A Buffy the Vampire Slayer story.
P.J. DickinsonPart One
Prologue: The Guatemalan Rainforest.
The drop zone was three feverish klicks North of their current position and each step took them further from safety and deeper into Hell.
Their commander was experienced in negotiating this type of terrain, but the squad was relatively green and new to both the jungle and the style of leadership. A halt was called, a clenched fist raised straight into the air. Silhouetted against the silver night sky it resembled the visuals of their destination. They stopped, weapons cradled in powerful arms as they did their best to blend in with the vegetation. A brief conference occurred at the point of the squad. The order to go infa-red and advance at ground level was communicated by hand signals. As one, they dropped onto their bellies and clicked the visors on their helmets in place. A series of buzzing sounds signified the squad maxing out the wavelength. The jungle frame shifted around them, it was momentarily disorientating but they were well trained and maintained the advance through the tropical mulch and insects.
The rainforest was changing character; they felt cool air start to move across any exposed skin. The commander, coated in plasti-steel body armor was launched into a tree and quickly scrambled up its vine-choked trunk for a better view. Communications broke the silence they had been working under since they had left the bird and their earpieces crackled into life. The squad was concatenated in an instant, able to inform and respond with all others in the unit.
The commander's voice came through; quickly and in precise detail the changing environment was described. They had worked their way to their objective. Twenty meters away was the edge of a steep rocky incline where the jungle dropped away. Ropes would be required for the descent.
At their current elevation they were level with the tops of the trees of this lower land. Approximately one hundred and fifty meters to the East a Mayan pyramid towered above the foliage. The area surrounding it had been cleared and there was considerable humanoid activity with large fires burning within the tower's perimeter. The commander using a pair of digi-nocs described the distribution and size of the threat. They were demons, pygmy demons. The atmosphere in the squad lightened. It had been a tough slog and they still had a dirty job to do but at least now it felt less threatening.
They moved out. Four ropes were quickly attached to the sheer rock face with explosive bolts. Three men dug in at the top of the cliff with napalm launchers. If the assault on the tower went badly, and the squad was forced to abandon the mission then this back line could drop nightmarish amounts of covering fire a dozen paces behind the retreating unit. The assault however, would not go badly. The commander was Initiative through and through and had never failed to bring a result home even if the squads that had returned had been less than complete.
The remaining eleven grunts, including the commander, slipped down the ropes and slithered into the darkness below. Contact was maintained throughout the unit via the multi-way radio headsets. Each soldier could hear the breathing of each and every other man. Like a hunting pack in their prime with first blood in their mouths and victory in the air they loped through the jungle. Ten meters from the start of the clearing that surrounded the tower they stopped for one last weapon check.
Every man waited for that one word that would open up the night; the commander whispering attack. The demons were oblivious to their presence, absorbed in their rituals and the sacrifices they required. They were gutting huge numbers of fish and frogs and tossing their innards on the bonfires while dancing in berserk circles. Large chalices of fireflies that had either been de-winged or sedated were being passed around and the waist high demons were pouring the luminescent creatures liberally over their bodies or into their mouths. Cross hairs fixed on craniums as soldiers picked their first targets. This was going to be easy. A gun on hips massacre.
Suddenly the demon pygmies stopped. Everything went quiet. As one they turned and stared out into the jungle. Somehow each set of fiery eyes managed to lock directly with the hidden men. The Initiative all froze waiting for that one word in their earpieces that would release them to action. It was a word that never came.
The first sound was of screams. But it was from no one in the immediate group. A series of explosions deep in the forest behind them identified the point of attack. Their back line was being taken out. Bright trails scorched the sky as grenades were fired wildly into the air. What in the name of God could they be shooting at? Was the attack airborne? The answer came soon enough. It tore its way through the massive Durian and Saurian trees. Sweeping them aside with black claws the size of buildings. It roared and the sound was deafening without the microphones of the multi-way radio channeling it directly from the source. Flames like a petrol refinery exploding gushed from the gargantuan demon's face and scoured the cliff top of all life. The screams in the earpieces had initially been of fear of the unknown. Then they had been from fear of the known and so terrible that when they were snuffed out it was a relief to the rest of the ground troops.
The commander's voice could now be heard. It was a trap...circle formation...remember your training...multi-melters to the front, plasma cannons to the center...Do it...do it now if you want to live.
The monstrous demon thrashed an unknowable number of arms and leapt into the jungle canopy below. The impact of it's landing rocked the unit throwing them into disarray as they tried to organize themselves into a defensive formation. Flames licked about it like sweat, igniting the treetops. The commander was calling out individual names now, allocating offensive power to the demons behind while focusing the majority at the approaching Lucifuge. It was charging through the jungle as if the trees were nothing more than tall grass. Bladders emptied at the sheer power on display. Its ferocity verged on the biblical.
The second in command was screaming dissent. We must retreat. For the love of God order a retreat. We're all going to die. New cries were heard. The demon pygmies extended their arms and from the stones below them energy crackled up their limbs and into the air. Their bodies began to change. Began to warp and multiply and blacken. Under tremendous forces they whipped and contorted, expanding until they dwarfed the tower, which was oozing with a honey like light. It was the last straw. The Initiative was surrounded. Blind panic ensued. Some prayed others tried to run. Frightened out of their minds the shock troops collided with members of their own squad. Realizing the inevitability of their situation most knelt and wept for their souls. Only the commander held the ground. As the demons trampled and incinerated the scattering Initiative, reaching into the undergrowth and lifting individuals into the air to rip them apart the commander followed orders.
