Xander has a run in with the Initiative that could break up the gang.
Note - thoughts
Everyone was still in a state of shock over Anya's revelation. Everyone but Giles as he stared at Willow.
Giles saw the stony expression on her face but his attention was drawn to her eyes. He saw the color slowly bled from them until only blackness remained. It reminded him of Amy Madison during that awful love spell debacle. He could still see Amy's black eyes as Xander clamped his hand over the girl's mouth to keep her from casting a spell on Jenny Calendar.
Moving quickly, Giles stood in front of Willow just as a shimmering wave of force flowed out of the wiccan. Giles met the wave head on and was frozen in place. Willow simply stepped around the immobile man and focused her sights on the ex-daemon. Joyce Summers stood up to block Willow but one glance from the smaller woman sent Joyce back down on the couch.
Willow's black eyes flitted between Joyce and Giles for a second. Satisfied that neither would be able to stop her, Willow turned back to Anya only to find her path blocked once again. Willow's face changed from impassive to confusion when she realized who was before her. "Tara?"
Tara nervously held her ground. She had felt a dark power rise up in Willow that scared her witless and while Tara didn't want to know what Willow was planning to do to Anya, she couldn't just stand by and let the first true friend she's ever had destroy herself. "W-W-Willow. Please d-don't do this."
"Get out of my way Tara." Willow whispered.
"No." Tara replied with a surprising amount of firmness.
Willow raised her hand but Tara stood her ground. Determined to stop Willow from hurting herself or Anya, Tara clasped Willow's hand with one her own. To Tara's shock, she could feel the power that was fueled by the redhead's heated emotions flow into her. The sudden influx of energy threatened to consume Tara and she instinctively redirected the energy back through her connection with Willow.
Willow's eyes widened as she felt her own power falling back into her. The energy filled almost to the breaking point before moving back through the girls' hands and into Tara. This feedback loop continued as the intensity of the energy grew.
With Willow distracted, Giles found himself able to move once again. Glancing to the couch, Giles found both Joyce and Anya unharmed but what caught his attention was Willow and Tara. They stood face to face, each holding the others hand seemingly paralyzed while a red glow passed back and forth between the two. The girls' faces were screwed up in pain though neither uttered a sound and each time the glow centered on one of the girls, the brightness intensified. Giles grabbed the arms of both girls attempting to pull them apart.
Anya recovered enough to shout a warning to Giles but was too late. The former Watcher was sent flying across the room, repelled by the energy holding the two Wiccans. Joyce went to check on Giles leaving Anya alone on the couch to stare at Willow and Tara.
"Anya," Joyce yelled, getting the girl's attention. "Giles is unconscious. What can we do?"
Anya turned back to the witches. The exchange of energy between the two sped up considerably after Giles tried to interfere. She knew that Giles had the right idea but he went about it all wrong. Some magiks can only be controlled with a trinity. Forgetting her pain and despair temporarily, Anya moved next to Tara and grasped her free hand in her left one.
"Don't touch them Anya!"
Anya heard Joyce's scream as she grabbed Willow's free hand in her right forming the connection with the other two. Instantly Anya was flooded with an immense power that threatened to tear apart her very being. The energies were wild and unfocused. Almost primal. The power that Willow had called upon was dark but what should have been a simple spell had changed into something more powerful than anything Anya had ever seen a mere mortal conjure.
Tara changed it somehow. Amplified it. To Anya the rush of energy was intoxicating. She hadn't felt like this since before she became human. Bending her mind to the task at hand, Anya concentrated on the swirl of magical force the was coursing through the three of them.
Anya knew that she had to find some way fast to release the energy soon before it ended up killing her along with Tara and Willow but she kept getting distracted by a small voice in the back of her mind. A voice that Anya remembered hearing as she ran from Xander. A voice that got stronger and louder with each pulse of energy that swept through her, demanding answers as to how she would betray Xander the way she did. A voice that screamed 'Why!'.
Before Anya realized what was happening, the power surged one last time as it latched onto that plea and left her. Anya was dimly aware of her body falling as a numbing darkness swept over her.
Joyce was scared.
Unable to stop Anya from joining with Willow and Tara, Joyce could only watch as all three girls were enveloped in a blood red haze. Joyce left Giles where he was and moved closer to the girls. Before Joyce got within a foot of the trio, she was blinded by a sudden bright flash of light. When her vision cleared, Joyce found Willow, Tara and Anya sprawled out on the floor.
Joyce went to check on them and breathed a heavy sigh of relief at finding them alive. With everyone unconscious, the elder Summers sank down onto the floor next to Giles and looked about the room at a complete loss of what to do. "Oh Buffy. Where are you?" Joyce asked, wishing that her daughter was here.
