We Three Kings

Author: Tenhawk <tenhawk[at]gmail.com>

Summary: A Holy Crusade beckons, and it will lead Alexander Harris to a moment in time that will define the history of the planet.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Rating: Mature

Chapter 1

December 23rd 2002

The last vampire vanished into dust as Xander froze in place, his palm even with what had once been the vamp's chest. He relaxed, easing out of the stance like one rousing from meditation.

<Better.> Elan's voice informed him crisply, <However you used slightly too much energy to accomplish your goal.>

Xander nodded, frowning. He'd felt it himself. It wasn't much more than needed, but the mark of a master wasn't in the accomplishing of a task, it was in the perfecting of it. Using just *enough* energy would leave more available for other foes, but it was a very difficult thing to judge. Even with only just Vampires there were varying degrees of resistance in each individual, which could throw off even the best calculations.

Kani was about measuring the energies around the fighter, matching them to the terrain, and dispensing force with extreme precision.

<Still, you are quite accomplished for your age,> Elan allowed, her tone moderating. <Most don't learn to judge as well by this time.>

"I've always been good at hands on applications," Xander said aloud as he brushed off his black suit and looked around.

The patrol had brought him 'downtown' in Sunnydale, which basically meant he was behind the Bronze. Not a bad place to end up, Beth and Faith were there tonight if he remembered correctly. It was college night, no high schoolers and booze was on the menu. How Faith got in, that was something Xander wasn't going to press for.

He smiled, settling his suit carefully, and made for the side entrance.

"Highly entertaining," A voice said dryly from the shadows.

Xander stiffened, twisting to see the source of the familiar voice, and then cooled down an instant later.

"What? No blaze of glory to announce your entrance?" He asked, amused as the Angel stepped out of the shadows in his normal immaculate suit.

"The last time I tried the traditional approach it bloody well got me SHOT, which though not life threatening is damned well humiliating." The peeved looking Seraphim growled in annoyance, glancing around, "The harlot isn't here I presume?"

Xander snickered, "Parker? Harlot? Are we thinking about the same person?"

"Trust me," The Voice said with a dry smirk, "I know what goes on behind her bedroom doors. The word is apt. Of course it could just as easily fit you, I suppose."

Xander rolled his eye, "Spare me the details. What brings you back to Sunnydale this time?"

"Oh, right... on with it then," The Voice made a show of clearing his voice, and his wings appeared behind him as he stretched them out to their full splendor.

When he spoke his voice boomed off the alley walls, shaking the world around Xander, and he had to admit that it made for an impressive effect.

"I have come to charge you with the task of a Holy Crusade!"

The echoes slowly died down and Xander looked at the Angel, half frowning and half smirking.

"A Crusade, huh?" He asked, "I don't have to invade Jerusalem do I?"

Metatron's wings drooped and his face dissolved into first shock, then annoyance.

"Oh for crying out... I tell ONE BLOODY Nobleman to go on a Pilgrimage and all of the sudden it's MY fault when he brings his army!?" The Voice ranted, "It's not like it was hard to understand. Go to the birthplace of your Lord and Savior and pay homage upon the ground on which he walked. NOT invade the city, slaughter the people, and generally piss off the locals for the rest of eternity. I'm not even certain how he got Jerusalem at all out of our conversation... I know that I didn't mention it..."

Xander watched the rant, actually impressed that the Angel could keep it up for so long. Generally anyone but Buffy, or Beth, would be calming down by this point in his experience. The Angel, though, just seemed to be winding up so Xander lifted a hand.

"Ah, excuse me, not to interrupt or anything, but you know I'm supposed to meet the girls in a few minutes and..."

Metatron stopped, then glared openly at Xander with baleful eyes. "Oh yes, afterall it's only a Holy Crusade charged upon you by the Lord God, why should it interrupt your sex life? Nice face you make during by the way, have you looked in a mirror...?"

"Hey! Stay out of my bedroom!" Xander growled, "or maybe Lucifer might happen upon a little recording of someone shooting a certain Angel between the eyes."

"How very threatening." Metatron said, rolling his eyes, "As if Lucifer hadn't already witnessed the event... several times. For which, I might add, I do owe the Parker Harlot some type of favor returned."

"Alright, how about I just post it on the internet?" Xander countered, "I'm SURE that there are tons of supernatural types who don't have the ability, or inclination, to spy on my home that would LOVE to see that."

