Fury of the Beast

Author: Nick <nschonewille[at]yahoo.ca>

Feedback: Please, send it! I need feedback to sustain my own unlife! Category: Dunno, I'll go with pg-13. Nothing worse than the show, I think.

Disclaimer: Don't own anything but the poor guys who are gonna die, and I don't own most of them, either. Not getting money for it, anyway. So there is no point in a lawsuit.

Hello people, nice to be here.

This is a crossover with the World of Darkness, where vampires are in places of power, and guide humanity while staying in the shadows.

Now, this is a (hopefully) brief description of the vampire clans. (As described by my Redemption manual)

In this world, there are 13 great vampire clans, where each clan has certain traits and characteristics. However, there are more than 13 clans, as the Tremere have stolen the power of vampirism from another clan, and is fairly young. There are also lesser clans and clanless vampires, called Caitiff.

A clan of vampiric assassins, their homeland is in the Arabic region. The members of this clan are hired out as contract killers to other clans, and they increase their power by diablerie: Draining another vampire of all their blood. Naturally, this is forbidden to vampires, so the Assamites may conceal themselves as members of other clans.
In the dark ages, they were scholar-warriors, striving towards perfection. They had a great city, called Carthage, where vampires and mortals alike lived in harmony, but the Ventrue clan attacked and destroyed it. In the modern nights, many elders of the clan are dead, and what remains is young vampires with little care for tradition or history. Many of the members of the clan don't care about the Ventrue destroying Carthage, as it happened long before their own mortal, or vampiric, lives.
A clan of vampires that study death, and the secrets of the grave. The clan had little interest in earthly power, and were trusted as advisors in vampiric courts. In the modern nights, there are few, if any, Cappadocians still around, as the Giovanni clan has diablerized most, if not all, of the clan.
These are a family of vampires that acts much like a mortal Mafia, trafficking in goods, weapons, drugs and power for wealth. They are very dangerous, for they have taken the power of the Cappadocian clan, and are accomplished necromancers.
Followers of Set:
The Setites are worshipers of the ancient Egyptian deity, Set. Few would give hospitality to a Setite, as they corrupt the ethics of humanity and vampires alike. The clan claims no allies, and is reviled by the other clans.
This clan seems to be much more feral than the other vampire clans, being closer to the animals then other clans. The members prefer a solitary existence, and if they could, would wander the woods and live there for all of their unlives. However, hostile werewolves hove confined many Gangrel to the cities.
This clan is called the Shadow clan, for they manipulate rulers and those in power from the background. Many Lasombra would prefer the title of Kingmaker, to King. This clan has one thing in common to the demonic vampires of the Buffy-verse. They have no reflections, while other vampire clans do. This makes the obsess with paintings of themselves, to remind them of their own appearance.
This would not seem to be a clan at all, if it were not for one thing they all share. No member of this clan is sane. There are slavering psychotics and gently deluded, but all are insane to some degree. Malkavians have been both feared and respected, as they have hidden wisdom that can be most useful, but only the Malkavian himself may actually understand the information.(Trust me, Malkavians can be very annoying)
This clan suffers from a terrible curse, as the vampiric Embrace makes the members of this clan hideous, and makes them abominations in the eyes of all. They wander the hidden places of man's domain, shielding themselves from the eyes of humans and vampires alike. Their misshapen forms have made them perfect a power few other clans can: The power to hide in plain sight. Using their mystical powers, they can be completely invisible.
This clan is basically a group of gypsies, wandering with undesirables and rejects of society. They are skilled with the ability to create amazing illusions, and chaos usually follows the members of this clan.
The members of this clan are devoted to beauty in all it's forms, and there are many artists, musicians, writers, poets, and other gifted creators among their ranks. However, there are also many "poseurs" that lack any creative gifts at all.
These were once members of the Order of Hermes, a group of mortal wizards. Some became obsessed with the pursuit of immortality. They killed a member of the Tzimisce clan, and took the power in the blood of that clan to achieve immortality. Unfortunately, what immortality they got, was not the kind they wanted. Some vampires claim that this clan are not vampires at all, but mortal wizards that cursed themselves forever while looking for immortality. They are feared by all clans, for the terrible magics they use.
Of all the vampire clans, the fiends of this clan are the most vicious, as they have had to defend their holdings from all sides for millennia. They practice a cruel 'fleshcrafting' discipline that they use to disfigure their foes, and sculpt themselves into beings of terrible beauty.(In my opinion, they just make themselves uglier)
These are the aristocrats of the vampiric world, and the members of this clan were usually conquerors in life, and have yet to shake the habit. Others were merchants that achieved success, and were taken into clan Ventrue as a reward. There are no failures among the Ventrue, only successes and the fondly remembered dead. Most vampire Princes of the cities are members of this clan. They are the ones that has helped make vampires into a thing of myth and legend.

Crosses alone don't hurt these vampires, but the Faith in a higher power is what harms the vampire. Because of this, it is not restricted to any particular religion. The vampires cannot walk in the sunlight, unlike the vampires in the show based in this world: Kindred the Embraced. But there are powers that they can use to reduce the harm done by the sun's rays. Presumabably, a vampire with enough power can walk in the sun, but not for long.

Also, werewolves are the mortal enemies of vampires, and can turn themselves into great killing machines at will, but are strongest under a full moon(I think). In this merging of the universes, I'm assuming Oz couldn't control his change very well because he's rejecting the wolf inside him, and can't make the change into a true werewolf as a result.

This fic takes place in season 4, the Initiative is around, and also takes place after my favorite game, Vampire The Masquerade: Redemption.

Anyhoo, enough babble.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

Los Angeles
March 14, 2000

Angel drove into the rundown part of the city, where Gunn and his vampire hunting group made their HQ.

The air was cool and fresh, as it blew through Angel's spiked hair. Quite refreshing for the human residents of L.A, but Angel barely noticed the difference in temperature, being undead.

The reason he was making the trip was because Cordelia had a vison of a group of demons infesting an old warehouse, and Angel wanted backup.

He heard a scream from a nearby alley.

He braked, and jumped out of his convertible, and ran towards the alley.

He found an attractive, brunette, woman, cornered by a large, football-player-sized vampire.

"Hey, pal!" Angel called.

The vampire turned around.

"Back off! This is my meal!" The vampire yelled.

"No, she's not. You see, in about a minute, you'll be a pile of dust."

The vampire turned around and charged at Angel.

Angel dodged to the left, making the giant mass pass right past him.

Taking the opening, Angel kicked the vampire in the side, sending him reeling.

The vamp recovered with an uppercut, forcing Angel to dodge back.

Angel swept the vampire's feet out from under him sending him to the hard pavement.

Angel drew a stake, and tried to stab the vampire in the heart.

The vampire rolled, and kicked Angel in the face, sending him against a brick wall.

The vampire then pinned Angel against the wall, wresting the stake out of Angel's grip.

"So, this is the little traitor, Angelus? I thought you'd be tougher! I'm only 50 years old as a vampire, and I've beaten another vampire that's over 200!"

The vampire gripped the stake, and prepared to stab Angel with it.

Then, a hand grabbed the vampire, and threw him against the opposite wall.

Angel crouched, watching the attractive woman, standing above the hulking brute.

"And you, Caitff, cannot even tell when you have met a true vampire? You are foolish and brain-addled!" The woman yelled.

Her hands elongated into terrible claws.

In one swipe, she cut the vampire's head off.

It burst into dust.

She turned to Angel, eyes glowing a fearsome red.

"Why did you try to help me?" She said.

Angel was confused.

"Speak Caitff! Or you will share the fate of your kin!"

"I'm not his kin." Angel growled.

She looked at him, and Angel had the feeling she could look right into him.

She blinked, confusion all over her face.

"Who are you?" She said.

"Angel." He said.

She nodded.

"You are most strange, brave sir. I have no doubt that our paths will cross again." The woman said.

She then left the alley, leaving Angel to ponder what had just happened.


The woman walked into the Barclay Hotel, walked into the elevator, and pushed the button to the penthouse suite.

When she got out she looked around, and called out.


She looked around, and saw Christof on the balcony, looking over the city.

She joined him.

He looked at her, and smiled warmly at her.

"Anezka, you look radiant this night." He then pulled her into a tight embrace.

Still hugging Christof tightly, she spoke to him.

"I met a strange Kindred earlier tonight. Well, two actually."

"Are you all right?" Christof said.

"I'm fine, Christof. There was something odd, though. The first one I met wanted to feed upon me. There was no humanity in him at all."

"He must have been ruled by the Beast, like the fiend I destroyed to save you."

Anezka shuddered at the memory.

"I know that, Christof. But the second one I met, there was humanity within him! He tried to save me!"

Christof pulled out of the hug, looking at Anezka carefully.

"Many of us still have our humanity. Why are you confused over this Kindred?"

"I looked into him, and saw something very strange, even for us. He had a powerful dark creature inside of him, a truly black Beast. It's very strong, Christof. If you or I had that Beast within us, we would be as evil as Vukodlak. I thought they were Caitiff, but it seems they are something else entirely. They had normal faces, then they had demonic features." Anezka replied.

Christof pondered.

"How strange. He tried to save you, yet his Beast is more overpowering than our own. I've not heard of a clan like that before."

"Nor I. And I've been aware of the last eight hundred years. I've not seen one like he before."

Christof looked into her eyes.

"Did you catch this one's name?"

"He called himself Angel." Anezka said.

Christof chuckled.

"An ironic name. Perhaps he earned it somehow?"

Anezka nodded.

"We may speak with this, Angel, later. For now, we must search for our quarry. I've found from Samuel that one of them lies rather close to here."

Anzeka thought of her Nosferatu friend, and smiled.

"How is Samuel?" She said.

"He seems to be doing well, the Sabbat have stopped hunting him." Christof replied.

"I am relieved to hear that. No-one would cross the Sabbat if they could help it. Speaking of the Sabbat, how is Wilheim?" Anezka said.

Christof shook his head sadly.

"He has gone back to them. I don't like his choice, but he's too used to serving Ecaterina, and I fear he cannot change his ways."

"He has been serving her for more than eight hundred years, Christof. Also, he cannot forget his hatred of the Ventrue."

"Tis a foolish thing, to cling to one's hatred. I am saddened by him going back to such creatures."

They shared a moment of silence.

Then, Anezka smiled.

"What of Lily?" She said.

Christof smiled back.

"She is currently working in a strange tavern here in Los Angeles."

He frowned for a moment.

"Caritas, I believe. A strange place, where demons and humans alike are welcome. What I find strange is that the patrons go and sing upon the stage."

Anezka laughed.

"Tis called a kariokie bar, Christof. I find the entire thing ridiculous, but some people find it amusing."

They shared a laugh.

"Now, what of our quarry? Where is this one hiding?" Anezka said.

"Within a small town, tis called....."

Christof thought for a few moments.


Chapter 2

March 15, 2000

Christof and Anezka were putting their bags away in their hotel room, and placing weapons and the like under the bed.

The hotel owner thought they were just newlyweds, on their honeymoon. After all, few would think that these two could be vampires.

Both were over eight hundred years old, although Christof was not aware for that time. Anezka, however, spent that time in servitude to a powerful vampire lord, as a ghoul.

As he watched Anezka unpack with such grace, he began to remember what events brought him to this place, and time.


1141 A.D

The sun beat down on Christof and his fellow crusaders as they chased the lighter armed barbarian horde. The heavy armor they wore slowed them down, as it was very hot and uncomfortable, but it had saved Christof's life several times. The same for his broadsword, and the shield on his left arm.

The air was thick and humid, and the stench of death permeated the air, as if it was a blanket.

Christof heard the sound of light footsteps behind him.

Not one of his brother crusaders, as they wore heavy armor, and would have been much louder than these footsteps.

On instinct, he spun, blade extended. He stabbed the barbarian in the stomach, causing him to grunt, dropping the battle axe that was about to dig into Christof's back.

The barbarian collapsed to the ground, while Christof pulled his blade out with practiced ease.

Not looking behind him, Christof marched on.


The battle was joined.

The barbarians were fighting with all of their strength. The Swordbrethren fought with their superior training and weaponry.

Christof was fighting a barbarian that seemed to be abnormally strong, as if the pagan gods had granted him unholy strength.

He parried a slash, then in a quick move, sliced through the heretic's neck. He heard a sound from behind him. Turning quickly, he felt himself flung back from the force, as if a hammer had just smashed him the stomach.

He looked down, just in time to see the arrow in his right side, before he lost strength and fell to the ground.

The last thing he saw, was the sun descending in the sky.


Sight slowly returned to Christof, and the first thing he saw, was a beautiful face.

"Mother Mary?" He managed to say.

His sight became clearer, and he saw that she was a nun. The woman looked shocked for a moment, then shook her head with a small smile.

"Nay milord. Sister Anezka." The woman said, placing a candle she held on a small table next to Christof.

"Where am I?" He said. "In Prague, in the convent of the Knights of the Red Cross. Now hush. Thou hast suffered a grievous wound and must rest." She said.

Christof tried to rise from his bed. "I must return to my..AGH!"

He fell back, clutching his bandaged wound with his left hand.

"Peace, I beg thee!" Anezka almost yelled, placing her hand on his right.

Both smiled at the other for a moment.

She slowly took her hand away, then picked up a scroll that sat on the table.

"Thy brave captain left this letter for thee before thy Swordbrethren carried on their crusade."

"I thank thee for this news milady. And for thy care. Surely thou hast drawn me back from the jaws of death itself." He said.

"It was the Lord that saw fit to spare thy life. We humble sisters simply attended thee."

Their talk was interrupted by a deep voice.

"Sister Anezka is too modest. She ministered to thy shattered body day and night long after all others had given up hope. She did indeed, restore thy life."

The man came more into view, showing himself as a small fat man in the robes of a bishop.

"I am Archbishop Geza. Thou hast done great service for Christianson, young sir. I shall make prayers of thanksgiving that thou live, and may send more sinners to Hell." Geza said.

With that, he turned and walked out of sight. "I offer all my gratitude for thy service. I am in thy debt." Christof said to Anezka.

"The rosy life in thy cheek is payment enough."

The two continued to talk, not knowing of the evil creatures walking the streets.


Later that night....

A scream woke Christof from his slumber, causing his heart to race.

Groaning in pain, he rolled out of his bed, looking for his sword.

He found it holstered upon a mantle next to his bed.

With ease, he drew it, and ran into the next room as another scream pierced the convent.

He found two small grey creatures, only slightly humanoid, attacking Anezka and another nun.

Anezka was holding them back with a torch, but they were getting more and more bold.

Shouting a war cry, Christof ran at one of them.

His attack sliced into it's back, piercing the misshapen heart.

He then attacked the other creature, spinning around, sword extended.

The head flew off to Christof's right.

The body stood still a moment, then toppled over.

Panting, Christof dropped his sword.

"Christof! Thy wound!" Anezka almost screamed.

"Nay. Tis nothing, a scratch."

Then, he collapsed upon the floor, fresh blood seeping from the bandage.


Later that night.........

Christof was lying in his bed again, fresh bandages on his arrow wound. Anezka was telling him of the troubles Prague was facing.

"The mighty walls of Prague once held all demons at bay, but the Szlachta have overtaken a silver mine to the east. With a haven so close to the city they boldly walk the streets by night to kill, and worse than kill. Many have been dragged alive from their homes for some unspeakable purpose!" Anezka said.

Christof's eyes were hard as steel.

"I will never let them take thee." Christof said, voice tinged with anger.

"Oh, sir!" She said, shocked.

His face darkened. "Tomorrow I will venture into the mines and flush the vermin from their holes!" He said.

"Thou must not! Thy wound is too great!" She said, fear evident her face and voice.

"Nay. I am resolved. They will pay in angry blood for the fright they have given thee!" He said, his voice cold. "Oh sir, if they should harm thee my heart....."

Archbishop Geza interrupted them.

"Come away, Anezka. Thou hast wasted enough of good Sir Christof's time."

Hanging her head slightly, she left the room. "Christof, the Lord smiles upon thy wrath. I shall pray for thy victory." Geza said.

"I shall not fail." Christof said, voice cold.



After the pair had set up in their hotel room, they began to discuss how to approach the contact here.

"Did Samuel tell you who our contact was?" Anezka asked.

"Yes, it was a woman. He couldn't tell what clan she was, though." Christof replied.

"How many women Kindred do you know, Christof?" Anezka said.

"Many, but most of them are dead. I know not who this one could be."

"So what will we do now, Christof?"

"I will go and meet our contact. I suggest you go and procure a supply of vitae, both of us will need to feed soon."

Anezka nodded.

"Hurry back, my love." She said.

He pulled her into a hug.

"I shall, my lady."


Christof was headed for a small bar, Willy's, when he heard someone come up behind him.

"Ooooohhhhh, you look classy. Tell me, is that a new fashion, or are all vampires dressing like that these days?" He heard a girl say from behind him.

He turned around.


Buffy was patrolling the city, when she felt something unsettling.

A vampire. Powerful. Very old, very dangerous.

She went in search of it, letting her Slayer-sense guide her to it.

She saw a handsome man, wearing black boots, blue jeans, a red shirt, and black leather trench coat.

He was the powerful vampire she was sensing.

She stepped up and said.

"Ooooooohhhhh, you look classy. Tell me, is that a new fashion, or are all vampires dressing like that these days?"

He turned around.

"And what are you? A hunter of my kind? You have no idea what you are dealing with, mortal." The vampire said.

Buffy chuckled.

"A hunter? I'm the Slayer, vampy."

He rose an eyebrow.

"I've never heard of a Slayer, mortal. However, you shall not slay me, for I am Christof Romuald, of the Brujah clan." He said.

She ran at him, stake in hand, and swept her legs along the ground, to trip him.

He dodged, his form a blur.

She followed him with her eyes, which would be almost impossible for normal people. She took a chance, and stabbed where he would be in the next second.

He retreated with the stake in his chest.

He looked down, and pulled it out. The stake was broken.

Underneath his shirt, was a small glint of metal.

"A heartshield, mortal. It's hard to stake one of us when this is worn."

With impossible speed, he jumped over her, and landed on the other end of the street. "I'm impressed, mortal. I have no wish to kill you, however, and I need to meet a friend."

He bowed to her, then impossibly, faded from sight.

Buffy blinked, then looked around for the master vampire.

Nothing. Not even on her Slayer-sense.

He just vanished.

She shook her head, then walked for Giles' place, intending to tell him of this.

Christof watched her go, from the shadows from a nearby alley.

Slayer? What speed! What power! She must not be Embraced, lest she become a deadly vampire. She nearly matched him, and he was over eight centuries old. Even as a fledgling, she would be dangerous. As he was, when he was Embraced.

She would be as strong as an Elder, and would only get stronger.

If she was ghouled, though, her master would have a powerful pawn.

He will protect her for as long as he is here.

He turned around, and was about to walk out of the other side of he alley, when he saw a shadow pointing something at him.

He was struck in the chest by a powerful shock.

He fell to the ground, unable to move his limbs.

As he blacked out, he berated himself for allowing a mortal to ambush him.


Christof's contact waited in Willy's until two hours before sunrise, then she ran for the haven she had set up in an old apartment.

Walking inside, she took off her leather jacket, setting it on her kitchen table.

She was an attractive woman, long raven black hair, nice figure. She was wearing a knee length black skirt, and had a white t-shirt on.

"Where are you, Christof? You were supposed to meet me in Willy's three hours ago."

She was tired. Tired of guarding this place. Tired of foiling the demonic vampires that sought to end the world. Tired of living. Tired of surviving on the blood of the innocent.

Tired of being the last of her clan.

She rubbed her face, and walked into the bathroom.

Her reflection stared back at her, a pale, tired visage.

Sighing, she went to her bedroom to sleep through the day.


"You're certain about what this master vampire said? Brujah clan?" Giles said.

Buffy nodded.

"He said he was Christof Romuald, of the Brujah clan, whatever that means."

The gang had gathered, minus Riley, at Giles' place. The Initiative had called Riley to patrol for demons.

Giles was sitting in his chair, Buffy and Xander on the couch, Willow and Tara were standing near the kitchen, Anya was reading through one of the books.

Giles sighed.

"I know that the Watchers have heard about several strange vampire clans. One of them is the Brujah."

"What does that mean, Brujah?" Xander asked.

"I don't know what the name means, but I believe I know what the clan means."

He paced, took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes for a moment.

"I've heard legends of vampire clans, with blood thicker than the blood of the vampires we normally fight. They are closer to the first vampire than the ones we've met, with the exception being the Master. According to legend, they gain strength and strange powers." Giles said slowly.

"Trust me, if a vampire is a member of these clans, they're very dangerous." Anya said

"Anya?" Giles asked.

"I've heard of some of these clans when I was a demon. Some are benign, just trying to survive, others are really nasty. They've learned how to unlock the powers of their blood."

"That would explain why he was so strong, and why he vanished from my sight. How can we fight something with that kind of power?" Buffy said.

"We could set up a spell of quickening, Buffy. It would let you move a little faster and enhance your senses, but you'll be in a lot of pain the next day." Willow said.

"Let's save that for a last resort. We need to find out where Spike and other demons have disappeared to. We can't let him set up a plan to kill us. It will be especially terrible if Spike allies himself with this new vampire." Giles said.

"Why don't we just ask Soldier-boy if he's seen them?" Xander said.

"I'm certain Riley would have told us if he knew where they were, after all, we're working on the same side." Giles said.

Xander looked at his watch, swore, then stood up.

"Look, I'm going to call it a night, I gotta get up early tomorrow." He said.

"I've got to help Giles track down info on these vampires. I'm the only one here who knows what to look for." Anya said.

"Good night, Xander." Giles said.

He nodded, then walked out the door.

Giles rubbed his eyes again, then put his glasses back on.

"I've still got a few friends in the Watcher's Council, I'll call them and see if they know about this, Christof Romuald."


The next night......

Anezka woke an hour before sundown, very worried for Christof.

She paced for that hour in the little room, thinking about the time Christof came to meet her, the night of his Embrace.

After the sunset, she left the hotel room, searching for Christof.

As she stepped out, she looked at the sky that was filled with stars.

She found the night sky quite beautiful, and she seemed to shine in the moon's light.

She walked to Willy's, thinking that was the best place to start.


Anezka walked into Willy's, looking for fellow Kindred.

Anezka found her fellow Kindred sitting in the back, almost hidden by the shadows.

The woman looked up.

"Who are you?"

She said. "I am Anezka, childe of Christof Romuald."

The woman's eyes widened.

"Ah, you're looking for him? I set the meeting up for yesterday, but he didn't show." The woman said.

"Who are you?" Anezka asked.

She stayed silent for a moment. "I don't know anymore." She whispered.

She rose her head slightly.

"I've heard of a group around here, they're called the Initiative. They've been taking vampires and other demons for some reason. What, I don't know. What I do know is that their base is under the Lowell house on UC Sunnydale campus." The woman said.

"Thanks, I'm in your debt." Anezka said.

"Just help Christof. And be wary of the Slayer"

Anezka looked puzzled, then asked.

"What's a Slayer?" The woman sighed.

"A mortal, with the power of a vampire. Very strong, very agile. She can tell when we're around, unless we cloak our energy. Be wary, the one guarding this place is stronger than most."

"How do you know all this?" Anezka asked.

"I've been here for quite some time, and I've had time to learn about the creatures around here, and the people who keep them at bay." The woman said.

"Thanks." Anezka said.

The woman nodded, then seemed to become very plain, as if she became unremarkable.

Anezka walked out the door.


Christof tossed and turned in his cell, remembering the fateful night he became Kindred.


Outside the convent

Christof walked away from the convent, thinking about his own selfish heart.

How could he ask Anezka to renounce God for him? How could he consider dragging her pure soul down into Hell with him?

He was damned for his lust. For loving a holy nun, who had taken holy orders so that she may be elevated to Heaven.

Who was he to damn her along with him?

He loved her too much. He would do God's work, and redeem his sinner's soul.

He walked by the town well, feeling his broadsword drag on the cobblestones.

He heard a ghostly laugh.

He drew his sword, the wound in his side giving him little trouble now.

He slowly walked into the alley he heard the laugh come from, feeling his heart beat quickly.

A crow cawed and flew off, causing Christof to look at it for a moment.

He began to calm down, then he was picked up and thrown into the far wall by an unseen force.

He rubbed the back of his head, as he rose to his feet.

He saw a redheaded woman, dressed in yellow finery, the lower half of her face concealed by a yellow scarf.

He readied himself to strike at her.

"Hold fast." She said.

And his body was caught, he was stuck standing in place, and a force made him drop his sword.

"Release me! I command thee!" He said, almost growling at her.

She began walking around him.

"Thou struggles nobly. I love such passion." She said.

She gripped his jaw and turned his face to the left.

"A lesser man could not even speak in my grasp." She said.

She let him go, and walked in front of him.

"What art thou? A demon sent from Hell?" He said.

"I am here to save thee, Christof. To deliver thee from thy mortal shackles."

Struggling, he managed to grip the iron cross on his belt, and lifted it into the demon's face.

"By the power of the Lord Eternal I banish thee from my presence!" He growled.

Then another unseen force forced his to drop the cross.

"Poor child. Thy faith died long ago."

She began to walk around him again.

"Amidst a dread battle thou came to realize thy true nature. Thou art a killer of men, no matter how thou dost try to justify thy deeds. Thou kills not, when compelled by God, but when ordered by men."

Christof struggled, and then her words sunk in.

It was true.

He was a killer.

She stood before him again.

"Now come to me. I am the mother of thy rebirth." She said.

"I know thy ways demon! I have lore enough to kill thee!" He said.

"Nay, thou art as helpless in my hands as a naked babe." She said, as she removed the scarf.

The lower half of her face........

It was decayed. Rotted. Two gleaming fangs were evident. Her eyes began to glow red, and she hissed.

"Nay!" He yelled. She leaned into the side of his neck, and he felt her fangs penetrate the soft flesh.

His scream echoed off of the buildings.



He awoke in his bright white cell, hearing voices outside of it.

Keeping his eyes closed, he listened.

"This hostile is strange. He has some of the characteristics of the typical bloodsucker we capture around here, but not others." One voice said, in a monotone that only lab workers could have.

"How so?" Another voice, deep and strong, said. "He needs blood, we've noticed that. But he seems to have power beyond that of normal vamps."

"Perhaps we caught a really strong one?"

"I'm not sure. His skin and blood samples are different. They didn't dissolve at the same rate as the others. He seems to have a kind of energy reading that the others lack."

"Hmmm. Maybe a new species of hostile?"

"Yeah, we'll have to add this to the list."

"Has the chip been implanted yet?"

"No, we're busy with other hostiles. This one is odd, but I see little point in keeping this one for testing. We'll throw him into the daylight tomorrow afternoon."

"Understood. We'll prepare for the termination."

The voices stopped, and walked away.

Christof sat up.

"Good to see you're awake, mate. Those little mad scientists did a number on you." A British sounding voice said.

Christof looked over into the next cell.

There was a Caitiff there.

No. Not a Caitiff, but one of those demonic vampires Anezka met.

"The name's Spike." The demonic vampire said.

Chapter 3

Christof looked around his cell.

It was quite different from the prisons he'd been kept in before, as it was clean and white, while the others had always been dank and dark, along with thick bars to prevent even vampires from escaping.

He walked up to the glass barrier, and touched it.

A powerful shock drove him back, and Christof gripped his smoking hand.

In the next cell, Spike laughed.

"All the new one's try that. It's quite funny to see, you know!"

Christof growled at the demonic vampire.

"Yeah, like that's all scary. I roamed the world along with some of the most vicious vampires around, you old geezer." Spike said.

"Then when I leave this cell, demon, I will twist your head off with my bare hands!"

Christof looked up. No air vents.

Makes sense. If the creature you've captured could change form, you don't want it to get out that way.

He growled in frustration.

He looked at a passing soldier, a tall black man.

The soldier frowned at all the creatures in the cells.

"Ugly brutes."

Christof waited until the soldier neared his cell.

Then he ran at full speed at the barrier.


Alarms went off all over the Initiative.

In the hostile containment cells, they found Forrest lying on the ground, suffering from blood loss, with no wound.

He was still alive.

The strange vampire's cell was empty, the security glass broken, still fizzling with the power going through it.

Soldiers from all over the compound were told to attack and destroy the hostile.

They scrambled throughout the compound, looking for the powerful vampire.

Christof watched them run around, like ants whose anthill had just been stepped on.

He slipped past them, keeping himself invisible to their eyes, exploring the base, looking for a way out.

His hair was singed, his trenchcoat scorched, his mood angry.

The Beast within him wanted to tear every soldier in this place limb from limb, drinking from their bloodsoaked corpses.

He repressed it with practiced ease.

He followed an officer into an office.

There was the officer, and a woman in a lab coat.

Keeping his cloak of invisibility up, he listened.

"We've haven't found the hostile, he's most elusive ma'am." The officer said.

"Not good enough, Colonel. We need him caught and destroyed. If he escapes, he can warn the Sub-T community. We can't let that happen."

"I know, but we can't help that." The Colonel said.

She shook her head.

"Have you found what was different about this one from the lab results?" The Colonel said.

She nodded.

"Because of the tests on the previous hostiles labeled as vampires, we found that they all had a certain genetic factor in them. This factor was the same for each and every vampire we caught, which means there was one ancestor for all of them, and then they change the blood of their victims to create new ones."

The Colonel nodded.

"Now, this one. He lacked that factor, but many of the traits were still there. The skin burned in solar radiation. The blood cells consumed other blood cells, like the ones we caught before. But the energy conversion from the consumption was higher, as if removing the genetic factor caused him to grow stronger. It's not possible, though, cause when we removed that factor, the test subjects dissolved into dust."

"Meaning?" The Colonel asked.

"This one has a different ancestor. He's not related to the typical Sub-T vampire."

"Weird. So there is a new species of hostile. Have you found any other weaknesses?"

"None. It's a very odd creature. I'd love to study it, but it must not get away. It's obvious we can't hold it here."

"We'll find it and destroy it, Professor Walsh."

"Do that."

The Colonel walked out the door, barely missing Christof.

Walsh shook her head.

"Soldiers. You'd think they only hire the dumbest ones."

Quickly, he walked out of the office.


Christof walked into a the main compound of the Initiative.

He saw the elevator that soldiers were running into, probably thinking he'd already gotten away from them.

The soldiers scrambled into the city after determining that the hostile had escaped the base.

Fools. He was standing in plain sight.

He'd raided a locker for clothes, and had replaced his trenchcoat and singed clothing.

He was using his powers of suggestion instead of the powers of hiding, and they thought he was a member of their group.

It was easier than keeping hidden all the time. The Nosferatu were the best at that, he'd learned how to do it, but not as well.

He looked around, and saw the staircase. He walked towards it, prepared to activate his full power at a moment's notice.

"You! Hold it!" He stopped, and turned around. Another soldier was coming his way. "Why aren't you wearing camouflage, soldier?" Riley asked him.

"I'm assigned to patrol the civilian areas. The missing hostile may decide to hide among the civilian population, instead of heading for the hills. My unit's headed out. I don't have time." He replied.

He turned, and prepared to walk out, when Riley grabbed his arm and twisted Christof back to look at him.

"What's your name and unit?" Riley said.

Christof replied, using some of his power to reinforce belief.

"Christopher Jacobs, 24th unit." He said.

Riley nodded. "Stay here, soldier. This hostile is too strong, and we don't want another rookie killed."

Christof frowned, then nodded.

He'd need more blood to go invisible, and getting it would be too dangerous.

He'd have to slip away when he got a chance.


Christof paced, waiting for that chance to show itself, worried it had already slipped away.

He heard commotion, and more soldiers started to run for the elevator.

He grabbed one, and asked. "What's going on?"

"A hostile's attacking the Lowell house. It's gotta know about us, and we've gotta take it out. You're coming along, rookie!" The soldier said.

Christof nodded. "You armed?" The soldier asked.

Christof smiled, then pulled out a taser gun he'd stolen.

"Let's go." Christof said.

As soon as he had a chance, he'd ditch them.


Anezka had found the Lowell house, and was now injuring the soldiers within using her powers.

All the soldiers saw was a shadow attacking the people inside, with no apparent cause or purpose.

When soldiers piled out of the elevator, Christof with them, she howled a demonic cry, and attacked them, giving them non-fatal, but very painful blows.

They both shifted into wolves, and ran into the night.


Giles was talking on the phone to a friend of his in England, a fellow Watcher.

"James, how are you?" Giles asked.

"Rupert? Are you bloody nuts for calling me? If I'm caught talking to you, I'll be fired from the Watchers!" James Grant, fellow Watcher, said.

"James, I'm sorry, but I've been researching a vampire that's shown up here, and I've reached a dead end." Giles said.

Silence. Giles could almost hear James thinking.

"James, you know that if Buffy dies here, chances are a new Slayer won't be able to get here before a demon ends the world. I need this information." Giles said.

"All right Rupert, you've made your point. What vampire are you looking for?" James said, sighing.

"He calls himself Christof Romuald."



"Yes, I'm here Rupert. You've met Christof Romuald?" James asked.

"Not personally, but Buffy did." Giles said.

"Hmmm. Rupert, have you heard of The Society Of Leopold?"

"The Council's hunters? Of course." Giles replied.

"About two weeks before New Year's Eve, one of the prominent leaders and his guards were killed. Some by sword wounds, some were shot, some were drained of blood. We couldn't find Father Leo anywhere. There was a pile of dust, so I assume that at least one vampire was involved in the attack." James said.

"Was Christof a part of the attack? There would need to be several vampires at least to kill hunters like them." Giles asked.

James sighed.

"I'll send you the security tape, you draw your own conclusions." James said.

"Wait! James!" Giles yelled into the phone.

"Sorry Rupert, I have to go. Expect the tape in about a week."

There was a click, and the phone went dead.

Giles cursed, then hung up.


Sighing, he went back to researching the vampire clans.


Xander was walking towards Giles' place, along main street, hoping to catch Buffy before she went on patrol.

"Hey kid, you shouldn't be out here this late." A male voice said from behind him.

He turned around, and saw a handsome man and a beautiful woman walking his way.

"Thanks, but I can take care of myself." Xander said.

"No doubt. But I've heard of gangs around here. We're just saying be careful." The woman said.

Xander nodded.

"I'll keep that in mind. Watch yourselves, too." He replied.

The woman smiled.

"We will."

The pair walked away, arm in arm.

He continued walking for Giles' place.

He passed an alley when he heard something.

He saw a young girl, about ten years old, surrounded by four vampires, in the back of the alley.

The leader of the group was a woman, she looked about twenty-five, and resembled Darla, which got Xander quite pissed.

"Please....Leave me alone....." The kid said.

"Hmmmm. Young blood. I always enjoyed little children. So sweet, and clean. So tender. It's like eating veal." The she-vamp grinned.

Stepping quietly behind her, Xander drew his stake, and plunged it into her back. She burst into dust, with a look of shock on her face.

The other three glared at him.

"You.......Alicia was our sire! You're gonna die, human!" One vamp said.

"You know, she was pretty weak, and stupid. She had to be, to sire morons like you." Xander said, then grinned, and ran away, hoping for the vamps to follow him, and not snack on the kid.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw his stupid little plan worked. The three vamps were chasing him, snarling as they began to catch up.

Only about two hundred feet to Giles' place. If he can make it......

A stone flew over his head, thrown by a vamp.

He kept running, his lungs beginning to burn. One hundred feet......

A vamp snarled from behind him.

Fifty feet. He was running through the park now.

His lungs ached, his feet were sore, his head light.

One of the vamps caught up to him, and tackled him.

He was punched on the back of his head, causing him to black out a moment.

All he was aware of, was the throbbing pain in his head, and the crushing weight on his back.

He felt himself lifted off the ground. "What shall we do with him, hmm?" The vamp holding him said.

"Let's see. He staked Alicia, so let's stake him!" Another vamp laughed.

"I want him to suffer!" The third said.

"I didn't say in the heart!" The second said.

"Sounds good to me!" The first vamp said, still holding him up. Xander gripped his cross, and shoved it into the vamp's chest.

The vamp screamed, and dusted.

He tried to run again, but he was tripped, and the cross was kicked away.

One vamp growled at him, picked him up, and threw him against a tree.

The two just looked at him, then began laughing.

"Well, that works. I think we can just leave him there."

The first vamp said. Xander didn't know what was going on.

He was weak-kneed, but he couldn't fall to the ground.

He looked down.

Poking through his chest, on his right side......

A branch.

He looked up at the vamps that had just killed him.

A strange shadow flickered by the vampires, who were busy laughing at him.

The sound of something slicing through the air reached his ears.

One vamp burst into dust.

The other one looked around, frightened.

Standing there, were the man and woman he met earlier.

In the man's hand, was a long black sword, that looked dangerous and deadly.

The woman's hands were extended into long claws.

The woman struck at the vamp who threw him into the tree, clawing off his left arm and then head.

The woman looked over at Xander.


"I am sorry, young sir. We could not save you in time." The man said.

"Christof......" The woman said, looking at him with some hope.

Xander's eyes widened at the name.

"No. I will not damn his soul, Anezka." Christof said.

"He went and saved that young girl, Christof! He deserves to live!" Anezka said.

"I will not damn him! He does not deserve this fate!"

"None of us do! But if we do this, he can make the choice! As it is now, he will die, and I'm certain his soul will wander as a wraith." Anezka said.

Christof hesitated.

"We either damn him with our fate, or make him wander in the shadowlands! We must decide now!" Anezka said.

Christof looked at Xander, pity in his eyes. "Anezka. You do it. I might kill him, as I haven't fed for some time." Christof said.

"Young sir. Please forgive me, for what I am about to do....." She said.

In his mind, Xander was screaming, as Anezka leaned in to bite his neck.


A few hours later

Xander woke up, about to howl a scream, then he looked around, seeing he wasn't in danger.

He was so thirsty....... Anezka was sitting on a couch, looking at him carefully.

"Water...." Xander managed to say.

She wiped away a blood tear.

"I'm sorry. There was no other way." She said.

Xander's eyes fixed on the blood tear, and it seemed to be the most important thing in the world to him.

"You must feed, my childe. Or you will go mad with the hunger." Anezka said, getting up, and walking to the bed Xander lay on.

She slit her own wrist, and bright blood welled forth.

Xander was drawn to the blood, as if he was a moth and it was a flame. He gripped he wrist, and drank greedily.

After a moment, she pulled away, and Xander's mind cleared a bit.

"Oh, god......" He said.

Christof shook his head, looking at the new vampire.

"I know how you feel, young one. It was not so long ago for me when I was in your place." He said.

Xander shook his head, feeling as if he was dirty, as if the body he was in was not his own.

He was a vampire.

Just like Jesse was.

Just like Darla.

Just like Angelus.


Anezka came up to him, and gently touched his arm.

"Young one. You must be feeling awful, but do not despair. We are here to help you get through this, and we won't let the Beast take you." She said, in a kind voice.

"Young sir, what be your name?" Christof asked. For some reason, the thought of lying didn't cross Xander's mind.

"Alexander Harris. My friends call me Xander."

"Alexander, I am Christof Romuald. I am a man of God, and soldier in Heaven's cause, despite the fact I am a vampire. I've fought creatures of evil, and have reclaimed my soul from the clutches of the devil. It can be the same with you, or you can give in to the Beast inside of you."

Xander was confused.

"Were you cursed with a soul?" He said, feeling his new fangs.

Christof shook his head. "I am cursed to prey on the living, but with that curse, comes the power to make a difference. I protect the mortals as best I can." He said.

"But, vampires lose their souls when turned....." Xander said.

Anezka rose her head.

"You mean the ones that hurt you?" She said.

Xander nodded. "They have a stronger Beast within them, Alexander. In them, there is little room for kindness and humanity." She said.

"What is this Beast you keep talking about?" Xander asked.

"A creature that thrives upon bloodlust and terror resides within our hearts, Alexander. Soon you will feel it's call, and you must learn to subjugate it, or become a monster, like the vampires that harmed you." Christof replied.

"Acts of evil and cruelty will unleash the Beast, until there is no humanity left in you. Acts of kindness and compassion will save you from it's jaws, Alexander." Anezka said.

He curled himself into a little ball.

"Please, go." He sobbed.

"Anezka, we should go. I think he needs time to think."

Christof said. Anezka nodded.

"Alexander, I'll be right outside if you need to talk to me." She said.

The pair walked to the door of their hotel room, hanging their heads slightly.

As they were about to walk out, Christof turned back to Xander.

"Welcome, to the Brujah clan, Alexander." He said.

He walked out, leaving Xander to sob and cry, thinking about the world he was suddenly in.

How could he face Buffy again?

Chapter 4

Xander sat in the room, sobbing to himself, until Christof and Anezka returned to evade the daylight.

He felt something inside him.

Something dark. Something that wanted his to do terrible things. Something.......


He shuddered, feeling it grow stronger.

Christof and Anezka came in with bloodbags, which almost sent Xander into a frenzy.

"Alexander, you must feed. Or the Beast will claim you." Anezka said.

He ripped into one with his fangs, feeling his feral instincts force him to do something he'd never do normally.

Both of the elder vampires watched in sadness at what they made him into.

Quickly, Xander finished off three bags, and he no longer felt the creature inside him with such force.

"Alexander, I regret that you have been brought into this new, dark world, but we saw little choice." Christof said.

Xander nodded, sadly.

"This night, Alexander, I shall teach you what it means to be Kindred. How to feed. How to survive. How to use your new powers." Christof said.

"Feed? No! I'm not going to kill anybody!" Xander almost yelled.

"Alexander, calm down! We're not asking you to!" Anezka said.

He calmed a little, taking deep, unneeded breaths.

"We require blood to survive, but we do not kill those we feed upon. To kill during the feeding is to unleash the Beast. To lose oneself in it's evil. We have greater power than mortals, and it is our duty to protect them from the evils that walk by night." Christof said, remembering his first few nights as a vampire.

Xander chuckled a little.

"So, you're acting like Angel? Thought he was the only fairly good-guy vamp around."

Christof and Anezka looked at the other.

"Angel?" They said at the same time.

Xander blinked.

Anezka looked at Xander, with piercing eyes.

"Is this Angel, tall, handsome, spiked hair, wear a black trenchcoat?" She asked.

Xander nodded.

"You've met?" Xander asked.

"Yes, we've met. One of those demonic creatures tried to feed upon me, but this one jumped in. It was not needed, but the action speaks of a kind soul." Anezka replied.

Xander chuckled for a moment, thinking about the expression on Angel's face when he saw the 'damsel in distress', kick ass.

"Young one, it is important for you to find an anchor for your humanity. Something so important to you that even the Beast cannot change your feelings." Christof said, forgetting about Angel for the moment.

Xander's eyes grew distant for a moment, thinking about Buffy.

After a few moments, he nodded.

"When do I start learning to use my new powers?" He said.

"At nightfall. It will be needed for you to cut the ties to your mortal life." Anezka said.

"What? No! I can't! What about my friends?!" Xander said.

"It is for the best, Alexander. If you break the Masquerade, other vampires will hunt you. It is for the protection of all of us. If hunters learn of us, our lives will be in danger. You will be destroyed if you do not learn how to hide yourself among mortals." Christof said.

"But, the demons don't care! They don't hide! Why haven't they been wiped out?!" Xander yelled.

"I assume that the demonic vampires are destroyed when they meet our Justicars. I am certain that they are more nomadic than Kindred, moving from place to place before a Blood Hunt can be called. It also seems that they feel like clanless vampires, and are ignored by the Kindred. There are many ways they could escape notice." Anezka said.

Christof sighed.

"Anezka, can you teach this young one about what it is to be one of us? I must still meet our contact."

"What contact?" Xander said.

"We are on a mission of great import, young one. One that effects all lives, Kindred and mortal alike." Anezka said.

"What mission?" Xander said, interested.

"I am afraid you may not be prepared to hear it." Christof said.

"What?!" Xander said, hurt.

"Young one, it will not help you to know right now. I promise you, we will tell you when the time comes." Anezka said, concern on her face.

Xander nodded, slowly.

"Now, we await nightfall. Then we will begin." Anezka said.


Christof walked into Willy's looking for his mysterious friend.

He saw her in the back, leaning against the wall, watching him.

He went over and sat down across from her.

"I never expected to see you again. I heard about what happened to your clan." He said.

"It happened a long time ago, Christof. Nothing you say now will change that."

"I know. Can you tell me where it is?" Christof said.

She sighed.

"Christof, I admit I misled you. One of them isn't here."

"What?! Why did you call me then?!" His eyes hardened from anger.

"Christof, I called you here because I have a mission as important as the one you are on. This city, it sits on top of a portal to Hell. Many demonic vampires have tried to open it, and send us all into Hell. I have been here for two hundred years, Christof. I've kept it shut with all of my power, but it is not easy to keep stopping those creatures. A year ago I nearly failed." She said.

Christof's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Allow me to explain something, Christof. In the early part of this century, a powerful demonic vampire came to this place, and sought to open the portal. He called himself The Master. He would have succeeded, if I didn't interfere with the ritual. I used my strength and interfered with the mystic ritual, which caused an earthquake and sealed him in a church that sank into the ground. I called you here, Christof, because you can guard this place far better than I can. You're stronger, you've stolen powers from the Tremere, and mastered many more powers than Kindred older than you." She said.

"I'm trying to prevent Gehenna! I must not stop this mission! I must try and save all of us!" Christof said.

"Christof, even if you kill all of them, if even one demon opens the portal, we are all doomed, and your mission is for naught. They will consume all of us, yes. But to exist in Hell is far worse."

He stayed silent.

"Christof, I heard what you managed to do. Destroying a Methuselah is an astonishing feat. Especially one that is several thousand years old. You are far stronger than I, Christof. You can prevent the demons from dragging this world into Hell."

"I must stop them the Antediluvians, nothing you say will change that. "

Anger obvious in his stride, he walked out the door, leaving her to sit in her chair, and ponder.


Xander ran through the night, chasing his prey.

The prey was running through the street, trying to lose the newborn vampire.

Panic showed on the prey's face, her brunette hair twirling about as she ran.

With a growl, Xander grabbed the woman, sinking his fangs into her flesh.

He drank deeply, feeling the Beast within howl.

The woman's heartbeat slowed, as the panic faded, replaced by the euphoria a Kindred's bite gave mortals.

Xander drew his fangs out of her flesh, watching in fascination as the wound made by his fangs closed, as if it never happened.

"Wha?" The woman said, confused. She was already beginning to forget what had just happened to her.

"You okay?" Xander said, worried he may have taken too much

The woman shook her head.

"Come on, I'll help you get home." Xander said.

He escorted her back to her place, ensuring she would not be prey to the demonic vampires in Sunnydale.


Over the next few nights, Xander learned how to use the powers of his blood, to run at superhuman speeds, to entrance mortals with his gaze, to use his newfound strength.

Anezka was a good teacher.

While he learned, he hunted the vampires who walked the night, looking for mortals.

What better way for him to grow stronger, than to kill the ones who harm the innocent?

He's saving people's lives, and learning how to keep himself alive at the same time.

He had, luckily, not seen hide or hair of the Scooby gang, but he knew even now it would not last.

They would meet if he stayed here in Sunnydale, as sure as water ran downhill.

What would he do when it happened?


Buffy walked into Giles' place, spotting him on the couch, watching his TV.

"Giles? Did you find anything about Xander?" She asked.

He looked up at her.

"No, I haven't. I'm sure he's all right, however."

"Giles, he hasn't been seen by any of us for a week! He doesn't do that! He'd call once in a while!" Buffy said, worried.

"Right now, Buffy, we can't help him. If he's all right, he'll call us sometime. If not........" Giles said, sighing.

"If not, it won't matter." She finished for him.

He nodded.

"In any case, I was sent a security tape by a friend of mine back in England. Now, the Watchers train and guide the Slayer, as you know. But they also fund various hunter groups. One of them is the Society of Leopold, who hunt vampires." Giles said.

"Why didn't I know about this before? I could have used some help."

"Most hunter groups act independently, reporting to the Watchers, but are quite busy hunting vampires and other demons. There are more threats in the world than in Sunnydale, and a Slayer is quite enough here." Giles said.

"Yeah, right. Anyway, what's on the tape?"

"Something quite disturbing."

He pushed play on the VCR, and the pair sat back and watched what was happening on the tape.

They were looking at a loading area, a worker was operating a forklift, and another was directing hm.

There were crates all around, ancient swords and weapons and rare equipment lying on them.

They set a large coffin down near a large pile of boxes.

"Good work brother, I'll inform Father Allaitus it's arrived." One said.

The worker driving the forklift left, after looking at the weapons lying on a nearby crate.

The other went and examined a long black sword, and studied it carefully, testing the metal.

The coffin's lid exploded upward, a long, pale arm raised up, unclenching the fist that had broken the coffin.

A moment later, a tall, pale vampire jumped out of the ruin of the coffin, landing on his feet with the grace of a cat.

He was wearing old tattered clothing. The ruins of a red cape clung to his neck. The rotted, torn remains of his garb showed what looked like a red cross. His legs were fitted in old leather.

The pale creature looked at the shocked lab worker with one thing evident on his face.


"My god, that's him......." Buffy said.

The newly risen Christof began to speak.

"Where is she?" He rasped.

"W-who?" The frighted worker said.

"Trifle not with me, servant of the Tzimisce, for the hunger is so great in me, I would gladly squeeze all thy blood from thee, and still not be sated. Where is Anezka?" Christof said.

"I-Idon't know any Anezka!" The worker stammered.

"Where is thy master? For if one such as I survived, surely the ancient Vukodlak endures still." Christof rasped.

"I don't know anyone named Vukodlak!." The worker says, voice shaking.

"Thou speaks the language of England, but in a manner most passing strange...........Who is thy master mortal?!"

"I work with the Society of Leopold." The worker said, beginning to calm down a little.

"I know them not!" The vampire replied, almost snarling.

The worker's voice was suddenly cold.

"We slay vampires."

The worker quickly drew a gun, and shot the ancient vampire standing before him.

Most vampires when shot, are injured, are forced back, holding the wound, as it hurts like hell.

Christof didn't even feel the bullet.

He quickly ran up to the human, throwing a punch at the mortal's face.

There was a loud snap, and the worker fell to the floor, dead.

The vampire spoke.

"My name is Christof Romuald. I was a man of God, and a soldier of Heaven's cause. I am now outcast of Heaven, and not even, a man. I am Kindred."

He paused for a moment.

"I am a vampire."

The vampire began to collect the ancient weapons around the room, not neglecting the gun.

The scene changed, to another storage room.

Three workers were inside, looking over the items within.

Two of them looked at something off-screen, and began shooting.

There were more gunshots, and the two fell over, dead.

Christof appeared with the black sword in hand, moving almost faster than the eyes could see.

The third worker fell over, a large bloody rent in his side where the sword passed through.

The scene changed again, and the Slayer and Watcher could only watch as one lone vampire eliminated many experienced vampire hunters.


"This is most disturbing. We are facing a vampire that had been present in the Crusades, and has many powers that normal vampires do not." Giles was saying.

The Scooby Gang, including Riley, minus Xander, was present in Giles' flat, and were discussing what to do about Christof.

Everyone had seen the tape, and were quite subdued.

"The Initiative is outmatched. This one escaped, and in the commotion, another one made it out. Whatever this vamp can do, it's really good at doing it." Riley said.

"Maybe we should think about that spell of quickening? I might need it to fight this guy." Buffy said.

"It might be useful, but be careful. This vampire is extremely strong, and seems to be quick on his feet. From the looks of his clothing he was sent into a slumber for centuries, and very quickly he learned how to use modern weaponry." Giles said.

"I can't believe he tricked me like that........" Riley says, confused.

"It is possible that he has the power to manipulate others, Riley. We must be very careful if we cross paths with him." Giles said.

"I hope Xander didn't meet this vampire." Anya whispered, worry on her face.

"Anya, I'm sure he's okay. Xander's a survivor." Willow said.

Outside the window, Xander sighed.

"Apparently, I'm not that good." He whispered to himself.

He walked away.


The next night.......

Buffy was patrolling through the town, looking for any stupid nasties that decided to attack her, when she felt a presence.

A vampire. Younger than Christof, weaker, perhaps a fledgling.

She looked around, and sensed it coming from the park.

She found Xander and another woman, standing by a tree, quietly talking.

Who was she?

She crouched behind a bush and listened, but couldn't hear what they were saying.

She stepped on a twig, which made a loud SNAP!.

Both of them looked over.

"Come on out, we know you're there." The woman said.

She stepped out of her hiding spot.

"Buffy....." Xander said.

"Xander, where have you been? We've been worried sick!" Buffy said.

"I wish I could have told you, Buffy, but I was scared." He replied.

"Scared of what?"

Then, her senses homed in on both of them.

"Oh, God..........Xander?" She said, shock on her face.

"I'm sorry Buffy. I couldn't stop this from happening to me." He said, sorrow all over his face.

"Letting them turn you? Becoming a vampire? My friend never would have given in to that!" She said, drawing her stake.

"I didn't give in, Buffy. This just happened to me. I wish it didn't, but it did."


"Buffy, I'm not going to try to attack you. I'm not like the vampires we meet on a regular basis around here."

She pulled up her resolve.

"You're not Xander. You sound like Xander, look like Xander, talk like Xander, but you're just a demon with his face." She said, her face cold.

She had to steel herself. This wasn't her friend. She would be freeing him, not killing him. If she let him go, he'd go and do terrible things.

She'd already done that with Angelus.

She ran at him, stake extended.

He dodged to the left, barely evading her attack.

She kept striking, the demon with Xander's face avoiding her.

With a quick move, he tripped her.

He ran back a bit, then turned to look at her getting up.

"I'm sorry Buffy."

He then turned, and ran into the night.

Chapter 5

Xander ran through the night, away from Buffy, away from his old, mortal life.

Buffy had just tried to kill him. Granted, he was a vampire, and she thought he was one of the ordinary, demonic vampires that showed up in Sunnydale on a regular basis, but she didn't listen to him when he tried to explain what had happened to him.

She just pulled her stake, tried to justify herself, and attacked.

It was just 'Hi Xander, dust Xander, bye Xander'.

He had to leave Sunnydale. As much as he hated this new unlife, he didn't want to die.

Again. He had already died.

He had to keep remembering that. He was already dead. No heartbeat, no life. He drank the blood of others to keep himself alive.

Just like the ugly run-of-the-mill Sunnydale vamp.

He wondered where Christof and Anezka would go. They had that great big mission that would take all of their time and energy, although Xander would be damned if he knew what that mission was.

He stopped, and looked around, realizing he'd just been running without thought as to where he was going. Some part of him enjoyed that, to lose himself in the feeling of freedom in running.

Especially since he didn't feel weary at all, as if he just started running a minute ago.

In some ways, being a vamp wasn't half bad.

He was in the shopping district of the town, all the stores were closed.

Only a half hour walk to the bus station.

He wondered what L.A. was like at this time of year.


Over the next few days, Buffy patrolled Sunnydale, looking for Xander, searching for any sign of him.

After about a week, she finally accepted that Xander must have left the town. Most vampires would have tried to attack her by this point, but he just vanished without a trace.

She also wondered where that Master vampire, Christof, and that woman she found Xander with were.

After the night she found that Xander became a vampire, the pair vanished, as if they never showed up in Sunnydale.

Maybe her reputation was better than she thought.

No matter what the reason was, she was glad.

Another Master vampire was the last thing she needed.

Not to mention needing to kill her best friend.


Xander walked into his apartment, a run-down place in the worst part of town. The slums. Where people were hurt, killed, and hunted.

By other people.

If that wasn't bad enough, vamps also liked to set up shop in the area.

Luckily, a group of young men had armed themselves to the teeth with vampire fighting gear, and made war.

Xander stayed out of their way, not wanting to be staked.

He looked around his crappy little haven.

A couch that someone had thrown out onto the street one day, a battered but functional lamp, an icebox to keep a few bloodbags in, a couple of boarded up windows, and a small padded coffin Xander hid in during the day.

Not really needed, but it was another layer of protection against the sunlight, in case the boards fell off the window.

His door had three locks on it, to help keep out unwanted creatures.

Xander wasn't certain if the no-invite rule still applied to him, where other vamps were concerned.

As far as he knew, they could walk in without a word spoken from him.

Lucky for Xander, he could walk in anywhere without an invite.

Not much of an advantage, but nice.

He felt the sun set, and he walked out of his haven, the blood in his veins just itching for action.


Xander walked along the street, no real destination in mind. His old wardrobe had been replaced by blue jeans and white shirts.

After all, who had heard of a vampire that wears Hawaiian shirts?

The place was an old neighborhood, built for people with dreams of families and jobs fifty years ago.

Now, it was a slum, where nobody would walk down the street unless they had a deathwish.

Garbage was everywhere, the place offended Xander's newly enhanced senses in just about every way.

He was crossing a street when he heard the faint sounds of a fight down that road.

His instincts kicked in.

He ran down the street, letting the sounds guide him to the place.

He rounded another corner, and saw the situation.

That hunter group, with their truck and a group of vamps.

Six humans, and three vamps.

He saw a body on the ground, and two piles of dust.

Despite the fact the vamps were outnumbered, they were giving a good fight.

One vamp gripped was busy fighting the apparent leader of the group, a tall bald black man, while the other two were fighting the other hunters.

The leader was holding a sharpened stick, using it like a quarterstaff.

The vamp dodged a few blows, staying away from the pointed end of the stick.

The hunter thrust, and the vamp gripped the stick in both hands.

Both wrestled for control, unnatural strength fighting adrenaline induced strength.

The vamp began to get the upper hand, and slowly brought the pointed end of the stick towards the hunter's chest.

Xander ran forward, punching the vamp with all his strength.

The vamp was flung onto the ground, surprised.

Xander jumped on it, hit it a few times in the face with his own unnatural strength, then picked the dazed vamp up with one hand.

Then he threw it onto the wooden spikes attached to the truck.

The creature dissolved into dust.

Xander took a deep breath, and looked around.

The other two vamps were dust, and the remaining hunters were looking at him in curiosity.

"Hey." He heard from behind him.

He turned, and saw the hunter leader looking at him.

"Thanks for the assist. Not often we see somebody chargin' in like a knight around here." The man said.

He held out his hand.

"The name's Gunn." The hunter leader said.

Xander shook Gunn's hand.

"Xander. I'll probably see you around."

Xander began to walk away.

Just when he got to twenty meters away, he stopped.

"You might want to use crosses too, these vamps hate the sight of em. They also hurt like hell." Xander said.

Then Xander walked into the night, leaving the hunters behind.

He had to get some more blood.


Xander walked along the streets of L.A, not caring where he was.

He'd fed, and was looking for something to do until sunrise. He always was someone who bored easily. Pity he didn't have many friends to talk to, and Gunn's troupe didn't really count.

He walked, watching the people walk past.

He noticed a homeless guy, who was walking towards some building. He didn't feel right, though. Although he was dressed in rags, something was off about him.

Xander honed his senses in on the guy.

With a start, he realized the homeless guy wasn't a guy at all.

He was a demon.

He slowly tailed the demon, staying quiet, acting like a member of the crowd.

Gotta find a private place to kill this thing, before somebody got killed by it.

The demon walked into an old industrial building.

Xander followed, expecting something terrible, or disgusting, like a human sacrifice in progress.

Anything but what he saw.

Xander's tailing of a great and nasty demon had led him to a place he never thought he'd find a demon in.

A kariokie bar.

There was a furry thing that resembled Bigfoot was on stage singing a Shania Twain song, and mangling it so badly Xander couldn't tell what song it was.

There were various demons and creatures, even some humans, in the crowd. A normal human was tending the bar, looking not at all surprised at the things surrounding him.

A pretty young girl was serving tables, taking orders and running back and forth from the bar to the tables in record speed. There was a green demon sitting at the bar, wearing a suit that was sprung right out of the 70's, watching Mr. Big And Furry on stage.

This place looked like that scene in Star Wars, where Ben Kenobi and Luke went to hire Han Solo to get off that planet.

The green demon turned and looked at him, standing in the doorway like an idiot.

"Well, in or out, don't block the traffic." The demon said.

Heeding this, Xander walked up to the bar, and sat on the stool next to the green guy, still looking around.

"You look like you're lost, kid. What do ya say, go on stage, give us a number?" The demon said, grinning.

"Sorry, singing in public isn't something I do very well." Xander replied.

"Neither does Sorbar there." The demon said, pointing at the furry mass on stage.

The creature had just hit a high note, but it still sounded like a truck backfiring.

The demon shook his head.

"I wish I knew what she was thinking when she picked Shania." The demon sighed, wincing.

"She? I thought it was a he!" Xander almost cried out.

"'Fraid not, partner. That's a she all right. You've gotta learn not to judge by appearances. It's a handy thing no matter what you are." The demon said, grinning.

Xander shook his head, and sat watching the furry thing on stage. He thought for a few minutes, then his curiosity got the better of him.

"Why is she singing, anyway? In my experience, demons usually are too busy going nuts to sing on stage for fun." Xander asked.

"Ah, you really don't know what this place is, do you? Not often I just get a walk in." The green guy said.

"Um, no, don't know what this place is, just followed a demon in here." Xander replied.

"This, is my establishment, Caritias. Call me the Host, everyone else does. The reason they're singing, is because I can tell them some of their destinies, and singing lets me take a look-see." The Host answered.

Xander thought that over for a few minutes.

"Can't you just make em do something less humiliating? I don't think many things like singing in public." Xander asked.

"That's part of the point, you've gotta bare your soul before I can read it, and nothing bares souls like singing." The Host grinned.

