Awakening the Phoenix

Title: Awakening the Phoenix

Author: Centauri2002

Feedback: Pretty please. Good or bad, I welcome it all. Hugs all round to those who do. Email is or just leave feedback here.

Spoiler Warning: Absolutely none.

Disclaimer: The characters of BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, ME, and co. I am only borrowing them, yada, yada, yada. However, if I did own them the fans would be a heck of a lot happier and maybe I should just sue you, Joss, for wrecking a damn good show. Ahem, anyway.

Couples: Ah, you'll have to find out.

Rating: PG-13. Though, no doubt, it will venture into NC-17 territory.

Summary: Sunnydale is not the place any human or even some demons might call safe. The town has been under the control of the more dominant demons for generations.

Authors Notes: This story is completely AU. Willow and Tara have never met (a storyline which I like to write about) and the Slayer isn't the all feared person she was in the show. This idea just popped into my head one morning and I had to write about it.

Dedication: To all the kittens, who make writing such wonderful fan fiction possible. I have received much inspiration from many kitties and I want to thank you all. And to my beta reader, Paul, who is an absolute saint!


The sight before her was chilling. The once grand buildings were now crumbled in despair and the once bustling streets were barren. The entire town was enveloped in a cloud of darkness and desolation, even in the daylight. She stood, frozen on the spot, unable to believe such a pleasant place could be changed so drastically. Even the trees drooped pitifully, their leaves long since shed or burned. An eerie silence covered this place and she was sure she would be able to hear someone breathing from several blocks away. If there was anyone left here to breathe. The hand of pity clutched at her heart as she took in her surroundings, wondering if there was a human left to inhabit many of the seemingly abandoned buildings. She looked up at a battered apartment block, taking in the shattered windows and cracked brickwork. Though she could not see who was inside, she could feel them. There were people here but the waves of fear that cascaded against her psyche from those scared individuals made that sense of relief seem misplaced.

It seemed that all hope for this unfortunate town was gone and the humans that remained were merely waiting for death to knock on their door. She wondered why she was here now then. Why should she have come to such a place? One glance to her right told her. Beside her stood a tall, beautiful, blonde woman. Her long tresses falling neatly down her back and her attractive features furrowed in concern. She wondered briefly about asking her what she was thinking but thought better of it. It was quite obvious really. The blonde woman was incredibly sensitive to the world around her. It was the ability she, herself, had inherited. Sometimes it was more of a curse than a gift but she could always appreciate it. It made her more aware of the hurt and suffering in the world. Most people either weren't aware of that pain, or didn't care. Sometimes, she thought the human race was worse than any of the demons.

She walked forwards, letting the woman at her side study their surroundings whilst she took a closer look at a newspaper stand. The kiosk had obviously long been deserted but she was surprised when she picked up one of the tattered newspapers that had amazingly not been blown away. It had been covered in plastic sheeting obviously for display purposes. The front page was dated to four months previously. Either, people decided that newspapers just weren't appealing anymore, or the newspaper team had been killed. The latter was the probable reason. She shook her head in disbelief, her long blonde locks falling around her face. The main story told of how a whole street in this town had been invaded by a gang of thugs and all the families had been killed. She couldn't believe how people could still be in denial after so long. It hadn't been a gang that had caused this tragedy, it had been demons. And that same fate had destroyed the newspaper. The Sunnydale Times was no more.

"This is horrible." The voice of her companion drifted up from behind her. She turned and nodded, seeing the pained expression on the other woman's face. "I'm not sure there's anything that can be done for these people, Tara."

She shook her head, knowing that her companion was right. "We can't j-just leave them to die though." She argued, hearing the strain in her own voice.

"We're not fighters, Tara. All we can do is pray to the goddess that their souls find peace." The words were like a knife cutting through her heart and she knew what the other woman meant.

She truly hoped that the people that had died had been given the chance to find peace rather than join the demons in their eternal torment. She felt a shiver creep up her spine as she thought back to the scenes she had seen where demons such a vampires added to their growing population by turning their victims. It was a sickening process and she could feel bile at the back of her throat just by thinking about it. She briefly thought back to what had brought them here, to this goddess-forsaken town. She, and the woman in front of her, had taken up the task of travelling from town to town and bestowing their knowledge on as many people as possible. They were both accomplished witches and knew of the creatures that lurked in the night. Mainly they offered their services to cast protection spells on homes and work places. She was convinced they had saved a great many lives by doing so. But, she had to face it, it was just too late for this town.