Metatron scowled openly at him, then took a deep cleansing breath.

"ANYWAY..." The Angel went on, "As I was saying... I am here to charge you with a Holy Crusade. And NO, I don't want you to invade the Holy Land. No building an Ark either, in case you were wondering."

"Right. Good thing, I'd make a lousy carpenter." Xander replied dryly, "So? What is it?"

"You are to journey to the East and protect a child," Metatron told him, trying desperately to recoup some vestige of his dignity.

Xander waited.

Then waited some more.

Finally he let out an exasperated breath, "And?"

"And what? That's it."

"Oi. I'm getting such a migraine," Xander sighed, rubbing his forehead. Finally he looked up, "What Child? Where in the East, it's a big damn place you know? And protect from what exactly?"

"A Child, what does it matter? You'll find out. And from whatever threatens it, of course," Metatron returned, "I really hate it when they need it all spelled out for them."

"Spelled out? How about you just let me buy a vowel!?" Xander snapped, "If I sent my troops out with intel this bad they'd hang me for it, and they'd be RIGHT to do so!"

"Yes well, as you so consistently point out, you aren't my troops now are you?" Metatron smirked.

"Right, so why am I going to do this again?"

"Because HE asked."

That shut Xander up, though he seethed to do it. The Voice had a point, afterall. Free Will aside, turning down a direct request from the big guy upstairs was... bad karma to say the least. And that was discounting the big guy's reaction. Even assuming that he would let someone walk away with no hard feelings, and Xander was somewhat confident that he would... maybe... He didn't ask for a lot, not really. When a personal request did come down, it was best to listen.

<For the Voice to be here,> Elan agreed, <It is not a matter to be left in another's hands.>

Xander nodded, "Alright. Fine. I still need some more information than that. A Threat assessment, location, security arrangements..."

Metatron held up his hand, "Excuse me, but what precisely gave you the idea that I would be imparting all this to you?"

"I need to know who the bring, what level of weapons we'll need, air support..."

"STOP." Metatron held up his hand, "Stop right there. Were you not listening to my rant about the Crusades? This is YOUR task. Yours alone. You may, if you wish, bring along a companion... you may, if you so desire, bring along an army... however I have not charged them with this task, it is for you."

Xander glared at the Angel yet again, for all the good it was doing him, then shook his head. "Fine. I'll travel light... but I'm withholding the right call in whoever I deem necessary."

"Fine," Metatron rolled his eyes. "For what it's worth, you won't be alone."

"Oh no?" Xander asked, a little suspiciously.

"No... To aid you in your quest we'll send along a pair of... *cough* prophets *cough*."

"What??" Xander asked, glaring again. "What did you just say?"

"Prophets, alright, we'll send along two prophets..."

"Two..." Xander blinked, thinking furiously. "Prophets..."

His eyes widened, "Oh hell NO! You keep those two stoners away from me! They're NUTS, I swear to God that Jay guy needs to be neutered or something!"

"Yes well, be that as it may," Metatron rolled his eyes again, "They're involved. Nothing to be done now."

"Aw crap. This just keeps getting better and better. Any other catches?" Xander asked, disgusted.

"Nope. That's it..." Metatron replied, then looked down. "Well, unless you count the other interested parties."

"Excuse me?"

"Well... there are... a few, just a few mind you... other people and groups on the same level as yourself and your friends who are... shall we say... interested in this situation?"

"I gathered as much when you said the kid needed protecting," Xander said dryly.

"Yes well, I meant others who would probably try to protect the child as well... from you quite probably."

"What the FUCK are you talking about now??"

"Well, you'll see, however suffice to say... you aren't the only person on the planet who thinks they're serving God..."

"I'm NOT serving God, I'm defending the people here. God can get his own servants," Xander growled, then glanced at Metatron wryly, "Of course... He HAS."

"A riot," Metatron told him dryly. "At anyrate, there are several groups who will be... put out... that you were chosen for this task. They... may... interfere."

"So give it to them," Xander shrugged.

"It was given to YOU," Metatron told him incredulously. "From on high, directly from the Voice of God. He has a reason."

"He probably wants to keep the religious wack jobs as far away from this kid as possible," Xander said drly.

Metatron glared openly at Xander, "Very droll, I'm sure."

"So how the hell am I supposed to find this kid anyway?"

Metatron looked surprised that he'd ask, "Simple..."

A light erupted in the sky to the East, over the Angel's shoulder, and Xander stared up in puzzlement.

