Archive | August 24, 2016

The Hellmouth Job, Chapters 13 & 14 (A Leverage/Buffy Fanfic)

Part I
Part Ia
Part II
Part III
Chapters 7 & 8
Chapter 9 & 10
Chapters 11 & 12

Thirteen: The Revelations

Hardison was freaking out. “There is no way. I mean — tell me, Eliot, what did this girl look like?”

It wasn’t Eliot that answered, it was Parker. “Hard. Veteran. She’s used to killing and she doesn’t like civilians getting in her way. Like Eliot.”

“What?!” Eliot stopped in his angry stomp across the parking lot to stare at Parker. “She can’t be more than five feet tall and she’s a kid. A teenager. She talks like a mallrat. Her fighting style is all over the place. Like she picked it off the buffet at the local Golden Palace… what?”

“Pretend she didn’t talk like a mallrat,” Parker offered. Her voice was angry enough that Eliot took a step back. “Pretend she didn’t look like a teenager. How old were you when you made your first kill?”

“What? In the army. Eighteen.”

“Some of us didn’t get to be kids, remember?”

“Parker?” Nate’s voice over the comms was quiet. “Tell Eliot what you saw.”

“She’s young, which means she hasn’t figured out where her lines are yet. She has friends — good sign, or a bad one, depending on what they’re doing. But they’re friends, or at least the guy is, not minions or pack members.”

Eliot started to scoff, but something in Parker’s expression held him back. “The boy’s in love with her.”

“He’s in awe of her. But we’re in awe of each other all the time. THe way Nate plans, the way Hardison hacks, the way you hit people… she wasn’t in awe of the way you hit people. What about her style?”

“What style? It had no discipline, no plan; she stopped in the middle to check her shoes…”

“And her killing?” Parker pressed.

“…her killing was efficient,” Elliot admitted. “She hits at least as hard as I do. She moves more quickly — she’s younger,” he added defensively. “Less injuries.”

“When she stopped to check her shoe, she distracted one fo the attackers. It made it easier for her to stick that piece of wood through its chest.”

“Stake,” Tara offered. She sounded subdued. “She staked the vampires.”

“Damnit, vampires,” Eliot complained. “Nate, you didn’t tell me this job had vampires.”

There was a pause. In the hotel room, Nate looked at Sophie, who was looking worried and befuddled. He looked at Hardison, who was busily googling vampires. His gaze settled on Tara.

“Eliot,” he asked slowly, “are you telling me that this isn’t the first time you’ve encountered ‘vampires’?”

“Don’t say it like that.” Eliot pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Come on, Parker, we’re getting out of here. Yeah, Nate.” He stalked down the nearly-empty halls of the mall. “Vampires. They’re some sort of demonic entity. We ran into a nest in Fallujah, another one in Panama.”

“Panama?” Sophie asked. “Really?”

“What, vampires don’t like Central America? Did you know vampires even existed an hour ago?” Eliot was stomping, paying only enough attention to Parker to pull her away from window displays. “No, Parker, we’re not stealing… hockey pads. Why would you even want hockey pads?”

“Oh, that—” Hardison fell quiet at a glare from everyone in the room.

“She’s a thief, Eliot, she likes to steal things.” Sophie’s answer came over soothing. “I wasn’t questioning the vampires’ presence in Panama, I was questioning yours.

“Oh.” He slowed down enough to extricate Parker more gently from the top of what was probably supposed to be a statue and not a jungle gym. “It was a — a thing. Tara, what do you know?”

“I know you don’t wear heels you can’t run in and you always carry two mirrors and a hold-out weapon.”

“Tara!” Eliot snarled the complaint at the mall in general.

“Relax, relax. All right. Have you heard of a Hellmouth?” Tara leaned back in her chair and regarded those members of the team near her.

“Oh, yeah, that’s when a… no.” Hardison fell quiet at Nate’s glare. “No.”

“A Hellmouth.” Eliot frowned. “No. Heard of ‘em, but nobody would ever tell me exactly what they were.”

“Well, you’re on one. And what it is…” Tara paused dramatically. “…well, exactly what it says. It’s a mouth to a hell dimension, possibly to several. It’s a demon magnet, attracting all sorts of evils and some things that aren’t evil, just misunderstood.” She studied her fingernails. “It’s a power source. And the supernatural feeds off it.”

“Great. Just great.” Eliot threw up his hands. “We’re coming back. Nate, the kids knew something. The brunette. But the blonde made me. We’re gonna need someone else to talk to her.”

