Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to the men and women of Mutant Enemy productions, and Josh Whedon, the lucky putz.


And lo, they cometh upon the call,
Harking from places whence Angels do fear to tread.
Warriors, soldiers, men of war,
They are the Bloodletters.
They are the Vanguard.
Fear thine name.
- The Book of Soth, C.4000 BC.

Prologue - The Calling

Let their blood flow!

Kill them!

Taste their blood!

Die by the Sword!

Blood. An endless sea of blood. All around her it ran in rivers and seas, the eddy and flow of its crimson waters like a soothing balm on her nerves. Sensing a familiar presence behind her, she turned, a sultry grin on her face.

"I see you are having fun," he commented, his amber eyes glinting with amusement. Extending a finger, she swiped a small splatter of blood off of his cheek and tasted it, kissing the tip of her finger at length.

"Salty," she purred. He laughed, the scar on his cheek crinkling gaily, the eerie glow of the fires that burned around them twisting his face strangely.

"Still as twisted as ever," he murmured softly, his armoured gauntlet tracing her cheek absently. Favouring him with a warm smile, she blew him a kiss and beheded the demon that had charged her from behind, it's scaly red skin no match for the honed edge of her blade.

"Of course!" She chirped, sweeping her knee up into the groin of a human mercenary that deigned to work with demons. Gutting him quickly, she spat on his corpse with disgust. "Ugh, I hate turncoats," she muttered, then jerked as the large blade of her friend shot past her face, a sickening crunch indicating it had struck home.
A glance over her shoulder confirmed her belief, mainly due to the demon that stood, the sword imbedded deeply into its skull less than two feet from her back.
"Thanks," she said. He grinned at her, then turned about, the midnight blue of his armour gleaming with an almost demonic air.

"No thanks necessary!" He replied as he walzed back into the chaos of the battle. She rolled her eyes.

"Men," she muttered derisively with an idle sweep of her sword that behedded another red-scaled demon.

Three hours later, and the battle was done. Three figures stood at the centre of the torched citadel, assessing the outcome.

"We lost seven hundred men," the man in white armour said. His armour, despite him being in the thick of battle, was spotless of any blood, human or otherwise. A large stylised dragon reared back upon the sheild held in his left hand, mirrored above his heart on his breastplate.

"An acceptable loss," the man in midnight blue armour returned, his grizzled appearance budging not an inch. The symbol of a snarling wolf decorated his left breastplate, the shoulder guards moulded into a similar visage. Standing between the two, a younger woman snorted.

"How many did we get? Two, three thousand demons?" She queried, rolling her shoulder blades, a nervous habit she had aquired in China several years back. The man in blue turned to her, a faint smile on his lips.

"Not quite that many," he murmured. "I would guess around one and a half." Frowning, the woman crossed her arms, her dark brown hair falling over to shadow her eyes.

"It should have been more," she muttered petulantly. Her red armour gleamed in the early morning sunlight, highlighting the symbol of a burning blade upon the small buckler on her left arm, repeated again above her left breastplate.

"Why so annoyed?" The man in white asked with surprise. "No one else could have done the same, much less lead an army into a demon stronghold and only lose a tenth of their forces!" She huffed and glared at the corpse of a demon accusingly. A heavy hand upon her shoulder made her turn and look up into the face of the man in blue.

"Do not be angry," he soothed calmly. "We are Vanguard."


Faith shot up out of her bed, her chest heaving as she struggled to suck air into her lungs. After several minutes, she sighed and wiped the sweat out of her face before collapsing back onto her bunk.

Weird dream, she thought, though I've had worse. That's what, the fifteenth time I've had that dream? Strange how I only just remember. A quick glance about let her know that it was still early in the morning, probably around four or five am. It was hard to keep track of time in prison, unless you had a clock nearby or were outside so you could gauge the time from the sun. With an annoyed grunt, she shifted about for a moment before finding a comfortable position, her left arm curling around her face to pillow it, the right just below. It took nearly five minutes for her to see the tattoo that had not been there before on her left arm. When she did, she immediately sat up and stared at it.

"The hell?" She muttered in surprise. Inspecting it carefully revealed that it wasn't actually a tattoo, more like a much much darker skin tone - almost pitch black. It had no real meaning that she could discern, it was just a tattoo. It looked somewhat tribal, though where she got that impression from she did not know. A prickling pain across the base of her spine made her stand up immediately, hiking up her prison garb and twisting about to get a better view.

Being flexible has its benefits, she mused idly. A few moments later she caught sight of another tattoo in the same place as she felt the prickling sensation. Again it was in the same style as the other one on her arm - somewhat tribal, but with no real meaning that she could see. She froze as another prickling sensation washed across her stomach, and if she had not felt it just now, she would have mistaken it for her Slayer senses. Quickly dropping the back of the shirt and lifting the front, she found another tattoo on her stomach, the same style of the others.