"Simply follow the Star..."

Xander swallowed, "Oh man, I've SEEN this Christmas special and I really don't think I like where this is going."

The Voice of God, however, was nowhere to be seen and had no response to give.

Chapter 2

"Xander? You here?"

Beth and Faith glanced at each other, exchanging worried frowns as they walked into the mansion. Xander had been supposed to meet them at the Bronze, but hadn't shown up. While he wasn't the most reliable guy on the planet by times, it was odd enough that it piqued their concerns.

"I'm in the war room!"

Ok, so he was fine. He was in the most heavily secured section of the building, talking to them through the intercom, but he was apparently fine. Now they were just really curious.

The two girls entered the central room to find Xander packing a long hard case as he spoke with Merlin.

"Astronomers have already noted the anomaly, Commander. It is not a Nova, as previously thought. Triangulation has confirmed that the stellar anomaly is not, in fact, stellar."

"You want to dumb that down for me, Merlin?" Xander asked, not looking up.

"The source of the 'star' is within Lunar orbit."

Xander's face froze as he looked up sharply, "And you don't have a read on it?"

"No Sir. Nothing there to any available sensors. In fact, it doesn't even show up on the Hubble, which was retasked specifically for this reason."

Xander nodded, "It's a burning bush then."

"Huh?" The two girls said as one.

Xander glanced over his shoulder, "Hi girls, sorry I missed you at the Bronze."

Before either of them could answer, Merlin continued.

"Indeed. That was my estimation as well." Merlin said, "However, Sir, given what Metatron told you, I feel that I should point something out."

Beth and Faith paled, recognizing the name if not the subject.

"The Angel guy was here?" Faith asked.

"What's that, Merlin?" Xander asked, waving a hand at Faith.

"The Stellar anomaly is close enough to the Earth to be placed directly over a target, this should guide you directly to the child, Commander... However, it will also guide anyone else with any idea that something may happen soon."

Xander nodded.

"I highly recommend four squads of Knights, with several Cadre members..."

"No." Xander shook his head, "I'll do this alone... to start. Have the ready response team prepare to deploy... in the east."

Merlin scowled out of the screen, but nodded. "Very well."

"Xander... what's going on?" Beth asked, looking over his shoulder.

"Yeah, X... hey, why are you packing all our extra projectors?" Faith stared at the small devices stored in the case. They were a valuable commodity, only a couple dozen of the devices had been made so far, and simply charging them with Naqueda was a strain on the Knighthoods operating budget.

"I may need them," Xander said, "I have to go for a few days."

"Over Christmas??"

"Probably." Xander said, locking the M41 assault rifle into place along with extra magazines and closing the case. "I'm sorry, I'll see you when I get back."

"Nuh uh," Faith shook her head, "I'm coming with."

"Not this time." Xander said seriously, "It was highly... suggested that I do this one alone."

"By who? The Angel guy??" Faith snorted, "Who cares?"

"The request came from higher up." Xander told her, his face pinched. "And no, I'm not sure I like it either. I'm still going to do it."

The two glared at him, but Xander remained unmoved as he closed the latches on the case. He hefted it off the table and walked over to them, giving each a kiss. "Enjoy the holidays. I'll be back soon enough."

Xander loaded the gear into KARR, then slid in behind the wheel as the high tech Viper purred softly to life. "Alright, buddy... let's move out."

"Query : Where?"

Xander leaned forward, looking up into the night sky to see the star gleaming to the east. "Follow the gleaming light in the sky. We're eastward bound."


The gleaming black car spun in place as it aimed down the driveway, then roared away, turning east on the road and heading for the interstate. Within minutes it was outside of Sunnydale and accelerating toward the mountains.

Vatican City

"The time has come."

"The Omen?"

"It is confirmed. It is the Star."

"Dispatch Gabriel's team. No harm can come to the child."

"Of course, Signior... However, The Magdalena will want to..."

"I said send Gabriel."

"As you order."

The young priest left, flustered, leaving the Cardinal to scowl at the door. After all these years, it was happening. The end times were upon them, that was certain now. The portents were clear, the end would be harkened by the birth.

He had to send someone, and one of the best. No less would do, not for this child. However the Magdalena would see through him. Gabriel, however... There was a chance.

He reached for a telephone, lifting it softly, and place a call with a prefix number that turned off the bugs on his phone.

