The Challenge: From www.angelfire.com/goth/babyverse site:
In the BabyVerse, write a story (long or short, plot or not) where Angel & Baby lose their souls (you don't have to explain how). You can kill off anyone you want to (including Spike, Cordy, Buffy, Baby, Angel, etc.). Wes losing his soul is optional (can be before or after he is vamped). Include the following as either an item or a phrase: an explosion, a drawing. There is no deadline, and the results will not be considered BabyVerse canon (hence the being able to kill off people) so you can pretty much do whatever you want. All ratings (G through NC17) are acceptable.
* * *
The young man nervously cleared his throat as the Watcher's Council arrived. The ten men and two women didn't just enter the room, they took ownership of it. He attempted to give a reassuring smile to his companion, but it ended up more like a grimace. As the twelve settled into the high leather chairs around the conference table, he took the time to quench his dry throat with a sip of tea. Once they had established themselves, the Council Chairman gave a small nod of his head. With that, the young Watcher dimmed the lights and began his presentation.
The first slide showed a red-haired woman dressed in a very short black leather skirt. Her red bustier peeked out from underneath the black leather jacket. Her legs were showcased in fishnet stockings ending in spiked heels.
"Baby Roxton," he proclaimed.
The next slide contained the same woman, though vamped out. She was wearing black jeans with a dark green silk shell, and black cowboy boots. Her red hair was tousled and there was something at the corner of her mouth.
"Consort to William the Bloody."
One of the Councilwomen spoke up. "Is that blood on her face?"
"Indeed." The Watcher beamed proudly. "I took that picture right after she had made the kill."
"So, are we to understand that you just stood by taking pictures while this creature drained someone?" The reproach echoed in her voice.
"Well…" he stammered, "the ummm, man that she ummm, took out… was actually a convicted mass murderer who had escaped recently. I was told to intervene only if necessary to protect innocent lives."
A voice from the back of the room interrupted. "Haven't I heard of her before?" the newest member of the Council inquired.
The picture showed a large explosion. Fire and debris filled the frame.
"Wolfram&Hart Building, 2003. The devastation is generally credited to Baby."Click
This was a slide of a tall dark man in a billowing coat, peering from the shadows. His brooding eyes seemed to look directly into the camera.
"Angel," the Watcher continued.
The same man, in a similar pose, was shown. This time, however, the sadness in the eyes was replaced by something much more menacing.
"Angelus. A most dangerous creature," the Council Chair interjected as he stood and walked over to pour himself some tea. "With his soul, he has been helpful to our cause. But without it, make no mistake, he is a true demon."
"Yes. Actually, that is why I am here to report to you. These two vampires were different in that they still possessed their souls... until now." The young Watcher removed his glasses and wiped them nervously. As he replaced them, he pushed the button.
A drawing of a faceless demon that seemed to be floating above the ground appeared. It was shrouded in heavy robes. A Latin inscription could be seen below.
"Acquirente di Anima. The Soul Reaper." The Watcher paused to take a breath before continuing. "The Scourge came up against this beast about six weeks ago. A touch from it will release the soul of anyone who comes in contact with it. Both Angel and Baby, as well as a third victim, all suffered this fate while battling him."
"A third victim?" the Councilwoman prompted.
"Ah yes, a human, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce. A former Watcher."
"You mean to tell us that one of the most dangerous Master Vampires, an accomplice who has proven herself massively destructive, and one of our own who has intimate knowledge of our inner workings have all been without souls for well over a month and you are just now reporting to us?" Her voice dripped with practiced condescension.
The Chairman intervened. "Tell us what happened."
The Council members looked back at him in confusion. Finally, one spoke up. "What do you mean nothing happened?"
"Just that, sir. Nothing changed," the Watcher explained. "I continued to observe them for several weeks. The only marked difference was that Wesley was even more assertive than usual."
"Is it possible that you are mistaken?" someone asked. "Perhaps they somehow retained their souls?"
"We are quite certain, sir. There is no doubt about the loss. We have spent the last several weeks studying the matter and I believe we have a sound theory as to what happened." With that, he turned to the man beside him. "Please allow me to introduce my colleague, Dr. Thames."
The doctor began without any preamble. "I am sure you are all aware of the work of Sigmund Freud in the field of human psychology. Freud understood the mind as constantly in conflict with itself, and understood this conflict as the primary cause of human anxiety and unhappiness. Freud's investigations into internal conflicts such as this led him to an eventual division of the mind into three parts, three conflicting internal tendencies: the well-known Id, Ego, and Super-ego."
"Really, Doctor, this is all very interesting I'm sure." The vocal woman once again interjected, "But we are dealing with vampires, not psychotic humans."
"What are vampires, but undead humans," the doctor asked patiently. "For years scientists have been trying to define what exactly a soul is, where does it reside, and what does it do? In this pursuit, I have studied many humans and many vampires. The two that you have mentioned today have been of particular interest to me because of their souls."
As she sat back, he continued, "Please bear with me for a moment as I explain. Freud's theory states that part of the mind demands immediate gratification. It wants only to eat, drink, be comfortable, and gain sexual pleasure. These urges are the demands of the Id, the most primal motivational force.
"The next part of the brain it the pragmatic part. It desires acceptance in society and fears punishment. This portion, the Ego, is in constant conflict with the Id. The Ego will repress the urges in order to assure success. It is the surface of the personality, the part that we show to the world. The Ego aims the individual's path of life towards the ideal perfect goals instilled by society.
"The final third is the mediator between the two. The Super-ego acts as a conscience that tells what is right and wrong and forces the Ego to suppress the Id in pursuit of morally acceptable, not pleasurable or sometimes even realistic objectives. It uses guilt and self-reproach as its primary means of enforcing its goals.
"It is my belief that the Super-ego is actually the Soul. In vampires, without a soul to act as a conscience to help the Ego, or humane part, the Id, or demon part, takes over. This explains why you have some vamps that seem almost beast-like, having lost almost all of their humanity, while others are much more in control. The stronger their Ego before the transformation, the better it is able to repress some of the Id's urges, waiting for appropriate timing."
The Council sat in contemplative silence. Then the Chair spoke up. "So, you are saying that Angel, Baby, and Wesley had no change because their Ego was stronger than their Id?"
"Partly…" Thames began before he was interrupted.
"That can't be!" someone exclaimed. "What about the last transformation after his, er, interaction with the Slayer?"
"Partly," the doctor continued as if no one had spoken. "But also that their Ego and Id are not in as much conflict. These people live a lifestyle that caters to their primal urges anyway. With the conflict mostly removed, there is not a need for the Super-ego to mediate. The rules of their society already allow for the fulfillment of their desires.
"When the soul was removed before," the doctor addressed the question, "Angel's Id knew that the Summers girl would never approve of the fulfillment of those base desires, so the conflict occurred. The Id was stronger than the Ego at that point. This time, the Egos are much stronger, having been nurtured for over a decade in the family environment "
The last slide pictured six figures walking arm in arm down Bourbon Street.
"So," the Chairman concluded solemnly, "What we are dealing with here are four vampires, a half-demon, and a soulless human all with huge Egos?"
A hush fell across the room as all eyes took in the picture in front of them and contemplated the future. Sobered, they silently filed out of the room.