Chapter 01 – Luci In The Sky With Demons
The bus had stopped a few miles beyond city limits. The driver had refused to go any further for reasons he didn’t need to explain.
Sam Sabuto had laid it out in perfect detail, how a few years back the Master had taken over the city, how almost every family here had lost at least one member to the vampires. And still, the people had miraculously adjusted to the fact that the city was no longer theirs. They were staying here, sending their kids to a school were half the students were dead.
What fools mortals could be.
All of Buffy’s belongings fit into an old duffel bag she carried effortlessly over her shoulder. The few clothes she possessed were neatly folded at the bottom of the bag, her weapons were on top and in easy reach.
Preperation was everything.
As she walked past the city sign, she felt a tingling sensation crawling down her spine, and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Evil forces were at work here.
She hadn’t fully understood why she was supposed to come here. There was plenty to do in Cleveland since a half-demon clan had taken over most of the underworld. And the people here seemed to be handling their problems very well under the circumstances; the Hellmouth, a powerful vampire ruling over what was left to rule, and only a small militia to hold the bloodsuckers at bay.
Buffy looked at the small scrap of paper where she had written down the directions. She was supposed to meet the Watcher at the High School, apparently the stronghold of the small fighting force. A public building, how stupid could they be.
The town center was deserted, all the shops, cafés and restaurants were either boarded up or heavy iron gates blocked the entries. It was a ghost town. There were probably actual ghosts around, too.
Buffy headed for a small park she was supposed to cross on the most direct was to the school.
Suddenly, there was the high pitched scream of a woman, the screeching tires on concrete, and the sound of a fight. A car door was slammed shut, and there were the thumping sounds of fists hitting flesh.
Tightening her grip on the strap of her bag and bolted into a run. Her steeltoed boots thumped on the concrete, eating up a lot of ground.
The small playground was the scene of the everyday fight of good against evil. A van was parked with it’s back to the park, the rear doors open. Three vampires were struggling with half a dozen people, trying to get them into the van. An elderly man, a huge wooded cross in hand, tried to free them, but one of the vampire had slammed the rear door right into his face and he went to the ground.
Buffy dropped her bag, pulled out a small crossbow and strapped it across her shoulders. Then, she jumped right into battle.
The vampires proved to be not much of a problem. They were probably just henchmen, following orders but no brains.
The man with the cross looked up at her in both confusion and surprise. “Buffy Summers?”
She towered over him, her hands propped on her hips. “That’s right.” Her tone was crisp, businesslike, merciless. “Want to tell me what I’m doing here?”
The confusion faded from the man’s face, replaced by… what? Relief?
He got to his feet and brushed the dirt off his tweed jacket. “My name is Rupert Giles. I called your Watcher.” He held out a hand to her but she didn’t take it. “I’m… we’re glad you came. We’re in desperate need for a Slayer.”
“So, I’m here. What do you want me to do? I’ve got other things to do.”
“Of course. If you will follow me to my apartment? It’s saver there than at the school, and I can introduce you to the rest of the team.” Giles gestured into the direction of his place.
“Hold it, Jeeves. Let me get this straight. I’m not in for the team spirit. Whatever it is you want me to do, I will do it alone. No gang, no back up. I can’t risk relying on other people.”
Giles ignored her, his face darkening a little. “Follow me, please.”
The door to the Watcher’s apartment was steelframed and secured with two deadbolts that sank deep into the wall. He unlocked it and pushed the door open.
The place was cluttered with stacks of books and weapons. A small lamp was switched on and cast deep shadows into the corners.
“What is this? Fort Knox for Dummies?”
A small guy appeared in the doorframe from the little kitchen. He had a crossbow pressed against his shoulder. “That her?” he asked, his voice calm, almost laconic.
Giles nodded, then locked the door behind him. “Buffy Summers, Daniel Osborne,” he introduced them.
“Oz,” the little guy said with a nod, then lowered the weapon.
“That’s your glorious team?” Buffy gestured at Oz, frowning. Amusement and skeptisism playing over her features.
“Where’s Larry?” Giles asked, once more ignoring the Slayer’s comment.
“Home. He’ll come by later.”
“Now,” Buffy snapped, drawing both men’s attention to her. “Care to explain the verdict? I take it, you don’t have much time on your hands. So do I.”
Giles looked at her for a moment, then took off his glasses and cleaned them with the hem of his sweater. When he pushed them back up his nose, he leaned against the small desk that was overflowing with books or other manuscripts.
“Miss Summers, I presume you are familiar with the Master?”
“Not as familiar as I’m going to be when I kick that bastard’s ass.”
“Well, then I take it that Mr Sabuto has filled you in on our current situation.”
“Yeah,” Buffy all but drawled. “He didn’t tell me, though, how you guys can be so stupid to let that Master rule over this town. It’s just a vampire.”
The Watcher looked at her, anger flaring up in his eyes at her churlishness. “I’m afraid, he’s not just a vampire, Miss Summers. The Master his ancient, nobody knows how old he really is.”
Buffy snorted, rolling her eyes. “I bet I’ve killed things older than him.”
Giles all but yanked his glasses off his nose in frustation. “Do you think this is a game. When I came to Sunnydale, it was already too late. Everything was already set in motion for the Ascension. There was nothing I could have done but damage control.”
“Then why were you here in the first place, useless as you are?”
For a moment, Giles just looked at her. Then his shoulders sagged in defeat. “Because the Council told me that you would come here. I would have been your Watcher, you would have been under my guidance instead of Mr Sabuto. Apparently, they predicted wrong.”
“The Council? The precious Council.” The Slayer shook her head in frustraded disappoinment. “Where was the Council when the Master took over? Or when my mother was killed? All they do is sit in their studies, reading musty old books. But I learned something else on the streets fighting the demons instead of just reading about them.” At her words, darkness clouded her features, her green eyes growing a little distant.
Giles regarded her almost patiently. He had seen a lot of hurt and pain during the last years at the Hellmouth but this young woman seemed even more scarred and jaded then anyone he’d ever met.
“So,” Buffy snapped him out of his reverie, now all businesslike again. “Tell me what I need to know so I can do your job.”