DISCLAIMER: The characters from Roswell, BTVS, and Angel donít belong
to me. I included some characters from a previous story called ĎZeppo?í
See the disclaimer there for reference to them. I donít want to give
away any surprises here. Regardless of their origin, Iím just borrowing
them. I donít gain anything by writing this.
RATING: R for violence
SUMMARY: A battle is looming between two dangerous groups, one demonic,
one all too human, and the town of Roswell will be lucky to survive it.

How had it gone so wrong? The plan had been perfect, their enemies a
known quantity. And yet, everything was falling apart. Now his people
were dying all around him. What had happened?! More importantly, how
was he going to turn it around? It was Sunday, 1:15 a.m.

Thursday, 7:00 p.m.

Liz launched a spinning kick that Spike barely avoided and quickly
followed up with a sweep that landed her teacher flat on his back.

"How was that?" She asked sitting on his stomach with her mock stake
tapping on his chest. Spike shifted her aim a bit.

"Good. Youíre definitely getting better." She let him up and he grinned
at her. "Got a surprise for you."


"Heard some good news. Um, well I suppose not Ďgoodí news, but itíll
have to do. A man was killed by a coyote outside Galinas."

"Thatís good news?"

"They think he crawled quite a distance from the scene of the attack
since there wasnít a lot oí blood at the scene. Thereís a good chance
itís a vampire did the killing. Victim might even rise tonight. If we
hurry we can probably catch it."

"Itís dark now," Liz noted unnecessarily. She had arrived about an hour
before sunset and begun her workout. Despite the strenuous exercise she
wasnít the least bit tired so she couldnít claim that as an excuse. She
swallowed her nervousness and gave him a cocky grin. "Okay. Lets go."

They gathered supplies and headed out back to where his car was
concealed. A few minutes later they were headed out of town. The way
Spike drove the trip didnít take long, and Liz arrived at the cemetery
considerably more nervous than she had been when they left the factory.

"Be alert," Spike warned. "A newborn wonít be that much trouble, but
the one who made him might be lurkiní about. No telling who it is or
how tough they are." Liz nodded, focusing on the task ahead of her.
Spike handed her a stake and took out one for himself. "Letís go."

The place was dark and gloomy just as a cemetery should be, Liz
reflected as she made her way through the rows of markers looking for
the fresh grave. She found it and looked around for Spike. She was
about to wave to him when she thought to double check the name. 

"Tim Gilbert," she read as she illuminated the headstone with her
flashlight. "Thatís the one." She clicked the flashlight off and rose
to attract Spikeís attention when the shifting dirt of the grave
surprised her. Liz jumped back and stared in macabre fascination as the
man, a buff twenty-something, pulled himself out of the ground.

"Geez, thatís creepy." The demon looked up at the sound of her voice.
It grinned and launched itself towards its first meal. Liz gave a small
scream and quickly sidestepped as the vamp charged. It stumbled by with
a surprised grunt and turned to face her.

"So I guess I should hit you now?" The vampire wasnít at all interested
in what Liz thought she should do. It came at her straight on and was
staggered back by a jab to the nose. It stared at her cross-eyed for a
second, surprised by the resistance, but then snarled and charged
again, its hunger overwhelming any sense of caution.

Again Liz sidestepped the wild rush and grabbed an outstretched wrist.
Pulling him toward her so his back was too her, she placed her other
hand on the elbow gave a hard twist and shove. The arm snapped and the
vamp hit the dirt face first with a howl of rage. Liz leaped on its
back and drove her stake home. What had once been Tim Gilbert turned to
dust beneath her.

"Well," Liz mused aloud, "that wasnít so bad."

"For who?" asked a peevish female voice behind her. Liz jumped to her
feet and spun to face a red head she would have classified as vamp even
without the fangs. "He was cute too."

"Personally, I hate a guy who gets grabby on the first date," Liz
quipped, trying to mask her nervousness. The vampire chuckled, not
fooled by the bravado.

"Well that should be the least of your worries at the moment. Iím
hungry." Liz ducked away from the swing and backed up.

"Well thatís more or less constant isnít it?"


"How do you keep your figure?" Liz asked, honestly curious. The vamp
laughed good-naturedly.

"I get a lot of exercise killing Slayers." She moved in fast and hit
Liz hard in the face. The vamp threw herself on Liz, or tried to. Her
intended victim rolled aside and to her feet in time to deliver a solid
kick to the head.

"Follow up Liz," Spike called. "This isnít a Sunday social. All being
politeíll get you is dead." Liz nodded and squared her shoulders. She
met the next charge head on, driving both fists into her opponentís gut
and then bringing them up sharply under her chin. The vampireís riposte
staggered her and the demon had no trouble following up on the

Flat on her back, Liz brought her head up sharply, forehead connecting
with the bridge of the vampís nose. Grabbing an ear, she brought the
head it was attached to down hard on the grave marker set flush in the
ground next to her head and bucked her off. A kick to the side lifted
the vamp off the ground.

"Stake," she called. Spike tossed her one and she turned back aiming a
kick high as the vamp charged her from behind. The kick connected
solidly with her jaw, stopping her in her tracks. Liz stomped down and
brought her other leg around in a crescent kick that shattered the
vampís jaw and sent her sprawling. Liz leaped on her and staked her
before she could recover.

"How was that?" she asked getting to her feet.

"Pathetic. If sheíd had any talent at all youíd be dead," he told her
bluntly. "Your basic techniqueís okay, and shows some promise, but you
canít hesitate. Youíre supposed to hurt them, take the initiative and
remember to follow through. Hit as hard as you can and keep hitting."
Liz nodded dejectedly.

"Youíre right. Iíve never really thought that violence was a solution
to anything, but Iím gonna have to get over that."

"Damn right you are," he snorted. "Demons donít respond to sweet
reason." He thought hard a moment then sighed. 

"I suppose I shouldíve pushed that during training. You held back cause
you didnít want to hurt me didnít you?" She nodded.

"Well stop it. You canít hurt me, so stop beiní such a pansy about it.
Let those reflexes yer so scared of take over." He stepped forward and
poked her in the chest. "Do you understand?" She nodded meekly and he
rolled his eyes. "Show me!" he growled letting his demon show and
grabbing the lapels of her jacket with both hands.

Liz brought her hands up between his arms and snapped them apart,
breaking his grip. Stepping back, she grabbed a double handful of short
blonde hair and pulled down and toward her.

Knee met forehead, stunning him, and her grip shifted, grabbing collar
in one hand and belt in the other she heaved. Spike abruptly found
himself airborne. He had time to be annoyed at himself before he hit
the head stone sheíd thrown him at. It toppled and he kept going.

He rolled a short distance when he hit the ground, but wasnít able to
rise. The Slayer was kneeling on his chest with a stake aimed at his

"Youíre a bit high," he scolded.

"I didnít want to accidentally kill you if you sat up suddenly or
something." Spike nodded and gestured for her to rise.

"Very considerate. Just donít be that way with other vamps." Liz

"Got it. You made your point."

"Good. Letís go back then." Spike grinned and made a slight bow and
sweeping gesture toward the car. His sudden mood shift confused Liz,
but his antics made her smile. She headed for the car, remembering to
keep an eye out for any other signs of covert movement as they left the
cemetery. They saw nothing.


Maria opened her eyes slowly, wondering for a second where she was.
Outside, judging by the warm sunlight and the lack of a roof to block
it. She was lying on the ground, or rather on a blanket on the ground.
Lastly, she wasnít alone. She smiled as she felt Michael stir against
her, waking up.

"I think we fell asleep," she said unnecessarily. Michael mumbled
something and sat up. Maria scooted away slightly and sat up as well.
"Good nap though."

"After that meal I think we needed it." They looked at the remains of
the picnic lunch they had brought to the small park. Falling asleep
after eating hadnít been part of the plan, but she had to admit she
liked waking up with him. "This is nice," he said after a moment,
surprising her. "Itís nice to do something normal once in a while."
Maria let out a small laugh and he looked at her curiously.

"Sorry. Itís just that I never would have connected the concepts of you
and picnic. If our lives werenít so strange Iíd say this is anything
but normal." Michaelís face closed up and Maria knew sheíd said the
wrong thing.

"At least Iím trying," he groused.

"I didnít mean it that way. I really enjoyed this. Itís a nice change
of pace. Youíre not usually with yíknow the romantic gestures." Michael

"Sorry. I donít mean to be defensive. I justÖ" he shrugged
awkwardly, "wanted to do something with you that, you know, a
normal couple might do. Not that spying on the FBI isnít a lot of
laughs." Maria grinned. It was more than the joke was worth, she
thought, but the tension had gone out of the conversation. The last
thing either of them wanted was more tension. The last month or so had
seen far too much of it

Michael chuckled. Maria looked at him as he lay back and put his hands
behind his head. "What?" she asked curiously.

"Just remembering the last time we slept together." He chuckled, but
Maria shuddered at the memory.

"It wasnít funny then, and Iím not sure it is now." She managed to
smile ruefully though. If it had happened to someone else, she
reflected, it might have been funny. "You didnít have to listen to mom
freaking out after she caught us in bed together." She looked down at
her boyfriend, who was still smiling and seemed determined to be
contrary. Maria considered lecturing him on the double standard for
women in such situations but decided against it. Michaelís smile faded
after a moment when he realized this upset her despite the front she
put up. He began to search for a new topic, a safe, normal topic.

"What are you thinking?" Maria asked after a moment. Michael decided to
go with honesty.

"Iím trying to think of a safe, normal topic of conversation." Maria
laughed shortly and lay back next to him.

"Not many of those these days. The only ones that I can think of right
off would probably put us back to sleep." Michael made a sound that
indicated agreement. He was feeling too lazy to do anything else. After
a moment she said, "Um, so how Ďbout those Dodgers?" Michaelís eyes
snapped open and he looked at her incredulously. Both started to laugh.

"You want to head back to the CrashDown?" Michael asked after a bit.
Maria shook her head. Time for an awkward topic, Michael realized. "Liz
is working now isnít she?"

"Yeah. Things just havenít been the same since this Slayer thing
happened, and I donít know why. Itís not like itís made this big impact
on our lives or anything. She trains with Spike a couple of hours a
day, but thereís been nothing for her to you know, actually slay since
those Vigary guys came through town last month. The women are still
here, but we hardly ever see them. SoÖ" she trailed off, at a loss to
explain why things were awkward between them.

