Title: "Prey for Reign"
Chapter (2/3) set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight comic
book universe.
Written by: Shawn

Summary: As if barely surviving a harrowing fiery plane crash wasn't
enough, the Scoobie Gang must contend with Willow's sudden loss of
power, a mysterious betrayal, hidden agenda's, and an army of the
undead when they arrive in Monte Carlo.

Rating: M for violence, language, and sensual situations.
Category: Drama/Action Adventure/Romance
Characters: Buffy, Xander, Dawn, Willow, Faith, Renee, Giles, Andrew,
and Robin Wood. Original characters as well.

Ship: Buffy/Xander

Timeline/Spoilers: The entire BtVS series and the first four issues
of the new BtVS comic book for season 8. The entire "Long Way Home"
series.

Email: dayshawn1974@gmail.com
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns everything!

Authors Notes 1: Basic BtVS comic book universe knowledge for those
who haven't read it is that the Scoobies are working out of a castle
in Scotland and have rebuilt the Watchers Council with Giles in
charge. There are about 2000 Slayers with 500 spread around the
world. In my humble opinion there have been signs of a possible BX
hookup in the future of the comic and I'm sort of exploring that
here. With this story I hope to capture all that made BtVS so
amazing. Drama, humor, heart, sex, action, quirkiness, and the
characters we all know and love acting like adults for once.

Authors Notes 2: As the comic doesn't really place the year, although
its supposed to be season eight, I'm setting the story in September
2007.

~~~~~~

"No matter how bad things get, you got to go on living, even if it
kills you."
~~ Sholom Aleichem

"There are good days and there are bad days, and this is one of
them."
~~ Lawrence Welk

"Every survival kit should include a sense of humor."
~~ Author Unknown

~~~~~~

******

******

A black Boeing Business Jet 2
The Slayer's private executive jet, currently flying a 540 miles per
hour.
Thursday, September 27, 5:40 PM, 2007
En route to Monte Carlo, but currently plummeting towards the
Mediterranean Sea

"WILLOW?!"

Hearing Buffy shout her name from the pilot's cabin didn't alter the
undeniable fact that for whatever reason her magic was... gone. "I
don't understand this," Willow choked out as the plane rattled
violently, holding onto her seat for dear life after having tried
several spells in the last two minutes. "I can't... I don't."

"We are so amazingly screwed." Shaking off Willow's unexpected
powerless state, Buffy caught sight of the pilot doubled over the
controls, now unconscious. "This really isn't a good time to pass
out, okay? This is like the worst timing ever." Roughly shaking him,
she saw no movement whatsoever. He was out like a light. What was
worse, she just saw the dragon swoop past them for another
run. "Xander, get in here!"

At the pilot's cabin in a second, Xander caught sight of the slumped
over pilot. His survival instincts immediately took over. "Faith, get
in here and take this guy to the back of the plane. Strap him and
yourself into a parachute. Dawn, Wills, Andrew, prepare the other
ones."

"Shit," cursed the other Slayer as the plane began rumbling badly.

"Here. Go!" After handing the pilot to Faith, Buffy listened to the
sounds of fast moving footsteps while gasping at the sight of Xander
now at the flight controls. "Please tell me you know how to fly a
plane with one good engine and your one good eye?"

"Pun ignored, a little bit," Xander replied while trying to hail air
traffic control in the area. He got nothing but static. "Piloting was
part of my Council training in London."

"How did you do?"

"Uhm, I didn't finish. That's when I was assigned to Africa and all
the badness there."

Buffy noticed the nerve-wrecking sight of thick gray smoke swirling
from their damaged engine. "So how much of the training did you
finish?"

"'Bout two weeks." Sparing a quick glance at Buffy, Xander swallowed
hard. "Your panic face isn't helping."

"Would my scared outta my freaking mind face work better?" Strapping
herself in the seat next to Xander, a blazing wave of fire criss-
crossed the left side of the plane, narrowly missing the wing. Xander
managed to level them out of a compete nosedive, rolling the plane
back and forth in rapid succession, dodging two more of the dragon's
fireballs. He was working with one good engine and a dangerous fire-
breathing dragon hot on his tail.

Buffy complimented, "On a scale of one to ten, that was a two
hundred."

"Just trying to do my best impression of Lando Calrissian," Xander
quipped while throttling their remaining good engine as hard as he
could towards the mainland, doing his best to create any distance
between the plane and the dragon chasing them. Unfortunately the
mainland looked entirely to far away. "FAITH?!"

"YEAH, WE'RE GOOD. LET'S BLAZE THIS BITCH!"

Using a hardcover book the pilot must having been reading before
takeoff, Xander braced it under the control yoke to give them as much
level flying as it could before they jumped. He took off after Buffy
to the back of the plane where Dawn, Willow, and Faith were.

"I got the pilot strapped to me!" Faith yelled before wrenching open
the boarding door, which sent blustering winds throughout the
cabin. "Life jackets are by your parachutes. I'm out. And in case I
never see any of you again, its been wicked fun. Pour out a little
liquor for your girl, k?" With a daring smirk on her face she jumped
out of the plane, descending so fast she was out of sight in a
second.

Holding onto the wall for support, Willow watched Buffy and Xander
strap themselves in while she took her position to jump. "Be careful
guys. Stay safe. Sorry I couldn't magic us out of this, but something
wacky is going on and I seem to be completely out of witchy mojo. I'm
not sure..."

Rushing over to brush a good-luck kiss on her cheek, Xander made it
clear, "I love you but this is no time to babble."

"Got it." Willow leaped from the plane, her red tresses flailing in
the wind.

Dawn stepped in next, her eyes wide with fear as her hair blew
about. "I wish I'd worn my jumping out of a burning plane outfit."

Despite the stark dread etched on her sister's face, Buffy sought to
reassure her. Bracing her hand son her shoulders, she looked her
square in the eyes. "You're ready for this, so do it. Don't think,
just go!"

Gritting her teeth, Dawn jumped for her life, literally.

"Andrew?!!! "ANDREW?!!" Xander shouted towards the main cargo hold,
catching no sight of the nerd/genius.

"Go! I'll be alright!" was heard from somewhere below the deck.

Not sure he could trust that, Xander knew didn't want to die and
staying here any longer would make that happen. He met Buffy's
determined gaze while she was attaching a backpack containing an
inflatable life raft to her waist. "Ready?"

"Always," she noted, having made tons of jumps before tonight. "Oh,
by the way. If you die we'll never have all the hot, sweaty sex I
intend us to have in all those flexible positions I'm so good at.
Later, Xan." Sending him a flirtatious wink, Buffy barreled out of
the plane, flying as if she were born too.

"God how I love that woman." Wasting not another second, Xander leapt
from the plane screaming into a 120 miles per hour free fall. Out the
corner of his eye he saw a wave of gusting fire blast through the
right wing of the plane, separating it, now nosediving towards the
sea. Seconds later it exploded loudly, but through the rush of flames
and smoking debris came the dragon sweeping downwards after him.

With no real time to think, Xander reacted to the threat. Shifting
his body with his back to the sea, he only had seconds before he'd
have to release his parachute, He somehow retrieved his firearm from
his holster, firing wildly above him as fast as he could at the
beast. Nine shots missed badly, but two shots hit their mark,
striking the beast in its the face. The bullets tore stringy hunks of
green scaly flesh as the creature howled painfully in anguish,
swinging its massive wings around before disappearing in the night
sky.

Barely able to breathe, Xander pulled the cord on his parachute,
lifting him high when the chute opened. His descent speed slowed at
last. He urgently scanned the area, catching sight of Faith and
Willow swimming towards each other, while Dawn was making her way to
where Buffy landed and was attempting to use the auto-inflate on the
life raft. There wasn't any sight of Andrew yet, and that worried him
greatly. What in the heck was he doing in the back of the plane?