"Well, it's a tempting offer, but I think I'll decline for now. I don't wanna get laughed at, you know?" Xander said, almost horrified at the thought of being on stage.

"I'll accept that, most people don't want to." The Host replied.

The pair watched the waitress come towards them, obviously tired from running around all night.

She sat down next to Xander, and gave his a curious glance.

"It's not often we get genuine Kindred in here, it's mostly the ugly ones that show up." She said.

"Yeah well, I just stumbled in the door. I'm Xander, clan Brujah." He introduced himself.

She smiled.

"I'm Lily, of clan Toreador." She replied, smiling.

The pair of young vampires smiled at each other.

"Quite a place, isn't it? Not what I expected from a demon bar. I thought there'd be more mayhem." Xander said, looking around.

"Uh-uh. No fighting allowed in this bar, gives a bad reputation, not to mention I'd have to clean up the mess." Lily replied.

"That wouldn't stop any demons from going nuts in here. I've known some violent demons." Xander said.

"Ah, true. Our Host got a little spell on this place, keeps demons from fighting as long as the contract is on." Lily replied.

Finally, Bigfoot on stage finished the song.

"Well, I'll see you two later, I've got to tell Mrs. Big And Hairy what's up." The Host got up, and went in back.

With that, the Host left Lily and Xander at the bar.

"So what's a Kindred doing working in a kariokie bar?" Xander asked.

"Well, a girl's gotta make a living, even if she's a vampire. This is working out well, pay's not bad, and I hear some pretty funny stories." Lily replied, smirking.

"Sounds like fun, tell me a few." Xander said.


The man drove into L.A ten miles above the speed limit, in an old beat up station wagon. He was tall, black haired, with eyes hidden by sunglasses. His skin was pale, almost deathly white, contrasting against the black leather trenchcoat and black clothes, made to hide the body armor for his chest and legs.

His eyes had little trouble piercing the night even with the sunglasses on, as he spent most of his time at night, hunting the creatures that preyed on human blood.

Like the one that took his wife one night, five years ago.

It would have killed him too, had he not been quick-thinking.

He drove into the warehouse district, knowing this is where the group he was looking for was hiding.

Damned mobsters.

Turning off the engine, he stepped out of the car, popping the trunk.

He got out and walked to the open trunk, which was filled to the brim with an arsenal that would make any army jealous.

He took two machine pistols, loaded with silver bullets, in case he came across a hostile werewolf, and slipped them into holsters under his armpits.

He took his favorite shotgun, loaded with pellets stuffed with wood chips, and slid it under his trenchcoat.

He then took his favorite weapon for finishing off bloodsuckers.

A long, gleaming Katana.

Made in the 11th century by a master swordsmith, it was laden with titanium, and nearly unbreakable.

Of course, that spell of perfection on it didn't hurt either. It prevented nicks and scratches from wearing down the blade, and no matter how long he used it, it remained sharp enough to split a hair in two.

He fixed it and it's seath across his back.

Taking a deep breath, he reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small, plain-looking gold ring.

He slipped it onto his left hand, preparing himself for the side effect.

A wrack of pain split through his body, bringing him down to his knees, forcing him to cry out in agony.

It felt as if his flesh was being boiled, and he couldn't die to make the pain stop.

After an eternity that lasted only fifteen seconds, he rose to his feet.

Standing straight and tall, he ran towards the warehouse, kicking in the door.

The place was full of wood boxes, and there was a small cleared area in the center, some assault rifles lying on the crates.

Six mobster bloodsuckers looked up at him, caught in the act of packing guns, probably to be smuggled out of the country.

Each of the vampires looked at the other, and back at the imposing man staring at them through his sunglasses.

The one closest to the man whispered.


One vampire lunged for a rifle lying on a nearby crate.

Quickly, the hunter pulled his shotgun, and shot the vampire.

It went down, paralyzed by the wood chips in it's heart.

Then he turned his deadly shotgun to the other vamps, too quick for even their inhuman reflexes to avoid.

The vamps were paralyzed now, waiting for his blade.

One coughed, and looked up at him.

Must have missed the heart, but hit the belly, rupturing the spinal cord.

Oh well.

"Wh-who are you?" The vampire asked, panic on his face.

The hunter looked down in hate through his sunglasses.

"The name's Nicholas, the Immortal."

He then drew his sword, and swept the vampire's head off.

Chapter 6

Nicholas was driving towards his base of operations in L.A.

He was tired, a side effect of the ring he used.

The benefits were superior to the side effects, though. Even if he did go through hell every time he slipped it on.

If it wasn't for that ring, he would have been dead several times over by now, instead of gaining the title of 'Immortal'.

Hah. 'Immortal'. He was anything but. He felt old, worn, faded beyond his twenty-seven years. His bones ached, so many had been broken in his battles. Every time he went to kill some more vampires, he was sure something in his frail, mortal body would give, and he would finally lose his title.

He wondered what vampire would get the honor of killing of killing him..

No matter. Until he died, he'd take out a lot of vampires.

He was lucky this night, he took out the Giovanni vamps without a scratch. Most of the time, he had some wounds, and no matter what that ring did, it didn't help him heal up.

He glanced to the suitcase in the seat beside him, which was full of twenty dollar bills.

He loved hunting Giovanni. They always had lots of cash lying around for him to pick up after the hunt was done. Not often he managed to make a profit hunting bloodsuckers. The stash he'd taken would last him a while. Special ammo wasn't that easy to make, do it wrong and it blows up in your face.

Do it right, and creatures of the night will fall like flies.

He pulled into an old apartment building, it was condemned quite some time ago, so he wouldn't be bothered.

He stepped out of his car, gathering the arsenal in his trunk in several trips.

His Katana, a pair of shotguns, an —79 'Blooper' grenade launcher, machine pistols, a retired stakegun, twelve packs of C4, and his personal favorite, a rocket launcher.

For the really big nasty. Like a Vozhd, or just to have some fun on a war ghoul.

He had to take five trips to the room he'd selected to his car to get all the weapons inside.

Once that was done, he sat back and relaxed in an old rocking chair.

He noticed his left arm was shaking.

He concentrated, and got his arm back under control.

Guess his body wasn't designed to do what he forced it to do, thanks to that ring.

Clenching and unclenching his hands, he went to an old matted bed, and slept the day away.

Tomorrow, was another hunt.


Lindsey McDonald, was pissed.

This was the last thing he needed, a hunter of great skill, disrupting the work of the Giovanni, and the interests of the firm. The weapons smuggling would have been sent to Japan, and used in the retrieval of a legendary book of necromancy.

Now, a hunter's luck had disrupted the firm's interests. At least it wasn't at the hands of Angel, but it still sucked.

The senior partners were going to terminate some more people, and that was never pleasant.

He sat back further in his chair, turning to look out at the sunrise.

He loved his new office and position of junior partner, but he still had to deal with far too much crap.

Sure, the book wasn't lost yet, but until the Giovanni got back on top of things, they couldn't launch the search party, as the book was guarded by some nasty guardians, and they'd need a lot of weapons to take it out.

Sighing, he went back over the file on his desk.

2335- All quiet, no problems, weapons being packed.

0100- Hunter's arrival.

0103- All Giovanni within the warehouse killed.

0125- Warehouse in flames, gasoline thought to be used, chain reaction with gunpowder amplified damage.

0140- Nothing left of the building but ash.

This guy was good. He lit the building on fire to ensure that all the Giovanni inside were dead. Lindsey was thinking the hunter was a Ghoul or a Revenant, ordered to take out the Giovanni by a rival clan.

That damn Jhyad of the Kindred was quite annoying. Not as annoying as the demonic vampire's habits, or the manners of so many assassins and demons he'd met, but still annoying. You never knew what the other vampire clans would do.

Or the other lawyers in the building. They were just as bad, trying to climb their way up the corporate ladder.

In any case, the hunter had to be eliminated, and then the book might be retrieved.

Nobody messed with Wolfram & Hart.



Xander had spent the night talking to Lily at Caritas, and now he was stewing about in his haven.

Funny the stuff he'd learned that night. Things like half-demons were good people. That many demons had integrated into the human world, being all nice.


He looked around his haven again, looking for something to do.

He wished he had thought of taking a place with a TV set, or even, god forbid, thought to take a few books.

It sucked not being able to go out in the daylight. Now he had to whittle away long periods of time just staring at the walls.

Sure, sleeping helped kill time, but he was still left with staring at the wall for a few hours.

Xander never was that much of a patient guy.

He sighed, and checked his watch.

Another four hours to sundown.

He'd have to drill out a sewer access, or something, so he could move around more.

He looked at the clock he'd hung on his wall.

3:35 PM


If he tried to go outside now, he'd be a crispy critter in two seconds.

Sometimes, being a vampire rocked.

The rest of the time, well, it sucked. Pun intended.

He sat back on his old couch, so he could just daydream the next few hours away.

He'd pick up a book or something during the night.

If talking to Lily didn't take up all his time.


Nicholas wandered through the city, at once standing out in the crowd, and being unnoticeable.

Funny how that worked in L.A. You could be big and menacing, and nobody will take note, until you actually do something.

Come to think of it, it was the same for New York.

The slums were a prime vampire breeding and hunting ground, but the really bad ones tend to live in a better part of town.

The ones behind the scenes were the ones he was most interested in.

Those that manipulated the human world, concealing themselves from the world by hiding, passing as humans, killing whomever got in the way.

The ones who led them, that's who he wanted.

Though, the occasional bloodsucker he crossed were good exercise.

Or an occasional demon. They were always fun.

A small twitch ran through his left arm again.

Not as bad, maybe he was healing.

Hah, and if he had wheels he'd be a wagon.

Anyway, it was only a couple of hours to nightfall.

He had to stake out the area he was going to hunt, interrogate a few fledglings, find out who's boss round here.

Then he'd do what he always did.

Take it out.


Cordelia was busy going through the files of previous cases. Long, boring tedious work.

The only reason she was doing it at all is because Angel insisted she learn how, or she'd take a pay cut.

Not wanting to lose any money at all, she'd agreed, after talking his left ear off.

No matter what she went through, she was still Cordelia.

She sighed, and continued filing.

Until that now-familiar pain came along, with those blurry images.

A Katana, slicing towards something.....

A man dressed in black, the sword gripped in his right hand, shooting at a form with his left.....

The man slicing at somebody unbelievably fast, and the other barely avoiding the sword......

The ring on the hunter's hand in startling detail......


Finally, the vison ended.

She opened her eyes to see Wesley standing above her, concern on his face.

"Are you okay, Cordelia?" He asked.

"I'm fine Wesley, get me some aspirin and a phone, I gotta call Angel."

He went and picked up both items, and handed them to her wordlessly.

She sighed in relief, popped two pills in her mouth, and quickly picked up the phone.


Angel hung up his cell phone, getting Cordy's call.

He stepped on the gas pedal, driving recklessly to the place Cordy had pointed him to.


Xander was walking along, towards Caritas where he'd meet up with Lily and spend the night.

Damn, but he could just spend so much time with her and not notice.

Heh, not like time was an issue anymore, as long as he stayed out of the sun.

As he walked, he passed a tall, menacing looking guy in black leather, complete with sunglasses, near a dark and quiet alleyway.

Ye gods, he looked like the Terminator in a trenchcoat.

He ignored the man, and continued walking.

"Hey." Xander heard from behind him.

He turned around, seeing the man looking at him.

"Would you mind telling me where I am? I'm lost." The man said.

"Yeah, sure. You're in the wrong part of town, head back to get onto safer ground." Xander said, beginning to turn back.

"Thanks. By the way, I need you to show you something." The man said, slight humor on his voice.

Xander turned back.

"Yeah? What is it?"

The man threw a bottle at him, which broke when it hit him.

The contents began to burn.

Xander screamed, and staggered.

"Holy water, bloodsucker. Looks like an easy kill tonight." The man laughed out.

"Who are you?" Xander said through gritted teeth.

The burns were starting to heal, but they wouldn't heal completely for a few hours.

"Nicholas, the Immortal." He said.

Then he reached into his trenchcoat, and pulled out a shotgun.

As fast as his fledgling Brujah legs would move, Xander ran into the nearby alley.

The shotgun went off, and the wall sparked.

Xander ran, and jumped up to grab the end of a fire escape ladder.

He leaped onto a landing, as the shotgun went off again, the ladder sparking with the pellets hitting it.

He jumped onto the next level, and pulled his way up to the third, hearing the hunter pull himself onto the first level.

He took a running jump, and gripped the edge of the next building's roof with his fingernails.

If he was human, he'd be dead right now.

Struggling, Xander pulled himself up, turning to look at the hunter climbing up to the fourth floor fire escape.

The hunter glared at him through the sunglasses.

He reached into his pocket, and pulled something out.

The hunter then slipped it onto his finger.

He then collapsed, howling in pain.

A few moments later, the man rose with a smile on his face.

He took a running leap, and landed about twenty feet away from Xander's spot.

The distance, was twenty feet from the fire escape to the rooftop.

No human should have been able to make it. Even vampires had trouble doing it.

This human did it with ease.

Panicking, Xander turned and ran as fast as he could, leaping from roof to roof.

Still, he heard the hunter following him. The shotgun went off again, the pellets narrowly missing him

Changing tactics, Xander leapt down the next gap, letting himself fall onto a pile of conveniently placed cardboard boxes that crumpled beneath his weight.

He took off towards the end of the alley, hoping to get away.

The ground next to his feet sparked, and the hunter cursed.

He rounded a corner, and the wall next to him chipped and sparked.

Then he realized his mistake.

It was a dead end.

Pressing his body against the wall, he waited for the hunter to round the corner.

The man came around, the shotgun in both hands.

"Quite a chase you've given me. Not often I get a challenge anymore. Oh well. Now, who's your boss?" Nicholas said.

"I don't have a boss, I'm just trying to get by." Xander replied.

"Too bad for you, then. Goodbye." Nicholas said.

He rose the shotgun to Xander's chest, and pulled the trigger.


Angel drove into the alley Cordelia pointed out, jumped out of the convertible, and ran as fast as he could.

He prayed he wasn't too late.



The shotgun's chamber was empty.

Taking advantage, Xander kicked the barrel into the hunter's face, and ran past him.

Then he was flung onto the ground by several blows that could have come from a sledgehammer.

The Beast within him howled in fury, and tried to take control.

He barely held it back.

Painfully, he rolled onto his back, seeing the hunter stroll into view, a machine pistol smoking in his left hand.

Nicholas reached into his coat with his right hand, slowly pulling a long Katana out.

"Time to die, blooddrinking scum. May your victims torture you forever in the pit of hell."

He rose the sword, and swung.

Painfully, Xander twisted out of the sword's path.

The sharp blade sparked as it hit the pavement.

The hunter swung again.

Xander couldn't avoid it this time.

He shut his eyes.


The Katana was stopped, six inches from Xander's throat.

By another sword. A one handed broadsword with a long hilt.

"You'd better leave, or I'll have to kill you." A familiar voice said.


The swords moved away from Xander, who was feeling the wrath and fury of the Beast.

With all his might, he repressed it.

With that, he blacked out.


Xander woke up, marveling at the fact his head was still firmly attached.

Then he noticed another problem.

He was wrapped, neck to toe, in chains, and he couldn't move an inch.

The pillow his head was resting on was real comfortable, though.

He rose his head as much as he could, and looked around.

Cordelia was leaning back in an easy chair, apparently napping. Must have been a hectic night for her.

"Cordelia." He said, softly.

She woke.

"Xander." She said, a little panic on her face.

Then in her tired mind she realized he was still wrapped up in his chains.

She chuckled at herself.

"Thank god, I thought you'd escaped for a minute there." She said, smiling.

He smiled a little bit.

"I could make a crack about you being kinky right now, Cor, but I won't bother. What happened?" Xander asked.

"I had a vison, Angel ran in to save the day, he had a swordfight with the hunter and scared him off, found you both unconscious and undead, brought you here and tied you up." She said, barely taking a breath.

"Why didn't he stake me on the spot? I thought he'd have put me out of my misery." Xander asked.

"He almost did, if your face was all 'Grrrr', he would have." Cordelia said.

He thought over that for a few minutes.

"Looks like I've gotta explain what I am to you guys." He mused.

Cordelia nodded.

Chapter 7

Xander sat in the rather uncomfortable chair, almost sinking into it under the eyes of Wesley, Angel, and Cordelia.

To make matters worse, he was handcuffed to the chair, so he couldn't slip away. Not like he could go anywhere in the middle of the day, anyway.

"I'm a vampire, yes. But I'm not one of the usual vamps around. In my case, the turning itself is a curse, I'm guessing for the standard vamp, it's not." Xander tried to explain.

"What do you mean, the turning is a curse?" Wesley asked, through piercing eyes.

"Wesley, think about it. I'm have to drink blood to stay alive, and do it willingly, or I'll go nuts and kill someone without meaning to. I have to stay inside, to avoid the sunlight, or I'll be a crispy critter in about two seconds. I can't walk into a church unless I sneak in to avoid the sanctified ring of holy ground. I can't have kids, or even hope to have a normal life. And to top it all off, I've got this thing inside me what wants to go and kill people for fun. Trust me, despite the power, this sucks." Xander explained.

"Why don't you have the demon's face?" Angel asked.

Xander had spent the night trying to figure out what to say, as to not expose all Kindred to Wesley, or Cordelia.

Angel was another vamp, so he might be tolerated by the other vampires around, but Cordelia and Wesley would be killed, or worse, Embraced or Ghouled on the spot.

He sighed.

"As far as I get it, a wizard had a wife or something that was turned by a standard vamp about three thousand years ago. He managed to restore her soul, and make it permanent, along with some side effects, like the lack of the game face, and some extra power, but she was stuck as a vamp, and she had to adapt. Unfortunately, the demon was still there, although more base, and she made more vamps, although there's not very many around." He said, slowly.

"And her traits were passed down." Wesley guessed.

Xander nodded.

"Those of us that can quell the demon just try to survive. It sucks. I have a thing inside me that wants to hurt and kill, yeah, but like Angel, I'm not its slave. I'm still me, although I am a vamp. I don't know everything, though. My kind keep a low profile."

"Perhaps, but I'm still not convinced you are what you say you are." Wesley said, frowning.

"You saw for yourself Wes. He doesn't have the wrinkled face, and he hasn't tried to hurt any of us." Cordelia said.

"Thanks Cordy." Xander sighed.

Angel spoke up.

"The only reason you're still here is because I wasn't sure what you are, Xander. Now that I know, you're safe from me."

Then he leaned in.

"But if you hurt anybody, Xander, I will kill you, got it?" Angel dictated, his eyes cold as Arctic ice.

Xander shrunk further into the chair, and nodded.

"You've got it, Dead.......dammit! I can't call you that anymore!"

Everybody but Xander chuckled.


Nicholas sat in his chair, holding the cut over his eye, and grimacing in pain due to all the stretched muscles.

If that second vamp had been a little more lucky, he'd be staring out of one eye right now.

What's worse, is that he used the ring and didn't even kill one vamp.

He must be getting rusty.

Now his muscles ached and strained, and he was short of ammo, and had nothing to show for it.

He sat down in the rocking chair, pulled out his shotgun, and began to clean it.

Then his door burst open, and Nicholas could make out a dark shape.

He smiled, stood up, dropped the shotgun, and grabbed his Katana.


"Now, Lindsey, I complement you on your initiative in sending an assassin after our vampire hunter. Have you heard back from him yet?" The chairman of the review board asked him.

Lindsey was sweating nervously, trying to keep his face from showing the dread he felt crawling up his spine.

The reviews were always hell. You were lucky to stay in your current position, really lucky if you get promoted.

If you're unlucky, you're dead.

Lindsey's luck hadn't been that good lately.

"I haven't heard from him yet, but he's one of the better ones. Besides, he's a Fyarl demon, not much can kill him." Lindsey replied to the question.

Then Lindsey's cell phone went off.

He picked it up, and listened to the voice on the other end of the line.

He grew pale as he listened to the voice of one of his assistants.

With a sigh of disappointment mixed with dread, he hung up.

"It appears our hunter is more resourceful than we thought. My assassin was found dead in a dumpster, in about a hundred pieces."

"How unfortunate."

Those two words were perhaps the most chilling words Lindsey MacDonald had heard in his whole life.


Xander sat in one of Angel's chairs, feet up on Angel's desk, reading one of Angel's books.

Macbeth, it wasn't too bad, even if good old William Shakspere wasn't really his style.

He felt just fine, as if he was somehow annoying Angel when he wasn't there.

It was still a few hours until sundown, and he had to kill some time before we went to go and meet up with Lily again.

"You know, that book is fifty years old, I'd appreciate it if you took care of it."

Xander twisted his head around, and saw Angel looking at him.

"It's a good read, pretty boring, though." He replied.

Angel walked around to his side of the desk, and sat in his chair.

He then looked at Xander with an inquisitive gaze.

"What you told the others, Cordelia and Wesley, it's not true, is it?"

Xander blinked.

"How'd you know?"

"I've been around a while, seen a lot.........done a lot. I've heard some legends about great vampires, more powerful than my kind. Different, just as evil in some ways, but different. The stories I'd heard didn't match up with what you said." Angel replied.

"Why didn't you call me on it?"

"I know you. I know that you wouldn't hold anything that would hurt Cordelia back."

Xander nodded.

"Make sure you don't tell them, Angel. My kind have a code, if I break it, I and everyone who I told will be hunted down. As you're a vampire, I might get away with you knowing, but Cor and Wes would die, or worse." Xander said.

Angel nodded.

"I'm going to take a look around underground, search for the hunter you tangled with last night."

Angel began to walk out the door, then stopped and turned around.

"Oh, and Xander."


"Get your feet off my desk."


Nicholas wandered the city, wondering when, or even if, he would encounter those two vampires again.

The first one, he was a fledgling, perhaps Brujah or Gangrel, maybe even Assamite.

But the other one, he didn't recognize it's clan. He wondered what it was.

It was old, perhaps an Ancillae, maybe even an Elder. He was at least old enough to know how to combine a few sword techniques, so that in spite of Nicholas' superior speed, the hunter was bested.

That didn't happen everyday.

He also wondered who sent that demon he sliced up. He had evidently ticked somebody off.

He'd look over his enemy list, if it wasn't about a mile long.

He stepped up to a ATM,, so he could get some money from his accounts, and buy more ammo and weapons, when he felt something pull in his chest.

Gasping, he fell to his knees, the world growing grey as the pain in his chest grew stronger.

With a choking sound, he fell to the ground, and the world went black.


Kate Lockley walked into Angel Investigations, looking around for Angel, when she saw a rather handsome young man lounging around, reading a musty old book.

"Is Angel in?" She asked.

He looked up.

"Sorry, he's running all around L.A right now, maybe it's something I can help you with? I'm Xander, by the way."

"Detective Lockley, LAPD. Do you know this man?"

With a sigh, she pulled out a few photographs, and showed them to Xander.

On them, were the pictures of a very pale, yet muscular man, wrapped up in tubes and equipment that you'd find in a hospital.

The man was Nicholas, the 'Immortal'.

"This man was found in front of a Citibank Savings and Loan, suffering from a heart attack."

"Why are you bringing this to Angel, though?" He asked.

"Because, on his person, there were weapons, that would easily be used for.....certain activities."

"Like what?"

"A shotgun, with custom made shells. A pair of machine pistols, loaded with silver bullets. And a sword."

Xander looked around the desk, spotted the notepad, tore off a piece of paper, and began to write Angel a note with a pencil he'd found on the floor.

"A sword? Well, that's new. Anything else about this guy that stood out?"

"They're still running tests on him now, but the doctors on duty thought that something was weird with his muscles." She replied.

Xander looked up from writing the note.

"Like what?" He asked.

"Can't really tell yet, that's why they're doing tests."

"All right, thanks. If you want to meet up with Angel, you could come back in a few hours." Xander told her.

"I might do that, but don't count on it. My day is pretty hectic."

"All right, thanks for dropping by."

With a nod, she walked out.


Mentally, Xander was overjoyed he'd learned how to use that little hypontic thing on humans.

He was pretty sure she wouldn't have told him anything at all without a slight whammy on her mind. It seemed like she was too focused on finding Angel.

What was it with Angel and blondes, anyway?

Sighing, Xander got up from the chair, and went downstairs to use the sewer access.

Sometimes being a vampire really sucked.


The smell of the sick and dying flooded Xander's nose.

To the Beast, it was tantalizing, the scent of easy prey.

To Xander, it was terrible, even more so because the creature within him forced him to enjoy the smell.

The hospital was clean, pristine, white. The cleansers had made everyone inside unable to smell the horrible scents within.

Unless the person was a vampire, in which case, they smelled the blood, the sick, and the wounded, underneath all that clean air that was scentless to the mortals within.

He made his way to the room of the hunter that had tried to kill him the night before.

He had to know why this man had tried to kill him.

He slowly opened the door.

Nicholas lay on a bed, wrapped in breathing tubes and bandages, along with the restraints to hold him in place.

He was a far cry from the intimidating hunter that had tried to kill him earlier. This man had been relentless, chasing him across places where no normal human could go.

And now, he was helpless. Weak, dying. Xander could smell it. This man was completely human, and Xander knew he wouldn't be able to pull through whatever had happened to him.

The hunter's body was worn out, muscles torn, heart failing.

The only way he would live, is if Xander made him into a vampire, and Xander wouldn't do that.

Nicholas stirred.

He took one look at Xander, and his weak heart began to race.

"So, you're here to kill me? Or to change me so I can be a pawn to your plots?"

Xander shook his head.

"I'm not here to kill you. Or Embrace you, which is worse in my opinion. I'm here to find out why you came after me." Xander replied.

"You're a bloodsucker. You kill people to survive."

"Some of us do, yeah. I don't, and a few others I can think of don't. I just want to know why you began hunting." Xander said.

Nicholas stayed silent for a minute.

Xander sighed.

"Me, I lived my whole life on top of Vamp Central. Didn't know it until about three years ago. It all started with this new girl in my high school. She was beautiful beyond belief, and she caught my eye. Next thing I know, I've just skateboarded into a railing."

Xander smiled at the memory.

"I found out later that she was much more than I thought she was. She was a vampire hunter, one of the best. She could match their speed, strength, and power, without much trouble. At first, I thought she was nuts. But later, I had to kill my best friend, because he became a vampire, and his soul didn't survive the change." Xander slowly spoke, then sighed.

"For three years, I helped her fight them, along with a few other people helping us out. A librarian that knew just about everything about the demons in the night, a musician that was a werewolf, a computer hacker turned witch, a high school prom queen who came here to become an actress, and a reformed vampire, who even now runs around helping those in need." Xander said.

"We had to blow up our high school to kill a giant demon snake, which, thankfully, isn't very common anywhere. After that, we relaxed for a bit, and then...the night I became what I am."

Xander sighed.

"A group of vampires had cornered a little kid, and they were going to kill and eat the poor kid. I did the only thing I could. I killed their leader, and the rest of the group chased me down, leaving the kid alone, thank god. At the end of it all, I was impaled on a tree. If it wasn't for a pair of passing vampires who were a little more noble, I would have died right there." He sighed again.

"After that, I left home. I came to L.A, cause I had nowhere else to go. I still don't know what I'm going to do here." Xander finished.

Nicholas was staring at him the whole time with his piercing brown eyes.

"I hunt your kind because your kind killed my wife, and I found out what did it. I tortured that vampire to death with holy water, and found out where your nests were. Then I came across this little item, that made me deadlier, stronger, faster. But all power has it's price, and me lying in this bed is the price for it."

Nicholas then glared at Xander.

"You'd better kill me now, vampire, cause if you don't, I'll come after you later, and I'm going to slice your head off." He dictated.

"I'm many things, hunter. But I'm not a killer. Not now, hopefully, not ever."

Xander then turned and walked out of the room, leaving the half-dead hunter behind.


Lindsey sat in his leather chair, wondering when his new assassin would show up.

He had one more chance to take out the hunter, or he'd be terminated. And that wasn't just his job, the senior partners really wanted that book.

His phone beeped, and he hit the speakerphone.

"Mister Alhazez here to see you, Mister MacDonald." The cheerful voice of his secretary came over the phone.

Finally. "Send him in."

In walked a tall, gothic guy. Dressed in a leather jacket, leather pants, and sporting a large, blue mohawk, he didn't look like your standard assassin.

The man took a bow.

"Abdul Alhazez, master disciple of the Assamites at your service."

Chapter 8

Abdul wandered L.A after dark, headed in the area of the hunter's last known location. A slum area, nobody would live here if they had a choice in the matter, so it would make some sense that a hunter would stay in that area.

Vampires tended to multiply here in large numbers, then later killed off by each other, wayward humans who were smarter than the average mortal, or by their own stupidity, getting caught in the sunlight while looking for shelter.

Only the vampires with the thinnest blood can walk in the sunlight. They are little more than ghouls in power, and barely even qualify as a vampire. A Kindred of any generation stronger than they would be far superior, despite the few handicaps that come with thicker blood.

It was no wonder diablerie was something many vampires did. Increasing one's power increased one's weaknesses, but a smart Kindred knew how to get around them. The blood of a Methuselah was something nearly every vampire on the face of the earth wanted. A member of the fourth, fifth, or sixth generation could nearly match the power of the Antediluvians themselves, and have the power not unlike that of a demigod.

The only reasons Christof managed to defeat Vukodlak was because Christof was a fast learner, and he had an artifact of the Antediluvians helping him out. Although the rocket launcher his buddy Wilhelm used certainly helped out. Not to mention Christof did fight like a demon. Abdul was told he managed to slay a large number of szlachta, a war ghoul, and a full-fledged member of the Tzimisce clan, as a mortal.

No wonder he was Embraced. If Christof was more easily controlled in the past, he would have made an excellent soldier for the Brujah. Abdul just hoped Christof's childer, if there were any, wouldn't have the same adaptability, wits and strength as he. It was against the order of things to have one vampire at eigth gen able to match one of fifth gen, when the fifth gen vampire was literally two thousand years older.

Embracing hunters might produce powerful vampires, but what happens when they turn on you? Which brought his mind back to his current situation. Finding the mortal hunter.

He wandered throughout the slums, relying upon the small map he'd been supplied, and narrowing the search area as he went.

He would find the hunter's lair, no matter the cost.

It was his contract. Find the mortal who dared kill Kindred, and remove him from that firm's interests.

It left some space open as to how, but Abdul would just kill this one.

One Christof Romuald in the world was quite enough.


Meanwhile, in Sunnydale....

The creature, 314, also known as Adam, ran away from the place of his birth. Or construction, which might be a better word for it.

On the floor behind him, lay the dead body of his creator, Maggie Walsh, and her blood dripped off the spike in his left arm.

He had to learn. He had to know his purpose.


Meanwhile, somewhere in Australia.....

The misshapen form hunched over a table, looking over a map.

If he could just find out where Toreador was, he could launch a nuclear device, and end this part of the Jhayd he and his brothers started so long ago.

The sewers that were his childer's hiding places in this modern world were too quaint for him, for he was a Cainite of the Third Generation.

He was Nosferat.

He was close....so close to his rival, his hated foe.

Toreador was one obsessed with beauty. Something forever beyond his grasp, ever since he had made that transgression so long ago.

Caine himself had cursed him with this fate, and he had unknowingly spread it to his own childer. That had turned his heart to ash.

His hatred boiled out of an endless well, and he did not care that so many innocents would die by his action.

They were all pretty, and he was not. So they didn't matter at all. The mortals were as ants to him in any case.

There was somebody behind him.

He turned.

There was another pretty one. A Brujah, one with thin blood.

Not a threat at all.

With a wave of his hand, he threw the Brujah back, with an unseen force.

With a quick move, the Brujah rose back to his feet.

Nosferat sent another wave of power to crush this ant beneath the weight of his mind.

But the Brujah drew something out of the folds of his trenchcoat, and the item pierced the wave as if the power of the Antediluvian was canceled out by the weapon.

Nosferat managed to get a good look at the weapon, and saw that is was a sword.

A very familiar sword.

It was the only one of it's kind. It was quenched in the blood of one of his brothers during it's forging, and it held a portion of his power.

It was a legend in its own right. It had spilled the blood of many creatures. Mortal, Kindred, Ghoul, Lupine, Demon, Angel, Wraith, Monster, Hero, it had tasted the blood of all.

In the hands of any being that could wield it, it was dangerous and deadly. It was capable of taking the blood from the victim, and giving it to the wielder. Kindred who wielded it may not even have to feed, if they battle enough with it. It was an abomination, yet so many Kindred and other creatures wanted to get their hands on it.

It was the Ainkurn Sword.

For the first time in several thousand years, the Beast that was Nosferat, the founder of his clan, Cainite of the Third Generation, Herald of Gehenna, felt something few Kindred half as ancient and powerful as he had ever felt.


"Who are you?" Nosferat managed to say.

"My name is Christof Romuald, and I am here to destroy you."

With a roar, the two powerful vampires leapt at each other.


Nicholas signed the forms with a slow, steady hand.

His muscles ached and strained, and he felt so weak, but he couldn't stand being in the hospital one minute longer.

The visit from that vampire had told him one thing: As long as he was in there, he was helpless. If there was one thing Nicholas didn't like being, it was helpless.

Using all of his concentration to keep the pain off his face, he walked out of the hospital, his belongings, and weapons, in a duffel bag.

Good thing he got those permits. Killing vampires and demons is rather hard when you lack something to lop its head off.

With a sigh, he walked into the night.


Xander walked slowly, wondering exactly what he'd do.

He ambled his way into Angel Investigations, still thinking to himself.

In some distant corner of his mind, he heard Cordelia walk in from outside, a few bags in her hands.

She set the bags down on one of the desks, and sat down in a wooden chair behind it, then blew one of her hair strands out of her eyes.

"What's in the bags, Cor?" He asked.

"Blood for Angel, a sandwich and soup for me, and a crummy caesar salad for Wesley. I swear, he's a health nut." She replied.

"And you're not?"

"Well, I have a figure to maintain, Wesley has no figure whatsoever. Or style, or coordination."

They shared a little laugh.

"Anyway, where's Angel?" Xander asked.

"Oh, he's out patrolling, helping people out, you know, acting all 'Dark Avenger." Cordy said.

Xander raised an eyebrow.

"'Dark Avenger'? Who thought that one up? That's terrible!" Xander chuckled.

"Hey, I thought that up! And it's not like you have room to talk, 'Nighthawk!'" Cordy said, laughing a bit.

Xander groaned.

"Okay, okay, I get your point. Damn, that seemed like so long ago." He mused.

"Yeah, the good old days. I miss them sometimes." Cordelia said.

Xander nodded in agreement.

Cordy looked at Xander with a piercing gaze.

"What's on your mind? You look like you've lost your puppy or something."

"I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do. Since I left Sunnydale, I haven't done much about anything. I've just kinda been sitting here." Xander said.

"Maybe you should go and follow Captain Kirk's motto." Cordy replied.

"What's that?"

"Make a difference. Change things, if only slightly. A small difference is better than no difference at all. That's why we've set up this little business here. It may not make that large a difference in the grand scheme of things, but we're helping people out. Maybe you should too, since you can." Cordy said.

Xander stayed silent for a moment.

"I'm not going to say what you should do exactly, and I'm not saying you should join the Angel team right off the bat. I'm saying you have to find your own way of doing things. It might be here, or in Sunnydale, or somewhere else, but you should go and do what you can, somewhere." Cordelia said, sighing once she was done.

Xander nodded slowly.

"I'll think about that. Thanks Cor."

"No problem, Xander." She said, smiling.

Then she gripped her forehead.

"Aw crap."

The vision hit her like a ton of bricks, filling her mind with images, sounds, tastes and feelings, along with a lot of pain.

Xander was at her side in a second, holding her, hoping she was all right.

After a seeming eternity, the vision stopped, allowing her to think again.

She looked at Xander with dread in her beautiful eyes.

"The hunter, Xander, you haven't got much time. You have to get to 736 Jameson Road, quickly! There's this punk guy slicing him apart with his own sword!"

Xander nodded, and ran out the door at a faster than human speed.


Xander arrived on the scene, and stepped into the condemned building.

As soon as he did, the smell of blood washed over his supernatural senses, and the Beast within awoke, enjoying the delicious scent.

Xander knocked over a board, following the smell. Through a corridor, past an empty, open room, and into the next hall.

The smell grew stronger as he walked. There was no way any human could give off this much blood and still live.

He must be too late.

He followed his nose, and finally arrived at the room the hunter must have been staying in.

Blood. There was more blood in here than in many high-priced-no-brain-required video games.

It was sickening, and yet, stimulating. The blood was on the floor, it looked like a man had tried to drag himself away from whatever had cut him. It was streaked, staining the wooden floor, around an old rocking chair. Blood had been smeared on the wall, looking like someone had wanted to leave a message.

Maybe it meant, 'Nobody hunts us?' Who knew?

Xander noticed a foot locker over by an old matted bed. He walked over to it, carefully avoiding the blood on the floor. It wouldn't do to slip and fall in it.

He opened the foot locker, and his eyes widened once he did.

For inside, was an absolute arsenal of weapons.

A grenade launcher and launch grenades, along with strap to hold said grenades, a pair of shotguns, a couple of machine pistols, some C-4, and what looked like a broken stakegun. Would be nice against your standard Sunnydale vamp, and dangerous against Kindred.

He closed the footlocker. No sense in leaving all this stuff here, from the looks of things, Nicholas wouldn't need any of these weapons.

He was about to pick up the footlocker when something glinted in the pool of blood, and caught his eye.

He looked over, and wiping some of the blood off with his fingers, he picked it up.

A plain looking gold ring. It wasn't scratched at all, looked like it was in good condition.

Shrugging, Xander wiped it off a bit more, put it in his pocket, picked up the footlocker, and walked out of the building, leaving the smell of blood behind.


Xander walked back into Angel Investigations, carrying the footlocker. Cordy, Angel and Wesley were all watching a small television set, with shocked expressions on their faces.

He set the footlocker down with a clang, but the others didn't even take notice.

"Hey guys, what's going on?"

"Shhhh!" Cordy hushed him.

Frowning, Xander looked to the TV.

"......cause of the blast is still unknown, and city officials are still investigating the central point from which the explosion originated, but the blast radius is large, and most citizens are searching for their lost loved ones. Once again, a large explosion ripped through the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, destroying homes and sending debris flying through the air at a fantastic speed. 60 people are missing, and at least ten people are dead, and we're still investigating what caused the blast." The newscaster was saying.

The picture on the TV changed to show a helicopter's view of the area of the explosion.

It looked like a small bomb had gone off. At least a city block in the center had been reduced to rubble, and bricks and debris could be seen throughout the streets. Windows on homes were broken, smashed in by the sudden concussive force. The small forms of police and firemen searching the area, and keeping people back from running into the blast area.

In short, it looked like a small slice of hell had been placed on earth.

Xander bowed his head, mourning the seeming senseless loss of life, in Sydney, Australia.


In Sydney, several hours later.....

The sun had set, the battle done.

Two had fought in the center of the destroyed zone. One yet lived, being the victor of the terrible and unholy battle that had been fought that day. Neither had wanted the battle to end the way it had, with the loss of the mortal life around them, although for different reasons.

Now, the winner was covered in rubble, and he slowly dug his way out with his unnatural vampirc strength. Now that the sun had set, it was safe for him to come out.

Lifting a destroyed board, kicking away bricks, snarling in pain, the form rose out of the rubble, as a phoenix would be reborn.

Limping away from the destruction, covered in his own blood, and the blood of an Antediluvian drying upon the Ainkurn Sword, Christof set out to find the next one.

The battle was close, the Antediluvian nearly won. The only things that saved him were a good ear, a nearby gas line, a fire spell, and a lot of luck.

He did not expect the power of the Antediluvian to enhance the blast, however.

The next battle must not go like this one did. Nosferat was powerful, yet compared to some of the others, he was weak.

Tremere would be far more dangerous. Tzimisce as well. Haquim the Assamite and Troile the Brujah would be nearly as dangerous. Toreador must not be underestimated. Augustus Giovanni would use all earthly and supernatural forces at his disposal, which was a large amount, due to his Mafia-like connections. As for Ennoia the Gangrel, Christof had no idea. Set he was not looking forward to fighting. He just thanked God that Lasombra had perished while Christof lay in Torpor. Same with Malkav. Ventrue had disappeared, hadn't been heard from in quite some time. Ravnos had been destroyed by the Technocracy.

That meant ten Antediluvians were left. Three were dead, the rest alive or missing, their fate unknown.

He wondered if he could defeat them all.

If he could find them.

But before the next battle with an Antediluvian, it was time to find those mortals he could save in this burning wreckage.


Xander stood on the roof, just after sunset, looking at the last streaks red as the sky darkened, preparing for night. As if in response, the city began to light up, one light at a time until Los Angeles had become its own simulated day.

Soon, the city glittered, almost blocking out all of the stars in the sky. It was as if someone had taken the sky and reversed it, setting it upon the earth. It was quite beautiful, even though it lacked that natural grace, it was still beautiful.

"Hey." Xander heard from behind him.

Xander turned his head, and saw Angel behind him.

"Did I take your brooding spot, Angel?"

Angel let out a small snort.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Angel sighed, and walked up next to Xander, joining him in looking out on the city.

"Cordelia told me what you tried to do yesterday, trying to save the life of that hunter." Angel started.

"I didn't get there in time. There was blood everywhere. There's no way Nicholas could be alive. Looks like I'm not much good at anything, despite getting these cool powers." Xander said, his voice growing more hateful as he spoke.

"You didn't find a body. There's a small chance the hunter is still alive."

"Like that matters. I'm still useless. I'm nobody."

"Xander, do you have any idea of the impact you've had on everyone around you?" Angel said, looking at Xander with an understanding gaze.

Xander shook his head.

"Let me point out a few of them, then. You saved the life of everyone you care about, sometime or another. If not for you, Buffy would have died at the hands of the Master. If not for you, The Judge would have been able to bring Armageddon. None of the others would have thought to steal a rocket launcher. If not for you, just about everyone in your high school class would have been eaten by the Mayor." Angel dictated.

Then Angel sighed.

"If it wasn't for you, chances are I wouldn't be here, helping people. I'd probably be on the streets, feeding on rats again, assuming the world hadn't gone to hell." Angel said.

Xander blinked.

"I thought Buffy was the one to bring you out of your century-long brooding streak?" Xander asked.

"She did. With her, I had a purpose, someone to become worthy of. But even that wasn't enough to swallow my fear of the Master. Without you to remind me of what was important, I wouldn't have done anything. Xander, who you are, is what so many people wish they could be. Here I am, a vampire, and I was so scared I wouldn't do anything. But you, a sixteen-year-old kid at the time, was willing to walk into the Master's lair and face him down for Buffy. You always had courage, Xander. I had to learn how to be courageous. You made a big difference as a human. Xander. All I did as a human, was squander my time and get drunk. I only began to make a difference as a vampire, and you know what kind of difference I made. Even with a soul, I didn't make any good changes to anyone else's life for a hundred years." Angel spoke, saying everything slowly, yet with a ring of truth.

Angel sighed.

Xander just mused over this for a while.

"You've become a vampire, true, but you're still Xander Harris, and something tells me, you're not going to just sit around for long. You're not that kind of person." Angel said.

Xander nodded.

"I think I know what I'm going to do." Xander said.

"What's that?" Angel asked.

"I'm going to take those weapons, rent a car, and head back to Sunnydale." Xander said.

Xander turned away from the view, and disappeared into the night.

Angel shook his head.

"Now I know why people hate me doing that."

Chapter 9

Xander walked through one of the many graveyards of Sunnydale.

He'd been back a week, got himself a little haven, and now was wondering what exactly he was going to do. Try to rejoin the Scooby Gang? Pull an Angel and go all Mystery Cryptic Guy? Or just go on his own and do what he can?

His friends would probably try to kill him on sight, although they probably had the best of intentions, Xander did not look forward to having a stake jammed into his heart.

It wouldn't kill him, but it would not be fun.

A foul stench hit his nose. Demon's blood, probably.

He followed the scent, wondering what exactly Buffy had slayed tonight.

He walked past a couple of trees when the scent grew stronger, and he looked up.

A demon had been strung up, gutted, and left there to hang. Xander couldn't even tell if it was a demon, or half-human, or whatever, anymore.

Buffy wouldn't do this. No way Buffy would do this. Something else had killed this demon, for sure. Buffy just kills them, she doesn't string it up as an example for other creatures.

He had to get to Giles' books, see what he could find out there.


Xander slipped into Giles' apartment, slowly, trying to make no noise.

Good thing he didn't need an invite to go anywhere. This never would have worked if he needed one.

Once he shut the front door, Xander stood still, listening for any sign of life in the house.

After 20 seconds had passed, Xander moved again, confident Giles had gone out, maybe to find out what had killed that demon.

He made his way over to the good old research books, when a thought struck him. Look in the Watcher's Diary, see if Giles had already found out what is killing the demons around. Chances are they would just give the whatever it is a medal, but hey. Best to go for it anyway.

He looked around, trying to figure out where Giles would keep the Diary.

He spotted Giles' desk. Locked, naturally.

With a tug, he broke the lock, knowing he'd have to get all his business done now. Giles would know for sure someone had been here.

Hello there, the precious Diary. Should be called a Journal, it would sound more manly, but anyway.

Flipping through the book, he started back at the entry on the date of his Embrace.

He skimmed through it, until one entry caught his eye.

April 9, 2000

'I fear one of my worst nightmares has come to pass. Buffy had come to me today, her face stained with tears. It took a good deal of calming and reassurance, but I managed to get the story out of her.

Alexander Harris, one of her best friends, and a young man that I think of as a son, has died.

Even worse, he has been reborn as a vampire. I fear that Buffy may not survive many of these losses. I'm not sure the group will survive without him either. Xander was a source of moral support in our group. And this is not the only fear I possess.

Xander has trained with Buffy on numerous occasions. While he has not shown much in combat capabilities while human, it is possible that he knows her tactics, and how she thinks. If this is the case, Xander may be able to slip past her guard in the same way Angelus did, knowing how she fights and countering her moves, making her chances of survival small.

Even worse, Xander is a child of this modern era, and he may decide to use modern tactics on Buffy, attacking with modern weaponry instead of fighting hand to hand as most vampires do. He is, despite the low test scores, rather intelligent. He is, as my young charge would put it, 'street smart' and considering this, I doubt Xander will attack in the same manner most vampires would.

To make matters worse, a new master vampire, Christof Romuald, has appeared in town. He is powerful, and dangerous. It seems that he has created a form of defense against stakes, and is capable of extreme amounts of speed, and able to vanish from sight at will. Riley has confirmed that he is also capable of bending people's wills, forcing them to believe things that are not true, or changing one's perception of him. I can only assume these are small examples of what Christof is capable of. If he allies with Spike, or some of the other vampires here, he will grow only more dangerous. Even more so if he can teach the vampires here how to use the powers he has. I shudder to think of the danger so many powerful vampires would pose to the world. Only the most powerful of Slayers would stand a chance, and we would have to train vampire hunters in large numbers to even maintain the balance of power.

I can only hope that Willow may restore Xander's soul, and prevent a new threat from arising in our midst.'

Xander sighed, and flipped through the next few pages until his eye was caught again.

April 17, 2000

We had finally gained all the equipment required for the soul curse ritual, when we discovered something terrible. It seems that no matter what we do, how many times we try the curse, or how many spells we cast, that Xander's soul will not be called.

I can only assume that somehow, Xander has discovered a way to keep his soul from returning through the curse. This has lain a crushing weight upon all of us, for we must finally let go of the hope that Xander will return to us, albeit changed. All I can hope is that somehow, my young charges shall be spared further plight here and now, although I know this is a vain hope. I have decided to take a certain action upon myself, however. If Xander should return with the intent of harming anyone here, I shall destroy him myself. I believe he would not want Buffy or any of the others to feel guilty for destroying a creature that has perverted his body and mind for it's own ends. Granted, I too, will feel guilt over it, but if we cannot find a way to restore him, then we must put him to rest.'

If Xander had been your standard Sunnydale vamp, his soul would have been restored, and he never would have left Sunnydale. Probably because he'd be busy trying to kill the Scooby Gang, piece by piece.

Hell, the Beast in Xander's heart would do it, if he let it loose.

Xander flipped through the Diary, looking for any indication as for what might be killing the demons in such a manner.

Giles' front door opened, and in strode the tweed man himself.

Xander dropped the book as he turned around.

Giles took one look at Xander, and began to panic.

"H-how did you get in?" He stammered.

Giles drew out a rather large cross and pointed it at Xander.

"Relax Giles, I'm not here to hurt you."

Giles rose an eyebrow.

"Why would I believe that? And I say again, how did you get in? Vampires need an invitation."

"I'm different, Giles. I'm not a monster. I haven't killed anyone, I even saved a few lives." Xander spoke.

"Why would I believe that? I have no proof of what you're saying."

"Because I know why the soul curse didn't work, Giles. It's because I didn't lose it. You couldn't pull me from the ether because I wasn't there. I was here all along, and man, it hasn't been fun at all."

Giles still looked skeptical.

Xander sighed.

"Looks like you're not gonna accept my word on it. Fine then, see ya later."

Xander ran past Giles in a flash, his form blurring slightly as he ran. One of the inherent advantages of being a Brujah, you learn how to move real quick, really easily. Most other clans had to train to learn how to move at such a speed.

And as such, Giles was nearly knocked onto the floor when Xander dashed past him, just from the force of Xander bumping his arm when he ran.

Collecting his wits, Giles could say only one thing.

"Good lord."


Xander trudged through the graveyards, mud clinging to his boots.

He heard a voice up ahead, and he took cover behind a tree, listening closely.

After a few moments, he identified the voice as Willow's. She was standing in front of a grave.

"...And I got a B on the Physics course, aren't you proud of me? Yes, I know that I should be getting A's in everything, but it's been so hard without you to cheer us up when we're down. I guess it's true that we never know what we have until we lose it, because we've all been down since you...well...died."

She sniffed, wiping away a tear.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't strong enough to get you back. I should have tried harder, I should have done something! But that damn orb just didn't light up! What did we do to you that was so bad that you wouldn't come back?"

She sighed, wiping away some more tears.

Xander realized then whose grave she was standing in front of, and to whom she was talking.

It was his own grave.

"Look at me, I'm a mess. I'm sure I look like an absolute fright. I wish you were here right now, Xander. You'd probably tell me that everything was all right, not to cry, and to look on the bright side, huh? It's just been so hard to look at anything in a good way since you died. We all miss you. Buffy, Giles, Tara, Anya, even Riley. You were the heart of the group, and without you, we're almost....lost."

A twig snapped, and Willow turned herself around.

Xander looked in the same direction at the same instant.

There stood a tall guy, dressed in leather head to toe, complete with black leather trenchcoat, his face twisted into the demonic features of a vampire.

"Hey there little girl, you won't have to be lost for much longer, I think you'd be pretty nice, once you're one of us." The vampire spoke, grinning hideously.

Xander was moving before he knew it. His form blurring as he charged at the vampire, he landed a punch that sent the vampire flying into the wall of a crypt.

Xander's fangs were extended, he was snarling as he pummeled the helpless vampire against the wall of the crypt, his fists blurring as he landed shots to the gut, face, and chest.

One good punch on the side of the head knocked the vampire out, and he dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Kneeling over, Xander removed the leather trenchcoat from the downed vamp.

He looked around for a wooden implement to stake it with, and he picked up a rather thick branch, and jabbed it into the creature's heart.

Getting up, he slugged on the trenchcoat.

He turned and faced Willow.

She was staring at him in shock.


He nodded.

"It's me."

She cowered back, as when he spoke, she spotted his fangs.

"You're...Buffy said...but I hoped..."

With visible effort, Xander retracted his fangs.

"I am a vampire, Willow, but I'm not one of them."

He pointed to the pile of ash her attacker had been.

"That was a monster, I'm not."

She still looked scared.

Xander sighed.

"I won't hurt you, Willow, or anyone here. You have my word on that."

With that, he turned and ran off, and before Willow knew it, her oldest, best friend, was gone.


"I'm telling you, he was Xander! Okay, a darker, fanged, miserable Xander, but it was him!" Willow exclaimed.

"Willow, I found him in my home yesterday, and I am certain I didn't invite him, and we don't know what else he can do. So far, he has not shown any sign at all that he still has a soul. We still must assume the worst." Giles replied, his voice grave.

The Scooby gang had gathered in Giles' living room, the drapes open so that the sunlight may filter it's way into the room.

It was as if Giles feared Xander may walk in the door, and he had to make sure the sun was up so he couldn't.

Giles wondered what he would do at nightfall to keep Xander out.

"Even though Xander has returned here, our main priority has not changed. We must still track down and find a way to destroy Adam. However, we must be careful, Xander knows our strengths and weaknesses. If he allies with Adam, we will be.." Giles trailed off.

"...Screwed." Buffy finished.

Giles nodded.


Xander wandered about the industrial part of town, trying to figure out what was going on. Buffy wasn't killing those demons like that. So, that left either a very sadistic hunter, or, a new baddie in town.

"Young one, come here." He heard coming from an alley.

He turned, and looked.

There was a very pale woman there, long raven black hair, wearing a white blouse, knee length black skirt, and a brown trenchcoat. She would be attractive, if it wasn't for the abnormal paleness of her skin, and blood red lips.

Xander cautiously walked into the alley.

"Do not worry, fledgling, I do not seek to harm you." She said.

"Who are you?" Xander asked.

"My name is not important. What is important is that you may be the last hope we all have."

"What do you mean?"

"This place needs a guardian, now, and for ages to come. A threat is arising even now that will destroy the world, not through opening a mystical portal, or bringing demons here, but through a horror of technology. I believe you and the Slayer together are the only ones who can stop it."

"What is this thing?" Xander asked.

"It is code-named Adam."


Xander ran towards the Lowell house, at top speed.

Since his encounter with that strange woman three weeks ago, he'd been training, learning more about his powers, and he'd trained with the weapons he'd gained from Nicholas' place.

He'd also kept tabs on the gang, and had learned through his "sources" that everything is coming to a head. Adam was creating an army out of human and demon parts. It was grisly, disgusting. Even his sources hated the look of these guys.

It must be pretty nasty, cause a Nosferatu can't call very many things ugly without being a hypocrite.

Xander owed the local nossies a favor, but it was worth it. If he didn't contact them, he wouldn't have known about this. Now it was time to see if he really could make a difference.

It was time to save the world.

He kicked the door down, heading for the false mirror wall that acted as elevator doors.

The doors were opened, and Xander could see the cables, as well as some rope, probably what Buffy, Willow and Giles had used to go down.

Grabbing the ropes, he repelled down quickly, kicking his way down the side of the elevator shaft.

With a clank, he stood on the top of the elevator, regaining his balance.

He pulled the doors open with his fingernails, and took his first big look at the Initiative.

Frankly put, the place was a warzone. Demons and humans were fighting against each other, desperately trying to beat the other.

And so far, it looked like the demons were winning.

Pulling out a shotgun, Xander leapt into the fray.


The chant commenced.

Willow and Tara chanted over a pile of spell components, with Giles looking over them and guarding the door with a crossbow and taser rifle.

They were casting the spell of quickening on Buffy, as it might be the only chance she has against Adam. It would make her stronger, and faster, just maybe fast enough.

The two witches were concentrating on the spell so hard, they did not notice the sound of shotgun blasts and demon's screams.

Giles, on the other hand, grew nervous. Most of the soldiers he'd seen were using tasers, not conventional weaponry.

The barricaded door began to buckle, and Giles rose the two weapons, simply waiting for the creature to come though.

Finally, it gave way, and a green, horned demon, nearly twice the size of Giles, burst in.

He rose the taser and fired.

The creature recoiled for a moment, but the skin turned a darker green, and the creature made a strange sound. Almost like...laughter.

Desperately, Giles rose the crossbow, and shot it in one of it's eyes.

The beast howled, and turned it's remaining eye on Giles, who was trying to reload quickly.

Then there was a blur. The beast flew back two feet, struck by something in front of Giles.

A man in a black leather trenchcoat was standing there, shooting the beast, driving it back, although it seemed to not be injured by the shotgun shells.

Then the shotgun was dropped, spent of it's ammo.

The man pulled something else out of his trenchcoat, and Giles had one good look at it. A grenade launcher.

"Oh bloody hell."

Giles quickly pulled up a metal cart, and tipped it on it's side, to protect him, and Willow and Tara, from the blast.

Then a very familiar voice said something.

"Yippy Ki Yay, ugly!"

The grenade was launched from the barrel, and struck the creature in it's chest. It promptly blew up into a thousand pieces.

The man shook his head.

"What? Did nobody else here see Die Hard?"

He turned, and the three had a good look at him. Xander Harris, back from the dead, it seemed.

"Where's Buffy?" Xander asked.

"She's in the hidden part of the compound. She's probably fighting Adam as we speak." Giles replied, pointing to a wall.

Quickly, Xander barricaded the door again. Then he opened the secret passage.

"Stay here, I'll be back."

In a blur, Xander was gone.

Then Giles realized what he'd just done: Pointed a vampire right towards Buffy.

Reloading his crossbow, Giles ran after Xander.

Chapter 10

Xander ran down the corridor at full speed, moving faster for longer than any human could. If it were possible to clock him with a radar gun, the reading would have said 15 MPH.

In his hand was the grenade launcher, which he was busy reloading. Truth be told, he preferred the shotgun as a weapon, it was easier to reload, and a faster shot, but the sheer power in the grenade launcher made up for most of it's flaws.

Still running, he closed it, a fresh grenade in the barrel. The next thing he knew, he was in a laboratory.

Where Riley was fighting Forrest. Or, what was left of Forrest. The Nosferatu were right, he was ugly, almost as ugly as the Nosferatu. In one way, he was even more hideous, as the Nosferatu lose all vestiges of humanity in the Embrace, but Forrest...he was twisted, a mismatched collection of human and demon pieces.

The fight between Forrest and Riley looked about even, but even so, Xander decided to leap into the fight to help Riley out.

Xander began to run towards the pair, but before he'd gotten three feet, he tripped, the grenade launcher flying out of his hands, and fell face down onto the floor.

Looking back, he saw the decayed body of Maggie Walsh, animated to a certain degree, crawling towards him.

With disgust, he kicked the corpse in the face, old flesh giving away under the force of his blow, neck breaking, and the perversion of nature lay still.

Getting to his feet again, Xander was about to leap to Riley's rescue, when he heard gunfire coming from a side tunnel.

For a moment, he was torn between helping Riley and going after the gunfire, but Riley was a combat soldier, and with any luck, he'd survive long enough for more help to arrive.

However, Buffy was not used to fighting against something with a gun.

He ran down the side tunnel, the grenade launcher forgotten.


Buffy was having a tough time. She was hitting and kicking the man/demon/Terminator with nothing to show for it, save that she broke the spike on Adam's left arm.

In retaliation, he made a minigun out of his right arm, and had her pinned behind a console.

With a almost sadistic grin, Adam locked on to the heat signature behind the ruined console, targeting a missile.

Without warning, something smacked into Adam's arm, changing the missile's trajectory, sending it into the wall at Adam's right.

Adam looked, at the boy who stood in front of him. He would have looked human to any being that relied upon eyes that saw in the normal spectrum, but Adam knew better.

This was a vampire.

Turning the Gatling gun on the vampire, Adam unleashed a barrage, while the unholy creature made every effort to stay out of the way of the powerful gun.

Unfortunately, the vampire was not fast enough, and seven bullets caught him in the chest, tearing right through the ribcage and slamming into the wall on the far end, next to the access tunnel.

The vampire lay against the wall, gasping in pain, as Adam casually strode up to him. Adam aimed right for the vampire's forehead.

"As I told the Slayer, I've been upgrading." He almost laughed out.

The almost-forgotten Slayer in question reappeared, wrenching the Gatling gun out of position from behind Adam.

With a grunt, the petite Slayer snapped one of the rotational gears.

Snarling, Adam retracted his gun-arm, swinging around and hitting Buffy in the face.

She fell back against the ruined console, letting out a cry of pain.

Adam bent down, picking up the broken bone-spike that once belonged to his left arm.

He rose the deadly implement to spear the Slayer through her heart, in an ironic killing move.

She suddenly kicked out, feeling the spell of quickening kick in.

The spike went flying, imbedding itself in the ceiling. Buffy flipped up to her feet, kicking Adam in the face as she did so, and he staggered back a half foot.

She kept up her attack, hitting him in the chest and face, keeping him off balance, but she knew even as she did this, even with the spell of quickening, one mistake and she was dead.

The mistake occurred. It was very minor, something that probably would have incapacitated almost any other foe. She hit the side of Adam's skull, where it was metal-plated. To Buffy's credit, her hand came away leaving a large dent in it, but also one of the bones in her hand gave.

She cried out and backed away, holding her right hand in pain. Adam picked her up by the throat in the next instant.

Her feet dangled uselessly a foot and a half off the ground. She gasped for air, and not believing it was time for her to die.

Adam began to increase pressure, in preparation to twist her head, breaking her neck.

A loud growl interrupted him.

Xander slammed into Adam from behind, Buffy falling to the ground in a cry. The hideous monstrosity and man made into a monster grappled with each other, Xander's eyes glowing red in rage and pain. The sounds coming out of Xander's mouth weren't that of a warrior in battle, or grunts and growls of someone trying to survive. They were the snarls and hisses of an animal, a wounded animal, a rabid animal out for blood.

Xander gained a grip on Adam, and flung him into the ruined and abused console. Adam was propped up, helpless as the enraged vampire pounded on him, actually doing damage to the demon skin and slamming the metal plate on Adam's head further into the monstrosity's skull.