"Maybe itís because you canít share it? Something you donít have in
common? How often does that happen?" Maria didnít know what surprised
her more, that Michael would attempt to say something deep and
insightful or that he was right.

"I think thatís it," she said after a moment. "Thatís exactly it."
Michael shrugged.

"Give it time. You two have been friends way too long to let something
little like this get in the way."


"Like you said. Itís not like itís made a huge difference." Maria made
a thoughtful noise and considered that. It would be time to head back
to the diner soon anyway. She resolved to talk to Liz about it. It was
Friday, 2:00 p.m.


Spike was bored. He had been cooped up in the factory all day with just
a portable TV for company. Roswell didnít have Sunnydaleís tunnels or
LAís extensive sewer system, so he was trapped during the day. He hated
that. When he had agreed to become Liz Parkerís Watcher he hadnít
realized how painfully dull the job would be in a town with a grand
total of 10 demons, himself included. He didnít count the Slayerís
friends because they maintained that they were aliens and not demons.
To make matters worse, or better depending on oneí point of view, he
was the only one of those ten demons even remotely violent.

The previous night had been interesting, but there was far too little
of that activity in the area to keep him from getting bored. Angelus
had used to complain that Spike had the attention span of a mayfly. The
aliens had some possibilities. Liz had said they had enemies, other
aliens that would be coming to attack them. That was something to look
forward to he supposed. The ones already in Roswell were duller than

At first he thought that Tess girl might liven things up, but sheíd
disappointed him. He had barely seen her, but when they did happen to
be in the same place, she always had a snotty remark that managed to
piss him off. She never did anything more threatening though, so no
opportunity there for slayage as Buffy used to call it.

There was no way around it. Roswell was dull. The bet he had made with
Angel was enough to keep him there for a time, but he knew that
eventually he would shrug it off and leave. Sooner rather than later if
something didnít happen.


The dilapidated Ford pulled to a stop in front of the UFO theme
restaurant and the young man behind the wheel looked up at the sign and
smiled. "This should be interesting."

"Tourist trap," his female companion surmised. "I give the novelty 10
minutes to wear off." He rolled his eyes and smiled at her.

"Letís find out." He got out of the car and she reluctantly followed
him inside. They took a booth and picked up the menu a gray-haired,
bored looking woman wearing a set of antennas dropped on the table. 

"Will Smith burger? Men in Blackberry pie? Green slime smoothie?" His
voice grew increasingly incredulous.

"Okay," his girlfriend grimaced, "the last one. Yuck." He nodded in

"Yeah. Like we donít see enough slime." He looked up as another
waitress approached. 

Liz smiled at the two customers as she pulled out her order pad. "Hi,
Iím Liz. Welcome to the CrashDown. Can I get you something to drink
while you look over the menu?" The two gave each other a significant
look before glancing down at the menus. 

"Just a coke for me."

"Me too. I canít decide what to have though. Everything looks soÖ"

"Bizarre?" the woman provided. He nodded. Liz giggled and nodded.

"Itís a bit corny, but the food is good.  Try the burger. The cook
knows how to make it just right."

"Okay Liz, burger and fries."

"Me too," his companion piped up handing over her menu. Liz turned and
headed for the window to put their orders in. They waited till she was
out of earshot. "So thatís her, huh?"

"Guess so. Seems nice enough."

"Not much to look at." He shot her a look. Terrific, she was jealous,
but he decided to misinterpret her words in order to keep the peace.

"Canít judge by appearances. Too many vamps made that mistake with
Buffy." She let it slide.

"Think sheís ready for whatís coming?"

"Weíll know soon enough." It was Friday, 2:30 p.m.


After leaving the café, the first order of business was to find
a place to stay and then to find temporary work while they got ready.
Neither knew exactly how long they would be in Roswell, and they needed
to be ready for the long haul.

Two hours later, they saw an opportunity for one of them. "Waitress?"
She didnít sound very enthusiastic.

"Youíve done it before."

"Didnít like it," she pouted. "I can do it though." She went into the
CrashDown and took down the help wanted sign that had only been put up
an hour ago. The owner cocked an eyebrow at her as she approached him
and set the sign on the counter.

"Youíre confident. Been a waitress before?" She nodded. With Agnes
sudden departure they were going to be short for the dinner shift, Jeff
Parker reflected. He needed to fill the slot quickly. Alex had
volunteered to help out, but Jeff Parker had said jokingly, that he
wouldnít look good in the uniform. His wife and daughter had both given
him dirty looks for that.

"Well I do need someone fairly quickly. Can you work the dinner shift

"Anya. And yes I can." Jeff nodded and agreed to hire her on a trial
basis. It was Friday, 4:00 p.m.


After a few quick words with Anya, he drove on alone to a place he had
seen earlier in the day. A job was a necessary evil while he was there
and he tried for positions that wouldnít take too much time away from
his actual mission in Roswell.

The construction site he had seen was hiring day labor and he had
little trouble getting on pushing a wheelbarrow and running errands. He
had agreed to meet Anya on her dinner break and make plans to approach
the Slayer. Spike might be a problem or he might actually help if it
suited him or at least amused him. They would simply have to see how it
played out.


Spike wandered the streets, looking for something to divert him. He
never missed a chance to get out, and he had some time before Liz
arrived for their training session. She had called earlier saying she
needed to be at the café in case the new waitress her father had
hired didnít work out. 

Jeff Parker was getting curious about where his daughter went in the
evenings, but Max had been good about covering for her. He sometimes
watched their training sessions, and tried to be supportive, but Spike
could tell he wasnít happy with the situation.

Liz had suggested that he and the others be included in the sessions,
after all, they had their own abilities to master. Max had said he
would think about it, and Spike had to admit that including the aliens
would make things more interesting and had encouraged him to invite the
others to join in. It might make things a little less boring anyway, to
see what they could do.

He met Liz a block from the CrashDown and they headed for the factory.
They were still on Main when they spotted Dodd eyeing them
suspiciously, still a little ticked, Liz suspected over the way theyíd
given him the slip a few weeks earlier. The second time they saw him
they had traveled several blocks in the direction of the factory. Liz
realized that he was following them with considerably more discretion
than he had used before. She motioned to Spike and turned down a side
street. He grinned when he realized what she had in mind.

Dodd started to drive by the alley, not intending to turn into the
street behind them. That would have given him away immediately. As he
passed though, he suddenly hit the brakes, startled by what he saw, or
rather, what he didnít see. They were nowhere to be seen. Getting out
of the car, he walked down the street, barely more than an alley
really, but too long for them to have reached the other end in the
short time they had been out of sight. He tried the only doors opening
onto the street and found both of them locked. He glanced up at the
fire escape, but the ladder was up and it was much too high for either
to have reached without a ladder or something to stand on. Those things
make a hell of a racket anyway, he realized and knew that he would have
certainly heard it. Muttering something obscene under his breath and
returned to his car. 

They waited until the sound of his engine had faded in the distance
before emerging. Liz dropped from the fire escape where she had been
hanging motionless, body pressed against the bottom of the
superstructure, just a few feet from the ladder Dodd had been

Spike pulled himself out of the manhole heíd hidden in. How he had
moved the cover without making a noise, she couldnít imagine. He
grinned at her and clapped her on the back.

"Sheriffís not going to be happy that Iíve been playing with Dodd
again." Her teacher chuckled and shook his head.

"The boyís got no one to blame but himself. Tell Valenti itíll help his
deputies keep on their toes."

She smiled somewhat ruefully, enjoying the game even if she knew she
would probably regret it later. "I was sure he was looking right at me
at one point. I didnít even breathe." They continued to talk as they
made their way to the factory to begin the training session. It was
Friday, 8:00 p.m.


Liz rubbed at a few new, but quickly fading aches as she walked back
toward the CrashDown. Spike had decided that he had been going easy on
her. Her performance in the cemetery the previous night had
disappointed him, and he wanted her to be ready for anything. Liz knew
he was right, but that didnít stop the indignation she felt over being
pushed so hard.

Irrational maybe, but it was there nonetheless. What truly disturbed
her was his insistence that she let her reflexes take over. The
reflexes she had gotten from Faith still scared the daylights out of
her. Letting go with a demon or even with her odd teacher didnít bother
her that much, but she lived in fear of losing control, that someone
would accidentally step on her foot and she would put them in the
hospital before she realized what she was doing.

Spike had jokingly referred to it as Ďchanneling Faithí. Spike, she
reflected, could be a real jerk. Her control had been increasing
though. Her balance and coordination continued to improve much to her
amazement. Her teacher insisted however, that she was not ready to rely
on her own control and reflexes in a fight. She had to continue to use
Faithís. That thought scared her far more than the prospect of facing
any demon. Liz walked the rest of the way to the café, lost in
thought and didnít notice the van that drove by her slowly. It was
Friday, 9:55 p.m.


Spike dropped his keys in his pocket as he headed into the factory. The
new training scheme heíd worked up had been fairly effective if he did
say so himself. Liz was mad at him, but if it kept her alive during her
next fight he suspected she would get over it. The sound of a car
engine turning the corner caused him to glance back at the road. It
wouldnít do for some deputy to spot him entering the factory. It wasnít
a patrol car though, just a van that was moving past on the old road.

He stopped. That road didnít lead anywhere. He turned back for another
look. The van was familiar. Searching his memory as he entered the
factory, he tried to connect it with a time and place. It was a fairly
nondescript vehicle. He had seen others like it around town, but he
hadnít seen this one in town he suddenly realized.

It had passed them the previous night on the road from Galinas. "Oh
bloody Hell!" Spike grabbed his keys from his coat pocket as he ran for
the door and his car.


Anya loaded the last of the stack of dishes into the dishwasher and
turned to Liz, straightening up with a grimace. "Is it always this
busy?" She sounded a bit peevish. Liz smiled sympathetically. She knew
the feeling.

"On Fridays? Yeah. This is a popular place. Not so busy most weekdays

"Thatís good. I forgot how tiring this can be."