Unknown to Joyce, a robed figure had appeared inside the doorway of Giles' bedroom and was silently watching the group from the top of the stairs
Awareness came slowly to Buffy. She could feel a numbness in her arms and legs in addition to the intense pressure she felt on her stomach. Opening her eyes, Buffy found herself dangling over a thick tree branch, more than a dozen feet off the ground. A wave of vertigo instantly come over Buffy and she unconsciously lifted her hands up to her face. The simple action of lifting her arms shifted her weight on the tree limb. Before Buffy realized it, she slid over the side and landed hard on the ground.
Not moving from where she landed, Buffy remained on her back and stared up at the night sky in a daze. Her hand shakily moved to her throat, feeling the large, wet fabric that was wrapped around her neck. She felt a sliver of fear enter her heart when looked down at her reddish colored hand.
Buffy slowly climbed to her feet. Her body felt like one giant bruise, Buffy leaned against the tree and closed her eyes. She tried to lose herself in one of the meditations that Giles had tried to teach her, hoping that it would let her enhanced healing start to work on her body. An indeterminate time later a sound of a gun being fired off in the distance startling Buffy, reminding her of the fight that she was forcefully ejected from.
Buffy looked around noticing for the first time that several broken tree branches littered the ground in one direction. Buffy gazed at the trees above and saw the jagged edges of broken tree limbs. Guessing that was the way she came, Buffy stubbornly pushed herself off the tree and even though she was physically if not emotionally exhausted, Buffy started jogging back the way she came.
In Buffy's mind, time seemed to crawl to a snail's pace. Buffy could hear the growing sounds of fighting as she got closer and she was worried. Worried about Xander. No matter what was happening with Xander, Buffy didn't want him to get hurt and right now Xander was alone with a chipless Spike.
Buffy heard a scream echo in the night causing her heart to beat faster. Fearing the worst, Buffy ran faster despite the exhaustion she felt. As she ran, an image of what Spike looked like in his crypt appeared in Buffy mind and she remembered Spike claiming that Xander did that to him. No. There's no way Xander could've done that.. to.. Buffy's thought trailed off as she skidded to a halt. Before her was a sight that she thought that she would never see. Xander holding his own in a fight with Spike.
Xander had a small black box in one hand and an Initiative blaster in the other which he was continuously firing as he followed Spike around the clearing, leaving black scorch marks on trees or setting bushes and smaller plants on fire. Buffy watched as Xander managed to clip Spike a couple of times but they were glancing shots at best.
But Spike did give as good as he got, tagging Xander pretty good with a solid punch to the stomach that Xander managed to roll with before touching Spike's arm with the black object he held in his hand. There was a brief crackling noise before Spike jerked his arm away from Xander and backed off.
"What's the matter Spike? Afraid of a little electricity?" Xander asked.
Spike slowed down and began walking in a circle around Xander. "Just biding my time whelp. Your toys will run out of juice sooner or later," he snarled.
Buffy found herself frozen to the spot unable to do anything but watch as the scene before her unfolded. Both Xander and Spike silently watched each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. Buffy suddenly had a bad feeling when Xander lowered his weapon. Even Spike, confused at Xander's actions, slowed to a stop as he wondered at what the human was trying to do. He didn't have to wait long.
Xander grinned impishly. "Hey Spike."
"What," Spike answered warily.
"Tell me something. If you're such a 'Big Bad', how come Drusilla dropped your ass for the first slime daemon she saw."
"You little prat!" Spike snarled as he launched a powerful punch at Xander. A punch that missed only because Buffy had rushed forward and knocked Xander out of the way. Then she turned to Spike, delivering a back hand punch to the surprised vampire's face followed quickly by another punch and was soon trading blows with Spike. As the fight continued Buffy could feel her body tiring. Buffy believed that if she didn't find way to get Xander and herself away from Spike then there was a very good chance that they would die.
Marcus Tyler was seething with anger.
"That Bitch," Marcus muttered. That was only the latest, and probably not the last, barb that he threw the Slayer's way since waking up alone in that crypt. Marcus had wasted a lot of time searching the area around the crypt for any clues as to where Summers or the vampire were and he probably would have given up if he hadn't heard the faint but unmistakable sound of a gun being fired echo in the night.
More sounds erupted in the distance and it didn't take him long to recognize the electrical discharge of Initiative weaponry being fired. Now he was running, wondering that another team close by had come across his hostile or something else. Marcus slowed down when he heard a completely different sound coming from his left. Shining his light at the area, Marcus found a body of an Initiative soldier. Soft moans coming from the prone body told him that the person was alive.