Moments ticked by in a heartbeat. Hitting the ice cold water in a
wild rush, Xander struggled to get out of his chute, then began
swimming towards the bright light he was was sure was Dawn's signal
flare. "No sharks, no sharks, no sharks," he chanted his wish over
and over as he hated the idea of being devoured by a shark. It was
his personal worst way to die.

"Glad to see you could join us," Buffy greeted her nearly official
boyfriend, reaching for his hand to drag him on board the now
inflated raft. It wasn't much for space, but it was a hell of a lot
better than staying afloat in the sea's cold waters. Xander's
constant chanting of no sharks amused her. "You okay?"

"Yeah," he quickly hugged her close, scanning the others as they were
as soaking wet as he was. But at least they were alive. The pilot was
still unconscious. "You? Everyone else?"

Buffy nodded gratefully. "Despite being soaked and freezing, we're
fine. Where's the dragon?"

"I shot it in the face."

"I bet its good and ticked now. We'd better get to paddling out of
here before it comes back."

"I don't see any sign of Andrew," Faith noted, looking out around
them, worry etched on her face despite her best attempt to hide it.
Dawn, Willow, Buffy, and Xander fell silent as they searched for any
signs of their friend. Buffy lit another signal flair just in case he
might be out there as everyone began calling his name as loudly as
they could..

Brushing her damp hair aside, Willow tried again to summon her
powers, only to find nothing at her disposal. "I can't use my magic
to find him. But I know he can swim really well."

Catching sight of something moving in the distance, Dawn pointed
north. "Look. That's a small yellow boat... I think."

A smile curling his lips, Xander was happy to report, "That looks
like Andrew's hover chair. The little guy survived after all. I'll
never critique his expense report again."

Upon reaching them the glass canopy over Andrew's hover-chair slid
backwards, revealing a clearly shaken but very alive young man. "It
seems you all survived. I guess I lost the bet I made with myself. Oh
well."

"I could kiss you if you weren't so nerdy." Buffy teased. "I still
might if you can get us out of here."

Pressing a series of buttons on his keyboard, the back-end of his
hover chair revealed a strong steel cable. "I was able to save three
backpacks full of our supplies in my trunk and I can drag the boat to
shore," he was pleased to report. "Buffy, you can keep your kiss.
It's appreciated though."

Had anyone ever not wanted a kiss from her, Buffy tried to remember,
a bit insulted. Then she shrugged. Andrew was one of a kind. "Get to
tugging, buddy. We've got mysteries to solve, bad guys to kill, and
we have to find Willow's magical mojo."

******

******

The Full Moon Casino
Private V.I.P quarters in the Upper Floor
Thursday, September 27, 8:30 PM, 2007
Monte Carlo, Monaco

The luxurious bedroom reeked of primal musk and the ethereal echoes
of violent sex.

Adam finally rolled off of Eve, settling in beside her. The vamp-form
his face was stricken with gently ebbed away, revealing his natural
human features. Blood dripped from his fangs, while her neck bore the
twin wounds of his passionate thirst. Dark red trails descended her
lovely olive skin, staining the twisted white sheets. He delighted in
her labored breathing, knowing all to well how her insatiable
appetite would rise again shortly and he'd have to fuck her again.

Even harder... rougher than before as that's how she liked it.

Oh how he loved her ravenous hunger. It matched his own perfectly.
Sex and power, they were so evenly matched in their ultimate desires.
That he found his perfect mate in an accursed Lycan, the irony wasn't
lost on Adam. As even their names were in harmonious sync, he found a
completeness within his beloved Eve. One that he wouldn't sacrifice
for anything... even his own life. "In less than forty-eight hours we
will control the single most powerful criminal organization in all
the world."

Writhing on the heels of a deliciously writhing orgasm, Eve hummed
her approval while stretching her limbs. "Pushing up the cure
exchange date to keep both sides on their toes was a genius stroke,
my love. They will hate you for it, but won't risk missing out on the
opportunity."

"We're dancing the razor's edge of death, dearest. We must stay one
step ahead lest we fall into the abyss. The Werewolf Pride and the
Vampire Nation will have less time to prepare their own betrayal, as
we can be certain neither organization has any intention of letting
the other leave alive. We will have them at our mercy, and when the
time is right we shall strike a blow that will end hundreds of years
of senseless war and finally unite our respective species against the
common foe of humanity."

Adam's ambition captivated Eve to no end. She longed to be by his
side on the day of his ultimate victory. A day that was coming very,
very soon. "What of our plans for the Slayer?"

"The plane crash has already been covered up. Wolfram and Hart's
loaner has departed the area, having completed it's task. Everything
is proceeding as planned. We will soon have the worlds most powerful
Slayer right where we want her. For now we must let all parties
involved plot our demise while we manipulate the puppet strings.
We're giving them all just enough rope to hang themselves with."

"At long last there will be an end to the seemingly endless war," Eve
noted twisting her body along the covers, nestling closer to her
lover. "Unity will breed success the likes of which neither Vampire
nor Lycan has ever witnessed before."

"We shall disappear for five years," Adam noted, his vision focused
on the ceiling and the future. "As the Watcher's Council have their
taken time to reestablish its focus and how it will wage war, we must
step back and give the impression of disorganization and mistrust of
leadership. Then and only then can we reemerge united, deadly, and
ready to face a world filled with Slayers. The Hierarchy of both the
Werewolf Pride and the Vampire Nation will not like the what we have
planned, but will come to see its ultimate fruition in time."

"A Lycan will never follow a Vampire, and the same can be said for
your species ever following one of mine." Eve watched Adam's face
turn cold, maniacal before her very eyes.

"True, and so a leader must have the power to reach and gain the
respect of both species equally."

"And if one doesn't exist..."

Curling himself around her again, Adam sank his fangs into her neck,
drawing deeply before whispering, "Then we shall simply create one."

******

******

The Tulip Inn
9 Avenue Prince Pierre
Willow and Xander's hotel room
Thursday, September 28, 8:45 PM, 2007
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Concentrating hard on the task at hand, Willow slowly gestured over a
paper cup while chanting a barely audible ancient incantation.

Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing.

Redoubling her efforts, she centered her mind and body. Focused and
determined, her heart beat slowed to a crawl. Her eyes slipped shut
as both her hands motioned over the paper cup. She set her will upon
the goal of forcing her vaunted powers back to her. Chanting softly,
her voice began to harden, her jaw wincing as the exertion began to
take its toll until frustration swept over her and she backhanded the
cup off the nightstand that separated her bed from
Xander's. "Dammit," she swore under her breath, head bowed in defeat.

There was little in all the world that Willow Rosenberg hated more
than feeling inadequate.

In reality, she's seen and performed such grand acts of magic that
the notion of it being gone shouldn't come as a surprise. If magic
made anything possible, life taught the same lesson. Still, her
abilities had grown exponentially since leaving Sunnydale and the
sheer magnitude of sitting here powerless has her a bit overwhelmed.

Xander's friendly warnings time and time again that she's grown to
accustomed to using magic has left her dependent on it in ways she
didn't want to face. Only now she has no choice. Admittedly, if she's
parked at a stop light and it takes to long to change she used a
spell to turn it green Or better yet, if she's pressed for time and
no ones watching she'll simply fly. A new, exhilarating power she's
become quite proficient in.

Tonight though... tonight has removed magic from her life. Has left
her vacant of the power. And what's left could only be described as a
very eye opening experience.

When the initial gathering process of the Slayers in the States was
done the Scoobies relocated to London to begin rebuilding the
Watcher's Council in a bold new way. Xander enlisted in the Council
agents training program and never looked back. He went after the
formal training offered with a tenacity none of them knew he had in
him. He sought skills and worked hard to master them. Subsequently,
Dawn followed in his footsteps. What they didn't know they were
taught.