"Well, almost done. Only a few people left." She glanced out the pickup
window at the remaining customers. Deputy Hansen was there, having a
late dinner. Hansen and a couple of factory workers just off the swing
shift were all that was left. "Almost time for our dinner. Working here
on an empty stomach gives you an appetite." Anya nodded, but didnít

Liz wasnít usually one for snap judgments. There had been a few
exceptions, Tess notable among them. She had known instantly that she
didnít like the blond. Anya on the other hand, she liked. The girl had
a directness and habit of speaking her mind that Liz really liked. In
some ways Anya reminded her of Maria without the hyperactive

Maria. Liz hadnít spoken to her at all that day, and sheíd really
wanted to. Sheíd felt herself drifting apart from her friends and
didnít like it one bit. She had to get the whole group together soon so
they could do something together, like old times.  Yeah, a
cynical little voice at the back of her mind whispered.  You could
all get captured by crazy alien hunters. Thatíd make for a fun

She quashed the thought quickly but was still left with the fact that
old times hadnít always been good. She shook her head ruefully as she
walked out into the main part of the café. A young man she
vaguely recognized came in. She looked at him more closely and realized
that he had arrived with Anya earlier in the day. She nodded to a booth
next to the door and turned back toward the kitchen to tell Anya of his
arrival. She had almost made it to the pickup window when the door
opened again.

There were sounds of alarm from the customers and she turned to face
the door. There was something coming toward her. Bipedal, reptilian,
with a large green crystal centered in its forehead. This she had time
to take in before it attacked. Then all she could see was the very
sharp sword it was swinging at her.

Liz avoided the first simply by stepping back, the next by leaning to
the side and stepping back again, all the time looking for something to
use as a weapon or at least a distraction. As she passed the pickup
window she got both. 

Anya had been shown earlier in the evening how to clean the fryer used
for the Saturn Rings, but she had yet to do so.  Letís hear it for
procrastination, Liz thought as roughly a pint of hot grease struck
the creature in the face. It howled, more in indignation than pain, Liz
thought as she ducked a wild swing and found her weapon. The stools at
the counter were set into the floor and had heavy iron bases. Had the
instincts acquired from Faith not taken over she would never have
considered one of the stools as a possible weapon. Now, she didnít

The stool came free of the floor with only a small sound of tortured
metal and snapping bolts. The effort it took to tear it loose gave
extra momentum to the swing as she brought it up. The impact didnít
simply turn the demonís blow. It sent the sword spinning across the

Deprived of its primary weapon, it took a step back while reaching for
one of the many knives it seemed to be carrying. Liz didnít give him a
chance. Stepping forward as her opponent stepped back, she brought the
base of the stool down from the initial swing and up under its chin in
a swing that Tiger Woods would have envied.

Because of the seat, it was a bit awkward, but it did the trick. The
demon was lifted off its feet, it struck and bounced off a table and
landed in a heap near the door. It was down but not out. As Liz
watched, it began to stir and grope for its weapons. The young man near
the door had risen during the brief struggle and now stepped forward,
aiming a solid kick at its forehead with a steel-toed work boot. The
crystal centered there like a third eye shattered and the demon let out
a strangled scream through its broken jaw before disappearing in a
bright flash of light.

Everyone in the diner froze for a moment while their eyes adjusted. Liz
recovered first and looked around. Her parents, who had retreated
upstairs to work on the books, pounded into the diner shouting
questions, just as the front door slammed open and Spike barreled
through ready for a fight.

Deputy Hansen was still sitting in his booth, apparently fascinated by
the sword stuck in the wall a few inches from his head. Liz raised a
hand trying to forestall the awkward questions.

"Liz," her father demanded, looking around frantically for the source
of the commotion, "What happened?"

"Armed robbery," a voice behind her answered quickly, "or at least an
attempt at one. I think you discouraged him." Liz turned to see Anyaís
friend smiling smugly. Spike was watching the stranger with narrowed
eyes. He then turned away with a muttered curse and faced Liz.

"You okay?" Liz nodded. Spike made a disgusted noise. "I shouldíve
spotted that van long ago. After it circled the block twice I should
have realized they were casiní the place."

"Not your fault," she shook her head, then for her parents benefit
added, "you had no way of knowing he was coming in here." Her parents,
especially her father, were looking at Spike oddly now.

"Who are you?" Jeff Parker asked, looking over the dangerous looking
man in the black duster. He sincerely hoped that this wasnít a new
boyfriend. This fear at least was removed when Max Evans came through
the door.

"Liz!" She practically lit up when she saw him and moved into his
embrace. "Are you all right?"

"Fine Max. That was scary, but really no big deal." 

"No big deal?" Deputy Hansen had recovered and apparently called for
assistance. A siren grew loud as a patrol car turned the corner down
the street. "There is a sword stuck in the wall, and you ripped that
stool out of the floor." Everyone looked down at the seat that Liz had
dropped on the floor when Max had rushed in. Jeff knelt to examine the
base and the floor where it had been anchored with a baffled look on
his face. Liz didnít have to respond immediately though.

Sheriff James Valenti chose that moment to come through the door.
Thinking quickly, Liz concocted a story about a man in a fright mask
who had tried to rob the place. The bright flash of light in which the
demon had evaporated became a flare, which she speculated was intended
to blind witnesses temporarily. It was pretty thin she realized,
especially when she was asked about the stool she had ripped out of the
floor. She merely shrugged and said "adrenalineÖ maybe?" 

Valenti had to keep himself from rolling his eyes; he knew that her
parents had to have an explanation that was at least vaguely plausible.
Eventually though, all statements were taken and the place was emptied
of customers and police officers. Lizís parents, still visibly shaken
by the incident, closed the café and went upstairs. Liz lingered
when she saw the sheriffís expression.

"Be up in a bit mom." She waited for her parents to get out of earshot.

"Now the truth please." He looked at those who were lingering in the
café and noted the two strangers with concern.

"Its okay sheriff," Spike assured him. "They wouldnít be here if they
didnít know about Liz. Only surprise is that the Slayer didnít come
herself. Whatís up Xander? Buffy too busy makiní googly eyes at
soldier-boy? Normally she wouldnít trust you with anything more than a
highly dangerous doughnut gathering mission."

"Itís nice to see some things donít change," Xander Harris reflected.
"Youíre still pathetic, trying to compensate for you lack of bite with
lame insults." Liz felt a twinge of annoyance.

"Buffy sent you? Why? To check up on me?"

"Well, Iíll admit we were all curious to see how you were getting along
with Spike, but actually Iím here about someone whoís still dangerous."
As he said this, he turned his back on the vampire, deliberately making
it as casual a move as possible. "Iím tracking some dangerous people. I
know theyíre in the area. I thought we might be able to help each

"Dangerous? Demons? What kind?" Xander shook his head.

"Not demons, demon hunters. Itís a long story. Can we talk somewhere
more private?" It was Friday, 11:00 p.m.


"So talk." Liz, Max, Spike, and Valenti sat on one side and at either
end of the tables they had pushed together while Anya and Xander
settled on the remaining side. Xander suspected the arrangement was
intentional. They were presenting a united front. That was not
unexpected in a close knit group. What was unexpected was Spikeís
apparent inclusion in the group. Xander knew heíd have to get more
details on that. 

"First of all, what was that thing? Donít say it was a thief," Max told

"No. That was a Mora demon. Theyíre assassins. The texts call them
soldiers of darkness."

"Who would send an assassin after me? Who would even know about me?"
Liz asked.

"That van," Spike said glumly. "I saw it near here, but I was back at
the factory before I realized where Iíd seen it before. It passed us on
the road back from Galinas." He shook his head. "I should have spotted
it sooner. Those vamps you dusted had friends. They followed us back."

"Since when," Xanderís tone was incredulous, "do vampires and Mora
demons work together?"

"Itís been known to happen. The Master occasionally had demons workiní
for him, plus thereís groups like the Order of Tarraka."

"Oh yeah, the bounty hunters you hired to kill Buffy." Spike nodded.

"Right," he confirmed, obviously feeling no remorse over the incident.
Xander let it pass without comment or comeback, and moved on.

"Frankly, Iíd prefer door number two. I donít like the idea of another
vamp like the Master running loose."

"Is this attack on Liz related to the demon hunters you mentioned?" Max
wanted to know.


"Why would demon hunters want to kill a Slayer?" Valenti asked.

"They donít. I think it was the group theyíre currently after that sent
the Mora demon."

"Maybe youíd better start from the beginning," Max suggested.

"Itís a long story. I guess it really all started in Mexico a few years
back. This family, a father and his two teenage kids were headed down
to Mexico for a vacation when they had the misfortune to run into these
two brothers that were having um, legal problems. They forced the three
of them to smuggle them into Mexico in their RV and take them to a
little dive out in the middle of nowhere. What none of them knew was
that the place concealed a vampire nest. To make a long story short
there were only two survivors the daughter and one of the brothers
whoíd forced them into it. The others, and all of the remaining human
patrons of the bar were killed." The Roswell residents traded disturbed
looks but said nothing. The one called Max nodded for them to continue;
his expression unreadable.

"They went their separate ways. Kate returned to the U.S. to try to
pick up the remains of a normal life and Seth went into hiding in
Mexico as originally planned. Theyíd managed to do a pretty fair job of
wiping out the nest, but that wasnít the end of it. Seth made it to his
sanctuary but didnít have long to relax. The place was a haven for all
sorts of criminals, most of them probably deserved to be in jail, but
none of them deserved what happened. At least that was Kateís take on
it. The place was attacked by survivors from the nest and a fair number
of other vamps theyíd managed to round up. By the time the sun rose
there wasnít much left. Seth and a hand full of others survived, and
left the place behind. Seth bummed around for a while and eventually
returned to the U.S. where he hooked up with Kate.

"Now Kate had found it impossible to go back to a normal life. She had
taken up demon hunting as suicidal as that sounds, but sheíd managed to
survive and had gathered people like herself together. People whoíd
lost everything because of vampires. Theyíve been making a name for
themselves in the demon community ever since. Those whoíve managed to
escape from them claim that theyíre incredibly violent and vicious.
Believe me, coming from a vampire, thatís saying something."

"It all sounds a bit far fetched," Spike commented. "I mean a nest of
vampires in a bar? An army of Ďem attackiní a town? It sounds like the
plot of a bad movie. Thereíd have to be a major demon behind it all to
control that many. Vampires usually arenít that big on cooperation."
Xander shrugged.

"They never learned the details behind what was happening there, but
the hunters are real enough. They showed up in Sunnydale about two
years ago. Thatís where the problem starts."

"What happened?" Xander had Valentiís full attention now, partly
because of the vampires, but mostly because the reference to the
brothers. The name Seth sounded familiar to him for some reason.