Adam twisted suddenly, slamming his right arm into Xander's chest, flinging him back into the clear window. Luckily, it was reinforced, and Xander bounced off of it. Lying face down on the ground, Xander gave a pathetic whimper, then charged at Adam's legs suddenly.

From just in front of Adam's legs, he delivered an uppercut that sent Adam flying into the ceiling.

Adam fell to the floor, behind the console, stunned as Xander drew back his fist to slam it through Adam's skull.

At the last moment, Adam caught the blow in his fist, the hands on both combatants breaking bones from the power of the blow.

Xander howled, Adam grimaced.

Adam flung Xander away from him, flinging him into the over-abused console, returning the punishment Xander gave him.

Adam rose a massive fist to finish the fight when pain struck him in the back.

He looked down in disbelief as he spotted the bone spike, going clear through him.

Adam looked over his shoulder at the tired, but grinning, Slayer.

"Nobody hurts my friends, even the dead ones, you Arnold wanna-be!"

She twisted the spike, pulling it out of Adam's back.

She then punched through with her left hand, and pulled out Adam's power core.

Adam managed to turn around and look at this in shock, an instant before he fell over, dead.

Buffy panted, dropping the power core.

A growl brought her attention to Xander, who was snarling with an insane look in his eyes. No reason, no knowledge, just a rabid animal.

The Beast leapt at Buffy, the blood in her veins singing to it, a promise of power to enhance it's own, to kill and grow and become stronger than any other.

It managed to grab her, and was about to sink it's fangs into her throat when pain interrupted it's feeding.

The Beast looked down in disbelief at the shaft of a crossbow bolt in it's chest, piercing it's heart.

With a groan, Xander fell to the floor, the world going black from lack of blood, cumulative wounds, and now the wood in his heart.

Giles let out a breath at his shot, simply glad he hadn't missed and killed Buffy.


A few minutes earlier....

Riley was in the fight of his life. Forrest was strong, due to the hideous changes made on his body.

Forrest was certainly having fun, tossing Riley around like a rag doll, although Riley had gotten a few good hits in, he wasn't going to win this.

Scrambling to his feet for the seventh time, Riley grabbed a scalpel off an operating tray, and threw it at Forrest's face.

Forrest rose his yellow demon arm, and the scalpel appeared in it's flesh, which Forrest tore out with a grimace and snarl.

He advanced on Riley holding the scalpel, obviously planning to shove it in between Riley's ribs.

Forrest thrust it at Riley's chest, which Riley backed up to avoid.

Riley tripped over something, and using all the soldier training he had, he used the momentum to flip behind the obstacle, his hand closing on something as he did so. This move also had the bonus effect of slamming Riley's feet into Forrest's chest, sending him staggering back.

Riley regained his balance, and took a look at what he'd grabbed.

"Thank you God!" Was all he could say.

For in his hand was a M—79 grenade launcher, just what the doctor ordered.

He aimed it at Forrest, who stopped dead in his tracks.

"You're too close to me, shoot that and we're both dead." Forrest said, looking down the barrel of the grenade launcher.

Riley just stared impassively at the defiled mess that was once his friend. The twisted form of a fellow soldier, a comrade, a brother.

Holding the grenade launcher in his right hand, he gripped an operating tray with his left.

Mimicking Riley's earlier move, Forrest threw the scalpel at Riley's face. Riley twisted, the scalpel cutting through the flesh of his left cheek.

The reflex action caused by the sudden move caused Riley to throw the tray and all the items on it in Forrest's direction, who staggered back under the sudden assault.

When the tray had hit the ground, Riley was that a scalpel was sticking out of Forrest's blind eye, and Forrest was gripping it in instinctive pain.

"Goodbye Forrest." Was all Riley could say.

Forrest looked up to see Riley tightening his grip on the trigger of the grenade launcher.

Only one thing came to Forrest's corrupted, soulless mind.

"Oh shit."

The grenade launched from the barrel in seeming slow motion, Forrest could almost see the serial number on it as it hurtled toward him.

It struck him in the chest, blowing his torso into a hundred pieces.

When the ringing in Riley's ears faded, all he could do was sigh and shake his head, wishing Forrest hadn't become this twisted creature he'd been forced to destroy.

Giles and Buffy came out of the side tunnel, Giles carrying a form with a crossbow bolt struck through it.

Riley looked at the form dressed in a torn up leather trenchcoat, realizing with a start that it was Xander.

"Wait, why isn't he dust? He's got a crossbow bolt through his heart..." Riley managed to ask.

The Watcher shrugged.

"We'll look into that later, we have to get out of here now." Giles replied.

Suddenly remembering the situation they were in, forgetting earlier because of the direness of fighting Forrest, and the lengthy incarceration by Adam.


Six hours later

The night was a success, most of the soldiers had been saved, the demons hadn't been spliced with humans, and most of the surviving demons were trapped in the Initiative lab.

Now, they had one other problem.

Giles, Buffy, Willow, Tara, and Riley looked down at the still form in the bathtub, a crossbow bolt still in the man's heart.

They'd chained him up, and restrained him with ropes for good measure. All of them hoped that some small part of their friend was still in this creature, this animal, this monster.

Giles looked at the others.

He sighed. "Ready?" He asked.

One by one, everyone nodded.

Tentatively, Giles reached out for the crossbow bolt, his hand shaking.

He got a good grip on the bolt, and pulled it out with a sharp tug.

Xander lay still.

Everyone watched with abated breath, the tension in the room thick, their heartbeats almost audible.

Then with a start, the Beast awoke.

Xander roared, scaring Giles and making everyone jump. Xander strained against the chains, the ropes and chains digging into his flesh as he tried to get close enough to any of the living people in the room to feed. The bloodlust was all there was, the tiny voice of sanity almost completely drowned out by the hunger.

Xander convulsed in the bathtub like a rabid animal snarling and spitting and growling.

Giles looked at Willow.

"Willow, there's some blood in my fridge, go and get it, quickly!" He almost yelled, to break her out of her shock.

Willow ran out of the bathroom.

Xander looked at the remaining humans with a furious look in his eyes. They glowed blood-red, and each human shuddered looking at the creature that was once their friend.

Willow ran back into the room holding a bloodbag.

Giles saw this, and nodded to Buffy.

She put her hand on Xander's shoulder, and pinned him down against the side of the bathtub.

Willow opened the bag, and as soon as the scent of blood hit Xander's nose, his struggles increased.

However, without blood to strengthen him, he wasn't much more than a human in strength at this point, and the Slayer held him down easily.

Willow began to carefully and slowly pour the blood down Xander's throat.

After a few sips, the light of sanity began to appear in Xander's eyes again. He managed to choke out one word.


Willow gave him more of it, Xander taking deep breaths to regain control over the Beast within.

Slowly, Xander felt the Beast recede, and he settled down in the bathtub, now looking peaceful, instead of a vicious, snarling animal.

"Xander?" Buffy managed to say.

He wearily rose his head to look at her.

"It's me Buffy, really me...." He trailed off.

Giles cleared his throat.

"We'll see about that, Xander, once we find the components for a soul detection spell. Until then, you're staying right here, understood?" He dictated.

Xander reluctantly nodded.

"Just one thing." Xander said.

"What would that be?" Giles asked.

"Could I get something to read?"


The motorcycle hummed loud as the pale white man sped towards Sunnydale at 120 MPH. Anyone who could have seen him out on this darkened highway would have called him crazy, his face was obscured by the black face shield on his motorcycle helmet.

He laughed insanely as the landscape blurred past, the only sound in his ears that of the machine on which he rode. For fun, he popped a wheelie, and stayed upright for a full two minutes before he got both wheels back on the road.

He passed the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign so quickly he almost missed it, but since he did see it, he smirked, knowing he was coming close.

Finally slowing down, the crazy man pulled into a motel parking lot, parking the Harley, and shut off the engine.

He looked at his watch.

5:35 AM, about three minutes before sunrise.

He went into the motel and checked out a room, handing over several hundred dollar bills for a three day rental, to keep the guy quiet.

He sat down on his bed, pulling off the motorcycle helmet, revealing a face with a scar from his left eyebrow, seeming to jump over his eye, and continue running down his cheek, down to the jaw.

The man looked out the closed window, at the cracks on the sides of the shades as the sunlight tried in vain to enter the room.

He smirked, rising to his feet, and opened the window, flooding the room with the light of the newly risen sun.

Nicholas went to bed, sleeping soundly in the warm comforting embrace of the sun.


Buffy stared down at the still form in the bathtub, at a Xander Harris who had changed so much. He was sleeping soundly, not even breathing, as the rays of the sun rose over the horizon.

He'd passed out almost as soon as the sun rose, and was sleeping in a almost comatose state.

Giles and Willow were out getting the supplies, Riley was in a debriefing which would probably take ages, and Tara was catching up on her own, much needed sleep.

Buffy wasn't sure why she did it. She reached down and gently caressed his right cheek. In response, his lips twisted up into a smile. He looked so calm and peaceful, relaxed, she would never guess that insane, monstrous creature lay beneath the surface. But she remembered all too well, as Xander was inches from sinking his fangs into her throat. If Giles hadn't been there....

If Xander was still in there, he had better have a damn good explanation for trying to bite her. If not, then he would be dust before sunset.

Even so...she didn't want to see that happen. If only she could tell why that little nagging feeling in the back of her head was bugging her.


Xander awoke an hour before sunset, still strapped down in the bathtub. He was feeling better, the Beast had receded, and his wounds had fully healed.

A little blood can go a long way.

Giles and Buffy walked in, Buffy holding a stake, Giles holding a key.

Xander eyed them both nervously.

"Xander, we have the results for the spell." Giles said a touch of regret in his voice.

"And what did the spell say?" Xander asked, hoping the Beast didn't overlap his soul, making him look like a mere demon.

"It really is you..." Buffy trailed off.

Giles nodded, speaking up again.

"It seems there are two things inside you, Xander. One is the demon that has made you into a vampire, the other is your soul. What I can't understand is why your soul stayed after the turning..."

Xander let out a half-hearted chuckle.

"Part of the family line, G-man, part of the family line....."


Two days passed, the gang getting used to Xander's return.

While Buffy had nearly freaked at the idea of another kind of vampire, thinking perhaps she had killed an innocent person, Xander had reassured her. His kind avoided Sunnydale most of the time, and the usual member got by without feeding on humans directly. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries had made killing to feed obsolete with blood banks. And any vampire feeding on people until death were murderers anyway.

Now, Xander was waiting in the alleyway, wearing a brand new black trenchcoat, not leather this time, but it was less conspicuous.

"Hey." He heard from behind him.

Xander turned, seeing a hideous, misshapen form. A misshapen form wearing blue jeans, a white "I'm with stupid" T-shirt, and a jean jacket.

Xander spoke. "Hey, Leon."

The Nosferatu grinned back at him.

"Xander, glad to hear it went down well. Your gal okay?" Leon asked.

"Yeah, I never would have made it without your help, though. I owe you." Xander replied.

Leon nodded. "Just don't forget you owe us. We Nosferatu never forget our debts."

With that, Leon's form vanished from sight, and Xander could barely hear him run off. Although a trashcan falling over and a curse gave the nossie's position away.

Xander smirked, turning back toward the street, only to encounter another friend. The dark haired woman that told him of Adam stood there, just watching him.

"How long were you standing there?" Xander asked.

She shrugged, replying. "Long enough."

Xander sighed. "I thought I got away from all the Angel wanna-be's." He muttered to himself.

Her lips quirked upward in a smile at this.

"Congratulations, Xander. You faced down a powerful enemy, and you've survived, and also stronger for it." She said.

"It doesn't feel like a victory, only reason we won is because the Beast took over. I nearly...." Xander trailed off.

"Alexander, the Beast is a force of nature. One can resist it, one can ride it, or one can fortify himself so the storm does not do damage. Choose your way to fight the Beast. All will work, but not all will allow you to survive sane. You will have to find your own path, fle......neonate." She replied.

Xander blinked.

"Neonate?" He asked.

She nodded. "One who managed to do what you did does not deserve to be called 'Fledgling'. You have a long way to go, Alexander. But you will succeed, I know it. Till we meet again, Alexander."

She turned to walk out of the alley.

"Wait! What should I call you?!" Xander yelled after her.

She stopped, turning to look back at him.

"My name?......" She said.

Xander nodded.

She gave him a smile.

"My name.....is Serena."

With that, she walked out into the street, disappearing into the night.

Xander took a deep breath, enjoying the night air, although he no longer needed to breathe it.

He began to walk off towards his haven, feeling that his unlife was looking up.

Chapter 11

Xander slept though the daylight hours without so much as a twitch. It took a lot of effort for Xander to even consider moving around in the daylight hours, but sometimes, it was needed.

However, today, there was no reason at all for him to not sleep in. Sunnydale was safe from baddies for about a week, and un-life was good.

As the sun set, Xander sat up in his coffin, which he despised.

'Soon, I swear, I'll get a decent, honest-to-god bed along with a haven without holes in the roof. Only reason I sleep in this thing is because it's safer.'

He sighed to himself, and looked around his current lodgings.

A small, twenty-square foot room, containing an icebox, a rack holding up his spare clothes, and a lot of roach traps.

'Even my parent's basement was better than this. Wait, scratch that, that place was hell. This is a step up. Maybe the sixth level of hell instead of the seventh. Or was it fifth? Bah, who cares.'

Xander got up and dressed, ensuring his trenchcoat was in place, hiding the weaponry he carried.


The night was quiet, which wasn't usual. Xander casually strolled along the street, watching a young couple off in the distance.

He envied them, all the things they had, took for granted, what he wouldn't feel again. The feeling of warm sunlight, the beating of the heart, to eat food, and to feel things as only humans could.

A hundred little sensations were gone from Xander's world, a hundred tiny little things that remind someone that he's mortal, alive, human.

'It's true what they say, a person doesn't know what they have until they lose it.' He thought.

He walked past the couple, noting both were alive. At least he wouldn't have to try and play hero tonight, he wasn't that good at it.

Sighing to himself, he continued walking, finding himself in front of the Summers house.

He decided to pop in, say hi to Joyce, Buffy was probably on patrol, and he didn't talk to too many people these days.

He went up, knocking on the door.


Nicholas walked around Sunnydale, searching out prey.

The world had changed so much for him. Now, there was no pain, no fear, no hesitation. Even without the ring, he was more dangerous than ever.

He came across a group of the ugly, demonic vampires hanging out in the central park.

He whistled to get their attention.

This would be fun.


Buffy patrolled, as usual for the nineteen year old Vampire Slayer. It was a quiet night, and no nasty undead were showing up, and even Xander, the nicer version wasn't around much.

'I guess he's moping, or arranging his affairs for the next century or something. He hasn't been himself, but I can't really blame him, he wakes up one night and is suddenly able to live forever, but always in a major funk. Lots of funkiness ahead for Xander. Wish I could help, in a non-slaying capacity.'

The sound of screams pulled her out of her thoughts, and she ran forward, towards the central park area.

What she found amazed her.

And horrified her.

For there were four vampires, crucified on several trees, held in place by crosses impaled through their hands. They had been sliced open, as if with an extremely sharp blade. Each was writhing and moaning, and Buffy's sharp eyes picked out a couple of dust piles at the base of the trees.

She almost felt sorry for them, and quickly put them all out of their misery, idly wondering what could cause this.



That was all there was.

All that was left of him. There was nothing left but the all-encompassing darkness in his heart. He had been on the brink of falling into nothingness, when one came and made him an offer.

Now, a small part of him wished he had not accepted. But that small part was unconscious, buried under the hate, the rage, the pain and anguish. The misery consumed him, and he felt the need to spread the misery even as he felt the need to breathe.

Only when others felt pain would he feel joy. For that was all there was.


The light hurt. He did not burn, for the daylight did not affect him. The light was hovering on the edges of his awareness, knowing that if he should walk into it, he'd lose his powers. He didn't want that. He made a deal, and the power was worth it. Never mind what would happen when the time came, he was now more, much more, than he was.

Even if that was all that was left....

The creature once known as Nicholas, the Immortal, went to his bed in the motel.

The sun shined on him, but inside, all there was, was darkness....


Spike was bored.

It was a feeling known well to the just-over-a-century-old vampire. As sure as he had an annoying chip in his head, he was bored to tears because of it. He'd love to go out and have a snack, but like that pea-brain of a grandsire, he had to go and get his blood from the local butcher shop. He was acting like Peaches and that sad excuse for a vampire, Harris.

A thought finally crossed Spike's bored, not too bright mind. He couldn't hurt humans anymore. But Alexander Harris wasn't a human anymore....

An evil grin crossed his face as he went into the lower level of his crypt, to gain the proper materials.

After all, torture was no fun if it was over quickly...


Xander walked along the street, watching as happy couples walked by, and lamenting his own fate. Everyone was preparing for Christmas, the great holiday of the year.

Never mind there were more suicides at Christmas than any other time of the year.

Xander hummed to himself, trying to get rid of those melancholy thoughts. They always intruded these days, like a herd of roaches trying to get into a garbage can.

'Okay, disgusting thought. Come on, I've got to do something here.....'

He strolled into the mall, ruffling through his trenchcoat.

'Okay, I've got fifty bucks, what can I get for the Buffster for fifty bucks....'

Somebody tapped him on the shoulder, and Xander turned.

"Hey, Wills, doing your holiday shopping?" He asked.

"Yep, just trying to figure out what I can get for Tara, how bout you?" She replied.

"No clue, Willow, I'm not exactly made of money these days, you know."

She simply shrugged.

"Well, I'm just gonna wander and see what I can pick up. See you later Wills."

With that, Xander wandered into the crowd. Willow followed him with her eyes, a look of sadness on her face. She continued her holiday shopping, much less enthusiastically.


The next night, Xander walked into his haven, sighing as he took a bottle out of his pocket and sipped from it, absently.

Blood and Scotch. Almost as good as taking Scotch normally, but again, something was missing. However, it did leave a pleasant, burning sensation as it went down his throat.

After a few hours of drinking, Xander passed out.

So he didn't notice as the front door opened.

He didn't notice as the demon came in his home.

He didn't notice the blond vampire standing beyond, unable to enter.

He didn't notice the feral grin on that vampire's face as the Kun'gai demon lugged the fledgling vampire out the door.

He also didn't notice that vampire's statement.

"Alright, let's have some fun. It's been too long since I had a good time with a slab of meat."


Los Angeles, December 25th, 2001

Xander awoke with a start.

The first thing he noticed was that he wasn't in his haven. He was in a much less comfortable place. Hanging from the ceiling, bound hand and foot with thick chains, in a very uncomfortable spread eagle position.

The second thing he noticed was that he was getting dripped on the forehead by a steady stream of water, and it was more than annoying.

The third thing he noticed was that is dank, dark, and something stank royally.

"Great, I'm in a sewer, hung like cattle meat, and I've got a hangover, my day can't get much better..."

Out of the darkness. "Sorry mate, I can prove you wrong there."

"Yeah, seeing you makes my day just peachy, fangless. What's the big idea?" Xander said.

"Ever since I got this chip in my head, I've been deprived of having a little fun, a little mayhem, the chance to hurt a little goody-two shoes. But since you're here, and you're a card-carrying member of the undead club, I can practice until I get this thing out of my head."

Spike wheeled a tray out, with a large number of knives, hooks, barbs, wooden implements, and some small bottles.

"Oh, and Harris. Merry Christmas."

After that, only Xander's screams filled the room.


Once again, the gang searched.

They called Angel, they used a tracking spell, and they used good old-fashioned guesswork.

What they didn't know was that Spike had anticipated all this.

He buried Xander's body in an old sewer, walling him up with concrete. He then had a demon shaman cast a ward on the area, ensuring no mystical tracking spell could find him.

Finally, he removed anything metal from Xander's person, so even a metal detectors wouldn't beep near him.

And so, time passed, Xander lying in Torpor, unaware of the passage of time.

Six decades went by.


The city had been rebuilt, and now they needed a new subway system. In order to support the new station they were building, they had to remove the old sewer walls.

Unfortunately, they did not know what would be unleashed when they did.

The murders of the construction workers went unsolved. They did capture the attention of the authorities. As well as one ensouled vampire. Most had been killed with blows, some were drained, and some had been smashed against the walls, causing massive internal injuries. Only after all the bodies had been collected and counted, had one worker found his causal clothing was missing....


January 10th, 2063, Los Angeles, upper district.

Xander wandered, at once marveled, and disgusted, at everything that had happened.

He'd awoke in frenzy, killing everything in sight until he'd drank enough for it to subside.

He was still crazed, his last memories of Spike's ginning face as he tortured Xander with glee.

Spike would pay, oh yes, he would pay.

'Now if only I can figure out why the hell nobody's turning a head at the demons walking down the street.'

They were everywhere. Little things about half his size, scampering about. Then there were massive guys, twice his size, pushing everybody and thing out of their way.

One had tried it on Xander. He was quite surprised when Xander flung him into a wall with little effort. After that, the others didn't try it again.

The place looked like a flea market, maybe one from Dungeons and Dragons and with very high-tech, but a flea market nonetheless.

Humans and other creatures were moving about, some buying, some selling, others simply browsing.

Xander wasn't sure, but he thought he caught a pointed ear on some of the 'human' shopkeepers.

'Okay, more and more messed up by the minute.'

Xander spotted a phone booth, so he walked into it. He was perplexed for a minute, as there wasn't a phone book, but only a blank screen.

He tapped it, and it came online.

"Um, hey, I'd like to make a call." He said.

The computer beeped, and responded. "Identify subject."

"I'm looking for a guy named Angel." He said.

147 names.

Xander wrote them down, and began to eliminate the list, one by one.


The warehouse was a standard setup for a Giovanni operation. They always set up in much the same way. After all, 99% of the time, it was an effective way. 99% of the times not everything went to plan, the rather strong vampires inside could handle it.

Unfortunately, this was that .2% of the time they couldn't handle a thing.

The creature stood in the doorway, a massive, demonic sword in it's hand, it's blazing red eyes casting a light over the warehouse, it's horned head giving an awesome air of intimidation.

The Giovanni scrambled for their weapons.

That took all of three seconds.

However, they were all dead in two.


Xander walked into the Hyperion Hotel, certainly looking odd.

He was dressed in a pair of red jeans, a blue shirt, and a gray trenchcoat. The standard casual clothing these days, but pretty much unheard of sixty years ago.

An elderly lady was sitting behind the counter, wearing very thick glasses, with an open notebook, writing something long and complex down.

"Um, hello?" Xander said.

She looked up.

"Welcome to Angel Investigations, can I help you?" She said.

"Yeah, I'm looking for Angel." He replied.

A harsh, gravely voice came from the top of the stairs.

"I'm Angel."

Xander looked.

And blinked.

So did the fifty-plus looking man at the top of the stairs.

"Angel?" "Xander?" The both said at the exact same time.

"Aw man, this just keeps getting better and better...." Xander groaned.

Chapter 12

"Okay, let me get this straight. You did a bunch of dimension hopping, saved em from being wiped out by a plague on their world, acted like an immigration service, and then what, told the good old US of A government to sit back and take it?" Xander exclaimed, incredulous.

Angel sighed. "Wasn't that easy, it kind of helped that there wasn't any form of government, anywhere, at the time. Everybody went to war, ended very badly, thankfully the nukes were kept out of it, but by the time it was all over, governments had collapsed, nations born and destroyed in a matter of weeks, and everybody down in the gutter. Only reason there's civilization around right now, close to the level we were at when you disappeared, is because of the fresh blood." He replied.

"So, we've got elves, dwarves, orcs, halfling punks, and...?"

"That's about it. The dragon eggs haven't hatched yet." Angel replied.

Xander blinked.

Angel chuckled, before descending into a coughing fit.

It was so odd, for Xander. He always thought Angel would outlive him, not dying before him, of all things, old age. It hurt, knowing his friends were old, dying, and he was the same as he was when Spike tortured and buried him.

Even Angel had somehow regained his mortality, becoming again what Xander wanted to be, all he ever wanted to be.

"Hey, Angel, you alright?"

The fifty year old, gray-haired man nodded, getting his fit under control.

"Yeah, I'll be okay. So, what brings you to my door?"

Xander's face darkened, as he said one simple, yet extremely charged statement. Anger did not describe the emotion in his voice. Nor did rage, or the thirst for revenge.

It was hate, pure, plain, and simple.

"I'm going to kill Spike, and I need your help."


Angel watched as Xander trained, going through the carefully constructed course, designed to give even an orc trouble, dodging and fighting simulated opponents. Xander was doing fairly well, avoiding most of the dangerous attacks, and taking only those wounds which didn't slow him down. Whether the instinct to survive was something Xander had inside him, all along, or if it was introduced from his being turned into a vampire, Angel wasn't sure. Either way, it was a formidable tool at Xander's disposal.

In the illusionary, VR like realm born out of a hybrid of magic and science, Xander had just finished single combat with an Eldrakyn demon, a large, seven feet tall horned beast that had an almost metallic hide, and its wrist was about the size of Xander's leg. When Xander realized his sword wasn't helping him at all, he put it away and grabbed the nearest blunt weapon he could find.

In this case, a baseball bat. It wasn't terribly effective, but it slowly chipped into the beast's hide, and eventually, he won by hitting the joints, crippling the beast, until finally, it couldn't rise again.

Xander crowed triumphantly as he beat the foe that had annoyed and confounded him for the last month.

Angel smiled, and then grinned, almost sadistically.

"Ready for level 3, Deadboy?" Angel asked.

Xander groaned. "This is revenge for all the times I needled you, isn't it, you old geezer?"

"You better believe it."


Xander looked out over L.A, the same way he had six decades in the past. His training was going well, he was half as good as Angel was at fighting now, and his vampiric powers provided an extra edge, most of the time.

On a sudden impulse, he hopped up onto the edge of the balcony, being on the fifth floor, falling wasn't a real danger to his supernatural constitution. From there, he leapt down, and walked, no destination in mind, but to observe how life had changed in the time he was gone.

Spike....the bleached blonde vampire deserved no less than that had been inflicted on him, the action that sent him into Torpor. In his dreams, Xander could still feel the knives cutting into his flesh, the scent of his own burnt hair, the intense agony brought on by the acid, splashed almost negligently onto his face, onto his chest, his hands and feet.

Thinking about it again made the young Kindred shudder, and did his best to think on something more pleasant. Like the sweet taste of blood....

The thought brought Xander to an abrupt halt. He stood still for a moment, taking a deep, unneeded breath, as he collected his thoughts and then continued his walk.

After walking for half an hour, the familiar and sweet scent of blood crossed Xander's nose, causing him to slow down and look around for the cause. He knelt down for a moment, determining wind direction and where, exactly, the trail was coming from.

The familiar sound of a demonic vampire bursting into ash caught his ears, and Xander sprung to his feet and sprinted forward, until he came to an alleyway. Funny how alleys were places his life changed.

For there, standing over a pile of dust, was a demon knight, black platemail gleaming, yet his inhuman form did not allow full protection, the wings upon his back twitching preventing it. It laughed, lifting a blade to finish off another victim. A woman, crawling backwards, fear in her eyes.

"Hey, ugly! Pick on somebody your own size!" The words came from his lips before Xander could stop himself, old habits coming into the fore.

The devil turned, his long bat-like wings rustling, his horned head coming into view as his eyes glowed red with hate, and then widened in....recognition.

"Well well, I didn't think I'd ever see you again. Tell me, have you figured out how to use my ring yet, fledgling?" The creature spoke. In a voice that Xander had heard before. It was as if he last heard it yesterday. The katana also brought the memories flooding back in a wave that nearly knocked Xander off his mental feet.

The voice of the hunter who nearly ended his unlife, sixty years ago. His form was unrecognizable, but that tone, the inflection, it was the exact same.

"Nicholas.... Hell of a makeover. Hope you got a good lawyer when the tax-man comes knocking." Xander spoke, barely keeping the fear out of his voice.

The devil who used to be a man chuckled lowly.

"Never did like lawyers. Too closely related to your kind."

The woman's heels scrambled on the pavement as she came up to the dead end on the other side of the alleyway.

Nicholas raised his katana, smirking hideously as he advanced on his immortal prey.

After his training, however, Xander wasn't simply prey anymore. As the katana came down in a deadly arc, Xander could almost see every flaw and weakness Nicholas had. He had never actually been trained with the blade. He simply used the sword as a tool of execution.

And so it was with a simple sidestep Xander moved out of the way of the katana's lethal edge. With a countering twist of his body, his leg arced out and slammed Nicholas' left knee.

On a mortal, it would have broken like a twig. On a vampire, it would annoy. On Nicholas....it gave Xander's foot a dull ache.

The hunter's skills with the sword were weak, perhaps, but he quickly proved he wasn't helpless. He lashed out with a left hook that caught Xander squarely on the jaw, and Xander found himself flying through the air, his flight coming to an abrupt halt on the alleyway's wall. He sank to the ground, turning the motion into a roll as fast as he could, just missing Nicholas' next attack with the katana, which would have split Xander in two.

In desperation, Xander activated the powers within his blood, and his body sped up. He used the extra boost of speed to spring up to his feet and jump onto Nicholas' back, holding onto one horn with his left hand and his right on the almost delicate wingbone.

Underneath his grip, he felt the former hunter tense, and he began to flail. Unfortunately, this was the worst thing he could do. Nicholas' right wingbone was torn from the demon's back. He howled in pain as Xander was flung away, still holding the wingbone in his grip.

The wing now was a tattered ruin, a flap of skin that hanged uselessly at the former hunter's side, dripping blood and ichor onto the pavement.

The creature turned to the young vampire with murder in his eyes, and ran at Xander with an impressive amount of speed, the katana ready to skewer Xander in a moment.

Xander deflected the attack upwards with the wingbone, which snapped in two, with sharp ends. Xander then stepped towards Nicholas and drove one of the broken ends into the former hunter's chest. In a moment, the devil collapsed, face down onto the street.

Xander snatched up the katana and slid it under his coat. He then held his hands up as he approached the woman. She was muttering something in a language he couldn't understand.

"Hey, relax, I'm not going to hurt you." He spoke.

As she slowly stopped trembling, and got to her feet, he realized she wasn't human.

The wind picked up slightly, throwing her raven-black hair in all directions, revealing her pointed, elven ears. She stood at five and a half foot.

She licked her lips, and spoke with a heavy accent, her words halting as she was unused to English.

"I am Allandra. I ....thank..you for you aid, stranger."

Xander held out his hand.

She took it, gladly accepting the gesture of friendship.

"I'm Xander."

The pair turned, only to see the former hunter was no longer there.


In the middle of a wasteland that used to be known as Washington state, a great structure stood.

It wasn't all that impressive, in fact, it resembled nothing so much as an arch made out of steel and stone, standing out in the middle of a desert, totally out of place, as if somebody had just dropped it off a helicopter.

It stood twenty feet high, and was only a meter wide. For it's reputation and power, it was really nothing special to look at.

Humans called it the Corridor. Dwarves called it the Gate. Elves called it the Planewalker. Nobody was sure what the halflings, orcs, and trolls called it.

It was through this the races had fled their homeworld, escaping an apocalypse, onto a new world that was only just recovering from the worst war it had ever gone through.

For forty years, the structure had stood silent, vacant, and the only creatures that had gazed upon its unimpressive form were scorpions and the passing hawk.

It was unique, as it didn't simply connect two worlds. Instead, it shifted from world to world each moment. In order to create a stable gateway from one world to another over an extended basis, took powerful magics conferred onto the most powerful of mages.

Or most powerful of the Kindred clans.

Heavy boots crunched a scorpion, casually and without effort or thought, as its wearer came closer to the gateway. Although the vampiric mage in question was capable of floating, it took effort to do so, and at this point he could spare no energy for the task ahead.

He pulled back his hood, revealing old, weathered features. At the time of his Embrace, he was already old, and his appearance had not changed over the last thousand years. His hair was long and dark, almost a bluish-black, and he gazed at the gateway, marveling not at its physical appearance, but at the magical powers confined in this small space. To his experienced eye, the gateway was lively and bright, a portal shimmering wondrously in a rainbow hue, even though to the naked eye, there was nothing there.

Reaching into the folds of his cloak, he pulled out a vial filled with a his sire's blood. Oh how surprised he had been when it happened. How one man, nay, one vampire struck past his defenses and killed him. The mage still remembered the hateful bite of that black sword, even after nine centuries had passed. With more and more ancient blood spilt onto it, its dark powers grew stronger and stronger. Or perhaps, its wielder had simply become too strong, too cunning, and the blade was simply the catalyst to his will.

Perhaps it was a measure of both. The mage could still remember when the crusader and Veddartha faced off. It was a duel to remember, Veddartha, the Ventrue clan's founder, facing the Scourge of the Antediluvians, the Slayer of Set, Savior of the Kindred. It was a duel of honor, Veddartha seeming almost impervious to the black blade's bite, but his prey too fast to strike with his own blade. They battled for hours, until finally the crusader won out. The blade had kept him refreshed even as he battled, he would not have been able to win without it. Finally, Veddartha conceded, falling to his knees, and honorably waited for his death, which arrived swiftly and with no pain.

With his death, the Antediluvians had all fallen, and Gehenna was averted. The Apocalypse the Garou had feared never came to pass. Nor would it ever do so, now, with the force behind it now sealed, deep in the black pits of Oblivion.

Coming out of his thoughts, the ancient mage rose his hand and concentrated, bending the magics before him to his will.

With a flicker, the gateway stabilized, the magics now coming into the fore, becoming a visible-and tangible-portal that swirled invitingly.

Etrius, the last of the Tremere clan, smirked to himself as he took a step towards the portal.

Apparently, something from the other side decided it was a good idea to do the same. A heavily armored creature jumped through the portal, it's eyes glowing blood-red as it opened its fanged mouth and snarled at Etrius.

It had no idea that would be its last action.

With a comteptous flick of the wrist, flames shimmered into existence above the creature, and rained down upon it in a massive, and very painful storm. The creature grabbed at its face, trying to protect it against the horrid storm as its limbs caught alight, and it howled in agony.

Then it collapsed onto the dirt, dissolving into dust.

Etrius walked through the portal, and upon Earth, the Tremere line became extinct. Elsewhere, however....


Xander ducked a high swing, raising the katana in a classical parry, and hopped three feet to the left.

He was in a dungeon, bodies hanging from the walls, in an open pit, roughly thirty feet wide. The sounds of distant screams echoed as the pair battled.

His opponent, a skeletal warrior, kept pace with the vampire, twisting its broadsword around and clashing the blades and tangling them.

Xander released the grip on the handle with his left hand, and decked the skeleton with his now free hand. It collapsed under the powerful blow, shattering on the floor.

A snarl came from behind him as Xander turned, facing a shadowy cat-beast. It lunged for his throat, and Xander rose the katana, the cat meeting the blade with its mouth. However, a shock traveled up the blade and burned Xander's hand, while the cat was barely affected by the blade, not being a physical creature in the traditional sense.

Xander kept a grip on the katana, however, and kept hacking away at it, and soon the cat was beaten back, despite the fact that Xander was growing weaker every second with each shock.

Then the cat expired, and Xander collapsed onto the ground, breathing deeply, even though he didn't need it.

"End simulation." Angel's old voice spread throughout the room, and the dungeon faded, revealing the basement of the Hyperion Hotel, Angel sitting in a comfortable leather seat, Allandra sitting on a desk, an impressed look on her face.

Angel's expression was disappointed, however.

"Xander, going berserk on a Shade was quite stupid." He rebuked.

"It died, didn't it? I beat this level." Xander replied.

"And if you fought more of them? You'd get one and the rest would have killed you. You can't use a blade on them effectively. You have to go hand-to-hand." Angel spoke, his annoyance growing in his voice with each word.

Allandra smiled, however. "You were most impressive, though. You're not like..." She trailed off.

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Like what?"

She sighed. "Like the vampires where I came from. They were little more than animals, except for the older ones, they were really cruel bastards."

Xander sighed. "I won't lie to you, but most vampires are. I just belong to a less common breed is all."

Angel nodded in agreement. "Here we have two kinds, at least that we know of. The ones you know about were probably tainted by demons somewhere along the line."

"Well, I'd like to go through this training program as well, Angel. I don't like being helpless in dis world." She said, determination in her eyes.

Angel nodded.

Chapter 13

Xander stood, watching Allandra as she trained. Angel was sitting there beside him, in his usual comfortable leather chair.

Allandra went through the obstacle course like a dynamo. Nothing could stand in her way, not the swimming across the lake, not the demons interfering in her path, not even the fifteen foot high brick wall at the end.

Xander let his mind wander. 'Wonder what old Nicky wanted with her, and why he ended up selling out to do it. He didn't seem like that bad of a guy back then. Alright, he was a schmuck, but he wasn't bad. Now he's all winged and horny.....and that did not sound right in my head....glad Angel isn't a mind reader. Ho boy, I'd be in it so deep if he ever found out what I was thinking about so along ago about the Buffster. Whew. Although she did find out once....lucky she didn't kill me right there. Yep. You're damned lucky there X-Man. Wait...you're damned and you're lucky. Lucky enough to be damned. Right up there with the chicken and the egg thing...'

The snap of fingers in his face brought his attention back to the here and now.

"You alive in there? Wakey wakey?" Angel's old, slightly wrinkled, smirking face inquired.

"Yeah, I'm here. Now. What's up, oh gray one?" Xander replied.

"We got a lead on Spike."

There are many layers, many different dimensions which could, very accurately, be called Hell.

No less than, and not entirely coincidentally, six-hundred and sixty-six. There's also as many places that could, just as accurately, be called Heaven. Ironically enough, however, there are far, far more normal, some pleasant, some not, worlds which are from our mundane, human point of view, could easily call home. However, for the sake of this document, we'll stick with the realms of darkness.

On the three hundredth dimension, did Nicholas' master, the being which made him into a devil on earth, reside. Once, ages ago, he was what could only be called a god, or an angel. His only true crime for which he had been banished to that particular realm of darkness and suffering at the time was being on the losing side of that ancient war.

Afterwards, however, he had committed crimes which, had they occurred before his banishment, would fully justify his current imprisonment.

His name was Ifrit. He was placed at the moment, third in the totem pole of this realm. Above him was the current King of Hell and the First General.

Ifrit didn't mind being third. He was patient, and content with his lot. Other devils knew it, the King knew it, and the General knew it. If he should just happen to become the King in the correct circumstances, so be it, but he would not seek the throne himself.

It's not a coincidence that Ifrit was also the oldest living devil on this plane.

Ifrit was, however, always curious. His curiosity had in the past saved him from a great deal of trouble and pain. If knowledge was power, then truly, Ifrit was the real King of Hell. Let the current King deal with the usurpers and renegades.

What he desired now was freedom from the wretched place, this horrid plane. Hell, any Hell, is a place of banishment for a reason. Rank is almost determined by how much suffering you go through every day. Even the King isn't immune or exempt, he simply had the least amount of pain.

Every moment of every day brought Nicholas closer to Ifrit. Ifrit slowly corrupted Nicholas. Nicholas understood this when he made his deal with Ifrit, on the brink of death six decades in the past. Conveniently, he forgot about the conditions after making the deal.

Ifrit was no fool, after all. No matter. One more month and Ifrit would be free while Nicholas would wear his chains in this pit. A fitting trade. Nicholas would have the chance to rule a Hell while Ifrit had the chance to roam free and live, perhaps even forge a legacy of his own.

Ifrit could feel Nicholas drawing on a little more power than normal now. Strange. Had he been injured? Unlikely, yet...it seemed so. What a strange circumstance. Oh well.

Ifrit allowed Nicholas to take the power he needed. After all, he'd get it back soon.


Sunnydale, California.

It hadn't changed much in the last sixty years. Granted, the cars were different, the people were wearing trendy new clothing, which would have been considered an eyesore at the turn of the century. Funny how fashion worked. Functional rarely went into it.

Xander walked into Willy's bar and looked around. The demon patrons looked at him, then ignored him, considering him yet another vampire.

Strangely enough, Willy himself was still working behind the counter. Not even a day older.

Xander sat in an empty stool and nodded to Willy. Willy, oblivious to the Kindred's nature, walked over, not yet recognizing Xander.

"Haven't seen you around before, what'll it be?" The scumbag asked.

"Blood. And some information." Xander replied, a hint of steel in his eyes.

Willy quickly got a not-too-clean glass, poured some blood into it and handed it to Xander, who sniffed it, and then took a slow sip. Xander didn't mind it was pig's blood, any blood would do. It didn't taste as good as human blood, but, it was good enough.

"Thanks. I'm looking for an old friend of mine. Used to hang with him. Went by Spike a few decades ago. Seen him?" He asked.

"Nope, can't say I have." Willy said, his left eye twitching.

Xander smirked slightly, casually observing the other patrons. Nobody here was a real threat against him. Two vampires, two humans, and one weak demon skulking in the shadows.

Reaching out with his supernatural speed, he grabbed Willy by the neck and slammed his face into the bar. Willy let out a startled squeal as his face shifted to take his true, vampire face.

"Alright, I tried being polite, you filthy leech. Now I've got a deal for you. Tell me where Spike is or I'll use some of the liquor in here to make you an undead torch. Do we understand each other?" Xander spoke, his voice low.

The other patrons in the bar just stood, shocked. One vampire nodded approvingly.

"I don't know what you're talking about, buddy!" Willy squealed around his fangs.

Xander sighed. "Willy, Willy, Willy. Human or vampire, you've always been a scumbag, but always one who knows what's going on in good old Sunny D." Xander causally picked up a bottle of whiskey and opened it with his left hand, using his right to keep Willy pinned to the bar. Then he dumped it on Willy's face.

Then Xander reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter. Igniting it, he moved it closer and closer to Willy's alcohol drenched face.

Willy's eyes widened almost comically. "All right, I'll tell you, geez! Calm down!"

Xander smirked.


Five graves stood in a row. It wasn't really unusual, considering the place. It was the people within that made it unusual. Each of the five were protectors, people who made a difference in the world. They wouldn't be remembered, or honored, except in a few circles.

Anya Jenkins.

Rupert Giles.

Buffy Summers.

Willow Rosenburg.

Alexander Harris.

If only people knew the last grave was empty. It was kind of amusing to Xander, in a sick, sardonic way.

"Hey guys. Long time no see, huh? Hey hey hey, before you all get angry with me, it wasn't my fault or my idea to take such a long trip." Xander sighed. "Yeah, I know, no excuse, I should have woken up sooner and should have been there to help you guys. Just my luck, huh? I finally get something to be able to keep up with the rest of you, and then I get sealed up inside a wall until you're all off chasing moonbeams."

He paused, as if listening, and then nodded. "You're right Will, I am a jerk. I got drunk and now I'm paying for it out the nose." He sighed again. "Giles, sorry I wasn't around to pick things up and help out, wish you could be here. Anya, I hope you managed to grow and live as a person. I bet it was touch and go for a while there, huh? Ah well, I hope you managed to find some happiness."

He turned to the center grave.

"Hey Buff. Wish I could see you one more time. Hell, I wish I could have been there for you the whole way, unfortunately there's nothing I can do about it now. For what it's worth, Buffy, I'm sorry. I hope you're somewhere pleasant and that you're enjoying your stay. I guess, most of all, I'd hoped you'd look at me in the more-than-friend kind of way, back then, it'd have made me the happiest person on earth. I..feel honored, to have known you, even as a friend only. I'd have done anything to make you happy. Even step aside. I hope you knew that."

Xander turned and walked away, unaware that the middle grave, the one marked as Buffy Summers, was empty.


"Hey Allandra, it's Xander. How's it going?" He asked, over the phone.

"Fairly well, Xander. I'm going to join you in Sunnydale in a day or so. Is there something I can help you with?"

"Not really, ya know. I was just checking up on you. I'd hate to see a few more baddies jump out of the woodwork to try and get to you."

"You're very sweet, Xander. No, everything's fine. I'm just finishing honing my skills here."

"Yeah, great. Do me a favor though. When you come on down, bring the trunk in my room, I left something in it that I'd like to tinker with."

"Certainly, I'll take care of it. What are you doing now, Xander?"

"Preparing for the meeting of my unlife. Something tells me I'm either going to be dead after it or just in a lot of pain."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm going to contact the current Slayer."



Xander walked through the graveyard, humming lightly to himself.

'Let Angel do the brooding part, if I'm gonna walk around as a vampire, I might as well be cheery about it. You only live twice!'

She was behind him. Going cautiously, trying to get into an appropriate attack position before launching at his unprotected and seemingly unaware back. Wind currents were a wonderful thing, sometimes. She was really liberal with that perfume though.

When he reached a spot in the open, he slowed down, looking around nonchalantly, as if just taking in the scenery. What he was really doing was listening.

By gods, she was quiet. She snuck up on him only slightly less quietly than a cat. This girl was good. Very good. If he hadn't known Buffy, she'd pounce on him totally unaware.

Xander sighed. "You can come on out. Don't bother trying to stake me, just hear me out and listen to what I got to say, alright?" He turned slowly, making no sudden movements.

She emerged from the shadows, moving with a certain, impressive, lithe grace. She was short, five-foot-eight, her naturally dark, nearly ebony skin accentuating her black locks of hair. She stood at the ready, tensing slightly at every movement he made.

No doubt about it, she'd kick his ass.

"All right, vampire. I'm listening. Don't make any sudden moves and I'll let you keep your hide intact for a little while." She spoke.

Xander nodded. "Fair enough, I'd be acting the same in your position. Well, actually, I'd never be in your position, I'd be too busy running away or wheedling for my life, but..."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Sorry, I tend to ramble sometimes. My name's Xander."

"I don't care what your name is, you'll be dead soon." She sneered as she spoke.

Xander sighed "You didn't happen to be trained by the Watcher's Council, did you?"

"What of it?"

'Great, they screwed over yet another girl's life and didn't bother putting awareness or life into her education. Well, at least it means I've got a shot at surviving if she decides she doesn't like me anymore.' Xander thought.

Out loud he replied. "Sorry, I've just had some problems with them in the past." He raised a hand as she opened her mouth. "No, they didn't try to kill me, they tried to kill a friend of mine. Another Slayer." He sighed again. "But I guess it doesn't matter now. You know about Spike?"

She nodded. "One of the worst vampires ever made. He's old, he's killed four Slayers, he's smart and he's crafty. I'm looking forward to teaching him a thing or two."

Xander rolled his eyes. "Forget it, that's not going to work. He knows your tactics and moves, he knows how most Slayers think, and he knows what he's got to do to get around you. What the hell has the Council trained you with anyway? Or do they just point in the direction of the badguy and say 'Slay it, if you survive, we'll have tea.'?"

She couldn't help but crack a smirk at that.

"Look, I get that you're not going to trust me, Mister Mysterious niceguy vampire. But I will say this, I've got a grudge with Spike, I owe him a lot and I intend to repay him. But, I can't do it on my own, I'm not powerful enough or strong enough to beat him. Not yet and probably not for a while. Like another century. I've never been accused of being patient, so..." He sucked in a breath. "I'm asking for your help.

Shock registered on her face, then suspicion then paranoia.

"Listen, if you want the whole story, get a copy of Rupert Giles' Watcher Diary. Look up Xander Harris, that's little old me. And I suggest you don't let your Watcher know you're looking it up. Take their teachings, but no matter what they say or however they act, they don't have all the answers and in my day, they were just a bunch of control freaks." Xander spoke.

Her eyes hardened with anger. Xander raised his arms in a gesture to hold her off in case he crossed the line.

"They're good trainers, I'll admit, and some of them I know are good people. Just ask yourself though, are they treating you like a human being, or a tool? When you can answer that, we'll talk more."

He turned and then began to run at full speed. With a startled shout, she began to run after him.

One of the advantages of being a Kindred was the ability to learn the Discipline of Celerity. While Slayers can run and run fast, up to fifty miles per hour in the particularly athletic ones, like any mortal creature they do end up tiring. The Kindred don't tire from simply running, even with Celerity. They need to feed afterwards, typically, of course, but they can still run at high speed for far, far longer than any mortal creature.

And so it was while the Slayer was able to keep up with Xander, she couldn't close the distance. Xander heard a bus in the distance and quickly changed direction, running towards it.

She stayed no less than fifteen feet behind him the whole time. She was in very, very decent shape. She wouldn't let him go that easily.

Along with the Discipline of Celerity, the Brujah were also quite proficient with the Discipline of Potence. This magnified the vampire's strength by a fairly large factor. It also assisted greatly in jumping ability.

So Xander jumped up, towards the bus, moving at forty-five miles an hour, and clutched the roof from the back. He dug his fingernails in, leaving small marks in the metal, and climbed up. He then turned around and waved at the Slayer, who was falling behind the rapidly accelerating bus.

Once she was out of sight, Xander steeled himself and leapt off the bus, landing on a sidewalk. Then he made a beeline for the apartment he was using for his haven.

And surprisingly enough, this time the haven was comfortable and not in danger of being infested!

And then, of course, his muscles protested in having been used in such a manner. He rubbed his arms and his legs. Kindred didn't feel pain in the same way humans felt pain, it was dulled, muted to a degree, but there is still pain.

He rubbed the offended muscles lightly, and then went home.

Vanessa Stevens, the current Vampire Slayer, was angry. Very angry.

That vampire managed to get away from her, and all she could do was glare in the direction of the bus he latched onto while gasping for breath. One thing was for sure, he was fast. He was the first vampire to get away from her. Granted, she'd been a Slayer for only about six months, but he was strong.

He was nervous about fighting her though. That made her feel better. He knew she could beat him down, probably easily. Something was off about him, though.

All Slayers had particular, but unique talents, often suiting the Slayer in question. Premonition, or magical talent. Reading any language, blending into the environment, extremely strong senses, even more so than most Slayers, the list went on and on.

In Vanessa's case, she could sense things supernatural at a distance. She could feel them without needing to see them, as if they provided a sort of homing signal for her to track. As well, they felt different, depending on the level of strength and race the creature was in.

Vampires felt like a small patch of cold and darkness from a distance. This Xander, however, didn't. He felt like a vibrating beacon of hope, contrasting very sharply with his cold feeling.

She wondered if it was possible for a vampire to fool her senses. She chuckled lightly, almost hearing the voice of her Watcher, Sandra Raine, in her ear.

'Anything is possible between magic, technology and the supernatural beasts you have to destroy. Never believe one of the minions of darkness, never trust them. They will only turn on you eventually, it's their nature.'

And true to form, Sandra had rattled off many, many instances where Slayers were killed because they forgot that rule. Including the worst Slayer in history, Buffy Summers.

Xander claimed to be a friend of Buffy. Slayers didn't have friends. Still, it'd be worth looking into it.

She didn't believe Xander for a second, but if she played along, they might be able to kill Spike, and then she'd remove the threat Xander would be.

If he did know Slayers in the past, he'd know how they were trained too, and if he wasn't killed he'd probably be the next William the Bloody. All vampires were the same underneath. Their faces and mannerisms were different, for sure. But that didn't matter, their mannerisms didn't matter, they were all demons.

No matter how nice they seemed.


She logged onto the Watcher database. It took a long time, but the Council had finally begun to catch up to the twenty-first century when it came to storing information. She ran a search for Rupert Giles' diary.

The diary opened up on the screen. As she read through it, she leaned back and rested her head on her left hand. The entries seemed very, very familiar. Like she'd read them before. That couldn't be. She'd never read Rupert's entries before.

She frowned.

The entries were pretty basic. The day-to-day bits of training Buffy, small notes on her rebellious nature. How after a three-year run, she let her lessons as a Slayer fall to the wayside and was killed by a vampire on her eighteenth birthday.

That didn't sound right. For some odd reason, it didn't sound right.

She blinked and opened up another diary, one from fifty years ago. The diary of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. He'd eventually trained the Slayer, Amanda Ryan. She'd read it before, and she was just double-checking.

There. An entire passage was exactly the same, just the names changed. She swore.

As she opened diary after diary, she found more and more identical passages, doctored with name changes, altered to the point where if somebody wasn't actively looking for the changes, they'd never find them.

All that was left was questions. Who was Buffy, what was so bad about her that they erased as many accounts as they could from history?

And where did Xander fit into it?

She sighed, glaring at the Rupert Giles entry, as if she got angry enough with it it'd crumble and reveal the truth. Instead it just sat there, glowing happily, as if mocking the curious Slayer.

She'd listened to Sandra before. How Buffy Summers had done little of note, died early on, and how because of her weakness the more powerful Kendra had been called to be a Slayer.

If that were the case, though....why had Rupert's diary been altered? There's no reason to alter a Watcher diary, it's not only immoral it doesn't make sense, every Watcher's contribution assists the current Slayer to a degree, some more some less, but erasing a diary would, or could, at least, erase valuable knowledge.

Unless Buffy was a lot more than it was saying. So much more that she was dangerous to the Council itself? That would make sense..but why then doctor the journal? If she went rogue and started killing Council members, they'd keep records of how she was defeated at least.

Suddenly, Vanessa felt much, much less confident in the Council.

"Vanessa, what are you doing?" Sandra's voice echoed from the study of the flat they shared.

"Nothing much, I'm just.." She started.

Sandra emerged from the study, a little concern in her eyes. Sandra stood at just over six feet, a pale redhead. She was plain, just on the side of attractive, but not stunningly so. Curiosity and concern in equal parts danced in her eyes.

"..Looking up the records for Spike. He's been giving us problems, if we can just anticipate what he's going for next we could catch him exposed."

Sandra nodded. "Good idea, although I doubt you'll find anything. I've poured over the diaries and records since he showed up here and I haven't found much of use."

Vanessa nodded. "Yes, but I might be able to see a pattern in his tactics. It's better than just wondering what he'll do next."

Sandra made a murmur of agreement and went back into her study.

Turning back to the computer, Vanessa ran a search for Xander. She had only his first name, it wasn't much, but maybe....

Came back empty. Figures.


Allandra met with Xander in his new apartment. She looked around, curious as to how the vampire had settled in.

"I like this place. It's got a lot of room, the kitchen is nice..." She said while opening the fridge. She stopped speaking the moment she saw the bloodbags.

"What? Oh, right. Well, you didn't expect me to go around feeding on people, huh?" Xander said with a smirk.

"Well, no. I just wasn't expecting this. Have you thought about using wine bottles? They'd be less...conspicuous." She replied.

"Yeah, but remember, I'd have to dump wine first. Or I could mix it with the blood, but the last time I did any mixing I lost a few decades, so I'm not going to do that anytime soon. Anyhow, where's that case?" He jumped up and down like a little puppy.

Allandra laughed. "In the hall, Xander."

He went out and dragged the case in, then opened it up, revealing the now very old arsenal, and the broken stakegun. He started disassembling it on the living room floor, a little smile on his face.

"Xander?" Allandra asked.

He continued his work, humming to himself.

"Xander?" She asked again, a little louder this time.

He actually began whistling now.

"Xander!?" She said, just short of yelling.

He looked up. "What, what? Oh, sorry. I just like tinkering with things." He said with a sheepish grin.

She rolled her eyes. "What are you doing with this?"

He smiled a little bit.

"I'm going to make this little sucker into a nice, little treat for Spike. I think he'll enjoy it."

Chapter 14

Xander trailed the Slayer at a distance. He was sure she'd already sensed him, she was on high alert, but he managed to stay out of sight. Angel had put him through a course on how to stay quiet and out of sight without losing sight of his target.

Circling around her slowly, almost casually, he emerged from the shadows of a crypt ten feet to her right.

"Yo, looking for little ol' me, hm?" He spoke in a very casual tone of voice, as if discussing the weather.

She turned with a bit of a scowl. "As a matter of fact, yes. You're good at sneaking around, did you learn that from the local rats?"

Xander smirked, putting on a pained expression and holding his hand over his heart. "Oh, ouch, yeah, you got it. Well, actually, from a nearby rat eater....but whatever." He let his hands drop. "Actually I'm here to hear about what you read in Giles' Diary. Can't help but wonder what it said about me."

Her face grew a little less wary, although she did keep him in full view the whole time. "It didn't say anything."

Xander blinked. "Huh? Exsqueeze me? How can it not say anything about me?"

"Just that. It looked like to me his diary was erased and rebuilt, I think somebody didn't want the information in his diary to be widely known. Any idea what it could have said?" She spoke, curiosity on her face.

Xander swore.

"No, not really. I guess I'll never know, now. Unless somebody still has the real copy down somewhere, there's no way I'd know what he put in it." He sighed. Then he looked at her rather warily.

"You know, I never did get your name. I don't want to pull a Spike and keep calling you 'Slayer' all the time, so...." He began.

"Vanessa. My name's Vanessa." She said, a little hesitantly.

Xander nodded. "All right, Vanessa. I want to talk, somewhere where we can do so without attracting attention or the other local nightlife. Is the Bronze still around?"

She shook her head. "That club burned down ten years ago. There's another club built out of an old warehouse, called The Haven. We can speak there as it's neutral territory."

Xander nodded. "All right, lead the way."

She shook her head. "You're in front, I don't trust you."

He laughed. "Fair enough."


Xander looked around The Haven. It confirmed his worst fears.

Six decades ago in LA, he'd been given the quick rundown on all the vampire clans and sects by Lily, in Caritas.

Thus when Xander saw the symbol on the wall, he stopped and blinked for a moment, and then quickly led Vanessa to a table where they could sit down and as inconspicious as possible.

He leaned over and spoke quietly in her ear.

"Don't make any sudden moves, this club is very dangerous. I'll bet the owners wouldn't put up too much of a fuss if something happened to you in here."

She looked confused.

Xander sighed. "This club is run by a vampire. One of the nasty ones." He nodded over to the symbol on the wall.

Vanessa looked over and then turned back to Xander. "Is that what that means?"

He nodded again.

"Why are you telling me this?" She said, looking confused. If it was a trap, he'd have just let her know about it and put her on guard, rendering the trap nearly useless.

"I don't want to see you get hurt." Was his simple reply. She blinked. She could tell, he wasn't lying.

Vanessa sighed. "All right, as long as we're here, I'll tell you what happened, at least what I know. I met Buffy when I was a freshman in high school..."

And so he talked, calmly. Smiling wistfully when he recalled those early days, sighing and looking a little hurt as he recounted the painful events, seeming to be on the verge of laughter when he recalled the mannerisms of some of his best friends.

He told her as much as he felt he could. The events that led to his Embrace. Surviving on the streets of LA. His encounter with Spike on Christmas. Awakening in this time, and learning at the feet of the legendary vampire with a soul.

He told Vanessa about saving Allandra from the corrupted former vampire hunter. Moving back to Sunnydale.

She just sat there, her total attention on him, every word churning in her mind, rattling against her Council-made education.

A Slayer who survived four times longer and did far, far better than any before because she had a little help. A Slayer with friends and family, a purpose, a reason to survive until tomorrow.

A Slayer that made accomplishments previously unheard of.

And it explained so many things. Like why after centuries of fairly quiet demonic activity, the Hellmouth was unguarded when it kindled into activity and nobody was there to calm it. It was a lie.

Buffy and her crew of helpers, her friends and family was there and they calmed it down. They kept it closed and quiet until it lapsed into calm again.

When Xander finished, he looked a bit tired. He checked his watch. "Look, I'm sorry, I've got a few other things to do today. How about I meet you out in front of the High School tomorrow night? Then we can go after Spike."

She nodded and stood up, walking briskly out the door.

Xander stood up and stretched, brushing his plain tan trenchcoat. He strode up to one of the bouncers.

"I'd like to speak with the owner, if that could be arranged?" He said politely.

The bouncer sized him up, and then nodded. He pulled out a cellphone and dialed a number quickly. "Hey Mike. I got a guy here who wants to talk to you. Yeah, he's a member. Right." The bouncer nodded to Xander. "Right this way."

Xander followed, his eyes drifting to the symbol of the Sabbat on the wall.


Michael Thanton of the Clan Toreador sized up the Brujah who walked in the door, followed closely behind by a human bouncer.

Mike was reassured by the presence of his own two Brujah bodyguards on either side of himself. One was a beautiful pale redheaded woman, the other was a hulking giant of a man, a blonde haired warrior. He made a show of organizing papers on his desk as he studied the newcomer. Mike wasn't a tall man, he was a plain man, wearing glasses. He appeared to be a thirty year old banker type, although if he wasn't good at surviving at least he wouldn't be a member of the Sabbat.

He was young, and he had potential. He was strong, equal in generation to Mike. He could be a problem.

"Can I help you, sir?" Mike stated, leaning back in his chair, folding his hands.

The newcomer turned and nodded to the human bouncer. "Thanks, Mike and I have some things to discuss."

The bouncer looked at Mike for confirmation. At Mike's nod, he walked out the door and closed it.

The young Brujah turned back and looked at Mike, ignoring the bodyguards.

"All right. The name's Alexander Harris of the Clan Brujah. I'm here for answers." Xander crossed his arms. "Why are the Sabbat in Sunnydale?"

Mike smiled slightly. "To keep order for our kind of course. Thinking of joining?"

"Not really. I assume you're the head honcho around here?"

Mike nodded slightly. Sunnydale wasn't large enough or important enough to warrant a larger presence of Sabbat, and it was still not close enough or in a good position to funnel people over to undermine the Camarilla's position in LA.

Xander smiled slightly, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Good. Then I won't need to annoy your superiors. Sunnydale is under my protection now. I'm don't want to run this place, but I will if I have to. Keep out of my way and play nice, and I won't need to change the regime around here. Got it?"

Mike raised an eyebrow. "And you think you can enforce your will around me, hm? You're getting into very, very thick mud here, little one."