Faith and Buffy went their separate ways, but were there every step
of the way when it came to deciding how the new Slayers would be
trained, housed, led, and handled.

Willow's path took her to the Witches Coven and an even greater
understanding and immersion in the world of magic and the occult. But
tonight has shone a glaring light on how outside of magic she's lost
touch with who she was and what she's capable of minus the dark arts.
While almost everyone around her picked up skills that could never be
taken away, she's trained in a world that depended on an outside
source for power.

And if one was ever removed from that power they would be, in her
heart of hearts, what she wanted to never become again.

Ordinary.

When did she lose her way? When did she begin to associate the very
essence of who she was with her magic abilities? Where was the
resourceful, brilliant book worm, computer geek Willow Rosenberg
who's gifts were self taught and could never be taken from her?

That question had to be answered and soon.

Exhaling deeply when she heard Xander exit the bathroom while towel
drying off his hair, she lifted her gaze his way with a careful
smile. He graced her with the same. "I feel sucky."

Sighing as he expected this, Xander was pleased to note she wasn't
going to try and act as if everything was okay. She wanted to talk,
and for him, he would always listen. "How so?" he asked, seated
across from her on the other bed.

"I'm... I'm not really sure. I mean I know why deep down, only thing
is I just can't stand it." Willow shook her head, her hands resting
in her lap. "I love being on the front lines with Buffy and the
Slayers fighting the big bads. I'm not afraid of the fighting or the
danger. I haven't been afraid of much of anything in years. And I
know I am the same person I was yesterday, only now I feel..."

"Sucky?"

"Yeah, and weak. I feel small and weak and like I don't have anything
to bring to the table. Hence the sucky feeling."

"Do you have any clue how many years I felt that way?"

As if a bucket of ice cold water had been dumped on her, Willow
suddenly felt guilty. "Of course I do."

"And what did you always tell me?"

"Always wear clean underwear."

"Besides that."

"Doublemeat Palace burgers were gong to kill you long before a
vampire would."

"Again, besides that," he smiled.

"That you were a invaluable asset to our team and that we believed in
you." Lifting her eyes to his, she added, "We didn't say that near
enough. Especially me." They fell silent for a moment. "It's only
been a couple of hours and I can't seem to wear your old shoes."

"My feet are much bigger than yours." Moving to her bed, Xander sat
beside her and swung his arm over her shoulder affectionately. "Part
of me wanted and needed you guys to believe in me more and encourage
me. But another part of me had to grow up and accept that I was who I
was. If I wanted something to change then I had to man-up and change
it myself."

"So you want me to Man-Up?"

"Woman-Up would be more appropriate, but yeah," he replied wearing a
grin. "Look, you feel like minus your powers you're not yourself
anymore. But you were spectacular long before you ever started
messing around with magic. And you know we will move heaven and earth
and everything in between to get your mojo back."

"And I know we will get it back, but I need to face facts. I haven't
learned anything new about anything outside of magic since we left
Sunnydale. I can't remember the last book I read that had nothing to
do with magic. I have let technology pass me by. I can't even get my
Windows Vista to work right to save my life."

"No one can, Wills. Don't judge your techno skills by a Windows
operating system. But yeah, I get your drift."

"I must sound like the worlds biggest wuss whining about this."

"We all have our wussy moments. Its what you do during them that
defines you. I could have had all the encouragement and sweet-talking
in the world from you guys way back when, but if I hadn't set goals
for myself and kicked my own ass to meet them I would have never
changed how I saw myself. Maybe this is one of your defining, ass
kicking moments. Feel the burn on your booty."

"Eww, but thank you." Leaning against her best friend, Willow
added, "It's time I set some new goals outside of magic and stated
going after them. Because what if I am permanently removed from my
powers?"

"Wills..."

"No, seriously. What if that were true? Then where would I be? The
answer to that question is within my ability to change. And I'm going
too. I just need to remind myself of how I feel now so that when I
get my powers back I don't fall into my same old magic-is-everything
routine."

"I like the sound of that. Just remember I loved you long before you
knew how to fly on a broom."

Willow poked in him the cheek. "Xan, witches don't fly on brooms. I
wish that rumor would just die already. It's a false cliche we've
been battling since the middle ages."

"Casper the Friendly Ghost and his cartoon show defy you." He earned
that glowing Willow smile. She leaned over and brushed an exaggerate
smooch over his cheek. "Better?

"Much. Thank you." Standing to her feet, Willow stretched her arms
out in a relaxing pose. "I'm gonna grab a quick shower. Be back in
ten."

Before the bathroom door shut behind her Xander was marching towards
the one connected to Buffy and Dawn's room. She never heard him
mutter a quiet, "Take your time."

Tapping softly at the adjacent door, no reply was exactly what he was
looking for. Having known Buffy was taking her shower after Dawn,
coupled with the door he heard shut a few minutes ago led him to the
awesome conclusion that a naked, glistening under soapy hot water
blond Slayer was showering only a few feet away. And with his status
being unofficial boyfriend, it was his duty to insure her hot shower
went as smoothly as possible.

Yeah, that made perfectly good sense to Xander.

He tapped against the door again with the back of his hand. Still no
answer. Dawn's snack habit obviously got the best of her as she was
probably off in vending machine heaven.

Woo hoo!

Gently turning the knob, Xander let himself in and found the room
empty, although he heard the shower running. Two short strides had
him at the bathroom, his heart pounding as he slowly turned the
handle, opening the door just a little.

What greeted him was awe inspiring to say the last. The luscious
steamy silhouette reflection in the mirror above the sink left his
mouth watering. Of what he could make out, her figure was just
delicious amidst the pillowing steam. He swallowed hard before he
spoke. "Uhm, Buffy. In case you need your back done, or your hair
washed, or had any trouble reaching the shower nozzle, or maybe just
wanted a wee bit of company I just want you to know I'm here and
available." God, could he sound any more horny? "So what do you say?"

Unfortunately for Xander, the Slayer's voice came from behind him.

"I'd say if you don't stop step away from my sister's shower I'm
going to jam that door where the sun don't shine.

"BUFFY!" Xander quickly spun around, eyes wide open, pupils dilated.
His hands lifted defensively. "I'd didn't... I thought that was... I
didn't meant too..."

"HE WAS LOOKING, BUFFY!" Dawn shouted with glee from her shower. "AND
HE LIKED WHAT HE SAW! CONFESS!!"

With the sound of her sister's roaring laughter ringing about, Buffy
calmly shut the bathroom door and yanked her clearly disturbed future
honey across the room. "Instead of fumbling an explanation we all
know can be summed up by a severe case of the hornies, why don't you
just relax," she noted wearing a amused expression. She held up a bag
full of teeth-rottening goodies. "I did the snack supply run and now
we have nearly half the vending machines worth of chocolate and candy
products."

"It was an honest mistake, Buffy."

"I know."

"I only have one good eye. My depth perception is off sometimes. I
don't always judge height well."

"Riiiight."

"I only wanted you to be in that shower."

"And I wouldn't have been opposed to you joining me," she leaned into
him. When she winked a tortured groan was her reward. "Alas, you were
caught spying on my little sister, who in many ways thinks of you as
her big brother."

Xander shuddered. "This is ewww off the charts."

"Yes. Wallow in it. Soak up the ewww. And let it never happen again."
He shuddered once more and then followed her to the bed. She shoved
the bag at his chest. "We have Twix's, Kit Kats, Snickers, Hostess
Cup Cakes, Peanut Butter Cups, Chocolate Raisins, Nutty Crunches, and
Hershey's kisses."

Xander couldn't resist asking, "Let me have a kiss?"

"You already stole one of those, remember?" Buffy teased most cheeky,
causing him to look away. He reached in and grabbed a handful of
kisses, devouring them one by one. "Are you going to give me a kiss?"