"This is way creepy," she muttered with a frown. She had nothing against tattoos at all, but only if she could choose them. Magically appearing tattoos had a distinct 'unnatural' tag attatched to them in her mind. Three more prickling feelings, two on her ankles, one on her neck. Looking down she found what seemed like barbed wire - again in the same style, and wondered what pattern was around her neck.

Taking a steadying breath, Faith sat on her bunk and swallowed.
I am so gonna wig out if this keeps on, she thought. As if reacting to her thoughts, five more tingly feelings washed over her body. Her breath hitched as she peered under the shirt and regulation sports-bra. She growled angrily as she spotted the encircling tattoos around her breasts and three more on and around her stomach.

Grinding her teeth, she stood and walked to the door, banging on it loudly.

"Hey!" She hollared loudly. "HEY! GUARD! GET ME SOMEONE FROM THE COUNCIL!" She heard angry mutterings from the surrounding cells, but ignored them, repeating her demands until the guard arrived at her door with an irritated look on her face.

"All right!" She growled in a clipped english accent. "They're coming. Now shut up and wait, ok?" Faith shut up. The woman blinked at her for a moment, before her eyes widened and she pointed at Fith's throat.
"When the hell did'ja get that?" She demanded. The brunette shifted uncomfortably.

"Just now," she answered, just as another tingle shivered on her neck, just below the first. The guard boggled at her for a second, then turned around and hollared to her partner to make sure the Council representative hurried up.

There was no response for several seconds, before a whisting sound echoed through the hallway, terminating in a meaty 'thunk' as the butt-end of a knife smashed the guard between the eyes, crumpling her to the floor silently.
Her eyes widening, Faith backed away from the triple-reinforced, Slayer-proof door provided by the Watcher's Council as a shadow appeared and resolved into a youthful face. The young man grinned at her, a familiar-looking tattoo around his neck catching her eye.

"Allo!" He said cheerfully with an english country drawl before reaching down and liberating the cell keys and using them to open the door.
Opening the door, she found him dressed in black jeans, black t-shirt and a waist-length black leather bomber jacket. Eyeing the fighting stance she was in, he held up his hands soothingly. "I ain't her to hurt you, you know," he explained, tilting his head to the side with a lop-sided grin.
Faith didn't budge, her eyes narrow. It occurred to her that instead of the prison in uproar at the assault of the guard and what seemed like a jail-break, there was virtually no sound at all, aside from the breathing of herself and her companion. She glared at him as he grinned.
"No-one knows what's goin' on," he explained. "Just you an' me." Slowly he removed his jacket, exposing his arms to her view. Her eyes flicked down and caught. He bore the same tattoos, or at least the same style, as she was beginning to develop. As if on queue, two more tingles swept across her shoulder-blades, making her shiver. He regarded her seriously for a minute, before nodding. He sat down and propped himself against the frame of the door.

"Look at your stomach," he commanded softly, not looking at her, but out into the cavernous hallway. Haltingly, Faith lifted up the front of her shirt and glanced down at her stomach, flicking her eyes up every so often to keep an eye on the strange youth, who she estimated to be about two years older than herself.
"You should have a tattoo there that's different than all of the others. A Symbol," he spoke to the empty air. "What is it?"

She inspected the tattoos, now numbering eight, on her stomach. Her stomach flip-flopped as she recognised she symbol from her dream.
"A sword," she supplied, feeling sick to ehr stomach. She wasn't supposed to get this shit anymore! She was supposed to spend her life in prison, paying for her crimes! The youth nodded, then stood and removed his t-shirt before turning to her.
His body was patterned with the now-familiar shape of tattoos, numbering nearly eighteen, just on the front, and in the very centre, just above his navel, the symbol of a snarling Wolf stared out at her.
She swallowed.
"Well shit," she muttered, glancing up at his face, decorated with a moustache and goatee, she noticed for the first time. His eyes reflected a sadness that made her shiver with dread.

"How long have you been dreaming?" He asked. Her jaw firmed and she glared at him. He frowned and crossed his arms across his chest defensively.
"Don't look at me like that," he snapped. "It ain't my fault! I've been having the same damn problems as you! Just it's been a bit longer for me, is all," he admitted with a rueful look at nothing in particular.

"How long?" She asked, feeling curious despite herself.

"Three years." He answered simply. "Haven't had a good night's sleep since then. I've had the tattoos for almost the same amount of time, give or take three weeks." Faith swallowed nervously. Three years? She was already tormented by nightmares enough, she didn't need three years of hardly any sleep.