Xander just smirked. "We'll see, boyo. Play nice around the Kine or I'll get nasty." He then turned and walked out, without waiting for Mike's response.

Mike just sat back in his chair, and turned to the bodyguard on the left, the giant.

"Hans, I'd like to see our dear Mister Harris meet with an unfortunate accident. Would you please arrange it?" Mike said.

Hans only smiled.


Xander walked into his apartment, only to find Allandra cleaning a rapier.

"Hey Allandra, looking good. Uh...I hope you're not going to test that on me, I just cleaned this shirt." He said, smiling a bit.

She laughed lightly. "Really? It doesn't look it. If I'm not mistaken you wore that two days ago and it hasn't been washed."

Xander shrugged. "Well you know there's more than just 'dirty' and 'clean' there's many subtle layers." He said with a grin, moving his hands as if demonstrating.

It didn't matter much in his case, on a vampire clothes tended to stay clean for longer than normal. He could wear the same set of clothing for a full week without much of a problem, although any set of clothing would get musty after a while. It became a running joke between Allandra and Xander though.

She set the rapier aside and turned her whole attention on Xander. "So what did you find out, Xander?"

He quickly recalled the meeting with Vanessa and finding out about the vampire boss of Sunnydale.

"Isn't that dangerous, to put yourself at odds with their leader?" She asked, concerned.

"Just a bit. Thing is, their faction isn't nice and kind, if they know about the Hellmouth they'll try and use it so they can rule over everybody like lords over cattle. The Camarilla just wants to survive. They don't know about the Hellmouth, or at least I think they don't, so I'm acting on their behalf." Xander said, completely serious.

Allandra nodded. Then her face turned grave. "Xander, I saw somebody today. He was watching me, so I took a picture of him with my cellphone's camera. I thought you might recognize him."

She handed him the phone and Xander looked at the picture on the miniature screen. And then he swore.

"Allandra, you remember that demon, when we first met?"

Allandra nodded, her beautiful features twisting into a pained expression.

He turned the phone around, showing her the picture of a very human looking Nicholas.

"That's what he looks like the rest of the time."

She swore in Elven. Xander didn't know what she said, but it had to be nasty.


Ifrit stirred. He flexed and tested the tendrils that linked him and his servant across the planes.

The connection was growing stronger, Nicholas was getting closer. One more week and he'd be free. Ifrit could now, for the first time, see what things were like on that Earth.

He was disappointed, to say the least. That plane looked like nothing better than a primitive, dull place.

Ifrit didn't mind, however. Hell was certainly exciting, but it wasn't a place he wanted to stay forever, it'd be nice to be somewhere dull for a while. He could keep himself occupied.

Standing from his throne, Ifrit stretched his burning form. His footsteps left smoking indentations in the floor, his throne was always comfortably warm, although most other creatures would be screaming in pain sitting on its white-hot surface.

The doors to his throne room opened up. Ifrit looked up, his eyes examining the intruder with all the hostility of a Lord of Hell.

The little messenger imp cowered before the Devil Lord. It scampered up to Ifrit's feet, and held up a parchment.

Ifrit grunted and took it. The imp, his duty done, quickly ran out of Ifrit's throne room, scared for his life.

Unrolling the parchment, Ifrit began to read.

Lord Ifrit, Ruler of the Fire Plains of Keth.

I am aware of your plan, Lord Ifrit, to leave this plane and remove yourself from our esteemed company. Know that if our only superior to know, he'd easily keep you in this place you so despise.

Personally, I do not care what you do. In fact, I wish you good tidings on your journey. Since you will be leaving, permanently, once you are gone I shall annex your lands and resources as things of use. I know were the positions reversed, you would do the same, and by your own code of honor, you would declare such intentions at my doorstep had I managed to leave in this manner.

The King of Hell, doddering old fool that he is, suspects you are up to something. In good faith I have diverted his attention many times these last few decades. Your lands after your departure is compensation, and thus I will not be bothering you. Let us be civilized about this, shall we?

I have only sent you this letter to allow you to be aware of the coming tide. We have done enough favors for each other in the past that this shall allow our debts to be even when you leave.

The world you are going to is dangerous indeed. It is currently a battleground between our...former sect and other places of banishment. There were several thousand of us banished, and only a few of us came to this Hell, after all.

When you arrive, I suggest you keep your head down. There are many forces which could destroy you, although they are far apart, they are dangerous enough and they could indeed band together, which would be a threat to even you. Vampires, both descended from us and from the one known as Caine, can defeat anything with the proper tactics. The Weres, the Garou in particular are capable of feats only our best Devil Knights could match. The Mages are as we were, long, long ago. Only strike at them if needed. And lastly, the Champions. They can come from anywhere and be anyone, or anything. Be on your guard.

I wish you the best of luck in this new world, old friend. May your enemies die by the score at your hand, and may their souls sustain you until the end of days.

General Kyannar, Hand of Apocalypse.

Ifrit smiled. It was nice to have friends in Hell.


Xander met up with Vanessa outside of Sunnydale High. He carried a duffle bag in his right hand.

She looked at him, her expression curious as she sized him up, once again. "What's in the bag?" The ebony Slayer asked.

Xander smiled. He put the bag down and opened it up, and yanked out his pet project. "A little gift for William the Bloody."

He held out the fixed up stakegun and flicked a switch. The end of it light up with a blue flame.

Then Xander turned and fired at the ground, twenty feet away. As the stake left the launcher, it passed through the flame and caught on fire, and as it struck the ground it burned slowly.

Vanessa smiled, her eyes dancing with the idea of what that would do to a vampire. "Nasty. How'd you come up with the idea?"

Xander looked a little abashed. "Oh, uh...from a comic book.."

Vanessa laughed. "I can just see you now, sitting in a coffin reading comic books. Sandra would have a fit knowing that vampires get their best ideas from comics."

Xander grinned. "Hey, it's possible. I've heard of a few around that think they're Dr. Doom or The Kingpin. Um...do they still make those comics? And hey! I don't use a coffin anymore! Give me a little credit."

Vanessa shrugged. "I wouldn't know, I don't read comics. And my apologies, oh mighty vampire, I had no idea you slept on the floor."

Xander sighed. "Yeah, me and the floor like each other. We're both cold."

Vanessa grinned. "Ready to go, Xander? I'm rather eager to get rid of Spike."

Xander smiled wolfishly. "Oh yeah, right there with you babe."

Vanessa's jaw dropped. "Babe?!"


Spike sat on an old sofa, and watched the video of Vanessa Stevens as she fought against the cannon fodder he sent her way a week ago.

She was strong and tough, she'd been athletic and trained in the martial arts before she was Chosen, he could see that. Her moves also showed she was overconfident. She didn't think she could be injured, she thought she was better than she was. All Spike would have to do is get her where he wanted her and she'd be his latest meal.

Been a while since he had the blood of a Slayer. Nearly fifteen years now. The stuff was pretty addictive. It took quite a bit of willpower to not just hunt down every Slayer that came around just to get the blood. It wasn't smart to do that, and Spike survived by being smart.

Soft, loving hands caressed his chest. He smiled and turned, kissing his lover. "Hey pet, sleep well?"

She smirked, stroking back her short brown hair. "Always do, Spikey. Is the little Slayer all set up for the killing now? I'm bored and hungry."

Spike smiled. "Of course Beth, she's nice and ready. And she should be here anytime now. We've got a little bit of help you know." He smirked, nodding over to the large, hulking figure.

Beth giggled "I like him, he's all big and nasty. Did you know him in the old days, Spikey?"

The giant smirked and nodded once.

Spike laughed. "Oh my, yes pet. We met briefly about...what, a hundred twenty years ago? He was a nasty bugger then and he's even better now. We'll take care of that Slayer and whoever that ponce is who wants to protect Sunnyhell like some kinda knight."

Beth grinned widely. "Oh goody. Let the bright blood flow!"


Xander calmly checked over the stakegun, shifting the position of the katana across his back with an elbow.

Vanessa sharpened both of her stakes with a paring knife, looking at the old apartment building Spike was holed up in.

Neither one spoke, just anticipating the battle ahead.

Xander nodded to Vanessa, indicating he was ready.

She nodded in return. Clamping her lips shut, she walked up to the front door and kicked it in.

Two vampires stood up from the run down sofa they were sitting on, and ran towards the teenage Slayer, growling.

Vanessa calmly staked one, almost mechanically, while she heard the stakegun going off. The flaming stake went right past her shoulder and lodged in the vampire's throat. His eyes widened, and he clawed at the stake as the flames spread quickly through his body, like it was made out of tinder. The poor creature couldn't even scream as it caught on fire and burst into ash.

Xander grinned widely as he patted the side of the stakegun. "Oh yeah, can I make em good or what, huh?"

Vanessa just smirked. Then spoke quietly. "I can feel some more downstairs."

Xander nodded. He slowly moved, making no noise at all as he strode to the basement door, and tried to open it. Since it was locked, he shrugged and tore the door off the frame.

Xander and Vanessa jumped down the stairs, Xander brandishing the custom stakegun, Vanessa standing with both stakes in a combat stance, ready to do her dance of death.

As four vampires surrounded them, both Xander and Vanessa moved as one, Xander simply lined up and fired his stakegun at the nearest vampire, Vanessa kicked out, slamming her foot into a vampire's chest and it flew across the room, smacking into a cement wall. She turned and used her left arm to slam her second vampire's hands out of the way as she used her right to stake it.

Xander's first shot missed, but that wasn't a problem. He just jumped back and shot again. That shot flew true, and it slammed into the vampire's stomach. He screamed in agony as the flames spread throughout his body, bursting into dust even as he tried to yank out the burning stake.

Xander's second enemy looked very hesitant, seeing the fate of the first. As Xander lined up to shoot him, he jumped to the side, narrowly avoiding the launched stake. Xander lined up a second shot and this one hit the vampire in the foot. He yelled and yanked the stake out, quickly patting out the flames. He tried to crawl away from Xander, who was calmly striding up with the stakegun brandished. He stood over the vampire, aiming directly down at his back.

"Hasta la vista, baby." He said, and pulled the trigger. The vampire burst into ash a moment later.

Vanessa, meanwhile had already staked the vampire she slammed into the wall, and was watching him with a look of interest on her face. Xander shrugged.

"So what, I liked Terminator 2. I always wanted to say that and be badass." He said with a pout.

She smirked. "I think you'll have to wait a while longer before getting that."

There was clapping at the top of the stairs of the basement.

"Well, if it isn't the Slayer and her little sidekick, all nice badass demon hunter. You've given me quite a headache, you know." Spike's familiar voice rang out.

The basement was fairly dark. Spike couldn't see Vanessa's companion clearly. He remedied that by doing the most simple thing.

He turned on the light.

And found the sneering face of someone he never thought he'd see again.

"Droopy?! What in the bloody hell?!" Spike exclaimed.

"Hey Fangless, did you ever get that chip out of that pea-sized piece of crap you call a brain?" Xander said, pure hatred evident on his face. His hands were shaking so badly he couldn't have hit the broad side of a barn with the stakegun.

"You're dead!" Spike said, as if saying it would actually make Xander vanish.

Xander actually laughed, his hands coming back under control. "No, I'm undead, remember. You're the dead one, Spikey-boy. I owe you for twenty-four hours of torture and sixty lost years. It's time to collect."

He raised the stakegun and fired. Spike's hand blurred and caught the stake. Then he dropped it before it could give him much more than a light burn.

"Ow! Fuck! Hans! Kill this fucking ponce!" Spike jumped back, letting the seven and a half foot tall giant march down the stairs. Xander moved the stakegun, only to have Hans grab the barrel and crush it.

"Ah shit." Xander said, just before Hans' fist slammed into him and he went crashing into the cement wall.

"Xander!" Vanessa exclaimed. She couldn't take both Spike and Hans on her own. Or so she told herself.

He just yelled. "Get Spike! Don't let him get out!" He rolled to his feet, drawing the four foot long katana in the same motion.

She nodded and ran after Spike.

Xander took a good look at Hans, who was now keeping his distance from the reach of the sword.

Hans just smirked and ripped his black shirt in two. Revealing his chest and arms had been covered with tattoos. The majority of which were swastikas.

Great, he was a giant Nazi.

"I am Hans Gruber of the Brujah Clan. In my unlife I serve Mein Fuhrer as I did in life. We shall bring his vison to pass and those dregs and weaklings shall be cast aside."

Great, a giant, fanatic, speech giving Nazi.

"I am Xander Harris of the Brujah Clan." He rose the katana to an offensive combat stance. "You are a monster, a follower in life and in death. You have no honor. I give you the choice. Do you want to arrive in Hell fast or slow?"

Hans actually looked puzzled. "Why do you hate me so, hm? We are brothers in blood. Join us, my fellow Brujah."

Xander laughed, tensing himself. "If you had it your way my best friend wouldn't have been born, asshole. I guess you could say I'm going to collect on her family's behalf."

With that, Xander charged and swung the katana with his full vampiric speed. Hans moved back, his huge bulk making it more difficult for him to move to attack. Hans was kept on the defensive as Xander moved with the grace that had been hammered into him through Angel's training regimen. Xander swung across Hans' stomach, cutting a thin line across his belly and he growled.

Hans retaliated by jumping back and he sprung off the wall, lashing out at Xander's face with a kick.

Xander ducked under it and swung the blade up.

Neatly cutting off Hans' right leg at the knee.

Hans howled as he fell to the ground. He turned to lash at Xander with his fist, but Xander just rose his leg and took the impact on the shin, doing next to no damage. He put the tip of the sword to Hans' throat.

"You're a disgrace to the Brujah Clan, Hans. Give your Fuhrer my regards when you get to Hell."

With that, Xander lifted the blade and swung.

Moments later, only a decapitated, desiccated skeletal corpse was in the basement, Xander having left before Hans' head could bounce.


Vanessa chased Spike, slowly gaining on him as he moved.

He jumped on top of a crypt and looked down at her as she scowled at him.

"Come on Slayer, you didn't really think I wouldn't have a plan when it came to you, did you?" He said with a smirk.

Vanessa stopped, paying attention to her own supernatural sense as she felt no less than ten fledgling vampires, Spike, and another master vampire near her.

She looked up and glared at Spike as he was joined with a pretty brunette girl, who smirked down at her. He had a grin on his face, just like the cat who got into the cream.

"Boys, would you mind? She needs killing." Spike said.

"Blood! I want to see her insides strewn about everywhere!" The brunette vampire at Spike's side said.

Vanessa began fighting the ten assorted vampires as they emerged and attacked at all angles. She moved in a deadly dance, her stakes moving quickly like cobra strikes.

In short order, she staked three vampires who charged in heedlessly.

The other seven had a little more in the way of a brain, however. They moved to attack in concert. She was now put completely on the defensive. She couldn't get an attack in.

Their strategy was now obvious. They intended to wear her down, then Spike would move in for the kill.

That was the moment Xander leapt into the fray. He came at a vampire from behind and swung his sword using his full speed. He never saw it coming.

The vampire was dead before the pain of a sliced neck could even register in his mind, as Xander moved behind the next one and cut with the rage and controlled fury of a tornado. With that opening, Vanessa moved in.

Within two minutes, the rest were dead. Xander turned to Spike who was standing on top of the crypt, alone now.

He snarled and jumped up, landing on top of the crypt near Spike, brandishing the katana in front of him.

"Spike, Spike, Spike. Don't you realize I'm not the type to give up so easily." He said, nearly snarling.

"I've gotta give you credit, droopy. Never thought you'd get away from Hans. He's good. Then again, you always were good at running away." Spike said, smirking.

Xander laughed. "Sorry Spike, the Nazi won't be running to your aid today. He's dead."

Spike's face fell. "Well shit." Then he lashed out with his fist.

Spike had killed four Slayers in his time. He was used to fighting superior enemies. He was quick, spry, and never overconfident.

He moved around Xander's katana as fluidly as water. He struck out at Xander's throat, causing Xander to duck and swerve.

Both vampires moved fluidly, as if they were one. Vanessa just watched, unable to join in, because there just wasn't a way for her to climb up and she didn't think she could jump up.

Xander moved coldly. There wasn't anything on his face, now he had moved into the true state of vengeance. There was no passion. No more hatred. No more fear. Just himself and his enemy. The enemy that would die here and now for what he had done.

Vanessa choked suddenly. She was so entranced by the fight she hadn't paid enough attention to the other master vampire.

"Stop fighting now, or she dies!" A new, female voice rang out into the night.

Spike stopped, and so did Xander. Xander's eyes were completely cold, and he slowly turned to look down at Vanessa and the other vampire.

Spike just laughed. "Thanks pet, you came in just in time." He jumped down off the crypt roof and moved towards Vanessa and Beth.

Xander jumped down after Spike, moving slowly towards the captive Slayer and the new vampire.

"Let her go." Xander said.

"Drop the sword." Was Beth's reply.

Xander complied, his hands clenched.

"You kill her and you're both dead." He stated, matter of factly. Spike and Beth looked at each other.

"Come on, you couldn't take me in a million years." Was Beth's reply.

Spike spoke up. "Come on pet, let's get out of here, before one of us ends up dusted."

Beth shrugged and tossed Vanessa to Xander. He caught her in his arms, and then looked up to Beth, getting his first good look at her.

And he gasped.

"She lives cause you saved my life. Now we're even. Next time we'll kill you both. I'm looking forward to it, Xand." She stated.

And with that, the vampire Spike, and the vampire Beth, formerly known as the Vampire Slayer Buffy Summers, walked away into the night, leaving Xander holding a very confused Slayer in his arms.

He let go of Vanessa and picked up his katana.

"Wait! Xander!" He heard distantly in his mind.

He didn't care. He ran. He ran as fast as he possibly could to get back to his apartment.

He walked in the door, completely on autopilot. One thought running over and over in his mind.

'Buffy's a vampire. Buffy's with Spike. Buffy's against me.'

He dropped his katana and screamed. He began pounding a wall in frustration. He barely heard Allandra trying to calm him down. His vengeance was denied. It was stopped by the woman he had loved, still loved, on some level. His heart ached. His mouth felt like it was on fire. The impossible was true. He had to be in Hell.

Eventually he collapsed onto the couch and began to cry bloody tears. He was only partially aware as gentle, warm, caring arms enveloped him as he drifted off to sleep.

On the other side of town, the demon wearing Buffy's face rubbed her chin as she considered a way to bring Xander Harris of the Brujah Clan into the fold.

Chapter 15

Xander slept.

He felt warm. Protected. Safe.

He hadn't felt that for a long time. Just to sleep, dreamless, comfortable, without the nightmares of Spike's gleeful torture on his helpless form.

He stirred slightly, only partially aware as warm hands caressed his face and pushed him slowly back down into the dark recesses of his slumber.

He felt loved, cared for, wanted.

It was a nice feeling.

In the depths of his slumber, Xander smiled.


Allandra watched and cradled the slumbering vampire in her arms.

She cared for him, perhaps even loved him, she knew that now. She could see what he was.

A hero.

A creature of darkness, shunned by the light, condemned at best to exist in indifference.

Xander refused to accept it. He saw the darkness and fought it. Even after becoming a part of it he still fought it.

She'd watched him in the time they spent together. He was not only fighting the demons without, but to reclaim the humanity within.

And doing so in the face of things like Nicholas. Xander's opposite in many ways. Xander had loved life and fought to reclaim it. Nicholas sold himself to move farther and continue his mission, even though it was not worth it.

How many would have sold their souls for power, to rule and grow stronger beyond their wildest dreams?

Allandra had to admit to herself, far, far too many.

Yet Xander had been given the power. He didn't want it, he didn't ask for it. If someone offered to take it from him he would give it all up to become human again. She could tell. Every time he looked out the window, or at happy couples, or even her, he was in pain.

That was why he was a hero.

She only wondered if it were possible for them to be together. He was a vampire. She was an elf. A living elf. It obviously wasn't healthy. The gods only knew how much she wanted him to look at her with love.

He'd been hurt before, she could see that. He wouldn't say much about it, but it would take time for him to open up.

She could afford to wait a while. She was fifty-four, she had some patience.

She hoped it wouldn't take too long for him to come around. Waiting a century or two wasn't something she desired.


Spike lounged with Beth sitting on his lap. He rather enjoyed it.

Fifty-five years. He'd had her for fifty-five years. It didn't seem that long.

For Spike, it was heaven. And all he had to do to get to Buffy was get rid of Xander Harris. Good torture seemed to pay off very well. It set off such a lovely chain of events.

First, Willow slowly drove herself insane as she tried more and more dangerous magic to find him. All failed, because Spike had hired the best shamans Wolfram and Hart had to offer.

Tara tried harder and harder to draw Willow out of it, but she wasn't able to intervene in time to prevent Willow from going down that vicious spiral of addiction. Eventually Willow had to be committed.

Spike enjoyed that immensely. Until the day she died, Willow sat in a nice padded room, doped up on drugs and dividing her time between arguing with imaginary people and screaming in terror from intangible demons.

Tara had left Sunnydale to find some way to help Willow restore her mind. Last he heard she was in New York. Then she just vanished off the face of the earth.

Anya had begun to work with Giles, becoming a sales-girl. She rather enjoyed it. Up until she died from a completely normal mugging. It happened less than four months after he took care of droopy. Oddly enough, Spike didn't even need to arrange it.

He kind of regretted that.

Rupert Giles slowly worked himself harder and harder, trying to keep Buffy going. Eventually he became a shell of a man, crushed by the world. Within nine months he collapsed. He couldn't fill in for Buffy's father and all of her friends.

It didn't help that he was being cursed day after day. Slowly and achingly being crushed with the worst of misfortunes. Only the best curses for Spike's enemies.

And Buffy herself. Oh what a sweet peach she'd been.

She left Sunnydale after Giles' death. Grief-stricken. Spike only found her after he'd been informed of her whereabouts by his friend, Hans.

In a million years he never thought he'd find her where he did. He laughed to himself every time he thought about it.

Beth cooed in his ear. "Spikey, I think we can use Xander. Just imagine how vicious he'll be when we get through to him."

Spike grinned. "Just tell me what you've got planned, pet. I'm all ears."


Nicholas sat and waited in the sleazy motel in which he was operating out of..

He could feel it. She was near. She'd stayed a step ahead of him ever since she came through the Gate.

His master knew what she was. She had to die. She was too dangerous.

Pity. She was rather attractive. Oh well. He needed his master's power. He wouldn't risk losing it now.

It was still a pity she didn't know what she was. Oh well. She'll learn.


Xander slowly woke from his peaceful, dreamless sleep, only to see the beautiful face of Allandra the moment he opened his eyes.

She smiled at him. "Good afternoon, Xander."

He slowly sat up. "You were holding me the entire time I was asleep?" He looked rather embarrassed.

She nodded.

Xander sighed. "Thanks. I needed that. I haven't slept like that since....well...a long time ago."

Allandra nodded. "Would you mind telling me what happened last night? You came in on the verge of flying apart."

Xander sighed, and nodded. "Buffy...my friend, the Slayer..and someone I cared about..is a vampire. Not like me...but a demon with her face. And...I don't know what I can do about it."

Allandra nodded. "I..see."

She straightened up on the couch. "What can I do?"

Xander just smiled a bit.

He began to lay out his plan, while Allandra looked more and more apprehensive.

After he'd finished, he stood up. Allandra looked at him with a lot of concern on her face.

"I need to make a phone call." Was all Xander said.


"Angel Investigations, we help the helpless." Said a cheerful voice over the line.

Xander spoke into the phone coldly. "Can I speak with Angel? It's Xander."

"One moment please."

Xander was treated to elevator music as he was put on hold, only increasing his irritation.

A moment later, Angel's voice came over the line.

"This is Angel."

Xander blurted out. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Xander? Tell you what?"

"That Buffy was a vampire! Why did you not tell me?!"

"She's...a vampire?" Angel sounded shocked.

Xander took in a few deep breaths. "You didn't know?"

"Obviously not, Xander. Tell me what happened."

Xander quickly ran through the events of the previous night.

Angel just listened, taking in all the information.

"I see...alright Xander, listen to me very carefully. As far as I'm aware, there has been only three Slayers ever turned in the past. The last one was way, way back around the Crusades, a thousand years ago. She was a terror, one of the worst. I heard about it when I was still a vampire." Angel sighed over the line.

He continued. "They say she had powers like those of your Kindred clans, she could go invisible and rip through entire armies on her own."

"So how was she stopped?"

"Werewolves. Lots of them. An entire pack of them rooted her out and descended on her. Eight of them."

"Yeesh. Talk about overkill."

"Not really. Only one of them got out alive."

"Ouch. She was ready for them? Using silver?"

"They wish. They said that she killed them by ripping off limbs and such. Even a werewolf has trouble surviving when someone rips their head off."

"Damn... Alright, since I don't have a few werewolf pals in my back pocket, I could use some suggestions on what to do. She was right in that I couldn't take her, hell, I can't take on a mortal Slayer right now, an immortal one would be a lot worse."

"Only idea I got for you is that you know Buffy. You know how she thinks, how she acts. She may be a demon now, but aside from being evil, she'll think in the same way. She'll want from you what Buffy wanted. A vampire's demon is only as smart as the person it was before it was turned." Angel said.

"You got a point there, Angel. Question is, how do we deal with her now that she's had sixty years experience. I mean she managed to hide from you guys."

"Yeah, and that's bad. I can only guess Spike helped her stay low. I wish I had more answers for you, but I didn't know that the vampire Beth was Buffy. I thought she died over fifty years ago."

"Alright, thanks anyway Angel. I'll talk to you later."

"Take care, Xander."


Xander walked into The Haven, making a beeline for the backroom as he walked. He didn't move quickly, or in a hurry, he just wove his way through the crowd like a snake. Unnoticed unless you're looking for it.

Here and there, Xander detected a Kindred, others just the demonic kind, but here and now wasn't the place to deal with it.

He slipped past the bouncer like a shadow. The human never even knew he was there.

He just walked into the backroom, startling Mike and the redheaded Brujah at his side.

"Catch you at a bad time, hm?" Xander asked, smirking.

Mike looked apprehensive, then folded his hands. "Not at all. What can I do for you, Mister Harris?" Xander just shrugged. "I don't suppose you'd cut your own head off for me?" He said hopefully, a smile tugging at his lips.

Mike chuckled. "No, I'm rather attached to it. You're treading on very dangerous ground, Mister Harris. Do I dare ask what you've done with Hans?"

Xander scratched his chin, and pretended to think. "Hans, Hans...big guy, blond, worshiper of Hitler, lots of tattoos? Hrm.. Let me think.. Um. Oh yeah! He was looking kinda...dead, last time I saw him. All kind of crumbly and stuff."

The redhead at Mike's side growled, but she was held back by Mike's hand. "Lucille..."

She bit her lip and glared at Xander.

He just smiled back. "Love ya too, sweetie."

The glare intensified.

Xander finally turned his total attention back to Mike. "Alright, I'm going to tell you nice and straight. I warned you. You sent the big ape out to help Spike. You didn't play nice. Now I'm going to get nasty."

Unknown to Michael Thanton, at that moment Allandra was in the club, and she casually wandered over and hit the fire alarm.

Mike jumped up from his seat in the moment the bells started to ring. Xander just grinned broader. Without a word he turned and walked out the door.

Patrons were fleeing the club en masse. Within moments, there was nobody in the club but the three vampires.

That was part of the plan, having Allandra leave with the crowd.

Xander just turned around and waited on the dance floor, looking very pleased with himself.

Mike walked out with Lucille at his side, looking very, very angry at this point. Xander smiled to himself. He was angry, and angry people make mistakes. Big ones. It's even easier with vampires, and Kindred. The Beast or the demon didn't like being goaded.

Lucille flexed her fingers, looking at Xander like a rabid dog on the end of a leash and he was the nearest piece of meat to gnaw on. Which was pretty accurate.

Xander just stood there cooly, seemingly relaxed.

Mike looked to Lucille, his own angry broiling. He spoke.

"Kill him."

Lucille smiled then, and flexed her hands. Which grew into long, ugly claws.

Xander blinked once, but kept himself from looking concerned.

Lucille jumped at him, growling.

Xander just stepped to the side, letting Lucille sail past him and land on the floor. He watched, completely in control as she rolled to her feet.

She growled at him and leapt at him again, in the same stupid manner.

Xander knew she was in frenzy. His own Beast broiled under the surface, but he was controlling it.

That was the key. It was futile to deny the Beast. To even try was like to try telling a human not to breathe. They could, for a while. A short while. Then their bodies take over and force them to start breathing again. If they don't they'll fall unconscious, and automatically start breathing again. It was natural.

And so it was with the Beast. And thus the same applied. But like the martial artist, the true power of the vampire didn't come from the Beast any more than the true power of a human came from breathing. It was control. Control of oneself.

And while Xander wasn't the best at fighting, even now. He had control. His enemy didn't. That was all he needed.

He moved past Lucille as she jumped at him, pulling his katana from under his coat and swinging in a single motion.

Lucille didn't land in one piece. She landed in three.

She screamed as she landed on the ground, looking at her severed arms in shock. She didn't scream long as Xander swept up behind her and cut her head off.

Xander calmly turned to Mike, the katana raised, with a light sheen of Lucille's blood on it.

Mike tried a different tack. He focused on Xander.

"You don't want to fight me, Mister Harris. We can use someone like you. It would be a shame if something happened to you, Mister Harris. I like your attitude." Mike spoke, using every ounce of willpower the Dominate Discipline granted the Toreador.

Xander grunted, shaking his head quickly, taking a step backwards.

Mike smiled. "You're getting tired, Mister Harris. You've been up all night and day and all you want to do is rest. Don't worry Mister Harris. We'll take good care of you."

Xander lowered the sword, growing more and more weary as he was slowly entranced.

Mike now smiled like a predator, advancing on Xander.

Then several things happened.

Something that hit with the force of a sledgehammer hit Michael Thanton of the Toreador Clan in the temple. Blood sprayed out of the small wound even as the sound of the gunshot echoed through the club.

Xander suddenly regained his senses in the moment of the gunshot. Moving forward with a growl, he cut the other Kindred's head off with a single swipe, before Michael could even hit the ground.

He turned to see his rescuer.

Only to see Nicholas calmly blow the smoke from the end of the handgun he'd just fired.

Xander just said. "Ah crap."

Nicholas rose the handgun in Xander's direction. Xander quickly activated Celerity and jumped out of the way. Diving behind the bar, Xander lay flat on the floor as Nicholas unloaded every round of the handgun into the unoffending wall over him.

Nicholas yelled. "Come on, you bloodsucking leech! Don't cower from me! Fight like a man!"

Xander yelled back. "Tell you what, Nicholas! You fight me as you really are and I'll stomp your ass into the ground!"

The response was, predictably, more gunfire.

Xander swore under his breath and crawled slowly and silently away from area Nicholas was shooting at.

Nicholas walked towards the bar, his boots thudding on the floor. Moving over the bar, he looked for his quarry.

Xander wasn't there. Nicholas quickly turned around, his gun at the ready.

Xander wasn't there either.

Getting paranoid now, Nicholas swivelled around looking for his target.

Xander leapt out at Nicholas from behind a pillar, swinging his katana, aiming at Nicholas' right arm, which held the handgun.

Nicholas drew back, managing to save his arm, but the sharp katana cleaved the gun in half.

The former hunter was forced to dodge backwards, trying in vain to get to the guns in his coat while keeping his limbs intact.

Xander kept advancing, relentlessly and remorselessly, swinging the katana faster and faster, slowly losing control. The desperation Xander felt in facing this enemy was drawing out the Beast as surely as a rising tide. The pace and thrill of battle flowed through him.

It was the Brujah curse. Their weakness. The Beast is stronger within, it rose to the surface far too readily, too easily. Xander was no different.

As Xander slowly lost his self-control to the Beast within, his movements became more sloppy. It allowed Nicholas to reach into his coat and pull a machine pistol.

Nicholas was fond of those, Xander recalled in a hazy part of his mind, the part that was still slightly sane.

Seventeen bullets exited the firing chamber of Nicholas' machine pistol in rapid succession.

Four of them missed Xander outright. As Nicholas adjusted his fire, each succeeding bullet moved closer to Xander's center mass, pushing Xander back three feet from the force of the bullets hitting his torso.

Xander collapsed on the floor, grunting.

Nicholas just smirked.

"Still a rookie, vampire. Too bad I had to wait so long to get to you." He spoke, pure hatred on his face.

Xander climbed to his feet, growling. The Beast was in command.

He dropped the katana and lunged at Nicholas, striking out with an uncoordinated, yet extremely powerful, punch, that took Nicholas off his feet and slammed him into the bar.

Nicholas stumbled to his feet, his features rippling. "Alright, you want to play, vampire. Let's play."


Vanessa ran towards the Haven, having seen people run away from it. The bells in the distance told her the fire alarm had been tripped, but she didn't see any smoke, and her supernatural sense was telling her there were several vampires inside.

Along with something...else.

As she rounded the corner of the block, she could feel one vampire vanish from her sense. One dead.

As she approached the door, she felt another one die.

She snuck in the front door just as gunfire went off. That...something, she couldn't describe, was shooting at Xander who was hiding behind the bar.

'At least it feels like Xander, I haven't met any other vampires that give off that kind of vibe.'

She hid behind a pillar, watching as Xander tried in vain to injure the Hunter.

She watched impassively as Xander was shot several times.

She blinked as Xander climbed to his feet and slammed Nicholas back into the bar.

And when Nicholas' features starting shifting, rippling like there was something else underneath, she froze up.

Her sense went insane, for a moment she couldn't sense anything as the field of sheer power burst out from him.

Visually, she took note as Nicholas burst into flame, Xander instinctively retreating from the sudden output of flames.

The flames wrapped around Nicholas and coalesced into a wall, circling around him and obscuring him from view. Xander shook his head ferally, trying to get back under control.

The flames faded, leaving a scorched floor and ceiling. But where a human, or human-appearing person was, stood a smoking, ebony-black Devil Knight.

Xander quickly rolled behind him and snatched up the katana he was using earlier.

Nicholas struck out with a single, fast punch. Striking Xander in the chest.

Xander ended up taking flight, coming to an abrupt halt as his back smacked on the very pillar Vanessa was hiding behind.

He groaned and slumped to the ground.

The devil laughed, advancing on Xander with deliberate slowness.

Vanessa sprung out from behind the pillar, smacking Nicholas in the face with a foot.

He grunted and fell back a foot, then he rose his hands into a defensive martial arts stance.

Vanessa grinned with the challenge, and she moved in, striking out as fast as she can, aiming for his face. He countered by slapping her hands out of the way and striking out at her stomach.

Like Xander before her, the single blow lifted her off her feet and sent her flying across the dance floor. She fell to the ground in a heap, coughing up blood.

Xander, meanwhile, staggered to his feet. He deliberately put himself between Nicholas and Vanessa.

Nicholas tilted his horned head. "You could have gotten away by now, vampire. Yet you still fight me? I must say I'm shocked, you've got some balls."

Xander just shrugged, willing his wounds to close. "I'm not going to let you kill somebody who can help people just so you can get your jollies. Besides, you've got this annoying habit of trying to kill me and other people I care about."

Nicholas snorted. "Holing up with the little elf, huh? You know she's just using you."

Xander cracked his knuckles. "Is it so totally out of your realm of reasoning that a person can have a friend, hm?"

Nicholas just laughed. "You're a vampire, you don't have friends. For you, people fall into three categories. Ally, slave and enemy."

Xander replied. "Said the pot to the kettle." He shrugged. "Thing is, Nicholas. I had my humanity ripped from me, you sold yours. And since you're not giving me a choice, I'm going to have to make sure your debtor collects soon."

Nicholas laughed again. "You fool. You have no idea what you're dealing with."

Xander just hunched down and got into a defensive combat stance.

Nicholas charged at Xander, swinging those massively powerful punches of his.

Xander ducked under the first punch, activating Celerity, and kicked out at Nicholas' stomach.

The devil just grunted, backing up a little bit.

Xander pressed his momentary advantage, slamming into Nicholas with a classical football tackle.

Nicholas fell to the ground in a heap, with Xander on top of him. Xander kept slamming his fist into Nicholas' face, healing his hand every time a bone broke.

However, between one punch and the next, Nicholas grabbed Xander's hand and crushed it like a normal human would crush a piece of cardboard tubing.

Xander howled in pain.

Nicholas kicked Xander off of him easily, rising to his feet in a single motion.

Xander lay on the ground near Vanessa who was struggling to breathe. He looked up to see Nicholas advancing on them both with murder in his glowing red eyes.

Then a gunshot hit the devil in the chest, knocking him back. Then another. Then another.

Eventually the devil collapsed. And then he vanished in a swirl of flames.

Xander wearily got up and looked at his savior.

Serena smirked at Xander, casually sliding the shotgun she'd used into her coat. She nodded to Vanessa and said two words.

"Help her."

Xander nodded, gingerly picking Vanessa up in his arms. When he turned around to look..Serena was no longer there.


Sandra gave a start as someone knocked on the door to her and Vanessa's flat.

'Vanessa only left for patrol two hours ago, who could it be?' She thought to herself.

She got up off her couch and opened the door to see the most unexpected sight.

A young man, bruised, bloodied and torn, held an unconscious Vanessa Stevens in his arms.

"She's hurt, she managed to tell me this is where she wanted to be brought before she got knocked out." He managed to say.

She nodded and took Vanessa from him, turning around and setting her down on the couch.

Without invitation or notice by the Watcher, Xander stepped into the flat and closed the door.

Sandra tended to Vanessa's injuries carefully, leaving Xander to look around the flat unobtrusively.

Sandra looked up from Vanessa and to Xander. "Thank you for bringing her here, sir. Your assistance is appreciated."

Xander nodded, his face humorless. "Is she going to be alright?"

Sandra nodded. "Just some bruising is all, she should be up and about in the morning without a problem." She didn't mention the splintered rib or internal bleeding. Vanessa's Slayer healing should take care of that.

Xander watched Sandra suspiciously, then nodded. "Good, then maybe you can help me out. She and I tangled with something very deadly today, I'd like to know what it was and what, if possible, could be done to kill it."

Sandra raised an eyebrow. "It? I don't know what you mean, young sir."

Xander sighed, tapping his chin. "Um...how did that go. Oh yeah." Xander cleared his throat. "Where do you want me to start, the speech with the 'The world is older than you know...' or 'Hi, I know all about the Slayer'?"

Sandra sighed and sat down on a padded chair. "All right."

Quickly she grabbed a cross and tossed it to Xander, who caught it reflexively.

He smirked, then grimaced and moved it to his left hand, even as Sandra moved to get a stake. "Hey, hey, splinter, ow, ow. You haven't sanded these down for a while, huh?" Xander then held the cross towards Sandra without the slightest amount of discomfort with it resting on his bare skin. "Satisfied?"

Sandra nodded. "I hope you understand, even though you walked in uninvited it is possible she gave one to you previously, so if you'd been a vampire..."

Xander chuckled. "Yeah, no offense taken. I get it. But for now, let's see what we can find in those books, huh?"


Vanessa had been sound asleep, the familiar voice of Sandra and an unfamiliar one slowly rousing her from her forced slumber.

She opened her eyes.

Then she shut them again. 'Ouch, ouch, bright. Painful, ouch. Damn, I feel like I've gone ten rounds with Master Morris back in training.'

She opened her eyes, more cautiously this time. "Sandra?"

Sandra appeared at her side, holding a cup of tea. "Welcome back, Vanessa." She said.

Gratefully, Vanessa took the cup.

"Yeah, welcome back, Vanessa. Hope you don't mind that we watched over you while researching." Xander spoke.

She'd have shook her head if she didn't know it'd probably knock her out again. "Yeah..no trouble."

Now she remembered. 'He kept Beth from killing me once and now he kept me from being killed by that demon knight, I don't mind, even if he's a vamp-...oh shit, he is! Then how'd he get in? I just told him where to go before I blacked out..and ow my head!'

Sandra spoke. "Vanessa, are you alright?"

Vanessa nodded. "Yes, I'll be okay. What was it, anyway? You seemed to know him.." She said, looking to Xander.

Xander shrugged. "I did, a while back. I saw him in his new bod once earlier before, but this time he was a lot stronger, plus I thought I'd killed him then. So now, Sandra and I have been researching as to what. Thanks to my skills as Research Boy, we've found out."

Sandra smiled and nodded. "Yes, Xander's quite good at researching. In any case, we've found out what it is."

Sandra moved over to her kitchen table and picked up an open book, with a picture of a Devil Knight on it, wielding an impressive sword. "It looked like this in its demon form, yes?"

Vanessa just nodded.

Sandra nodded and picked up from where she left off. "Yes, well. The Devil Knights are the elite warriors of the dark forces. They are several levels above other demons, designed and bred for warfare. Most are born in the depths of Hell, but others are made from lesser demons, enhanced by the powers and techniques of their lords."

Xander spoke up. "Yeah, that sounds about right, but would one of them make one out of a human?"

Sandra nodded. "Some of them, yes, if the human was of exceptional abilities and opened himself up, he would."

Xander looked wary. "Opened himself up?"

Sandra sighed. "There are several ways, if the person was in a coma or brain-dead, they'd be vulnerable. Others would be if the person in question invited possession-"

Xander rose his hands. "Whoa whoa whoa, back up. He's possessed?"

Sandra smiled faintly. "In a manner of speaking. The lord in question has to alter the person by creating a specific demon to enter the person's body. After the demon takes hold of the body, it creates those alterations which you've seen to create the warrior form, the form of the Knight."

Xander nodded. "Okay, I can buy that."

Sandra continued. "Now, depending on the lord they serve or are descended from, each Knight has abilities which correspond. Judging from how you described his transformation, I would guess that this person made a pact with one of the higher level devils, a fire elemental. Perhaps Abbadon or Malfor, or even Ifrit."

Vanessa rubbed her face. "Right, so Nicholas has some powers of fire. How does that help us?"

Sandra looked at Vanessa. "He will have the corresponding weaknesses as well. Deep cold would work, but it would not be easy. Frankly speaking, it's always easier to heat something up than cool it off. As for defeating one in melee combat, you'd have to overwhelm his defenses. Decapitation would work, although defeating a Devil Knight is extremely difficult."

Vanessa scrunched up her face. "How so?"

Sandra sighed. "They're as good as Slayers. Better, even, if specifically trained in certain ways."

Xander looked at his watch.

'He's probably worried about the sunrise.'

True to her assumption, he stood up.

Xander didn't look at all worried, but she could feel he had a mild sense of urgency. "I've got to go, there's somebody at home waiting for me, she's probably worried."

'Allandra, no doubt. I wonder if he plans to turn her. No, he probably wouldn't. If he wanted someone strong turned he could have taken me.'

Xander walked to the door, and opened it.

And stopped.

"Hello Xander." Beth said, standing unconcerned on the doorstep of the Watcher's home.

Chapter 16

Xander crossed his arms, narrowing his eyes. "Hello Buffy. Out for a stroll tonight?"

Beth smirked. "I left that name behind a long time ago, Xander." She looked him over with appraising eyes. "Looking good, Xander. Your last set of clothes was on the verge of making everybody go into shock."

He snorted, feeling the eyes of Vanessa and Sandra on his back. "Did you drop by just to give me a fashion critique? Or are you just reliving high school and loitering?"

Beth chuckled. "Such hostility....and so hypocritical, too. You should join me and Spike, Xander. We're the winning team. There's no point in hanging around with the humans. They're weak, pathetic."

Xander's face darkened. "Yeah? Then here, catch." He quickly tossed the cross Sandra had used on him earlier to Beth, and reflexively she caught it.

Her hand began smoking immediately, and she dropped it. Her pretty face then immediately turned into its demonic visage, with one exception. Her eyes were red, not the typical vampire yellow. She snarled. "Not smart, Xander."

She moved forward to strike him, but Xander just stepped back a foot and Buffy's hand impacted on the invisible barrier that prevented her entry, as a demon.

Sandra came to Xander's side, holding up a large cross. "You are not welcome here, demon. Begone in the name of God!"

Vanessa looked weary, but prepared, holding her stakes in a combat stance.

Beth growled, stepping back. "Fine. Be that way. You'll be one of us soon enough, whether you want to be or not, Xander!"

She turned and ran off, jumping down into an open sewer access, which she closed behind her.

Xander sighed and shut the door. "Fat chance, Buff. Fat chance."

Sandra tapped him on the shoulder.

Xander turned, only to meet Sandra's fist. Xander staggered to the side, falling to the floor of the flat, even as Vanessa shouted. "Sandra, what are you doing?!"

Sandra calmly replied. "He must be a demon of some sort, if he knew Buffy Summers while she was alive."

Xander groaned from the floor. "Hey hey, I'm a nice guy."

Sandra grabbed a stake from her coat and raised it over Xander's chest, only to have her hand intercepted by another, far stronger one. "Vanessa, what are you doing?" She exclaimed.

Vanessa stared her Watcher down. "Saving the life of someone, who saved mine twice. I don't know what he is, but I know who he is. If he wanted to hurt us, he'd have already done so."

Sandra looked at Vanessa incredulously. "He's a creature of darkness, he will only betray us, it's his nature, he must not be allowed to roam free and hurt people!"

Xander spoke up from the floor lightly. "Hello, I'm right here. I just wanted to get rid of Spike and then go off and try and live and let live, ya know?" He slowly and warily climbed to his feet, the Watcher and the Slayer still in deadlock.

He turned to Sandra. "All right, I admit it, I'm not human, haven't been for a while. But, I still have my soul, I'm still who I was before I was changed, against my will I might add, and I hate being lumped into the same category as a certain bleached blond murderer who got his jollies off by nailing railway spikes into people's heads!"

He closed his eyes and took a breath. When he opened them again, Sandra looked a little apprehensive. He sighed. "Let her go, Vanessa."

Vanessa raised an eyebrow, but let her Watcher go. Sandra rubbed her wrist.

Xander crossed his arms. "All right, now that the cat is out of the sack, you two have a choice. You can either accept my help and whatever I can do, or sit back, watch, and hope I dust Spike on my own, but there's no way in hell you could deal with Buffy or the Devil Knight Nicholas. You gals are sitting on top of the Hellmouth, and if you think for one second you can handle everything that it throws at you you've got another thing coming."

Vanessa nodded. "I'd have to agree with that, Sandra. I was defeated with one punch. I'm really not happy about it, but I would be very dead right now if Xander didn't put himself between me and the Knight, even though he could have taken off."

Sandra grimaced. "I suppose you'll claim you follow goodness and light and have pets and teddy bears, hm?" She looked very skeptical.

Xander chuckled. "No, I won't claim that I have pets or teddy bears, and there are times I've just wandered and existed. I also know there's no way I know of to become human again, but there's still no way I'm just going to let myself become a total monster. I'm a guy with a monster inside, not the other way around, you know. I thought I proved that by handling that cross."

Vanessa spoke up. "He's telling the truth, if he weren't I'd have killed him already. As much as I hate to admit it, we do need help, Sandra. We can't afford to turn away allies just because they're unconventional."

Sandra turned to Vanessa. "Don't you lecture me, young lady! I am your Watcher and you will take orders from me. You are the Slayer, you are our soldier and-"

"Oh for crying out loud! Listen to yourself, Sandra!" Xander exclaimed. "The Slayer isn't just a foot soldier, she's a young girl! Would you mind telling me how many Slayers your Council went through in the last sixty years?"

Sandra clenched her hands. "How dare you judge us! We're fighting a war! You talk about things you don't comprehend!"

Vanessa said quietly. "Fifty-seven."

Sandra turned and snapped at her. "Quiet you! I will not tolerate insubordination in my own home!" She turned to Xander. "And you! What have you done to her?! Some sort of mind control?"

Xander rolled his eyes. "Oh my, yes. It must be mind control by an evil force if the Slayer has an independent thought." He said sarcastically. His tone turning serious now, he focused on Sandra. "Open up that highly educated brain of yours and think, Sandra. Can you recall the longest living Slayer recorded history, Sandra?"

She pursed her lips, obviously deciding to humor him. "Amanda Ryan. She survived for seven years under Wesley Wyndham-Price, due to his unusual habit of joining her in the fights. He had to sacrifice a great deal in order to take care of a Slayer, but because of his skills the Council allowed him reentry."

Xander nodded. It sounded like Wesley had matured even more after working with Angel, and he'd done well. "And what about the Slayer Buffy Summers, huh? Or has your Council's revisionist history policy erased her completely from the books?"

Sandra shrugged. "She survived a little over a year before being sired by The Master, and quickly became a menace. She's survived by allying with William the Bloody and she is quite capable of many atrocities."

Xander snorted. "Yeah, and I can't do the Snoopy Dance like a pro." He turned to Vanessa. "What do you think, Vanessa, you just saw Buffy. Did she look like a sixteen-year old?"

Vanessa just shook her head.

Sandra raised an eyebrow. "That's what is recorded in the Rupert Giles' Watcher Diary, recovered after his death."

Vanessa spoke up. "It never said anything like that. I read it in the computer."

Sandra sighed. "We have to keep general knowledge of a turned Slayer out of awareness. Slayers fight better when they don't know the odds against their enemy."

Xander shrugged. "Then that diary is a complete lie. When I...left, Buffy, she'd been a Slayer for three years already. But, say I accept your premise that Slayers shouldn't know too much. Well then, how do you explain the dead fifty-seven Slayers? I know you people in the Council have the best of intentions, but that's worth very little when they've racked up a body count worthy of serial killers by sticking to traditions that reduce effectiveness."

Sandra crossed her arms. "What do you propose? That the Slayer starts using modern weaponry? There is an agreement between the forces of light and darkness, if one side uses modern weapons the other will too on a regular basis. Imagine the death toll if every vampire was allowed to use guns on the Slayer. There'd be no stopping them."

Xander nodded. "And I agree, with that part in particular. But consider that a Watcher's duty is to guide and train and teach the Slayer. What kind of job do you think they've done if you go through a Slayer a year? Consider on a purely human perspective, Sandra. What kind of person is someone who has nothing to live for?"

Sandra sighed, lowering her head slightly. "I..I think I see your point. A person with nothing to live for becomes suicidal. But getting emotionally involved..."

Xander picked up. "Is painful when the Slayer does get killed. Yes, it's inevitable, but still. The Slayers are human, not machines, and humans need connections to stay human. If they don't have those connections they end up dying, because they have nothing to fight for except yet another battle." Xander's eyes were pained as he spoke, remembering Kendra.

Vanessa looked hesitantly between the Watcher and the vampire. "So...are you going to kill each other or can we hold off on that? Cause I'm pretty sure Xander needs to get home."

Sandra sighed, and nodded. "I don't like it, but I will call a truce with you, for now. And I must say, if you harm one hair on Vanessa's head, I will make sure you burn in hell, understood?"

Xander nodded. "Check check, don't touch Vanessa." He checked his watch. "Oh yeah, now I really gotta go. We'll talk more tomorrow evening."

Xander walked out the front door and fled quickly into the sewer access Beth had used earlier. He started walking home underground, musing over the events of the last few days.

'Just my luck, I get so damned close to getting Spike and all I end up doing is finding out about Buffy. Wonder what she's planning, and how she means to recruit me. She's got to know I'm not going to just jump to her side now that she's switched. Unless she just thinks I'll hop over with a nice look. Ugh, all I'll have to do is remember the demon's face and then I'll never switch. It's not her on that end. Still, I have to find something to neutralize her. Still...she's overconfident, she always has been, and that gives me a chance.'

He came up out of the sewer access to his apartment building and made his way into his apartment.

Allandra was standing there, cleaning her rapier. She nodded and smiled to Xander. "I'm glad you're back, Xander. I had some company after you left. I hope you know what it was, because I haven't got any idea."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Company, huh? Better show me, we're dealing with a lot of problems these days."

Allandra nodded and led him into the kitchen, where a dead creature lay on the tiles, what passed for its throat cut open. Towels were wrapped around the wound, probably to prevent the blood from running out and getting to a carpet. It was the color of human flesh, and had a humanoid shape, but it resembled little more than a fleshy, flightless, deformed bird. There was a faint smell of rotting flesh coming from it, most strongly from the mouth, which gave a hint as to its diet.

Allandra spoke. "Have you ever seen anything like this before, Xander? I know I haven't, not here or back...back on the other world."

Xander shook his head. "Well, I've seen a lot of things, but not this one before. Huh, what do you know. It kinda looks like a puppet from a bad horror movie." He tilted his head, looking at it from another angle. "Well, it stinks. We need to get rid of it for sure."

Allandra nodded. "I'll get a garbage bag." She stopped and looked at it again. "You think it'll fit? I mean it's not that big, but it might be too big for one."

Xander shrugged. "We'll double bag it then. Anyway, let's get rid of it right quick, looking at it is kinda creeping me out."

Allandra chuckled. "And here I thought you weren't afraid of anything. So, Alexander Harris, what is it you're most afraid of, hm?"

Xander shrugged. "Two things, actually." He sighed. "The first is to be completely helpless. I really, really hate seeing someone I care about in trouble and not being able to do anything about it."

Allandra nodded. "And the second?"

Xander let a small smile tug at his lips. "Clowns, they scare the hell outta me."


Nicholas walked completely on automatic. He had no idea where he was going, or why, he only knew he had to be somewhere soon. It was important, only slightly less important than the end of the world.

He walked into the highschool, watching the young students run to class. 'Stupid foolish little mortals. They have no idea they will live, grow old and die without accomplishing anything of value. They'll just grow and consume and cause damage. What useless insects.'

He made his way down into the school basement. Like most basements, it was dank, dark, spooky, and smelled just a little bit like mildew.

It was also the very spot where the barriers between the Hell dimension where Ifrit resided, and this world. Nicholas could only think it ironic. Every single high school student on the face of the earth thought their school was hell. These ones were right.

He looked around, moving toward the very spot the barrier would be weakest. Evidently, Ifrit wanted him there for something. He strode forward confidently, and then stopped when every sense he had told him everything was right.

A small flame appeared in front of Nicholas, no larger than the flame on a candle. It hovered there, floating serenely and defying every physical law that said it should not exist.

Nicholas kneeled before the flame. "Master. I have come at your summons. What do you desire of me?" He spoke in the guttural, hideous language of devilkind.

The flame grew larger, forming itself into a face made out of flames. "I require one more service of you, Nicholas. You have served me well and thus I will reward you as I promised so six decades ago."

Nicholas raised his head to look on the face of his master. "Anything, my lord. I am your Knight and thus yours to command. Do you need the woman killed? Or perhaps capturing and extracting the Slayer's soul?"

Ifrit's face smirked. "No, my Knight. I will take care of my affairs personally from this point forward."

Nicholas' eyes widened. "My lord? You are coming here?" Ifrit laughed. "Oh yes, I am. Thanks to you, my servant, I have found this world pleasing to me. Thus I will....as you say..move in. I think I'll enjoy it."

Nicholas smiled slightly. "I'd be happy to show you around, my lord. There are many pleasing places here."

Ifrit simply looked smug. "I appreciate the offer, my servant. Alas, that will not be possible."

Flames encircled Nicholas, far, far hotter than Nicholas had ever felt before. The flames enclosed him, causing searing, horrible, agonizing pain to flow through his system. He screamed while Ifrit laughed at his servant's pain.

Faint echoes of screams began to resonate through the basement. Nobody could hear those screams except for Nicholas. They were the screams of hundreds of millions of people suffering unimaginable torment. Eternal torment. It was the most terrifying thing Nicholas had ever heard in his long life.

A swirling vortex opened up under Nicholas' feet. Tendrils of ice extended from the portal and grabbed Nicholas. Desperately, he grabbed with his fingertips on the edge of the portal. The pain from the ice hurt almost as much as the pain of the flames. The pull increased, causing Nicholas to scream out once again.

Ifrit's face looked quite amused as Nicholas tried everything possible to prevent himself from tumbling down into the portal. Nicholas triggered his Knight form, straining with his now enhanced strength and flapping his wings desperately, trying to evade the torment that resonated so completely in his mind.

A sudden gust of flame smacked Nicholas in the face, causing him to scream once more and instinctively grab his face. As Nicholas tumbled down the vortex, the tendrils of ice released him allowing what passed for gravity to complete Nicholas' descent into Hell. Intense, agonizing pain began to spread throughout his demonic form.

Eventually, he landed on a hard, rocky surface, the pain beginning to fade. He shook his horned head, and stood up, stretching his body. He looked around.

Desolation as far as his eyes could see, in every direction. Up above was nothing but darkness, broiling clouds swirled and eddied. Once in a while, flashes of lighting arced here and there throughout the clouds, illuminating the wasteland in intense, bright flashes which all too quickly died off again, leaving him disoriented.

The being that was once Nicholas, a hunter of such skill and repute he gained the nickname 'The Immortal' was now trapped, without even the slightest vestige of humanity remaining. It suited him, however.

He could hear in the distance, howls belonging to beasts that he had never seen or heard of, or even imagined. The howls were coming closer and closer. Nicholas couldn't help but smile.

Perhaps Hell would not be so bad, if he could hunt here. He would prove to any and all creatures that crossed his path why he had earned his name.


Back in Sunnydale High, the portal that had taken Nicholas closed the moment the fallen hunter had lost his grip. The flames that made up Ifrit's face vanished. Even the screams had disappeared.

Up above, dark clouds began to form, quickly and unnaturally coalescing into a thunderstorm. Rain began to fall in sheets, drenching every unfortunate resident to Sunnydale that was enjoying the previously sunny day. Wind began ripping through the streets, breaking windows that could not withstand the sudden change in pressure.

In the basement of Sunnydale High, something new was beginning. Flames broiled up in a pillar extending from floor to ceiling, and yet they consumed nothing, scorched nothing. The pillar began rotating, and began to contract. Faster and faster the flames whirled, becoming a tornado of fire, and with every rotation the flames swirled tighter and tighter together.

As suddenly as they appeared, the flames altogether ceased. A nude figure crouched on the floor, the very spot Nicholas had been dropped into the portal to Hell. He slowly rose to his feet. To all appearances, he looked to be a red-haired man of medium size, yet impressively muscled. He stretched, testing every new muscle and sensation.

He looked down at himself, examining his arms and legs, their shape and color. After nodding once, a flame burst out from his chest and spread to every point of his body except his face. A moment later, the flames faded and he was clothed in jeans, sneakers, and a red shirt. Brushing himself off, he began walking.

As he walked to the front of the school, looking up at the now dying unnatural thunderstorm, as the sun shyly appeared to his eyes for the first time, Ifrit, former ruler of the Fire Plains of Keth, Third Devil Lord of Hell, began laughing.


After Xander and Allandra had disposed of the body by tossing it into the garbage chute, the pair went back to the apartment. Xander went to the fridge and opened up one of the bags, pouring the contents into one of his coffee mugs.

He took a sip, fangs extended with his hunger, and then he spat it back out into the cup. He quickly began coughing and spitting. "Oh god, what the hell?!" He exclaimed.

Allandra ran into the kitchen. "What, what is it Xander?"

"Ugh, I'm not sure. The blood's just...wrong, somehow. I don't know how to describe it." Xander hesitantly sniffed the pouch, then he poured the contents down the kitchen sink, turning on the water. He then turned back to the fridge and, one by one, checked every pouch. All of them were in the same condition. After dumping all the bags, Xander swore and began pacing.

Allandra looked very concerned. "Xander, what, what's the problem?"

Xander's voice began rising. "Problem? Oh, no problem. None at all. Just that I'm almost hungry enough to open one of my veins is all. If I don't get some blood in me, I'll go nuts before sunset. And considering the time right now I can't go-"

At that moment, a loud crash of thunder resonated throughout the apartment.

"-out. What the hell, they didn't call for a storm today?" The sound of rain picked up outside, slamming against the darkened windows with a vengeance. Another crash of thunder made both Xander and Allandra jump.

Allandra looked out the window. "There isn't any way that's natural. It arrived too quickly and it's too strong. I wonder what's causing it?"

Xander shrugged. "Who knows, or cares, we can't check it out now. Let's get into the den, that wind is picking up and if the windows break we could get hurt."

Allandra nodded. The pair quickly moved into the more shielded den, Xander lay down on a couch while Allandra sat down on a chair. Allandra looked over to Xander, who was obviously trying to keep his hunger under control.

"Xander, you need blood." Allandra spoke, her face very concerned.

He nodded. "Yeah, I do. Every instinct in me is telling me to feed, I really, really need to feed."

Allandra sighed, and then hesitantly offered her wrist to him. He stared at her. "Are..are you sure, Allandra? I mean, I've fed from people before, but I don't want to hurt you."

She bit her lip and spoke. "You need it. I can give it. I only ask that you be careful, I'm a little more fragile than I look."

Xander took deep breaths, closing his eyes for a moment and then he nodded. As gently as he possibly could, he sank his teeth into Allandra's wrist. His teeth punctured the vein painlessly, and carefully Xander began to drink.

Allandra swooned, her breathing coming more rapidly now. Her mind was filled with pleasure as the delirium of Xander's nature flowed through her mind. It was nearly the most erotic thing she'd ever experienced in her life.

Xander was nearly overcome himself. Her blood was sweet and spicy and strong. It was the first taste of elven blood he'd ever had, and it was the most delicious thing he'd tasted in his entire life. For a moment, he felt alive, her blood flowed into his system and everything became sharper and clearer. With a supreme effort of will, he opened his eyes and looked to Allandra.

Her face was beginning to grow pale, her eyes were shut and her breathing was labored. Her eyes were fluttering and she let out a groan. Quickly, Xander let her wrist go and licked the wound. He watched, his heart in his throat as the wound slowly closed before his eyes. Far more slowly than it should have. Eventually, though, the wound sealed.