Her tone was daring, as was the daring sparkle in her lovely hazel
eyes. "I didn't know you wanted one so badly." Yeah, he mentally
pumped his fist. Now that was a grown-up Xander flirtatious comeback.

"If I did you'd still be to scared to just come and take it."

Damn, she was good. But he couldn't let that pass. No matter how sexy
she looked standing there with her hands on her hips. "I'm not scared
of you." He bent down to her. "I'm scared of you."

Going over what he just said, Buffy tilted her head curiously. "Don't
you mean me?"

"That's what I said."

"No, you said you weren't scared of me. You were scared of me. I
think you meant to say you were scared of me, meaning yourself."

Thinking it over a moment, Xander scratched his head. "I said that."

"No, you said you were scared of me, meaning yourself."

"So I didn't say I was scared of me, meaning me, but of you, meaning
you?" Buffy nodded. "Buff, its late and you're so beautiful and I'm
just a one eyed man who's crazy about you."

"Then for crying out loud kiss me while I'm conscious."

The suddenness of his romantic attack was almost as shocking as the
tender way his lips played over her, nibbling and brushing so
decadently she was swooning in his arms. They drowned in a long,
hungry kiss that was forever in coming. It wasn't that she's never
thought of or imagined kissing Xander. Only that after knowing a man
for so many years its rare if ever that a woman sees him differently
after a decades length of time. But here she was kissing her best
friend like it was going out of style, and boy did it feel good.
Better than good. Mmmm, so very better than good.

Operating solely on instinct, Xander laid Buffy down on the bed, only
they had to roll out of the way because she was lying on the bag of
snacks. Giggling, they managed to get it right the second time
around, but accidentally rolled off the side of bed when Buffy wanted
to be on top. That didn't stop the kissing from growing passionately
until they were tearing at each others clothes on the floor.

"Damn, y'all didn't waste no time. But don't stop now. This beats the
hell out of wasting eleven bucks on naughty pay-per-view." Faith's
voice drew them out of their heated embrace. Xander stood up, pants
unzipped, shirt hanging out, his hair in disarray. Clearly hard and
embarrassed. Buffy stood and turned away, still buttoning up her
shirt, her belt on the floor. She was blushing like mad. "Oh come on.
Just do it and let us watch. Its not like we're here to save the
world or anything," Faith cracked.

"Don't make me stab you again," Buffy warned, half teasing.

"You want to get stabbed by the good Xander-pole. Well just remember
I got there first, bitch." Buffy pretended to try and stab Faith with
a Snicker before they began dueling with the other one, much to
Xander's chagrin.. Willow and Andrew entered the room next, and then
Dawn emerged from the bathroom brushing her hair.

Brushing past Xander, Dawn whispered. "Don't worry. I won't charge
you for the peep show."

He shuddered again.

The gang swooped in on the snacks, spreading out over the two beds
when a knock sounded at the door. Buffy peeked through the peep hole.
The girl in the hall was about five foot seven, slender build, a
heavy duffel bag hung over her shoulder. She had short, dark hair and
emerald green eyes. Her regal facial features conveyed beauty to the
fullest. Her looks perfectly matched the description she was
given. "Ms. Howell?"

"Yes," came a reply. "Ms. Summers. Ma'am."

"Don't call me Ma'am. It makes me feel old." Buff opened the door,
revealing the beautiful Virginia Howell. One of Robin's specially
trained deep undercover Slayers. Clad in all black, she strode into
the room and quickly caught sight of a very surprised Xander. "Fancy
meeting up with you again."

"Jules?"

"It's my middle name. I know we didn't really get around to that in
Africa. What with the killing, danger, sexing, and all."

Catching wind of Buffy curiously pissed-off expression, Xander knew
things were about to get a whole lot more interesting.

******

While passing around photos and intelligence documents for Adam
Masikroft and Eve Collins, Jules began detailing their enemies. "They
are lethal and lovers, strange as that sounds. Both belong to their
races governing body's, although I can tell they pledge their true
allegiance only to themselves. I have witnessed them kill
mercilessly. But don't mistake that for a blood lust where violence
is concerned. At least not in Adam's case. He's is calculating and
clever."

"Excuse me, Ms Howell?" Andrew interjected. "But did I hear you right
when you said they were lovers?"

"A Vampire and a Lycan mating isn't a mental image you want to hang
on to for very long, but yes."

"You can say that again," Dawn offered.

"The Full Moon Casino's security staff is mostly human, although all
of the undercover operatives are vampires. And there are tons of them
that cover the whole of the casino. In addition, there's a small army
of the undead in the hidden lower levels. I don't know much more
about them than that. The structure is as much a fortress as as it is
a casino," Jules explained while handing out building schematics for
the casino. "I don't know what room the actual exchange will take
place in, but we will need to know because the casino is simply to
huge to play guessing games with. In addition, the exchange is now
taking place Saturday
night." Everyone looked up when that news broke. "I think Adam
expects treachery from the Vampire Nation and the Werewolf Pride.
Giving them a new exchange date might throw them off. That's my
assumption at least."

"I'd bet a years salary you're on the money," Faith noted. "If this
Adam guy is as shady and smart as you claim he is then he's banking
on a war breaking out. He can't possibly think those organizations
are gonna play nice after hundreds of years of bloodshed. Those
motherfuckers are going to kill everything that moves"

"There's more going on here than meets the eye, that's for sure."
Xander went over the casino schematics with Buffy close over his
shoulder. He felt Jules watching them. Having not seen her in almost
a year and a half, she looked great. And they had a thing or two to
hash out. Tragedy had to change a person. "Jules, what do you know
about Willow being unable to use her powers?"

"Zenitha," was uttered with no small amount of fear. Jules looked to
Willow and saw the same reflected in her gaze. "Adam has somehow
employed a Witch Goddess. From what we know about her she's well over
two hundred years old and has been killed more than twenty times. She
keeps coming back from the dead. She just won't stay dead. And she's
reportedly wearing a artifact called the Crucian that..."

"Erodes and blocks all magic in and around her," Willow finished in a
hush. That artifact was one of the most sought after in the magic
world. "But we were miles away when my powers began failing. How is
she broadcasting the artifacts abilities so far away?"

Jules shook her head. "I don't know how she is doing what she is
doing, but I do know where she is. Adam owns a massive luxury yacht
called The Oracle on the back-end loading docks. Peer 9. It appears
our witch likes being near the water."

"There's a reason for that," Willow thought out loud. "I just don't
know what it is yet."

"Faith, take Dawn, Willow and Andrew. Kill Zenitha," Buffy
stated. "We need Wills at full power A.S.A.P."

"Are the kids gloves on?" Faith asked as she was ready to rock and
roll.

Buffy crossed her arms. "Do whatever it takes."

"Zenitha is very powerful and very unpredictable," Willow
warned. "Going in all guns blazing will get you killed."

"That's why you're coming with us, Wills. Lead the way." Faith left
the room with Dawn and Andrew to get prepared.

"As for the rest of us," Buffy declared. "We can't afford to wait for
the exchange. The cures are the only thing that matter. We need to
take over the entire operation and be ready to seize the cures as
soon as the Werewolf Pride and Vampire Nation representatives arrive
with them."

"So we're taking out the Vampire and Lycan version of Bonnie and
Clyde tonight?" Jules joked.

"Exactly. We need to know everything they know."

"Its time to put the kids to bed, lock your doors, and tuck the
elderly in all warm and snug." Xander stretched his arms out,
standing up from the bed. "Looks like a wild night of gambling,
murder, and intrigue is in store."