"They started hunting in Sunnydale, a town with a fairly large demon
population. Now under different circumstances we would have welcomed
the help. As Spike can tell you, we had a hard enough time keeping the
place from being sucked down into Hell when we had two Slayers living
there." The vampire nodded. That was true enough.

"These guys were a real problem though. They wanted to kill demons and
they didnít care what or who got in the way. More than once they burned
down a building to destroy a nest. Even if they didnít set fire to it,
by the time they were done it usually wasnít habitable. We ended up
having to run them out of town, and that wasnít easy."

"Hang on a moí," Spike looked thoughtful. "This the same bunch I heard
about that tore up Willyís bar?" Xander nodded.

"They came close to killing him as well, but the little weasel has
several back doors to the bar." He noticed the curious looks on the
othersí faces. "Willy is human, but most of his patrons are demons of
one sort or another. Heís one of Buffyís favorite snitches."

"Can we get back to why youíre here?" Valenti asked. "Are these demon
hunters in the area?" Xander nodded. "Why? Who ordered the attack on
Miss Parker?"

"The answer to both questions is Cole. Heís a powerful vampire, nearly
800 years old and he has a lot of minions, twenty or thirty I think.
Recently he and Seth have developed a serious hate for each other.
Theyíre heading for a showdown." He let the words sink in.

"Here." Max sat back looking pale at the very idea. "Theyíre coming
here." Both Xander and Anya nodded.

"íFraid so," Anya said, "although frankly I think letting them fight it
out might be best for everyone. Maybe theyíll kill each other off and
we wonít have to do anything." Everyone stared at her. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, my girlfriend, the very embodiment of
pragmatism." Xander managed a rueful smile and Anya preened under the
perceived compliment. He got up and went to the counter and returned a
moment later with a paper cup. "Let me demonstrate the one flaw with
that idea, or at least the main one." He set the cup upside down on the
table. "Hereís Roswell." He placed his right hand, palm toward the cup,
on the table on one side of the cup. "Hereís Cole." He placed his left
hand on the opposite side of the cup in a position that mirrored his
right. "Hereís Seth." He clapped, flattening the cup between his hands.
"Any questions?" No one said anything for a long time. Even Anya looked

"So what do we do?" Liz asked finally. "We canít let them fight."

"We can," Anya corrected, "if we can find a safe place for them to
fight. Somewhere out in the desert maybe." She held up a hand to
forestall objections. "Seth, Kate, and the rest chose this Xander. They
choose to fight vampires and demons. Youíre always saying that it was
your choice to Ďtake up the fightí. No one forces you to risk your
life. Why is it any different for them?"

"I guess its not," he admitted reluctantly. "Cole has to be stopped,
but using them to destroy each other like you said, well that just
sounds cold blooded."

"Maybe," she admitted, "but how do we keep them apart and still beat
Cole and his bunch? I donít see a way, and from what youíve told me
Seth is a fanatic. If we try to stop them weíll have two fights on our
hands. So thatís out. We have to shift the fight away from town is
all." She looked fairly pleased with herself and her reasoning as she
glanced around the table. "SoÖ How do we do that?"

Glances were traded around the table, everyone either trying to think
of a way to implement Anyaís idea or looking for an alternative. After
several moments of silence Anya deflated a bit. "You donít know either
huh?" There were noises and gestures of agreement from everyone.

"Maybe we need a few more opinions," Liz suggested hesitantly. She
glanced at Max who nodded reluctantly. "Weíll get everyone together
tomorrow, at the factory."

"Iíll tell Isabel and Michael," Max nodded. "You get Maria and Alex.
Together we can figure this out."


Cole watched the brawl that had started between a small group of his
followers with vague annoyance. It was understandable. Theyíd been
cooped up, not feeding off live prey for almost a week, all to mask
their movements. Tempers were growing short and everyone was anxious to
get on with the business that had brought them together.

Seth Gecko. Rot him. Over the last six months Gecko, Kate, and the crew
that took orders from them had succeeded in running them out of three
lairs. In the process they had destroyed almost thirty of his minions.
Each time he had rebuilt his following, but each time Seth had
attacked. The hunters had come close to killing him as well. Soon
though, that wouldnít be a problem anymore.

It hadnít been easy, but he had raised a huge force, more than heíd
ever tried to control before. As strong as he was, he knew that he
couldnít control such a large number for long. But it wouldnít take
long. It was Saturday, 9:00 a.m. Seth was in Roswell, and that night
Cole would be too.


Cole. He was close. Seth could smell him.

"Youíre gonna wear a hole in the floor. Knock it off." He stopped
pacing and looked over at Kate where she was sitting at the table field
stripping and cleaning her favorite crossbow. She was the only one who
had ever dared talk to him like that. 

He wasnít sure why he tolerated it. There was a time when he would have
killed her for that kind of presumption. Not now. Part of it was guilt
he suspected. If it hadnít been for him, her father and brother would
still be alive. Guilt had been a new sensation for him, but suddenly it
had been there, and it was still there. 

That wasnít all of it though. So much had happened since then. They had
been together a long time, been to hell and back, literally. Pulling a
seat from the table, he plopped himself into it. 

"What the hellís your problem?" he demanded.

"Whatís yours? We are close Seth. Weíve finally run the bastard to
ground. This is what weíve worked for for almost a year. You should be
happy weíre finally getting a chance to take him out."

"I am, but youíre wrong. We havenít run him to ground. When an animalís
run to ground its too tired to run any more. Coleís just tired of
running. Killings have been up across the southwest. Heís gathering his
forces for a frigginí war."

"How many you think?" 

Seth shook his head. "Hell if I know. Probably a whole damn bunch of
Ďem though. To make matters worse," he began in the tone he usually
reserved for explaining things; the one that said he assumed his
audience was brain dead, "Cole knows us. He knows how we operate. It
wonít be possible to take this bastard by surprise. Itís gonna be a lot
like the first time. Theyíre gonna be vicious and weíre gonna lose
people. Maybe a lot."

For several years now the two of them had been gathering victims
together. People who had lost friends and family to the demons, and
theyíd been giving them a chance at revenge. Not everyone wanted to be
a part of it. Not all who joined stayed with them, having avenged their
families or deciding that it was all just too much to deal with. Enough
stayed though, that they always had a formidable fighting force. They
had lost people before. Mike, a talented tracker and a crack shot with
a bow, a man who had been with them during that nasty business in
Sunnydale, had been killed three months before during a raid on one of
Coleís hideouts. Kate had personally blown the head off the vamp that
killed him.

Revenge didnít bring him back though. It never brought anyone back, not
her father, not her brother, not any of the friends she had made and
lost along the way. It wasnít about revenge for her anymore. She did it
because it needed to be done.

Seth was different. For him it would always be about revenge. He had
lost his brother, the only person he loved, in the fight at that bar
down in Mexico. Kate didnít understand how he could stay angry all the
time, and it frightened her sometimes, but she knew she had to stay
with him. They balanced each other. Seth was reckless and wild, not
caring if he lived or died. Kate was the calm one, the planner. She had
learned to fight, true, but she had also learned that it was brains,
not brawn that won a battle.

She stared at Seth as she poured him a glass of whiskey to calm him.
They were so different, and yet they both had the same mission, the
same goal. It never ceased to amaze her.

"What?" he demanded. "What are you lookiní at?"

"Just thinkiní Seth," she said glancing away. "About how all this
started. About how thingsíve changed."

"Aww, donít do that," he griped as he tossed down the glass of 80 proof
and reached for the bottle. "Youíre not gonna get all philosophical on
me are you?" Seth considered any thought not of the moment or the
immediate future to be philosophy or psychobabble. He especially he
hated reflecting on the past. It wasnít an argument Kate wanted so she
shook her head.

"Naa. I just depress myself when I do that. How do you want to handle
Cole? I was thinking that if he is turning to fight us, and Iím sure
youíre right about that, then maybe it gives us a chance to choose the
place then."

"The place?"

"Where we fight. It gives us a chance to set up a few surprises in
advance you know?" Seth began to smile. Making a plan, almost like when
he was planning a heist in the old days, except now the payoff seemed a
lot more rewarding. He loved this part almost as much as he loved what
came after his favorite battle cry, ĎKill Ďem all!í It was Saturday,
10:00 a.m.


"I donít like this. Youíve known for over a year and said nothing?"
Valenti glared at Xander Harris across his desk. The young man met his
gaze unflinchingly. Valentiís office was not the safest place to talk,
but it had been searched early that morning for bugs, and Valenti had
decided it was as safe a place as any to meet. Besides, his files were
there, specifically files on Seth and Richard Gecko. The two brothers
were the reason he had asked Xander and Anya to come into his office
before the meeting at the factory.

"Thatís right. Whatever else Seth Gecko might be heís a soldier in a
war that has to be won."

"A soldier? Heís a murdering thief! Do you know how many cops heís

"Do you know how many vamps heís killed?" Xander countered.  Then he
pressed on before Valenti could respond to that. "There is only one
certainty about vampires Sheriff. They kill people. If one gets away it
means that sooner or later, probably sooner, someoneís gonna die
because of it. I know Seth well enough not to have any illusions. He
doesnít care about that. He only cares about killing as many of them as
he can. Itís something heís shown a real talent for."

"Think of it as community service," Anya suggested in the offhand
manner that suggested that she was completely oblivious to the
seriousness of the situation. Valenti just glared at her.

"I donít find that particularly funny," he said after taking a moment
to calm down. Anya looked up from buffing her nails, a surprised look
on her face.

"Sheís serious," Xander interrupted. "Iím not real happy with the
situation either sheriff, but heís far more useful out here than he is
in a prison cell. Itís not exactly as if heís safe and sound in the lap
of luxury you know? He leads a dangerous life moving from one rat hole
to another. He could easily be killed in any of the fights he picks.
Fact is heíd have a much better life, and a much safer one, in prison."

"Is that supposed to placate me? It isnít working."

"What are you going to do sheriff? Call in the state police and send
all of your deputies to interrupt the fight to arrest him? Youíd get a
lot of people killed doing that and frankly I donít think weíll be able
to win this without him."

"I canít turn a blind eye."

"Then at least delay trying to arrest him until after this is over. At
the moment you donít even know where he is. Youíll know soon enough
though." Both turned to look at Anya. Slowly Valenti nodded.

"That makes a certain amount of sense." 

She smiled winningly at him. "Good. Thatís settled then. Now, how do we
get them to fight somewhere else?" 