“Vampires, man,” Hardison complained. “Vampires.

Fourteen: the Assessment.

“Well,” Xander offered awkwardly, “they were certainly friendly. Or something.”

“Chipper,” Buffy complained. “They were chipper.

“Do you think maybe that’s the next, mmm, you know?” Xander offered unhelpfully, hands flailing.

“I’ve never seen a Watcher fight like that,” Buffy answered flatly. “I mean, Giles tries, and he still doesn’t…” She shifted into a combat stance and moved through Dave-Palmer-Elliot’s fighting moves thoughtfully. “He’s good. If they had been humans, they’d have been injured or dead. But he was either putting on a show, or he didn’t know he was fighting vampires.”

“And the girl?”

Buffy’s frown deepened. She thought about the way Kendra had spoken of her Watcher, and the way this girl — Alicia? Parker? — looked at her handler. Devoted. She twisted her lips.

“I don’t know, but I don’t like it.”

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Meta-Conversation Part Four: Uncomfortable Topics

You, the readers, asked Jaco of Lady Taisiya’s Fourth Husband some questions, and he’s already discussed someand then some moreand then he got upset. Here he is, after having taken a brief break to calm his nerves.

When Jaco returns, he bows deeply to the gathered listeners, then sits down. He looks calmer, and quirks an eyebrow at the group as if sharing a joke.

Sauergeek steps forward. “Jaco, you seem to be upset by being on the spot. Is it rude for me to ask what’s bothering you?”

Jaco leans back, much more comfortable now, and clears his throat.

“You can’t fix everything, you know,” he begins, not looking at the cards yet, not quite looking at the audience, either. “Heck,” he jangles his chains, “I can’t fix much at all. And sometimes, sometimes it gets frustrating. Looking at all the things that can’t be fixed, that nobody fixes.” He takes a breath. “My little brother got married before me, and the woman he married, well, let’s just say from the outside it doesn’t look good, and nobody’s getting in to get a better look.”

He flips through the cards slowly. “Ah.” He bows at Clare. “I missed this one. How I was chosen to be one of Lady Taisiya’s husbands. There was a business deal. There’s often a business deal. Lady Taisiya’s House has some very prime land grants, and my mother’s House wanted access to the fishing rights on her coast. My family’s lands are landlocked — I’m told someone made a very bad deal a few generations back in return for a very handsome husband. To be honest,” he ducks his head and smirks, “my family has a habit of making bad decisions for reasons like that.”

This time, he picks a card at random, and smiles. “Ah, an easy one. Raiders. They are — well, when we were brought here, we weren’t the only people brought. There were five different groups. It’s not a small planet, and we are all over the place; I don’t think any of our people know what happened to the two groups on the other side of the world.” He gestures behind him at a big world map consisting mainly of survey photos from space.

“That leaves three groups we know about — ourselves, the ones who hid, and the raiders. I don’t know much about the ones who hid. But the other ones, the raiders, they didn’t want to play by the rules. They don’t play by the rules. They barely play by the treaties.” He gestures with both hands, although the gesture is completely unclear. “They would rather steal what we’ve worked for than work for their own. Most of the time, they just sneak in and steal things. Sometimes they attack instead.”

He keeps moving through the cards. “The Treaties, those are… well, they’re a set of agreements between our people and other people here. They cover things nobody will do, things nobody ought to do, things everybody ought to do, and so on. But they also cover balances of forces and things like that.” He glowers now. “Like I said, the raiders don’t keep to those very well, and it stinks.”

He looks down at a card scribbled with notes regarding Kelkyag and Rix’s conversation while he was out of the room. He looks up again, not quite looking either of those two notables in the eye but coming as close as he has with any woman here.

“When raiders attack, they’ll take everything, if they can. The nursery is the most secure room in any house, and it can usually hold out against attack. That’s why the kids and the junior husbands get sent there.” He smirks faintly. “To protect us. Wives, women, they’ve learned not to let themselves get taken. Even little girls know the drill. But we’re supposed to keep themselves and us alive long enough for help to come, and — let me tell you, not letting your daughter die or be taken, not letting your sons be taken — if it came down to it, I would fight to death, the Treaty be damned.”

He cleared his throat, looking a little embarrassed. “That is, um. They’ll take the eggs if they can, but nobody knows what they do with them. The kids and the husbands — them they enslave.”

It’s my turn to stand up. “We should be wrapping up, so we’ll take one more round of questions before we let Jaco get back to his house and his chores.”

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