The crackle of electricity erupted from behind Marcus, startling the commando. He paused, indecision about leaving a wounded soldier behind. Running at his top speed, Marcus reached the area and found Buffy Summers fighting the same vampire that was feeding off her before. There was another civilian on the ground behind them and there was several bodies lying about. Marcus recognized their garments as standard Initiative uniforms. Carefully, Marcus withdrew his sidearm from it's holster and fired it up in the air.
The civilian froze where he was but the vampire and Buffy continued to fight. Marcus went to the two soldiers closet to him and quickly checked for signs of life. Marcus' face was grim as he picked up a discarded blaster. Turning to the fight Marcus stared daggers at the vampire bring the weapon to bear. He raised the intensity of the blaster to it's highest level and fired. The blaster's energy arced forward, striking not the Slayer or Vampire but at the ground near their feet. Clumps of grass and dirt exploded outward, knocking both combatants to the ground.
When the dust settled Marcus got a clear look at the newly healed vampire and with a shock, recognized him. Marcus immediately thumbed on his radio. "Base, this is Agent Tyler. I have an Alpha Blue emergency."
[ What's your situation? ]
"I have located Hostile 17 in Sector Nine. I also have five personel down; one unconscious, two dead and two unknown. Buffy Summers and a civilian are present also."
[ Understood. A team is en route to your position for capture and quarantine. ]
"Did ya hear that Spike?" the boy on the ground asked, laughing. "They're gonna take you back and put you in a leash so tight, you won't be able to hurt anything; dead or alive."
"Shut up Harris!" Hostile 17 growled. "I'm free of that sodding chip and I'm going to stay that way."
Harris? Marcus stared at the boy, surprised at his luck in finding both H-17 and C-36.
Marcus turned his attention back to the vampire when it's words 'I'm free of that sodding chip' registered in his mind. If the chip that was implanted in Hostile 17's head is no longer functioning, that puts a whole new spin on this. To Marcus the recapture of Hostile 17 took precedence over recovering an escaped civilian.
"Base, the civilian is C-36, and Hostile 17 is uncontrollable. I repeat; Uncontrollable."
[ Understood. ]
Laying on the ground where she fell, Buffy was half-listening to the commando's conversation as her body tried to recuperate from all the injuries she's sustained today. But when Buffy heard the word quarantine mentioned, her mind instantly became alert, recalling a time from back before she knew about the Initiative.
The lights were out as Buffy entered the hall of her building. Several Commandos wearing night vision goggles are wrestling with Spike in the hall in front of her dorm room. Spike slams one Commando into a wall. "It's on me!"
Spike tries bite him but grabs his head in pain. "Aah!"
"Move!" The commandos moved in on Spike. The vampire struggles but is eventually contained.
"Bag it, tag it. We're gone. Sir, civilian. Could have turned." the commando said motioning to Willow sitting in the corner by her door.
"We can't neglect quarantine, sir!"
"Wait a minute." Buffy Summers faced the commando. "What exactly do you mean by 'quarantine'?"
Marcus took a step backwards, keeping his weapon pointed at her. "Back up Summers. Now."
Buffy simply stopped where she was. "Answer me."
"Exactly what it sounds like," Xander spoke up. "A team will come in, capture a vampire or daemon and take along with any civilians in the area that might have been infected back to the Initiative. Isn't that right Agent Tyler?"
Marcus nodded, "Which is where you're supposed to be Harris."
Xander shrugged. "What can I say? The beds were uncomfortable, I mean you might as well be sleeping on the floor, not to mention that the room service was terrible"
Spike laughed. "Wait a minute. Are you telling me that Droopy here is wanted by you guys? Is there a reward?"
Xander barked out a laugh. "Yeah Spike, They'll give you a new shiny chip for that sorry excuse for a brain of yours."
"SHUT UP!" Buffy demanded, throwing a glare at both Spike and Xander before turning back to the commando. "Is Xander right? Do you guys capture regular humans too?"
Marcus studied the Slayer for a second. "It's SOP that any possibly infected humans found in the vicinity of a capture are to be taken into custody, just like your friend Harris was." Marcus then turned to Xander. "By the way, you managed to stir up a hornet's nest when you escaped. Walsh wants you back badly."
Xander shrugged. "It's so nice to feel appreciated by your enemies, if not by your friends."
Buffy winced at the comment but kept attention on the commando. "Are you telling me that the Initiative took Xander against his will?"
Xander snorted loudly as Marcus simply said, "It's Standard Operating Procedure for that type of situation."
