Jimmy Volano’s Suite – Evening
“What are your intentions?” Angella asked calmly, as Jimmy Volano stormed into his suite with a bulky bag over his shoulder.
“My intentions?” he shouted. “That damned Council’s taking me apart! They cleaned out five of my places in broad daylight. They don’t care who sees them; the cops are on their payroll anyway! I just got news that they hit the casino –”
“Then they will have destroyed the portal circles in the subterranean site there,” Angella commented. “Unfortunate.”
“Unfortunate?” Volano exclaimed. “Do you have any idea, any idea, how much that place raked in for me? Per week? They left it in flames. They got Frankie in their cells, god only knows what’s happened to Johnnie, seeing as he ain’t called in since midday. What the hell have you gotten me involved in? These people ain’t a goddamn ‘organization.’ They’re special ops on steroids! And they’ll be here next. They’re searching the tunnels your people dug, so it won’t take ’em long to figure there’s stuff underground here too. Damn it, they’re going to ruin me!”
“I remind you,” Angella said sternly, “that it was your insistence on damaging the Council that precipitated their current vehemence. You were aware there would be consequences for making an attempt on the life of one of their operatives, regardless of whether it succeeded or failed.”
“This is not my fault!” Volano snapped.
“My Mistress,” Angella continued, “is quite displeased at the loss of her Changeling. She does not hold you directly accountable, but you had a part to play. You cannot absolve yourself of responsibility with denials.” A thin smile crossed her features. “Even your God demands penance for the sins you commit. Why should we forgive for less?”
“Fine,” Volano growled. “You want this mess solved? They’re looking for their girl, right? Give her to them. Dump her on some street corner –”
“We will not,” Angella said flatly.
Volano stared at her, then turned back to his desk, unzipped his bag and drew out a bulky assault rifle. “I don’t like it when people say no to me,” he said quietly. “You and I get along well, but that rule applies to you the same as anyone else.” He looked over his shoulder at Angella, then slotted a clip into the rifle and turned to bring it to bear on her.
“One girl is not worth my entire organization,” he said. “Not some slayer…not even you, babe. This is where you say yes.”
“No,” Angella said calmly.
“Fine,” Volano replied. With no further hesitation, he brought the rifle to his shoulder and fired a burst at point-blank range into her head, sending her toppling backwards. Volano looked at her ruefully, then shrugged.
“Didn’t my pappy say so?” he mused, turning to his desk and laying the rifle down. “Don’t mix business with pleasure. It just makes it sting when you gotta terminate the contract.”
“I do not suffer from that failing.”
Volano whirled around in shock to see Angella on her feet again, advancing on him.
“Jesus Christ!” he swore, staring into the gory cavity torn out of the right side of her head.
“No, merely a servant of my Mistress,” Angella said, the torn side of her mouth adding an odd distortion to her voice. She reached out with one hand, grabbed the side of Volano’s head, and twisted. There was a crack, and he collapsed lifeless to the floor.
Angella stepped over him and picked up the rifle he had left on the table. She looked up, her one eye swiveling towards the door, as shouts and gunfire echoed distantly from outside.
Underground Tunnel – Same Time
Coated in a camouflage of dark green and black demon blood, Faith made her way from shadow to shadow in the rough tunnel, following the upward slant. She rounded a corner and let out a breath at the sight of daylight ahead.
Volano’s Warehouse – Same Time
Several men armed with handguns listened nervously, as the chatter of gunfire from outside waned and fell silent. They exchanged glances, then one shrugged and moved toward the door leading outside. Before he had gone more than a few steps, however, the door exploded inwards. Then there was a muffled thud-thud-thud sound, and three canisters spewing thick white smoke flew into the large room.
“Gas!” one of the guards yelled.
“Hands in the air!” Mia’s voice sounded through the quickly spreading clouds. “Anyone shoots, we drop him!”
