Chapter 25


Jacob's first impressions of Calendon were that it was one very strange planet. Selmac agreed. They had been met at the landing site by a squad of Jaffa. The Jaffa had thoroughly searched them and their ship for weapons but it was done politely and professionally, with assurances that their Zat'nik'tel would be returned upon their departure. And that was the thing, the Jaffa considered them to be two distinct entities, something that even most of the Free Jaffa would not do.

The trip, by horseback, was no less strange. On virtually every Goa'uld planet, the humans feared or hated (usually both) the Jaffa. The Jaffa in turn had nothing but disdain for the human slaves. The humans of Calendon, however, did not seem to fear the Jaffa. The Jaffa, in turn, even stopped at one point as a child finished herding a flock of sheep across the road. When they arrived at the main city, they could see the finishing touches being made to repairs. Humans and Jaffa alike were doing the work. Curiouser and curiouser.

Their escort left them in what they might have considered to be the great hall. The room was certainly large enough but it was, by Goa'uld standards, rather lacking in ostentation. The walls were covered with simple tapestries, not hammered gold. The two chairs on the dais were also less than ornate. The were so caught up in the oddness of this world that they didn't hear the person entering the room until she spoke to them.

"Hi Dad, Selmac."

The Tok'ra turned.



Bethany flinched at the screams from upstairs stopped. Was someone dead or just mercifully unconscious? Two innocents, two victims, but she could only be sure that the child held by the vampire was still alive. As she moved towards the caged vampire she could hear the door to the basement open. She turned to see her worst nightmare at the top of the stairs.

"Vampire," she growled. Even at full strength she probably could not have staked the new arrival before the caged vampire killed the child. This was just not her week.

"Slayer. Although probably shouldn't call you Slayer today. Feeling a bit weak are we," he taunted her as he came down the stairs. "Just like a regular girl, not so special any more."

How did he know, Bethany wondered as she prepared take him on.

"Spike, be nice," another voice came from behind him. "She's having a bad day."

"Not as bad as the one you two are going to have," Bethany bluffed. Three vampires? It was official. She was definitely screwed.

"I don't think so. You see, I'm a Slayer, actually I'm The Slayer. You, not so much. You can thank your Watcher and the Council for that," Buffy said as she followed Spike down the stairs. "They stripped you of your power and sent you here to die. Happy eighteenth birthday Bethany."

"You're lying. The Council wouldn't do that to me. Mr. Townsend wouldn't do that to me."

"It's what they do. It's what they always do if a slayer doesn't get herself killed first. Out with the old, in with the new. Dru's little friend may or may not be the new but as far as the Council and your watcher are concerned, you are the old. J'Kan, bring the Watcher to me," Buffy called out as she easily subdued the girl. "Spike, release Dru but remember..."

"Yeah, yeah, if Dru goes after the munchkin you'll dust us both."

Still in the cage, Dru pouted. "I've been good, took special care of the little one. Miss Edith would be so proud. Have you seen Miss Edith? Those bad men took her from me."

"Sorry, Dru. Haven't seen her lately," Spike said as he approached the cage. "You wouldn't happen to know where the key is?"

Dru twirled away and moved to the far side of the cage.

"Of course not," he sighed. Even at the best of times, his dark princess wasn't terribly observant. "Well then, let's see if they still make them like they used to."

Spike didn't care for his chances at breaking the door's locking mechanism with his bare hands so he looked around to see if someone had thoughtfully left the key nearby. No such luck he thought in disgust.

"Right, then," he said gripping the bars as Dru turned back to him.

"Precious stole it from the bad men," she said as she dangled the key at him.

"If you had the key then why didn't you open the bloody cage yourself," he snarled in exasperation.

"The stars told me to wait for Mommy."


"Hmm, Daddy would have been so proud of her."

It took a moment before Spike realized that Dru was talking about Buffy, not Darla. He smiled and reached to take the key from her. "I think you might be right. She's changed. Even gave me a bite to eat before we came down here."

Bethany stared in disbelief. She was on her knees, one arm twisted behind her back by the vampire's companion. The blonde was strong, but too warm to be mistaken for a vampire. As the shock wore off, she tried to free herself only to have her arm pulled up even more.

"Stay," the girl holding her said. "I don't want to hurt you but I will if I have to."

"Why not? I heard the screams from upstairs."

"I wanted to hurt them, to kill them actually. Long story, besides your Watcher will give you the highlights, won't you Townsend," she sneered as J'Kan shoved the man down the staircase."

"I have nothing to say to you," the Watcher said as he staggered, trying to keep his balance.

"Oh, I think you do," Nimue said with a cold smile. "J'Kan, kree."

Townsend lost his battle and went crashing to the floor, pushed forward by the Jaffa. J'Kan moved to relieve his mistress of her prisoner. Bethany was barely aware when a larger hand took hold of her wrist.

"Now, you're going to tell your Slayer exactly what you did to her and what you and the rest of the Council were going to do to her, what they've done to every Slayer that lives too long."

Bethany watched as the woman approached Mr. Townsend, raising an arm. For the first time she noticed the ribbon of gold encircling the arm.

"You'll have to kill me."

"Of course I will, just not quite yet," she said her hand neared his forehead. He could see the red stone begin to glow much as it had earlier. "Now, let's talk about the Crucimantium."

Elsewhere in Sunnydale

Evan Lorne and Dr. Johnson walked out of the police headquarters. Lorne swore softly in Goa'uld under his breath.

"Creative," was Johnson's only response as they walked to the coffe shop down the street where the rest of the group was picking up a quick snack.

"I can't believe that they wasted a day before closing the case on the high school blowing up. I have never seen a more disinterested, unprofessional bunch in any uniform," Lorne said in disgust. "I'm amazed that they bothered to record seeing the suspect's vehicle."

"We are lucky that they didn't try to stop and search it," Johnson said. "They probably would have gotten Janet killed. Still if they had only put a tail on it..."

"Too much effort. At least this is a small town. We'll set up a search grid," he said as they entered the store.