******

******

"The Oracle"
Adam Masikroft's personal 450 feet long, 7-deck yacht
Back-end loading dock
Friday, September 28, 12:15 AM, 2007
Monte Carlo, Monaco

"Man oh man, this is our lucky night," Roland rubbed his hands
together, anxiously waiting for Marcus to razor the red lines into
rows on the mirror so he could take a hit. Standing on the quiet
loading area in the back of the massive luxury yacht, the two vampire
guards oversaw the arrival of new supplies for the on board staff,
and when the supply boat departed they were using the top of one of
the two large crates to enjoy some recreational fun. "C'mon. Do a
line and step aside. Its been a long night."

"Wait, motherfucker," Marcus warned with venom, his tattooed hand
steadily forming six perfect lines of the red narcotic. "Copping this
shit wasn't easy and I'm gonna take my damn time enjoying it."
Leaning over the mirror, he quickly snorted an entire line, wincing
almost painfully as the powerful drug took effect. "Fuck yeah, that
shits good!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, just come on." Bouncing on his toes from
anticipation, Roland vamped out, ready for his hit. The red lines
were made of Sacred. Virgins blood blended in with pure cocaine and
the dust of a dead vampire combined to create this horribly-addictive
designer underworld drug. Vampires themselves didn't even care part
of the ingredients was from their own kind. Nor did they care that to
insure the virgin aspect of the blood, children were sacrificed for
the drug to be made.

It made you feel like you could make the whole world burn.

Each having snorted a long line from the mirror, they were shocked
when the other crate burst open from the side. "FUCK!"

Training her X-9 handgun, Dawn nailed Roland dead center in his
forehead, a silencer muting the firing burst. A single holy-water
embedded silver bullet killed the vampire instantly. His body slumped
backwards in a heap of dust before it landed.

Faith swung around Marcus so fast before he could reach his gun. She
drove her knife clear through his throat and then wrenched it
sideways. Dark red crimson bled like a water fountain from him until
the Slayer threw his body off the side of the ship. "Back decks
clear. Get the nerd online."

Dawn tapped her blue tooth headset. "Andrew, we're on board. Wills,
you there?"

"I'm here, D,"

"Me too," Andrew confirmed from his hover-chair, going over the
yachts schematics. "Up ahead ten feet is the supply room. It leads to
a corridor on the first floor. You need to make a right at the first
corner and take the four flights of stairs down to the engine room in
the bowels of the ship. Eww, I said bowels."

Faith holstered her sword from the crate, then placed her knife on
her hip-slip. "We're gonna set our explosive on the engines cause if
we can't beat Zenitha we gotta sink this bitch and sink it before she
can get away."

"Remember, Faith," Willow interjected over the line. "The mystical
artifact around her neck is the key. Get rid of that and I'll take
care of the rest."

Checking the explosives in the black back-pack she wore, Faith
added, "You had better be as bad ass as you claim, Red. Talk is
cheap. I expect to see some some ass getting kicked all over the
place. Just stand by. I'm about to stomp a hole in that witch's ass."

"Gotcha."

With that out of the way, Faith addressed Dawn before they entered
the interior of the yacht. "I'm gonna make this real simple, D.
Everyone in there is going to try to kill you. Kill them first. Don't
hesitate. Don't let them see how scared you are. They're killers and
you're dinner. Bottom of the food chain as far as those fuckers they
are concerned. That's it. We good?"

Taking her last deep breath, Dawn squeezed both her guns. "I'm ready."

"Better be." With their backs to either side of the entrance doors,
they snuck peeks through the small glass windows before entering the
empty supply room. Another door showed the corridor ahead was clear.
They hit it fast, weapons trained, senses alert. With their corner
turn coming up fast they came across a small dining area that was
well lit. Inside were six male vampires, all vamped and drenched in
fresh blood, with three dead women at their feet.

Ready to get her hands dirty, Faith casually walked in. "Hey boys.
Wanna party?"

The oldest vamp, gray tinging his hair stepped over one of the dead
bodies as if she were nothing at all. He licked some of his victim's
blood off the back of his hand, sneering at Faith. "I don't know who
you think you are, but a lil petite like you couldn't hang with us.
Then again, I'm gonna enjoy the taste of... YOUR BLOOD!"

The elder vamp leapt at Faith and was violently beheaded in mid-air
when the Slayer slashed her sword high. Head and body hit the ground,
bursting into dust immediately. "I sure hope you boys have more
staying power than he did. I like my men to have some stamina."

The two vampires closest to the back wall reached inside their
jackets, but Dawn cut them down in a hail of bullets before they
could even reach their weapons, hitting both with chest shots that
torched through them from the inside out when the holy water was
injected. She missed a third vampire, who jumped onto a card table.
Holstering her guns, Dawn ran towards him, then slid foot-first into
the card tables wooden legs. One shattered as the table and vampire
fell hard to the floor. He was up like a light, so Dawn rolled
towards one of the shattered table legs and grabbed it.

The vampire jumped on top of Dawn, screaming, "I'm going to eat your
heart, bitch!"

"I'm going to break yours first." Dawn shoved the sharp end of the
table leg into the vampire chest, dusting it. She rolled away,
watching Faith fight while monitoring the corridor.

Faith roundhouse kicked one vampire across the room, then ducked a
wild punch from another. Grabbing his face with her hand, she shoved
him back against the wall and kept battering the back of his skull
into it until his head embedded in the wall. His body hung from the
fit created by his crushed skull.

Not even turning around, Faith stabbed her sword backwards, impaling
the last vampire. She spun on her heel and kicked him in the head so
hard his neck fractured. A final stab through the back of his heart
dusted the creature. "Good work, D. Way to get your John Woo on."

"I try," Dawn smirked, nodding towards the door. Faith took the
point, leading them down the hall, making a right turn towards the
stairwell ahead. So far so good. At this late hour most of the crew
seemed to be off feeding just like the small group they came across.

Stopping on the fourth floor for a moment, they heard the idle
chatter of a group of vampires about to get off the ship to go
hunting at Monaco's night clubs. There was no need to pick a fight if
it wasn't necessary, so Dawn and Faith let them go.

Upon reaching the engine room of the ship, Dawn quietly pointed out
from her crouched position several vampires bitching about how boring
guard
duty was. Faith noted their positions.

"Excuse me?" Dawn asked innocently, her expression shy as the
vampires all stood to full attention when they saw her. "I'm lost.
Would one of you nice boys let me use your cell phone? I want to call
my daddy so I can get a ride home."

The late hour drew their blood hunger painfully tight and so not a
word was uttered as they stormed towards her fangs first. From behind
her back she raised her twin guns and began firing, killing two
immediately before the others took cover and began firing their guns
at her. She quickly ducked behind a pillar near the back wall,
returning fire while Faith took the long way around the engine room.

"SOMEBODY GET SOME MORE SECURITY DOWN HERE PRONTO!" yelled one of the
vampires before the silver length of a sword tore through his
chest. "Dammit!" He was dust a moment later. Whirling around, Faith
ducked and dodged three crazy punches from a big, bald vampire before
swiping the side of her boot and then roundhouse kicking the vamp.
Her boot knife slit its throat from ear to ear. Another stab of her
sword and he was dust.

Running now, Dawn barrel-rolled over two desks while gunfire exploded
around her. She took cover behind one of the ships engines. Thinking
quickly, she saw a large metal light fixture above two vampires
firing at her. She concentrated and hit both wall bearings, causing
the heavy structure to fall and crush the vampires. "Lights out."

Faith was staggered by a vamp that obviously knew how to fight. The
bearded vampire knocked her sword out of her hand, and then went blow
for blow with the Slayer, countering some of her best stuff with an
impressive array of moves. "Great, I get the Jackie Chan of the
vampire world."

"No, you get to die!"

"Someday," Faith grunted, parrying a lunging swing while sidestepping
him until she was behind him. Whipping out a steel chain from her
back pocket, she swung it around the vampires neck and viciously
choked it until something broke in its neck. "But not today."

"Somebody might of heard the gunfire, Faith. We gotta move." The
Slayer nodded and then handed her three explosive devices. Faith had
the remote trigger. They went after each of the four engines,
planting the devices where they would do the most damage.

"I'm done, D. Time to find Zenitha." Tapping her bluetooth ear piece,
Faith asked. "Nerd boy, where's the head witch in charge?"

"Gotta be on the third floor. It's the only deck with one master
bedroom and office area. And from the peer looks like some funky
glowing light going on there. I'd expect mucho..."

Faith ripped the ear piece off and then stomped it on the ground.
Dawn just stared at her. "I got enough voices in my head, D. You keep
in contact with the B team. I got some witch killing to do."

"Lead the way."

Faith ascended the stairs faster than Dawn could keep up, hitting the
third floor corridor. Instead of vampires she found a long hall and
at the end a door with bright green light glowing from all around the
edged.

Unfortunately between her and the door were a dozen of the undead.
Bloodied zombies, their facial flesh rotting away, looking famished.
Clad in worn, torn rags that had obviously seen better days.

"Oh great. Its the fucking Dawn of the Dead," Faith quipped before
reaching inside her backpack. When the zombies saw her they began
sprinting toward her, ravenous for her flesh. She threw two grenades
in their direction. Both exploded upon impact, buckling the entire
floor, shattering glass and dry wall everywhere. Severed body parts,
massive amounts of splattered blood, and debris flew in every
direction. The Slayer stood amidst the smoke as the door at the end
of the hall slowly opened.

Shrouded in white whithering rags and a bloody hood covering her
head, Zenitha smelled the foul soul of a Slayer. "Do you seek death
this night, young one?"

"To tell you the truth I'd like a drink and a smoke. But yeah, your
death wouldn't put a bad end to things."

Dry, stitched-together lips curled into a nasty smile. "I sense fire
in you, girl. Now close your eyes and embrace oblivion." The Slayer
ran at her, sword drawn. Zenitha sent a bolt of green electricity at
her, slamming hard in to the Slayer's chest. Faith flew off her feet,
crashing hard into the wall, her sword flung from her hands.

Feeling like death warmed over, Faith kept her eyes trained on
Zenitha while listening to rapid gunfire behind her. Hopefully Dawn
was holding her own. She'd worry if the gunfire stopped. "I'm gonna
beat the unholy shit out of you."

"Unholy... what a compliment." Zenitha sent another bolt of
electricity at Faith, but the Slayer pressed the detonation button
causing a thundering explosion to rock the entire ship. With Zenitha
knocked off balance the Slayer dove out of the way, grabbed her sword
and threw it as hard as she could at the witch. The blade stabbed
into the witch's chest. She smiled, "Stupid child." Her hands grabbed
the blade as the silver melted into a liquid pooled at her feet with
the handle hitting the floor. "Killing me isn't that easy."

"Good thing I wasn't aiming to kill you."

Suddenly Zenitha saw what was laying beside the swords handle. The
dark, smoking artifact was cracked into three pieces. "MY CRUCIAN!!!
NO!!!!!"

Faith crossed her arms, grinning as the entire massive ship began
shaking violently, seemingly straining to not break in half. "That
rock and roll ain't Aerosmith, baby. That would be the enigmatic
Willow Rosenberg. And in the immortal words of the Rock, she's bout
to Lay the Smack down on your candy ass."

The whole right wall tore open from the outside in a booming
explosion of magic as a clearly levitating Willow descended inside
the ship. "You alright, Faith?"

"Just get to the killing, Wills. I gotta go help D."

Zenitha growled loudly at her new competition. "I have heard of you,
child. You pretend to be something you are not. But worry no more.
Allow me to send you to HELL!"

Summoning her most powerful magic, Willow sneered, "Go for it."

The witches intense magic detonated in a wild swirl of brilliant
light and blaring color as it seemed reality itself splintered around
them, warping the very air itself. Zenitha's electricity burst from
both her hands, while Willow shielded herself. The force of their
exertion began literally tearing the ship apart.

Willow knew she couldn't fight this battle here with Faith and Dawn
on board. When the entire upper floor, ceiling and all, ruptured in a
deafening blast of debris that rocked the entire ship sideways.
Zenitha flew straight up into the sky like a rocket.

Glancing over her shoulder, Faith saw Willow flying up after
Zenitha. "Shit, I should of learned how to use magic."

Dawn shot one vampire directly in its mouth and then kept shooting
until the one behind him died. Her heart pumped wildly as the fight
went on, now with the undead as well. Faith was kicking ass behind
her, breaking bones and dislodging fangs in a whirlwind of fists.
Above them was... well, the sky. A good thirty or so percent of the
yacht just wasn't there anymore. But high in the sky it looked like a
violent, loud thunderstorm was taking place as Willow and Zenitha
fought.

Suddenly one last loud sonic boom ricocheted in the heavens and then
out of the clouds Willow descended slowly. The remaining vampires,
seeing that Zenitha was no more dropped their weapons and ran for
their lives.

Dawn holstered her guns. "I shall never doubt you again, not that I
ever did."

"Thanks," Willow smiled before catching sight of Faith's very worried
expression. "What's the what?"

"Look out over the ship in the water," Faith pointed. The ocean was
alive with activity as far as the eye could see. "Fucking Zombies.
Thousands of them moving towards the shore. More than we can fight.
More than I have ever seen summoned before."

Willow's eyes darkened as the black magic around them affected
her. "Zenitha must have used the last of her powers to call them. And
she might be the only one that can show me how to call them off."

"Didn't you just kill her?" Faith questioned.

"Yeah, well, it looks like I have a bit of resurrecting to do. Excuse
me." Summoning her power, gusts of wind zipped Willow back high into
the sky.

Dawn reloaded her weapons, although she felt more than a bit worried.
As the ship began to sink in a sea of the undead. "What do we do?"

"Fuck if I know, D. We gotta get our asses out of here. Just make
sure you got a weapon. Get on the horn to Andrew. Tell him to blaze.
We'll find a ride if we make it to shore. Tell him to get word to B
and Xan A.S.A.P. Shit's hitting the fan big time."

******

Taking place simultaneously

******

The Full Moon Casino
Upper Tier balcony overlooking main casino floor
Friday, September 28, 12:15 AM, 2007
Monte Carlo, Monaco

Now matter how hard they tried to blend into the fabric of humanity,
Buffy could feel their presence caressing hr senses.

All of them.

Vampires.

Their vile hunger... their soulless existence... the way they moved
like shadows in the dark, hunting in plain sight.

While gazing out over the vast main floor of the packed casino, Buffy
felt the ethereal presence of nearly one hundred vampires. All
dressed in civilian clothes mingling with their food. Officially
they're undercover security personnel for the casino insuring the
customers safety and the house not being cheated. But in reality
they're blood sucking creatures just waiting for their next meal. She
didn't need Xander's special contact lens to locate the undead. She
could practically smell them.

She wanted to kill them.

All of them.

Her humanity had been tested time and time again in every way
possible. She's always come out stronger because of it. But nights
like this one, in the presence of so many vampires, the Slayer's
primitive blood lust begged to be sated. A part of her would love to
reach inside the black duffel bag by her foot, remove her scythe,
leap the balcony and slaughter every single one of them. To kill
until they were no more. But that wasn't part of the plan. And right
now entirely to much was riding on the plan working.

Dressed in the black outfit of a Full Moon Casino security officer,
Buffy waited for Xander to return from investigating the upper floor
of the casino while Jules snooped around her supervisors officer for
access to the administrative office area. If she wasn't back in
fifteen minutes they'd have to break in. Their preference would be to
sneak in unnoticed.

Buffy checked her watch. Faith, Dawn, Willow, and Andrew had to be at
the docks by now. She'd hear from them in the next hour or so. No
need to worry about that until there's something to actually worry
about.

With literally hundreds upon hundreds of slot machines offering
fortunes to the late night desperate crowd, Buffy considered going
down their for a turn or two herself. Just for the heck of it. Or
maybe she'd get a drink. She could use that. Alas, she's on guard
duty until Jules returned. Footsteps approached her from behind.
Familiar footsteps. "Do you know what I need right about now?"

Xander extended the small glass to her. When she turned around her
smile was immediate. "A drink, perhaps?"

Taking it from his hand, she was once again reminded just how well he
knew her. He had ordered her favorite. "Can you read minds now, Xan?"

"Nope, but I can sense restlessness and anxiety. Especially in you,"
he joked, moving to her side as they looked out over the crowd. "Plus
I needed a drink too."

He had thought of her when he got one, which made her feel kinda
special. His gentleman-like qualities impressed upon her. "We need a
toast."

"Its late, Buffy. Toast is breakfast food."

Buffy blinked. "Uhm, that's not the kind of toast I meant." His
expression went blank for a moment, offering no doubt in her mind he
was mulling his options.

"I knew what you meant."

"You so did not," she laughed.

"Did too."

"Did not."

"Did too. And I'm taller, so I'm automatically right due to my
gravitational superiority."

"Gravitational superiority? You have been hanging out with Andrew to
long. I'm going to have to Un-Geek you," Buffy noted playfully,
sipping from her drink. "We still need a toast." Looking away from
her, Xander's silence complimented the suddenly serious expression he
wore. "What's on your mind?"

He looked up. "You."

She smiled again. "I like the sound of that."

Turning his back to the crowd below, Xander leaned against the
banister. "I don't want to play games with you anymore, Buffy. And
for the record, when I kissed you awake, I was praying you wouldn't
wake up."

His verbal admission at last. "Ouch."

"No, that came out wrong," he amended. "I meant to say I was hoping
that deep down I..." And here it was, the truth despite all the years
and everything that happened. "I'm in love with you." Her lovely
hazel eyes grew soft before him. She rested her hand over his. "I've
fallen in and out of love with you about three times," he laughed to
himself, finally free of holding all of this in for so long. "Part of
me never wanted to fall in love with you again. I wasn't when we left
Sunnydale or even during our time in London. I've always been
attracted you and that has never changed. But the deep and scary
emotional valley, well, I had hoped I finally was able to hitchhike a
ride out of there. But that kiss proved me wrong."

Fearing his reply, she just had to ask, "Do you regret kissing me?"

"No, only what it revealed. I never wanted you to know."

"Because you thought I didn't feel the same way?"

"You never have before. And that's not your fault, but it is a fact.
I moved on from my feelings before and I was hoping it would happen
again."

"Things are different now," Buffy declared as she moved him, now
standing face to face. "I don't really know when or why I began
having feelings for you, but they are real and significant. I'm done
asking myself the same old questions I always do like am I
relationship poison, why am I falling for you now, or will dating you
ruin our friendship. I'm going to live in the moment and right now at
this moment I'm kinda crazy about you," she confessed and was
rewarded with his most endearing smile. "I'd like to be romanced by
you."

"Done."

Her gaze just wouldn't let his go. "I want to romance you too. I want
to date you and see what happens. I want to be your sweetheart... I
haven't been that to anyone in the longest time. But I want to be
yours."

So this was what Christmas morning felt like. Xander nodded. "So
you're not promising me forever, right?"

"No more than you can promise it to me."

"And we're gonna date?"

"Yep."

"And kiss?"

"With tongue, yes."

"What about sex?"

"Often, hot, and soon."

Lifting his glass, Xander toasted against Buffy's. "That's worth
celebrating." Throwing caution to the wind, he bent down to kiss her
gorgeous mouth for the longest time, drowning in the delicious taste
of her lips. This was either the best or worst idea either of them
had ever had, but they had to see it through. And it felt
wonderful. "If the fate of the free world wasn't at hand I'd so be
out of here and..."

"In me?"

He moaned, "Naughty Buffy."

"You have no idea," the Slayer winked and then out the corner of her
eye saw Jules waving them down from the ground floor. "Looks like its
show time." Buffy grabbed her weapons bag, while Xander threw his
over his
shoulder. Thank goodness they were made of material that couldn't be
x-rayed. "What's the what with your old Slayer pal?"

While descending the long red carpeted staircase, Xander
explained, "Jules lost her Watcher and her sister in Africa. She was
one of two Slayers left alive after the Kymen slaughtered their team
of seven. I found her sobbing uncontrollably with her dead sister in
her arms after the attack. I tried my best to comfort and counsel her
on the life of a Slayer. She was close to being suicidal. It took a
couple of weeks but we eventually developed a close friendship."

"Why do I get the feeling eventually it turned into a bit more? The
horizontal type of more?"

"Cause you have a good feminine intuition."

"Were you two falling for each other?"

"Not really. She was still grieving and battling some real darkness
by the time I left. But she continued working for the Council under
Robin's watch. She must be damn good at undercover work to have
snagged this assignment."

Crossing two long rows of slot machines and a couple of poker tables,
they met Jules near one of the three sports bars near the center of
the vast main floor.

Brushing her hair back in a comforting pose, Jules felt anything
but. "I was able to get in my supervisors office, but he was there."

"Did you knock him out?" Buffy asked. "We need to get into Adam's
office A.S.A.P."

Jules shook her head, trying to appear normal as guests walked
by. "He was dead, Buffy. He was human and his throat was slit from
ear to ear. What's even stranger is that most of the human security
personnel are missing as well. Look." She pointed to the four
entrances and the banking area for cashing in and buying
tokens. "There should be three guards at each post, with at least
twenty more walking the main floor at all times. And the security
camera's aren't flashing the red dots. They're off. All of them. This
isn't normal procedure."

Feeling the hairs on the back of his neck raise, Xander could sense a
trap brewing. "Keep your eyes open. I smell a rat."

"LADIES AND GENTLEMAN," a bold voice spoke over the casino's intercom
system, broadcast all around them. Buffy, Xander, and Jules found
Adam Masikroft and his beloved Eve standing on the balcony above
flanked by ten fully vamped bodyguards. "I regret to inform you all
that tonight is the last night the Full Moon Casino will be in
business. Sadly enough, your gambling needs will have to be satisfied
elsewhere." Everyones attention was drawn to the man in the sharp jet-
black suit. "I'm diversifying my financial portfolio, so the casino
business isn't for me anymore. But you've all been so wonderful that
I almost feel sorry you're all about to die." Hushed silence followed
by intense worry. "I'm going to make this short and sweet. Vampires
are real. I'm one of them. So are werewolves. My precious Eve belongs
to that race. Anyway, I've locked all the exit's and I'm jamming all
communications frequencies. Your cell phones are useless. At last
count there are about ninety-seven human customers here tonight.
Amongst you are fifty very hungry vampires. So kindly run, scream,
and panic. The chase is part of the fun. Goodnight."

Time seemed to slow to a crawl. Buffy, Xander and Jules nervously
peered around as many of the guests figured this to be some sort of
joke. How could they take was Adam said seriously? That was until the
first screams of agony roared out, followed by mass hysteria and a
stampede of people rushing for the exits.

Only to be met by raging vampires tackling and leaping upon them,
feeding crazily.

Chaos had begun!

Xander quickly tore open the bag by his foot. It took a split-second
for to remove the scythe inside. He beheaded a vamp rushing in from
behind. He spun upon hearing a single gunshot go off and found Buffy
had fired on a vampire that had leapt on a woman's back, preparing to
feed. They shared a glance, casually flipped each other their
respective weapons, and then uttered, "Wrong bag."

Holstering his two handguns guns and a couple special items, Xander
took the exit farthest away, racing toward at his top speed. A
elderly woman nearly ran smack into him, with two snarling vampires
raging after her. Shifting his weight around, Xander spun the lady
behind him and then sent a barrage of special bullets at the vamps,
dusting them instantly. He shouted, "Stay close behind me! I'm going
to open that exit for you!"

"Dear God, what's happening?" she cried out as the screams around
them grew in volume.

They were surrounded, with even more closing in fast. "Get behind
that table now!" Xander yelled, catching sight of the elderly woman
doing as told. He aimed over her head, firing at a small group of
vampires who all dove behind a row of gold slot machines. Above them
inspired a idea. He fired multiple shots at a crystal chandelier over
their heads, raining a shower of glass over them. They sprinted out
in the open, cursing his existence. He hit the lead vampire in the
knees, crumbling him to the ground before he dusted. The others
tumbled over his prone body.

Quickly reaching inside his pocket, Xander produced five silver
marbles. He shook them hard in his hand and then threw them at the
vampires. Upon impact they burst in a blaze of bright incendiary
fire, torching all of them. They howled in pain, fleeing while on
fire.

While reloading his guns, the cries of pain and as the massacre
continued grew louder. "Its gonna be a hot time in the old town
tonight."

Across the floor a female vampire barely had time to register the
pool stick thrown through her heart before she was dust.

Buffy leapt onto of a poker tale and then ran and forward-flipped
across five of them, slashing through any vampire that came after
her. Ducking one wild kick, she sliced straight up his body, starting
at his crotch. "Seriously guys. I'd bet on me." A roundhouse kick
knocked a tall vamp off his feet into a double-slot machine. Rushing
after it, the Slayer cut the arm off that attempted to punch at her.
She was then tackled from behind by three vampires as they tumbled to
the floor. Her scythe flew from her hand. She threw the vampires off
of her, and then in a rage wrenched one of the slot machines clear
off its floor base and smashed it into the them. Retrieving her
scythe, they were dust in seconds.

Several more closed in on her position. Taking a fighting stance, she
decided a different approach. Lifting her hand, they stopped dead in
their tracks. "Really, guys. Do you know who I am?"

The vampires looked between them, scratching their heads, and then
collectively shook their heads.

One bearded vampire considered, "You're a petite blond in a casino
after midnight. I someone that looks like you in a cop outfit once in
the tabloids. Uhm, are you Paris Hilton?"

"PARIS HILTON!!!" Limbs that turned to dust began flying in every
direction as Buffy viciously dissected them until they were no more.

Bullets ripped apart the walls behind the vampires guarding the far
exits, sending plaster and glass all over the place. Firing nonstop,
Xander gave them no time to react, dusting as many as he could before
ducking behind a slot machine to reload. Another handful of the
silver marbles incinerated two more vampires that tried to creep up
on him.

A third got a hard punch in before Xander could fire, knocking his
guns from his hands. The vampire jumped at him, fangs bared. Bracing
his feet on his attackers chest, Xander flipped him over his head.

Back on his feet, stake in hand, Xander lunged at the vampire who in
turn lunged at him. The stake made the difference, dusting the
creature. Extending his foot caused another vamp to trip that had
been chasing a couple. A single bullet through its back ended its
existence.

Suddenly... steps were racing up behind him... faster than he could
react. Out the corner of his eye he was able to make out a vampire's
blade aimed at his neck. He was as good as dead.

Except at the last second it was dusted out of the blue by Jules.

"You can thank me lat..." Jules stood frozen in place, her breath
held tight when Xander rolled to his gun and fired directly at her...
just past her ear, dusting a vamp behind her. She slowly turned
around. The vamp was so close to her throat their was dust on her
shoulders. "Good shot."

Not in the mood for compliments, Xander said. "Help me get that exit
open. The only thing keeping the vampires from overwhelming us is
that so many are feeding. We need to get as many people out of here
as we can." Marching towards the exit through the crowds of desperate
people, Xander shot in the air to scatter them and then fired at the
locks. Chaos erupted as people raced outside as fast as they
could. "Jules, get to Buffy."

She began backpedaling, her eyes focused curiously on him. "What are
you going to do?"

"You'll see."

Buffy noticed the humans all running towards the exit where the
gunfire was heard. Ironic, almost. As lives were saved the focus
would now fall on them. Things were only going to get tougher from
here on out.

Diving behind the curved sports bar, three axe-wielding vampires
jumped over the counter after her. Dodging the wild axe swing of one,
the Slayer severed both its arms with a sideways hack. Thinking
quickly, she grabbed a bottle of Vodka, ducked another attack and
then bashed the bottle over the vampires head, crushing its skull
with her immense strength. It staggered to its feet before she staked
it, and then the one trying to grab her from behind.

With the stake embedded in it's gut, she grabbed two bottles of wine
and smashed both over its head. "Do you smoke?"

"Occasionally when I was human."

"Maybe you'll remember this. Here's a light." Stepping back, she
shook and then tossed a single silver marble at the vampire. The fire
ignited the alcohol covering its upper body. Having no time to waste
as more vampires were closing in, the Slayer led them towards a
center staircase. A vicious fight broke out. Brutal and no holds
barred, with the Slayer battling as many vampires as came her way.
Most were drenched in blood, having recently fed and wild with
energy.

Buffy threw her scythe at one vampire, dusting him and the one behind
him. Slamming her fist into another, she grabbed the back of his head
and crushed it into a fifty-inch HD TV behind the sports bar. When
the sound of gunfire grew close, she caught sight of Xander sliding
down a banister firing both his guns, looking damn sexy. "You think
you're a one-eyed Jack Bauer, don't you?" Her new boyfriend could
only
smile. "DUCK!"

Xander did as he was told. Buffy roundhouse over his head, breaking
the neck of a vampire. In mid-kick he fired between her legs, dusting
another. With too many closing in he handed one of his guns to her.
The Slayer was a good shot, nailing two more behind him.

At one point they rose at the same time and fired over each other
shoulders, gunning down five vampires combined.

"ENOUGH!"

Buffy and Xander kept their weapons trained on the vampires quickly
surrounding them.

Above ground, Adam was clapping with Eve by his side. "I'm well aware
of your abilities Ms. Summers. You are as good as advertised. The
same for you, Mr. Harris. I was told you're very resourceful."

Xander handed Buffy another clip behind his back. "This was a trap,
plain and simple. And since all our cards are on the table now,
Jules, you might as well show yourself."

Smiling evilly, Jules walked from behind Eve, now standing between
her and Adam. "You always had a knack for seeing things clearly.
Sorry, Xander. But I'm tired of playing for the losing team. It was
time for me to break out on my own and get something in return other
than misery."

Buffy hated the idea of a Slayer turning rogue. Sadly, this wasn't
the first time and probably not the last. "What did they promise you?"

"Immortality, power, and an army of my own," Jules confessed. "One
where I'm not just a soldier sent off to die in a endless war, but
the leader or a new organization to come that will rule this world
beneath the surface."

Adam spoke next. "Thank you for doing exactly what I expected you to
do, Slayer. Humans are so predictable," he boasted. "Now I'm going to
show you something so amazing. Something our scientists learned about
the vampire and werewolf species when the cures were created. Watch
and tremble with fear as we rewrite all of our legacies with the
first of a new breed."

To Xander rand Buffy's utter horror, Eve transformed into her
werewolf form before their very eyes and then sank her razor sharp
teen into Jules neck. Adam vamped out and began feeding on the other
side. He slit his own wrist with his fingernail and dripped the blood
into Jules parted lips.

"When next we meet," Jules voice trembled, her neck drenched in
blood, her body convulsing perversely, "I will be the most powerful,
unstoppable Slayer ever!"

At that very moment twin darts hit Buffy and Xander, knocking both
unconscious to the floor

******

The End of Chapter 2

Final Chapter: All hell breaks loose... and I mean that literally!