"How did you cope?" She asked. He grinned at her.

"Slept during the day," he answered. A laugh bubbled up, slightly hysterical from Faith's throat. He shrugged. "The daylight seems to keep them away for some reason, though I can't not fall asleep at night. Something compells me to sleep then. The same compulsion's the reason I'm here now." She looked at him strangely and he shrugged, perching himself upon her bunk.
"That's true, too," he answered her unspoken question. "For the last two years I've been compelled for search for...something. I didn't know what, just knew that I had to find it no matter what." He sighed and looked at the floor pensively for a moment.
"I left my home, my college, my job. Everything. To find you." Faith plonked ehrself down on her butt against he wall, feeling stunned.

"Me?" She asked in astonishment. "Why the hell would you look for me?" She certainly couldn't think of any good reason why some one would want to find her, aside from killing her that is. Speaking of which... "You're not here to kill me, are you?" He gave her a strange look.

"What? No! Of course not!" He protested, looking indignant. He blew out a frustrated breath. "Like I said, I was compelled to find you. No clue how the hell I got around the place, half of it is a complete blurr. Same thing about these," here he tugged on his clothes, "No clue how I got the money to buy them, let alone how I survived for two years on the road." He sighed, cracked his neck, then looked her dead in the eye.
The next think she knew, he was on his feet, his tattoos glowing an eerie dark blue.
"But that doesn't matter," he said, his voice reverbrating with a strange power that compelled her to her feet. She felt a strange energy filling her body - making her feel more alive than she had ever felt in her life.
"It doesn't matter," he continued, "because...we are...Vanguard!" The last word was shouted, and with it great dark-blue arcs of electricity covered his body, sparking from tattoo to tattoo. Suddenly it occurred to her what they looked like.

The patterns of a suit of armour.

With a roar, the electricity dispelled, leaving behind a figure that made her give a silly grin. Well-defined muscles, though not too much - enough for speed and power together. Pitch black bodysuit. Midnight blue armour with silver lining. And a sword. A big. Huge. Kickass sword. Allowing her eyes to trail over his body hungrily, her eyes alighted on his face, wherupon she blinked in surprise. No longer had he brown hair. Now it was a dark blue - almost black, though in the same close-cropped style as before. Amber eyes glinted darkly at her, a predatory smirk decorating his mouth.

"Cool," she muttered involuntarily. He laughed, a rich tenor that echoed throughout the cell and hallway. Yet no-one noticed but her. Suddenly ehr body felt alive with tingles and she shuddered as she collapsed to her knees. It certainly wasn't a bad feeling, she reflected privately as a soft moan escaped her lips. A gauntleted hand appeared in her vision, and she grasped it firmly as she was pulled to her feet.

"Feels good, doesn't it," he murmured with a soft smile. She grinned at him in response.

"So," she asked, tilting her head. "What are we?" He shrugged.

"We are Vanguard," he answered simply. "I don't know much more than that. I havea feeling this...Council may know, but...something tells me that I don't want them to know."

"Oh," she huffed. "So where to now?" He eyed her for a moment.

"California. A place called -"

"Sunnydale," she supplied with a groan. He tilted his head questioningly and she sighed. "Long story," she muttered, staring at the floor gloomily.

"Can't be longer than mine," he supplied. Seeing her confused look, he grinned. "Do you believe in demons?" She laughed, almost hysterically.

"Do I believe in demons?" She choked, trying not to laugh. "I'm the Slayer, I have no choice!" He raised an eyebrow, then gestured to the door.

"Sounds interesting," he murmured as she trotted past him, his armour strangely silent as he moved. "Maybe you can fill me in on the way."

"Why are we going there anyway?" She asked as she stepped over the unconscious form of the guard. A pang of trepidation struck her, but she dismissed it after a moment. This felt like fate, sort of like when she was brought in here by the Council from the US prison. You never wanted to mess with fate. Life ended up sucking big time if you did. She looked down at her tattooed arms and grinned.

Time to take a road-test!

Her grinned at her from the side as she transformed. She stood there for a while, flexing her arms and grinning like a child in a candy-store, before grinning at him, her newly crimson eyes almost glowing with glee.

"This is so cool," she stated. He laughed again, then decided to answer her by pointing at the buckler on her left arm.

"We're going to find the Dragon," he answered simply. Faith glanced at the flaming sword on her sheild, up to the snarling wolf above his chest, then grinned.

"Let's party."

End Prologue.

Authors Notes: I'm just using these symbols 'cause I thin they're cool. This isn't a crossover with Bloody Roar or Suikoden, in case you were wondering :) Sorry!

The Black Sword Rune is ©2001 Konami. The Bloody Roar 3 Symbol is ©2001 Activision. I own neither, unfortunately.