Buffy felt her heart clench. The whole scene with her, Riley and Xander flashed in her mind leaving her lost in a swirl of emotions. What Xander had said to Riley the other night echoed in her mind. ('I was captured and brought to your base. Then I was put through God knows how many tests. Now I'm being hunted like a dog just because I don't like to be held against my will.')
Xander was telling the truth.
Buffy coudn't believe that Riley would lie to her. Angry tears started to fall but then she remembered what Xander had said to her. ('I told you what happened and I did my best to get here and warn you that Riley was going to be lied to by his Army buddies. I'm trying to save you a lot of grief when you learn the truth of what happened.')
Guilt caused by the irony of that last statement overwhelmed Buffy. Xander had come to help her and Riley that night but she didn't want to believe him and now, things were all wrong. She had fought with Xander and with Willow straining both friendships. Even though Buffy wished that she could go back and do things differently, a small voice in her mind kept reminding her that something about Xander was different. That Xander's sudden ability to fight was not normal.
So wrapped up in her emotions, Buffy barely heard Xander as he spoke to Spike. "Wow, just when you thought dealing with me was bad enough, now you have to deal with both the Slayer and the Initiative also. Your night keeps getting worse and worse doesn't it Spike."
"I hate to spoil your fun but," Marcus said, preventing Spike from responding. "I'm taking both you and the Hostile 17 back."
"Like hell you are." Both Xander and Spike said at the same time. Both the human and the vampire glared at each other then Xander grinned. "Awww. Is poor widdle Spikey afraid of the big bad commando?"
"That's it wanker!"
Spike tackled Xander to the ground. He pinned Xander's arms to the ground and was just about to bite him when he was dragged off of Xander by his feet. Twisting around, Spike freed his right leg but found the other firmly held in Buffy's grasp. Spike yanked his leg away from Buffy and then, using the same leg, kicked her in the gut. Buffy staggered back several feet which gave Spike time to get up.
Marcus watched as the two stared at each other like two tom cats fighting over territory. It didn't matter to him if they fought since it kept them here. He knew that it wouldn't take long for a team to get here from the base. Sooner if there was a team already in the field.
Riley moved quietly from graveyard to graveyard hoping to either find his girlfriend or relieve some serious stress on the local undead. So far he had managed to eliminate a couple of fledglings but he didn't know where Buffy was.
Not wanting to give up just yet, Riley decided to call Willow for help. He was just pulling out his cell phone when it shrilled loudly in his hand. Riley stared blankly at it for a few seconds as shivers of dread went up and down his spine. "Finn."
[ Riley. ]
Graham. Riley felt himself relax a little, but only a little. "Yeah Graham. What's up?"
[ Just wanted to let you know that one of our people found your girlfriend in Sector Nine and she was fighting with Hostile 17. ]
"The chipped vampire that escaped? Well Buffy shouldn't have any problems -"
[ You're wrong. Reports say that the chip isn't working. ]
Riley gripped the phone hard. "What do you mean Hostile 17's chip isn't working?"
[ The agent that called it in witnessed H-17 made it very clear that the vampire was uncontrollable and that's not all. At least two of our people are dead. ]
"Damn! What does Professor Walsh plan to do?"
[ She doesn't know yet. I wanted to let you know first before I reported to her. ]
Riley thought for a moment. "You said they're in Sector Nine?"
[ Yeah, the east end, near the cemetery entrance. ]
"I'm not far from there. I'm heading over there now." Riley hung up, running at full speed.
When Riley disappeared into the night a man and a woman walked out from behind a large headstone. "Hostile 17," John said to his sister.
"This could be interesting," she replied with a smile and they both moved to follow Riley.
Elsewhere, a dark room was suddenly flooded with light as a door opened revealing two men and a woman.
"No," One of the men spoke in an exasperated tone of voice that indicated that this was an old arguement. The man turned on lights in the room as he strode towards a desk. "Sunnydale is off-limits for now. Ray isn't taking you or anyone else back there tonight."
The other man stood off to the side as the woman followed the first man. "But my dear boys are having fun without me and I want to play." The woman whined, stamping her foot like a little girl.
"I said no." the man sternly spoke as he picked up the phone off the desk. He dialed a number and waited for the line to be picked up. "Sir, everything is set up in Sunnydale... Yes, that group will be under your control soon... Yes sir, I'll ask her." The man cupped the phone in one hand and turned back to his companions only to find himself alone in the room.
He set the phone down and dashed into the hallway. Finding it empty, he walked back inside the room and reached for the phone. He waited a second to calm down before speaking. "Sir, we may have a problem."