"I think I may have an idea about that," Xander said slowly. "Trouble
is itíll mean trusting Spike." He laid out the basic idea. Neither of
them liked it much, but it could be the only chance they had. It was
Saturday, 8:30 a.m.


"Thatís your plan?" Spike was incredulous. "You canít be serious." They
were all present for the meeting, and none of them looked happy. Tess
was openly disparaging.

"Doesnít matter if he is or not." She turned to Max. "This doesnít
concern us Max. We have our own problems. Leave the ĎSlayerí to her
fairy tales and letís get out of here." Max turned away from her not
bothering to respond. Heíd gotten into the habit of ignoring Tess. It
was something that drove her nuts.

"Do you think you can do it?" he asked.

"Maybe," Spike hedged, "but itíll depend on how much whoever was in
that van saw. If Iím recognized itís all over. Not sure why I should
risk it." The others stared at him. Spike remained a puzzle, and most
of them were certain he would always be a puzzle. What motivated the
vampire seemed to vary from day to day. Occasionally he acted because
it was Ďthe right thing to doí. Although the fact that Spike was
usually guessing about what was the Ďright thingí was almost always
obvious. Sometimes it was pride. He wanted to win his bet with Angel.

Liz knew that neither approach would work this time, so she played the
last card she had. "Itíll be incredibly dangerous and a lot more fun
than sitting around the factory." Spike considered this for a moment,
then nodded decisively.

"Right then. When do we get started?" It was Saturday, 10:00.


He frowned at the vampire that knelt before him. Four should have
returned from the excursion. The reason there werenít four was what
made him unhappy. "A Slayer? Are you sure?" Richie, one of his oldest
and most trusted minions nodded.

"I saw her kill Sal and the newborn myself."

"And Jeraz?" Cole asked in a quiet, almost conversational tone that
sent chills down the minionís back. "Where is the Mora demon?" The room
was quiet for once. Not a single vampire gathered there wanted to
interrupt this. Most had seen Coleís temper before, and the few who
hadnít wisely took their cues from the rest.

"We thought to eliminate the Slayer and keep her from interfering in
the coming battle. Jeraz attacked her, should have taken her by
surprise, butÖ"


"She reacted so quickly. He never landed a single blow. It was over
almost before it began," Richie finished quietly. Cole considered this
quietly before he finally sighed.

"It was a good thought," Cole allowed, "but you forgot something didnít

"Yes lord."

"I have told you to always study your opponent before engaging. The
battles with Seth Gecko and his miscreants have given us the key to
defeating them. Not only have you failed to learn that lesson, but
youíve cost me a valuable follower. Your attack on her might have
succeeded if you had observed her more closely before engaging her." He
raised his eyes from Richie to look at the rest of his followers. "I
trust I make myself clear." There were nods around the room.

"I understand lord. It is a lesson I will not forget again."

"The lesson is not for you," Cole replied coldly and nodded to the
minion standing behind him. The stake he held plunged home and Richie
fell to dust without a sound. "It is for those who have not failed me."
He looked around the room, meeting each oneís eyes briefly. "I hope
this lesson will not have to be repeated."

It was an irritating loss but necessary. He couldnít afford to be
perceived as weak in anything. The news of a Slayer in Roswell was more
irritating still. It couldnít be coincidence that a Slayer turned up
just as they were preparing for their showdown with the hunters. He
needed information.

"Mary, dear, I need information about this Slayer, perhaps she can lead
us to Sethís hiding place." The female demon nodded.

"Yes lord." She stepped forward bowing her head in respect. "Does this
mean we will be delaying the attack?"

"By one night if necessary, but no longer. We have the weight of
numbers, and that will make up for whatever talents she has." Mary

"I will go at once then." At Coleís nod she turned and left the gallery
of the old mine they now used as a hideout.

It had served them well, she reflected. It wasnít a particularly
comfortable place, but it was secure and minimized the chance of
discovery. Hardly anyone knew it was there anymore. Happily, they
wouldnít need it much longer. She licked her lips as she made her way
to the van just outside the mine entrance, contemplating the feast that
awaited them. 

The van provided her sufficient protection from the sunlight, and she
was able to drive out in the late afternoon sun. It would be dark in a
couple of hours and she had been given only one night to find the
answers. She hoped it would be enough. It was Saturday, 5:00 p.m.


"Are you sure?" Seth demanded.

"Pretty sure boss. I couldnít get too close without drawing attention
from the cops, but it was definitely a vampire and some other kind of
demon. Iím not sure what kind."

"Why would they risk exposing themselves so publicly?" Seth shrugged,
irritated by Kateís question, a question he couldnít answer. The young
man reporting to them wisely didnít offer an opinion.

"All I know is that it wasnít some guy in a mask trying to rob the
place like the waitress claimed. I also know that the guy who ran in a
moment later didnít have a reflection in the dinerís window."

Kate frowned thoughtfully.  "Well, weíd heard rumors that Cole was
recruiting things besides vamps. The circumstances seem a bit weird

"Well there is one way to find out. I saw that vamp leave later in the
evening, headed back to what looked like an abandoned factory on the
edge of town."

"So, if we want answers I suppose we could-"

"Catch him, tie him up and apply crosses and holy water to his delicate
parts till he talks?" Seth, who normally hated being interrupted,
grinned at Kate.

"Great minds think alike."

"What if this vamp has nothing to do with Cole?" Both looked over at
Jack Bartlet where he had been standing quietly, waiting for them to
decide what to do about his report. He was normally quiet, and
unassuming, rarely speaking to either of them if he could avoid it.
Kate intimidated him a bit, mostly she suspected because he was an
eighteen-year-old computer geek with a crush on her. Seth just plain
scared him.

"Possible," Kate spoke up first, "but unlikely."

"If heís got nothiní to do with it, itís just an entertaining way to
kill a few hours." Seth smiled happily. "We know where he is during the
day, and Roswell doesnít have the tunnels Sunnydale does. Letís go pay
him a visit." It was Saturday 12:00 p.m.


Most of the group had left. Alex, Maria, Anya, and Isabel had left for
the CrashDown, two for their shifts, two for lunch. The sheriff had
returned to his office, after dropping Tess off at home, to look for
signs of any unusual visitors in town. Max stayed because Liz was
there. Michael had stayed because he didnít trust Xander or Spike.
Consequently, they were the only ones present when the hunters arrived.

The first they knew of it was when Spikeís sharp hearing picked up a
sound on a catwalk above the main room where they were gathered around
a table examining maps of Roswell and the surrounding country.
"Company," he muttered. Before any sort of plan of action could be
devised though one of the main doors swung open and Kate walked in as
if she owned the place.

"Wow. I just love what youíve done with the place. Deep pile garbage,"
she kicked an old shipping carton out of her way. "Covered windows to
keep out that annoying sun, and of course a vermin problem." She
leveled her crossbow at Spike. "Gotta love these old fixer-uppers."
Belatedly, Max and Michael responded to the threat by trying to spread
out to either side. "Ah, ah." Kate gestured to the catwalk above. Three
men with rifles covered the teens and the vampire. "Behave," she
suggested, "and youíll get out of this alive or whatever it is you
are." Liz rolled her eyes. She, Xander, and Spike seemed unconcerned
with the development and had kept their places at the table.

"Hello Kate. Good to see you again." A brief look of confusion crossed
her face, then she smiled.

"Xander Harris. What are you doiní here?"

"Same as you. Iím after Cole." It was partially true anyway. "Weíve
been waiting for you." This was a lie. Xander had hoped to find them,
but he hadnít thought it would be this easy. "Got a plan to find Coleís
hideaway if youíre interested. Oh and donít shoot Spike." He nodded at
the blonde vampire. "Heís kinda the key to the whole thing."
Kateís eyes and aim had barely flickered from the vampire. She now
glanced at Xander with a raised eyebrow.

"That so?" Spike had been watching her with more annoyance than worry.
Now he cast a glance up at the catwalk. 

"Hey. Whatís up with them anyway? Wooden bullets?"

"We actually tried that," Kate said conversationally, "but they always
break up before they hit the target. Those are lead. They may not kill
you but theyíll sure as hell tear you up." Spike nodded thoughtfully.

"Makes sense. You might want to hold off though. Like Xander said, Iím
sort of the key to this plan." Kate glanced at the others who nodded. 

"Itís okay Kate. Spike here canít hurt Humans. Heís got a chip in his
head that just about knocks him out if he even tries." She regarded him
curiously even as Seth came in behind her. He had a gun in one hand and
a miniature crossbow in the other, and he covered everyone in the room.

"Whatís the hold up Kate?" He looked over the group, noting the
presence of Xander Harris with a vague curiosity. Also present was the
vampire from the previous night, two teenage boys, and a girl. One of
the boys was dark-haired and intense looking, probably the girlís
boyfriend by the way he was hovering. He was unarmed, and looked wary.
Seth didnít think heíd try anything stupid though. He didnít show much
expression, but his concern for the girl was obvious. The other looked
angry and skittish. Seth could tell that one was at the greatest risk
of doing something heroic and stupid. At a gesture from the first
though, he settled down and simply glared at Seth.

"Xander says heís here to help us." She nodded at the others. "Donít
know who these guys are yet."

"Help us?" He snorted. "Thatíd be a first."

"Letís not start huh Seth? We couldnít let you tear up the town."

"Yeah, fine, old business. On to new business. What the hell are you
doing here? With a vampire no less."

"This is Spike. He-"

"This is a good one Seth," Kate interrupted. "You remember those army
guys we heard about? The Initiative? Seems Spike was their guest.
Xander says heís got a behavior modification chip in his head." Xander
stared at them in surprise.

"Grief! Is there anyone who did not know about that Ďcovert
operationí?" Seth actually laughed and shook his head.

"I think there are couple of yak herders in Mongolia who didnít hear
about it." He walked up to Spike with a show of bravado that only Kate
knew wasnít at all reckless. If Spike made a move Seth didnít like the
vampire would never know what hit him.

He stopped directly in front of the vampire and with a quick gesture he
reversed the gun and cracked Spike across the jaw. Spike retaliated
instinctively, staggering Seth.

"Aaaargh!" Spike clutched his head and very nearly fell over.

"Well, how about that?" Seth grinned broadly despite his split lip. 

"Not really fair to attack him when he canít defend himself," Xander
noted testily. Seth looked over and saw that the unnamed girl was
glaring at him and being restrained by her boyfriend. 