She thought of her hatred for the demon kind and had to stop herself from letting out a bitter laugh. Once, she had believed she had been one of those wretched creatures but now she knew that wasn't true. Her father and brother had made her believe, for her entire life, that she was a demon. Then, one cold winter night, she had persuaded her mother to do a spell with her to prove it. It only proved one thing. Her brother and father were liars. That was when she and her mother left their family home and journeyed around the country, finding satisfaction in protecting people from the evils in the world. Who's going to protect them from themselves though, she thought sadly. She shrugged off the thought. That wasn't her problem though. She had no idea what had compelled the male side of the Maclay family to lie to the female side and, frankly, she had given up trying to figure it out. She didn't care anymore. All she did care about was standing right in front of her.

She had never known such a beautiful and caring woman as her mother. She couldn't help but smile as the compassionate eyes met hers. Her mother cared so much for the world around her that she travelled many miles to help the less supernaturally informed and less prepared. It made her so happy that she could be a part of that. She just hoped that she could become half the woman her mother was.

She walked back towards her mother, reaching up to grasp at the strap of her rucksack. They carried very few possessions with them. A few clothes, spell ingredients and books, food, and drink. That was all they needed. Except one another. She reached down with her free hand and pulled at her long skirt as she stepped over a fallen lamppost. She wished she had worn her jeans today and inwardly chastised herself for not being sensible enough. She smoothed down her long tan jacket as she came to stand next to her mother.

"Maybe w-we should leave then. This p-place isn't safe." She suggested, fear only now beginning to seep into her mind.

She very rarely felt scared when she was with her mother but this town instilled terror in her. She thought it was because of the desolation here and how empty it seemed but deep within, she knew it was because of something else, something terrifyingly powerful. She just wished she knew what it was. Actually, I could live without knowing that.

She looked up at the cloudy sky and could sense the approaching night. The journey here had been a long one and it would have been wiser to come to town the next morning but neither women had known how bad the situation in Sunnydale actually would be, until now. An icy feeling of dread crept into her stomach and she looked nervously at her mother, who seemed to be distracted. Her mother's eyes darted from left to right before finally resting on her.

"Tara, we have to leave. Now." Her mother's voice was urgent and it almost caused her to panic.

No, she thought, I will not panic. Mother would not appreciate that. She glanced around, her pulse quickening, as she followed her mother towards the edge of town. They had parked the old camper van there and walked into Sunnydale proper, not wanting to draw attention to themselves with the noise of the engine. Both women had sensed the heavy presence of evil in this town and it had seemed wise to err on the side of caution. Now she found herself wishing that they had driven this far in and that the walk back to their vehicle wasn't as long. She increased her pace as her mother did so and she continually glanced behind her.

Rationally, she began to think that they should be safe. At least until nightfall. In every other town they had been to, the demons only came out when it was dark but she instinctively knew that this town was different. Her mother obviously sensed that as well.

A quiet whistling reached her ears and she looked around. She just caught a glimpse of something as it rushed past her cheek, disturbing the air there. She gasped and spun, watching as that something bounced of the wall of a shop nearby. Her eyes focused on the object as it fell to the ground and she realised, with horror, that it was a crude-looking arrow. What the hell? Her mother had also seen it and her eyes communicated everything. She could see the fear there. Not fear for herself, but fear for her daughter.

Both women accelerated into a sprint, running as fast as they could towards their destination. She quickly caught up with her mother and they exchanged a frightened look before she focused on the road ahead of her. She heard another whistle and an arrow plunged into the grass beside her. Her breathing quickened both from the exertion and the fear, as the adrenaline pounded through her body. She had never known demons to use arrows before. She had seen them use swords and blades, but never arrows. Mostly, they preferred to use their own body parts to deal the final blow. She decided to think about it later as the sound of another arrow hurtling through the air reached her ears.

She squeezed her eyes shut momentarily, wishing this were all just a bad dream. She could only just feel her feet hammering against the hard surface of the road and her hair whipping against her face as she ran. Perhaps this all was just a nightmare and she would be waking up any second now. Yep, any second now. She could just make out the camper van ahead of her and she felt relief settle in. She smiled slightly as she neared the safe haven and glanced back towards her mother. She almost stumbled as she realised her mother wasn't beside her any more.

