown Bengal's in there on a short leash, worse h'actually cause with tigers when you gets sick of em and knocks em on the 'ead at least you gets a rug out of it."
"Well that's 'is problem," Greenaway got behind the wheel. "An' you remember the strippers are there to distract the 'unter not you."
"Tik hai mate, tik hai."
Swift driving took them to a more highly populated part of the Valley and to a club they both frequented, though not necessarily for the girls.
It didn't have a sign outside saying it but the policy was as at the Alibi room, Vamps Welcome.
The two parked and walked in past nodding security, both vamp and human, music blared out from the doors and inside the clientele mixed freely. Vamps had money and there was business to be done. Dragging his associate behind him patently ignoring the gyrating girls, Greenaway headed for the bar.
There sat the man they had come to meet, he had dark hair and wore a black jersey and jeans, but what made the vampire sure about having the right man was the string around his neck from which hung wolf canines.
"Good evening mine 'ost," the vetala said to the barkeep. "Two pints of the usual please and whatever me laddo 'ere is 'aving."
Turning to the hoped for end of their troubles James extended his hand. "James Cahill Brown at your service mate, I 'ope we're gonna do some right profitable business together."
"Gib Cain," the big game hunter shook the cold hand without any trace of fear. "For your sake it had better be, It turned down a pretty hot tip on a Werewolf to be here."
Cain lay on the roof of an abandoned warehouse in the bad part of Sunnydale, he was looking down across an almost unused road into a wide alley way near the Fish Tank, an alleyway into which the Slayer would hopefully very soon be tempted by the smell of vamp.
He was reasonably content, the Brits had eventually met his price and the gun they had supplied him with, though foreign, was one of the best he had ever handled. The Accuracy International, he hoped the title wasn't boastful, he was to fire when the Slayer and her friend stood beneath a light at the alleyways entrance, but not at the Slayer his task was to put Angel out of the fight.
The green plastic stock of the rifle gleamed in the small amount of light on the roof, there was no moon his appeal to wait for a full moon and kill two birds on one night had fallen on deaf ears, Greenaway had told him if he was that greedy for money he could comeback later. He would.
"Any sign of them yet," he was fitted with a throat mike and earpiece giving him direct communication with his employers. "It's starting to get cold up here."
"Chubbarao," Browne's angry voice hissed into his ear. "Don't you know wot radio silence means, they'll pass 'ere soon enough, for a 'undred and fifty thou you can stand the wait and a little cold." A harsh laugh almost deafened the huntsman before the Vetala added. "If you gets icicles growing h'anywhere h'important let us know and I'll come over and chip 'em off with me knife."
"Asshole," Cain waited, wishing he'd held out his original demand for a quarter mill.
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The alley stretched 40 meters back from the arc of light, and here Browne and Greenaway waited, they didn't need light to see their targets, the alley had a few dumpsters they would have preferred shifted but for all that they should have a chance to pick their target once Cain's fire forced her to run in.
There was a four foot gap between buildings to one side of them, Browne had carefully hacked down the chain-link fence despite Greenaway's complaints at the noise.
"Look mate that don't matter, if there's one thing that life's taught me it's never get caught in the tiger trap with the tiger, if this goes tits up I wants a way out."
"What a long and boring life you've 'ad." The argument had raged on from there, Greenaway claiming that the slums of London had been more dangerous than any campaign on the Frontier of India and anyway who cared how far Browne had migrated to get home, swallows traveled further and they didn't seem to have any trouble with the task.
Now however they were sat there tense and waiting, Greenaway slouched with his back to a metal wall, arms folded on his knee's watching Browne playing with his rifle occasionally flicking on the laser sight and letting the red beam play on nearby walls. "You'll flatten that bloody battery if you keep that up mate."
"No probs my son, I put a fresh one in on the way over." Browne chuckled to himself. "This h'aint no pass made rifle nor a ten rupee jezail, it cost a pretty packet an' it'll knock 'er sidewards you watch. And then we picks up 'er and Angelus and oft we trots back to little Lord Fauntleroy and see's 'ow green 'e goes cause two common types like us accomplished what 'e couldn't."
"Why do ya think 'e's decided 'e needs Angel as well," Harry shuddered as he contemplated the salivating look on the mans face as he had added to their orders.