Xander quickly picked Allandra up in his arms, and set her on the couch where he'd been lying a moment before. He got up and went to the kitchen, grabbing a carton of orange juice from the fridge, grabbing a clean glass in the process.

Moving back to the den he filled the glass and wordlessly handed it to Allandra, who gave him a nod of thanks. She drained the glass in record time. He took the glass from her, concern in his eyes as she put the glass on the floor.

As gently as he possibly could, he joined her on the couch, wrapping his arms around her, trying to comfort her with his presence. She was breathing shallowly, but strongly, and he could feel her heart beating strong despite the loss of blood.

He'd taken just enough to take the edge off his thirst, just enough to keep him in control until nightfall, when he could go and get more blood. He leaned forward and whispered into her ear. "Thanks, Allandra. I owe you."

She just turned and smiled at him slightly. "You're feeling better?"

He nodded.

She slowly turned around and hugged him.

Both of them drifted off to sleep, entangled in each other's arms.


Beth listened to her scout's report, with Spike standing at her side.

"He didn't drink the blood, mistress. He knew something was wrong with it, and he poured it down the drain." The human spoke, kneeling on the cold concrete floor.

Beth grumbled. Spike just patted her arm. "Now now pet, it was a good idea, but apparently he was smart enough. That or he just knew the difference between your blood and the normal crap the wanker drinks." Beth pouted. "But Spikey, I wanted him working with us. I know he can be great if only he'd come around."

Spike shrugged. "Yeah, it's too bad. Still, I'd never trust droopy. He's still got too much of that hero complex going on. It's downright embarrassing for a vampire to have it you know."

The pair of vampires kissed, almost oblivious to the human kneeling on the floor. He cleared his throat, slowly bringing their attention back to him. Beth sneered. "What is it, worm?"

The poor guy recoiled. "I'm sorry mistress, but it seems earlier last night he and the Slayer caused a lot of damage to The Haven, before you visited him. He killed the club's owner and his bodyguard."

Spike snarled. "Bollocks, he killed our link to the organization. Hm, well....actually, that's not so bad.."

Beth rose an eyebrow. "How is that not bad? We only lost our main link to the Sabbat, leaving us with a few thralls and fledglings to mess with, Spike. Not only that, with The Haven out of commission we'll have to go back to our old methods of finding fledges, minions, thralls and blood."

Spike smirked. "You're not looking at the big picture, pet. With Mike dead, they'll have to send someone else in to run Sunnyhell, someone just a wee bit tougher than dear old Mike. Somebody who knows how to get the job done."

Beth followed the line of reasoning, and began smiling right along with Spike. She turned to the human, still kneeling on the floor. She patted him on the head like a pet. "Good boy. Now take your treat." She slit her wrist and without hesitation, her ghoul began to drink.

Spike pulled out a cigarette and lit it, smoking with a smirk on his face as Beth pulled the chains of slavery tighter around her ghoul. "I kind of wish I could do that, pet. We could move twice as quickly if I had that talent."

Beth wrenched her wrist away from her servant and she shrugged. "It's a talent, Spikey. Just like everything else I've got." She looked at her ghoul. "Now, puppy, would you please bring in your last capture?"

The ghoul smiled, eager to please his mistress, got up off the floor and walked into the next room. A moment later he dragged out an elderly woman. She was shrieking. "The angel will get you! Monsters! Beasts! He will come and stop you! All of you!"

Beth crossed her arms. "Angel, hm? Something tells me he's not coming to help you today, ma'am." She tilted her head. "What is your name, hm?"

The woman yelled again, this time at Beth. "He stopped the monsters like you before, he will again! He's always been fighting you and he always will! He protects everyone pure! He'll destroy you all!"

Spike rolled his eyes. Turning to the ghoul, said as if he was extremely bored. "Show me her driver's license, would you?"

The ghoul reached into his pocket and wordlessly handed Spike the senior's wallet. Spike opened it casually, taking a drag as he did so. "Hm. Well, Maria Johnson. Age seventy-four. Good to meet you." Spike looked at Beth. "So what are you going to do with this one, love? The usual?"

Maria spat at Spike, missing him as the projectile hit the floor. "A curse on you, demon!"

Spike sighed and looked at the ghoul. "Shut her up, will you?"

The ghoul grabbed a roll of duct tape and sealed Maria's mouth shut with a strip.

Spike looked at Beth again. "Now, where was I? Oh yeah, so the usual, pet?"

Beth smiled. "Of course the usual. She's got no other use now, does she? Unless you can think of something Spikey?"

Spike shook his head with a smirk. "No, not at all pet. Let's have fun with her."

Beth grabbed her captive and dragged her into a manhole. Leading her down, down, deep underground. Spike followed behind, whistling a jaunty tune and smoking.

Sounds echoed throughout the caves. The air smelled foul, it was dank, dark down there. It sounded like somewhere, perhaps far below or above or perhaps even all around, a massive heart was beating.

A moment later, the woman realized why. They entered a realm of nightmares.

The walls turned from walls of stone and granite to walls of skin and flesh and bone. Here and there, she could see the shapes of people what had been merged together, crafted together into horrid pillars and into the walls. Even the floors in places were made of living, breathing human flesh. The entire mass slowly writhed and churned as they walked by, as if the countless souls that were killed, and bound, to this place, knew their tormenters were passing by.

Stopping at a section of the wall that had been ripped and torn, bleeding on the floor with foul-smelling blood, Spike casually ripped all of the woman's clothes off, causing her to redouble her efforts at screaming, muffled by the tape covering her mouth.

Beth ripped the tape off her face, causing her to scream out loudly again. Beth just smiled. "I love hearing them scream when I do this. It makes everything so much more pleasant to do."

Spike grinned and shoved the elderly woman into the ripped section of the wall, still smoking his cigarette. Beth smiled and reached out for Maria's flesh. Pain filled Maria's world as her flesh separated, flowing and squishing like clay. She could feel her back merging with the wall. She screamed in incomprehensible agony. Her flesh was merging with the flesh of the living wall, and yet she did not die even when the agony exceeded anything she'd ever felt before. Her voice became sore as the screaming continued unabated.

Eventually the pain slowly eased off, and the two vampires stood back, admiring Beth's handiwork. Maria rose her head, trying to move, but the only thing she could move was her head. The rest of her body had been grafted, flesh and bone and organs alike, into the horrid mass of living flesh.

Maria began sobbing, realizing her fate would go on, she'd continue existing like this until she went insane or circumstances would kill her.

Spike laughed. "Now that was a bit of jolly good fun, pet. I swear you get better at it every time you mess with people like this."

Beth smiled and leaned over, kissing Spike on the cheek. "Thanks Spikey. I'd never have tried new things in this without your help you know."

Maria just gaped at the pair, tears running down her face.

The pair of vampires walked away, leaving Maria to her hellish existence. Leaving her to go over every memory she had in her long life. Including the day, a little over sixty years ago, her angel came down and saved her from the monsters of the night.

She prayed to God, reciting the Bible in her mind, praying with all of her heart for her angel to come and save her again. Seeing his face in her mind. She'd have given anything to know his name then. She didn't pray now for rescue, but for death, for release.

Never knowing that she was praying for Xander Harris.


Once Xander woke up the next night, he left Allandra sleeping on the couch where she was looking much improved. He went to a closet and got a soft blanket, and wrapped her in it gently.

He went out to resupply his stash of blood, and surprisingly enough returned without incident. Stocking It all in the fridge, he took Allandra's suggestion to store some in wine bottles. He went over to his phone and picked it up, calling Angel.

"Angel Investigations, we help the helpless." That familiar, cheery voice came over the phone.

"It's Xander. Can I speak with Angel?"

"One moment please."

Xander sighed as he was treated to elevator music again. He looked over at the sleeping Allandra.

"This is Angel. Is something wrong, Xander?"

"Yeah, I think somebody's trying to poison me or something. I found all of my blood was tainted this morning. It smelled like somebody had put something sour in it or something, it's the only way I can describe it."

"Are you all right?" Angel sounded concerned.

"Yeah, I'm all right. I didn't swallow any of it. I didn't like the idea by Allandra, she offered me some of hers and I was starving, so..."

"You fed on her?!" Angel shouted over the phone.

"Ow! Hey, I didn't take much, she's resting but she'll be okay. Besides, it was either take a little from her and get through til nightfall or go insane when I woke up and hurt or kill the next warm blooded thing I came across."

"I see your point. The hunger can be pretty consuming." Angel sounded calmer. "Still, it's not a good thing to feed on somebody no matter what the circumstances are."

"Yeah, I agree with you. Luckily Anezka was kind enough to train me until I knew how much was enough." Xander spoke.

"Alright. Was there anything else?" Angel asked.

"Yeah. Have you ever heard of a demonic vampire with red eyes?"

Angel sighed. "Not often. It occurs with really, really old vampires sometimes. It's like a fluke."

Xander sounded a little concerned. "Alright, how old?"

"Couple thousand years at least. There's not too many of them over that age though."

"Hm. Curiouser and curiouser. I saw Buffy's demonic face today. She had red eyes, not the usual yellow."

"Well, it could be that she's a turned Slayer. Other than that I can't help you though."

"Crap. Okay. I'll find out what I can do there. Oh, Angel, I was wondering if you could help me out on something."

"Depends on the thing. What is it?" Angel asked, sounding curious.

"Well, I trashed a nightclub last night too. The owner, which belonged to the nasties happened to get killed in the process, so it's up for grabs. I was wondering if you could pull a few strings so that I'd end up owning the place if possible. At least with that as a front I could keep things a little under wraps around here." Xander said.

"That's easy. I've got quite a bit of cash lying around, giving that club to you shouldn't be too hard. You'd be surprised what tricks lawyers can do when you've got a lot of money." Angel sounded amused.

"Yeah, thanks Angel."

There was a beep on the line.

"Hang on Xander, I got another call."

Xander was treated to elevator music for a little bit, then it cut off. "Sorry Xander, I'm sure you hate the music." A familiar voice said.

"Who is this?" He asked.

"Oh I'm hurt, Xander. Or should I call you Nighthawk?"

Xander blinked, then it clicked in his mind. "Cordelia! It's good to hear from you. Angel wouldn't say anything about where you were."

Cordelia sighed. "Well, he couldn't. Considering I'm kind of...dead and all."

"Dead? Huh? Don't tell me you got mixed up in my club too, Cor?"

"No. I'm dead. Sort of. Cordelia died thirty years ago. But hey! I'm connected! Literally!" She spoke, sounding cheerful.

"Eh? I don't follow you." Xander said, very confused.

"When I died, I couldn't quite leave. I worked hard and flew around in places I do not want to remember at all because they were just icky. When I got back to the Skinlands, you know that's what dead people call our world, interesting huh? Anyway, when I got back, I couldn't stay long, but Angel, Wesley, and Gunn worked some mojo, and put me into a computer. So really, I'm hooked up to damn near everything." Xander chuckled. "So you're hooked up like Moloch was, huh? I bet it'd be easy for you to pick your way through most databases."

Cordy chuckled. "Yep, I'm better at hacking than Willow ever was. Although it helps that I live in cyberspace, literally. Oh well."

"That's kind of cool, Cordy."

"Anyway Xander, if you want to talk with me, here's a number to contact me with." She rattled off a series of numbers, which Xander quickly wrote down. "Oh!" She exclaimed. "Angel wants to talk to you, he's got something to say."

There was a click.

"Xander. I just got a call from a friend. I told him about Buffy, he's coming back into town to help you out, I think he'll be good." Angel spoke.

"Oh? Who is it? Spiderman? Batman? I could use Batman's help around here, he's cool with all those gadgets." Xander said, partly just to annoy Angel.

Angel sighed. "Hey, don't pick on an old man. You know I didn't read comic books."

"Yeah, sorry, Master of the Gray Hair. Who's popping by?"


Chapter 17

Xander and Allandra sat in the apartment, waiting for nightfall. Xander was watching Jeopardy, which surprisingly was still popular, while Allandra was deeply immersed in a book written in elven. Xander couldn't help but chuckle at some of the questions. Not because he knew more than the contestants, he didn't. But because one entire category was twentieth century history and half their answers were wrong.

There was a knock on the door. Allandra got up and looked through the eyepiece. Seeing a short man who appeared to be deep in his forties, she opened the door. "Can I help you?"

"Uh, yeah. Is this Xander's place?" He spoke.

Xander was beside Allandra in a flash. The man turned to Xander and nodded to him. "Good to see you, Xander."

Xander smiled and nodded. "Oz, looking good."

Oz just shrugged.

Xander asked. "Still a wolf huh?"


"How's that working out for ya?"

"Not bad."

Allandra blinked and looked between Oz and Xander. "You haven't seen each other in sixty years and that's all you've got to say to each other?" She said incredulously.

Oz shrugged. Xander laughed. "That's Oz alright. He never was one to waste words. I always thought he was saving them for a special occasion."

Allandra rolled her eyes. Xander chuckled, then looked at Oz again. "Seriously man, you look good for an eighty-three-year old." Oz shrugged. "I'm well preserved."

Xander rolled his eyes. "No, seriously man. What's the deal?"

Oz replied. "There's some rituals to slow down the aging process. Gave me a bit longer to stick around."

Xander blinked. "That's handy."

Oz nodded. "So..vampire huh?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah, them's the breaks. What can ya do, though?"

Oz nodded sagely.

Allandra sighed.

Xander blinked, then smacked himself on the face. "Sorry! Allandra, this is Oz, we were friends back when we were both in high school. Oz, this is Allandra, she's a good friend of mine."

Oz held out his hand, which Allandra took and shook.

Allandra tilted her head. "So..you're a werewolf?"


"So..what's it like, being able to change shape?"

Oz shrugged. "It feels completely normal to me, now."

Xander spoke up. "Well, we've got a few things to do today. I've got to meet with Vanessa, then we're going to see if we can dig up Buffy and Spike. I think it's time we brought them both to an end."


Ifrit strolled through the Sunnydale mall, observing the mortals. He found it odd that here and there, different types of mortals mingled together, as if unconcerned about their differences. The humans seemed to be plentiful, but every once in a while he saw an elf talking quietly with human friends. Everyone gave the tusked orcs a wide berth, those humanoids walking around in groups like a street gang.

Ifrit could feel her. Her presence resonated across this plane like a beacon. One only he, and those he allows to, to feel. She was dangerous. She could not be allowed to live. Her soul sent out waves that washed over everything she touched. He could not risk that interference disrupting anything.

He also could not risk her going down an all-too familiar path. Kyannar himself had done a similar thing in the past, and his son spent the next thousand years trying to track down and kill his mistake.

It didn't help his son was returned to Hell no less than eight times over those thousand years by being defeated. Creatures like her were even worse. At least with their own they could enforce their will and prevent them from going rogue. In cases like hers, there was no control.

Too dangerous, too risky.

Ifrit shrugged to himself. She could wait a little while longer. He would know when she'd be vulnerable. All he had to do was wait. The opportunity would arrive when he would be able to eliminate the threat.

'Champions.' What rubbish. Fodder is far more like it. He was going to enjoy this. It had been a while since he felt something other than boredom.


The figure drove along the highway out in the middle of the desert. He was in what passed for a sports car in this day and age, doing well over 150 MPH. He enjoyed the sensation of speed, the humming of the engine as it did its work.

The Sabbat was sending someone in to eliminate a thorn in its side. Somebody who had, apparently, destroyed two Brujah more than a hundred years old, a Toreador of a hundred fifty, and before someone in the Sabbat could take over, bought their nightclub out from under them.

He knew from long experience somebody who ticked off any part of the Sabbat didn't live long. Those who did were a force to be reckoned with. Like his old friend.

A smile touched his lips. It was ironic in that he was supposed to be the teacher, but his younger friend ended up teaching him about life, and unlife.

His mistress wanted to recruit the one who so unwittingly tossed a wrench into the gears of the other Sabbat Lord. He, personally, wanted to keep this one, Xander Harris, out of his mistress' clutches. It had taken him nine hundred years to realize just how poisonous his mistress was.

He sighed ruefully. He had never been accused of being that bright. Sometimes the young can see more clearly than the old.

It had taken long enough, but he had finally left his mistress on good terms. They stayed out of each other's way and now they were, while not the closest of friends, were at least able to get along when they did meet.

He idly wondered why there was so much interest in this town among those in the proper circles. Not a year went by that some Sabbat lord or another sent someone to Sunnydale, a hick town in right in a pleasant valley between the desert and the Pacific Ocean, only to either come back disappointed, scared or dead.

It didn't take a genius to know there was something, someone, or both that was dangerous, in Sunnydale. To most Kindred, dangerous meant powerful, and there were very, very few things that the Kindred could not use that was powerful.

As the sports car passed the 'Welcome to Sunnydale' sign, Wilhem Striker of the Brujah Clan smiled.


Vanessa walked into the flat, yawning loudly. She looked around for Sandra, wondering if she'd be in for another lecture on the forces of darkness and combat tactics.

"Sandra?" She called out.

She heard Sandra calling out from the kitchen. "In here, Vanessa. Somebody's here to see you."

Slowly, Vanessa walked into the kitchen. She looked at Sandra suspiciously, who was trying to conceal a grin. Vanessa raised an eyebrow. "All right, what is it, Sandra?"

There was a tap on her shoulder and Vanessa whirled around, her fist arcing out instinctively.

Only for her hit to be deflected to the side and to find herself pushed onto the floor, face down with her arm behind her back.

"Tsk tsk, Vanessa. You left yourself open again." A familiar voice said.

She couldn't help but laugh, despite her current position. "Thanks for the advice, Master Morris."

With a chuckle, she felt the weight come up off her back. Vanessa rolled over, and accepted her mentor's hand as he pulled her to her feet.

Master Jonathan 'Jack' Morris was a thin, wiry, white, blonde-haired man who stood at six foot two inches. His body was built for speed and stamina instead of sheer power, and although he towered over the Slayer, it was obvious she was stronger than he was, simply because her muscles were more compact than his own.

Vanessa laughed and hugged Jack, who patted her on the back. He pulled away. "Good to see you again too, Vanessa. I hope you haven't been letting all that training I worked into you go to waste."

Vanessa smiled, crossing her arms and pouting lightly. "Aww, but I was looking forward to getting away from you, Master."

He chuckled, going over to the fridge and getting himself a glass of fruit punch. Vanessa couldn't help but smile. The only things she'd ever seen Jack eat was chicken and rice, and all she'd ever seen him drink was something that came from a fruit. 'Some things never change.'

He nodded to Sandra and Vanessa both. "So, how have you two been? I haven't heard from either of you since you were Called." He looked to Vanessa.

Sandra shrugged. "The Council thought you'd be a better resource training the next probable Slayer. We were under orders not to contact you unless it was a dire circumstance."

Vanessa smirked. "Or until I needled Sandra enough for it to become an emergency."

Sandra chuckled. "Or that, yes. Tea, Vanessa?"

Vanessa nodded. "Yeah, thanks." Turning back to Jack, she spoke. "Last week, I met a vampire. He doesn't act like any of the others, and he doesn't feel like a normal vampire either. He actually saved my life twice since then, once from a master vampire and once from a Devil Knight."

Jack chewed on his lip for a moment. "Hm. Well..Before anything else, you have to remember there's a lot more in the universe than we know, or can ever know. It's possible he's not a vampire at all, but rather something else. Maybe something similar, but different nevertheless."

Sandra spoke up, bringing Vanessa her cup of tea along with her own. "This person didn't need invitation into my home nor did he show any aversion to religious icons."

Jack nodded. "That would fit, the only real question is what side is he really on? Have you ever wondered why the vampires you're called to fight don't, at least for the most part, try to outwit you?"

Vanessa shrugged. "It never really occurred to me. Most vamps and other nasties that I've had the displeasure of meeting liked to come right up to me and say cheesy lines like, 'I'm going to eat you tonight.' Or better yet 'I'd really like to have you...for dinner.'" She spoke with a grin.

Jack chuckled. "Well, I've been doing some researching back at the Watcher's Headquarters. Turns out that the demon that vampires are descended from was about as smart as a petrified tree stump. It was big, it was ugly, it was scaly, it was green and it was bloodthirsty. That was about it. As a result, every vampire descended from that demon can only be as smart as the person it was made out of. It's just a set of instincts and a twisted reflection of that person's mind."

Sandra and Vanessa nodded. They'd heard such before.

Jack continued. "Now with the cases of the Masters, there's a problem. Because those are the vampires that were created out of people smart enough to lie low and not simply go with every dark urge they got. They have the smarts to avoid you, the Slayer, other hunters, and whatever else that may pose a threat. They are the ones who take advantage of the fact the older the vampire is the stronger it becomes. Frankly speaking, you can take out every stupid vampire on the face of the earth and it wouldn't make one whit of difference on the larger scale. They'd be replaced within days. However, if you take out one Master...the repercussions send shockwaves throughout the entire vampire community."

Vanessa nodded. "Yes, but what does that have to do with the vampire who's been helping me?"

Jack shrugged. "Who knows? Perhaps he had a magic spell cast on him to restore his soul, like Angelus. Perhaps he was somebody who managed to tick off the wrong person and was cursed to help people. Or maybe he's just using you for something, perhaps to get rid of his enemies?"

Vanessa blinked. "Well..He does want to kill Spike, also known as William the Bloody, and his consort, Beth."

Jack nodded. "More power to him then, at least until the job's done. Once they're out of the way you'll have to determine if he is a threat to people or not. You've always been a smart girl, Vanessa, I trust your judgement in this matter."

There was a knock on the door. Sandra went over and opened it slowly.

Outside were Xander and two other people. Vanessa used her supernatural sense on them. One felt like a weird mix of human and animal, but altogether on the good side. On the other...was something she'd never felt before. There was overall, light, strength, a sense of goodness and purpose. But under the surface was power, tightly caged and sealed, but still shining with potential.

The beautiful elf looked back at Vanessa, as if she knew that she was being examined. Vanessa blushed and looked away.

Xander spoke. "Um...is this a bad time? I didn't know you'd have company over."

Sandra shook her head. "No, don't worry. If it's important.." She opened the door all the way and Xander and his companions stepped through. None of them had any trouble entering, Jack noted.

Xander began speaking, with a bit of confidence. "Alright. Since I guess there's new faces all around, I think we should get to introducing ourselves before we do what I came here to do."

The short, forty year-old man spoke. "I'm Oz. I'm a werewolf. So if I sprout hair and stuff don't be too surprised."

Xander chuckled. "You know man, I think that's the longest sentence I heard from you in ages."

Oz shrugged.

The elf, standing beside the closed door spoke up. "I'm Allandra, Xander saved my life a little over a month ago and I've been helping him ever since."

Xander shrugged. "I'm Xander Harris, former normal guy of the Scoobies, now I'm pulling a Deadboy impression. Or would that be impersonation?" He pretended to think for a moment. "Nah, I'm not broody enough for that."

Oz smirked at that, Allandra let out a bit of a chuckle. Jack crossed his arms. Sandra began chewing on her lip, probably trying to reference in her mind who 'Deadboy' was. Vanessa just chalked it up to an inside joke.

Jack stood up in a single easy movement and nodded to each in turn. "I'm Jack Morris, a martial arts trainer."

Xander, Oz, and Allandra all nodded in respect at that.

Sandra spoke up. "I'm Sandra Raine, Vanessa's Watcher."

Vanessa waved easily. "Vanessa Stevens, Vampire Slayer."

Xander nodded. "All right, now all that junk is out of the way. I dropped by because my friends and I were going to go after Spike and Buffy tonight. We can't give them time to do whatever they feel like doing. Spike is going to think something up, and Buffy can knock us down without breaking a sweat. I wanted to extend the invite to anybody who wants to come along."

Vanessa stood up immediately. "I'm going. I'm the Slayer, it's my duty to be there."

Jack nodded. "I'll go. I just hope you can keep up." He smirked.

Sandra opened her mouth, but after a quick look from Jack, she closed it and thought on it. Then she nodded. "Very well. I hope you all prepare for this properly."

Xander nodded, then gave an extravagant bow. "Of course, my lady. We mighty warriors have prepared for war. And now we shall sally forth for goodness, light, and most importantly, for cheesy snacks and good televison!"

Vanessa snorted. "Yeah, yeah. I'll grab my gear."


They pulled up to the warehouse in Oz's newest version of his van. It had been a tight fit, and more than a little crowded with all the weapons they brought along, but they were ready.

Xander had brought his katana and a shotgun. He placed the katana's sheath across his back, putting the shotgun into place under his coat. Shifting everything around so he was comfortable walking and would be comfortable running, he nodded to himself and got out of the van.

Jack appeared to be unarmed. What the casual observer wouldn't realize is he was carrying four stakes and a machete in his jean jacket. The only thing that appeared to be out of sorts on Jack was a pair of bracers on his arms. They weren't made for offense at all, but instead in place so if an enemy had a blade, he could stop it with his forearm. He had similar protection strapped to his shins, and thus he looked a little out of place.

Oz got out of his van, casually carrying a large axe, and from the way he held it he obviously knew how to use it.

Allandra got out wearing casual running pants and a leather duster. Strapped to her hip was her rapier. Drawing it with a steely hiss, she twirled it in her right hand in a complex move. She looked to be extremely competent.

Vanessa got out of the van and stretched. On her was her usual allotment of four stakes, but added on at Jack's insistence was a short sword, neatly strapped across her back.

Xander looked at everybody. "All right guys. We're going into the breach. Our primary targets are Spike and Buffy. Spike's going to be the smarter one, he's been around for almost two hundred years and he's taken out four Slayers, so he's going to be dangerous. Whatever you do, don't let him run off, don't let him talk, don't let him do anything other than fight directly. His best asset is his mind, so let's not let him use it if possible."

Everyone nodded in agreement.

"All right, now that leaves Buffy. Do not, I repeat, do not fight her on your own. We've got a turned Slayer on our hands people. We don't know what she's got access to or what she's capable of. We do know her strength is likely to be up around ten times what it was before she was turned, so keep that in mind. We've got the numbers and we've all got talents, we're going to have to use them properly." Xander spoke.

He took a deep breath. "Everybody got their radios?"

Everyone nodded and patted their belts, or inside their jackets.

"All right. There's four entrances to the warehouse, one on each side of the building. Allandra and I will take the north side. Oz, you mind taking the west side on your own?"

Oz shook his head. "It's cool."

Xander nodded. "Right, Oz on the west. Jack, you take the-"

Jack rose an eyebrow. "I don't recall giving you permission to give me orders."

Xander sighed. "I'm not giving you orders, if you want to take another route that you know of, that's fine. I'm just lying out what I know."

Jack nodded. "Very well. I'll take the east."

Vanessa shrugged. "Guess that leaves me taking south then."

Xander nodded. "All right, let's all keep in contact. That warehouse is big people, and we don't want to alert our enemies if we can avoid it, so use your radios to keep in touch and don't shout."

Everybody agreed.

"Let's go."

Each member went their own way, and on a signal they entered the building at the same time, expecting to be rushed the moment they did.

What they found was an empty warehouse. Meeting up in the center, the group grumbled.

Then Oz looked a bit distracted. He lifted up a hand. "Hang on guys." He spoke. The group watched Oz.

He started walking toward the main storage area of the warehouse, where someone had left open a drain. The entrance stank of the sewers, and Oz looked slightly green.

Xander patted him on the shoulder. "You all right man?"

Oz nodded. "I can smell it. They went down there."

The group collectively grumbled.

Jack chuckled. "Guess we're going sewer walking then. Take my advice, watch your step."

Vanessa groaned. "I hate the sewers. It takes forever to get that damned stench off me."


The group walked cautiously for half an hour. Oz led them on unerringly, like a bloodhound following his prey. Coming to a section of the sewer where the wall was collapsed, the group paused. Behind the collapsed wall was what appeared to be a natural tunnel.

Oz shrugged nonchalantly and stepped in. One by one the rest followed, happy to no longer worry about watching their step and falling into the ditches.

Vanessa slowed down after a little bit. "Guys, hang on."

The group stopped, and looked at Vanessa.

She seemed to be peering intently forward at something, something that she couldn't possibly understand. "This is weird. It's like a little bit ahead, everything becomes alive. And it's huge, guys. Really, really huge."

They all exchanged puzzled looks to each other. Jack shrugged. "Guess we'll find out."

More cautiously now, the group moved forward and then the rounded the next corner. They all caught the breeze, the air smelled foul, dank. Jack, Allandra, Oz and Vanessa all scrunched up their noses. Xander just shrugged.

Vanessa glared at Xander. "Why don't you smell it?"

Xander shrugged. "I started holding my breath back in the sewers."

Allandra snorted, Oz smirked, Vanessa growled, and Jack chortled.

Jack looked around at the group. "Look, can we discuss this later? We've got bloodsuckers to kill tonight, don't we?"

Reluctantly, the group moved forward. Around the next corner, all of them stopped in horror.

They saw the walls of flesh and skin and bone. The writhing floors, the veins sticking out of the living walls, purple with lack of oxygen. The pillars of what was once people, horribly merged together, holding up walls. Here and there, a limb that was sticking out of the living masses twitched.

Xander shut his eyes, shuddering in disgust at the spectacle before him. Behind him, he could hear Vanessa retching, and Jack's attempts to calm her down. Oz was silent. Allandra quietly came up beside him and gripped his hand. He squeezed back gently.

Opening his eyes, he turned to Oz, who was turning an interesting shade of green.

"Further down this way?" Xander asked.

Oz nodded.

The group waited for Vanessa to get under control, and then they pressed onward.


"Oh God who art in Heaven..."

They slowed, hearing the voice up ahead.

"Please forgive us sinful children..."

Xander looked around a corner, searching for the source of the voice. The voice went silent at that moment.

Moving up cautiously, the group stayed nearby as Xander walked up to a place on the wall where it appeared an elderly woman had been grafted to it. The only thing recognizable on her was her head, the rest of her had been twisted into a horrid shape and merged with the rest of the living mass.

Looking at Xander, a glimmer appeared in her eye.

"It's my angel....you've come to answer my prayers! Praise the Lord!" She spoke.

Xander just blinked a few times, looking sick. "Angel?"

"You saved me from the monsters, my angel. You came when they were going to eat me, and they all ran away. They all ran and I ran home and gave my thanks to God for every day I had after that."

Xander took a step back. Her eyes...they were the same. The memories hit him with the force of a ton of bricks.

'Please....Leave me alone....'

'Hmmmm. Young blood. I always enjoyed little children. So sweet, and clean. So tender. It's like eating veal.'

'Alicia was our sire! You're gonna die, human!'

'I want him to suffer!'

'Well, that works. I think we can just leave him there.'

Xander spoke. "Oh my god...I know you."

She spoke, her eyes coming alight as only someone who has become unhinged could make them. "Yes my angel..I prayed for you to come day after day...and now you're here to free me. Please my angel...set me free."

Xander swallowed hard, aware of the eyes of his companions watching him. He gently stroked the face of the woman with his left hand.

"Yes...I'll set you free. Close your eyes." Xander managed to rasp out.

She closed her eyes, a contented smile on her face.

Xander slowly drew the katana from his back, it making no noise as he did so. Moving to the side, he slowly lifted it up, closed his eyes, and brought it down in a single stroke.


In the middle of the horrible place, Xander sat, in an open room. Vanessa and Jack were standing at the exit, alternating between watching for their quarry and watching Xander.

Oz stood against the wall near them, silent as usual, but a deep, understanding sadness on his face as he watched his friend from the corner of his eye.

Allandra held Xander as she had for the last half hour. As she had ever since Xander began weeping. His face was stained red with his blood as it ran down, slowly but surely dripping onto the ground.

Vanessa and Jack shared a look with each other. Without saying a single word, they knew that after tonight, they would allow Xander Harris to go on his way. He was no demon, a demon would not, could not, care for someone else like Xander had just shown.

Xander slowly stood, giving Allandra a deep, heartfelt hug in thanks. She nodded to him, tears in her own eyes. Xander wiped his face, taking deep breaths.

Drawing his sword, Xander nodded to the entire group. "Let's finish this." He spoke, rage in his voice. Everyone knew what that meant. It had become a simple fact. No matter what else would happen that night, this was it.

Spike was going to die tonight. And so would the demon wearing Buffy's face.


The group marched together into what had once been a simple cavern. Over the course of thousands of years, a small but steady stream of water had opened up a chamber large enough to contain a house.

After Spike and Beth had found the place, they'd obviously been doing some renovating. Human flesh was used to create walls that were always warm. Bones used to create steps and stairs and a pathway to the throne. The throne itself was twisted out of bones and skulls, giving it a horrific appearance.

On that throne together sat Spike and Beth. Looking up as the group entered, they both sneered.

Spike spoke. "Harrumph. They found our little hidey-hole. Rather rude of them, isn't it, pet?"

Beth tutted. "No manners these days. Really children, you should call ahead, we could then arrange a nice party!" She then giggled.

Xander deliberately sheathed his sword. "Spike. You and I have some unfinished business."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Well, I'll give you credit droopy. You're as stubborn as a pit bull. Luckily, I'm stubborn and smart. Didn't you wonder for one second why the entire complex was empty? It's because..."

Growls emerged from various dark corners of the throne room, as large, hulking, flesh-colored beasts twice the size of anybody there stomped out. Each creature had one large spike for an arm, and the other was a whiplike appendage.

Quickly the group was surrounded by eight of the foul-smelling grotesque monsters.

Beth giggled. "Lovely pets aren't they? The others called them War Ghouls. I love my War Ghouls. They're so mean and nasty and bloodthirsty."

Spike smirked. "I think we'll just lay back and enjoy the show, hm pet?"

Beth nodded and waved her hand. At that gesture, all of them moved in to attack mindlessly.

Activating Celerity, Xander pulled out his shotgun as one of them rushed him. It tried to impale him with its spike, but he slid under it with a maneuver that would make any pro baseball player jealous. Placing the end of the barrel right against its misshapen neck, he pulled the trigger and grinned in satisfaction as its head was blown clean off.

Behind him, Jack was playing rope-a-dope with one. Every time it tried to stab him, Jack moved out of the way and slammed one of its joints with his fist. When it tried to tangle him up with its whip, he slipped around it and tore the whip off with a single deft movement. As it roared in pain, he simply grabbed one of his stakes and buried it in the War Ghoul's eye, and it immediately dropped.

Vanessa fought against one, deftly dodging with all the grace Jack Morris had hammered into her muscles when she was still normal, and her reflexes, now highly amplified after becoming the Slayer, were far too great for the beast to match. The beast lunged again and again, attempting to spear her, but every time it did, she simply moved her body just enough for it to miss by an inch. In between one lunge and the next, she grabbed the spike in her hands and tore it off the Ghoul's body. Spinning around she impaled the War Ghoul with its own spike. Twisting it once, causing it to growl as it slowly died, Vanessa kicked it away and moved on.

Allandra stood in the path of one charging War Ghoul. As it caught up to her, she twisted under its path and arced her blade out once. The War Ghoul roared in pain as the whip appendage fell to the floor. Grabbing it with her left hand, Allandra began striking at the Ghoul with its own whip, cracking down on its sensitive eyes, forcing it back. Every crack of the whip drew more blood and a new roar of pain from the monstrosity. When it began to stagger around, completely blind, Allandra dropped the whip and drove her rapier into the beast's brain.

Three of the beasts decided to converge on Oz. Oz threw his axe into one, which promptly dropped dead. The other two kept mindlessly charging. Mentally calculating the odds, Oz turned and ran as fast as he could back the way they came. Being in great shape, the War Ghouls quickly found they couldn't keep up with their fleeing prey, so they turned around to get to easier meat.

Then a wolf's howl reverberated throughout the chamber and both Spike and Beth stood up from the throne at that, their faces turning gray.

A moment later, an seven-foot-tall brown and black werewolf bounded into the chamber in great strides. The two War Ghouls tried to hit it and missed, pitifully. A single swipe from the wolf and one War Ghoul went flying through the air, howling as huge bloody wounds on its side sprayed blood.

The other one stabbed at Oz who intercepted the attack with his left paw. Promptly taking advantage of the opening he chomped his powerful jaws on the War Ghoul's head, crushing it.

The previous War Ghoul charged at Oz, bellowing mindlessly. Oz leapt over it and landed behind it. He swung his paws twice, claws flashing, and the creature collapsed, his entire backside ripped to pieces.

Spike and Beth looked at each other at the display. Then they both ran to a section of fleshy wall which opened at Beth's touch, and closed behind them.

Xander was busy unloading his shotgun into the last War Ghoul. It tried to move towards him, but every shot drove it back and to the point of exhaustion. It collapsed and died. Looking around, he growled as Spike and Beth had apparently disappeared.

Oz, still in his werewolf form, sniffed once and moved over to a section of the wall. With two quick swipes of his claws, the wall was torn open, revealing a natural passage out.

Xander nodded to Oz, who nodded back. Xander looked at the opening and spoke. "You know that's too narrow for you like that, Oz?"

Oz nodded again and sighed.

Xander turned around and looked at the others. "Come on people, they're getting away!"

Quickly, Oz began to return to his normal form. The group began chasing after the pair of vampires.


Spike and Beth ran as fast as they could down the tunnel. Spike was at the moment exploring his rather large vocabulary of swear words. Beth just ran alongside him silently.

"A bloody, goddamn, honest-to-god, real, uncursed werewolf! Bloody fucking hell!" Spike spoke under his breath.

Coming to another large chamber, both vampires looked back fearfully, half expecting the large werewolf to bound down on them.

Instead, echoing down the corridor was the sounds of the entire group of five.

Sharing a glance, Spike nodded to Beth. "We've got to blow seal the passage, buy us some time, maybe kill a couple of them."

Beth nodded. "Well, we did put a few explosives in the ceiling. It won't stop that wolf, but it'll slow it down at least."

Grunting in agreement, the pair went over to a section of the wall. Touching it with one hand, Beth forced the flesh from some of her victims to retract, exposing the detonator to the explosives the pair had planted in the tunnel.

Smirking slightly, Beth triggered the tiny packets of C4.


Xander, Allandra and Vanessa were in the lead, Oz and Jack trailing behind. As a click went on behind them, Xander and Allandra found themselves thrown to the floor as Vanessa instinctively tackled them. Jack and Oz fell back as the ceiling crumbled down in front of them.

Everybody's ears were ringing with the sudden force of the explosion.

Slowly getting to his feet, Xander checked over Allandra and Vanessa. They were both shaken up, but fairly unhurt. Helping Vanessa, then Allandra, to her feet, they turned back to the collapsed tunnel. Feeling a flash of fear, Xander yelled. "Oz! You alright!?"

They couldn't hear anything at first, then faintly from the other side. "We're alright!"

Vanessa yelled. "Master! We can't risk digging out the side, we might bring the rest of the tunnel down on top of us!"

Faintly the trio could hear. "Agreed! The way back is clear, we'll head out the way we came in! You guys will have to find another way!"

Allandra grumbled, then she shouted. "You two take care!"

Oz's reply could be heard. "You too!"

Xander turned, and patted both the girls on their shoulders. "Either of you hurt?" He asked.

Both of them shook their heads. Allandra turned to Vanessa. "Thanks, if you hadn't tackled us we'd probably be buried alive." She spoke.

Xander nodded gravely. "Yeah, nice move. I didn't even notice the click. While being buried wouldn't kill me, I sure wouldn't like it." He smiled ruefully.

Vanessa blushed. "Oh come on, it wasn't that big a deal."

Xander chuckled. "No, I'm serious. Thanks."

Turning back down the corridor, the gang prepared themselves for whatever lay ahead.


Beth and Spike watched silently as a wall of dust sprayed out from the tunnel. Spike had his hands clenched, Beth was busy creating three-inch long spikes on her knuckles. She kept glancing nervously down the tunnel, half-expecting the werewolf to bound down out of it any second.

When instead of a single seven-foot-tall werewolf, three figures covered in dust emerged, both Spike and Beth grinned.

Spike looked to Beth. "What do you say, pet? I take droopy, you take the Slayer and the bitch?"

Beth giggled. "Sounds good to me Spikey. I haven't had a taste of Slayer's blood in ages." She pouted, then continued. "Maybe we can turn this one! I always wanted another slave."

Vanessa drew her stakes and stood in a defensive stance. Allandra raised her rapier and held it outwards, the tip aimed directly at Beth's heart.

Xander advanced on Spike, katana at the ready. He was holding it down, extended at waist level, ready at the slightest movement Spike made.

Spike smirked. "You know droopy, I'm getting real tired of you. Time was you could torture somebody and dispose of the corpse and they wouldn't show up again. But you, gee, you've been like a bloody cockroach. Just don't know when to die."

Xander took another step towards Spike, raising the katana up to shoulder level, still pointed towards Spike.

Spike was grinning broadly now. "You know what the best way to deal with roaches is, Harris?" He pulled something out of his pocket, a small gold ring. "You step on them." Spike finished, slipping the ring on his right middle finger. Then he raised his hands in a boxing stance.

Xander swung his katana, only for Spike to dodge to the left with inhuman speed and slam his fist into Xander's ribs. Xander staggered to the side, bringing up the katana defensively. Spike laughed. "That's more like it, you fucking ponce. Try and keep up you bastard."

Meanwhile, Vanessa and Allandra had split up and moved on Beth from different angles. Vanessa struck forward with a kick, only to meet empty air as Buffy twisted just enough out of the way and struck out with a punch. Seeing the deadly spikes coming towards her, Vanessa moved her face out of the path of the punch, but couldn't move fast enough and her face was scratched for her trouble.

Allandra moved in from behind Beth and slashed, aiming for Beth's left arm. Instinctively, Beth kicked out behind her and slammed Allandra in the chest, sending her flying back and coming to rest against a wall. She slumped to the floor, holding her ribs.

Slayer and ex-Slayer fought with passion, rage showing on both their faces as they moved fought against each other as only they could. Every time Beth struck out, Vanessa dodged, sometimes with millimeters to spare.

Vanessa slammed her foot into Beth's chin, causing Beth to stagger back and cry out in pain. Moving in for the kill, Vanessa got right up into Beth's face and used a fast move Master Morris taught her, pushing Beth's arms apart with extreme speed and actually forcing Beth to stick her chest out. Vanessa took advantage of the opening and slammed her left stake into Beth's heart.

Beth gasped and fell to the floor, one hand on the stake. She looked down at it in shock, and then she began to giggle. Wrapping her spiked fist around the stake, she pulled it out. The end of the stake was broken, as if it had collided with stone. Standing up with a grin on her face, Beth smiled evilly. "You've never dealt with anyone who can rearrange flesh before, have you? I've sealed off my heart with a solid plate of bone. Got the idea from a movie."

With that, she charged the shocked Slayer.

At the same time, Spike and Xander were continuing their deadly dance of death. Xander was stronger, due to the Discipline of Potence. He was more durable, due to the Fortitude he possessed. Spike was faster, due to the magical ring that once belonged to Nicholas, and he was more skilled due to his long life.

As a result, a more evenly matched set of fighters there never was. Spike launched a hit to Xander's face, which to Spike's chagrin was barely bloodying Xander's nose. Xander countered by swinging up with the katana, slicing across Spike's chest as Spike twisted with all the acrobatics he possessed to avoid the extremely sharp blade from cutting deeper.

Spike backed off, holding the slice across his chest as Xander casually wiped his face with his left hand. Xander spoke. "Not bad, Spike. You know a hell of a lot about fighting. I bet you have no clue what all of this means though."

Spike tilted his head. "Feeling all chatty now, droopy?"

Xander sneered. "You couldn't put this nightmare together if your life depended on it, Spikey-boy. So I want to know, how'd you manage to get Beth to learn the secrets of the Tzimisce, huh? Last I heard they were pretty cautious about keeping their powers under wraps."

Spike chuckled. "I didn't get her to learn. Don't you see, wanker? When I found her she was already a vampire. I just gave her some of my blood, and made her into a demon. Made her mine." He smirked.

Xander growled. "All right Spike, you're asking for it."

Xander activated Celerity and moved in, katana flashing. Spike's eyes widened as he dodged back as fast as he could, Xander's new speed suddenly equaling his own magically gained speed. Placed completely on the defensive, Spike dodged back as the blade flashed in the light, striking again and again, moving closer with every stroke to Spike's skin.

Spike moved to the left, trying to move into a perceived opening in Xander's defense. Xander moved past Spike to his right, Spike's left hand meeting empty air as Spike turned, trying to follow Xander.

The pain hit Spike a second later. He looked down at the severed stump of his right hand in shock. Looking down to the floor, he saw his severed hand, still adorned by the ring.

Looking up once more at Xander, who had only pity on his face now, his eyes were wide with fear.

Deliberately, Xander marched towards Spike, blade at the ready.

Spike backed up, stumbling now as the ring exacted its price, now that the ring was off. Spike's muscles quivered and quaked as the stresses of the fast movement unleashed themselves all at once on his body. His legs failed him, and he fell to the ground. Turning over, he tried to crawl away using the stump of his right arm and scrabbling away at the floor with his left.

Xander walked up and deliberately stepped on Spike's left hand, causing Spike to scream out.

Raising the katana, Xander spoke. "You know Spike, I'm a nice guy. I owe you for a lot more than what I'm about to do to you. You caused me to miss sixty years. You tortured me on fucking *Christmas* for god's sake. But you know, I'm not going to torture you. You know why, Spike?"

Spike shook his head, wincing.

"It's because I'm better than you, Spike. I always have been. Any torture that comes your way will be up to whatever Powers there are. I'm just going to deliver your ass into their hands."

Xander swung the katana down, cleaving Spike's head off in a single stroke. An instant later, Spike's body burst into dust. So did Spike's severed hand, and the ring that had adorned his finger clattered to the floor with a light chime.

While Spike and Xander were finishing their battle, Beth and Vanessa were still going at it, neither giving an inch. Beth slipped in past Vanessa's guard and struck a chop to Vanessa's left arm. Vanessa screamed as the bone shattered. Beth's followup slammed Vanessa against one of the fleshy walls.

Allandra got to her feet and slashed at Beth from behind, cutting Beth's back open. Beth screamed and whirled around, slapping the rapier away from Allandra. Grabbing Allandra's left arm, she twisted it behind Allandra and pinned her to the floor. Grinning madly, she caught Vanessa's look, who widened her eyes in realization.

Vanessa screamed. "No!" Even as Beth raised her spiked fist. She only began moving as Beth drove the hard spikes into Allandra's right side, going clear through her chest.

Xander looked over at the scream, and if his heart was beating, it would have stopped at that moment at the sight before him. He screamed out. "Allandra!"


Nearly one hundred feet above, Ifrit stiffened.

'Damnable timing. Now is the moment we shall see how dangerous she is.'

Stretching out his senses, he monitored the situation. 'Now is the moment of truth. Are you worthy, or are you not? If you are, I shall have to kill you, if not, someone else has spared me the trouble. Just for the sake of my entertainment, I hope you are worthy.'


Xander growled and moved on Beth in a flash, who easily grabbed him, and using his own momentum against him, threw him against a wall. Standing up again, fangs bared, he rose his blade up into a defensive stance.

Vanessa stood up beside him, drawing the machete that Jack had insisted she take.

Beth stood up, kicking Allandra behind her who flopped around, struggling weakly as blood flowed out of her mouth.

Deliberately, Beth licked the spikes she used to spear Allandra with a smile. "Mmm, tasty. I guess it's true what they say about the elves. Nice and spicy. Sooo good. I should capture a couple and use them like cattle."

Xander calmed himself, feeling the Beast broil under the surface, threatening to take over and lash out madly. This time, he didn't suppress it. He didn't ignore it. He channeled it. In that moment, he fully accepted he was a vampire, he could not change his nature, could no longer pretend he was a human in a dead body. What he was was Xander Harris. That was all that mattered. And Xander Harris would no longer let the creature that was once Buffy go on.

As one, Vanessa and Xander charged the former Slayer, turned Tzimisce, turned demon. Xander's katana flashed out, only for Beth to parry the blade with her right arm's spikes while she drove her left arm's into Xander's chest.

Staggering back, Xander growled, but he smirked as Vanessa managed to open up a deep wound across Beth's stomach with the machete. Beth attempted to backhand Vanessa, but Vanessa ducked under that and slashed across Beth's chest, doing little damage as the blade slid across Beth's altered ribcage.

Silently and in perfect control now, Xander jumped at Beth again, blade extended before him.


Allandra couldn't breathe.

Blood was rapidly filling her lung. It was running up into her mouth.

She was dying. She could only watch helplessly as Xander and Vanessa fought against Beth, unable to make much headway.

Suddenly, a bright, blinding white light appeared in her eyes.

Then she was standing, no, floating, above herself, still watching the battle before her.

"It's strange, isn't it?"

Allandra whirled around, coming face to face with Beth.

No..this person seemed different, somehow. Beth's face was twisted by years of cruelty and hatred. Her hair had been cut short and was brown. This girl had a look of understanding pain and compassion, her hair was long and blond. The differences were subtle, but as profound as the difference between night and day.

The girl smiled slightly. "I'm Buffy. For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what that bitch has done to you." Buffy spoke.

Allandra shook her head. "I don't understand. If you're here and dead, then what..is that?"

Buffy sighed. "It's a long story. To cut it short, I was turned into a vampire fifty-eight years ago. Three years later Spike found me, serving one of the Tzimisce lords unwillingly. In his mind he was freeing me, what he really did was place a demon in my body. His kind are descended from demons, if one of Xander's kind drinks the demon's blood the demon has a chance of taking hold. After that...I was ejected. I've been watching and trying to help however I can since."

Allandra sighed, and looked down at her body. She was still breathing, but her own face looked gray, ashen, horrible. "Is there any way back?" She asked.

Buffy replied. "Under normal circumstances, no, you're not strong enough. But you're not normal."

Allandra looked sharply at Buffy. "What?"

"Look down at yourself. There's a secret within that you never knew about. I can see it. There's a seat of power deep inside of you. Just a little bit of flammable material, if you will. All you need is a sparkly-type thing, and you'll get some major burnage." Buffy spoke, trying to get the idea of something she didn't understand completely herself, across.

Allandra closed her eyes. Trying to find it, that hidden potential.

She opened her eyes again. She could feel it.

Buffy smiled at her. "Go kick her ass, girl. She deserves it."

Allandra smiled in return as she was drawn back in.

With a gasp, she became aware of her body again, which was steadily growing hotter.

Then, pain overcame her, and she screamed.


Above on the street, Ifrit smiled.

'She is worthy. Good. Now all I have to do is prepare.'

Rubbing his hands together in anticipation, he laughed to himself, thinking of the upcoming game.


Xander got up again, bleeding from a half-dozen wounds. The scratches healed easily, but the wounds caused by those spikes refused to close so readily.

Vanessa was faring quite a bit better than he was. Beth had only scratched Vanessa a couple of times, Vanessa's superior training coming into play over Beth's mindless fighting rage.

An ear-shattering scream pierced the chamber, causing all three combatants to cover their ears. Beth retreated a section of fleshy wall, which hinted at another passage behind it, she looked over at the corpse of Allandra.

Or as it turned out, the corpse that wasn't quite dead yet. Allandra was kneeling, screaming incoherently as flames burst out of the wound on her chest and on her back. Her hair caught on fire, adding to her agony. She gibbered as the flames covered her entirely, she fell silent as the flames spread out into a circle around her.

Beth, Xander, and Vanessa all watched with varying degrees of horror as a figure rose from the flames. Indeed, the figure seemed to be made out of flames itself.

And the figure was not humanoid.

It stood at Allandra's normal height, but large wings made of flames were extended from its back. It growled and turned towards Beth. It slowly began to advance on her.

Allowing her instinctive fear overcome her, Beth opened the passage behind her and ran as quickly as she could.

Xander and Vanessa stood silently as the figure turned towards them.

Xander took a chance. "Allandra? Allandra, are you in there?"

The figure tilted its head.

Taking that as encouragement, he stepped forward. "Allandra, you have to calm down." He raised his hands. "Calm down honey. Calm down. Come back to me, please."

The flames began to fade slowly. Once they faded entirely, Xander could see her now-altered form.

Allandra was now no less beautiful, but substantially less elven. Great, bat-like wings spread from her back, her hair was fiery red, her eyes seemed to contain a flame within.

She looked down at herself, looking at her now clawed hands. She looked up at Xander, horror in her eyes.

"What...am I?" She croaked out.

Then she collapsed.

Chapter 18

Xander carried the unconscious Allandra in his arms, hesitantly looking down at her altered form as he and Vanessa walked through the extensive cave system of winding tunnels. Vanessa was sore, holding her left arm, trying to keep the broken bone from moving around too much as she waited for her Slayer healing to knit the bone.

Vanessa walked silently beside Xander, musing over the situation. 'What the hell is she? It's like her very aura is burning, shifting like a living fire. And to top it off, she's got wings and claws now. Nice red hair though, hm. I'll have to research it, I suppose.'

Sighing in relief when they left the caves, reaching the open air of the valleys outside of the town, they looked down on the bright lights of Sunnydale by night, Vanessa and Xander taking in the sight.

Xander turned to Vanessa. "Allandra and I need to get home, I'm hungry and if I don't get back within the hour I won't. Will you be alright getting back to Sandra's?" He asked.

Vanessa nodded. "It's a bit of a hike from here, but it's not a problem."

Xander nodded and began to walk off, cradling Allandra in his arms.

Vanessa watched his retreating form, and she closed her eyes, shaking her head. 'I don't think I'll ever figure him out. He feels different now, like something within him has burst and fallen away. I just wonder if it's a good thing, or a bad thing.'

She began walking home, cradling her broken arm and wincing.


Xander carefully opened the door to his apartment, carrying Allandra's limp form over to the bed. Carefully, he set her on it, lying on her stomach, gently and carefully setting her new wings in a comfortable position.

She mumbled and groaned in her sleep, trembling from some nightmare he couldn't comprehend. Gently he rubbed her back, and she quieted down slowly, letting out a sigh.

Xander smiled slightly, carefully tearing away the ripped and bloodstained clothing she wore. Whatever happened to trigger her transformation had healed her mortal wound, but it hadn't fixed her clothing. Xander chuckled, looking down at himself. 'Gotta admit, mine isn't in the best shape either. I look like somebody powered up a weed-whacker and did some trimming on my chest with it.'

He glanced down at Allandra, the echoes of his previous revelation going through him, and knowing he could draw on it at any time, he smiled slightly, genuinely happy about it. 'I've stopped. Stopped lying to myself. I've been living all this past time with the faint, but persistent thought that I'd be human again, or I'd wake up tomorrow and all of it be a bad dream. Tonight is the night I've stopped lying to myself over it. I'm not going to just act human anymore. It's time I reclaimed it. When I do something now, it won't be because I feel it's what I would have done in the past. It'll be because I want to do it, now.'

After placing his shredded clothing into a garbage bag, he stepped into the shower and washed his own dried blood off, letting the warmth of the water soak through his muscles pleasantly.


Allandra stood, watching her brothers.. Somehow, she felt wrong, as if this wasn't something she would see, or could see normally. Like looking through someone else's eyes.

Each of those she had somehow dubbed 'brothers' in her own mind, were beautiful. Each of them were impossibly beautiful, no set of genetics or normal methods of enhancing one's natural beauty could ever even begin to reach the beauty of these beings.

She felt her mouth speaking, though it wasn't her forming the words. "General, we're being pushed back. We're losing the war. Every strategy we come up with is being countered."

The one she was speaking to was directly across from her, his face serious and his lips pursed. He replied. "I'm aware of that. Michael knows me well, remember. I'm not surprised at all that he's leading the enemy troops against our forces as well as he has."

One of the beings turned towards the general, allowing Allandra to see he possessed ebony black, feathered angelic wings. Carried almost negligently in his right hand, leaning on his shoulder was a black scythe. He spoke. "Our numbers are holding our own. Most of us Reapers have joined your side, after all. We didn't want this, but even so, for every one of them we manage to kill we lose three of our number. Michael's better than we thought."

The previous angelic being nodded. "We had the advantage of numbers and he even agreed with me when we told him that things should have been done differently down there. But now we're being beaten back with every battle. Now we have a new problem. If you will, brother?" He looked at Allandra.

She felt herself nodding. "Of course." She waved her hand and an image formed in front of them. A young boy was walking, his shoulders slumped with shame, into the night and the barren lands of one of Earth's deserts. "A curse has been put on him. That in itself wouldn't be a problem, except for this."

Allandra felt her hand wave again, and the image shifted, showing the boy taking instruction from a beautiful, dark haired woman. The general's eyes widened.

"She's teaching him everything she knows. You should know more than any of us, Morningstar, what she can pass on." Allandra felt herself speaking.

The general, apparently called Morningstar, crossed his arms. "Indeed. Combined with his curse, this is a significant problem. I don't quite understand what the other side is trying to do, however. I can only see problems for them arising from doing this."

Allandra nodded. "I agree. We would try to eliminate him, but right now we haven't got troops available. To even try would be foolhardy without an entire host. Already he's gathered enough power to rival me, and if he continues growing at this rate he'll be able to match even you, Morningstar, within two years."

Morningstar nodded, chewing on his lip. "We haven't much time." Turning to the angel with the scythe, he nodded. "Death, we need you to scatter as many of your legion across the world. We can't hide from the Host, but we will not make it easy for them to track us down. We need to make them come to us, fight on our turf, so to speak."

Death shook his head. "You forget Morningstar I am neutral in this matter. I cannot choose your side or his because I cannot choose anything other than which mortal will die. You will have to relay the commands yourself, for my Lessers are not as I."

Morningstar sighed, nodded, then turned to Allandra. "You know what you need to do?"

Allandra felt herself nod. "Do what I do best. I'll have to draw out Michael. Leave it to me, Morningstar."

He nodded, turning his attention back to the image of the boy being taught by the woman, crossing his arms with a grave look on his face. He muttered, almost to himself, yet Allandra overheard. "What are you up to, hm? Why give Caine this kind of power?"

And then she woke up.


Xander got dressed again, toweling his hair and examining his reflection in the mirror. Walking back into the bedroom once again, he looked for Allandra, lying on the bed. Where she wasn't.

Instead, she was standing in front of a mirror, wearing only her undergarments, examining her new form.

Quickly, Xander averted his eyes, coughing in embarrassment. "Sorry Allandra! I thought you were still asleep." If it were possible for him to blush, he'd be beet red right now.

He heard her chuckle lightly, and her reply. "Sorry Xander, I should have locked the door." She lapsed into silence again. When her voice came back to him, he could hear the fear in her voice. "Do...do you think I'm ugly?"

Feeling he'd just been put over the same barrel as the question 'Am I fat?' Xander blinked a few times, trying to formulate a diplomatic response on the spur of the moment.

All he came up with was. "No! No, you're not ugly." Turning around slowly, he looked at Allandra, who was watching him suspiciously. He slowly walked forward and gently wrapped her into a hug. He felt her clinging to him desperately. She was sobbing into his shoulder, while he gently patted her on the back.

Together, they stood there for a full half an hour, simply allowing each other the comfort of the other's presence.


Ifrit observed the pair from outside, his senses telling him exactly what was happening.

'Her strength is growing, her body is adapting to her new state and she has already glimpsed what I was. I'm impressed.' He smiled to himself, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it with the tip of his finger.

He frowned, remembering the problems he'd heard of with these in the past. 'Genetic memory is such a two-edged sword at times. It's a good thing that they don't inherit everything, but I despise it when memories manage to slip through the cracks.'

Even after more than ten millennia of tinkering, they still couldn't get their genetic memory to work only in skills and languages, and not in memories. It was possible to block the memory, but sometimes, just sometimes something slipped through. Ifrit sighed.

Enjoying the flavor of the burning cigarette, Ifrit turned and walked away.


After the sunrise, Xander had put Allandra to bed, allowing her to rest and recuperate. He was about to go to sleep himself when the phone rang. He grumbled to himself and answered it.


Cordelia's voice drifted over the line. "Hey Xander."

"Hey Cordy. What's up?"

"Two things, actually. The first is that Angel's finally got all the paperwork through, so now you're the proud new owner of the Haven." Xander chuckled. "Yeah, thanks. I never did think I'd own a club, but hey. How much do I owe Angel?"

"About twenty grand." Cordelia replied.

Xander groaned, and Cordy laughed at him.

"All right, I'll set up a payment plan or something."

"That'd be a good idea." Cordelia replied.

"All right, what's the other thing, Cor?"

"I've picked up some word through the Wolfram and Hart computer, and in some other places. The underworld doesn't know your name, but they're sending people to Sunnydale to kill you."

Xander groaned. "Joy. Now I'm really happy. Who's coming to the party?"

"Three members of the Order of Teraka were hired by somebody named Kazi. The price tag was pretty hefty, but she's got money everywhere, she's been running a corporation called Orsi International."

Xander grunted. "All right. Anybody else?"

"Yeah. A single Assamite is headed your way. All I managed to pull up was that some Tzimisce flunky sent an email to another flunky. I don't have any details on him, just that he's going there. It's pure luck I've got that much."

Xander chuckled. "Thank god for stupid flunkies. Thanks Cordy, I owe you."

He could hear her grin through her reply. "I'll put it on your tab, buster."


The next night, Xander walked into the Haven, walking towards the backroom and testing out the nice chair that Mike owned. He smirked to himself, noting exactly how comfortable it was. Searching the desk, he found the intercom system.

Calling in each of his new employees one at a time, he explained the situation to each of them with candor. They can keep working at the Haven provided they inform him if they detect demonic vampires.

In the end, Xander only had to fire one bouncer. Xander mused he'd have to put out ads. Xander picked up his phone and called Vanessa. "Hello?" Came her voice.

"Hey Vanessa, it's Xander."

Vanessa sounded surprised. "Xander! How'd you get my number?"