She brought herself to a standstill and almost tripped in the process. She turned completely, not caring if she was about to face a horde of demons. "Goddess. No!" She cried out as she saw the crumpled form of her mother on the tarmac of the street. She began to run back towards her. She could just make out the thin shaft of wood jutting out of the blonde woman's back and she felt tears sting her eyes. Her muscles were beginning to scream at her to stop all the running but she ignored it, focusing only on the most precious thing in her life. She let out a sob of relief as she saw her mother's head lift slightly to look at her.

"Tara, no." She heard her mother's pained voice. "Leave me."

She shook her head and continued running, dropping to her knees as she reached her mother's side. "I can't." She sobbed, looking at the arrow, not sure what to do now. She glanced up the road and gasped in fear as she saw inhuman figures coming towards them.

"Just go." Her mother pleaded, her voice shaky and weak.

She shook her head again. "I w-won't leave you, mama. I'll never l-leave you."

Her mother reached a hand to her cheek and stroked the tears away in a loving gesture. "You're the most precious thing in the world to me. Please, save yourself." Her mother began to cry now as well, which only made her more resolved to stay with her.

She carefully placed her arms around her mother and rested her forehead against the other woman's soft hair. She squeezed her eyes shut and inhaled her mother's wonderful scent, which never ceased to comfort her. "Whatever we face, we face together." She could hear the pounding of heavy clawed feet but she didn't move. She merely continued to cradle and protect her wounded mother. The heavy breathing of the creatures neared and she knew they were only a few feet away, yet she remained.


The harsh sound of a horn woke her from her dreamless state and she groaned. It was only at this moment when she could forget what her life had become and just be. Her mind was still semi conscious but she was aware of herself. She let out another groan as her memories flooded back to her and her aching muscles cried out in pain. It had been a blissful two seconds but now she was back in the real world. The horn sounded again and the sound of people waking could be heard around her. She could feel the impossibly thin blanket above her sore body and the hard floor beneath it. She wondered if she pretended to be dead then everyone might leave her alone. She decided against it, though. It was more than likely that people would scavenge her body for any valuables and her clothing. At that thought, she immediately opened her eyes, taking in her gloomy surroundings.

Rusty metal girders criss-crossed the high ceiling and she remembered when people were hung from them from time to time for disciplinary displays. She shuddered at the memory and slowly sat up. She glanced around at the familiar mess of the living area. Many human bodies were stirring from their uncomfortable positions on the bare floor. The building was huge and she could just make out the far wall. The stench of stale air met her nostrils and she screwed up her nose. She could never get used to that smell. She ran her hands through her red hair and worked out the kinks in her neck. She looked beside her at the make shift tent that had been erected there. The flimsy structure had been constructed out of salvaged blankets, clothing, and wood. She wondered why she never got the chance to sleep in it. Some privacy wouldn't go amiss. Similar structures were dotted around the giant warehouse but only the lucky ones got to sleep in them. Or the majorly mean ones.

She glanced up at the far wall where a balcony jutted out half way up to the ceiling. Stood on it was a large, bulky, vampire who looked down on the scene with an annoying amount of smugness. It was mainly vampires that were used as guards around the humans. She guessed that was because the other demons were regarded as more important. Also, vampires were abundant in Sunnydale due to their ability to reproduce themselves so quickly. She thanked whatever god was listening that she hadn't fallen victim to them yet, or any other demons for that matter.

She tore the blanket from her lithe body and looked glumly down at the clothes she wore. Grubby jeans clung to her legs and an equally dirty sweater hung on her upper body. What she wouldn't give for a change of clothes and a bath. Thankfully, they were allowed to wash every now and then, but she suspected that was for the sake of the vampires. Because of their heightened senses, they couldn't stand the stench of humans for long. She shifted onto her knees and crawled towards the tent, pulling a flap of blanket aside sharply. A whelp of surprise came from inside as she laid her eyes upon the two people curled together under a blanket.

Beneath it was her best friend, a slim blonde woman named Buffy, who always managed to get the better sleeping spaces in this filthy warehouse. Buffy was now looking up at her with surprise and a hint of annoyance. Beside Buffy, was a strong looking young man who wore a faint grin. His lengthy black hair was a mess and it was quite obvious what they had been doing during the night. And I was sleeping right next to them? Eww.