"Mr Estacado? I have a job for you. No, nothing like that. I merely need you to delay someone for me. A few hours will do quite nicely, thank you."

The Cardinal sighed, settling the phone back down. Yes, a few hours would work. Without protection, the child would be dead in minutes.

"What did the Cardinal say?"

"He's sending Gabriel's team."

Bishop Dominique nodded. Gabriel's team was a good choice, he thought. It was either Gabriel or the Magdalena, though Dominic would have sent both.

The Bishop paused, frowning. Why not send both?

"Not the Magdalena?" He asked.

The priest shook his head, "I asked that..."


"The Cardinal was emphatic. Gabriel's team."

"I see. Very well, please... continue."

The Priest nodded, heading out with alacrity, leaving his superior to smile at his back. Dominic remembered what it was like to be a lowly priest who reported to the high and might of the church. Even now he still had his superiors to report too, and he couldn't take actions without permission.


There were things he could do.

He crossed to a phone, picking up his private phone. He dialed a number and waited for the response.

"What is it?"

"Hell Patience," He smiled, "I thought you might like to know about a recent portent."

"I don't work for you, Dominic."

"I know that you prefer to think yourself independent, but this is right up your alley." Dominic said seriously. "You know the star in the night sky?"

"The one on all the news? The one that isn't a star, but probably a satellite or something?"

"It is not a satellite."

"So what is it?"

"A sign post. I would like to advise you to follow it."

"Why would I do that?"

"Because, there is a child waiting under it for protection from demons and monsters of human sort."

There was a pause on the other end of the line. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Because... if we are correct, the agents of darkness would do anything to prevent this child from living. I believe you would have something to say about that?"

"You might say that." The voice turned cold. "If you're lying to me, I'll come looking for you Dominic."

"I look forward to it."

"The child is come."

"It must die. This world must not end. We are not yet finished with it."

"Follow the star. Kill anyone you find on the other side."

"At your order."

Around the world, people with eyes the know looked up into the sky and understood what they were seeing. A portent of power, not some scientific anomaly. Something that boded a change, and as one they began to move toward the gleaming light in the sky. Among them, so too did the demons who also recognized the portent for what it was.

Chapter 3

McHenry Illinois, Dec 24

KARR's tire squealed slightly as they touched down from ground effect, coming into the town at just under 300 mph. The light was still in the sky, though the sun was rising in the East, and Xander was grimly determined to end this farce of a 'crusade' as quickly as possible. Rather than just giving him simple directions, go there, fight that, Metatron and his type had to go get biblical on him.

Operational security sucked when your playbook was the most widely sold book in all of history and every bad movie borrowed your moves for their rehashed plots. Lighting a flare over this kid's position was going to bring every mystically inclined person with a hint of curiosity from hundreds of miles. More if they have any idea of what's going on and decide they have a stake in it.

Just what was going on remained something of a question to Xander, however.

He couldn't quite make himself believe that it was what it appeared to be. That would be... too much. Still, the Voice would not have drawn him in without good cause. Not if the Angel knew what was good for him at least.

So Xander found himself in Illinois as the morning sun rose, looking for a child under the brightly burning star.

Bethany Sloane gasped for breath as she ran.

It hurt in so many more ways than she could imagine, but she kept breathing and kept running. She stumbled into the side of a building, leaning on it for support before looking over her shoulder fearfully.

They were still back there.

She couldn't see them, but they were there.

Couldn't see them, and didn't really have the slightest idea what they were except that they meant harm to her and her baby. The pregnant woman pushed off the wall and lunged forward again, trying to get out of the alley and maybe find some help.

Something scrabbled against the asphalt behind her, but this time she resisted the urge to look back.

It was just barely dawn, the streets were empty, and their was a light snow coming down. Her breath fogged the air around her as she panted with the exertion, but she couldn't stop.

They'd come into her home in the night, she'd heard nothing. Nothing until her friend screamed in pain and terror, then went chillingly silent. Bethany shivered, the cold having nothing to do with it. They'd been like shadows, even worse than the demons she'd seen before. Somehow the Golgotha, the triplets, even the former muse... they'd all seemed like caricatures compared to these things. These shadows that actually rent flesh and feasted on it after a kill.

The image of her friend assaulted her mind again and Bethany repressed the urge to squeeze her eyes shut against the memory. She had to keep moving.

A clenching pain in her abdomen changed that plan, however, and she went over hard in response. She rolled through the snow, groaning in pain as she wound up on her back looking back the way she'd come.