"Is that why you havenít killed him?"

"He can still kill demons so heís occasionally useful, and itís fun to
watch him suffer," Xander added with a slight smile. He knew it was a
motive Seth could appreciate. Spike glared at him for a moment, but
then saw Sethís understanding nod and his eyes narrowed thoughtfully.
He may not have liked Xander saying it, but he suddenly understood the

Liz turned her glare on Xander. "It doesnít matter what you think of
him. Heís been helpful here, to me. Youíre not killing him." The last
was directed at Seth. "He can get us the information we need about

Seth perked up at this. "Really? How?" Spike picked up the explanation
at this point.

"Simple really. Coleís recruiting. Iím gonna get myself recruited. Come
sunset heíll probably have people in town to find out what happened to
his pet Mora demon. Iíll offer to provide that information. All you
have to do is follow us back to their hide-out."

"We have a tracking device we can use to make sure we arenít spotted.
We can follow from a safe distance." Seth glanced at the girl who had
so vehemently protested Spikeís mistreatment.

"What do you mean Ďweí? Who are you anyway?" She approached him without
hesitation, seemingly ignoring the weapons he held. Her boyfriend
raised a hand as if to stop her, then seemed to think better of it. She
stopped less than a foot from him.

"Iím Liz, the vampire Slayer. I want you to understand now, that this
is the only chance youíll get at Cole. I am not going to let you tear
up my town the way you tried to tear up Sunnydale. We take the fight to
him, out of town. Is that clear?"

"Clear," he assured her, surprised and amused by her manner. He knew
what a Slayer was of course. He had seen both Buffy and Faith in action
during his time in Sunnydale, and it was a measure of his own
confidence, or his recklessness that he wasnít intimidated by the
prospect of a physical confrontation with one. Kate stepped in before
such a confrontation could begin.

"Itíll be better to corner him. Weíd much rather have him isolated
where there are no distractions. A running battle in the streets of
Roswell wouldnít do us any good. Too many potential problems, places to
hide and plan and ambush, civilians running around screaming that sort
of thing. Weíd lose a lot of people if we did that."

"That works both ways," Seth pointed out. "If we limit them, we also
limit ourselves." He sighed. "However, this isnít like Sunnydale where
the town was infested. Coleíd do a lot more damage here than he would
out in the desert somewhere. Blind as people were in your home town,"
he shot a look at Xander, "they still took basic precautions even if
they didnít realize it. Weíd be happy to pick a spot outside of town,"
he directed this at Kate, "assuming of course that we get to choose."

"Well then," Max stepped forward. He had immediately realized what Kate
was doing and decided to help move things along quickly in order to
stave off a confrontation. "We have some planning to do." It was
Saturday, 1:00 p.m.


Mary rolled into town shortly after sunset and left the van as soon as
full dark crept over the town. She had only a vague idea of where to
begin, but began by looking at the local paper for any hint of the
violence that had occurred the previous night.

It was there. An article on the front page about attempted armed
robbery at a place called the CrashDown Café. A café?
What were those idiots thinking? It was a place to start anyway. After
reading the article she got up and headed to the CrashDown. She was
almost there when a familiar voice hailed her.

"Bloody Mary?" She stopped and turned. There was only one person who
called her that. It was a nickname sheíd gotten when she was newly
made. He had overseen her first kill. The victim, a burly young man,
had gotten away after the initial bite and she had had to catch him
again. Her victim had bled all over himself and all over her when she
had finally caught him. Spike had laughed himself hoarse and teased her
about being a messy eater. Since then he had called her Bloody Mary.

"Youíre never going to let me live that down are you Billy?" Spike
didnít flinch at the nickname she had given him in retaliation. His
grin was as cocky as ever.

"Not likely pet. What are you doiní here?"

"I might ask you the same. This town is so dull." She glanced up and
down the street. There were only a few people visible. It seemed that
Roswell was the type of place that Ďrolled up the side-walksí as the
old song went when the sun went down.

"Donít be so sure. This townís got a Slayer, and it was anything but
dull last night," he replied. "You shoulda seen what happened at the
café." That got Maryís attention.

"You saw that?" He gave her a puzzled look and nodded. "Can you tell me
what happened?"

"Sure," Spike shrugged. "Letís get a couple of beers, catch up on old
times, and Iíll tell ya all about it."


"I still have trouble believing it. Those morons attacked the Slayer at
the diner? In front of witnesses?" Spike nodded.

"I could hardly believe it meself when that Mora demon just strolled in
and attacked her." He shrugged. "At least his death was instructive."
Mary was eyeing him curiously.

"What were you doing in there anyway?"

"Waiting for the Slayer to bring my order, a green slime smoothie."
Mary almost choked on her beer.

"What!?" she started laughing. Spike gave her a smug grin.

"Iíve learned the hard way you need to study a Slayerís style Ďfore you
can try to kill her. Learn her routine, her weaknesses, that sort of

"She didnít know you were a vampire?"

"Sheís new at the Slayer thing. Strong, but not very well educated in
her duties. I think she knew there was somethiní off about me, but for
the life of her couldnít figure out what it was." This time they both
laughed. Mary shook her head in amazement.

"Same old Spike. You havenít changed a bit." She gave him a speculative
look, sizing him up before proceeding. "Come back with me," she said
suddenly. "Meet Cole. Weíre having trouble with this group of vampire
hunters, and weíve got a chance now to destroy them." Spike looked
curious, but not terribly interested. It was a look heíd perfected over
the years. "Come on. Youíre worth ten like that idiot Richie. We could
use your help not to mention the information youíve gathered on the

Spike was pleased with how quickly the plan was proceeding, but he
didnít want to look too eager. He made a show of considering the offer.
"I dunno Mary. Iíve gotten used to beiní my own boss you know? Doní
know that I fancy taking orders from someone else."

"It wonít be for long, just till Seth and his hunters are out of the
way. Weíll leave the Slayer for you if you like. The hunters are here
in Roswell. Cole knows where theyíre hiding. With the numbers weíve
gathered we can take Ďem easy." She grinned, knowing just how to
sweeten the pot. "Weíre having a victory dinner afterwards. Cole has
promised that whatever is left of Roswell, is fair game. We can take
the entire town." After a moment of thoughtful silence Spike nodded.

"Okay. You got a deal. Whenís it going down?"

"Talk to Cole. If he likes what youíve got to say about the Slayer,
weíll move tonight." Spike nodded decisively.

"Lets go then." It was Saturday, 9:00 p.m.


"The homing device is working perfectly," Xander assured Seth for the
third time, trying to ignore the other manís profanities. "Thatís
fairly flat, open country though. We need to be far enough away that
they wonít realize theyíre being followed." Seth was, as usual,
impatient to get on with the business at hand, and expressed impatience
with a colorful selection of unprintable words. Heíd never had much use
for sneaking about. What really irritated him though, was that he knew
Xander was right.

"How big a start do we give Ďem?"

"Weíll go in a couple of minutes. Theyíll still be well within range."
He looked at the direction the tracer was indicating and then at the
map, spread on the table. "Okay, whatís out there?"

"Silver mine," Michael answered promptly. "Well outside of town, but
close enough for it to be an easy trip. Itís been abandoned for years.
Perfect hiding place."

"And the perfect trap," Seth grinned. He glanced at the tracer. "Letís


Spike left the tracer in the van parked outside the mine office. There
was no sense risking Cole or one of his minions finding it on him.
Meeting and lying to the 800 year-old vampire was going to be dangerous

The mine was in fairly good condition, just tapped out. With no
interest in maintaining the place though, the offices and out buildings
had deteriorated for the most part, but the mine itself was in good
condition. It consisted of three main galleries and numerous side
tunnels. There were three exits, but all but one had been permanently
sealed off to keep curious people out of the mine. The last entrance
had been boarded up and was well marked with warnings about
trespassing. It wasnít sealed as well on the chance that someone might
actually buy and reopen the mine. At the moment it was in use, but not
in a way that the mining engineers had ever anticipated.

Cole was waiting in the main gallery, surrounded by his court. Toadies,
Spike thought contemptuously. He approached Cole confidently with Mary
by his side. The master vampire eyed them curiously. "I did not expect
you to return so soon Mary. Who is this?"

"An old friend lord. His name is Spike. Heís been in Roswell for almost
a week, observing the Slayer. Heís looking to make her his third." Cole
turned a curious look toward Spike. 

"Youíve killed Slayers before?" Spike nodded.

"A couple. This oneíll be a challenge. Sheís fast and strong. Killed
your pet Mora demon without breaking a sweat."

"Tell me how it went Spike, and then tell me what you know of this

Spike went into a carefully rehearsed routine, telling what had
happened at the CrashDown and about his Ďobservationsí of the Slayer.
Finally, as if it was of supreme importance to him, he told Cole of the
promise Mary had made and asked if Cole would honor it.