"Uh, sorry, guys. I didn't know you were. well, uh, going now." She quickly released the flap and backed away from the tent.

She sighed and sat back down on her blanket, watching people as they milled around. It would be time to eat soon and she could hear her stomach growling. The demons let them sort out their own food but kept the supply under control at all times. Certain people were designated as food handlers but were monitored at all times so they wouldn't steal any or hand more than necessary out. That was the way things were supposed to work, yet some people managed to get more than others. She had seen herself go hungry quite a few times because she had been bullied out of her food, especially when Buffy wasn't around. She wished she could stick up for herself but she had always been the shy, reserved kind. However, she had found herself in a few fights lately, but that was mainly over her blanket and she hadn't won any of those. Buffy would always come to her rescue with her natural skill in fighting and her unusual strength.

Sometimes, she would daydream that she and Buffy would fight side by side and kill all the monsters that kept them here. But she had to face up to it, that was just a dream. She sighed and toyed with a stray bit of thread on her sleeve. Somehow, Buffy always managed to look on the brighter side of things. She, however, couldn't. Buffy hardly ever spent nights alone and there was a never-ending supply of young men who wanted her. It was different for her, though. Hardly anyone noticed her and those that did were never appealing to her. She had had a few propositions by guys lately but she just wasn't interested in any of them. Why can't I just accept an offer? At least I wouldn't be alone. She shrugged off the thoughts and gingerly got to her feet. She wasn't sure if her muscles were going to co- operate today as she had had an overly exhausting work period the previous day.

The demons had decided that apart from food, humans would be very handy as workers and made them help to build their underground town. They called it kingdom but she just thought it was a town. It was large enough to be called that now and she was sure it extended past Sunnydale's limits. She expected demons flocked here to be a part of this evil venture and that didn't exactly bode very well for Sunnydale's few remaining humans. She wasn't exactly sure how many people were left in Sunnydale, either those who were imprisoned or for some lucky turn of fate, hadn't been caught yet. She guessed that there were a few hundred left but they were probably outnumbered by demons at least three to one. It was an impossible situation for the human population and hope was a hard thing to muster these days. In fact, many people had given up all together and only co-operated with the demons for the sake of living. It was only a matter of time before they became a demon's dinner though.

Another horn sounded, signalling that the first group of workers should assemble and make their way to the exit. Thankfully, she wasn't one of them. She hoped that she would get the day off today and maybe even the night, if the demons weren't too demanding. It would be at least half an hour until they ate and she pitied the poor people who were working, as they would go hungry until they returned.

She folded her blanket into a neat bundle and slipped it under the flap of Buffy's tent. She was sure no one would be stupid enough to venture in there to steal it. She then wove her way between the scattered laying forms of her fellow humans and looked around for something to occupy her mind with. Lately, her brain had been in constant babble mode and Buffy had suggested that was probably because of the lack of physical stimulation. Of course, her friend hadn't put it in those terms. It had been more along the lines of 'Will, you need a man'. At which, she had just rolled her eyes and denied it completely. Perhaps, she did need to socialise more though. Buffy wasn't exactly available all that often due to her own copious amounts of physical stimulation. Socialising, however, could lead to someone getting his or her face battered. She had seen that on many occasions.

She made her way to the far wall, which not only held the guard point but also the only exit from the warehouse. This is where the less fortunate of the captives and the newcomers tended to sleep. She looked down at the sorrowful faces and tried to keep their glum expressions from affecting her too much, which was a near impossible task. The very nature of the place oozed depression. How can I even consider trying to be in a better mood? She chastised herself.

Just as she was about to turn and stroll back, she noticed a lone figure, huddled against the far wall. The figure was shaking from head to toe and she immediately felt the need to go and comfort that person. She, instead, settled on watching the figure from afar. She let her eyes wander over the long, golden hair and the full figure of the woman. She was obviously a newcomer as her clothes were relatively clean. She couldn't see her face though and she felt strangely disappointed at that. She guessed the newcomer was crying from the way her body shook. There could be any number of reasons why. Just being here being one of them. She briefly considered going over to try and talk to the woman but decided against it. It was likely her attention would not be welcome and she'd walk away with another bruise. Instead, she shrugged and made her way back to Buffy's tent, focused on relieving the hunger gnawing at her stomach.

Once she got back, she was pleased to find her best friend dressed and her nighttime companion had disappeared. Buffy smiled up at her as the blonde attempted to tidy their small area. She had found that Buffy was fiercely territorial as were most of the inhabitants here. One time a rather large male had tried to settle in for the night by their sleeping spot but Buffy had dispelled the man with a twisted wrist and a broken nose. She was partly glad for that as she had caught a whiff of the man when he had barged passed her. Not the most pleasant smell, she had to admit. She eased herself into a sitting position beside her friend, helping the blonde tidy.

"What's new?" Buffy asked, not looking up from the blankets she was folding. They had probably belonged to some ignorant person who had become too confident in the presence of Buffy. Buffy had the tendency to 'borrow' certain items to keep some of the bullies from gaining to much influence. However, that gained both women a growing number of enemies, as well as respect.

She shook her head, looking over at Buffy. "Not much, there seems to be a couple of newbies." Her thoughts drifted back to the crying blonde and she felt regret at not comforting her.

Buffy sighed. "I wonder how many are left on the outside." The blonde appeared mainly to be talking to herself.

She ran a hand absently through her red locks, looking through the throng of bodies to try to catch a glimpse of the blonde newcomer. She wasn't sure why she wanted to see the woman again, except maybe to see if she was all right. For a moment, she thought she spotted the huddled form of the blonde but when her view was obscured by a passing woman, her target was gone when she looked back. She cursed under her breath and glanced around the warehouse. People had already begun hovering by the serving point for food and she suspected it would be difficult getting her meagre portion again. Perhaps Buffy would help her with that problem. Sometimes her friend would but more than often the blonde would have enough difficulty getting her own.

Her gaze travelled across the crowd, occasionally stopping when she saw a flash of blonde hair, but she couldn't spot the newcomer. She felt disappointment settle in her stomach as well as the constant hunger. The noise level in the warehouse had increased with the start of another day. She wondered what day it actually was but decided it would be impossible to figure out. Time had no meaning in a place such as this, except sleeping time, eating time, and working time.

"Willow." Buffy's irritated voice interrupted her inner musings.

She looked at her friend to see an annoyed expression and arms folded across the blonde's chest. "Yeah?"

"That's the third time I tried to get your attention. Where's your mind gone today?" Buffy's voice softened as she spoke. Willow knew the blonde never could stay angry at her.

"Uh, nowhere." She muttered, bringing her full focus on her friend.

Buffy shrugged. "So, anyway. Brad told me that our working shift was off today so we have the whole day to recoup. Isn't that great?" She beamed, knowing she wasn't going to have to shift stone.

She nodded, relieved that her muscles were going to be saved. "Who's Brad?"

Buffy gave her friend a sly smile. "Oh, you know, last night." She said, as if that would explain everything.

To Willow though, it did. She rolled her eyes. "So what you got planned for today?" She paused before adding. "If I even wanna know."

Buffy laughed and patted her friend playfully on the arm. "Well, I was thinking. you, me. plenty of single guys looking for action." She winked.

"Buffy!" She sighed, exasperated. Didn't her friend ever get tired of hunting the men down?

"What? Come on, you need some lovin', Will. You're all tense and mega crabby." Buffy pouted to add emphasis to her statement. She gazed up at Willow with the most solemn puppy dog eyes she could muster and soon both of them were laughing. Even though the ominous atmosphere was always around them, Buffy never failed to make her laugh.

"With these guys? They're disgusting." She screwed up her face as she thought of some of the offers she'd had.

"Pfft." Buffy waved a hand in dismissal. "I'll have you know, there are plenty of hunky guys around here. You've just got to smell them out." She chuckled. "You know, the ones with the smell you can actually stand."

Willow smiled knowingly and nodded. "How about I just watch you stalk your prey?"

Buffy shook her head. "God, Will. When you eventually get laid, there'll be a blue moon." She rolled her eyes and stood, just in time for the meal horn to echo through the large chamber.

Willow rose to her feet and followed her friend towards the serving point, trying to avoid the crush of people as they rushed for their food. She was pushed to the side by a burly man and then propelled in the opposite direction by two women. She absolutely hated this time of day and just wanted it to be over. She had lost sight of Buffy and resigned herself to the fact that she would once again go hungry. She wasn't going to stop trying though.

As she was being buffeted around, she caught a glimpse of blonde hair and headed towards it, hoping it was Buffy. As she neared, she realised it wasn't and recognised the woman as the newcomer. She automatically smiled at the sight of her and was glad that she'd get the opportunity to see if she was all right after all. It was then that she found herself standing behind Buffy once more. Wow, must be my lucky day, she thought. She linked her arm thought her best friend's and felt herself being tugged forwards. She glanced back at the newcomer and saw her face for the first time.

Her heart skipped a beat when she took in the beautiful, yet tear stained, features. The blonde woman had the most alluring blue eyes she had ever seen and captivating full lips. Her skin looked incredibly soft and Willow had the urge to go to her and run a hand across her face. Erm, something wrong here. Having strange thoughts about a woman. Her mind reminded her.

The woman's beautiful face suddenly became contorted in fear as she stared up at someone. A tall spindly man was facing her and Willow recognised him as one of the bullies that liked to rob people of their meals. That, unfortunately, happened all too often recently. It seemed that the newcomer was going to fall victim to him. Willow became angry at seeing this. It was one thing to take her food, but to take it from someone as divine as the blonde woman was just sick. She quickly pulled her arm from Buffy's and, with determination, pushed her way through the crowd. She soon got close to the newcomer and she gave herself an imaginary pat on the back for getting through the throng of people.

She heard the spindly man speaking in an unnaturally squeaky voice. "You're new so you're not gonna know how things work round here." He explained to the newcomer. "But if you wanna settle in nice and safely then I suggest you don't argue with me." He leaned in close to the newcomer's face.

Get your dirty excuse for a face away from her! She screamed inwardly. Willow hadn't quite worked up the courage to say that aloud. She shoved a bulging, middle-aged man to the side who had been watching the exchange.

"It's m-mine." The newcomer's voice was soft, though it was full of fear. Willow thought it was the most heavenly sound she had ever heard. Again, disturbed by the thoughts here. That annoying inner voice chimed.

The newcomer was holding a bowl full of the usual gruel everyone received, or should have received. The spindly man was moving to take it from her but she was resisting every step of the way. Willow couldn't tell if any of his supporters were there. Bullies such as this man usually had mindless idiots that followed them around. She decided if she was going to show an ounce of courage, now would be the time. She pushed the final steps forwards and almost cascaded into the spindly man. She stumbled into the confrontation and hurriedly straightened up. Classy entry, Willow. Great way to impress her.

"What do you want?" The spindly man sneered at her and looked her up and down, making her feel more uncomfortable than she actually was.

She took a deep breath, steadying herself and preparing her face for the battering it was more than likely going to receive. "You. you heard her, mister. It's hers." She put on her best stern voice but suspected she was failing miserably at being intimidating.

To prove that thought right, the spindly man began to laugh. And not just a little but a full belly laugh. Willow sighed and slumped her shoulders. She was no good at this hero stuff. She glanced back at the newcomer who, to her surprise, was gazing at her in open wonder. This gave her confidence and she brought herself to her full height, which didn't really do much because the spindly man was far taller than she was anyway. At least it prevents me from getting neck strain from looking up at him too much. She thought, consolingly.

The spindly man finally calmed down and fixed his menacing gaze on her. "What you gonna do about it, shorty?"

"Well, I'm, uh." She started but realised she didn't quite know what she was going to do. She had been so focused on coming to the rescue that she didn't think about how to get out of herself being harmed.

He laughed again. "Didn't think so." He pushed her aside and focused his attentions on the newcomer again. "Come on, babe. Pay up. If you don't give me food, I'll have to take something else."

Willow watched as he leered at the newcomer and his beady gaze travelled over her body. The anger rose up inside her and she lunged at him. She grabbed him around the waist and knocked him off balance, causing them both to tumble to the floor. She quickly scrambled to her feet and looked at the newcomer, finally saying the words she had wanted to say ever since she had seen her. "Are you okay?"

The blonde nodded, her blonde hair swishing around her face slightly. Willow moved towards her, smiling but before she reached her, she felt a firm hand on her shoulder and she was suddenly whisked around. Just as she set her gaze on the spindly man, his fist connected with her jaw, snapping her head to the right. The world spun around her and then the hard floor rushed up to meet her body with a thud. Her head hit the ground and darkness crept in at the edges of her vision. Her eyes wandered to the blonde woman who was looking down at her with terror and concern in her eyes. She quickly succumbed to unconsciousness, the image of that beautiful face the last thing she saw.

End of Prologue