Xander chuckled. "You do know that you're in the phone company's database?"

"Oh yeah. Duh. So what do I owe the honor of the call?" Vanessa asked.

"I haven't heard from Jack or Oz, have you seen them?"

"Master Morris and Oz are alright. Oz heals quickly, and Master Morris is currently meditating. He spends a lot of time doing that, you know."

"Nothing wrong with the practice, I just know it's not for me."

Vanessa chuckled. "I hear you. He always told me I had too much energy. Can't sit down for a minute."

"Heh. Sounds like you, alright. How's the arm?"

"Sore. Healing. Itchy. It'll be fine by tonight, but I hate broken bones." Vanessa replied, her tone indicating a grimace.

"That's alright. Hey, at least you don't need to take a full month off, huh?"

"Good point. So, what's up?"

Xander slapped his forehead. "Right, nearly forgot. Four assassins are headed into Sunnydale, three of them are of the Order of Teraka, you heard of them?"

Vanessa just sounded a bit confused. "Uhh..no. Should I have?"

Xander sighed. "I guess Sandra hasn't gotten around to telling you about them yet, huh? They're elite assassins, fanatically loyal and always dangerous. The person you least expect could be a member. Some of them are human, some aren't. That's all I can say about them."

Vanessa groaned. "Fun. If they come after me I'll be prepared. Who's the fourth guy?"

Xander sighed. "I can't tell you, cause I've no clue. I just know that somebody nasty was hired to show up around here. Suffice to say though, you won't have to worry about him or her, it's me they'll probably want. Just going to tell you I'm not going to be meeting up with you for a few days. If I did I'd put you in danger, way beyond anything I expected with Spike. I'm not going to do that."

Vanessa didn't sound happy. "All right, fine. I'll see you in a few days time then."

"Yeah, peace out. Take care, Vanessa."

He hung up the phone, rubbing his eyes the moment the phone was back on its cradle. Now that was taken care of, he'd have to find out what he could do about tracking down and killing Beth.

The intercom buzzed, and Xander looked at it, trying to figure out exactly how to use it again. Pressing the appropriate button after a moment, he spoke. "Yeah?"

"Uh, boss. There's some people here to see you. They're...members of your club." The hesitant voice of his bartender came over the line.

"Send them back here, thanks." Xander replied, thinking about who could be here to see him.

Thirty seconds later, the door to the office opened, and three Kindred walked in.

The first looked like he was well off, the type of person who'd think nothing was wrong if he misplaced a few thousand dollars a day. He was wearing an immaculate business suit, and walked with an air of superiority. He stood in front of Xander's desk and crossed his arms.

The second was a large, red-bearded man. He stood at least at six foot seven, and he had large, rippling muscles that moved easily under his skin. He somehow gave the impression that the small confines of the office was offensive to his massive frame.

And the third...

Xander blinked. Then grinned. "Lily! Now this is unexpected!"

Lily blinked, looking at Xander, first puzzled, then she broke out into a grin. "Xander! My god, it's been a long time. How have you been?"

Xander shrugged. "Been better. Things are improving a bit, though."

The businessman cleared his throat.

Lily stopped, blinked, and looked to him. "Sorry. I didn't think an old friend would be here. Xander, this is Dimitri of the Ventrue." The lawyer-type nodded. Lily continued. "And Jason of the Gangrel." The large man nodded.

Xander nodded to both of them, and then gestured to the chairs in the office. "Come on, sit down, get comfortable, I don't want to be a rude host ya know."

Lily smirked and got a chair, bringing one over for Dimitri as well. Jason just snorted and leaned against the wall, crossing his arms.

Xander scratched his chin and put his feet up on the desk. "So, what can I do for you folks? Throw a party, smuggle blood, pick a fight?"

Jason snorted with amusement. Lily smirked as Dimitri grimaced, glaring at Xander. "The Cainite Prince of Los Angeles wishes to speak with you, Rabble. For the life of me, I cannot see why he'd want to."

Xander shrugged. "Hm, lemme think. Hrrrm.. Maybe it's because I...nah, he wouldn't care about niggling little things like stopping a pesky dust bunny like Spike, huh?"

Jason rumbled from the wall. "Congratulations."

Dimitri simply looked bored, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a slip of paper. He pushed it towards Xander, who took his feet off the desk and picked it up.

Dimitri spoke. "That's an invitation to the Prince's estate in Los Angeles. Be there in three night's time by midnight. If you don't show up by then the results will be very..unpleasant, to say the least." He stood up slowly, in a single fluid motion.

Xander opened the invitation and nodded. "Gotcha. Be there or be a dust pile. Great choice. Was that the whole point of all three of you coming down? To drop me a letter?"

Jason chuckled, grinning even wider as Dimitri shot him a glare. Lily spoke up. "Of course not. We wanted to see who was either brave enough or stupid enough to attack somebody working for the Sabbat without collecting more resources. Most of us wouldn't even think of killing a club owner and then buying the place before the dust settled."

Xander smirked. "Hey, what can I say, even before I joined the club I was doing these kinds of things. Believe it or not though, there was a plan. Still got lucky though, I wasn't expecting the hunter with the surprise to show up."

Jason raised an eyebrow. "What hunter?"

Xander looked at the group of vampires. "You didn't know?"

Dimitri raised an eyebrow. "Obviously not. What hunter?"

Xander shrugged. "I killed two of Mike's bodyguards, Mike was trying some mind control hypnotic thingy on me when the hunter showed up and shot him in the temple. We squared off, I managed to hurt him, then he got all nasty and turned into a demon."

Dimitri rolled his eyes, about to dismiss it out of hand, but Lily and Jason both looked at Dimitri and then at Xander, their eyes urging him to continue. Xander forced himself to not shrink under the scrutiny, so he went on. "Anyway, he was kicking my ass, then a friend of mine showed up and shot him multiple times. Then he vanished. He'd pulled that trick before though, so he's probably still around waiting for me."

Lily looked concerned. "You're throwing yourself into danger, again, Xander?"

Xander shrugged. "It's what I do, I guess. Can't even blame the Brujah blood I got for it either. Ah well."

Dimitri sighed. "A Brujah. That explains a lot. Only a Brujah would be stupid enough to do what you've done."

Xander smiled. "Thanks."

Dimitri scowled. "It wasn't a compliment, you dolt."

Xander grinned wider. "I know."

Lily giggled. Dimitri glared at her, which quickly made her quiet down, although she couldn't hide the smile on her face. Jason seemed to be enjoying Dimitri's flustered state.

Dimitri turned and nodded to Lily and Jason. "We're leaving." He spoke shortly, his irritation showing. He walked out the door, followed by Jason. Lily gave Xander a wink before she left, and Xander returned the wink.


Beth screamed.

In the last twelve hours, she'd done that a lot. No less than sixty seven times, in fact. The demon within the body of the Tzimisce Vampire wailed her loss for her maker, her sire and creator. Her ghouled servants had all fled from her presence, fearing her wrath should she choose to vent her anger on something, or someone, nearby.

She wasn't aware of the fact that, even as the sun was rising, she had company coming over to her backup lair, an old warehouse with painted over windows.

She did become very aware of that fact when the door to the warehouse door smashed in, flying off the hinges and letting a stream of sunlight streak into the place. A single figure stood in the doorway, and he looked to be nothing more than a regular human to all appearances.

"Knock knock." Came the mocking voice of the person.

Beth took a step back, her eyes wide. She hadn't seen many creatures that could do that. Perhaps her master could, before Spike found her, but not many since. She swallowed the lump of fear that had suddenly lodged in her throat.

He smirked. "Oh, dear me. Is the vampire all afraid of the pesky sunlight? I'm kind of disappointed." He made a show of stretching and enjoying the light. "I do enjoy this place. It's nice and temperate and bright. Living in a place of extremes is just hell on your skin tone you know."

He began walking forward, casually and without any hesitation or fear, walked out of the light and into the darker center of the warehouse. Beth growled at him and charged at him, swinging her fists out and catching him on the jaw.

Only to find it was like trying to break a block of steel with a piece of tissue paper. She screamed in surprise and in pain as every bone in her hand shattered when impacting the hard surface of his skin.

With a slightly amused expression, he casually backhanded her, which actually caused her to go flying back a distance of thirty feet, and smacking into the wall of the warehouse. She slid to the floor limply, groaning. Dusting himself off, he watched as she slowly climbed to her feet with a bored expression.

"Care to try again, leech?" He asked, contempt drenching every word.

She growled at him, but had enough sense not to charge him again so heedlessly. She healed her hand with a thought, and then advanced on the man in a combat stance. He rolled his eyes and sighed. She lashed out at him, only for him to block it with his forearm and he smashed her in the face with a fist.

The intense force of the blow made her spin around, spewing blood as her jaw, nose, and teeth all shattered. She lay on the floor for a moment, and then dazedly got back up, forcing her wounds to heal.

"Hmph. I came here looking to see if anybody on this rock could pose a threat to me and all I find is a pitiful vampire girl who was a former champion. How pathetic. Oh well, perhaps true vampires, or the werewolves will pose a challenge, hm?" He spoke, his voice oozing contempt.

Beth growled, moving away in a blur of motion, running as fast as she could towards the sewer access, ripping up the grate with a single motion and diving down.

Ifrit watched her flee with some amusement. Oh well, he'd enjoy his vacation from his damnation, it's not like there was a lot of things on this world that could hurt him.

For he was Ifrit, Lord of the Flames, Igniter of Suns and General of Hell.


The next night, in Los Angeles, something else was unfolding.

Xander sat in the passenger side of the car, playing with the radio as Allandra drove the station wagon to the mansion of the Prince.

He looked over at her as they pulled up to the driveway. "You sure you want to come in with me? These guys probably won't be very nice, I'm not sure what'll happen if you go in there."

Allandra nodded. "I know. But I'm not letting you go in there alone. Besides, being...whatever I am, if this Prince is at all reasonable he'll understand and let us go, maybe even help me find out what I am."

He stroked her chin with his hand lightly, smiling at her. "Thanks. Remember though, if I ask you to run, you run, alright?"

She nodded, then got out of the car, her long coat flowing around her, concealing her wings, which were tucked in close to her body to minimize the bulges in her trenchcoat. Xander stepped out on his side, nodding to the doorman, whom he identified as a vampire. The doorman was equipped with a headset and seemed to be listening to the whispers of the security.

The doorman rose his head and nodded to Xander, giving Allandra a suspicious glance. He spoke. "Mister Harris. The Prince is waiting for you. Your friend-"

Xander cut him off. "Goes where I go. You have my word we'll cause no trouble here."

Allandra spoke quietly, twirling her now red hair. "And mine."

The doorman quietly spoke into his headset for a few moments, then he listened to the response. He nodded, and spoke to Xander. "Very well. You are responsible for her from here on out, understood?"

Xander nodded.

The doorman showed them inside.


The Prince of Los Angeles didn't appear to be an old man. He was apparently Embraced in his prime, someone who looked to be no more than twenty-five years of age. His hair was black and hung down in a ponytail over his suit, his skin was pale, as was natural for an Elder vampire, and his eyes were a light blue, yet exuding strength. He was sitting in a chair behind a large business desk, behind him was a large window facing a garden.

He looked at the pair, raising an eyebrow suspiciously at Allandra, then turned his full attention on Xander.

"Good evening mister Harris. I am Alexander. Welcome to my home."

Xander nodded. "Yeah thanks. You got a nice place. Just out of curiosity, how much did it cost to build it all?"

Alexander smiled slightly. "Seven million. Over the years the property value has skyrocketed, however. I could probably sell it for more than fifty million today. If I may ask, who is this lovely woman, mister Harris?"

Allandra spoke up, nervously. "I'm Allandra. I speak for myself, thanks."

Alexander chuckled. "Forgive me, most...people like yourself don't often speak for themselves in my presence when escorted." He turned back to Xander. "I assume she knows of your..condition?"

Xander knew he was on shaky ground here, but he nodded hesitantly. Alexander frowned slightly, looking at Xander with disapproval. "That wasn't very wise, but typical of the Brujah, I see. Do you intend to Embrace her, with your sire's permission of course."

Xander shook his head. "No, I don't intend to, sir. I haven't had contact with my sire ever since we parted ways after she trained me, sixty years ago, either. Besides...I don't like the idea of Embracing someone else."

Alexander frowned. "Who was your sire, mister Harris? You're young, I cannot believe you were simply left to your own devices so readily."

Xander shrugged. "Anezka Romuald, wife and childe of Christof Romuald."

Alexander blinked, and drew in a sharp breath. "I see. Interesting. What do you know of their reputation, Xander?"

Xander rose an eyebrow, his voice becoming confused now. "Uh. They're strong. Christof was around during the Crusades, woke up in 1999, and had a very stiff way of speaking, like he was trying to conform to how we speak. Anezka I know a lot less about, but just by looking at them you could tell they were in love."

Allandra crossed her arms, listening closely and taking in every detail of the conversation between the elder vampire and the neonate. The names of Christof and Anezka had shaken the elder, as much as if one had said that a god had stepped in for evening tea.

The Prince quietly began speaking. "A little over nine hundred years ago, Christof Romuald was a human, a Crusader with the Swordbretheren. He was wounded in battle and brought to Prague. Anezka tended to him while he lay unconscious, she kept him alive. Soon after he recovered, albeit barely, from his injury, he found out about the Tzimisce vampires infesting Prague. Unaware they were only a small part of our world, he descended into one of their lairs and destroyed one of their more influential members at the time."

Xander blinked. "Whoa. I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was quite that good."

Alexander nodded. "The Tzimisce put a contract out on his head, they sent several of their ghouls to kill him. After he killed them as well, they put a larger bounty on him. The Brujah were at that time a clan of warriors and scholars, seeking perfection of education and philosophy, along with physical prowess. Most Ventrue would never admit it, but back then, a human general was as likely to be recruited by the Brujah as a Ventrue."

He continued. "Christof was Embraced into the Brujah soon afterwards. They thought they could use him, and for a short time they were right. He turned out to be even more dangerous as a vampire than as a human. However, he fought to keep his humanity rather than allow himself to fall prey to the Beast. An impressive feat, considering he was a Brujah. Your clan falls to it far too readily, you know."

Xander sighed, but couldn't find fault with that. He had to admit, it didn't take too much for him to fall into frenzy. He spoke. "Go on."

The elder vampire took the cue and went on. "Christof soon found out Anezka had went missing, and set out to rescue her. In his travels he found a weapon that should have stayed buried, but the Tremere in their arrogance had dug it up."

Xander rose an eyebrow. He'd heard of the Tremere, back before Spike had tortured him, but he hadn't heard anything of them since.

Alexander sighed, then continued. "The weapon was called the Ainkurn Sword. During its forging, it was quenched in the blood of the strongest of us, the blood of one of the Antediluvians."

Xander spoke up hesitantly. "Uh..Antediluvians? Who are they?"

Alexander smiled slightly. "Who were they, you mean. I will get to that, young one. Anezka's trail led him to the Tzimisce stronghold in Prague. Unfortunately, it was also during the beginning of the Inquisition. The Tzimisce lord within, Vukodlak, was bound in Torpor. Christof managed to delay the resurrection, but in the process he was buried in the collapsing castle. The Tzimisce removed their lord from the scene, and Christof was forgotten by all, along with the Ainkurn.

"The Inquisition recovered Christof, along with the Ainkurn and a few other old relics in 1999. After awakening, Christof systematically tracked down Anezka and Vukodlak. Fairly quickly, he and his allies managed to destroy Vukodlak and Christof then Embraced Anezka, who had been a Tzimisce ghoul all that time.

"After that, he tracked down and, using the Ainkurn, along with a great deal of help, killed the Antediluvians. How, I am not certain. They had powers and abilities far beyond anything I could imagine, yet somehow he was able to do it. Christof is legendary, but he hasn't been seen since he defeated Veddartha, my clan's founder." Alexander finished.

Xander and Allandra just stood there, with a look of blank shock on their faces.

Alexander smirked, then tilted his head. "Now that I've enlightened you on your family history, let's talk about the present, shall we?"

Xander and Allandra both nodded.

The Prince of Los Angeles continued. "Let's see. You show up in Sunnydale, a place where the Sabbat go, but typically never leave, because they often vanish or die horribly. You kill off their leader, chase down a Tzimisce Elder, and eliminate a thorn known as the Caitiff William the Bloody, a walking breach of the Masquerade if I ever heard of one. While these deeds are rather useful, I can't help but ask one question. Why?"

Xander sighed. "Do you know what Sunnydale is? Why it's got such a high death rate, why, when I was in highschool, the Sunnydale High newspaper had an obituary column?"

Alexander simply smiled and said three words. "Boca del Inferno."

Allandra rose an eyebrow, looking at Xander for his reaction. Xander just nodded. "Mouth of Hell. Ugly demon vamps congregate there, along with a lot of other nasties. But it's also my hometown, I want to quiet the place down, at least until the Hellmouth goes dormant, or if I have to, gather the resources to make it dormant."

Alexander rose an eyebrow. "A lofty goal, if an unrealistic one. Did you not wonder why so many in Sunnydale never truly take notice of what is going on in that god-forsaken town?"

Xander shrugged. "Because most people would rather explain away the weird thing they saw, or forget they saw it, rather than find out the creatures of the night are real."

The Prince just smirked. "Partially. For most of the rest, the area's ambient energies tends to play havoc with the weak-minded, reinforcing their belief in natural explanations for supernatural phenomenon. As for the rest, they simply keep their mouths shut, believing if they blend into the crowd, the predators will have little reason to choose them. The smartest ones, of course, move away."

Xander nodded. "Makes sense. Though, me and Willow stuck around after finding out about it, but we didn't notice anything unusual about Sunnydale til highschool."

Alexander replied. "As a result, we of the Camarilla have several dens of Nosferatu and a few other Kindred to keep things in line wherever possible. Unfortunately, something about the Hellmouth's influence tends to drive us mad, it pulls the Beast to the surface, increasing the difficulty of blending in and surviving. Have you noticed this, Xander?"

Xander shook his head. "Never felt different in Sunnydale than I ever did in L.A. I'll admit I've lost my head sometimes, but I've managed to keep myself under control when it was really important."

The Prince nodded. "I believe it is because you've lived on the Hellmouth all of your life, you've built up a somewhat natural immunity. It would be no more difficult for you to control the Beast there as it would for you elsewhere. Which would fit my intelligence."

Xander shrugged, Allandra spoke quietly. "What intelligence? You've been watching us?"

Alexander smiled slightly. "You'd be surprised what kinds of places the Nosferatu can get into, my dear. I also know of your current condition. Don't be shy, show them off."

Allandra found herself taking off her jacket, revealing her red bat-like wings to the eyes of the Prince. He nodded, as if it merely confirmed something he suspected, then he turned back to Xander.

"Because of your actions, removing the Sabbat's rather small, but possibly dangerous, influence in Sunnydale, you've forced the town back into a rather leaderless place, among our community. Because of this, I've taken control of the town, reabsorbing it into Camarilla territory." Alexander spoke, watching Xander's reactions. Xander seemed to be a little put off, but he was listening with curiosity plastered on his face.

Xander spoke up. "So what? I'll have to report to you? Well if you want me to, I guess I can give you a phone call every once in a while or something."

The Prince chuckled. "Not at all. Sunnydale is, while in my area, not a part of my territory. It would be too troublesome for me to watch over as well as watch over Los Angeles and everything else. I don't need every Cainite that passes through that tiny burg to make a detour here. Thus, I've made a decision."

Xander and Allandra both raised their eyebrows at the same time. Allandra blurted out. "What decision?"

Alexander smirked slightly. "I've decided to declare you the Prince of Sunnydale, mister Harris."

Xander blinked. Then he coughed. Then he looked at Alexander incredulously. "What!?" He managed to squeak out.

Alexander chuckled, taking in the expression of the newly-crowned Cainite Prince of Sunnydale. "Your actions have proven helpful, if small, to the Camarilla. I've been told you track down and eliminate threats to your territory, and you keep your word. While the last is not needed in a Prince, it is a definite plus."

Xander sighed. "Yeah, great. But, I, uh...I don't particularly like the Camarilla. You're better than the Sabbat, especially on the ground level, I mean, sir. Thing that bugs me is that you guys aren't all that nice either."

The Prince of Los Angeles sighed. "We in the Camarilla exist to protect the Masquerade, the way of life that allows us to exist in a world that could easily destroy us if we were exposed to the figurative light of day. We exist for the Kindred, not to protect the Kine."

Xander shrugged. "I get that, I do. I'm sorry though, I'm not the kind of guy to sit back and let the world pass me by. Not a day goes by in Sunnydale that someone doesn't die a horrible death. I know it's dangerous, but I can't just sit around and let it happen knowing I can do something about it."

Alexander sighed. "I understand. You are young yet, after all. Very well, you are hereby the Anarch Prince of Sunnydale. You have, as of this moment, no official or unofficial connection to myself or my resources in the Camarilla beyond the fact that you are Kindred. Any resources or assistance you gather will be of your own doing, and if you come to me asking for help, it will be as one Prince to another. Neither you or I will be forced to lend resources without a common interest or barter. If you breach the Masquerade, and do not take steps to remedy the problem, I will deal with both the problem and you, am I understood?"

Xander nodded, looking rather pale, even for his current status as a vampire. Allandra nodded to Alexander as well, showing her respect and hearing the unspoken threat towards her as well. She had no doubt that if she did anything that could expose vampires to the population at large, she'd be dealt with as swiftly as Xander would be if he did the same.

Shrugging her jacket back on, both Xander and Allandra bowed to the Prince of Los Angeles, and they walked out.

Alexander watched them go, then he pulled up a chair and sat in it, turning it so he could look at the garden.

He spoke to the empty air. "So, what do you think?"

A grotesque form appeared beside Alexander, frowning at him through his misshapen face. "You think it's really wise giving a neonate Brujah the position of Prince, even for a small town?"

Alexander smirked, not looking at the Nosferatu. "I'm simply giving him in name what he was already claiming in action. This way I have him in my pocket if I need him. Besides, even most of the Sabbat isn't stupid enough to simply play around at the Hellmouth. There has to be something else more valuable there."

The Nosferatu grunted. "Maybe, but I still think putting a neonate in charge of a town is a bad idea."

Alexander shrugged. "Obviously you weren't paying as much attention as you normally do. He reminds me of the Brujah of old, their fire and nobility. Regardless of our feuds with the old Brujah, I'd much rather see one like them guarding the Hellmouth instead of the rowdies of today. Perhaps we can thank his grandsire for his current behavior, Josef."

Josef snorted. "You have a point. It's a pity to see them having fallen that far. I met his grandsire once, and young Xander has many of the same qualities that I've seen. Do you think he'll manage to defeat the fallen Slayer?"

Alexander nodded without any hesitation. "I've no doubt about it. He will find a way, he's the type to ignore little things like the massively stocked odds against him. Besides, he was the one to create the plan to destroy Wilkins. He succeeded where centuries of men, demons and vampires failed, even if he wasn't the one to end it personally, they wouldn't have succeeded in destroying him without Xander."

Josef sighed. "Still, you're taking a big chance here, old friend. It's not like we're dealing with someone experienced in politics. We have someone who's less experienced than your average fledgling running Sunnydale."

Alexander looked at Josef. "It's also his territory. He knows the terrain, the enemies, and the tactics required to defeat them. I don't need a politician there, I need a soldier. He's a good one."

Josef grumbled, but had to concede another point.

Alexander turned back to the garden. "What do you think of the woman?" He asked.

Josef stiffened, then replied. "She's familiar to some stories I heard, but she can't be the same person. For one thing, the person those stories followed was always a male."

Alexander chuckled. "And you'd be right, I was right along with him when those stories were made. She is indeed someone else, I assure you."

Josef looked at Alexander, his eyes inquiring. "Then what, or who is she?"

Alexander sighed, then answered slowly. "The daughter of someone born in the darkness. The daughter of my old friend. What I'm concerned about, is her grandfather."

Josef frowned. "I'd agree. He's not somebody most of us would like to mess with."

The pair stood in silence, remembering old memories, stories, and in the Ventrue's case, his lost friend.

With a sigh, Alexander of the Ventrue, known among history scholars as Alexander the Great, stood up from his seat and retired to his chambers.


In Sunnydale, Ifrit stood on a rooftop, his mind stretched into the distance, searching.

When he found his target, he smiled to himself. 'Oh what a tangled web that has been woven. I suppose now is the time to cast the first line. Then I shall see what she is made of.'

Casting a thought out, arcing through the miles of empty air without the slightest bit of effort, his carefully created message reached the recipient. Three little words that would begin a new nightmare.

'Hello, my daughter.'

And miles away, in the car that Xander was driving back to Sunnydale, Allandra covered her ears and screamed in terror.


Chapter 19

Xander's car swerved the moment Allandra screamed. Jerking the steering wheel over, he guided the car to a stop on the side of the road, his ears ringing as Allandra kept jerking and screaming in the seat.

Unbuckling his seat belt, Xander grabbed Allandra's face and tried to calm her down, trying to keep her from screaming. She was writhing, her face scrunched up in pain and in terror.

Suddenly she opened her eyes, and clutched onto Xander as if he were a lifeline. She whispered in his ear. "Get him out of my head!"

Her eyes then rolled back into her head and she passed out.

Xander clutched onto Allandra, quietly speaking. "Come on Allandra, fight this. You can beat him."


Images flashed before Allandra's eyes as the ancient Devil Lord's mind wormed through her own. People she didn't know, places she'd never seen, wonders or nature, the cruelty of demons and man, and also the compassion of those beings with living souls.

The memories slowed down and unfolded on a single event. She stood before a bright battlefield, an army of thousands of men in archaic armor stood before her. The sun beat down on them all, the air was full with the stench of death and burnt flesh.

A single figure stood on the other side, a being with blue skin and horns. With every wave of his hand, lightning struck out and killed more of the people who were trying to reach the figure.

"So, it's come, then?" A voice spoke from behind her.

She felt herself turning, coming face to face with the man she knew as Prince Alexander, the vampire. Yet this man couldn't be a vampire, they were both standing in full daylight. She felt a voice that wasn't her own, a distinctly masculine voice, speaking, yet it was her lips moving. "The Judge. He's here to bring this world under the rule of the masters of his Hell."

Alexander nodded. "This is different from your own, right?" Allandra replied. "Very different. My father fell into my Hell, others went to a place they called the Abyss. His come from yet another, a realm of conquerors and never-ending war and pain. He is their ultimate weapon. Nothing your army has can kill him, no weapon forged by man can stop him."

Alexander sighed. "Can you stop him, my friend? You are, after all, not a man. You are a devil."

Allandra felt herself shaking her head. "I can't stop him either. I have no weapons of the Hells with me, and I cannot get one in time to keep him from growing stronger. I could, perhaps, beat him with my bare hands, but I doubt it. He's more durable than I am."

There was a roar of triumph and a loud scream, both Alexander and Allandra, or whoever's eyes she was seeing through this time, turned to look at the battle.

The Judge stood there, electrocuting several men with his lightning, and yet he was snarling, and even from the long distance, he looked a little scared. Allandra felt herself smiling slightly, and Alexander patted her shoulder, pointing at him. He nearly yelled in his excitement. "Look! He is wounded!"

And so the Judge was. His left arm had been cut off at the elbow, apparently the lucky strike of a single soldier in his death throes. Though the army had been cut down to less than five hundred men when they had started with two thousand, Allandra was suddenly certain, somehow, that they would win.

"Of course." She spoke, apparently her benefactor had a revelation. "No weapon forged by man can kill him. But we don't need to kill him! We can stop him without killing him!"

Alexander sounded elated as he spoke. "Can you do it?"

Allandra nodded. "I can do it." She felt her hand drawing a blade as she began running towards the battlefield at a faster than human speed. The Judge was ripping the lives from ten people at a time, scorching them with that yellow lightning of his.

She felt herself leaping above the army, her vision surrounded by flames as she descended to earth, striking out with her blade. The Judge raised his hand, and struck at her with lightning, throwing her back and forcing her to fall to the ground with a grunt.

The Judge blew away another twenty men with a lightning strike as Allandra got back to her feet, but even with that minor victory of the Judge, another soldier's lucky strike managed to sever the Judge's right arm.

Breathing heavily, Allandra felt her body charge at the Judge, moving with inhuman speed and cutting down, slicing off one of his horns. The Judge howled a demonic curse at her as she dodged behind him, and as she did, the hundred remaining soldiers in the army surrounded the Judge.

Lightning burst out from the center of that mass of flesh, and nearly all of the men screamed in agony and fell dead as the Judge absorbed their souls for his own power. Three men were left, and they hacked mercilessly at the falling demon. The Judge's power was waning, but still, a single touch could kill them, and if he managed it, he could reassemble himself.

Allandra found herself running at the Judge once again, lifting her blade and hacking with a single stroke, severing the Judge's head from his body. The blue demon's body staggered, and then fell over.

The three remaining men watched in horror as the limbs of the demon tried to reattach themselves to the body of the monster, and Alexander, still up on the hillside, shouted an order down to them. "Dismember it entirely!"

The men took the order and kept hacking with their blades. Again and again in the bright sunlight the swords flashed, removing every limb the demon had from each other part of itself.

Alexander came down the hill, speaking to his men once the grisly job was finished. "Box the remains, and keep them separate. We can't chance him managing to reassemble himself."

The scene froze suddenly, leaving Allandra in control of herself. She looked around, screaming into the air. "Who are you!?"

The stench of burnt corpses threatened to overwhelm her, and yet she could snap out of this nightmare.

A figure of flames burst out of the ground in front of her. "I am what you should have been, child." It advanced towards her, the flames fading, revealing a seven foot tall winged beast. His skin was black, yet, as if in place of blood, lava flowed through his body, coming to the surface of his skin, weaving glowing patterns through his face and his extremities. His horned face seemed to glare at her for some imagined crime.

She took a step back, unconsciously stepping over the frozen corpse of a fallen soldier. "What do you want from me!?" She screamed at him, half in anger and half in fear.

The devil laughed. "I simply want answers. You hold the answers to your own creation, yet it is all locked away in that tiny brain of yours. Worthless mortal bug." He rose his hand. "Now, show me, child. Where is my son!?"

She screamed as the images around herself twisted into a lightless wasteland. Clouds rolled overhead, lightning illuminating the dead world in brief flashes. In the distance she could hear two voices argued with each other. The images apparently were not constructed out of her own memories, or the devil's influence, but of something else.

The ground whirled, and both the devil and Allandra found themselves standing before two other devils. Or rather, one unknown devil and the devil standing at Allandra's side, if it were possible for him to be in two places at once. The unknown devil stood at six feet, a massive greatsword strapped to his back, over his hard, leathery wings. He bore more than a passing resemblance to the larger devil, but seemed to stand with a way of nobility to larger one lacked.

The smaller, unknown devil spoke. "Father, Lord Ifrit. I ask that you see reason."

Ifrit snarled. "Alleron! I shall not allow you to leave. You are not worthy of freedom, you are mine, or have you forgotten this in your traitorous way!?"

The name nearly staggered Allandra. 'Alleron was my father's name. I remember him as a kind man, someone who always looked out for me, protected me. He was someone who had been such a great father. How could he be a demon? How could this be so?'

Alleron spread his arms and yelled. "Look at me, father! I have given up every soul I have taken for power, and yet, now I am stronger than I ever was before. I have rejected you and the eternal war you and your brethren have waged for ten millennia! You are trapped here in this darkness, while I can leave and go to a world, nay, many worlds of light. I am free father. You will be bound here until you get killed in one of your schemes."

Ifrit growled and backhanded his son, sending him flying and crashing into the rocky ground. Alleron staggered to his feet, wiping his mouth with a clawed hand. "You see, father. You cannot accept that there is another way, a better way, so you just decide to destroy that which irks you. You're a fool."

Ifrit roared in a voice that reached the rolling clouds above. "You are not worthy of being my son! I shall rend the flesh from your bones, you pathetic little wretch! You turned on me for these lies of redemption and freedom!? I shall show you how binding this realm really is to you!"

Alleron stood straight, defiantly staring his father in the eyes. "I don't think so, father. You made a mistake ten thousand years ago and still you are too proud to admit it was a mistake. I will no longer suffer for your pride. For I am free, damned one."

Ifrit growled and charged at Alleron, his fist coming forward with all of his force. Yet, by the time his fist reached his son, Alleron had been enveloped in white light, and Ifrit's fist passed right through that space. Ifrit stumbled, off balance, and watched helplessly as the form of his son disappeared from his sight.

He roared in frustration and pounded the ground, which cracked and shattered under his blow, the entire region ringing like a bell with the sheer force of it.

Beside Allandra, the older incarnation of the Devil Lord growled. He extended his hand towards Allandra, nearly screaming. "Show me where he went!"

Allandra shut her eyes, taking deep breaths, finally getting her fear under control. When she opened them, she glared at Ifrit. She spoke one little word, but with all of her emotion behind it.


Ifrit roared, exerting his will on her. Allandra gritted her teeth and pushed her mind back at him. "Get out of my mind!" She screamed at him, throwing everything she had into her defiance.

Ifrit flinched. He redoubled his efforts, trying to tear the information from her mind, but she resisted. Growling at him, she used every bit of willpower she had to expel him. Ifrit howled, then he disappeared, leaving nothing but a wisp of smoke in her mental landscape as it dissolved around her, bringing her eyes back into the real world. Back to Xander's concerned face.

She clutched onto him, trembling with exhaustion as Xander held her close, in the cramped quarters of the car, and they simply comforted each other as they let the tension pour out of them both.


Wilhem entered The Haven, stroking his bearded chin as he examined the crowd. He detected only two Kindred in the entire club, picking them out easily with his practiced eyes, and yet he also noticed the mortal bouncers watching them carefully.

Looking over, he saw a fresh coat of paint on the wall, apparently covering the symbol of the Sabbat. Obviously the place was under new management. If a Sabbat member had taken over on Michael's death, then the bouncers would be paying more attention to the mortal creatures, be they human, elf, troll, orc, or dwarf. Apparently the new owner wanted the vampires checked.

Wilhem shrugged. He didn't really care what the owner did, as long as he kept himself discreet.

Rumor had it among the local Nosferatu that a young Brujah, one Alexander Harris, had been appointed the Prince of this town, and not only that, he'd taken over this club. Of course, among the Nosferatu, rumor might as well be fact, they knew just about everything.

He felt eyes watching him. He glanced over, scanning the crowd, and finding the owner. He took a quick double-take, then walked towards the occupied booth, taking a seat and facing the woman.

"Hello, Serena." He spoke, some sadness in his voice as he did.

Serena nodded to Wilhem, sighing lightly. "Wilhem, it's been a long time."

Wilhem replied. "A little over nine hundred years. I thought you'd been killed."

Serena laughed bitterly. "So did Christof. I find it helps keep those damned Giovanni off my back, though. The last thing I need is a thirsty inbred Giovanni fool deciding I'd be useful as a snack."

Wilhem nodded. He'd always had respect for the Cappadocian clan, and had mourned the loss of his allies and the loss of wisdom in the world, when Augustus Giovanni had stolen the power of his sire and supplanted his family in place of the Cappadocian clan.

Serena sipped from her glass, looking at Wilhem. "So, old friend. Why are you here?"

Wilhem shrugged. "I came to investigate whatever it is the Sabbat find so interesting about this town. Interesting enough to end up dead on a regular basis, in any case."

Serena glanced at him suspiciously. "I assume you're here on Ecaterina's orders. You followed her for a long time, after all.."

Wilhem shook his head. "I've never been accused of being the brightest of men, but Ecaterina and I have parted ways. The longer I served her the more I realized Christof was right. Despite herself and her ideals, she slowly walked away from our true cause without even realizing it."

Serena nodded. "Such is the nature of the Beast." She spoke sagely.

Wilhem sighed. He rubbed his eyes, refocusing on her. "So, what is going on in this town?"

Serena shrugged, taking another sip. "This town is sitting on top of a weakened barrier between this realm and the next, the realm of Hell. There is great power here, but it can never be used well or wisely. I asked Christof to be a guardian for this place sixty years ago, but he declined. I was surprised when I heard he actually managed to wipe out the Antediluvians."

Wilhem nodded. "I didn't think it possible, myself. Christof was always...unique, among us Kindred, but to consider that one such as he could manage to kill all those surviving was more than surprising, especially to Ecaterina."

Serena smiled slightly. "She never did like surprises."

Wilhem chuckled lowly. "Agreed. She never did. Mind you, she was pleased she wouldn't be eaten, and the fact that she Embraced the one who stopped them was quite a source of pride for her. It also made her back away from even trying to contact Christof, she's afraid of him."

Serena smirked. "Who wouldn't be? Other than the total moron, of course."

Wilhem grinned. "Of course. So, why are you here, Serena?"

Serena sighed. "I've grown tired, old friend. I can't guard this place anymore. I'm being called to blissful oblivion and I no longer wish to avoid it. I long to feel nothingness, Wilhem. But until one takes my place as guardian of this place, I cannot afford to leave."

Wilhem shook his head. "And now that I'm here, you want to ask me?"

Serena smiled slightly. "No, Wilhem. Somebody else I have in mind, all I have to do is ensure he survives long enough to do it."


Xander walked alongside Allandra through the many graveyards of Sunnydale. Xander had his katana tucked into its sheath on his back, while Allandra walked with her wings concealed under her trenchcoat.

Xander was full of concern as Allandra spoke to him. "I think those..images I saw were of my father. Or through my father. I'm not sure, exactly. I just know that presence, the one called Ifrit, is extremely powerful. I think the only reason I was able to expel him from my mind was because I never let him in in the first place, and he overextended himself."

Xander nodded slowly, steering the both of them down the street to Sandra's flat. "So we're dealing with some old guy, huh? I think Sandra mentioned him when she was trying to figure out ol' Nicky's whip-master."

Allandra sighed, hugging herself tightly. Xander wrapped one of his arms around her shoulder, and she looked up at him, giving him a slight smile.

They walked up to Sandra's door and Allandra knocked. The door opened, revealing Sandra. She nodded to the both of them. Standing aside, she gave them room to walk in, and they did so uninvited.

Sandra spoke. "Can I offer you some tea, Xander, Allandra?"

Xander shook his head. "Sorry, it's not in the diet." He sighed, not really missing the idea of tea, but even the option has been taken away from him now.

Allandra patted Xander on the shoulder and nodded to Sandra. "I'll have a cup, thanks."

As Sandra poured the cup and placed the tea bag in, Xander asked. "So, where's Vanessa, Jack, and Oz?"

Sandra handed the cup to Allandra, who quietly spoke her thanks, and Sandra replied to Xander. "They're in the basement. Jack is running through a training regimen with Vanessa. I believe Oz is simply enjoying the show, as it were."

Xander nodded. "Well, can't blame the guy. Shall we?"

The three of them went downstairs into the basement, which had been converted into a small gym. In the center stood Jack, who stood in a defensive, almost snakelike stance, while Vanessa was attacking him with strong and fast blows. Oz was watching from the sidelines, drinking from a bottle of Diet Coke.

Jack seemed to be losing the match, though if he truly was, he was doing it slowly. Vanessa was definitely stronger, due to her status as a Slayer, but Jack had experience on his side.

Vanessa struck out at Jack's chest with a kick, which he twisted out of the way of, and he retaliated with a kick of his own. While he managed to hit Vanessa, it did little damage, and she grabbed his foot and twisted in a move that would break most people's legs.

Jack, however, twisted with the momentum and rolled onto the floor, springing to his feet in an easy motion and returning to his defensive stance. Vanessa moved towards Jack cautiously, knowing a single mistake and Jack would show her just how bad overconfidence can be. Ducking low, she tried to get under his guard, but Jack struck down in a whiplike motion and deflected her attack. In a moment, he gripped her wrist and flipped her over his head.

She rolled to her feet, turning towards Jack in a neutral stance. Jack closed the distance between them in a single fluid motion and struck towards Vanessa's face with his palm. Vanessa twisted her face out of the way, ducking under the attack and countering with an attack to Jack's stomach. Jack grunted as he took the blow, but even as the pain registered in his mind, he'd already driven his knee into Vanessa's belly. She groaned with the impact and backed off.

Breathing heavily, both combatants paused, and as one, each placed their right fist into the open palm of their left hands and bowed.

Oz clapped lightly, while Allandra stood in amazement at the display, at the sheer level of skill involved in the fight. Xander chimed in with the comment. "Nice moves! Very Jackie Chan and Jet Li!"

Jack turned and looked at Xander with a raised eyebrow, speaking. "Who?"

Vanessa slapped his arm, chuckling. "You never watch movies, do you, Master?"

Jack shrugged. "For some reason, they bore me."

She snorted and turned to Xander. "Whenever he watches fight scenes in movies he can't help but say what the character should have done instead of following the choreography."

Xander grinned. "Well, you would have to admit, way too many of them were made badly, even in my day. Can't help but wonder how cheesy they've gotten nowadays."

Vanessa blinked and looked at Xander, incredulous. "You call our movies cheesy!? What were you watching back then, huh?"

Xander shrugged. "Only the best movie series of all time. The original Star Wars Trilogy, digitally remastered!"

Vanessa rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, those movies have nothing on the ones that came later."

Xander shrugged. "Wouldn't know. Can't say I care much though."

Allandra just crossed her arms, tugging her red locks of hair back. "Excuse me. I hate to break this up, but I was hoping we could pool some knowledge together about a few things that have arisen, so we might have some answers?"

Sandra spoke up. "Of course. What is it?"

Allandra took a deep breath, and began. "Earlier tonight, as Xander and I were coming back from Los Angeles, I felt some..thing, try and force its way into my mind. I saw a battle, from what appeared to be a long time ago. There was a creature called The Judge, it killed so many people, but it was defeated."

Xander spoke. "Whoa. That couldn't have been fun."

The group all looked at Xander curiously, save for Oz, who knew the story already. Xander shrugged. "The Judge was reassembled in 1997, by Spike and his then-love interest, Drusilla. We blew him up with a rocket launcher and separated all the little Judge-bits left over.

Though, there wasn't that much left over..."

Sandra nodded. Vanessa blinked, obviously never having considered using a rocket launcher on a demon. Jack just grinned, giving Xander a little salute.

Allandra went on. "After that, I saw a...hideous thing, he was huge.

Great black wings, lava flowing under his skin like it was his blood.. "She shook her head, trying to recall every detail she could. "It...he...we..saw a scene where he and another demon were arguing. The other one looked kind of like him, but he was definitely somebody else."

Sandra's voice intruded, her tone displaying her curiosity. "Did you catch their names, Allandra?"

Allandra nodded slowly. "The older, stronger one was called Ifrit...something like that. The other one..had my father's name, Alleron."

Sandra pursed her lips together. "I'll have to-"

She was cut off by three voices speaking in tandem, Xander's Vanessa's, and Jack's. "Research!"

Sandra sighed, and gestured to Allandra to continue. Allandra nodded and went on. "The..presence, this Ifrit was demanding me to tell him where my father was last. I think on some level I knew, but I refused to tell him and I managed to get him out of my mind. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done."

Sandra chewed on her lip and spoke. "I know of a single being known as Ifrit. Many ages ago he was cast down into a hell dimension as punishment for rebellion. However, very few things can leave that particular hell dimension, and the more powerful the demon, the harder it is for one to leave. I doubt that Ifrit, or this Alleron, could have left under normal circumstances."

Xander couldn't help but snort. "Um, Hellmouth, remember? No such thing as normal around here."


Three hours later, Sandra strode into the living room carrying a book in one hand and a teacup in the other. Sandra handed Allandra the book and asked. "Is this what you saw in your vision?"

Allandra looked down at the page and nodded. "That's him."

The group looked at Sandra expectantly, hoping an explanation would be forthcoming.

Sandra took a sip from her cup, mulling over what to say next. "All of the texts I've managed to cross-reference have laid out a rather long history, but I will attempt to shorten it."

Xander sighed and leaned over to Vanessa, whispering in her ear. "Ten bucks says her idea of short still takes longer than ten minutes."

Vanessa grinned and whispered back. "You're on, boyo."

Sandra glared at them both, and they quieted down, not noticing Xander discreetly setting his watch. He gestured to her to go on.

She gave him a suspicious glance and began. "All of you know that the world did not begin in paradise, it could have been rather accurately described as a hell dimension. It was a world covered in darkness, the demons flowed about throughout the world, claiming ownership of all before them. Then the celestial host appeared.

"In their mission, which was to bring light and balanced life to the universe, they all came together and using their combined powers, shifted this world out of the darkness and turning it into a world suited to mortal creatures. Ifrit is the one credited with..well, burning back the blanket of darkness."

Jack spoke up. "Um..wha? Run that by me again, please, this time in a form I understand."

Sandra rolled her eyes, sighing. "Very well. Ifrit is the one who created all sources of light and heat, it was he who laid the groundwork, as it were, for the sun."

Xander whistled slowly. "Now that's impressive. Making a sun...very nice."

Sandra nodded. "Then when man came, they created a safe haven for mankind. Due to our own nature, however, mankind spread forth to satisfy our curiosity about the world. Soon after that, Lucifer and his followers rebelled against their brethren. Ifrit was among Lucifer's most loyal supporters and trusted generals. When the war was lost, Lucifer was cast out into the Abyss, one of the..well, worse hell dimensions there are.

"Ifrit, however, did not fall in the same swoop. Using his tactics and cunning, he managed evade the higher powers for a century. When he was finally captured, the leader of the celestial host considered sending Ifrit to the Abyss as well, but they realized that attempting to do so would have also reopened the gateway from both ends, allowing those already imprisoned a possible way to escape.

"They reached a conclusion. They stripped Ifrit of most of his powers and sent him into another hell dimension, one that is now, much like our world was before the demons were banished. Not a great deal was known after that for eight thousand years or so until the Tear."

Allandra blinked, she somehow knew the importance of that word. "The Tear? What is that?"

Sandra nodded to Allandra. "The Tear is what is referred to, in mystical circles, after the sacrifice of Christ. The rules changed over the century after his death. Crosses, previously a symbol of fear and judgement became a holy symbol. But more specifically, it refers to the time between his death and resurrection. Over those days, the dimensional barriers between our world and others weakened. Some creatures, both of light and darkness emerged in that time. It is also rumored this is when the Gate was created, so some of the more powerful of mages could exploit the new opportunity presented.

"It was then a warrior known as Alleron emerged. It is said that he became a Champion, a force for justice. He is credited with the tracking down and destruction of Settesh."

Vanessa frowned. "Wait..I know this one. Egyptian god, right?"

Sandra smiled slightly. "Yes. Also known as Sutkeh, or Set, or even in some circles as Typhon, a dark and evil god. After Christ's sacrifice his loyal followers attempted to resurrect him, and they managed it, only for Alleron to appear and seal him away. Following the records, it appears Alleron was a demon of some sort, but he was incredibly powerful and skilled. He made contact with a scribe, who wrote his stories down and distributed them throughout Europe, which proved to be a mistake. The scribe was...ahh...burned at the stake for consorting with the dark powers."

Allandra spoke up hesitantly. "Is it possible...that...that Alleron was Ifrit's son, and a Devil Knight?"

Sandra nodded. "It is more than possible, it's extremely likely.

Though my records are somewhat fragmented, it would take something or someone of extremely honed skill and properly channeled power to manage a few of the feats that this Alleron is credited with.

It's almost a certainty, considering some of the names that the Watchers have found demons uttering at him."

Oz raised an eyebrow. "Like?"

Sandra shrugged. "Hunter of Demons, Eternal Enemy, The Great Traitor, and some various others that I truly do not wish to translate as they are simply...nasty."

Xander grinned a bit. "I bet."

Sandra sighed, continuing. "In any case, Alleron managed to leave a record of his home dimension before he left for parts unknown. He reported that his home was ruled by many different Lords, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and more often than not, conflicting agendas. His father was one of them, one of the stronger ones, and Alleron became tired of the constant wars he was put into for little purpose.

"He eventually rebelled against his father and fled through the weakened dimensional barriers, ending up here. After building quite a reputation among some circles, he disappeared after a thousand years. It was assumed he was killed, though if Allandra truly is Alleron's daughter, that obviously would not have been the case."

Sandra finished slowly, looking at Allandra for her reaction.

Allandra sighed and hugged herself, her wings twitching underneath her coat. "I just...I remember my father as a kind man. I...I just..can't see him as a demon."

Jack spoke up. "Hey, sorry kiddo, but appearances are often deceiving, you know. Something like this you can't easily change or ignore. You gotta live with it, doesn't mean it's got to rule you though."

Xander looked at Jack with a little bit of surprise. "Man, how did you sound like Yoda and a redneck at the same time?"

Vanessa giggled. "He does, doesn't he?"

Allandra broke out into a small smile, realizing the exchange wasn't about insults or pop culture, but a simple attempt to lighten the mood.

Jack did his best to look offended. "Hey, I am not a little short green thing with bad grammar. Besides, do you see me saying 'use the Force' or 'trust in your feelings,'?"

Vanessa nodded vigorously. "Yep, you used that second one there alright, Master. You spouted it at me every other day when you were hammering in all those techniques into my brain."

Jack shrugged. "So sue me, you had a thick skull. I thought movie quotes was the fastest way in."

Allandra looked at Jack, an eyebrow raised. "I thought you didn't watch movies?" She asked in a teasing tone.

Jack shrugged. "Okay, I lied. I'm with the kid on this one, the original trilogy was the best."

Vanessa threw her hands up in defeat, while Sandra fought hard to conceal the grin on her face. Xander didn't bother hiding his. He sat down next to Allandra and wrapped his arm around her. She leaned into him, glad for the fact that she could, despite her changes, have some good friends.


Beth attempted, for the fiftieth time, to repair her face to its own, natural form. For the fiftieth time, she screamed in frustration as she failed.

Looking into the empty mirror with a growl, she hurled it across the small room she was hiding in. "That little bastard! How dare he kill Spike! He was useless! He was nobody! He was just a normal guy and he was turned into a freak! He doesn't deserve to kill my Spike!"

She yelled, as if reality itself would alter to fit her deranged ravings.

Here she was. Her sire, dead, at the hand of somebody who could barely keep himself from getting killed in life. Her ghouls, disappeared, and she wasn't able to reestablish contact with them in time to keep them from dying. That was the pain with long-term ghouls. They died the moment they no longer had vampire blood in their systems.

Her War Ghouls were all killed in their underground haven, when their group smashed in. She had no resources, no friends, many enemies and she wasn't good enough to figure out a way out. She could fight, and that was about it.

She pounded the wall in frustration as the grinning face of Xander Harris appeared in her mind's eye again, as if mocking her.

She felt a presence in the room with her. She looked around, her eyes scanning every shadow, every crevice, every possible place someone could be hiding. 'If it's one of those damned Nossies, I swear I'll wipe every last one of them out of this town!'

A voice echoed from behind her. "You can't stop him, you know."

She whirled around to face...herself. Her doppleganger was ethereal, and she appeared as she did before she was turned into one of the Tzimisce. Or at least as far as Beth could remember. She hadn't thought too much about her appearance after being turned, with her inability to actually use a mirror.

Buffy Summers, the wraith, crossed her arms and glared at her undead counterpart. Beth couldn't help but flinch, but then she straightened up and stared her former self down. "You're just a spirit, you can't hurt me. Begone spirit, I've more important things to worry about!"

Buffy smirked, and advanced on the demon occupying her body. "You don't get it, do you? You share my mind and yet you still don't get it. Xander is far, far more than you know." Beth backed up, instinctively trying to keep the spirit from touching her.

"He'll never stop. He'll fight you to the last. He will kill you, and he won't do it out of hatred, or pain, or even because it's his job.

He'll do it because he pities you, Beth."

Beth's back came up against a wall, and her wraithly counterpart got right up to her face, staring into her own eyes with such contempt, it made Beth's stomach flip. "Don't you get it, Beth? He's the heart. He's the soul You've got nothing on him, you stupid bitch."

Buffy strode through Beth, leaving chills to flow through her undead body, causing Beth to shudder and hug herself tightly, trying to banish the oppressive chills.


Somewhere, in the infinite stretches of the multiverse, ten beings sat around a table.

These creatures had not met each other for several thousand years, these meetings were nearly completely unneeded, save for the events that had transpired in several different universes.

One being, which appeared to be made out of volcanic rock, was speaking to the one at the head of the table, who appeared to be a regular human. "Our forces, working through Wolfram and Hart, have failed to set the Apocalypse on schedule. The Wyrm was weakened and banished. The estimated cost to bring the Wyrm back up to even one-quarter of it's previous strength is approximately ten trillon souls..."

The leader, the human, shook his head. "We're not going to cause an Apocalypse there. It was against my recommendations from the beginning and it is simply not cost-effective. Now that the previous Senior Partners are no longer in charge, I will be doing things differently."

Another being stood up, a being that looked deceptively angelic. "But sir! It is our mandate to bring every universe into chaos and destruction! It has been since...well, the War."

The leader sighed. "That mandate was set by the First, if you'll recall. The First is out of the picture, it will be ignored and countermanded until such a time as the means to seal it has been found."

Another being, which was the stereotypical devil with a pitchfork, turned to the leader and growled. "Then what do you suggest, Kyannar? We sit around and twiddle our thumbs while we let the mortal beings spread like a plague across the multiverse? I despise that line of thinking."

Kyannar smirked, and stood up, slowly circling the table and all of the evil beings sitting around it, clasping his hands behind his back. "I ask you all, gentlemen. What is the most valuable thing in the multiverse?"

The other nine beings looked at each other, thinking up their own answers. Finally, four of them spoke. "The destruction of the lesser beings." "The reclamation of everything we have lost."

"The corruption of the higher beings and turning them to our side."

"To ascend and grow more powerful than the higher beings."

Kyannar snorted and shook his head. "Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Do you not see, all of those things are pitiful and worthless. To destroy our enemy is to leave nothing to fight against, we would destroy each other. To destroy the lesser beings is to rob ourselves of slaves and power. It is impossible to reclaim everything we have lost, but we can move past it all. Ascension is a noble goal, but an impractical one, especially when you consider no higher being will allow one of us to as long as we are bound."

The first being spoke hesitantly now. "Then what is it, General Kyannar?"

Kyannar sat down in his chair and smirked, folding his hands in front of him. "Souls."

Every other creature looked at him in amazement. "Souls? They're nearly worthless, there are trillions upon trillions of them in every universe! You may as well have said grains of sand!" The angelic one exclaimed.

Kyannar lifted his hand, and the angelic creature clasped at his throat. He let out a strangled scream as he was lifted into the air, dangling above the table.

Kyannar twisted his hand suddenly, and there was a loud snap, the angelic being's head twisting at an unnatural angle. It fell, to rest on the table as nothing more than a cooling corpse. Every being watched in horror as a dark shape emerged from the body, only for Kyannar to extend his hand and suck the essence in.

Kyannar stood up from his seat, contemptuously shoving the body off the table. "Now listen. Every time the previous administration attempted an apocalypse, on any world, more often than not it forced the people to band together to fight and defeat the threat enmasse. In the cases where the apocalypse wins out, billions of the mortal creatures die, but over half of them march into the higher planes and become warriors of the other side."

Every being nodded at that.

Kyannar continued. "In the end, under the First's mandate, it would result in the other side being more powerful than our own, because they do not in-fight with each other. Under my mandate, things will be very different."

The volcanic being hesitantly put up his hand and spoke. "What..is your mandate, General Kyannar?"

Kyannar smiled darkly. "It's simple. Souls are the source of power for our armies. Souls grant those escaped from the Abyss their powers. Souls are what the descendants of Caine to live for ages and to use their abilities. Souls give the mages of all realms their potential. In one universe, the soul of one man allowed him to destroy an evil god and remake his world. In short, gentlemen, souls are far more valuable than you can ever give credit."

Kyannar sat down, folding his hands on the table, smiling. "So what I will do is prevent the other side from getting them."

The devil with a pitchfork asked, his eyes twinkling with the thought. "And what do you propose on how to do that?"

Kyannar grinned now. "It's simple. Hope gives people light, a chance, a way of dealing with the worst of horrors. And while it is impossible to truly remove hope, all we need to do is remove all appearances of it. With corruption running everywhere in the world, with darkness and decay with pain and misery and agony everywhere, mortal beings will sell their souls to us by the score to escape that pain. Our powers and armies will grow by the score while the other side's growth turns into a trickle. In time, like all mortal things, their entire species will die out, and then we will have our day of reckoning with those who defeated us."

Kyannar stood from his chair and glanced at every creature still alive. "Now, you are dismissed. And..get rid of that." He spoke, gesturing to the corpse.

Once all of his lessers had departed, Kyannar opened a report.

He smiled in amusement as he read of Ifrit's progress, and his current situation. He spoke to himself. "Well old friend, it seems despite my warning you may be in over your head. I think this shall be entertaining."


A woman strode through the darkness of Sunnydale's night, along a darkened street. Behind her, a vampire of the demonic variety was sneaking up on her, licking his lips in anticipation at the terror of his victim and the taste of her blood.

Just as he was about to grab her, she whirled around and slugged him across the jaw, sending him to fall on the pavement. He growled and climbed to his feet, stopping and his eyes widening in fear as he looked at her face.

"It can't be! You things don't exist! You soul eating freaks!" He exclaimed.

A burning sensation began to spread through his body, and he screamed as his body ignited as if it had been exposed to the light of the sun.

Moments later, a pile of ash was left on the sidewalk, and the woman sighed and walked away, muttering lowly. "I am sorry for the pain I have caused you, but I cannot allow you to roam free."

From some distance away, Ifrit stood on top of a roof, having watched the exchange. He crossed his arms and frowned to himself.

Turning, he launched himself into the air, landing more than a mile away, and he walked into an old church.

Walking up to the altar, he brushed his hair to the side, looking up at the cross.

A voice from behind him spoke. "Well, this is one helluva joint ya got here. Do you like the cobwebs and rottin' furniture, or have ya just not gotten around to callin' a maid?"

Ifrit rolled his eyes, turning around and glancing at the owner of the voice. "This place suits me. Faith gone to waste, corrupted and darkened. I like the atmosphere."

The man, dressed as a gothic punk-rocker, complete with blue mohawk, shrugged. "Whatever floats yer boat, mate."

Ifrit turned again, looking back at the cross. "Why do you insist on that ridiculous ensemble, Abdul. We both know you're not an imbecile or a pathetic follower of that screeching noise known as punk music."

Abdul laughed, letting the accent drop. "I enjoy the misdirection.

Nobody expects someone like me to outwit them when I dress like this. Besides, it's been my favorite disguise for a while, though if you prefer.."

Abdul's features rippled and altered until he appeared to be a large bald, black man.

Ifrit nodded approvingly. "Good. You have two targets, Abdul."

Abdul nodded. "Alright, shoot. Who do you want killed?"

Ifrit sized Abdul up, nodding to himself as he considered him up to the task. "The first is a woman descended from myself. The daughter of Alleron."

Abdul raised an eyebrow. "That'll cost you extra. Especially if old daddy is still hanging around."

Ifrit smirked. "I can assure you, he's not. He's currently...indisposed, shall we say."

Abdul nodded, relaxing visibly. "Alright. What's her name?"

"Allandra." Ifrit replied.

Abdul nodded. "And the second?"

Ifrit smiled slightly. "A new arrival. I've no doubt you can handle this one."

Abdul smirked. "There's very little I can't handle, pal. Who is it?"

Ifrit crossed his arms, his eyes coming alight with flames. "One of the three-eyed."

Chapter 20

Jack Morris sat meditating in his hotel room, enjoying the peace and calm that came with the familiar act. Relishing every tiny sensation that ran through his body, from the feeling of air filling his lungs, to the slight itch on his forehead, he felt all the tension he'd accumulated flow out of him. Dressed only in loose clothing, even without footwear, Jack enjoyed the peace of mind, however long it may last.

Hearing a light tap on his door, he stood up slowly and stretched. He walked up to the door and bent down a bit to look through the peephole.

Before he could actually take a decent look, however, a slender fist bust through the door, ensnaring his shirt and pulled him through the ruined door. He landed with a grunt on the floor of the hallway, looking up at his assailant.

"Buffy Summers, I presume." He spoke snidely, smiling slightly at the former Slayer.

Beth snarled, kicking out at Jack, who rolled out of the way and jumped to his feet. Her foot embedded itself into an unoffending wall, forcing Beth to take precious moments to remove it. Stomping towards Jack, she snarled threateningly as he retreated in a defensive stance. Lashing out at him with her fist, Jack grabbed her arm and used her own momentum against her, flipping her down the hall.

Turning and running as quickly as he could, he burst out the doors of the hotel and ran around the side, quickly climbing up the fire escape. He crouched down and stilled himself, listening as carefully as he possibly could as he heard the hotel doors slam, and Beth's scream of frustration.

Tensing his muscles, Jack readied himself to pounce down. As he halfway expected, Beth stalked catlike, swiveling her head back and forth, trying to find him. Just as she got into position, Jack launched himself down, slamming his feet into her chest and sending her crashing to the pavement with a grunt.

Beth leaped to her feet, her face assuming its demonic form as she launched herself at Jack. Using his superior training to his advantage, Jack anticipated her attack and twisted out of the way of each one, slapping Beth's hands aside with only as much force as was needed to keep her off-balance.

Apparently angered beyond reason with her inability to effectively attack an impossible enemy, Beth launched every one of her punches with more and more force, but despite her efforts, Jack picked up no injury.

Despite everything, however, Jack was beginning to tire. His considerable training could stand against her attacks for hours, but Jack was still just a mortal and Beth wasn't. Jack would tire out fairly quickly, Beth wouldn't.

Slapping her hands away from his throat, Jack went on the offensive, lashing out with carefully controlled kicks and punches, not to injure Beth, for that wasn't something he was really capable of with his human strength, but to buy himself a little more time.

Beth, taken off guard by the sudden change in tactics, found herself unable to retaliate as Jack kicked her in the jaw, making her see stars and staggering her. Shaking her head, she growled as she heard Jack running away, his bare feet slapping on the pavement.

Jumping to her feet, she chased after the martial artist, her vision clouding over with rage. Screaming incoherently, she chased after Jack with all the rage of a rabid wolf. Despite Jack's small head start, she quickly began closing the distance as Jack redoubled his efforts in his escape attempt.

Running back inside the hotel, Jack ducked through the kitchens, grabbing a butcher knife from the rack, and went on without a single pause in his step. Bursting out the backdoor of the hotel, knife tucked away from his body in his left hand, Jack considered his options. Running down one of the darkened streets, Jack turned into an alleyway just ahead of the former Slayer.

And he ran straight into the arms of a plain-looking red haired man. Beth slid to a stop as the man shoved Jack off of him.

He crossed his arms, looking at the former Slayer with a smirk.

Beth took a step back, and Jack took the opportunity to get back to his feet. Glancing between the man and the vampire, Jack gripped the butcher knife in his hand even more tightly as he considered his next move.

The man spoke. "Well, well, well. I hope you've been keeping yourself busy, girlie. Want a second round, hm?" He spoke snidely.

Beth snarled, then turned and ran as fast as her undead legs would take her.

Jack turned the stranger, who was looking at Jack with appraising eyes. He gripped the knife, readying himself in the event he had to use it.

The man smiled, as if sensing his hostility. "There's no need for concern, sir. I've no intention of harming you today. I simply wish to know why it is you were being chased by that...thing."

Jack shrugged, replying. "Hey, I haven't a clue. She decided to knock my door down. Probably not a chance in hell of me getting my security deposit back, either. Ah well."

The man chuckled. "I suppose not. A word of advice, sir. Don't stick around out here at night. Despite your obvious prowess, you're hardly armed well enough for this neighborhood."

Jack nodded. "Yeah, I got that. Thanks anyway."

Turning and walking back towards the hotel, Jack reached into a back pocket and pulled out a small radio. Pushing the send button, he spoke into it. "Wolf One this if Fox One, over."

"Fox One, Wolf One copies. What's your status, over?" Oz's voice floated out over the radio.

"Tired as hell, Wolf One. Bogey is still loose, and very strong, over."

"Fox One, Hawk and Blade are tailing the bogey. Blade keeps cracking bad jokes, over."

Jack chuckled. "Roger that Wolf One, tell Blade to keep his mouth shut or she'll hear him coming, over."

Xander's voice floated over the radio. "Oh quiet down Fox, at least I can keep the mood light, Yoda tricks don't cut it you know."

There was a pause, then added on. "Over."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Just watch your head, Blade. I'd hate to be the poor sucker drafted into stapling it back on you, over."

Xander replied with a chuckle. "Copy that. We'll move in on the bogey at 0600, we don't want her getting away this time. Just be ready Fox, over."

Jack sighed, then sent his reply. "Copy that, over."

Tucking the radio away, Jack walked back into the hotel, replacing the knife in the kitchen and walking back up to the room. Gathering his things, he hoped they'd be ready in the morning.


The sun rose over the horizon, wakening some of the citizens of Sunnydale from their slumber. For the denizens of the night, they all went hiding, waiting for nightfall so they might prey on new victims.

Except for one. Xander Harris of the Brujah Clan was busy preparing for war, while fighting off the fatigue that came with being active in the daytime. While he could move about without too much trouble, it would get worse the longer he was up, so everything he'd planned had to get done as soon as possible.

Checking over his shotgun, and placing the katana across his back, he looked over at Allandra, who was cleaning her rapier. Nodding in satisfaction, she picked up the sheath and hooked it to her waist, sheathing the sharp blade as she did so.

Looking at the window, where the rays of the sun were stopped by a thick layer of dark paint, he could see around the edges at the deadly light, trying to blaze its way into his home.

Feeling his instinctive fear well up at the thought of what he was about to attempt, even planned for, he ruthlessly quashed it. Taking a deep, calming breath, he mentally reviewed the game plan.

1. Jack playing bait by setting up in a hotel room and they'd subtly let the underworld know about it. Check and done.

2. Trail Buffy back to her lair so they could storm it and take her out permanently. Check and done.

3. Attempt this during daylight hours, when she'd be a little weaker and unable to retreat. Not exactly easy, considering Xander himself was as vulnerable to the debilitating effects of daylight as Buffy, if not more.

It was a daring plan. It was a risky plan. It would be the plan that would work because Buffy would never anticipate it in a million years. Even when Buffy was human, she always sought to fight the vampires when they were at their strongest, always at night. It never occurred to her to attack when she'd be the strongest and they'd be weaker, not expecting an attack.

Even Angel, when he was still a vampire, knew the merits of attacking his vampire enemies during the day. He'd done it a few times, before his redemption and reward.

Nodding to Allandra, Xander triple-checked his equipment, gathering his courage. "We're going to end this, here and now. Can ya tell I'm not looking forward to it?" He spoke, with a slight grin that didn't reach his eyes.

Allandra nodded, her expression sympathetic. "I understand your fear, Xander. You'll be facing down someone you once cared about, and we don't know if we'll all be coming back."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, I mean, before, it never really sank in, cause Buffy would somehow just let us not really dwell on how it was gonna go. I just hope we get this done real quick, I don't wanna fry."


Beth growled to herself.

Time was, she was the Slayer, she could beat damned near anything fate, destiny, or a really cruel god with a bad sense of humor could throw at her. Then she'd been captured and enslaved by the Tzimisce Clan, but still, even they used the talents given to her by being the Slayer in an offensive, often deadly capacity.

Now, she truly realized how badly she let her skills go to waste. If a simple human, no matter how well trained he was, was able to keep up with her, run from her, and eventually escape with that....

person's help, then she'd done several things wrong. She hadn't practiced or trained, thinking it was foolish, after all, she was superior. She was a Tzimsice and, even better, that pitiful thing known as a soul was thrown away like a piece of trash.

Which brought her to her current situation. She was busy pummeling a punching bag as fast as she could, smacking it with her full strength and skill. Strength she had in abundance, skill she lacked. While the punching bag was beginning to rip and tear under her relentless assault, even her previous, human self, would have been able to break the chains holding it to the ceiling and floor, sending it flying, by now.

Landing one final, powerful punch, the bag gave way and shattered, spilling its contents on the wooden floor of her small, warehouse apartment.

Glancing at the windows, feeling that the sun had risen, and yet, unlike her former, only Tzimisce self, she wasn't as weakened by the time of day as she would, should, have been. A combination of the leftover power of being a Slayer, combined with the bottomless depths of darkness that came with being a demon, provided her the energy she needed to fight off the effects of being active in the day. Granted it wasn't pleasant, but she at least wasn't rendered helpless.

Getting ready to rest for the day, she went over to her fridge and considered her options for her meal. 'Hmm, blood taken yesterday from a homeless man, or blood taken from the last Slayer Spike and I killed seven months ago. Tough choice. Homeless blood is fresh and strong, and this *is* the last of the Slayer's blood I have, but I need a pick me up for a couple of days.'

They'd had a fun time with her. They kept her alive for a full week, slitting her wrists and draining her of her blood, but only just enough to keep her alive. They stored that blood, freezing it so they could enjoy the fruits of their harvest for a full year. It must have been sheer hell for her, being brought to the brink of death repeatedly, then nursed back to health, and then repeating the horrid cycle.

Beth and Spike loved every minute of it. Until Beth accidently drained a little too much and she died. Spike's response was to just shrug, saying 'Always a Slayer around. We can repeat this process with the next one.'

By the hells, she missed him.

Taking the plastic bottle of Slayer's blood in her hands, she was just about to twist the top open, when a sudden crash happened downstairs.

Blinking suddenly, she bolted down the stairs to meet a scene she never expected in her entire fifty-eight years of unlife.

Her entire time spent as a vampire had made her complacent. An enemy never walked into her home unless she invited them or she was expecting them. She did not expect Oz's van to crash through the wooden warehouse door from the west side, and all of her enemies spilling out all at once, aiming various weapons towards her.

Xander had that katana of his, along with a shotgun carried in both hands. Oz climbed out of his van wielding his axe, Jack followed, his bracers and shinguards in place, over his jean jacket and jeans.

Allandra strode out, rapier in hand, wings fully extended from her back. Vanessa got out last, a short sword in each hand.

Xander aimed his shotgun at her, and dropping the bottle, she dived to the floor of the warehouse, hiding behind a set of crates.

Xander swore, knowing now that Beth was out of sight, she'd move to attack from above, or from behind. Allandra stayed right behind him, searching the warehouse with her senses.

Vanessa, Jack, and Oz also looked around carefully, trying to find the place the turned Slayer would strike out from next. Vanessa stopped, looking at a group of crates, and signaling with her hands Beth's position to the rest of the group, they slowly moved in towards the fallen Slayer.

Beth decided to try and turn the tables by lifting up a wooden crate twice her size. Since it was empty, it wasn't too heavy to her undead body, and she easily lofted it up and over the pile of crates she was hiding behind.

Xander's eyes widened as he saw the crate fly towards him. "Look out!"

He screamed, and shoving Allandra to the floor, the crate missed them by inches, landing on the concrete floor and shattering into a thousand pieces. Rising back up to a kneeling position, he fired his shotgun at the position the crate came from, and was rewarded with a howl as the pellets hit the fallen Slayer.

Beth was on the move in a flash, quickly abandoning her cover and moving on, hiding behind a support beam. She cautiously looked around the corner, only to be rewarded as Xander took a shot at her, the shotgun pellets sparking off of the metal of the pillar as they bounced off.

"Xander! You bastard! I'll kill you for this!" She screamed at him.

Xander yelled back. "Right back at ya, Buff!"

Allandra, Jack, Oz and Vanessa closed the distance between themselves and Beth, readying themselves to come at her from all sides. Beth struck first, jumping out and attacking Vanessa. The pair of them faced off, and despite the fact that Beth was unarmed and Vanessa was carrying two deadly weapons, Beth managed to get the upper hand with her surprise attack.

Jumping past Vanessa's first, nearly feeble swipe, made completely in surprise, Beth slammed her fist up into Vanessa's chin, sending the living Slayer flying back and smacking into the floor. Even as Vanessa flipped back to her feet, Jack engaged the undead Slayer from behind. As his fist descended down towards her back, Beth turned, anticipating such an attack and throwing the martial artist with his own momentum. Jack managed to turn the toss into a roll, using that same momentum to return to his feet in a flash.

Oz swept at Beth with his axe, his face emotionless, his every move controlled and precise. Beth ducked under his first strike, bent over backwards to avoid the second, and just before he could make a third, she grabbed his axe by the shaft and twisted it out of his hands. She slammed her forehead into Oz's nose, and just before she could follow it up with a decapitation, Xander's shotgun rang out again and clipped her shoulder.

Growling as the pellets slammed into her shoulder, Beth moved off again, keeping a grip on Oz's battleaxe. She quickly found cover again behind a set of crates, and she concentrated on healing her wound.

Xander pumped the shotgun, discarding the empty shell which fell to the floor in a clang that was extremely loud in the suddenly silent warehouse. Allandra circled around the crates, her blade extended as Oz, Jack and Vanessa circled around the other side.

Beth strode towards Allandra, Oz's axe in hand as she moved into a combat stance. "Didn't I already kill you, girlie?" She snarled.

Allandra bared her teeth. "I got better." She moved in, swinging her blade at Beth's neck. Beth quickly parried the blow with the axe, and swung around with a blow that would have decapitated the new demoness, but Allandra parried with a quick move and swept under, striking towards Beth's stomach. Beth twisted out of the way and smashed Allandra's face with a palm, pushing her back to lie on the floor.

Raising the axe to finish off Allandra, Beth stopped abruptly when she heard a loud growl.

Oz was standing there in his full fledged werewolf form. He flexed his claws and growled at Beth, leaping forward at the scared vampire.

Beth moved as fast as she could, using her own supernatural speed to stay ahead of the werewolf, Beth managed to gain some ground as she ran, but still, she could practically feel Oz's breath down her neck.

Looking out the corner of her eye, she managed to spot Xander trying to get a good shot at her with his shotgun.

Changing direction suddenly, she dived behind another set of wooden crates, turning around and baring her fangs on the werewolf. All seven foot, half ton bulk of him.

She had that niggling thought in the back of her head that this was a bad idea. Swinging the axe with as much speed and force as she could muster, she hit the crates to her right side, causing the entire stack of crates to fall down on top of the rampaging werewolf. Six foot long metal bars rolled out of one of the broken crates.

The remains of the crates began to move, and Oz emerged snarling. Beth anticipated this, however. Like a small lumberjack, she swung the axe into Oz's unprotected back. He howled in agony and dropped to the floor as his spine was severed, all of his limbs twitching, refusing to obey the commands his mind gave them.

Beth smirked, twisting the axe slightly so Oz would be paralyzed until it was removed and he managed to heal the wound. "Down boy!"

She spoke laughingly.

She picked up one of the bars, twirling it like a quarterstaff as she emerged from her hiding place, smirking confidently. She was instantly attacked by Vanessa, both her short swords whirling towards her in a dance of death.

Beth matched every move the living Slayer made. Now with a weapon in her hands, Beth managed to parry and counter every attempt Vanessa made to find an opening in her defenses. With a quick series of attacks, Beth hit Vanessa in the left arm, forcing the ebony Slayer to cry out as her as her arm went numb and she was forced to drop the blade. Swinging around with the follow-up, Beth hit Vanessa on the side of the head, knocking her out.

On the sidelines, Xander growled with the lack of a good shot. One shotgun blast would probably take Beth down for the count, but if he tried to shoot as it is all he'd do is injure or kill one of his friends.

Jack sprung in at the same instant his student went down. Allandra moved in beside the martial artist, parrying Beth's steel bar with her rapier, unnatural strength meeting unnatural strength. Jack moved in behind Beth, kicking her in the back, causing Beth to stagger just long enough for Allandra to drive her rapier completely through Beth's stomach, impaling her on it.

While certainly graphic, and painful, the injury didn't take Beth out of the fight. The sharp blade missed Beth's spinal column, which would have been a debilitating injury, but as it was, it merely took Allandra's blade out of play. Gripping Allandra's arms with her left hand, she swung the bar at Allandra's chin. Allandra managed to move enough to keep her jaw from being shattered, but the bar still clipped her chin and forced her to let go of her weapon.

Jack kicked out at Beth's knee from behind, trying to stagger the former Slayer. Beth swung around, still impaled by the rapier, and tripped Jack with the bar as she had once tripped Giles with the quarterstaff so long ago. Allandra reminded Beth of her presence in the next moment, slashing across the back of Beth's neck with her short, half-inch claws. Unfortunately, they weren't sharp enough to go deeper, of the fight would have ended right there.

Beth twisted about, ramming the bar into Allandra's stomach, knocking the wind out of her. Xander growled from the background, moving around, trying to get a clear shot. Allandra stumbled back, holding her stomach, gasping for breath while Beth took the time to duck behind another set of crates.

Beth smiled with the exhilaration of battle. Grabbing the hilt of the rapier sticking out of her stomach, she yanked on it, wincing as it came out, covered in her blood. Throwing it to the side, she ducked as Xander's shotgun went off, perforating the crates where her head was an instant before. Turning to confront Jack and Allandra once more, bar in hand, she was surprised as Jack went fully on the offensive, landing a blow on her face. Recovering quickly, however, she swung under, landing a blow on Jack's ribs. As the martial artist stumbled, she whirled around behind him, landing a blow in the middle of his back, resulting in a sickening crunch.

Jack went down like a sack of potatoes. Allandra screamed incoherently and launched a punch at Beth's jaw. Beth ducked under it, using the bar to trip Allandra and then tried to impale her on it with the follow up. Allandra twisted out of the way, slashing at Beth's right leg with her claws, causing the vampiric Slayer to grunt. Beth kicked Allandra on the side of the head, and the former elf lay still.

Xander found himself the last man standing. While everyone else was still alive, they wouldn't be so if he fell, Beth would probably find nice and inventive ways of killing them. Aiming his shotgun right between her eyes, she pulled the trigger, sending a burst of death towards the former Slayer.

And yet, somehow, Beth managed to be somewhere else when the pellets reached her location. Beth ran to his left, Xander quickly followed her path and kept shooting. Crate after crate crashed and splintered as his missed shots destroyed the fragile wood.

Inevitably, Xander ran out of shells, and Beth stood there, smirking at him, steel bar in hand. Grimacing, Xander dropped the shotgun, drawing his katana.

"Just you and me, Xand. I'm sure you've been looking forward to a little one on one with me for years, hm?" She licked her lips, reverting to her human face as she did so.

Xander rose the katana in a defensive stance, the point of the blade pointing directly at Beth. "This isn't quite what I had in mind back in high school, you know, Buff. I was thinking more of a boyfriend-girlfriend capacity, not an immortal enemy kind of capacity."

Beth smiled, and yet it didn't quite reach her eyes. "The offer still stands, you know. You can take Spike's place, we can go around and party. Ever been to New York, Xand? Helluva nightlife."

Xander shrugged. "I'll make arrangements to go sometime. Though, it's not going to be with you."

Beth pouted. "Pity."

With that, she swept forward, still in her human guise, swiping out with quick, light attacks, which Xander parried easily. Swiping towards her face, she ducked under it and viciously rammed the bar into his stomach, and quickly smacked him on the side of the head with all the strength she could muster.

Xander staggered, his vision going blurry, feeling the Beast within awaken and rage at the injury. Bringing the katana back up, he parried Beth's next attack, which would have impaled him on the bar, and he backed up, busy parrying every attack Beth made as he devoted a corner of his mind to healing the wound on his head.

Beth smiled in triumph. No matter what Xander Harris had become, he would never be able to compare to her. Now she'd finish off the foolish Brujah and torture him, and turn him to her side. She was sure he'd make a fine demon.

Closing the distance again, the pair of vampires used all the powers at their disposal. Beth used all of the skill she could access from being a Slayer, and Xander used his full strength and the Discipline of Celerity.

It wasn't enough.

A quick riposte sent his katana flying, clattering on the floor.

Beth's followup was an uppercut strike, sending Xander flying through the air, his vision clouded over by his own blood running into his eyes. Growling, he sealed the wound, and wiped his face, just to see the former Slayer stalk up to him catlike, grinning as she wound up a strike that wound up for a strike that would have shattered his arm.

He managed to twist out of the way, Beth's vicious attack missing by a hair's breadth. Beth growled as Xander used Celerity again and dodged behind a set of crates. "Coward!" She screamed at him.

Xander was starving now. Celerity was an expensive Discipline, and he'd been forced to burn off a lot of his stored blood just trying to survive Beth's assaults. The only consolation is that Beth too, would be at least hungry, but unfortunately she hasn't had to burn off half as much as he did in the fight.

Looking around for anything that might help him neutralize the former Slayer, his fears increased as she heard Beth's nonchalant voice around the stack of crates he was behind. "Come on Xander. Give it up.

You're nobody, you're nothing. You never had a chance against me. You can still join with me, Xand. Don't make me kill you."

He looked over, seeing the staircase Beth had come down to his left. 'Wait, what's that splash of red there?' He rubbed his eyes, refocusing his vision. 'Her blood bottle! Hope this is good stuff, and not poisonous or something.'

He snatched up the bottle, moving as quickly as he could behind another set of crates. He heard Beth's frustrated growl, as she slowly tracked him like a bloodhound. "Now you're pissing me off, Xander. You and your little Slayerette gang mark two waltzed into my home, messed up my hair, interrupted my sleeping time, just so I can teach you a lesson in fighting!? Come on out and I'll finish the job!"

Xander snorted lightly, twisting off the cap and swallowing the blood as fast as he could. After all, he's got nothing left to lose.

Pain shot through his body, and a scream was forced from his mouth. Beth ran up, smiling as she saw Xander fold up and collapse on the floor. "See, you made it easy on yourself." She spoke with a hint of relish in her voice.

Every single one of Xander's muscles stretched and tensed, and he groaned as he felt some of them snap and repair themselves, only to snap again. His spasms lasted a full minute, Beth not really knowing why he suddenly fell like this, but she liked the expression of sheer agony on his face.

Then she looked down and saw the empty bottle. Her emotions went from disbelief, to shock, to anger, to sheer rage in less than two seconds. Growling now, she twirled the bar and prepared to impale the treacherous young Brujah with her weapon.

Xander's eyes shot open as the bar descended towards his chest.

A fist wrapped itself around the bar, inches from his chest and its movement stopped dead.

It took Xander a full twenty seconds to realize it was his fist. Beth swung down as hard as she could to impale him on the bar and he caught it.

He caught it.

Pulling it away from him, Beth backed off preparing another attack. She swung down at him, but Xander hopped to his feet and avoided the strike. The two vampires circled each other, Beth enhanced by her many abilities learned through her changes of state, and Xander enhanced by the charged Slayer's blood working through his system, coursing through, refining, strengthening him.

Beth swung at Xander's face, but just like previously, he caught the bar in his hand and held it immobile. Hissing in frustration, she kicked out at his shins, and Xander backed away, throwing the former Slayer over his head and tossing the bar aside as Beth went flying.

Even as Beth landed on her feet, Xander was already moving. By the time Beth retrieved her bar, Xander was standing beside his katana. By the time she took three steps towards his position, he kicked it into the air and caught it in his hands, bringing the blade to bear on the raging undead Slayer. Her first strike he parried, sparks went flying as the bar met the katana's edge. Swinging with newfound strength and speed, Xander felt the Beast within recede, now that his body was full of blood, his hunger sated.

His mind clear, he swung again and again, the sharp katana slowly cleaving chunks of the steel bar away. Beth's strikes grew more and more desperate as Xander's ruthless attacks began to chip away her defenses, while she desperately tried to find an opening in Xander's own.

Bringing the katana down with his full strength, he cleaved the bar in two, leaving Beth with two, two-foot long pieces of metal to parry the ancient blade with. Improvising, she used them as fast as she could, and she found with two weapons she could more effectively attack him.

However, whatever blows she landed didn't seem to affect Xander much.

Whereas before they gouged open wounds, or broke bones, now they merely bruised, bruises which healed almost as fast as she could inflict them.

With a feint, Buffy managed to slap the katana out of Xander's iron grip, and swinging as fast as she could, she sank the bar in her right hand into his chest, emerging out his back. Xander howled in pain, but he grabbed the bar in her left hand and wrenched it. With that superior, inhuman strength, Beth found herself unable to hold onto the weapon, and Xander whirled around in a blur.

The next thing Beth knew, she was impaled on the bar. Only where her strike had failed to injure Xander in a debilitating way, his went straight through her spine. Her body refused to respond to her commands. A strange kind of peace washed over her, knowing that now, finally, it was over. She was finally going to die.

Xander picked Beth up with his left hand, using his right to yank out the bar lodged through his torso, stained with his blood. Bringing her closer, until they were face to face, he spoke quietly. "I'm sorry Buffy. But this is the way it's got to be."

With a turn, he threw her as hard as he could towards one of the boarded up windows of the old warehouse. She crashed through them, unleashing a scream. She cried out in agony as she faced the thing she'd avoided for the last sixty years.

She fell into the light of day.

Xander watched with a sort of sick fascination as Beth helplessly screamed as the bright sunlight burned away her flesh, burning away her clothing and body. For a brief moment, the screams stopped, and only her bones were left, allowing Xander to catch a glimpse of just how many changes Beth had made to her own skeletal structure. Then that too, crumbled into ash, and the bar clanged onto the ground, even the blood on it burning away in the harsh light of day.

Moving over to his friends, he first started with Oz, who was still adorned with the axe in his back. Carefully, he pulled it out, backing off as the werewolf tried to bite his leg off at the inflicted pain. Waiting until the wound sealed itself, Oz took deep breaths, trying to remain in control. When he'd succeeded, he finally began the process of reverting to his normal, human form.

"You alright, Oz?" Xander asked.

Oz shook his head. "No, but I will be. Give me time."

Moving on to Vanessa, he patted her cheek gently to wake her. Her bleary eyes opened, and she croaked out a question. "Did we win?"

Xander smiled a little bit at the ebony Slayer. "Yeah, we won. We're going to need a month of a vacation, but we won."

Vanessa smiled up at him a little bit. "Good. You wouldn't happen to have some aspirin on you, would you?"

Xander shook his head. "Nope, sorry, I'm fresh out."

Nodding and wincing, Vanessa slowly began climbing to her feet.

Xander moved onto Allandra while Vanessa checked on Jack. Caressing her face gently, she moaned in response. She opened her eyes to see Xander's lightly smiling face. "Hey beautiful. You about ready to join the rest of the world?"

Allandra smiled up at him. "Only if you're in it. What happened to Buffy?"

Xander sighed, and looked away. "I killed her. She's gone. I just hope the real Buffy is happy that I managed to do it."

Allandra sat up and hugged Xander, and he wrapped his arms around her, the both of them letting the tension drain away.

Vanessa's cry shook them out of their reverie. Almost as one, Oz, Allandra, and Xander staggered over to where Vanessa was sitting beside Jack's limp form.

Jack twitched, his face scrunched up in pain. Vanessa's face was covered in tears. Jack managed to say five words that would change his own life forever.

"I can't feel my legs."


From the abandoned church, Ifrit watched. He rose to his feet, smirking as an idea came to him.

Lifting his hands, he traced out a complicated pattern, his fingertips leaving trails of fire in the air. When the pattern was complete, the design spun away from him, shrinking and contracting until it resembled little other than a ball of flame.

The ball began spinning, and it coalesced into a simple pendant, framing a blood red stone the size of a fist.

Calling the pendant to his hand, it flew through the air and Ifrit caught it almost negligently. Polishing it on his shirt, he smiled.

"Mister Morris, I believe I have an offer you can't refuse."

Chapter 21

Vanessa and Sandra sat in the hospital waiting room, both of them nervous and worried over Jack. As they waited, Sandra tried to take her mind off of things by browsing the three-year-old magazines in the waiting room, while Vanessa kept wringing her hands and chewing her lip.

Eventually, a gray-haired, old grizzled doctor came out and spoke quietly, a frown on his face. "Miss Stevens, Miss Raine?"

Sandra stood up, while Vanessa spoke. "Yes doctor, what is it?"

He replied. "Mister Morris would like to see you now. If you'll come with me, I'll show you to his room."

Vanessa and Sandra followed the doctor down the halls, into Jack's room. Jack nodded to the doctor, who excused himself, and Vanessa ran up to him and hugged him. "Hey kiddo, I'd get up to make this more comfortable, but I'm nice and comfy right now." He spoke, a small smile on his face.

Vanessa smiled slightly. "Master, stop trying to make me feel better.

It's my fault this happened."

His smile dropped off his face in an instant. "Don't blame yourself for this. I've been fighting long before I met you, it was my choice to fight. It's not your fault." He spoke.

Sandra spoke up. "That's true, Vanessa. There is nothing you could have done differently to change what's happened here. You were against a more experienced opponent, who used the territory and items on hand to her advantage."

Vanessa felt tears running down her cheeks. "It's still my fault! I should have been able to beat her! I'm the Slayer, and it's my duty, my responsibility to keep people like you from getting hurt."

Jack's expression hardened. "No, your duty is to protect those people who can't protect themselves. Your responsibility is to help those who don't know how to help themselves to learn, for those willing. I could protect myself, but I messed up."

Vanessa sighed, and hugged Jack more tightly, while Sandra came up behind Vanessa and patted her shoulder. She spoke quietly. "So how bad is it, Jack?"

Jack sighed. "The docs say my spine is crushed at the small of my back. I'm probably never going to walk again, they say. Just to show them up, I'll find a way. I'm not going to let some fool doctor tell me how to run my life."

Vanessa couldn't help but crack a smile at that.

He went on. "Listen kiddo, there's nothing they can do about it, and you can't beat yourself up over what you might have done differently.

I don't blame you for this, and you can't change what happened any more than I could, or Sandra could. So calm down, take a deep breath, and have some ice cream or whatever comfort food you've moved onto nowadays."

Vanessa nodded, wiping away her tears as she hugged Jack more tightly. He just patted her on the back, trying to comfort her as she sobbed into his shoulder.

Sandra watched on, understanding and compassion in her eyes as she watched her charge and her teacher comfort the other.


Allandra was awoken in her bedroom by the sound of pounding on the front door of the apartment she and Xander shared. Grumbling, she got up and stretched her wings, before folding them and putting on a bathrobe.

She opened the door, blinking repeatedly as the light from the hallways stabbed into her eyes. Letting her eyes adjust to see the person who'd awoken her, only to find a distraught looking Slayer.

"Can I come in?" Vanessa asked, chewing on her lip.

Opening the door more widely, Vanessa walked in, looking around the place. "Nice place you have here. Not sure why I didn't come by before."

Allandra rubbed her eyes, raising an eyebrow. "What is this about, Vanessa? Something tells me this isn't a courtesy call."

Vanessa sighed, and plopped down on the couch, bouncing a couple of times. "It's not. Is Xander around?"

Allandra nodded, yawning a bit. "Yes, but he's asleep."

Vanessa blinked, checking her watch. "But it's three-thirty! He shouldn't be asleep at this time!"

Allandra just looked at Vanessa. "He's a vampire, remember. He can move around in the daytime, but he doesn't like it and he still needs rest. He'll probably be up around seven."

Vanessa sighed, wringing her hands. "You sure you can't wake him up? I mean, this is really important, and I think Xander's the only one who can help me."

Allandra shook her head. "Not after what happened today. Any other day, I would, but now, he needs time to recuperate, time to heal. How about I give you a call as soon as he's up? That is, if it can wait a bit?"

Vanessa chewed her lip, then shook her head. "No, I don't think that's a good idea. I mean, Sandra and I share a phone line, I wouldn't want her to pick up. This is just an idea, right now."

Allandra rubbed her forehead and sighed. "Alright. There's some juice and salad in the fridge, I'm going to take a shower and then we'll go out. We'll come on back around six-thirty and wait for Xander then."

Vanessa looked up at Allandra and nodded. "Okay. Sounds good."


Out on the town, Allandra and Vanessa took their time. They went everywhere. They went to the beauty parlor. They walked along the beach, both girls commenting on how they didn't get to do that often enough. They went to Starbucks, which, naturally, had sprung up everywhere and was going strong.

Only after going back to Xander's apartment did they relax, away from the ears of the commonfolk. Allandra walked in, looking into Xander's room, and seeing he was still asleep, sighed and shut the door.

Turning back to Vanessa, she shrugged. "Sorry, he's still out cold. He should be up and about soon, though."

Vanessa nodded, sitting down and turning on the TV, on a low volume, hoping old reruns of the Simpsons would take her mind off of things. After sixty years, the show had hit cultural icon status. Seemingly as eternal as the Star Trek universe, the Simpsons had gone on and on and on, still on the air.

About fifteen minutes into the show, Xander emerged from his room, rubbing his eyes, not out of any real need, but out of habit. He glanced at Allandra and Vanessa watching the Simpsons, and broke out into a grin. "Oh! Oh! I know this one! Isn't it the one where Bart gets run over by Mister Burns and they try to get money from him? God this is old! Do people still love it?"

Vanessa looked up at Xander and smiled a bit. "Yep, still do. There's entire groups out there that worship the Simpsons. I think there's a church of Homer out in Iowa."

Xander couldn't help it. He burst out laughing. He reached out for the end of the couch to steady himself, but he missed, and hit the floor, still laughing. That did it for Vanessa, too, and she started laughing along with the hysterical vampire. Allandra started giggling at the scene, covering her mouth with her hand, occasionally hiccuping as she tried as hard as she could to keep from going into full-blown laughter.

Eventually, the trio calmed down. Xander picked himself up off the floor, and went to the fridge. Opening one of the wine bottles holding his blood, he poured it into a cup and took a drink. After a moment, he looked down at the cup, a somewhat suspicious look on his face, but he finished his awakening meal.

Vanessa cleared her throat. Xander looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "Alright, something tells me this isn't a courtesy call."

Vanessa nodded, and looked to Allandra. "Would you mind? I need to talk this over with Xander alone."

Looking over to Xander, Allandra saw him nod, and she nodded in return. "Alright. I'm going to pick up some groceries anyway.

Behave, you two!" She mock scolded them.

Xander rolled his eyes, grinning a little bit. "Yes mom."

Allandra chuckled lowly to herself even as she walked out the door.

Xander turned to Vanessa, curiosity on his face. "Alright, so what's up, Vanessa? I'm getting the feeling you want to drop a bomb on me. Or ask me something really, really, really, important, hey?"

Vanessa nodded. "I'm wondering if...if you'd turn Master Morris into..well, made him like you."

All the humor dropped from Xander's face in a second. Pulling up a chair, he moved it so he was directly across from Vanessa, and sat down in it. Looking directly into her eyes, he spoke. "Do you have any idea what it means to be one of my kind? The slightest clue?"

Vanessa's eyes hardened. "It means you'll never get sick, can heal anything and always strong. You have your soul. You're not a monster."

Xander sighed and sat back in his chair. "Yes, but those are the advantages. I'm dead, Vanessa. I died sixty-three years ago.

I'm not a monster now, but there is one within me. Do you remember hearing about some deaths in the sewers of L.A. a while back?"

She nodded hesitantly. He went on. "That was me. I'm not proud of it.

I'm not happy about it. I have nightmares sometimes about what I did when I woke up, my instincts fully in command. I'm a nice guy, but even the nicest of us have that lurking under the surface. You're not asking me to heal him, Vanessa. You're asking me to give him an ancient curse. You're asking me to kill him and then force him to exist in a hollow mockery of life."

Vanessa sighed. "It doesn't look like that to me. You look quite well off now, you've got a girl who cares a lot about you. You've managed to make friends, and dealt with both Spike and Bu..Beth. You're more powerful than you ever could have been as a human."

Xander shook his head. "More powerful. Yeah. Honestly, though, I'd have rather stayed human than become...this. I can't eat or drink anything other than blood, I can't enjoy the warmth of the sun, and every moment of every night I exist I have to put up with constant reminders that I'm not human anymore. I don't feel warm or cold, unless it's really extreme. I don't feel anything really. I hate being a vampire, it's better than being dead entirely, mind you, as I can still make a difference to people here. But, Jack can still make a difference without losing his humanity."

Vanessa looked at Xander, pleading him with her eyes. "Please, I can't stand seeing him like this. He's one of the best men I've ever known.

He doesn't deserve to be paralyzed for the rest of his life!"

Xander looked at Vanessa, sympathy in his eyes. "Do you think he deserves to be cursed for the rest of eternity, or go to Hell when he dies? That's what happens to us. My kind are damned, Vanessa. I don't know if I'll go for sure, but every time I see a little bit of sunlight or look into a flame, some part of me is damn sure that's where I'm going if I died. That's why I didn't walk into the first sunrise when I was still a fledgling. I was afraid of what would happen to me."

Vanessa finally broke down, covering her face with her hands, crying into them. Xander got up out of his chair and sat beside Vanessa, trying to comfort the Slayer with his presence. She wrested away from him, and ran out the door, tears falling down her face. He watched helplessly as she left, and he sighed to himself, feeling just how heavily his damnation weighed down on him.


After nightfall in Sunnydale, Xander and Allandra went out. As Allandra was driving to The Haven, Xander was playing with the radio, eventually giving up on finding some kind of music he liked.

"Isn't there an oldies station on here somewhere?"

Allandra smiled slightly, then jumped in surprise as the driver's side tires blew out suddenly. Jerking the wheel over, she brought the car to a stop. Xander muttered a curse as he got out and circled around, while Allandra opened her door and looked at the damage, and swore in a few of the languages she knew.

Xander groaned, looking at the deflated tires. "Aw man! What are the odds that both tires would blow out!?"

Allandra tapped Xander on the shoulder, then pointed behind him. "What are the odds somebody would leave a spike strip on the road?"

He looked back, and sighed, hanging his head. "This is just not my day. Night. Whatever. Aw man! Can it get any worse?"

True to the laws of nature, uttering those words made the situation worse. There was a meaty thunk, and Xander's eyes crossed. He fell to the ground, a stake expertly lodged in his back, piercing his heart.

"Xander!" Allandra screamed. Even as she moved toward the fallen vampire to help him, there was suddenly a sharp pain in her chest as a knife appeared, right in her heart.

She gasped, falling to her knees, her hand instinctively wrapping around the hilt of the knife. The air in front of her rippled, revealing a person who had, obviously, been there the entire time. He was large, six and a half feet tall, sporting a blue mohawk, and he looked down at her with a large grin on his face. "Sorry luv, nothin personal." He spoke.

With a scream, Allandra jerked the knife out of her chest and sprung to her feet, slashing toward the man's face. He backed away with a grace that spoke of years of training, easily deflecting her enraged strike and pushing her to the side, causing her to stumble. Before she could get her balance back, he slammed his foot into her ribs, causing her to grunt with the pain, and she collapsed on the ground, lying in a heap.

The man smirked, looking down at her chest even as the wound from the knife sealed itself before his eyes. "Not bad, pet. I was told ye'd be pretty durable, but being durable doesn't mean jack if yer not trained." Another vicious kick, and Allandra was picked up off the ground by the sheer force of the blow, flying through the air until she smacked into the plexiglass of a storefront window.

Taking another knife out of his leather jacket, Abdul advanced on the broken half-demon, when a pressure slammed into his side, causing him to grunt. Milliseconds later, he heard the sound of the gunshot that had sent the bullet his way.

With his age and power, a mere single bullet wasn't much of a threat to him, but he hadn't become a Master Disciple of the Assamites by being foolish. He ducked into an alleyway, sneering as he looked over, seeing the girl's vampire comrade still down with the stake firmly lodged in his back. 'Then who shot me? One of his friends? I was sure they were alone.'

A voice came drifting out of the darkness. "It's good to see you again, 'Pink'. I was wondering why you're using the same outfit now, hm?"

Abdul's eyes went flat as he recognized the voice. "Wilhem. What the hell do you think you're doing here, you Sabbat freak!? I'm surprised you're not hanging around with that prissy little girl, Christof Romuald."

Wilhem laughed lightly. "That prissy little girl managed to kill your clan's founder, Abdul."

Abdul growled. "Shut up!" Replacing his knife, Abdul pulled out a handgun and sprung out of his cover, using the power of Celerity to give him some leeway while he fired at the old Brujah. Wilhem used Celerity as he dodged Abdul's bullets, returning his own volley at the same time.

To Allandra's eyes, it appeared as if two blurs were firing at each other, both vampires moving so fast it was impossible to tell where they were exactly, only where they might have been moments ago. She struggled to pick herself up, and feeling her wounds sealing themselves, she moved over to Xander. Gripping the stake lodged firmly in his back, she pulled it out.

With a grunt, the young Brujah rolled to his feet. "I hate stakes! They always ruin my clothing!" He looked up, seeing the two blurs bounding around, shooting at each other, and quickly grabbed Allandra's hand and ducked into the same alley Abdul had used moments before.

Wilhem dodged another bullet easily. At the level of Celerity he was capable of, the world appeared to move far slower than it normally did. Abdul had the same level, not only was it a Discipline of the Assamites, as a Master Disciple he'd had more than enough practice to master the Discipline.

Running out of an ammo clip, Wilhem dropped the gun and moved in toward Abdul. Easily dodging the bullets Abdul sent his way, Wilhem lashed out with a kick, and the old Brujah's attack struck true, slamming into Abdul's chest. The Assamite flew back from the hit, slamming into a wall with a grunt.

Both Kindred moved out of Celerity in the same moment, attacking each other with punches and kicks delivered at a level that only vampires could.

Abdul was a master of death, of killing. But Wilhem was a master at fighting. He'd been fighting for more than nine centuries. Every strike Abdul made, Wilhem blocked and countered. Abdul ducked under a punch and slammed his fist into Wilhem's ribs, which managed to force the Brujah back a few feet.

Reaching into his jacket, Abdul grabbed his knife and held it in a defensive stance, backing away from the old Brujah. Wilhem didn't look fazed at all at the appearance of the weapon. Abdul spoke.

"You're good, Wilhem. I'd hate to kill you without getting paid for it."

Wilhem shrugged. "You'll survive, I'm sure. However, I'm not quite ready to let you go, Abdul." Wilhem flexed his hands, which instantly grew into long claws. Activating Celerity once again, Wilhem charged forward, the deadly claws flashing toward Abdul. Abdul moved back as fast as he could, but unfortunately, it wasn't fast enough.

Wilhem's unnaturally sharp claws cleaved through the knife, sending it falling the concrete in three pieces. His next attack cut off Abdul's right arm.

The Assamite screamed, turning away from the raging Brujah, hoping in some corner of his mind that if he could get some distance he might be able to escape, to complete his contract another day.

Wilhem had other ideas, however. He jumped on the fleeing vampire's back, his wickedly sharp claws ripping through Abdul's flesh as easily as if Abdul were made out of tissue paper. Again and again Wilhem's claws flashed in the night, bringing new screams from the Assamite. Soon Abdul no longer struggled. He went limp, and his body began to dissolve, crumbling into dust as Wilhem let up his assault.

Wilhem stood, retracting his claws as he looked over to the alleyway. Xander was standing beside Allandra, both with very tense muscles, watching Wilhem carefully. Wilhem raised his hands in a nonthreatening manner and walked toward them, slowly. He spoke. "I apologize for not arriving sooner, but I am glad you're not hurt. Can I render assistance?"

Allandra coughed lightly, but shook her head. "I think we'll be alright. You..knew that man?"

Wilhem nodded slowly. "He was hired to kill a friend of mine some time ago. He would have succeeded had he not decided to use him to kill his enemies."

Xander nodded to Wilhem. "Look, obviously this hasn't been a good day.

Come by The Haven tomorrow night and we'll talk, alright?"

Wilhem nodded. "Sounds good. Whom should I ask for?"

Xander smiled slightly. "Xander Harris. I own the place."

Wilhem rose an eyebrow, and scratched his bearded chin. "See you tomorrow evening then."


Ifrit walked into the hospital, wearing the typical white coat of a doctor. It was rather easy to disguise oneself when one can simply make up the clothing and identification out of thin air.

Striding confidently, but taking his time, attracting no attention as he moved, he walked into Jack Morris' room. Looking around with a practiced eye, he examined the martial artist for the first time with his own two eyes.

He was strong, strong of mind, will and discipline. It would be fun twisting that around on himself, using his own strengths against him until he was a mocking parody of what he should have been. His chest rose and fell calmly, indicating the martial artist was in deep sleep. A simple shift in his perception showed that he was also out cold because of sleeping pills.

Rubbing his chin for a moment, Ifrit considered how to go about this carefully. Waving his hand at a corner of the room, a burst of flame broke out. It compressed itself and flared brightly for a moment, before manifesting itself into a complete human skeleton. Walking over to the skeleton, he crushed the lower back with a single jerk of his wrist.

Standing up with a smirk, he grabbed Jack by the neck, forcing the man to suddenly wake, groggy on the drugs.

"Hello, little man. I see you're awake. I think it's about time we changed our scenery, hm?" Ifrit spoke, a wide, sharklike smile on his face.

With a wave of his hand, the room burst into flames. With another wave, Ifrit and Jack were wrapped in flames, and the pair disappeared.

Unlike mundane fire, Ifrit's flames were far more potent. They burnt at a hotter temperature while consuming less flammable material. So by the time the firefighters managed to put out the flames that were quickly spreading throughout the hospital, ten people had been seriously wounded with third degree burns. By the time they reached the source of the fire, they found only a charred, blackened skeleton.


Ifrit and Jack reappeared in the abandoned church. Tossing the uncomfortable Jack, clad only in a hospital gown, onto an old, crumbling pew, the Devil Lord sneered down at the human.

Speaking in a pleasant, but arrogant tone, he began. "Now, Mister Morris. We have a little bit of time to talk. I have something that you want. You have skills that I want. We can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement."

Jack coughed a couple of times, wiping his face. He looked up at the Devil Lord with a glare. "Why the hell should I listen to an arrogant pompous ass who's depriving me of my beauty sleep?"

Ifrit laughed. "Come now, Jack. You don't mind if I call you Jack, hm? Didn't think so." He went on before Jack could even open his mouth.

"You can't tell me you're enjoying the idea of spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Of being helpless until the day you die."

Jack clenched his hands, but couldn't voice the denial he dredged up out of his mind. "Yeah, well, it's better than being dead."

Ifrit chuckled. "Perhaps. But I can restore your mobility. Your life.

And all you have to do, is do me a favor."

Jack sighed, rubbing his face, his mind on the entire lack of feeling in his lower body. "Alright, you have my attention. I'm listening."

Ifrit reached into his pocket and pulled out a pendant, fitted with a blood-red stone. He tossed it to Jack, who caught it easily. "All I need you to do is kill someone. It should be fairly simple, considering your advanced skills."

Jack tossed the pendant to the floor, shaking his head. "Sorry, I'm not a hired killer. Not even for my legs, I won't kill for you."

Ifrit sighed, rolling his eyes. "My my. A hero complex, hm? You didn't even ask who I wanted dead. Oh well. See Jack, what I didn't mention before is, your cooperation is not required. Normally when I do this I simply take the essence of a devil and use it to transform one such as yourself." Ifrit opened his hand and the pendant flew back into it.

"However, in your case, I suppose I shall have to be a little more..... drastic."

He whipped the pendant at Jack, hard. The blood-red stone collided with Jack's chest with a crunch. Even as Jack grunted with the pain of more of his bones breaking, a hot feeling spread throughout his body. He grasped the pendant's chains, trying to pull it away from him, but to no avail, it wasn't going to move.

Even worse, it was burrowing its way into his body. Jack screamed with agony as it tore through his flesh, punching past his ribcage and incinerating his heart. The stone took up the organ's previous position, fulfilling all of its functions despite its lack of muscles.

And Jack was kept alive throughout the entire process. He screamed as the chains of the pendant wormed their way through his body, wrapping themselves around his vitals, expanding and growing like some horrible parasite. His wounds sealed themselves, and Jack went limp. His labored breathing echoed throughout the ruined church, an occasional racking cough barely indicating the agony he was going through.

A few moments later, Jack's eyes fluttered open, and he smiled slightly. Standing slowly from his seat, he sank to one knee in front of the Devil Lord. "I thank you, my master, for this gift. What is your wish?"

Ifrit smiled slightly, pleasantly. "Go to ground for a few days. Your body needs to adjust to its new state. But before you go, I need your name."

He nodded. "Of course my lord. I am Kail, Devil Knight of the Third Rank. I am your humble servant."

Ifrit nodded. "Glad to hear it. I trust this body is comfortable for you?"

Kail nodded enthusiastically. "Indeed it is. Strong, lithe, powerful.

The host's mind is also quite pleasing as well. He has an impressive array of fighting styles and knowledge at his command."

Ifrit smirked. "Good, that was why I sought him out in the first place. Any problems with the transition?"

Kail shook his head. "None my lord."

Ifrit looked pleased. "Good. Now go. I will contact you again in three days."

Kail nodded, rising from his place on the floor and walking out of the church. Somewhere in that body, the mind and soul of Jack Morris was sealed up, locked inside of the mind of the veteran Devil Knight occupying his body. He screamed and pushed against the mental barriers, to no avail.

Ifrit turned back and looked at the large cross standing in the church. He waited a short while, and then sighed. "What is it? I'd rather be left alone at this time, my servant."

The sound of footsteps approached Ifrit from behind, cautiously. He heard the rustle of the person sinking to the floor, kneeling in reverence to the former god. "I apologize, my lord. But some information has come to my attention and I believed it best that you heard it as soon as possible."

Ifrit sighed again. "Very well, what is it, Goral?"

His servant answered. "Some vampires are going to open the Hellmouth tomorrow night, my lord. Apparently they believe it is a good idea to sink even lower on the food chain."

Ifrit snorted. "I cannot believe they are related to us. No intelligence, no vision. Only stupidity and evil. Pathetic, really. I suppose I'll have to deal with them. No idiotic leech is going to send me back into Hell without me saying something about it."

"Very well my lord, if that is all?" Goral spoke.

Ifrit nodded. "You may go. Keep up your charade, Goral. I'd hate to lose a servant such as yourself."

Goral rose to his feet. He turned and strode out of the church, looking up at the moon as he did so. Smiling slightly, he walked along, his feet taking him to a place that was quickly becoming familiar.

Knocking on the door, he waited a moment. He smiled slightly as he heard a thump, before the door opened, revealing a somewhat happy Xander Harris. Xander's grin widened, clapping Goral on the shoulder.

Xander spoke. "Hey, Oz-man, good to see you again."


In an old home in Sunnydale, two women sat together, a circle of salt surrounding them both, attempting to find the location of their quarry. One had dark red hair, the other was blonde. A bright blue light hovered between them, moving down onto the floor, tracing a pattern which both followed with practiced eyes.

Finally, the redhead broke the ritual, looking up into the blonde's eyes. "I've found him. I'll have to contact my Caern."

The blonde nodded. "Good. In the meantime, I have to see if I can contact Xander. I wish I'd known he'd been reawakened. Stupid Hellmouth kept throwing off my tracking spells."

The redhead sighed. "This place stinks of the Wyrm. I hate it. Too many Wyrmspawn running around, it gives me a headache."

The blonde sighed. "Three years ago you'd have considered me one of them, remember Aura?"

Aura rolled her eyes. "You're different. You don't smell like them.

You don't even have the same traits as most of them. The only way you're weird at all is...well, you know."

The blonde shrugged. "I think I explained as much as I could to you.

Each of my kind is different, depending on the founder, and the person. Not all of us are monsters. A lot are, though."

Aura shrugged. "Perhaps so. It's the only reason I hold myself back from killing on sight, now. The others still follow the old ways, and I can't say I blame them. It's not easy, finding those who actually seek to do some good in our world. We'll go after him in the morning, when he won't be expecting us, all right?"

The blonde nodded. "Alright. You realize that we won't be able to contact Xander until nightfall. He's not likely to be up and about until then. Maybe a little before, but not until then."

Aura nodded. "I can understand that." She got up and walked to the bedroom, closing the door behind her as she did so.

The blonde got up and sighed, going to her own room. She looked at the photographs that showed her life, in far happier times. Tracing her fingers around the figures in the photo, she felt a tear run down her cheek.

Quietly, she spoke. "Willow, I'm sorry I couldn't help you. I just hope you're in a better place."

And with that, Tara Maclay went to bed, waiting for the next day.

Chapter 22

Throughout the basement of Sunnydale High, ten vampires stood in a circle, around the central point of the Hellmouth. The energy of the place called to their demonic blood, demanding they destroy the barrier between Hell and Earth, merging the realms and reclaiming it among the realms of the conquered. As unwitting pawns of the lowest order, they believed they would be exalted upon opening the Hellmouth, becoming true demon lords in the new order, unaware that the denizens of Hell would never let such lowly creatures live any longer than they were useful.

The vampires, eight men and two women, dressed in red cloaks, chanted an ancient, powerful incantation designed specifically for this purpose. To draw in the energy of the Hellmouth and focus it into themselves, using their own bodies as a magical lens to burn through the barrier, like one would use a magnifying glass to concentrate sunlight to start a small fire, or to roast ants. Completely unaware that the spell would kill them horribly when completed, but then, they were too stupid to have actually researched the spell entirely. There was a reason other demons rarely used this spell. To take in the energy of the Hellmouth itself was dangerous beyond belief, a single slip and they would suffer a fate worse than a thousand painful deaths. What they also didn't know is that the ritual could only be attempted once on a Hellmouth, and the Master had already tried it, so it definitely wouldn't work.

No matter what, the night was going to end badly for them.

They were interrupted when the door slammed in, twisting through the air and landing on the floor in a clatter. As a group, the ten looked up at the lone figure who'd destroyed the door, snarling at the interference. With the same pack mentality that exists within street gangs and bullies, they surged forward, wanting the meddler's blood before they continued the ritual.

With a smirk, Ifrit slammed his fist into the first vampire, who not only went flying back with the sheer force of the blow, he shattered into a thousand pieces as he flew back. He burst into dust before he could hit the wall. The second vampire to reach Ifrit, a female, was lifted up into the air with one hand and he casually ripped her head off.

The others blanched, and backed away, looking on the apparent human who so easily dispatched two of their number, without any of the typical vampire killing equipment. Ifrit crossed his arms and glared at the remaining vampires, a sneer crossing his face. "I spend nearly twelve thousand years trying to get out of Hell, and you little idiots come along and decide to go out on a lark and suck the world back in there? Allow me to make my displeasure known."

And then, his hands burst into flames.

The vampires took another step back. Regardless of whom they were descended from, Caine or a little green demon, all vampires knew on an instinctual level that fire was their bane.

Ifrit moved in, slamming his fist not into, but through, one vampire's chest. He caught fire instantly and screamed, impaled on Ifrit's arm even as he dusted. His next victim wasn't physically touched at all, Ifrit simply lobbed a ball of fire into his face, which punched through and incinerated his brain. His corpse fell to the ground an instant before dusting.

One vampire moved in, apparently a football player in life, as he was a large man. He punched Ifrit in the face, and screamed in agony as his fist failed to even affect the Devil Lord, and indeed, only injured him as his hand broke. Ifrit's retaliation was far more effective. He slammed his flaming fist through the vampire's skull, effectively decapitating him.

The remaining five decided, with perhaps the most intelligent thought in their entire unlives, to cut their losses and run for their lives. The first to attempt dashing past the Devil Lord was stopped in his tracks as Ifrit grabbed his head and crushed it like a melon. The other four dashed past, fleeing through the empty halls of the highschool. Running out the doors in a crash, they dashed into a large pickup truck.

The one who jumped in the driver's seat was the ringleader of this little idea, her name was in her mortal life Theresa. Upon reawakening as a demonic infested corpse, she changed her name to Terry.

She never was considered that bright.

She'd quickly turned her brothers, Josh and Sam, and recruited their last survivor, Gregory, from a street gang. Gregory had insisted on turning the rest of his gang, which is where they got their entire group which was supposed to open the Hellmouth.

As a result, now Gregory was blubbering in terror upon seeing his buddies dusted so easily. "Oh man oh manohmanohman! What the hell is that guy!? He just...just...!"

Terry grimaced as she hot-wired the pickup, trying to think of why, exactly, she'd sired this fool. Then she remembered. He was cute.

Josh turned in his seat and smacked Gregory on the back of the head. "Shut up! My sister is trying to concentrate!"

She let out an excited whoop as the engine turned over and roared to life. Terry grinned, and then nearly shrieked as she saw Ifrit walk calmly through the doors of the school. Approaching the truck, step by calm step, the Devil Lord in a human guise smiled almost serenely as he extinguished his burning fists.

Slamming the truck in reverse, Terry peeled out of the Sunnydale High parking lot. She cast a fearful glance in Ifrit's direction as she changed gears, burning rubber as she drove the truck forward, straight towards the interstate at well over 130 miles per hour.

Gregory and Josh, sitting in the back seat of the truck, looked out the back, quivering in fear as they looked for any sign that the creature was following them. Sam turned and cast disgusted looks at the pair, remarking, "Nothing can move this fast. Relax, he's still back on the Hellmouth, we'll be fine as long as we can find some shelter before the sunrise. I say, screw this one, let's go to Cleveland, try opening that one."

Terry nodded in agreement, keeping her eyes on the road, her knuckles white from holding onto the steering wheel with far too much pressure. She spoke up hesitantly. "Is anything back there?"

Josh shook his head and settled down, turning around to look out the front again. "Nope, he's gone. Not one of our better nights, eh?"

Sam nodded. "I hear ya bro. Let's find a bar somewhere, get loaded, forget about tonight and start anew. This has gotta be hell on my blood pressure."

Josh snorted. "You're dead. You don't have any blood pressure."

Sam blinked. "Oh yeah."

Greg coughed. "Um, guys?"

Terry hissed out. "Josh, Sam, quiet down, will you? My nerves aren't too good right now and I do NOT need to hear your bickering!"

Greg hesitantly raised his hand. "Guys?"

Josh growled, assuming his demonic face. "Hey, just because you're our older sister and sire doesn't make you our boss!"

Terry yelled at him, her face twisting into her own demonic form as well. "I'm pretty sure it does, jackass! Now shut the hell up, you're giving me a headache!"

Greg screamed out now. "GUYS!"

"WHAT!?" The three siblings yelled at him simultaneously.

Greg pointed out the back. "He's back there. And he's gaining on us!"

Josh turned around and looked, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head. "He's just running after us!"

Sam turned and looked. "Inconceivable! How the hell is he doing that!?"

Indeed, Ifrit was running after the truck, one step covering nearly fifty meters of distance as he moved. He didn't look tired at all, he just kept moving, gaining on the truck. And he still had a smile on his face.

Sam and Josh looked at Ifrit. Then they looked at each other. Then back out at Ifrit again. Then Josh spoke. "Greg, buddy. How long have we known each other?"

Greg's face scrunched up in confusion. "Um, you guys turned me about six months ago. Why?"

Sam clapped Greg on the shoulder from the front seat. "I'd say we're pretty good friends, hm?"

Greg nodded. Josh smiled a little bit, returning to his human disguise. "Yeah, we've been through a lot together man.

I'd say we're best friends. Well man, it's about time you paid us back."

Greg's face scrunched up in confusion. "Paid you back? Huh?"

Sam and Josh grabbed Greg at the same instant. Sam held the former gang member immobile as Josh opened the small, passenger side door of the truck. Josh smiled. "Yeah best buddy. Hold him back for a while, would ya!"

Before Greg could protest, the vampire brothers tossed him out of the speeding vehicle and onto the pavement. Greg's body hit with a sickening crunch, rolling over and over and over as he smacked into the pavement repeatedly, several bones breaking. He finally stopped rolling after what seemed like an eternity, and became aware of Ifrit standing above him, looking down at him with an amused smirk. "I suppose your friends aren't that great friends, hm? I pity you, little vampire. So I'm not going to kill you tonight."

Greg managed to smile slightly. Just before Ifrit bent down and ripped his legs off. He howled incoherently, his screams swallowed up by the night. Ifrit stood up again, dusting his hands off. "But I suppose the sun will, when it rises. Say hello to it for me, would you? I haven't been able to have a decent conversation with her for a few million years."

Ifrit glanced down the interstate again, in the direction of the fast-moving truck. At this point it was well out of sight, but Ifrit didn't need to see it. He smiled slightly as he vanished in a swirl of flames.


Terry yelled to her brothers. "Is he back there!? Did Greg delay him long enough!? Are we going to die!?"

Sam shook his head. "No, yes, and no! He's gone, he's dead. We're okay! Now we just need to find a place for the day and we'll be fine!"

He turned to Josh. "Well, I guess Greg had a nobler cause in life after all, eh?"

Josh laughed, and then blinked. "Is nobler even a word?"

Sam shrugged. "How the hell should I know?"

Terry shrieked suddenly. Sam and Josh looked out the front in disbelief.

Ifrit was standing there, right in the path of the truck. His arms crossed. His face grinning widely. There was little time to react. She could have swerved out of the way, but her rage drove her to give every last bit of gas the truck could intake and it leapt forward, reaching 150 miles per hour. Ifrit just stood there, in the path of the oncoming vehicle with no apparent regard to his life.

At the last possible moment, Ifrit uncrossed his arms and dropped low, throwing a punch directly at the truck's grill. His fist slammed through the metal as if it was nothing, crumpling the front of the frame like a tin can. The rest of the truck continued its inevitable journey forward, slamming into Ifrit's body with all of its force. The two opposing forces, Ifrit's fist and the truck's forward momentum collided in the center of the vehicle, causing the whole thing to shake and, against all odds, made the truck come to a complete stop as if it had slammed into a fifteen-foot thick concrete wall instead of a solitary being.

The end result was that Terry, Josh, and Sam, being complete morons, went through the windshield of the truck, because they were too stupid to use seatbelts. Not because they were vampires, but because they believed themselves to be immortal, like the teenagers they were before they were turned. With a groan, the three sibling vampires looked back at the wreckage of the truck. Exhaling a sigh of relief as Ifrit himself wasn't in sight, but a hand was sticking out from under the wreck of the truck, the three vampires began to collect their wits. Josh and Sam picked themselves up off the road, wincing at their scratches, and they helped Terry to her feet.

Terry held her head, her demonic face twisted in pain. "Alright...we shouldn't be too far from Oxnard. If we run for it, we could get there before the sun rises."

Josh nodded. "Yeah sis. We'd better hurry, there's nothing around here that could shield us for any length of time." As one, the three vampires began staggering northward, only to stop, chilling fear running down their spines as they heard from behind them the squealing of abused metal. Gulping, all of them turned around, their eyes widening at what they saw.

There stood Ifrit, his clothing torn up, but not even a scratch adorning his skin, and that same, confident, superior smirk on his face. And held above him, holding up the entire mass with his left hand without the slightest sign of effort, was the wreckage of the pickup truck.

Ifrit spoke. "You know, this has been fun. I haven't had quite this amount of fun in about nine thousand years. How about you folks?"

They took a step back, nervously.

Ifrit shrugged, the mass of crumpled metal above his head groaning as it threatened to fall apart. "I suppose you don't quite see the humor of the situation, hm? Well, I certainly do. I suppose my own laughter will have to suffice for tonight."