"You want to kill the Slayer yourself? I donít see a problem with that. When she and the hunters are destroyed the town will be wide open." He grinned. "I have promised my people the town when the battle is over. You are welcome to participate in the feast of course." Spike made a show of licking his lips. "Yum." There were subdued chuckles from the watching minions. Cole gave him the smile a benevolent king might bestow on a jester who had amused him. It was the kind of smile that Spike especially hated. He had been a master vampire himself, and it took an effort for him not to visibly chafe under the assumption that he would play the good little minion. "Mary says you know where these guys are hiding." Cole nodded. "When do we leave?" It was 11:00 p.m. ****************************************************************** "I thought the idea was to let Seth and Cole fight it out," Anya stood in their path with her arms crossed. "Forget it Xander. Youíre not risking your life if itís not necessary." Her boyfriend sighed. "I have to be there. I promise Iíll keep to the background. Seth and his people have insisted on leading the attack." He looked sharply at Max, noticing that he was about to object for his own reasons. "Liz has to go in to insure that Spike gets out safe and that as few of Sethís people die as possible. I know you donít like her risking her life, believe me, Iíve been there, but itís what a Slayer does." Maxís clenched jaw was the only sign of tension in him. Otherwise his face was unreadable. "I know you donít like it. I donít either, but it still has to be done." Max looked at Liz who nodded, confirming Xanderís assertion. "Be careful. Is and I will be in the background with Xander, tending to the wounded." Lizís eyes widened. This was news to her. She opened her mouth to object, finding it strange that suddenly she was the one trying to protect Max. "Iíll be there too," Michael spoke up before Liz could get a word out. "Youíll need someone watching your backs while you work," he added giving his friend a level stare. He expected Max to protest but was surprised. Max nodded instead, grateful for his friendís support and Liz reluctantly backed down, knowing that she couldnít change their minds. They had expected Michael to try to talk them out of it. They all knew it would mean that using their powers in public, but if it meant saving lives, that was an acceptable risk to Max. He knew Michael wouldnít mind as much, given what they had learned in recent weeks. The world they now called home was far stranger than they had ever realized, or even imagined, and they werenít the strangest people on the planet by a long shot. None of them were quite sure how to react to that. It seemed they werenít as special and unique as they had thought. This was, at the same time, a relief and a disappointment. Max found it a very strange combination and was sure the others did too, although none of them had spoken of it. The reactions from the others when theyíd found out about the aliens were somewhat surprising. Spike had seemed to find the idea of aliens, or little green men, as he insisted on calling them, amazingly funny. Xander and Anya had been briefed, apparently by Wesley under strictest confidence, about their abilities if not their exact origins. Xander gave them a couple of odd looks, as if he was trying to spot their antennae, and it had been Xander, taking a wild guess, who had made the ĎMy Favorite Martianí reference, but he did he treat them differently. He and Anya had that in common. When asked pointedly about it, she had shrugged. "Aliens, big whoop." Michael, who had asked the question actually looked crestfallen at their lack of reaction, and Max had had to work hard to keep his amusement from showing. Isabel, a last minute addition, despite the objections of her brother and Michael didnít seem to care what they thought of aliens. Now, as the jeep headed out of Roswell, bearing the Slayer and the three aliens, there was little discussion of what they would do. The plan was in place and there was no time to make changes, even if any of them had a better idea. No one was happy with the possibility that they would actually have to go into the mine to face the vampires, but everyone knew that sealing them inside the mine was not an option. Live burial was not exactly a threat to something that didnít breathe. As Seth had pointed out, in a rather condescending tone Michael though, it would only piss them off. It was just before midnight and there just wasnít time. ****************************************************************** Organizing everyone to move out took time. Vampires didnít exactly make for a disciplined military force. First it was necessary to stoke them up and get their bloodlust going, and at the same time he had to convince them to proceed only as he directed. The attack had to go like clockwork or Sethís better-organized troops would fight back too effectively. He outlined the plan for them again. The plan that would guarantee their victory. They looked impatient at first but then the plan caught their imaginations all over again. It would be a thing of beauty. Not a single hunter would escape alive. It was Sunday, 12:30 a.m. ****************************************************************** The bolt thudded home and the sentry turned to dust without a sound. That was the last of them. Seth lowered the crossbow and gave a hand signal to the others telling them to move into position. That signal was passed silently from group to group, all around the perimeter. The idea was to allow the enemy out into the open, just in front of the mine entrance. This would allow Spike to slip away and make the rest of vampires sitting ducks. They would retreat almost immediately into the mine, but a lot of damage could be done in the short time they would be exposed. The crowd at the entrance would make a lovely target, Seth reflected. The area immediately surrounding the mine was ideal for an ambush. For a moment, a half-remembered line of something passed through Sethís mind. "Rock to the left, rock to the right, and low lean scrub betweenÖ" "Huh?" Kate glanced at him. Seth shook his head, annoyed with himself. "Just something I remember reading once." Kate dismissed it and focused on the mine again. It would begin soon, just a matter of time. The mine entrance was unlighted so as not to draw attention to it. It didnít help. Several of the hunters were equipped with a military-grade night vision device that amplified available light. To them, the group of people that began to emerge from the mine was as clearly visible as if the noonday sun were shining. Others, holding rifle-mikes, listened to the conversation going on among the vampires. The rifle-mikes looked like futuristic ray guns and were aimed in much the way a weapon would be aimed. The user wore earphones attached to the device and could easily make out every word spoken from almost a quarter mile away. The group below was talking up a storm, laughing and boasting. One man holding such a device, a wiry, dark-haired and dark- eyed ex-marine named Tully, turned to Liz and nodded. "Your vampire buddy is down there," he said in a quiet gravelly voice. Tully was always quiet. It was something Liz had come to associate with him. He was quiet, but he was very good at killing demons. Xander hadnít recognized him from the time in Sunnydale, but said that the fact that he had become third in command of the group said a lot about him. The fact that Seth trusted him to watch his back said even more. "I see him." Liz passed the Star Tron night vision device she was using back to another hunter sharing their cover. "Remember what I told you earlier. He is not a target." "Yeah, yeah. We wonít kill your pet vamp." Liz glanced at him sharply and was about to protest the description when the radios they carried gave two short bursts of static followed by a sustained burst. No words were spoken over the radio on the off chance they were being monitored. The short pattern of static bursts had been arranged to let them know that the attack was imminent. Each member of the attacking force began counting down from ten. It was Sunday, 12:55 a.m. ****************************************************************** "Spike, you Mary and these five will accompany me in the van. The rest will distribute themselves among the vehicles we have in the warehouse." He nodded to the large sheet metal structure that had once housed mining equipment. The group moved away from the entrance to the mine, but as soon as they got into the open, clear of any immediate cover, the trouble started. The large minion walking to Coleís right was suddenly headless. The crack of the high-powered rifle came a half-second later. That seemed to be the signal. The air filled with the sound of automatic weapons fire. Spike threw himself flat and began to crawl away. The rattattatta of the machine guns began to be interspersed with the sound of crossbow bolts finding their targets and vampires going to dust. Spike glanced back as he made it to the cover of a shed. A flaming bottle arced high over the group, coming down in their midst near the mine entrance. The malotov cocktail burst, scattering burning oil over half a dozen minions. He heard a high-pitched hissing sound and looked up. Flares were starting to rain down on the frantic vampires. As he watched, a vampire who were standing near the mine entrance, stymied by the fire was struck dead center in the back and went up in flames. Spike started to crawl faster. Cole began to roar orders and the mob turned and began to advance into the hills. He knew that if they tried to crowd back into the mine they would be slaughtered. The fire was short lived, but the bottleneck at the entrance would be a perfect target. Instead they began to scatter into the surrounding landscape, taking the fight to the hunters. He looked around for the rest as he ran, dodging as best he could as he made his way toward the source, or at least one of the sources, of the gunfire. He was met halfway by a man armed with a wooden staff, sharpened to a fine point at each end. He killed the man easily, but the man managed to ram one end of the staff through Coleís shoulder before he died. Similar scenes were being played out around the mine. Stakes, axes, crosses, guns, and torches were all brought into play, but the vampires fought back fiercely. Seth decapitated one while shooting another in the face. He then turned on the wounded one and killed him. He saw one of his men go down and started to go to his aid, but the Slayer was there first staking the vamp and helping the man to his feet. He was winded, but not seriously hurt so Seth turned his attention elsewhere. ****************************************************************** Michael focused his power and the vampire was flung backwards with tremendous force. It toppled another in its brief flight and Michael changed his focus, heating the pair to the point of combustion. He turned to where Max and Isabel were helping the wounded. Max was tending to a man who had been stabbed with his own stake while Isabel and Xander Harris stood over him with torches, thrusting them toward anyone who came toward them. When the man was healed they moved on to the next wounded hunter. They saved several, but there were far too many that were beyond help. Spike and Seth came together to find the trio examining a man with a vicious wound in his neck. "Damn. Looks like the bastard tried to rip out his throat." He shook his head sadly. "Sorry George." Max looked up at the sound of Sethís voice. "Thereís nothing we can do for him." Seth didnít know about their powers, only that they were treating the wounded. "There is one thing we can do," Seth corrected. He took a metal flask out of his jacket pocket and opened it, emptying it over the body. He then took the torch from Isabel. "What are you doing?!" she demanded, shocked by the prospect. "Heís making sure the guy doesnít come back as a vampire," Spike said. "Itís better than having to kill a friend later." Seth glanced at him, and Spike could see the memory of something very bad clearly passing behind his eyes. Seth squashed it quickly though and his face returned to the neutral mask he normally wore. "Got that right." He turned to Max. "Make sure anyone else who gets drained gets the same treatment." He set the body afire. "Move it people. The nightís not over." He handed the torch back to Isabel and headed toward the nearest fight. The three teens stared after him, barely believing what had just happened. "Get used to it kiddies," Spike snorted. "If youíre going to fight this war youíll see things a lot worse than that." He turned without another word and went looking for a new fight. Liz didnít think. She couldnít allow herself to think. She just acted and reacted, killing any vampire that came within reach. She ducked and twisted and stabbed, leaving piles of dust in her wake. The instincts that seemed to come with the job were there as were the reflexes she had acquired from Faith. Liz allowed them to take over, knowing that those instincts and reflexes were all that would keep her alive. It was her instincts that told her to crouch at the last second. The huge vampire that had tried to grab her tripped over her and fell on his face. Unfortunately, he pinned her long enough for another to throw himself on top of her. Another followed suit and Liz soon found herself under a pile of dead bodies. This would be bad even if they werenít still moving, she reflected as she managed to drive one of her stakes into the one sitting on her chest. It didnít find the heart, but he flinched, giving her room to buck him off. There were too many. Hands seized her arms and legs while two more sat on her chest and stomach. Another one lowered his mouth toward her throat, fangs bared. Suddenly one of her legs was free and she kicked him in the head. The weight was