They came out of the alley slowly, appearing to move in an eerie glide as they crossed each other's path in their approach. Bethany rolled over, pushing herself up to her hands and knees, and began to claw away from them, but she slipped and fell back as she tried to climb. Her next attempt ended in a gasp and a scream as another twist knifed through her belly and Bethany collapsed again.

"Really bad timing," She gasped out, speaking mostly to herself but also to the life growing in her belly. "Need a little cooperation here, please...."

The last word was plaintive, spoken not to herself or her unborn, but to the ether in hopes that someone would answer. She was the Last Scion, or her unborn child was. She needed HELP damn it! Someone had to be watching, someone had to be coming to help...

Even as that thought passed through her mind, the air was torn by a familiar war cry.

"Snooch to the mother fucking nooch!"

<Someone OTHER than those two!!> Bethany wailed in her mind even as she looked over her shoulder to see two forms jump from the shadows and land, well, ON the shadows.

There was a hissing wail as the group hit the ground rolling, and she saw the figure she knew to be Bob come up on one knee and raise a... golf club?? Over his head. It crashed down into the shadows, eliciting a scream of pain and rage from them even as Jay's cursing drowned out the fighting.

"Holy Ape shit! Watch out Silent Bob! They're demons!"

<No SHIT you stupid...> Bethany struggled to her feet, watching as one of the shadows nailed Jay across the head and sent him sprawling. "What did you THINK they were!?"

Jay scrambled back as Silent Bob held the things off, waving the golf club like a sword or something.

"How was I supposed to know?" The lanky blond demanded from where he was sitting at her feet. He looked up at her as she leaned forward and tilted her head a bit to see him past her swollen belly. "Looking good, Beth. You put on some weight?"

She kicked him sharply in the side, "Get up you moron, we need to get out of here!"

Bob glanced back, nodding emphatically as he stepped over Jay and picked the smaller guy up.

"Uh, right." Jay replied, looking at the hissing shadows. "Hey, how come the club didn't kill them? You said it would kill them!"

Bethany glanced over at Bob, who shrugged in response. "You kept the Cardinal's golf club??"

"Duh, of course we kept it! Tubby here killed a demon with it!" Jay said, "Fuck, Beth, that's a thing of beauty right there."

Bob nodded in agreement, stepping forward to smack another of the shadows across the head. It hissed and screamed again, causing the others to fall back as they began to spread out and move around the trio.

"Um..." Jay looked around, "I'm thinking that we need to get the fuck outta dodge, guys."

Bethany nodded, "I hate to say it, but I agree with the idiot."

Bob just nodded enthusiastically as they three of them turned and bolted.

Gabriel Van Helsing stepped off the private jet and looked around the snow covered tarmac with some distaste. "Illinois. Of all the places I've been, or expected to be, this never really entered into my mind."

Brother Theodore shivered under his robes and looked around, "Not exactly a vacation spot."

"It's a good thing we're not on vacation," Gabriel said dryly as he looked up at the star that was very nearly overhead. "How close can you pinpoint it's location?"

"Umm..." The monk glanced down at a hand held computer he held, "Four meters... give or take."

Gabriel looked over, started to say something, then shook his head. "Just tell me where."

"That way," The monk said, pointing.

"Then let's go." Gabriel slung his rifle and headed toward the waiting car.

The two men who made up Team Van Helsing headed for the all wheel drive sedan, the snow falling in the cold morning air around them.

"I can smell the black magic converging on us." Gabriel said as they reached the car.

"And yet again you manage to say the EXACT wrong thing to comfort me."

"The Vatican needs to start hiring tougher tech weenies." The immortal demon hunter growled, shaking his head.


The word was spat like an epithet as the tall, yet only vaguely humanoid figure glared into the lightening sky with disgust.

"I hate snow."

He kicked the cold stuff from his feet, sending it blowing in the chill breeze as he glanced around at the demons that surrounded him.

"Come." He rumbled, "We have a child to find."

The horde chuckled darkly, and they moved off together, descending on the small town as one.

"This place is Mayberry." The woman known as Patience said disgustedly as she looked around.

The New York born woman sighed, casting her eyes up on the star that still outshone everything in the dawning sky and tried to judge where, precisely, it was leading her.

A Child.

A Star to guide her.

Christmas Eve.

There was something really familiar about this, Patience thought, but she really didn't want to go there. Besides, it was pretty unlikely that the Vatican would entrust her with something of THAT import.

