The monsters had cleared the streets. There had been hundreds, no, thousands of humans and demons grafted together. Giles hadn't been able to tell if the bits of machinery they'd been merged with had made them seem more human or less, now that they were no longer human. He'd had plenty of time to think on it. Days had passed since Faith had, impossibly in this chaos, found him, led him to the Mayor's magicked hideaway, and left to, as she'd put it, "scope out the sitch."
He'd told her not to go. Buffy had failed, even with Spike to back her up. Perhaps he shouldn't have mentioned that. Faith had seemed to take it as a challenge. "Hey, my chops are equal to B's. Better."
"Faith, if you're captured, you know what they'll do."
She'd grown suddenly serious at his words and had held up a grenade. "I'm not going down that way." She'd handed him one as well. "Just in case."
He tried again. "I don't believe Adam knows much about magic. The Initiative wouldn't have. With any luck he hasn't converted any truly skilled magic users. We have to get this information out to the Council, to the Coven. It could be a weapon. It could be our only effective weapon."
"I'm just skipping out for a looksie. I'll be back before you know it."
That had been days ago.
The monsters had cleared the streets. For days they'd been hunting, dragging humans and demons back toward the campus. Now they were gone, and Giles didn't know why. He thought they might want him. Before Faith had arrived, when he'd been hiding as best he could in cellars and attics, Giles had seen them carting out the magic books from his library, but the books wouldn't make sense, not unless you'd been trained. Magic users were an esoteric lot. They hid their knowledge under layers of symbolism.
They'd captured Willow. He'd seem them drag her away. She was powerful, damned powerful, but she didn't have his training. Xander had run out after Willow. He'd gone in swinging. They'd dragged him away as well. Giles thought that perhaps he didn't want to live in a world that didn't have Xander's bantering jokes in it.
The monsters have cleared the streets, but now there's a cry, a child's voice, drawn out, shouting for comfort. "Mommy!"
Giles looks out the window, knowing he's invisible from the street. Good Lord, it is a child, a little girl. Her blonde hair is disheveled, half in a pony tail, half not. She's wearing only one shoe. When she rubs her nose, something glitters. Giles pulls out the binoculars. Her hand isn't a hand. Fingers have been replaced with metal claws. Her one shoe, the green one, isn't a shoe at all but the foot of a demon.
For a moment he's distracted by the strategy. Converting a child. Using the nurturing instinct against humanity, but also a child, being so small, can go places larger monsters can't. And then he barely makes it to the toilet before spewing out green bile. When his stomach is empty, Giles returns to the window. He doesn't want to see but can't keep away. A woman rushes out into the street, running for the girl. Good Lord, he'd thought he was the only human left. He could have saved her if he'd had the courage to go looking.
Monsters swarm out of nowhere, dragging the woman away. They plow into the building she'd come out of, going straight through the walls, and pull out three more humans. Then the street is empty again except for the little girl. Once again she cries, calling out as if desperate. "Mommy."
The streets may be empty, but Sunnydale has one last defender left. Giles sets the crystal on the floor before him, surrounding it with four candles to create a sacred space. He'll have to be quick. Adam must have magic users searching for him. He can't hide himself and reach outside of Sunnydale. He speaks the words that will activate the crystal and feels his thoughts flying on the wind. Agatha.
What? She's confused and not a little irritated.
No time, just listen. He sends his conjectures, everything he knows about Adam and everything he supposes, pouring into her mind. He can feel her protesting at first but then she catches up, sees what he sees, knows what he knows.
He can hear a pounding on the side of the building. He pours the last of the thoughts into Agatha.
We can get you out, she says. Teleport you.
Giles pats the grenade Faith had left with him. There's no time. The wall crashes in. Giles holds the grenade in one hand and pulls the pin.