Most of the guards were already consumed by fits of coughing, but one managed to raise his weapon and let off a shot in the general direction of the door. An answering burst of fire knocked him from his feet. He was dead before he finished collapsing.
Several Black Ops slayers, armored and wearing gas masks, emerged from the smoke. Quickly, the coughing men were thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
“Don’t!” Mia warned, bringing her rifle to bear on a guard with his hand still beneath his jacket. He froze in the act of reaching for his gun, stared at her in shock, then carefully removed his hand, empty. Janet appeared behind him, disarmed him, then roughly cuffed him, before pushing him over to where his companions were being herded out of the building.
Other slayers appeared from the doorway, pulling the prisoners out as the gas dispersed, and the Black Ops team moved further into the building. They all removed their masks, checking every doorway and hiding spot as they went.
“Mia,” Janet warned, indicating ahead of her. Mia looked to see a rough hole bored through the concrete floor, into the earth beneath.
“Same drill as before,” Mia ordered. “Secure the hole, clear the building, then we go down. Janet, Francesca, stay here. We’ll clear –” She broke off and raised her weapon as a door on the far side of the room opened.
Underground Tunnel – Same Time
The tunnel narrowed and slanted at a greater angle as it neared the surface, requiring Faith to clamber up the rough-hewn steps on her hands and knees.
“Come on baby,” she muttered to herself. “Come on, not far now…”
With a final effort, she heaved herself out of the hole and stood, staring around herself. The triumphant grin on her face faded to confusion, as she saw the deep red sky above and the distant shapes of winged creatures circling among the clouds. Beneath them, surrounding her, were the jagged spires of a hellish city, fashioned from black wood and iron, decorated with burning torches and rotting bodies hung on metal frames.
Faith slumped to her knees, dropping her head and giving a weary sigh. She fell over to the ground and closed her eyes. Footsteps approached and she continued to lie still, with eyes closed. When she opened them, she found something standing above her, shadowing her.
“Hello, slayer,” the voice said.
“Oh God,” Faith sighed.
Volano’s Warehouse – Same Time
“What the hell are you?” Mia demanded. She stared in controlled horror at Angella, with her ruined face. The woman gave Mia the barest glance, then looked away from her and began walking calmly towards the tunnel bored into the ground.
“Stay where you are!” Mia demanded, as she and the other Black Ops slayers aimed their weapons. Without breaking stride, or even looking at her targets, Angella raised Volano’s rifle and fired it one-handed.
“Take her down!” Mia yelled, as she and the others dove for cover. She and Janet fired at Angella, both hitting her. Their bullets sent tiny sprays of blood into the air as their bullets impacted. Angella staggered, then recovered and continued on her way.
“We need backup. We’ve got a demon!” Mia called through her radio.
Cleveland Street – Same Time
Kennedy and Robin both heard the call over the radio and looked at each other.
“One block over,” she told him.
“Let’s go,” he nodded, as he took off into a sprint.
Volano’s Warehouse – Same Time
Aiming carefully at the demon, Mia fired again. This time her bullets smacked into Angella’s outstretched arm. Some tore at her wrist, while others hit her rifle, breaking open its casing.
Angella frowned at the weapon, then tossed it away. When she looked back up, Mia and Janet stood between her and the tunnel entrance, while other slayers moved in to back them up.
“Very well,” she said to herself, walking towards them. Mia and Janet attacked first, Janet aiming a sweeping kick at the woman’s legs, while Mia punched her in the jaw. Angella ignored the effects of both attacks, standing her ground as Janet’s foot slammed uselessly into her shin, while grabbing Mia’s hand as she turned her head to absorb the blow. She used it to pull Mia closer, and in one quick motion grabbed her hip, lifted her off her feet and threw her at the other slayers. Three of them were sent sprawling.
Kennedy and Robin raced in at the same time to see the melee. They had little time to look astonished before Angella swept her leg up, thudding into Janet’s stomach and propelling her back into two more slayers. They crashed into Kennedy on their way to the ground.