You'd think that they'd want to keep the second coming to themselves, or at least provide the child with the best protective details available to them.

And the Vatican had some supremely effective protective details. She knew that from experience.

Sighing, Patience set off, heading deeper into the small town as she followed the star that was shining brightly above.

"Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit! Why didn't someone tell me they could shoot fireballs!?" Jay demanded as he and Silent Bob held Bethany up between them, half dragging the woman through the snow. "That shit ain't fair!"

His partner declined to comment as they ran, another ball of flame exploding against the building beside them, sending shards of brick into their faces.

"Ah! Shit! Youse bitches are so gonna get it!" Jay screamed, then he yelped again as the demons rushed forward, "Move it tubby! I think they heard me!"

Bob crossed himself, looking up at the sky as they ran, but didn't reply. Between them they were just able to barely keep up a half decent pace while half dragging the moaning woman between them, but it was obvious that there was no way they were going to outrun the demons. Bob looked around and spotted something that looked as good as it was going to get, then quickly tapped Jay on the shoulder and pointed.

"What? Are you fucking crazy??" Jay asked him, "That's a dead end!"

Bob rolled his eyes then hefted the club and took a mock swing.

"Ohhh... I get it," Jay nodded, "You want to go out swinging with our backs to the wall huh?"

Bob nodded.

"Well forget it!" Jay snapped, "We're getting outta this mess one way or the other... and.... umm... as long as the other way ain't by dying..."

Bob sighed painfully, then looked over his shoulder and lurched off, dragging both Bethany and Jay with him. He got Bethany against the corner of the brick wall he'd found and motioned for Jay to look after her, then hefted the golf club as the demons began to glide across the street.

"Our Father who art in heaven..." Bethany mumbled, gasping in pain as she did, "Hallowed be thy name..."

"Yeah yeah, do that prayer shit," Jay said fervently, "Hollow and all that, just get them to send some fucking help!"

"I don't think it works that way!" She snarled at him through clenched teeth.

As she spoke a black Dodge Viper skidded to a stop, placing itself between them and the demons and the driver's door popped open. A man in a black suit stepped out and glanced back at them with a tired expression on his face. "Great. The Stoners beat me here."

Chapter 4

Xander surveyed the situation as he stepped away from KARR and looked over the two stoners who were protecting the pregnant woman.

<She looks about full term, Elan.> He thought pensively, <This is looking more and more...>

<I can see that, Alexander,> Elan cut him off, <Do not worry about it yet. I was not present the last time, however the eventual outcome is not our concern. We are charged with the protection of the child, born or not.>

Xander nodded, drawing his Desert Eagle and leveling it over the hood of the car. The big gun boomed twice, blowing two surprised demons back on the ass as the silver rounds scorched their insides. They bubbled and hissed in death, leaving oily black marks on the road as Xander leaned back into the Viper and retrieved a projector from inside.

He tossed it back to Jay, "Put that on her arm and press the center button!"

Jay caught the small shield shaped device and goggled at it, "What??"

Silent Bob rolled his eyes and grabbed the device from Jay, slapping it on Bethany's upper arm.

"Wait! Wait!" Bethany protested, "Who is this guy!? What are you doing!?"

"Relax, it's cool! This guy is cool!" Jay told her, "He got us drunk last christmas.... great party, some real hot pussy and..."

"Get this thing OFF of me!" Bethany screamed, plucking the device off her arm as Silent Bob rolled his eyes and pushed it back. "I am NOT trusting my life to someone Jay likes!"

Xander's forty four roared twice more as he growled and rushed over, taking the projector from both of them and pressing it back into place. "Listen up, Lady. I was told by a guy with a really impressive wingspan that your kid needed protection. So you can either put on the projector, or I can knock you out and put it on you myself."

"Metatron sent you?"

"Arrogant ass called it a holy crusade," Xander rolled his eyes, "I should have offered to invade Jerusalem. Oh, and for the record, I got Jay drunk cause it was the only way to shut him up without killing him."

She glanced over at Bob who sighed and nodded. "What is it?"

"It's what you get when you steal technology from the future, combine it with magic from the past, and get the design work done by military contractors from the present." He told her with a smirk, tapping the central button.

Her eyes widened as letters floated into existence in front of her, surrounding him in a green glow as Jay and Bob were haloed in orange. Behind them the shadowy demons were bathed in a dark red.

"Holy shit!" