Los Angeles, USA
She moved with an agility she didn't know she had. She could dodge the punches, avoid the kicks and, surprisingly, return a few blows herself. A rush passed through her as she continued to fight, and damn did it ever feel good! She hadn't felt this alive, this powerful in her entire lifetime. Her watcher observed her with a satisfied look on his face. She would make a fine slayer one day, he knew. She learned the moves quickly, adapted in a battle and had easily survived her first meeting with a vampire. Now, he thought as the slayer fell on the ground and crawled over to where she had dropped her stake, it was time she killed one by herself.
Kicking the vampire in the face, she finally reached the piece of wood and raising it off the ground, she prepared for the final blow. That was when something totally unexpected happened. She vanished. The stake fell to the ground with an empty sound. Both the vampire and the watcher looked at the place where the slayer had just been, in shock.
"I know what you did, you bastard!" the young man charged him throwing him off his feet. Liam laughed from under his weight. His hands were held down by the man's knees.
"And what exactly was it I did, master McGregory?" he asked in a mocking voice. "I'm afraid I might have done more than one thing that could have upset you."
"You bloody scoundrel!" the man punched him in the face. Liam continued to smile smugly. "You. Will. Apologize. To. My. Sister. Right. Away," he said punctuating each one of his words with a blow to his face. When he lowered his fist for another punch, his hand hit the hard ground. Liam was gone. He swore under his breath. That devil always got away somehow.
He looked at the words on the paper and sighed. The poem seemed to be lacking something. His mother always told him that once he would fall in love the rhymes and words would simply flow out of him, because he had the talent, but needed a great passion to guide it. Putting aside the paper, he told himself she was probably right. She was after all the wisest woman he had ever known.
He got up from the writing table, but still couldn't get the poem out of his mind. He began pacing in the room, deep in thought.
"What rhymes with splendorous?" he asked himself and suddenly getting an idea rushed back towards the table and picked up the piece of paper. The next moment, the paper gently fell on the floor. William was gone.
She was doing her homework. It was math and even though kids her age usually had big problems with it, for her, it was a walk in the park. Unfortunately some people acted nice to her just so she would do their homework as well. Her only true friend was Xander whom she helped without him needing to ask. She looked over at a picture of the two of them and smiled.
The phone suddenly rang. She guessed who it was before she picked it up. Only one person ever called her.
"Hi, Xander," she said cheerfully into the phone, then suddenly faded away.
"Will? Will?" a curious Xander was left behind to ask repeatedly at the other end of the line.
The three monks chanted in a circle as banging noises were heard from outside. A breeze sprang up inside the chamber. The relentless pounding on the door continued, the crossbeam beginning to splinter. A bright flash of light leaped from the center of the circle. It rose above the three monks and then with an eerie thud disappeared.
The three men looked at each other in shock. That was not what should have happened.
"It cannot be," one of the monks said in Czech addressing the elder of the group.
"The key is lost," the older man replied in a pained voice. At that moment the door gave away and shattered.
Southern Hampshire, England
He walked down the hallways of the Watcher's Academy full of pride. He had been named head boy a few days ago and was very pleased with himself for it. He only wished that his father felt the same. Unfortunately, he was never satisfied, always finding something to comment on. How he didn't quite get the highest grades in the classes that revolved around physical strength. How he seemed rather slow with a sword, even though he was considered the best in his class. He could never be pleased.
He sighed as he pushed open the door of a classroom, but before he had a chance to pass beyond it, he disappeared, his books hitting the floor with a loud thud startling some of the other students.
The atemporal cocoon of the demon Makhran
Buffy was the first to awaken and see the strange surroundings. This was definitely not Kansas anymore - or Los Angeles for that matter. It looked like she was standing on nothing. The whole thing was a mass of squirming pale colors. No walls, no floors, no ground, no sky, only that unnatural constant movement. Strangely enough, she couldn't feel this awkward movement beneath her feet. She spotted four figures unconscious around her: a little girl with brown hair, a young redhead and three boys, two of which were wearing strange clothes.
"Where am I?" she asked out loud. A hand grabbed her leg and before she had a chance to control herself, she kicked the possessor of the hand in the chest. One of the boys in weird clothes and with long hair let out a wince of pain.
"For the love of...," he let out as he rolled over on the other side, gathered himself and stood up. He stopped himself from speaking when he noticed his surroundings. He was quiet for a moment before asking, with a clear Irish accent and a little hesitant: "Is this Hell?"
"Don't think so," the slayer answered him. "I think hell is less rainbow-y."
"Rainbow-what?" he looked at her awkwardly. She was dressed in pants and tight clothes, something that seemed awfully strange to someone who had only seen women either wearing a ton of gowns and undergarments or nothing at all. He had to admit he liked the view.
"You know, like full of rainbow...Never mind," somehow she knew he wouldn't get it. Wesley was the next one to wake up and look astonished around himself.
"Where are we?" he asked the girl standing a few feet away from him.
"Beats me," she rose her shoulders. "One moment I was this close to dusting a vamp, the next I was here."
"Vamp?" Wesley stared at her. "As in vampire?"
"Yeah," she suddenly remembered that ordinary people didn't know or didn't want to know about the creatures of the night as her watcher had put it. "Cause they're real, you know. Demons too. I know it's hard to believe, but..."
"I know they're real," Wesley interrupted her.
"Odorous! Odorous rhymes with splendorous!" William stood up abruptly. "What...where..." he mumbled seeing the three people staring at him.
"Key, key, key, key," the little girl with brown hair woke up and gasped, repeating the same word over and over again.
"What did you say?" Wesley asked her, but the girl seemed to not be able to control herself.
"Key, key, key," she continued to repeat.
"Heeey," the redhead woke up and rubbed her temples. "Oh, boy. Does everyone's head hurt this bad?" she asked looking over at the rest of the group.
"Excellent," a deep voice suddenly echoed all around them. "You've all awakened. Excellent," it repeated.
"I knew it, this is Hell," Liam whispered when a large creature materialized itself in front of them. It had thick gray skin like a crust, its skull covering its face like a mask. Its claws were ten inches long and dark, while his eyes were deep and yellow. He stared at them greedily. Instinctively, Willow took a step back.
"Not quite Hell, my boy," he smiled revealing sharp shark-like teeth. "It is my home. My lair since...well, a little accident I had."
"Who-who are you?" William asked stuttering.
"I am Makhran," he introduced himself.
"You're a demon," Wesley said accusingly.
"True," he admitted. "And as all demons I want nothing more than my kind to rule the Earth again."
"Again?" Willow asked from behind the group.
"Yes, of course, again. That's why you are all here. One way or another you're all standing between us and our rightful place in the world. You," he pointed towards Buffy. "Will become the greatest slayer of all times. You'll stop my kind innumerable times and put an end to the oldest and greatest of demons. You," he looked at Liam. "Will become a vampire and after centuries of mayhem, a curse will restore your soul and you will become humanity's champion. You," he looked at William. "Will also become a vampire because of him," he gestured towards Liam. "You'll fight for a soul to gain the love of a woman. You will die closing the hellmouth. And then come back and do much good. You," he turned towards Willow. "Will become a powerful witch and though at one point you will lose control, you will do a lot of good. As for you," he looked at Wesley. "You will help rehabilitate one of the most prestigious evil law firms in the world. And don't think I forgot you, little one," he stepped closer to the little girl. "You are the key to chaos. A hell god once tried to use you to open a doorway, but failed."
"Why are we here?" Buffy asked impatient.
"Good question, Ms. Summers. I was among the many liaisons that Wolfram & Hart, this prestigious law firm I was talking about, decided to drop when the new management took over," he eyed Liam in particular when he said these words. "And they have a way with terminating unwanted contracts. So," he said in a more casual tone. "They left me for dead. Heck, I thought I was dead, but those guns they used on me...triggered something inside me. Next thing I knew, here I was," he gestured around himself. "Capable of accessing everything in the past I wanted and do everything I damn well pleased without being one bit affected. It's like I never existed. Then I thought, while I was at it, why not do some good for my kind? Kill off all the would-be heroes before they ever hatched. I had a bit of a personal bone to pick with good old Wesley over there, he being the one who shot me and all...And then I thought why stop there? I could take out the world myself. All I needed was a little...key," he smiled again looking at the girl. "I know you're probably asking yourselves why I didn't simply kill you when you were kids, but call me old-fashioned, I like a little fight left in my victims."
"Actually I was asking myself if you'll ever shut up," Buffy let him know.
"I was wondering what exactly we could do to shut you up," Wesley stood next to the slayer. "And get out of here," he added.
"Uhm, guys," Willow's little voice could be heard from behind. "How about that?" she pointed towards a hole in the cocoon that showed a city street on the other side of it.
"Works for me," Buffy said smiling. "Let's move it!" she told the group as she turned towards the approaching Makhran. The demon lashed out at her with both its hands, but luckily for the slayer, he was too big and easy to dodge. Willow passed through the hole first, shortly followed by William, holding the little girl in his arms, and Liam.
"Come on!" the watcher-in-training yelled after her before following the others through the hole. Noticing she was distracted for a moment, Makhran took the opportunity to lunge at her and cut her on the arm with his long sharp claws. The slayer let out a small scream before, seeing as she was hurt and couldn't dodge the demon's blows forever, made a run for the hole with Makhran on her heels. She jumped through it just as it began closing.
New York City, USA
"Where are we?" William asked a little frightened, holding the girl to his chest. He looked towards Buffy and Wesley for an answer. The hole closed with a small flash of light behind them.
"Don't ask me," Buffy said holding her arm in pain. "Alley is my best guess."
"But an alley where?" Wesley asked, but no one bothered to answer. "And when?" he added.
"We should leave," Liam said a little nervous. "Who's to say that demon isn't opening another door leading here as we speak?"
"Let's go," Buffy agreed and the five teenagers and the little girl walked out of the alley and onto the streets of New York.