"I've got a bad feeling about this."
Forrest sighed, hanging his head. "Not again. Finn, Spooky's at it again."
Riley glanced back at Forrest and the one they called Spooky. "Agent Wallace," he said, "What's wrong."
"I don't know that anything IS wrong sir." Wallace said. "Just, something doesn't feel right."
Riley's eyes narrowed as he looked into the forest ahead of them. Wallace had never been wrong before. Whenever he got one of his bad feelings, it meant trouble. Not just the ordinary Vampire trouble.
"Everyone stay sharp." He ordered. "Graham, Forrest you take point. Wallace, with me." The group fanned out and started moving once more. "Forrest?"
"Nothing on scanners." Came the answer. "It's like this thing just disappeared."
"How many demons can do that?"
"At least 20 that I know of." Wallace said. "Maybe we ought to-"
Without any warning, a huge green beast dropped from the trees above and landed in their midst.
"It's here!" Riley shouted. "Take it down!"
The monster was at least a foot taller than Riley. It shrugged off tazer fire, and kept coming forward. Strait for Agent Wallace.
"Forget the tazers!" Riley commanded. "Switch to conventional firepower!"
"Sir won't that blow our cover?"
The beast batted aside two agents and seized Wallace in it's hands. Talons dug deep into his flesh, piercing armor and bone.
"Open fire! Now!" Riley shouted as Wallace screamed. "Take that thing down!"
Without even glancing at the rest of the soldiers, the thing leaped up into the trees. Wallace's screams echoed through the night.
"I've never seen anything like it." Forrest said, shaking his head. The view screen before them showed footage from a camera their tracker had attached to his harness. Currently it was freeze framed on the thing that had attacked them last night. It was tall, and seemed to be a mix of reptilian, insectoid and octopod. It's most distinctive feature was a mass of tentacles that surrounded it's mouth.
"What the hell is it?" Graham asked. He looked a little green still from the night before. It was he who had found Wallace's body. Aside from the claw marks where it had gripped him, he seemed uninjured.
"A Tarentatek." Professor Walsh said, bringing the file up on the screen. "The more popular name for it however, is The Mind Flayer."
Riley's jaw clenched. It was his version of a grimace. "What did it do to Wallace?"
"We're not sure. According to the lore, it feeds on psychic energy, and magic. But since we haven't managed to capture one, or even find a dead specimen, we can't verify anything. Save, of course, that we now know it actually exists."
"Maybe he knew." Graham mused softly.
"He said he had a bad feeling about last night. And he's never been wrong before. This thing targeted him specifically."
Riley nodded, thought it still seemed a little far fetched. Like, maybe Demons. "Ma'am as unscientific as it may sound I think Graham has a point."
"What do you suggest Agent Finn?" Walsh asked. She looked at him expectantly, like she did when students in her class actually spoke up with an original thought.
"Let's run with the theory that Wallace was psychic and this thing targeted him for that reason. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out where it might strike next."
"Right," Forrest snorted. "How are we gonna find psychic people? Look up all the crackpot tarot readers in the yellow pages?"
"Good idea Agent Forrest." Walsh nodded. "Do it."
Riley hid his smirk well. "I think I might know another source as well."
Willow had no idea why she'd come back here. Really these girls hadn't the first idea what it meant to be Wiccan. Not even in the Tree-Hugging/Nature Based Religion sense. Because those types of Wiccans might not do magic the way Willow knew it, but they still performed rituals and even cast some spells.
The members of the Wicca Club were so busy trying not to be the ones with the pointy hats that they completely lost sight of reality. There weren't even any boys in the club. Seriously, what were they thinking calling this club Wiccan? She wished Micky were here, or Amy, or someone to set them straight.
She jerked out of her reverie and looked around. "Riley?"
"What are you doing here?" they both asked at the same time.
"I'm a member. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe. I don't know." Willow said. "What about you?"
"I was thinking of writing an article for the school paper."
"You work for the school paper?"
"I uhm, freelance. Sometimes."
"Ahem." the girl leading the discussion said, a little irritably. "You guys are kind of, interrupting Joy."
"Sorry." Willow said, blushing, and with a wave to Tara, fled. Riley followed after.
"So what do you mean you're 'kind of' a member?" Riley asked.
"Uhm, well see, I wanted to join, but...they don't seem to know what they're talking about. Well except for Tara, and maybe a few of the others. I get the feeling Joy might be open to actual Wicca instead of the...the...I don't even know what to call it."
"So 'actual Wicca' as in the religion? Or the stuff most people think about when they think about Witches?"
"It's not really that simple actually." Willow said evasively. She liked Riley, but she wasn't quite ready to divulge her magical secret just yet.
Joy sighed as she left the Student center. The meeting had gone fairly well once Willow had left. Joy didn't dislike Willow, but the redhead kind of creeped her out. With her talk of spells and rituals, and the air that she had. The sense that she knew something none of the rest of them did. Something that Joy rather did not want to believe in.
Magic wasn't real. Witches didn't cast spells and the like because that kind of thing only happened in the movies. The same with Vampire and Demons and Ghosts. They were just stories made up to scare people. She was sure of it. Because otherwise...
Tara gave her the same creepy feeling, that there was something else going on. She got that feeling around certain people and places around Sunnydale. She rarely left the campus because of it. And when she did it was never after dark. But even on campus, sometimes...
She froze. Usually the walk from the student center to her dorm was fine. It felt safe. But something about the darkened path just now made her shiver. It was just her imagination. She wasn't actually being followed. Still she couldn't help a glance behind her. She sighed relief when she saw the path behind her empty.
Then she turned around and bumped into something tall and green.
To Be Continued...