“Back!” coughed Mia, waving frantically. “Everyone back! Francesca, hit her! Before she gets to the hole!”
The slayers scrambled to their feet and retreated, while Francesca pulled a red-tipped grenade from her bandolier and loaded it into her launcher. She glanced at the slayers, seeing they had moved far enough away, then aimed squarely at Angella and fired.
Angella’s head snapped around as she heard the weapon fire, and in the split second it took for the projectile to reach her she swung her arm out at it, catching it out of mid-air. Then the missile exploded, sending Angella hurtling to the ground without an arm.
“Holy crap,” Mia swore, as Angella got to her feet again, barely bleeding from the torn remains of her shoulder. She leapt the final distance to the hole in the ground. Mia looked sidelong at Kennedy, who was still getting back to her feet. “I’m out of ideas. You wanna try turning into a bear?”
“Tempting,” Kennedy coughed.
“All right, after her!” Mia finally ordered. “And careful! You see anything that looks like a portal circle, break it!”
The slayers formed up, Black Ops first, and started descending into the underground.
Volano’s Warehouse – Later
Willow pulled up in her car, and Giles looked on anxiously as slayers filed out of the building. Kennedy and Mia were the last to leave, following Robin. The slayer gave the two watchers a glum look when she saw them.
“Hardcore Chick got away,” Kennedy said, slumping dejectedly against a wall. “There were portals down there. We broke the circled ones, but she must’ve already gone through one of them.”
At first Giles just glared sternly, first at Kennedy and then at Robin.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
Robin scratched at the back of his neck. “We, uh, decided to go get a pizza and, uh, we heard the call come in, so we thought we’d check it out,” he answered.
“Pizza?” Giles asked skeptically.
Willow sighed and looked at Giles.
“Anyway, was there any sign of Faith?” Giles asked quietly. Kennedy shook her head.
“If they kept anyone down there, they didn’t leave any trace. Just weapons and glyphs carved in the rock, like the other places,” Mia answered.
“Volano?” Willow asked. “Did we get him?”
“Heli’s team found him,” Giles said somberly. “His neck was broken. We have his, um, records and computers, though. We might find…” He shrugged.
“We’ll find something,” Willow said nervously. “Or-or one of the guys we captured will talk. They’ll know where Faith is…they might.”
“We won’t overlook anything,” Giles promised, but the sad frown never left his face.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Later that Night
The group of watchers and slayers entered the Council lobby, shoulders slumped, as the members of the Coven walked up to greet them.
“No good news, I take it?” Andrew asked.
Willow simply shook her head. Jeff walked over to Willow slowly.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asked sincerely.
“Yes, get some rest,” she told Jeff. Then she looked at the others behind him. “That goes for all of you, too. Tomorrow we’ll try to work a little magic ourselves. See what we can come up with, okay?” Willow tried to sound optimistic, but everyone simply nodded, without looking very hopeful.
Suddenly the front door opened, and everyone turned at the loud noise. Nestled on Brell’s shoulder was a battered and exhausted-looking Faith.
“Faith!” Robin yelled, and rushed forward.
“No!” Brell yelled, but it was too late.
Faith pushed the demon aside and landed a right hook to Robin’s jaw before he could get too close. Shocked, Robin sat on the ground, holding his cheek. Faith scurried back toward the nearest corner of the lobby and crouched, her eyes furtively scanning the room. She seemed more like a caged animal than a slayer.
“Pretty Slayer very wild,” Brell said, holding his arms wide in apology.
Willow and Giles looked at each other with concern before looking back at Faith, who now stood with her arms up, ready for a fight. But almost as soon as she raised her hands, she lowered them and started to wobble. With everyone afraid to go near her, she collapsed to the floor, unconscious.
End of Resistance
Next on Watchers…
When Xander and Vi’s hot dates turn out to be with the same gender-bending demon, hijinks ensue, and possibly dire consequences. Meanwhile, Rowena and Kennedy have to find a way to get along in the woods long enough to hunt a monster.