Riley was barely recognizable as he strode toward Buffy and Faith. Angel growled low in his throat behind them. Wes grabbed Faith's shoulder before she could lunge ahead. She hissed but steadied under his hand.

"Well, lookee here, Angel, he's got you beat for best monster ex." Buffy snickered at the vampire's outraged gasp and spun her sword in a careful arc. "He's also brought a few more friends than I sensed before. They're different. Everybody mind your flank."

"Buffy, we need to know if this is going to bloody damn work." Spike said quietly. "If not, we need to get while the getting's good."

"With ya on that." Faith said. "I am so not liking the vibe."

"Okay, Angel keep Spike and Oz alive. Spike, Oz, keep Dad from blubbering and keep Wes safe." She poured some of her father's blood on her fingers from the pint bag and wiped it down the shining blade of her sword before handing it to Faith. "I'm gonna see if this will even work."

Buffy sprang forward when a large rat like creature leaped between her and Riley. Buffy swung the blade quickly and beheaded the rat thing. It fell dead at her feet and started to dissolve into blue goo.

"Wes, what the hell is that thing?" Buffy called as more of them emerged from the bushes.

"I have no idea, Buffy. I've never seen anything like it, never read about anything like it either." He pulled Faith back further and she shrugged his hand off.

"The blood killed that." She nodded toward the goo.

"Or the beheading, beheading works on most things." Buffy grinned. "Pass the blood. I want a fresh coat for the test."

Faith passed her the blood and came up next to her. "Send the others back. This is too dangerous and your father is going to have a heart attack if this goes badly."

"If this goes badly, Faith. He'll be the lucky one." Buffy looked up at Faith. "Riley is not really sane. The whole thing last year must have done more to his mind than I realized. He let them do that to him. He hurt you."

"Don't feel bad for the fucker, Buffy. He'll hurt us both for fun. I sense the other two on our left." Faith used her eyes to indicate their location. "The rat things are confusing me, but we can do this now."

"Okay, you take the rats and I'll test Dad's blood on one of the science experiments. To the left." Both girls nodded and leapt, their blades flashing and their hair streaming behind them as they ran toward their concealed enemies.

The rat emerged from the cover of the undergrowth and charged at them. Faith drove her sword deep and swung tossing it aside, but it landed and sprang for her again. She spun and kicked out knocking the slathering beast to the ground. A clean cut left her with a bisected living rat monster.

"Buffy, the ratamagig isn't dying." Faith turned as two more broke into the field. "The damn things are fast."

"Spike, we need more blood and weapons at the ready." Buffy yelled as she surged ahead of Faith while the other girl stopped to coat her sword.

She flipped over one of them and drove her sword deep into its chest. It writhed as it began to dissolve from the wound sit out. Buffy tossed a feral grin at Faith, and chopped the tail off of their other attacker. It's haunches started to dissolve and he screeched as it fell to the ground trying to claw away from it's own demise.

Faith whirled around as Spike came charging up to them. She relaxed and smiled at Spike lowering her weapon and turning back to the tree line. He smirked at her back and Buffy rolled her eyes.

"Good to know I've still got it." Spike grinned as he scanned the surrounding area. "We took a little bit from his palm. Covered this short blade and mine, and we coated crossbow bolts. That's all we can do for now. Your father is not holding up. You get all your sterner stuff straight from your Mum. We need to get him back to Tara."

Buffy nodded. She looked at the rats and the two abominations staying behind the line or rodent demons. She scrunched up her face. Riley was watching this, like some old time general watching his troops line up to fire at the other line. It was a stupid way to fight. She glanced at Riley from the side of her eyes. He was moving closer. She needed to act.

"Faith, cross bow, take the rats fast and furious. Spike, you're with me. We're going for the big game. If I lose my head again, get me home, get everyone home safe."

They both nodded and Spike and Buffy ran for the line of advancing vermin, and leap frogged over them to engage the true menace. They landed and leapt together toward their goal darkened blades leading.

Buffy felt the sweet pressure as her blade pierced the flesh before her, some part of her rejoicing in this kill. She pulled the blade up the gut of her prey like a zipper and watched dissolving guts slide to the grass as it fell to its knees. She wrenched the blade free from its ribs and used her arm strength to vault her body over his shoulder like a gymnast. She spun and sliced its head off with an unused section of the blade. She could see the flesh beginning to dissolve as the head fell to the ground.

The dart hit her thigh and she wrenched it free, falling to her knees as the world went grey around her. Spike snarled and looked at Riley standing back and lowering the tranquilizer gun as his sword sliced through the creature before him, listening to it dissolve as it hit the ground. Faith took the last rat by driving her sword deep into it. She turned toward Riley and used her foot to clear her weapon of the dissolving corpse. He shot her with a dart as she started toward him. Spike looked at his blade. There was no blood left on it. He looked at the two girls on the ground.

"Angel, he's drugged them. Cover me." Spike called as he slung Buffy over one shoulder and ran toward Faith, hoping like hell they had only been shot with sedatives. Faith was heavier on his shoulder Angel steadily peppered Riley with bolts as did Wesley. Spike managed to get both girls to the safety of their group, collapsing to his knees in relief as Oz and Hank steadied him and removed his burden.

Riley charged at them, growling out inarticulate sounds. Angel dropped into a battle stance as Spike came to his feet, but it was Hank that stopped his charge. His eyes dropped to his daughter, pale and breathing shallowly at his feet. He grabbed a sword from Wesley and sliced the blade down his palm. He turned with fresh blood running down the blade and screamed out a cry of rage as he charged toward the slavering monster intent on harming his child.

Riley stumbled as he took in the headlong dash of the human, whirled, and fled. Spike leaned against Wesley. And grinned as Angel stopped the man from continuing on.

"My shoulder is dislocated, our girls are out like lights with god only knows in their systems, and I feel like laughing." Spike chuckled and shook his head as Angel wrestled the sword from Hank's hand. Wes and Oz knelt by their mates and picked them up.

"They worked well together." Wesley said as Faith's head lolled on his arm.

"Fun to watch them battle. Always has been." Spike nodded.

"I just want to get them home safely. It smells like a sedative. He's after them. He will move against us. We need to get ready." Oz nuzzled his nose into Buffy's hair pulling her comforting scent deep into his lungs.

Angel walked over with a struggling Hank wrapped carefully in his arms. Spike snorted, but choked back the laughter when Angel glared at him.

"Let me go," Hank screamed. "I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch. He hurt my baby."

Spike looked at Oz as he stood with Buffy in his arms. "Looks like she got a double dose of gumption."

"We already knew that." Oz said and turned, leading the group back to the apartment.