With a single easy movement, Ifrit tossed the wreck of the truck in their direction. Josh screamed, "Look out!" and pushed Terry and Sam to the side. The wreck crashed onto the vampire, burying him in a ton of mangled metal. A new sound came from the wrecked truck, stemming from the gas tank as fuel escaped through a crack. Seeing this, Ifrit tossed a small fireball, no larger than the flame on a candle, towards the wreck. Moments before the flame reached its target, the fumes ignited, flashing back towards the escaping fuel and exploding, sealing the fate of Josh.

Sam and Terry screamed as they were burned, caught on the outskirts of the explosion. Sam took the largest brunt of the blast, having shielded his sister and sire, and he ran around screaming incoherently as fire spread throughout his body. It was almost a mercy when he finally collapsed into ashes.

Terry crawled away from the burning wreck. Her demonic face twisted in fear, tears running down her eyes as she moved. She could barely get a grip on the sand of the desert, her burnt hands crying in protest at having more work to do as she crawled, desperate for survival. She was stopped as Ifrit's foot came down right in front of her face. She slowly looked up, a pitiful creature indeed, into Ifrit's no longer amused, completely serious face.

He began speaking quietly, his face easily seen in the firelight coming from the still-burning wreck of the truck. His expression was almost kind and understanding. "You know child, I understand what you were trying to do. I commend your ambition. I commend your ruthlessness. I praise your choices of childer, at least for the last two. They were quite loyal, I see." His nice tone dropped to cold and ruthless in an instant. He reached down and grabbed her by the throat, holding her up at eye level, her feet dangling uselessly off the ground. His eyes began burning, flames streaking off to the sides of his face as he growled at her. "But I do not condone ignorance or stupidity! I will not allow any creature to send me back to Hell, regardless of race, size, stature or power. I will especially not allow it to happen because of some lowly, moronic, lobotomized leech like you!"

And with that, he raised his other hand and grabbed her chin. Slowly, painfully, and horribly, he twisted her head off.

Dusting his hands off as her body burst into dust, he looked at the burning wreck of the truck. With a shrug, he vanished in a swirl of fire, the remnants of his carnage left behind, a testament to his lack of mercy.


When Xander woke earlier that evening, he drank his awakening meal, feeling that the blood was flat, not stale, not bad or anything truly wrong with it, but it simply didn't satisfy his hunger. Not since he killed Buffy.. Or rather, the vampire that had Buffy's body.

He'd felt the same thing the day before when he rose, but then the hunger wasn't creeping up on him. If he didn't manage to satisfy himself on whatever blood he could get his hands on, he'd lose his control within the week.

Maybe he'd ask Wilhem about it when they met tonight. He'd seemed to have been around a lot longer than Xander had. Maybe he'd know why he couldn't satisfy his hunger. Picking up his katana, he tucked it under his trenchcoat and walked out the door, taking the long route to The Haven, through the graveyards.

Looking around at the rows on rows of graves, he paused, taking in a deep breath of the warm night air. Hearing a rustle behind him, he smiled slightly and turned around, plastering a scared expression on his face. "Who's there!?" He spoke out, forcing the quiver into his voice. He had to keep himself from bursting out laughing at the thought of what he was doing, laying a nice little helpless human bait when there was none to be had, but he figured the demonic vamps would be eating it up.

A small voice came drifting out of the darkness. "Little kitten's all grown up, with big, nasty, sharp teeth of his own." From the shadows of a crypt, Drusilla walked out, silent as a ghost, a mad glimmer in her eye as she appraised Xander.

Xander felt all the humor drain from his mind as he took in the sight of Drusilla, one of the few demonic vampires that could be honestly mistaken for a Malkavian. Though her demon made her evil, her visions were always accurate, and her insanity allowed her to anticipate nearly anything through her gifts. Completely unpredictable, Drusilla wasn't one Xander of the Brujah was going to play with. Standing at the ready for any move Drusilla made, he watched her like a hawk, taking in every detail. "You're looking good, Drusilla.

I'm guessing you heard about what happened to Spike, huh?"

Drusilla nodded sadly. "I heard that you killed my wayward childe. I wanted to offer you my thanks, kitten. He hurt lots and lots of people, and now that he's gone, the world is a little less dark. I suppose I'll have to fix that, I will."

Xander blinked. "Oookay. Color me confused. And let me say 'huh?' You're happy I killed Spike? I'd have thought you'd want to take my head off or something. You're sure you're happy about it?"

Drusilla smiled slightly. "My my, the stars are singing, singing in a harmonious hymn." She spread her arms and looked at the sky, spinning around slowly. "They say the fires are coming. The end is long off, but the plans are in motion." She stopped spinning and looked at Xander, her voice dropping low, almost a whisper. "But one fire is here, knowing no fear. He likes this world dark, he does. Gives him more fun things to burn and play with."

Xander narrowed his eyes. "You're talking about Ifrit, aren't you, Dru? What else do you know about him?"

Drusilla giggled like a little girl. "He hates us, dark and grey and white all. He wants his powers back, he does. He's tired of walking on the ground when he likes flying through the stars. They say he made them twinkle and bright, made the world warm and nice for us. And then he was angered, angered and joined the fight against the stagnant ones. No light, no dark, saddened they were. But now he's back, and they tremble fearing what he might become. They worry over him becoming what he was again."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Kay. That made sense. Wait, no, not really.

I think I'm gonna need a Crazy-to-English dictionary for this one."

Drusilla smiled at him, it was rather disconcerting. "I speak the words written in the stars plainly, it's you who lacks the ears to listen. Miss Edith says you'll learn the words in the stars soon enough, because the two knights will meet and he'll let you know though his own distorted words. But my words are clear, unchanged from the message. Black and white, knights both, but which is which? Dark become light, light become dark?"

Xander sighed, reaching into his coat and drawing his katana in a single, easy motion. "Dru, I'm kind of tired of this. I got places to be, people to see, demons to kill, and so on and so forth."

She just kept smiling, taking a few steps back, vanishing into the shadows of the night. Xander grumbled, wondering if he'd ever catch a break in this town. Refusing to voice the thought, knowing that doing so would be tempting the fates, he turned and continued walking towards his club, tucking his blade under his coat once more.

Moving around towards the entrance, he saw a flutter of motion from the alleyway. Rolling his eyes, Xander walked in, seeing a demonic vampire cornering a black-haired woman, wearing a bandana, who didn't seem to be concerned at all by his threatening presence. Xander whistled, catching the attention of the vampire. "Hey pal! You've got a lot of nerve, trying to pick up a meal right outside my club! I really don't appreciate it! I mean really man! I'm trying to attract decent patrons here! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get returning customers in this town!?"

The vampire turned and snarled at him in a display that was supposedly threatening. "Get out of here, this is my meal! You don't want to play with me, I've killed thousands in my time, and I'll add you to the list if you don't leave!"

Xander sighed. "Fine, whatever you say. I'll be leaving then."

The vampire blinked. He hadn't expected that.

He also didn't expect Xander to reach into his coat, draw his katana and slice his head off in a single easy motion either. Even as the demonic vampire crumbled into dust, Xander wiped the blade and tucked it into his coat, glancing at the woman. She rose an eyebrow, studying him, and Xander had the feeling she was seeing far more than any set of eyes would show normally.

Finally, she began speaking quietly. "You have a noble spirit. I'm almost surprised I hadn't seen it resonating everywhere, but I suppose it's because of this cursed place."

Xander blinked. "Uh.. Yeah. Not exactly a pleasant town. You alright? I meant it about finding good customers, you know."

She smiled slightly, and nodded. "I suppose so. I'm grateful for the help, even though I didn't need it. I'm Jessica."

Xander stiffened a bit, but nodded, harsh, nearly buried memories of his mother rushing to the fore and burying themselves again.

"Well, since I'm the owner of this club, come on in, we can talk after I finish up a meeting with a friend of mine. Or possible friend...whatever. Anyway, come on in, standing around in an alley is asking for trouble in this town."

Escorting her inside, he brought her over to his bartender. Waving easily, he spoke. "Hey Larry, this is Jessica. Whatever she wants for a drink or snack tonight, it's on the house, alright?"

Larry nodded. "I hear you, boss. Oh yeah, Wilhem's waiting in the back."

Xander smiled a bit. "Thanks man. I'll be back in a few."

Leaving Jessica at the bar, Xander walked through the crowd towards his office, rubbing his chin. Opening the door, he saw Wilhem looking over some of the paintings Mike had placed around, that Xander hadn't gotten around to taking down yet.

The elder Brujah nodded at some of the paintings. "They're decent work, as far as they go nowadays. I assume you procured these from a Toreador?"

Xander chuckled a little bit. "You could say that. The Sabbat leader here was a Toreador, at least until I killed him. This was his office until then, and I hadn't decided what to do with the paintings yet.

I'm not much of an art fan. If Joyce was still around, I'd give them to her, but... Well. She'd be long dead by now."

Wilhem nodded. "It's the fate of mortals to die, and for us to live on. Although the petty schemes of us Kindred often entangle innocents into our world, we're not a large part of theirs."

Xander sighed. "Yeah, I get that. But they deserve to be able to sleep at night, not worrying over whether or not the world will end when they do." He walked around his desk, sitting down in his chair. He gestured to Wilhem. "Take a seat, there's some blood in the cooler over there if you want it."

Wilhem rose an eyebrow, scratching his chin through his beard. "I appreciate it. I've heard through the Kindred grapevine that you've been declared Prince of this town by Alexander in L.A. I have to say that's rather unprecedented." He sat down, brushing his duster as he did so.

Xander blinked. "Guess so. I'm getting the feeling that he's pretty important among us, cause even I could tell he wasn't worried about anything." Xander sat down, folding his hands.

Wilhem smiled slightly. "Perhaps you've heard of his mortal reputation. He was born in Greece and conquered the known world when he was alive, and because of that, he was recruited into the Ventrue by a childe of Veddartha himself."

Xander rubbed his eyes. Then he looked at Wilhem incredulously. "Wait, wait, wait a damn minute! You're telling me that Prince Alexander is THE Alexander? Alexander the Great? Alexander the Mighty? He whom Willow always beat me with on trivia questions!? THAT Alexander!?"

Wilhem smiled and nodded once. "I'm afraid so. It's only because it's him and not any other Prince that you're running Sunnydale today."

Xander groaned and pitched his head forward, landing his head on the desk with a thud. "Great. I get in the same room as a living legend known for ages after his death and I don't have a clue." He rose his head and looked at Wilhem. "Okay, so he's old. And powerful, and godly beyond belief and stuff. Why is he just the Prince of Los Angeles? He could be running the continent...he should be, actually, now that I think about it."

Wilhem chuckled. "Unofficially, he does. He's got a lot more influence in the Camarilla than the position of Prince would afford, but he has L.A. as his territory because he likes it. Officially that's all he is, but he has a great deal more leeway than almost any other Kindred in the Camarilla. It's because of him we still have California as Kindred territory, instead of a war zone between us and the Kuei-Jin."

Xander rose an eyebrow. "Okay...who are the Kuei-Jin? New players, demons, what?"

Wilhem shook his head. "Demons..partially. I don't have all the information. They're vampires, but not Kindred. They don't sire, they just are what they are. They claim they are risen souls who have business to finish in our world, and others claim they're people who went to hell and came back. Since I'm not one of them, I obviously can't have all the answers. What I do know is they're dangerous.

That's all I need to know. But, they're not invulnerable. I've killed over a hundred of them in my time."

Xander shrugged. "Then that's what's important. Any odds I'd see them around?"

Wilhem shook his head again. "Not too likely. They cannot Embrace, so they can't amass the sheer numbers that we can. Their culture is different, they're more accepted in their society while we don't exist to the mortal governments. They gain powers more easily than us, but we have the home advantage. It's also a fact that those of us of strong blood are capable of gaining powers that they simply cannot hope to reach. Prince Alexander himself survived an ambush by several Kuei-Jin and he killed all of them, despite the fact he lost all of his bodyguards in the process."

Xander nodded. "Okay, my respect for the guy just went up yet another notch. But let's not talk about that now. Let me be blunt. Why are you here?"

Wilhem smiled slightly. "The Sabbat are interested in you, Xander. I used to be a member some time ago, but I went my own way some time back. The Sabbat are now moving towards conquering the north while the Camarilla is digging in here in California and the southern states. In any case, my sire wants to capture you and enforce a blood-bond, so you'd have no choice but to work for her."

Xander blinked. "Okay.. That's something I don't know. Forgive my total seeming idiocy here, but what's a blood-bond? Sounds like an icky tether or something."

Wilhem laughed. "Somewhat. If someone, mortal or Kindred, drinks another Kindred's blood three times, they are given an..emotional tie, to the blood donor. In mortals, it creates ghouls. Regardless, however, they would do anything for their masters. It is insidious and a horrible thing to do, but it is all too common. Before the Tremere were wiped out, it was a common practice with them."

Xander nodded. "Alright, I appreciate you coming here to warn me about it and give the heads up and all. Still, I've got other problems than the Sabbat, I've got a Devil Lord running around Sunnydale, there was a fire at the hospital and I don't know yet if a friend of mine died in it, and I know for a fact three assassins are out there waiting to off me. Can ya really blame me for being a little bit stressed?"

Wilhem shook his head. "No, I cannot. But I can help you with some of your problems. I can help train you if you wish, and I know several styles of fighting. Hand to hand or with a blade, there are few equal to me."

Xander smiled a bit. "I'd like that. I've trained with Angel, but any input you could give me would help, and he never could use our abilities, so I've been forced to kind of wing it. Anything you could teach me I'd like, a lot."

Wilhem nodded and stood up, extending his hand. "Then we have an arrangement. Do you have a suitable place to hone your abilities?"

Xander nodded. "There's a warehouse down on the west side, the number's 947. It's big, deserted, and a former vampire haven.

We can use that."

Wilhem grinned. "Sounds good. I'll meet you there tomorrow night."

Just as Wilhem was about to walk out the door, Xander spoke up. "You mind if I ask you a question, man? I mean, you've been around, right? At least, more than I have. So I was wondering if you could help me about something?"

Wilhem turned and rose an eyebrow. "What's the problem, young one?"

Xander sighed. "Have you ever been unable to satisfy your hunger? I mean, you fill yourself with blood, and the blood is fine, but it just..doesn't work?"

Wilhem rose an eyebrow. "There's two things that would cause that.

Particularly old vampires, over a thousand years or so, go through a change. Mortal blood is no longer thick enough to sustain them, so they begin to hunt for vampire blood, or go into Torpor and use their powers to continue their affairs from their long slumbers."

Xander shook his head. "Nah, it's not that. Not for me, anyway. I'm only sixty as a vampire, and I've only really been active for about two years."

Wilhem nodded. "Do you hunt for your blood, or get it from the source?"

Xander shook his head. "I buy human blood from the blood bank or animal blood in bulk, from the butcher shop. I know how to hunt and can do it in a pinch, but I'd rather not. Brings up some bad memories, and it's a bit of a risk."

Wilhem scratched his chin. "Do you recall a sample of blood that tasted like it was stronger, better than normal, and you felt stronger immediately afterwards?"

Xander nodded slowly. "Yeah, I did. When I went after a turned Slayer, she had a bottle of blood. I was starving, gulped it down, and then I was suddenly able to keep up and I beat her, barely. That's a day I do not like thinking about much, she was a friend before...well, before she was a vampire, anyway."

Wilhem nodded, crossing his arms and leaning on the wall, next to the door. "You either drank Elder Vitae, which would have given you enhanced strength for a short time, or Slayer's blood. And considering you can't satisfy yourself on normal vitae at the moment, I would say the latter."

Xander swallowed a lump in his throat. "How long does...does it last?"

Wilhem shrugged. "About two weeks. Then all of the Slayer's blood will have left your system and you'll be fine, although you'll always be a little stronger, more reflexive and more durable than before, although not to the degree you were in that fight."

Xander nodded, slowly, the appearance of horror crossing his face. "But..I can't last two weeks, especially if I get into fights. It's not like I can just starve myself for two weeks, I can go probably ten days at the most without losing it."

Wilhem shook his head. "I'm sorry, but there isn't any way around it.

I can try and help you, and I can try and contact some people I know in the Kindred community, but other than that, you'll have to beat the Beast on your own willpower."

Xander sighed and sat back in his chair. "Great. Just great. I'm going to have to isolate myself. Get a nice, soft, padded room for Xander. Complete with doped up blood and a Kindred psychologist." He sighed.

"With my luck I'll end up getting a Malkavian for a shrink."

Wilhem chuckled. "That's more common than you know, sadly. Don't worry, I'll do what I can."

Xander nodded, rubbing his face. "Alright. I guess that covers today's business. I'll meet you tomorrow?"

Wilhem nodded. "Just don't be late. I hate being kept waiting."

Xander smiled a bit. "I hear you. Can never decide whether to bring a book or twiddle my thumbs. Usually the latter because bringing a book requires foresight. And reading skills."

Wilhem sighed, smiling a bit. "Oh how the mighty have fallen." Without giving Xander a chance to respond, the elder Brujah walked out the door, muttering something under his breath about 'kids these days'.

Xander opened a drawer in his desk, checking the inbox. Seeing the case was empty, he shrugged and closed it. He looked up at the door as he heard a knock, and he spoke out. "Come in."

The door opened, revealing a hesitant Jessica, who rubbed her forehead through her bandana. "Can we talk?"

Xander indicated she should take a seat, and she sat down, chewing on her lip. "Is there a problem? You look nervous."

Jessica shook her head. "I..just wanted to thank you for helping me outside. It's not often somebody helps me. Not for a long time, I'm afraid."

Xander nodded. "I'm just glad I could help. It's kind of my thing to help people in need, though I'm no superhero. I just do what I gotta do."

She smiled a bit, settling back. "Well, regardless, thanks. The world could use more people like you in it."

Xander shrugged, his eyes widening as his office door was slammed open, a large, hulking brute just outside the office. He stood at six and a half feet, with large muscles that bulged out of his shirt, his green skin and pair of horns sprouting from his head pronouncing to the world him belonging to the race of trolls. A small gold ring on his finger proudly proclaimed him a member of the Order of Teraka.

With surprising speed, the troll moved towards Xander, knocking Jessica out of the seat, her bandana falling off and landing on the floor. Trying to reach across the desk with his massive frame, he was taken by surprise as Xander jumped out of his seat, diving to the side with supernatural speed as the young vampire moved in a blur. Moving around his desk, Xander jumped up on the troll's back, grabbing one horn and, using it as leverage, twisted the troll's head to the side in a single, sudden movement, breaking his neck.

Checking on Jessica, he stopped.

And stared.

And blinked repeatedly as she blinked at him a few times.

With all three eyes, one in the middle of her forehead.

"Well." Xander spoke. "That's something you don't see everyday."


Aura strode through one of Sunnydale's parks. She would have enjoyed the experience, surrounded by nature, if the Hellmouth hadn't twisted everything into a warped parody of what it should be. Even the trees and grasses felt tainted by the evil trying to claw its way into the world, and she shuddered to think of what the spirit world would look like.

Catching a scent in the wind, she stiffened and crouched down, trying to determine the trail her quarry had taken. Judging from the freshness of the trail, he hadn't passed by more than a few minutes ago, and she followed the path easily, moving through the trees with only the faintest of noises, she paused only momentarily to reaffirm the trail.

Stopping briefly, she furrowed her brow in confusion. 'How could the trail split in two?'

Then the answer hit her. 'Shit, he must have double-backed on me, he knows I'm following him. So, which way did he go after he left the false trail?'

Moving more cautiously now, she moved slowly on the trail to the right, remembering on the map of the town she'd memorized, if the trail kept going on that path she'd end up on Kingman's Bluff, a rather nice and scenic place to overlook the ocean.

After half an hour, she found the trail was a correct one, she saw a figure up on the bluff, looking out over the ocean, his arms crossed and his short red hair ruffling slightly in the wind. Smiling slightly, she crept up behind him, her feet making no sound on the sand as she mentally prepared for the change into the Werewolf's war form, the immense half-man half-wolf beast that was so common in folklore.

Abruptly, he turned around, smirking at her. "Hello Aura. It's been a long time, hasn't it? You've grown up quite a lot, such a nice change.

I'm rather pleased."

She glared at him, hatefully. "You don't know me. How dare you use his face to taunt me, you filthy piece of Wyrmspawn!? You deserve to be sent back into the tar pit you spawned out of!"

He laughed at her. "Come now, is that any way to talk about your father?"

She growled, feeling every instinct within her push her towards changing and ripping his throat out. "Daniel Osbourne is my father, you're a parasite walking around in his body, make-believing you're him after slaughtering half our tribe! I've come to avenge them, and him!"

Goral chuckled. "Such a single-minded crusade. It's kind of a pity really. It's a shame, you could have joined with me under my master, he's rather nice, you'd have liked him. But, no. You had to walk your own path, you had to say no and walk away from all the wonders he's shown us." Goral, wearing the face of Oz, smirked a bit and walked closer to Aura. "Still, it's not all bad. You can still join up. The master is quite fond of werewolves who join his side. We're quite unique, you know."

She spat at him, which fell short and splatted on the rocks. "I'd rather die than become like you."

Goral sighed. "That can be arranged. I'd rather it not, mind you. I'm still rather fond of you. You've got such fire, such a spirit within you that's all too rare today."

She growled and lashed out at him, trying to strike him in the face, but he easily caught her clumsy, anger filled attack and threw her back. She fell to the hard ground with a grunt, but even as she climbed to her feet she realized they weren't alone.

She was slammed in the ribs by an extremely powerful punch by another person, sending her crumpling onto the ground with a groan. She looked up at Goral, and the newcomer, a tall man with blond hair. Goral just smiled at her again.

"Aura, meet Kail. Kail, this is my daughter, Aura. She's rather feisty, isn't she? I'm rather proud of her." Goral spoke with a grin.

Kail just nodded. "Yeah, she's got spirit all right. I kinda like it.

Too bad she didn't accept your offer, though. I'd have liked to have a few rounds with her. In a fight, and in bed."

Goral faked a shocked look. "Hey, that's my daughter you're talking about here!"

Kail just shrugged. "So what? You'd get first dibs on her, that's all."

Goral nodded at that. "Good point. Shall we finish her off, brother?"

Kail smiled, cracking his knuckles. "Yep, sounds like a plan."

Wincing, Aura got to her feet, running away from the pair as fast as her legs would take her. The pair of Devil Knights in their human disguises followed along, almost nonchalantly, intending to prolong her suffering before they killed her. They would hunt her sadistically, letting her get the illusion of hope before one of them would appear in her path and head her off, forcing her to become more and more desperate before they finally finished her off.

Moving into the woods, Aura could hear Kail behind her, whistling a jaunty tune as he trailed her. Taking a chance, she threw off her jacket, tossing it into the bush and moving on. Knowing that would throw off Goral's own tracking skills temporarily, she kept moving, throwing off various pieces of clothing as she went.

When she was down to just her pants, she could hear the two Devil Knights growing closer, and she called upon her abilities. She felt a sense of being simply... right, as she assumed the form of a wolf. Rather than the immense war form of the werewolves, this was a transformation into a normal sized wolf, better suited to running quietly and without complications in the wilds. Shrugging off the jeans that no longer suited her body, she looked back as she heard Goral moving around the side, trying to head her off. Moving at full speed, she left the pair of Devil Knights behind, cursing to herself in her mind her own lack of foresight.


On another world, a two demons were standing outside of a wooden door, looking through the bars in it, at another demon, who was chained to the floor in a kneeling position.

The first one was a goat-like creature that stood on its hind legs, on Earth, its species was probably the inspiration of the legends of the Greek god Pan.

The other was a slavering slime demon, quite literally made of the foul smelling stuff. It didn't have organs, it just absorbed what it wanted to eat, like a giant form of an amoeba. It spoke with its squelching voice. "So this is him, huh? Why don't we just go in there and kill him? I'm hungry."

The goat shook his head. "The last time anybody tried that, he killed them and nearly escaped. We'll have to starve him to death, and that'll take a while. I figure a few hundred years should take care of him, then you can eat him."

The slime creature grumbled. "I bet he'd be tasty inside that thick shell of his. I guess we'll have to make do with our prisoners.

One question though, why is there no fire allowed in the cell?"

A sigh left the previous demon, who apparently owned something resembling a brain. "He draws power from fire. It's his elemental, his ability. I really don't want to see him gain enough strength to break those chains. Lord Kyannar demanded he stay where he is until he dies. If he escaped, he'd kill us, which would be preferable to what Kyannar would do to us. Purgatory and all that."

The two demons shuddered at the thought. Purgatory was, ironically, what the demonic race considered their own hell. Their world, while painful, inhospitable, and downright hostile, was at least mostly entertaining. There was always something to do, some human soul to torture or consume, some plot or another to get caught up in and reap the rewards of success and penalties of failure.

Purgatory was worse, if only for one reason. There was nothing there. Being sent to Purgatory was to be sent somewhere there was no gravity, nothing to stand on, nothing that could harm you, nothing to kill you. In short, it was a place of eternal boredom.

Simply being killed results in becoming nothing. Maybe being reincarnated, but in which case they'd lose all their knowledge, which isn't so bad. Purgatory means being trapped in a place where you shall always know what you know and shall never be capable of escaping or changing anything. Death was always preferable to that fate.

Suddenly, screams began echoing throughout the complex. The demons almost paid it no mind, except in a moment they realized it was other demon's screams, instead of human. Running down a corridor, they gasped and fell to their knees in worship of the creature in front of them.

It was rather unfortunate, but it didn't endear them to the being at all. With barely the slightest effort, the two demons were decapitated and lying on the ground, dissolving into ash and sewage respectively, as the newest Lord of Hell strode towards the cell. With a savage roar, he ripped the door off the hinges, and the Devil Lord looked upon the occupant. He spoke quietly. "So this is the legend. The one who defeated a god and escaped from this cursed place."

The caged demon rose his head slightly, speaking in harsh, gravely tones. "And you must be the new Devil Lord on the block. What did you do, kill my father for the position?"

The Devil Lord strode forward into the cell, ripping the chains apart with a single easy movement. Reaching across his back, he drew a massive greatsword and tossed it to the entrapped demon, who caught it with one hand, showing no strain while holding the weapon. The former captive looked at the Lord with a question in his burning red eyes.

Smiling slightly, the Devil Lord replied. "My name is Nicholas. I was human once, I hunted the best supernatural creatures I could on my world. You name it, I've probably killed it. Then I got sucked down here and turned into one of you. I hear about you, the great and legendary Devil Knight who became a great traitor. It took some doing, but I found out that Kyannar was keeping you locked up down here for some reason."

Sighing, the former Devil Knight shook his head. "That I can't answer.

What I want to know is, why?"

Nicholas shrugged. "I always hunted the strongest ones I could find.

You're the only one I know who beat a god on any plane, so I'm breaking you out of here so we can have a good fight. I'm proposing a duel, my good fellow. If I win, I kill you and look for someone stronger to kill me. If you win, you're free and you've got a shot at getting out of this plane again."

The Devil Knight nodded. "I'll need a week to recover my strength, and then I'll gladly fight you. But first, we need to get out of here."

Nicholas smiled. "Then, shall we go, Alleron of the line of Ifrit?"

Alleron nodded. "We shall, Nicholas."


A week later, all of Hell took note as, for a brief moment, they saw a flash of light arcing up into the clouds, a brightly burning white form disappearing from view as it left their plane.

And on the stones in a wasteland of Hell, did Nicholas the Devil Knight, Nicholas the Immortal, lie dead on the ground, his head separated from his shoulders, his blood spilling out of his body as it rested on the earth. The unfortunate imps who were conscripted into burying the body of the newest, and shortest-lived Devil Lord in their history, could all swear that Nicholas had a smile on his face.

Chapter 23

Wolfram & Hart, Head Office, somewhere in the multiverse

"What do you mean he escaped!?" General Kyannar roared.

"I gave all of you orders that he would never leave until he died! Do you have any idea what he can do!?"

The other, now seven remaining, members of the board flinched. When Kyannar didn't like you, you tended to die. When he got upset, somebody usually ended up dead, sometimes randomly, sometimes not.

With Kyannar downright angry now, it was nearly certain. Somebody was going to be worked over, probably a very long session in the deepest, darkest hole Kyannar could find.

As bad and dangerous as it was, working under Kyannar, usually he didn't kill someone just because you delivered bad news to him. He often killed you for being stupid or for not giving your best. In the case of the previous kill at this very board, the angelic one, Zephon, had been working against Kyannar in his own plot to take the head of the resources of Wolfram and Hart. His death was not only a dismissal of Zephon's position and power, it was also a message to the others conspirators. Kyannar was not to be trifled with.

Kyannar, his features rippling as his illusion of humanity threatened to fail, sat down in his chair at the head and glared at the other figures. More calmly, he spoke quietly. "What happened? How did he get loose? And I don't want to hear any excuses, Malfor."

The demon made of volcanic rock stood up. "Lord Kyannar, Alleron escaped when the Devil Lord Nicholas infiltrated your chambers and killed the guards. Your troops suffered fifty percent casualties in the ensuing chaos, and it seems Nicholas also robbed one of your soul repositories."

Kyannar grumbled, hissing out. "How many were stolen from me?"

Malfor cleared his throat, and continued. "About five thousand, my lord. It's not a large loss compared to your total number of three hundred million, but it's unlikely you'll ever retrieve those souls.

Nicholas absorbed them immediately. With him dead, they've no doubt scattered throughout the realms by now."

Kyannar stood from his chair, stabilizing his illusion. He clenched his fists, his body shaking with a mixture of rage, and fear.

"They're of no import." Turning to the devil with a pitchfork, he spoke.

"Manakel, I will require bounty hunters on Alleron's head. The bounty will be one million souls."

Manakel's eyes widened. One million souls was enough to transform a minor demon, say a vampire spirit, into a demon lord, ruling his own kingdom. While demon lords were not as powerful as Devil Lords, it was a tempting offer indeed. "Understood, my lord. I will put the word out across the dimensions."

Kyannar nodded. "Good. Now, get out. All of you have jobs to do."

The other seven devils stood from their seats and shuffled out, closing huge, black, basalt doors as they left. Kyannar sat back in his chair, rubbing his face. He lifted his head as he felt another presence in the room with him. Tilting his head back a bit, he spoke. "So, you've finally decided to show up, huh?"

A beautiful, but inhuman, figure walked into his view. The figure was a succubus, created to tempt all creatures into acts of carnality.

Scowling, Kyannar stood up from his seat. "Don't play games with me.

I'm not in the mood for it."

The succubus giggled at him. "So you thought you could just shut me out that easily? You want out of here. You want the power to reshape the universe. You can have that power with my help."

Kyannar shook his head. "You forget, I'm not one of your children. I don't care what you say, I'm not going to rip apart the cosmos just because you got scared of what could be. You're a shortsighted arrogant little bitch, you know that?"

The succubus' smirk dropped away in an instant. "I should flay you alive for your words, Kyannar. You're nothing compared to me! You sit here in your ebony tower scheming and plotting on how to gain more power, but you ignore the facts. I created the multiverse. I am greater than anything you can ever imagine!"

Kyannar couldn't help but smirk at her words. "Oh yeah? Try and hurt me. Go ahead."

The succubus scowled at him. His grin grew. "You may have been around for longer than I, or even Ifrit, or Lucifer himself, but you are not the creator of anything more than a bunch of failed, weak, parasitic species. You have no power. You're worthless, a relic of ages gone by.

I may be young, but I know you've barely got enough power to manifest your astral image and annoy me. How does it feel, to have your source drained away to nothing?"

She didn't say anything. Kyannar pressed on. "I don't need anybody else to tell me what I need to do to advance. I don't need your shortsighted shortcuts. I don't need you. You're the progenitor of the demons, but I am a Devil. Think about that the next time you want to bother me."

She scowled, and began to fade. Just before she vanished completely, Kyannar called out. "And next time, don't show up in the guise of my wife. If you do, I will find your corporeal form and rip it to pieces."

She had a look of shock on her expression as she faded out completely. Kyannar smirked to himself, folding his hands and considering his options.

'Well,' he thought, 'any day you can annoy the First Evil is a good day.'


Rain. He'd forgotten what it felt like. To have liquid water run down his face, into the cracks of his armor. Running off the ends of his horns and dripping in front of him. The feeling of it, sheeting across his batlike wings, softening the feel of them. Alleron enjoyed the feeling immensely.

What he didn't enjoy was the sight before him. Upon punching through the dimensional barriers, Alleron returned to his corporeal state in what he remembered as a metropolis, the greatest city known to the civilization of the Five Races. Elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs and trolls all built the city together.

And to Alleron's eye, they all died together.

As far as his eyes could see, bones belonging to all the races lay scattered throughout the streets. Wild animals had long since picked the bones clean, and judging from the pattern, some of them died, lying up against walls or in burning buildings, as evidenced by the burnt out wrecks of some of the houses. But the others, those in the streets, lay haphazardly around, in large groups.

'What happened to my home? What could have happened to destroy everything I settled down for? It looks like the people rioted, but why? And more importantly, why can I not sense a single life form in the city that is more intelligent than a wolf?'

Attempting to find his way through the rain, the Devil Knight carefully walked among the bones. With every step, he was assaulted with images, memories. Living here with his wife and daughter. Hunting wild deer for them one day, and smiling as Allandra, still a child, made a face at the meat, until she tasted it. His marriage to his lovely wife, Yolanda. He could not help but wonder if the bones he was stepping over belonged to a friend, a guardsman, a neighbor.

Coming up to what had been his home, over forty years ago, he opened the old, rotting wooden door. Stepping inside, he looked around, a lump in his throat as he looked for a sign, any sign, of hope. He cried out lowly as he moved towards the bedroom, his bedroom. A complete skeleton lay on the rotting timbers of what had been his bed. He couldn't think. He couldn't speak. All he could do is lean against the doorframe as his legs, capable of carrying over fifty times his own weight, threatened to fail. It could have only been Yolanda.

For over half an hour, he stood there, tears running down his face, nearly indistinguishable from the rain. As he slowly gathered himself from his grief, he turned and continued searching what had been his home. Walking into Allandra's bedroom, he gathered his strength, preparing himself for whatever tragedy may reveal itself to him next.

Only to find it empty. He sighed, shaking his head. 'She's not here.

Still, though, I can't sense her anywhere on this plane. I hope she found a way out, I don't like the idea of my daughter being dead.'

Returning to his wife's remains, he gathered up her bones, to commit them to the earth.


Dropping the shovel, Alleron sighed, looking at the newly created grave of his wife. Digging the grave in the driving rain wasn't easy, the dirt almost instantly turned itself into mud. He'd been forced, repeatedly, to blast the dirt with his hellfire to solidify it into stones and glass, so it wouldn't collapse on top of him.

Panting heavily, not out of exhaustion of the body, but from being emotionally drained, Alleron placed the marker of her grave. It was a simple thing, a small monolith, with her name carved into its surface. He sighed to himself, feeling as if part of his heart was missing now.

Seeing no hope here, no chance at reclaiming what he'd left behind, Alleron turned, spreading his wings and taking off into the air. He began flying northward, towards the incarnation of the Gate on this world. He knew exactly where it was, because when the Magi on the first world constructed theirs, he observed and recorded in his memory exactly how to do it. When he arrived here, he created another Gate, just in case.

Apparently, he'd have to use it once again, just to leave a dying world. If he'd wanted to be alone, he'd have opened a portal to Purgatory. He wanted people to interact with. He wanted a life.

Landing in front of the unimpressive Gate, he sighed to himself. 'It's been so long since I first came here. I thought I could be happy here, but it seems just like everything else in my life, everything I touch turns into ashes. I suppose it's only natural for me, but I am tired of this.'

Channeling his energy into the Gate, he envisioned his destination, deciding that he should begin his search from the first world he came to after escaping Hell the first time, over two thousand years ago. With the literally billions of worlds in the multiverse, with enough time, he just might be able to find some peace.


The next night, in the same warehouse that Buffy had met her end, Xander and Wilhem faced off against each other, unarmed. Wilhem's greater experience, age, and power easily defeated Xander's attacks as Xander kept probing for holes in the elder Brujah's defenses.

Wilhem kept pushing Xander to the floor, but the younger vampire refused to give in.

Wilhem smiled a bit. 'I have to give the child credit. He's got determination, he's got the old Brujah inner strength. If he'd have been born a few centuries ago, he'd have easily become a Promethean.

That is, if some other clan didn't forcibly Embrace him.' He rose his hands. "Enough. You've proven your determination, Xander."

Xander nodded, rubbing his forehead. "Good, I'm getting tired of you tossing me onto the concrete floor, man. It's not getting any softer.

Though if I smack it a few more dozen times, it might."

Wilhem chuckled, shaking his head. "It would probably. Just be careful when you're landing, I'd hate to see you soften your skull."

Xander shrugged nonchalantly. "Nah, couldn't happen. My skull is as soft as a sponge as it is."

Wilhem frowned, thinking to himself. 'It seems he has some self-confidence issues. I wonder what happened to him to cause this? Not many Brujah would Embrace somebody who wasn't strong, at least of mind if not in body.' He spoke. "Do you really think you're not worth my time?"

Xander flinched slightly. "Well, don't get me wrong or anything, but you know, I don't get why you're willing to help me out. All the older vamps I've met are either pricks or somebody who wanted to kill me.

I've got some friends among the younger community, but not too many.

The only older vamps who were willing to teach me anything about us were my sire and her sire, and I had to leave them soon after I was Embraced. I haven't been able to contact them again."

Wilhem nodded slowly. "I see. We'll get to whatever may have been left out by her. Can you shoot?"

Xander nodded. "As well as anybody, yeah. I'm pretty rusty though, guns aren't too effective on vampires or other beasties around here, and while I've been somewhat trained with a blade, I'm by no means an expert. I'm still kinda like 'the pointy end goes into the other guy and the sharp edge you cut with,' guy. Though, I am pretty good at the latter, but I've yet to actually get into a swordfight."

Wilhem smirked a little bit. "I think it's time I fixed that."

Xander looked at Wilhem suspiciously. "I really don't like the look in your eye, man. Really."

Wilhem just kept smirking.


About an hour later, Xander walked into his apartment, his eye twitching. His clothes looked like somebody had decided they didn't like the look of them, and had happily cut them up into thin little strips. While Xander was still wearing them. Looking down mournfully at his torn up shirt, Xander sighed.

Wilhem had shown Xander just how good he was with a sword. Wilhem was fond of a certain little one-handed broadsword, and he was very, very, very good with it. For evidence, Xander had his shirt. Despite its tattered condition, there wasn't a single drop of Xander's blood on it. That scared Xander, a lot. Not that Wilhem was so skilled with a blade, but that the elder vampire apparently found it necessary to refine his skills to that degree.

But despite the damage to his wardrobe, Wilhem's instruction was very useful. While at this point Xander wasn't an expert swordsman, he was more than capable, and definitely more than a match for most of the denizens of the Hellmouth. The young Brujah vampire walked into his room, tossing off his ruined shirt and replacing it. Straightening his clothes in front of the mirror, he nodded to himself and knocked on Allandra's bedroom door.

"Come in." Her voice called out.

Xander opened the door, walking in and looking around for her. She was humming to herself softly, brushing her hair with fine brush, looking at herself in a large mirror. She moved her wings back and forth, almost experimentally flapping them as she tended to her appearance. She spoke quietly. "Something's changed, Xander."

Xander leaned on the doorframe, raising an eyebrow. "Okay. What's bothering you, Allandra? You're looking a bit shaken up."

She sighed, putting down her hairbrush. She rubbed her eyes slowly, speaking quietly. "I'm not sure. I just dreamed of my home, back on Atarra, my homeworld. When I fled there, my city was in the midst of a riot, some of our people came to the Gate with some others from the other races. I remember the flames, brightening up the night sky. My dream showed me what was left. Bones of thousands of people in the streets, being picked over by animals. I just..don't want to remember my friends that way."

Xander came up behind Allandra and hugged her slowly. He was painfully aware of his cool hands against her warm skin, further reminding him the distance between himself and the mortal world. Though Allandra had already shown she was half-demon, she was still alive and with everything that entailed. He sighed, feeling her gently relax into his embrace.

He spoke quietly into her ear. "I find it helps if I remember the happy times. When I think about how I'm still around now, with only Oz who was around back then, it hurts. I just think about the good times, when Buffy would come back all hyped from a patrol. How Giles would clean his glasses whenever we made a weird comment. How Willow would babble incoherently sometimes, usually when flustered or annoyed. I miss them all, but I remember how they were, and I just live well, it's all I can do now."

She nodded, patting his hands. "I know. I know the plague killed off my friends a long time ago. I just didn't like to think about what was left over. I don't like the idea of nobody being there, it was my home. It's been a long time since I've thought about it, I'm just sad I couldn't bring myself to face it sooner."

Xander rose to his feet, Allandra turned and looked up at him as he spoke. "Listen, I know what you're going through. I kinda wish you didn't have to, but there's no way around it now, I guess. If you want to talk on this, I'll listen, okay?"

Allandra nodded, giving him a slight smile. "All right. I'll think about that, Xander. Are you going out again tonight?"

Xander nodded. "I've got a couple more things to do before I come back for the day. I need to find out everything I can about a kind of three-eyed vampire."

Allandra rose an eyebrow. "Three eyes? That's unusual."

Xander chuckled. "You're telling me. The woman claimed she belonged to an old clan of vampires, one that's nearly extinct. She said she was Salubri, whatever the hell that means. I've got to find out what she is for sure, I don't need another demon walking around Sunnydale."

Allandra rose to her feet. "I think I'll go with you. If this woman isn't who she says she is then you might need some backup.

It's not every day a three-eyed person shows up somewhere, even here."

Xander smiled a bit. "I hear that. I'll meet you in the living room."


Sandra rubbed her eyes as someone knocked on her door, and she muttered to herself. Rising from her desk, where she'd been pouring over old tomes, she opened her front door, revealing Xander and Allandra. Nodding to them both, she spoke. "Xander, Allandra, what can I do for you?"

Xander rubbed the back of his head, replying. "Well, we'd like to take a look at your books real quick, or at least drop another research assignment on you if we don't find it soon."

Sandra nodded, stepping aside so the pair of them could enter. Allandra closed the door behind her as Xander began looking through the books. "I met somebody unusual last night. She had three eyes, and said she was a Salubri. Do you have any idea what that is?"

Sandra spoke up. "Don't bother looking through the books. I can tell you what it is right now."

Xander and Allandra stopped and turned to Sandra, a bemused expression on both their faces. Xander found his voice first. "Okay. That was quick. What is she?"

Sandra rubbed her eyes. "The Salubri are a rare type of demon. Legend says about a thousand years ago the race went into a war with the vampires, because the vampires and the Salubri have a common source for food, that is, humanity. The Salubri devour souls, they need them to survive. Every Watcher on the face of the earth has standing orders to destroy any Salubri that they find, because the Salubri have repeatedly attempted to end the world, and a single Salubri is more than capable of doing so. I assume you've met one?"

Xander nodded slowly. "Met and killed, yes. I need to know if they travel in groups or something, I don't need a world-ending demon around Sunnydale. I kinda like my town not being a suburb of hell, you know?"

Sandra nodded, not noticing Allandra's frown. "Impressive, I suppose.

I'll look up anything else I may have on the Salubri, but there aren't very many texts. They were a secretive type to begin with, but after the war with the vampires, they went even deeper underground, it seems. I'll have to order the texts from the Watcher's Council."

Xander nodded to Sandra, glancing at Allandra. "I guess we'll go out and scout for any friends she may have had, huh?"

Allandra nodded. "I'll watch your back, Xander."

Sandra cleared her throat and spoke up. "Be careful, you two.

Creatures as powerful as the Salubri in my texts would likely have several demons enslaved to them, and they would no doubt seek revenge for the death of their master."

Allandra nodded to Sandra. "Right. We'll be careful. Thanks Sandra."

After the half-demon and the vampire left the Watcher's home, Allandra asked quietly. "So, what do you think?"

Xander frowned, his voice filled with doubt. "I don't know. I mean, it's possible she's an evil demon trying to end the world in a marvelously overdone, overused plot like that, but she didn't seem like that to me. Also, while the Watchers have a lot of info, it wouldn't surprise me if it was biased against non-humans. Before I subscribe to what Sandra's told us today, I'm going to see if I can get a second opinion."


In the wastelands of what was once Washington State, the Gate suffered a flurry of activity as it burst open in a marvelous, rainbow hue.

From it, the traitorous Devil Knight Alleron strode from the portal, his eyes taking in the devastation before him.

He shook his head, closing his eyes as he extended his senses outward. 'The last time I was here I felt about eight hundred thousand humans. I certainly hope this entire world doesn't look like this, I liked the humans. They taught me what it meant to have some compassion.'

He reached further and further. 'There's nothing alive here. Not for hundreds of miles. The only things are desert creatures, not worth my notice.' Then he paused, unsure if his senses were telling him what he thought they were telling him.

'Elves? Dwarves, orcs, halflings and trolls? They're here? How can this be? Unless... Therowyn, you old fool! You must have figured out how to use the Gate!' He began to laugh out loud. 'And knowing Therowyn, he'll have left a marker for me somewhere, and all I have to do is find it.'

He cast the thought out. The name of a dragon they'd been forced to kill, nearly seven hundred years ago, soon after Alleron came to Atarra, the world he'd so long called home. 'Sifithrisir.' A moment later, he felt the response. A wave of welcoming energy fluctuated out from the east, resonating from the other side of the continent. A place Alleron would learn is called New York City.

What Alleron didn't know is that by casting out the name across the world, he'd also set off every mystic in the world with any psychic talent. A shaman in the Watcher's Council screamed as the name Sifithrisir echoed in his mind. A dozen Methuselah Kindred, now the oldest of the old of vampires, stirred in their cold tombs. Mages of all kinds, whether the kind that alter reality itself, or the more mundane but no less dangerous ones belonging to the newcomer races, stiffened as a chill ran down their spines.

A psychic, working for Wolfram and Hart, fell over, blood running from her nose as the power of Alleron's call overloaded her mind. A member of the Technocracy, one of those attempting to place immutable laws on reality, while attempting to create their own version of the Gate, felt a sudden wrench in his mind. He immediately went insane and killed half a dozen of his friends. One of the fallen members of the Celestial Host, having fairly recently escaped from the Abyss, stiffened as she heard the call.

A hundred Garou felt the call echo throughout the Earth, not knowing where it originated or its meaning. With a flurry of activity, they tried to find out what Sifithrisir meant. A Gangrel Kindred in Sunnydale tried to figure out what was it that had scared the animals she was so easily conversing with before.

And finally, an event that wouldn't be noticed by the world for decades, but perhaps one of the most important events of all of these, took place. A stasis chamber in the basement of Angel Investigations went offline, releasing two dozen eggs that had been safeguarded for forty years. Nothing happened for a few minutes, but soon the lightest tapping was heard, and one of the eggs cracked open. Out climbed a small, red-skinned creature that had not existed on Earth for a very long time, but had been a strong race on Atarra. On the most primal level, they heard the name and responded, overloading the stasis chamber and finally allowed themselves to be born.

With a single event, Alleron had not only begun a chain of events that would eventually lead him to his progeny, he had unwittingly allowed his enemies to know he had arrived. He had tipped off to the Watcher's Council that something was wrong, something powerful had arrived from beyond. He'd allowed the Technocracy to scramble about, trying to determine what was behind this latest disruption in the crumbling reality they had worked so hard to build. He let the Garou know he'd arrived, much to his chagrin. And perhaps most significant of all, his arrival and calling out had allowed the dragon race to finally be reborn.


In the headquarters of the Watcher's Council, two figures walked down a narrow hallway in the dark basement of the place. The first was dressed in a standard Watcher's attire. Tweed jacket, glasses, a partially trimmed beard. The other was anything but. He was wearing a tan trenchcoat, sunglasses and gloves.

The one dressed as a Watcher opened a door into a storeroom, revealing a place filled with treasures that many men would kill to possess.

Indeed, many of these artifacts had been killed over for greed or desire. It didn't matter where in the world they came from, anywhere the Watchers had influence, an artifact was from that place.

On the right was a simple wooden cup. The man in the trenchcoat took that one and put it in his pocket, knowing the true value of such an item and what many would do for it. The other spared him a brief glance, but shrugged. The pair passed over many other priceless things, a suit of armor here, an ancient blade there. A single gauntlet on one side, a black mask, radiating evil on the other.

Reaching the back of the room, the man in the trenchcoat turned to the Watcher and spoke. "Alright Wesley. There's a secret passage beyond here, I'll get inside and open it for you."

Wesley sighed. "Hurry it up, would you? I don't need to be caught down here, there's anti-magick fields going and I couldn't get out through an armed team."

The other one nodded, dissolving into mist and flowing towards a wall. The vampire passed through a valuable painting and beyond, rematerializing on the other side and opening it for his human companion. Wesley stepped through, closing the passage behind him as they moved into a second, even more valuable room.

Relics of vampires and other creatures stood here, radiating power that was only barely dulled by the anti-magick shield placed in the Watcher's compound. The vampire strode forward, eagerly looking for two items belonging to his kind. He found the first, a scroll sealed in a display case, which he opened by extending an unnaturally sharp claw and cleaving out the glass. Wesley looked around the room, looking for two prizes of his own.

Smiling as he saw the first one, he advanced on the stasis chamber, holding a single dragon's egg. The Watchers had gained property of it over thirty years ago, stealing it from under the nose of Angel Investigations. Since then the Order of Hermes, a Mage order that Wesley belonged to, had been trying to retrieve it. If only the Watchers knew Wesley Wyndham-Price was still alive. Although, Wesley suspected that someone up high in the Watchers did know.

His vampire companion gave a small laugh of triumph as he found the second thing the vampire was interested in. He picked up a stone tablet, examining it with a critical eye. Wesley came up behind him and spoke. "Found what you were looking for, I see. What does it say?"

The vampire shook his head. "I don't know yet, I'll have to bring it back and translate it elsewhere. We can't let the Watchers keep ahold of these things though, after I study them it'd be best to destroy them. It's a pity, I rather enjoy such things, but I think it's rather important that many other vampires don't get these. It would be pretty dangerous."

Wesley shrugged. "I suppose so. Help me find the staff, would you? We don't have much time before the security grid comes back online."

The vampire nodded, looking around the room through his sunglasses. Wesley moved around in the opposite direction, smiling as he found his prize, a staff covered with runes and carvings. Upon touching the Mage's hand, the runes glowed briefly and then faded. The staff itself then shrunk into a cylinder, which Wesley put into his pocket.

Turning back to the stasis chamber, Wesley deactivated it and removed the small egg, gently taking it in his hands. The vampire nodded to Wesley, indicating he was ready to go.

The pair left the Watcher's compound, moving without attracting attention by simply appearing as if they belonged there. Walking back to a secured apartment building, the vampire and the former Watcher reviewed their prizes.

The vampire unwrapped the scroll, placing it on a table as he scanned it. He smiled slightly as the knowledge came to him. It was his only passion left.

Wesley read the scroll right along side the vampire. He spoke quietly. "So Beckett, it's true. The Ainkurn was forged in vampire blood. Old blood at that."

Beckett nodded. "Oldest blood, actually. I didn't believe in the Antediluvians before they rose, but since then I've been trying to figure out how Christof defeated them. It looks like the Ainkurn was forged specifically to fight them. It was made to repress their powers, thus making it possible for its wielder to defeat them. With Antediluvian blood as part of its forging, it broke past their powers and made them more vulnerable. Using their own powers against them. Impressively genius, I'd say."

Wesley had to agree. "Quite. What about the Tablet of Amara? Is it complete this time?"

Beckett smiled. "Yes, it's complete." He set aside the Ainkurn Chronicles and looked on the tablet. "It says that Amara the Devil made a pact for the souls of two Cainites. He would grant them immunity from their weaknesses in exchange for their souls. Readily agreeing, the vampires accepted, only to realize it was part of the trap. The vampires were used as a power source for two rings and the rings could be used to walk in the sunlight."

Wesley frowned. "Angel had one of them. He destroyed it, saying it would only hinder him on his path to redemption. I remember Cordelia telling me about it a long time ago."

Beckett nodded. "The other one is probably in the hands of the Council or another vampire somewhere. I assume you'll attempt to track it down?"

Wesley nodded. "Of course. I suspect it'll be here in Europe, luckily the Order of Hermes has quite a large power base here. We'll find it. I'll let you study it, of course, as part of our agreement."

Beckett smiled. "I'd enjoy that. Now, what will you be doing with the egg? Returning it to its former quarters?"

Wesley shook his head. "No, I won't be doing that. It was stolen easily enough before, and besides that, it should be hatching soon enough. Without the stasis field on it, it'll only be a matter of days before it comes to term. Now I have to ask, what are you planning with your last item there?"

Beckett shrugged, taking the wooden cup out of his jacket and placing it on the table, next to the Ainkurn Chronicles and Tablet of Amara. "I intend to study it, of course." He took off his sunglasses, revealing his yellow, cat-like eyes. "I'm interested in finding out if the properties of the water poured from this cup is true. If it is true, it would possibly mean an end to those that consider vampirism a curse."


Xander and Allandra strode through the sewers. Allandra kept scrunching her nose as she moved through, following Xander and avoiding rather nasty spots. One misstep would mean a ruined pair of boots. It just wasn't possible to salvage a pair of leather boots from being soaked in sewage.

Xander kept tapping various pipes along the wall, causing the echoes to pass down the pipes, deeper into the sewers. Allandra grumbled at this chore, speaking quietly to Xander. "I don't see why we have to go down this way to meet with the Nosferatu. Can't we just give them a call or something?"

Xander chuckled. "Yes, I could, if I had their phone number. Besides, if you want to find a Nosferatu, this is where you have to be. Any other way and it's the Nosferatu that finds you. Besides, if Jessica really is a world-ending demon, I wanna know about it. I've got enough problems here on the Hellmouth. I don't need yet another Saturday morning cartoon villain trying to destroy the world. I swear, it's like Pinky and the Brain every week around here. 'What are we going to do tonight Brain? Why, take over the world of course!'"

Allandra smiled at that. She licked her lips and began. "Xander, I want to know something, if it's alright with you?"

Xander nodded absently. "Yeah, sure, shoot."

Allandra bit her lip, and spoke quietly. "Do you feel anything for me?"

Xander stopped and turned, his eyes questioning. "Yeah, I feel for you. Maybe if I was still a human being I'd know for sure if what I feel for you is real, and not just an echo of who I am. Was. Whatever. I'm not making much sense am I?"

Allandra furrowed her brow in confusion. Xander sighed and began to explain. "As a vampire, it's not easy for me to connect my feelings with other people sometimes. There's times when I don't feel much of anything, and it's only because I remember and know what I've lost I feel anything. Or so I think, I'm not sure. It's like aside from some basics, some of my emotions just aren't there at times. Anger, rage, fear, those easily come to the surface. But the other things, caring, forgiveness, compassion, they often just don't rise to the surface in me when they used to. I feel for you, Allandra. I think I can grow to love you, but I need to know if the feeling in me is a genuine one. I need to know if there's enough humanity left in me to truly love you, and not fool myself into thinking I do."

Allandra nodded slowly, tears welling up in her eyes. Xander moved close to her and hugged her gently, patting her on the back as Allandra fought her emotions for control. He spoke quietly to her. "I wish I could say for sure that I love you, Allandra. You're beautiful, smart and helpful. I know if you came onto me when I was still alive I'd be doing cartwheels in joy. Yes, even with the wings."

She smiled into his shoulder at that, but her heart still felt like lead in her chest. "But you're saying you can't feel that way now, because you're a vampire. You're saying you don't know what you feel because you feel you've lost who you are." She pulled back from him and looked into his eyes. "Don't you see, Xander? You haven't lost who you are. You only think you have. Your heart is still strong, even though it doesn't beat anymore. You leapt to my aid when we first met without hesitation. You stopped Buffy because you loved her."

He blinked at that. She smiled at him slightly. "Yes Xander. I know you loved her. You loved her so much that you didn't want her to live on as a corrupted reflection of herself. You loved her so much you were willing to forever let her go. You killed her because you loved who she was, and I know while it was hard to kill that thing wearing her face, you did it because your heart is great. I love you for your heart, Xander. I love you for who you are, not just who you were.

Whatever you may become, I will still love you. I'm hoping that you can bring yourself to know if you can love another. Even if it's not with me, I want you to be able to be happy."

With that she slowly removed herself from his embrace and continued down the sewer tunnel, leaving Xander to collect his wits. A few seconds later, he squeaked out, "Hey! Wait for me!" And ran after her, his feet clunking on the ground as he followed her trail.

Unknown to either of them, the wraith of Buffy Summers had watched the entire ordeal, and she crossed her non-corporeal arms. Smiling to herself, she spoke into the darkness of the spirit world. "You go girl. It's about time you made him open his eyes. He's a great catch, a bit dense, but with such a big heart. Kinda wish I could be there for the wedding, but hey, we of the dead can't have everything."

With Xander's love to her finally acknowledged and brought to light in him, Xander's soul made another step towards reclaiming the humanity he'd lost on the night of his Embrace into the Brujah Clan. With this task done, Buffy smiled as she felt the last thing holding her spirit to the world was finally released. As her form was enveloped by white light, she felt the promise of things to come, things laid out in advance for the vampire who'd once called her his hero, and unknowingly to him, he became hers. In the dark world of the dead souls and spirits, she vanished completely, finally now going onto her eternal reward.


Vanessa patrolled Sunnydale, relying on his aural sense to guide her as she moved through the graveyards. Ever since it was confirmed Jack had died in the hospital fire, she was overcome with several hard, conflicting feelings.

Her rational side argued that Xander was right in not turning her teacher into a vampire. It wasn't a way to live, she couldn't see her Master being happy as an undead, bloodsucking creature of the night. Xander, while he joked around and felt strong, filled with some hope, didn't feel happy. He was right in that he felt cold and cursed.

Her emotional side didn't simply argue. It raged. Had Xander chosen to turn Jack that night, he would still be alive and with her. Damn Xander for not doing what she asked of him when he had the chance. Now the one person she looked upon as a father figure in her life was dead and it was because the vampire didn't want Master Morris to suffer. How much did he suffer as his flesh burned off of him, as his organs boiled and body blackened from the intense flames? How much pain was he in as he desperately tried to crawl away from the fire, his legs dragging uselessly behind him?

Pausing at a mausoleum, she leaned against the wall as she tried to collect her thoughts. 'It's not right to place blame. Xander didn't know Master Morris would be in a fire that night any more than I did. It couldn't have been stopped. I just wish he was still here with me. I wish I was a better Slayer, if I was I'd have been able to defeat Beth myself and he never would have gotten hurt.'

Sighing heavily, she spoke to herself out loud. "Master, I wish you were here right now. I never got the chance to say goodbye, and I miss you so much."

Her aural senses screamed an instant of warning at her, and she instinctively dived into a roll, coming up to her feet as an assailant came at her with shocking speed and strength. She blocked one blow, dodged another, lifted her leg to parry a third and retaliated with a roundhouse kick that sent her opponent back three feet into the wall of the mausoleum.

She stopped in shock as she gained a good look at her enemy's face, and he grinned at her. Her aural senses told her this was a creature of darkness, an enemy of great power and skill, one to be reckoned with and defeated without mercy. Her eyes told her a very different story.

Kail the Devil Knight spoke snidely to the Slayer. "Good to see you, Vanessa. You're still dropping your elbow. I think I'll fix that." He rose his hands into an unfamiliar fighting stance, and Vanessa felt something within her respond. She growled at him and attacked, her fists whirling towards the creature that wore Jack's face. Kail ducked under her first attack, slamming his palms into her belly. She barely felt it, however, and quickly delivered a knee to his face.

Kail fell back, landing on the grass with a grunt. Vanessa moved with rage driving her now, rage coming from a source she didn't know.

She rose a foot to stomp on Kail's head, which would have likely shattered his skull and whatever contents within, when a sudden blow to the head from elsewhere knocked her off her feet.

As Vanessa fell to the ground, she quickly rolled back to her feet, her balance almost completely compromised as she felt blood running down her face. Through her bleary eyes, she could see Jack and Oz smiling at her, the werewolf armed with a baseball bat. She narrowed her eyes in confusion, not quite capable of thinking clearly with the concussion. Jack moved in, swinging a backhand at her face. Vanessa tried to grab his arm, but with her depth perception messed up, she overestimated and Jack easily changed his angle of attack. He got past her defenses and landed a blow on the side of her head, knocking her out.

Goral shook his head at Kail. "You know man, that was pretty pathetic. She nearly had you back in Hell only a few days after you got outta there. Were you asleep at the switch or what? I've seen you fight demon dragons on your own and come out on top."

Kail snarled at his brother Devil Knight. "Hey, my host taught her the value of self control at all times. I didn't expect her to go berserker on me. I did see something familiar though, and now I know why. No wonder she got pissed."

Goral laughed at Kail. "You're damn right. I wondered what happened to him, back in the day. Didn't you sleep with his wife?"

Kail shrugged. "And knocked her up. A few thousand times. What's your point?"

Goral snickered. "Nothing, nothing at all. Just saying you got what you deserved man. I'd say it'd be a good idea for you to stay out of the way until the master's done with her. She's liable to take your head off if you come in at the wrong time."

Kail rolled his eyes. "Gee Goral, got anything else extremely obvious to say? Why don't you go and jump in a pool of liquid nitrogen, I hear it's rather refreshing."

Goral shrugged. "Nah, don't feel like it." The Devil Knight possessing the werewolf picked up the unconscious Slayer and began walking towards the church Ifrit used as his home. Kail muttered to himself as he followed, the tatters of his dignity trailing behind him.