gone from her stomach next and she renewed her efforts to throw off the others. The cold spray that suddenly drenched her caused her to pause a moment. What the-? "Hey! Watch it with that thing!" a familiar voice shouted as the vampires scrambled away from her, yelling in pain. Holy water, she realized. No wonder Spike sounded pissed. She scrambled to her feet as Tully ran up to them, somehow managing not to look ridiculous dressed in camouflage and carrying a Super-Soaker. "Sorry," he said to the white-blonde vampire, not sounding at all sorry. "Howís it going?" Liz asked, taking advantage of the momentary breather. The three moved back to back so they could watch all approaches, but for the moment the action had moved away from them. "Weíre losing people," Tully said bluntly. "Too many. The damn vamps were supposed to run back into the mine!" "Did anyone tell them that?" Spike asked. Liz could hear the smile. So, apparently could Tully. Liz felt him tense and quickly stepped in to prevent trouble. "What about the vamps? Theyíre taking a lot of damage too." "Yeah, but not enough. Some of Ďem are bound to get away. Weíll be back where we started. We need a way to turn this around fast." "Maybe Cole can do that," Liz suggested. "Heíll be wanting to rally his troops." "Yeah," Tully nodded, "but heís not going to be stupid enough to gather them all into a big clump for us to shoot into." "He may not have to," Liz said. "If we start to fall back heíll want to press his advantage. Heíll keep them from running long enough for one big attack on us. We just need to give him an opening." "And then close it on him," Tully grinned. "Letís find Seth." ****************************************************************** He was not going to let this happen. Not after all of his work. The hunters were dying, but not fast enough, and too many of his people were dying as well. Heíd lost track of Mary and Spike, and his troops were scattered all over the place. Some of them were even fleeing. He began grabbing people and issuing orders, organizing them into a fighting force. Gradually, he started to pull them together. He still couldnít find Spike or Mary though. Under his direction they began to push the hunters back. He saw the Slayer from a distance; she was indeed formidable. It seems Spike failed he mused, not really caring. He continued to pull his people together, launching concerted attacks against the hunters. Soon, the enemy began to fall back. Perfect! He pulled two of his followers to him and issued orders to them. They immediately left in opposite directions to deliver his messages and see his orders carried out. They soon returned, having located Seth, Kate andÖ Spike? "Spike is working for them?" Cole hissed, enraged. "How could he? Miserable lapdog, Iíll kill him slowly for this!" It did explain how they had been found. Cole fumed silently for a moment. "All right. Seth, Kate, and the Slayer are the core of this group. Kill them, and the hunters will scatter. We can hunt the rest down at our leisure." ****************************************************************** It had not been easy to organize with the battle underway, but they had managed to pull it together. Gradually, word spread and the plan was put into effect. The hunters retreated. They scattered into the hills, and just as Liz had predicted, the vamps did not pursue. They turned and began to gather to assault the one small group that had not fled. Seth, Kate, Tully, Liz, Spike, and about half a dozen others gathered together, making a show of trying and failing to hold the fighting force together. It was Sunday, 1:20 a.m. ****************************************************************** Cole grinned in anticipation. Within minutes, it would all be over. What was left of his force, only fifteen vampires out of the more than forty that had comprised his original force, moved in, spreading out to surround the smaller group. "Thereís still a way out of this for you Seth," Cole called. "Youíve caused me a great deal of trouble, but I do admire your perseverance. Surrender, and Iíll change you. You can live forever." Cole had no intention of changing Seth, but if he was fool enough to accept or even if it made him stop and think briefly, then it would be worth it. He had his answer almost immediately. Seth stepped forward, he was down to a stake in each hand and a determined look on his face. The rest didnít have much better. It would be over quickly. Seth glared at his nemesis contemptuously before shouting to his troops. "Kill Ďem all!" The last crossbow bolts thudded home and of the four that were struck, two of them went to dust. Cole roared and charged. The fight was brief and furious. Blows were traded and three hunters went down even as their stakes plunged home. One vamp went to dust and two more retreated, wounded. They didnít get the chance to rejoin the fight. A surge of heat washed over them and both went up in flames. Led by Michael, a contingent of hunters fell upon the vampires from behind. The retreat hadnít lasted very long. They had only kept going for two minutes after the vampires stopped chasing them. At that point they began to carefully make their way back to where Liz and the others were making their stand. Michael had insisted on going in to save Liz. He thought Maria would probably kill him if she found out he was taking such a risk, but it was worth it. He didnít want to think about how Max would react if anything happened to Liz. Isabel had managed to restrain Max, convincing him to stay back and help the wounded. At this point they limited themselves to bandages and iodine, as the patients were more aware of what they were doing, but there was still a lot to be done. Michael carried a stake in his left hand, but didnít use it. Instead he focused his power on a pair of vampires in front of him as they staggered away from the fight. Both were dust before they knew they were being attacked. Crossbows couldnít be used due to the close quarters, too great a chance of hitting a friend, so stakes were brought to bear. Another three were dusted before Cole could turn his attention to the new threat. With his numbers dwindling rapidly he knew the smart thing to do would be to call for a retreat, but he couldnít bring himself to do it, not when he was this close. He wasnít going to run from the hunters again. He would not endure another humiliating defeat! He would not! Something snapped. Roaring madly, he threw off the man he was grappling with, not bothering to kill him. Fighting like a wild animal, he smashed opponents aside, roaring for Seth to face him. Suddenly he was there, swinging an ax he had retrieved from somewhere. Cole ducked and came in under the blow, fast and hard. His first blow lifted his enemy off the ground and sent him almost three feet through the air. Cole felt a hard blow to his side and spared a glance that way. He swatted the Slayer aside without a second thought and threw himself at the Human who had become the complete focus of his world. Had there been any breath in his lungs it would have been forced out by Sethís booted feet driving into his gut and pushing him over and away. Cole rolled to his feet and came back snarling, determined to get his teeth into the Humanís throat. Seth fell back before a furious rain of blows, ducking and blocking as best he could, and taking advantage of the berserker fury where he could. Cole did little or nothing to defend himself, but he barely felt the wounds inflicted on him. Seth grinned as he leaned away from a wild swing and came back up with a roundhouse blow that cracked one of Cole's ribs. Just like the first time, he thought, throwing himself clear and rolling under the feet of another vampire. That unfortunate fell into Coleís path and was batted aside, dropping a stake he had gotten from one of Sethís hunters at some point. Seth scooted away on his backside, keeping his last stake hidden. Cole saw his opening and lunged. He seized a small hatchet from another vampire as he passed, startling him and leaving that one an easy target for the Slayerís stake. "Oh sh--!" Seth thrust the stake forward and tried to roll aside at the same time as Cole came down on top of him. ****************************************************************** Tully drove the shattered remains of the large water gun under the ribcage and into the chest of a vampire, then turned to look for another opponent. He didnít pause to wonder at the fact that plastic worked as well as wood or to wonder why. He simply moved on to the next chore. But there were no more chores left to do. He looked around quickly, pivoting on one foot while maintaining his fighting stance. Nothing. Other hunters were coming to realize the same thing. They were out of vampires. He saw Kate on a small rise to the north. She was breathing heavily and bleeding from several small wounds, but she gave him a cocky grin and waved. To the south, the Slayer was standing with the help of one of her friends. Tully didnít see any visible wounds, but she limped as she made her way toward him. Kate joined them a moment later. Spike strolled up, uninjured, but grumbling over a tear in his coat. "Well," the British vampire smiled. "That was-." He caught the Slayer glowering at him and wisely decided to shut up. He turned instead to survey the battlefield. "I think we got Ďem all," he said, with no hint of the casual, even jaunty, air heíd displayed a moment earlier. Tully nodded. "I think so. Iíll organize some of our group to do a sweep of the area, just to make sure. Whereís Seth?" He looked around, noticing his leaderís absence for the first time. Liz pointed. "Over there." She led the way, leaning on Max who had just found them. Michael happily relinquished the burden to his friend and turned to organize the sweep that Tully had mentioned. Seth was alive when they reached him. He gave a weak grin. "I got him. I got the bastard." Max quickly knelt by the manís side, but stopped, not knowing how to proceed. A hatchet was buried in his chest, only a few inches from the heart. He couldnít heal Seth while the blade remained in him, but he could tell that attempting to remove it would be instantly fatal. Seth spared him a glance. "Donít worry about it kid. I ainít cashiní out over a shaving nick." He coughed hard, blood, running from the corner of his mouth. "Did we get Ďem?" "Yeah Seth," Tully answered for the group. "We got Ďem all." Seth tried to shake his head, but was too weak. "No," he finally said. "We didnít. We keep going, you hear me? Till we can really say we got Ďem all." "We will Seth," Kate promised, on the edge of tears. Seth closed his eyes and drew a shuddering breath. It came out as a wet sounding rattle. Others began to gather around, silently staring down at the man who had always acted like he was invincible and usually had his enemies believing it. "What do we do now?" Someone, Kate didnít see who, asked for the group. She rounded on them. "We keep going, until there are no more vampires left to kill." She nodded to Tully. "Start the sweep. We need to tend to the wounded and then get out of here. I want us in another state by dawn." Tully nodded, turned to the rest, and began giving orders. Kate turned to Liz and her friends. "Thank you. This could have been a lotÖ worse. Weíll take it from here." The catch in her voice made her stop talking. She turned away before any of them could respond. Liz turned to her friends one by one, and finally turning to Xander. He shook his head sadly and turned away. "Letís get out of here." It was Sunday, 2:00 a.m. ****************************************************************** Mary reached the outskirts of Roswell half an hour before dawn. She was seething. How could Spike turn on them like that? How could he work for a Slayer? It didnít matter; he would pay for his betrayal. They all would pay soon. The first step though was to tend to her own injuries. A good meal would see her on her way back to full strength. She spotted a likely prospect on the street ahead of her. She increased her pace, not bothering to conceal her approach. The middle-aged couple she approached didnít seem to notice her, but as they turned into a narrow side street, saving her the trouble of getting them out of plain sight, she overheard a snatch of conversation. She paused, momentarily puzzled by what she had heard. They were looking for air? An heir? She dismissed it and turned in after them. "Havenít you been told itís dangerous to wander the streets at night?" The two turned at the sound of her voice. Mary allowed her demon to show as she approached, but the couple only looked at each other curiously. They showed no sign of fear or even apprehension. "We cannot allow her to spread word of our presence here," the woman said matter-of-factly. The man nodded. Annoyed by their response or lack of it Mary leapt at the female and attempted to sink her teeth into the womanís neck. Her intended victim shoved her away easily, but there was a ripping sound and Mary tasted something foul. She raised her hand to her mouth and found something caught in her teeth. It looked likeÖ snake skin? "What the hell?" She looked up at the couple. The skin of the womanís neck was torn, but she barely seemed to notice. Under the skin wasÖ "What the hell are you?" The man raised a hand, palm towards her and Mary felt an intense burning pain in her chest. She tried to scream, but was consumed by the fire the man started before she could even begin. The pair stared curiously at the cloud of ash slowly drifting toward the ground. "Interesting. There was nothing in our briefing about the species being so vulnerable to heat." His companion shrugged. Her skin was already regenerating, covering what lay beneath. "We knew our files on this world were incomplete. It hardly matters though. This simply means that the Humans will be less of an obstacle to finding the heir than we had anticipated." NOT THE END