"Probably wants someone 'e can set the dogs on every night and have the bites 'ealed by next day." Browne shrugged, the decades he had spent on the frontier and in the interior of Afghanistan had been a hard school, little shocked him anymore. "No doubt 'e'd last for months if they didn't rip oft anythin' h'essential, an I bet e'd make the girl watch to."
"He's a vicious bastard, if we cock up and don't get 'er," Greenaway ran hand across his own throat. "They'll scrag us both for sure."
"Do you seriously fink 'e'd ever find us," Browne snorted with derision. "After what 'appened to those two dozy bastards this morning no way do we go back empty 'anded tugging our forlocks shouting 'Please M'lud give us anuther chance'. If that git Bakull should come looking we'll serve him some of his own tobacc'a and send the bastard 'is ashes in a nice little box."
"The turk owns a lot of blokes."
"So if it should 'appen that they corner us in numbers remember what Kipling wrote," Browne chuckled as Greenaway put his head into his hands.
"Christ sakes mate, must we."
"When your wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains, An go to your......."
"All right, all right you miserable sod. Save the last stake for yourself, I get the bloody point no need to ram it 'ome." Greenaway felt a sudden tingling sensation down his spine. "She's coming."
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"I really don't think its safe for you to be out here Xand," Buffy was walking down past the Fish Tank with Angel, Spike and Xander, the latter there very much against her will. "You can't get out of trouble as fast as we can."
"Hey, stop trying to hog all the fun," Xander looked around him. "I realize I'm an oppressed minority here, but there's absolutely no need for this bigoted attitude towards mortals."
He shook his head, "Vampires they want all the glory."
"Hey....." Buffy began only to be interrupted by a dry chuckle from behind them.
"If the whelp wants to die Slayer, why stop 'im." Spike never had liked the youth anyway. "He'll take a bullet just as good as us, so make sure your stood behind him when they open up."
"Thanks man," Xander appreciated the support but not the sentiment. "I think."
About to retort angrily about useless male machismo the Slayer stopped abruptly mouth open as the vamp sensation came over her. "Company guys, just up ahead."
Stakes were quickly drawn and the team spread out to flank her, she followed the trail till ahead she saw the alleyway from which the feeling seemed to emanate. "The bad guys are in there, probably dragged some poor guy in to feed on, lets go."
As she moved off Xander grabbed her arm. "And can you spell the word trap, Buffy anything could be waiting in there for you."
"Xander's right Buff," Angel was scanning the surrounding roof tops but couldn't see anything. "It's to dangerous after what happened near the Bronze."
"If they've got somebody in there their dead luv." Spike dropped the cigarette he'd been smoking and ground it out. "Let the buggers come out and we'll give em a nasty surprise."
"That's not the way it works, I'm the Slayer if there's any chance of saving them I have to take it." She set off grimly up the street, very reluctantly her male companions fell in behind.
"Why didn't I stay home," Xander whispered as he felt the stake become slick with sweat in his hand.
"Cause you as dumb as you look," a blond vampire replied.
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Cain grabbed up his rifle, made sure that the biped legs where steady and then drew a bead on his prey. "Christ there are four of them Browne, the Slayer and three guys."
"Bugger it, you sure." Before he had time to answer the vampire spoke again. "Can you make out which ones Angelus."
"Yeah, I reckon so."
"Do 'is legs as planned then." a brief pause followed by. "Then five rounds rapid at the others, just don't 'it the Slayer, she's mine we want her unmarked."
*Fuck,* Cain took aim, this was what he had feared the rifle was bolt action not semi auto, he would have to move fast.
The group walked under the light and flattened against the wall preparing to charge down the alleyway. There were two dark haired men, one all in black the other wore a brown coat and green sweater over black pants, he aimed at the man in black and holding his breath gently squeezed the trigger.
"Ok, on three." Buffy was tensed to charge stake ready, the three vamps would lead with Xander at the back. "One....." Then the shot rang out through the night air.
It struck Angle in the right thigh, it luckily just clipped the bone cracking it, and missed the femoral artery, but still did fearful muscle damage. The vampire morphed automatically as his demon reacted to the pain, he gritted his teeth to try not to scream but still an "UUUHHGH," burst forth as he fell to the ground.
"Sniper," Spike shouted. "Cross the street."
Buffy had Angel on her shoulder almost before the words passed the Brits lips and was hauling ass down the alley.