The demon that had launched the attack swept away the final tree and stood before the commander of the unit. It roared and tilting its head to the blood moon erupted like a volcano sending flame a mile into the sky. The commander removed her helmet and shook a mane of long blonde hair around her shoulders. She hoisted a plasma cannon to her shoulder and began to work the trigger. She was able to release half a dozen charges at the Hell-beast before it reduced her to ash. The Initiative's attack on Target 14G-3kEast was over. It had not gone according to plan and someone was going to be very unhappy indeed.Sunnydale
" Oh. I am so happy. " Anya fondled a wodge of green dollar bills and jumped up and down. She vigorously rubbed her hands together as if trying to warm them and sprinkled el dinero over the shop counter. Giles arched an eyebrow.
" Oh happy, happy, happy ", danced the ex-demon, " happy and reeech." She held some under her nose and inhaled deeply, a wide smile illuminated her pretty features. Giles shook his head and resisted smiling at his assistant's exuberant behavior. He had long ago ceased to be shocked by how seriously she took her role as a capitalist. Now, Giles tried to enjoy her enthusiasm for what it was, genuine pleasure and happiness. As far as Giles could ascertain, Anya was unable to experience any form of the blues that the ping of the cash register could not alleviate.
Secretly, he actually found her glee and unapologetic nature quite infectious. He worried slightly if the closing of the doors at the end of each days trading was not preceded by any of Anya's singing. The Giles of twenty years ago would have been so disappointed at how Ripper had turned out.
" All set? " Giles placed his briefcase on the shop counter, removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It had been a long day and he was tired. All he wanted was to go home, have a relaxing shower and glide between the sheets of his bed with some Trollop. Giles chuckled internally at his own joke.
Anya finished smoothing out the folded corners of the days takings and organized the bills into their different denominations. Then she locked the money in the small floor safe and after checking that the dingbats were definitely secure more times than was necessary gathered up her personal belongings. She flashed Giles with a variety of her best smiles during this whole process. Just to keep the grumpy male happy while he waited.
" Ready, " she said just as the bell above the door tinkled. The door opened. Giles slid his glasses back up his nose and stepped forwards. " Olivia, " he said. Anya cocked her head to one side, why had Giles voice suddenly gone all syrupy.
" Olivia, " said Giles unable to disguise the surprise in his voice.
" Rupert. So good to see you again. " Anya liked the way she purred the English mans name. She made a mental note to address Xander in that way. She was sure he would appreciate it, especially if she said it while wearing that sheer black teddy that gave her no support whatsoever. Didn't he understand what would happen if she wore that all the time?
The woman called Olivia had undulated into the Magic Box and after giving its wares a cursory glance had stopped at a shelf to inspect something more closely. She stood side on to them in a fashion that could only be described as being sly.
" Five minutes overtime already Giles. "
" Mmm. What? Oh yes, please go Anya. " His eyes never left the dark woman. Thank you he called as the door swung closed on her.
Xandur. Xanduur. Xanduurrr. If she said it really slowly she could make her chest rumble. She liked that.
Back in the Magic Box Giles was still deciding which vowel to trip over first.
" Oh, um, I, I, I… "
" So Giles, " said Olivia holding up an Iban fertility statue with a large appendage angling upwards, "exactly what type of joint are you running here? "
" Uh, uh, well… " Don't remove your glasses man, he told himself. For Goodness sake don't.
" Looks kind of like a bong. " She raised it to her luscious lips as if to take a hit. Giles realized that he was holding his glasses and giggling manically like a schoolgirl. Olivia covered the final distance between them in heels designed for the job. She stood close, clothes almost touching and looked up with those magnificent eyes of hers. They were as rich as Belgian chocolate and as dark as magic eight balls. Every fiber of Giles body wanted to shake her and see what the future had in store for them. He wanted to put his arms around her, pull her close and introduce her to the wonders of the pommel horse in Buffy's training room.
He fought his way back to English restraint. Then, just as her lips parted to deliver some new innuendo he leaned forwards and kissed her hard. He knew this woman very well. She was Olivia Jackenzie, lead cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra. She and Giles had had a relationship since before he had rejoined the Watchers Council. They had never been lovers, in that they had ever been in love. They had always in their hearts been slaves to their separate vocations. However, from time to time, when their choppy lives crossed they took the opportunity to spend quiet time in the arms of another who reminded them of when life had been simpler. A time, now in the past, when he hadn't been Rupert Giles, Watcher to the Slayer and she wasn't Olivia Jackenzie, Previn's ingénue. When they were alone they returned to the selves they had had to leave behind. Ripper and Jazz; scourges of the demonic underworld of Albion.
She melted in his arms, grabbing handfuls of tweed as the passion rose. He almost allowed himself to fall in. But broke the kiss before she was ready. Ripper was in control. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt.
" What say we get drunk and do something bad. " He said.
" Oh, " she cooed, " Now that's the Giles I remember. "
Giles picked up his briefcase and then reconsidering, tossed it aside. He wasn't going to need that tonight. He plucked the BMWs keys from his pocket and twirled them on one finger as he opened the door for her.
" Would you like to go for a ride in my shiny new sports car? "
" Only if you will push her to the limit and see how fast she goes? "
Giles checked the interior of the Magic Box one last time and then locked the door. " Why ever not, " he said to himself.