"I told you it was a tra.......p," Xander was suddenly moving very quickly as Spike pulled him in the direction Buffy was headed, a split second later there was a thunk as a bullet struck the metal wall against which he had been standing.
"Damn their fast," Cain frantically worked the rifle bolt, but by the time he got the next round chambered all he had to shoot at were fleeting shadows. He fired anyway hearing a hollow crack as the bullet struck a dumpster, and again the bullet striking tarmac and whining away in a ricochet.
"Bloody hell Cain that nearly took me 'ead off, khabar can't you." The ricochet had whistled straight by Browne's ear making him miss the shot he was about to take, now his adversaries were jammed between two dumpsters and out of his sights.
"Angel, oh hell Angel I'm sorry," the Slayer had two tears of blood running down her morphed face. "This is my fault, I'm such a fucking moron."
"It's ok Buffy, you just get us out of here." Angel felt his leg grate, Buffy had dropped him hard when she threw the two of them behind cover. He pressed his hand to the wound it felt like he had a fair sized hole in the back of his leg.
"Man did you just save my life," Xander was seriously wigged by the bloody tears on Buffy's face, he had only seen her morphed a couple of times but this was too much, so he talked to.....Spike. "I think you just saved my life."
"Ok mate," Spike risked a glance round the side of the dumpster, muzzle flash from the warehouse over the road made him duck back, again the bullet struck their cover. "I did, but don't expect me to go making a career of it."
Hugging Angel Buffy realized she had to do something, "How far away is he Spike."
"Two hundred and fifty meters or so ducks, why?"
"I figure I can cover that fast enough for him not to get a bead on me." Buffy turned yellow eyes on her fellow vampire. "And if I can bring this to close quarters......"
"The blokes got this alley covered kitten." Spike looked down at his Sire the vampire was paling rapidly. "But then again Angel needs getting out of here fast."
"Ok," she turned to her friend. "Xander whatever happens protect Angel, do it for me if not for him."
"You know I will."
Harry Greenaway was growing frantic, his friend just sat their his eye glued to his rifle's sight he didn't even have the laser turned on. "Fucks sake what are you waitin' for."
"Target!" the vetala replied softly, then flicked on the red beam and smiled as he squeezed off a round.
Buffy had stepped out into the alleyway ready to run forward and didn't notice the red dot that appeared on her back, Xander did.
Without thinking he threw himself forward and felt a light impact on the right side of his chest. "Huh," he managed as looking down and saw the feathered dart sticking in him. Then his vision blurred, the alley spun and he slumped unconscious to the ground.
Looking down at her friend Buffy suddenly remembered the vampires they had come in here to kill. "Spike, with me!"
Responding to the snarled command Spike joined her in a mad charge up the alley.
The second Browne saw his dart strike the wrong target he had turned to his friend and shouted one word. "RUN!"
They took off like greyhounds, the Vetala shouting. "The car, juldi,juldi you bastard." The tranquilizer dart gun he had pinned his hopes on was single shot, now the tiger was unleashed and the weapon empty. "Lets get out of 'ere."
They reached the car doors even as footsteps pounded behind them, Greenaway threw the car in drive and ground gears as he slammed the gas pedal down, they took of fast clipping a couple of trash cans and taking a corner almost on two wheels.
"You missed then."
Snarling Browne turned on his friend. "Of course I bloody missed, the luck of that girl, shaitan 'imself must guard 'er," He chewed his lip forgetful that he was morphed and a few drops of blood ran down his chin. "We'll now we really 'ave our knackers in the mangle and no mistake, still nobody's turned the 'andle yet."
Greenaway slowed the car and then stopped it. "Jamie, what the fuck are we goin' to do, we're miles from 'ome and the locals aren't friendly, his nibs will 'ave people out looking for us before we know it."
The vetala tapped the side of his nose again. "Me old son when as your mate Jamie ever let you down," he paused. "Other than tonight, and over that bird from Stepney you was gaggin' to....."
"Never," Harry looked back over his shoulder, how fast could turned Slayers run. "Get to the point this century please."
"No need to get all 'oity toity with me." Browne pulled a piece of paper from a jacket pocket. "Route 5 mate, 'ead us for LA and a place called Inglewood, your about to find out what forward plannin' is all about."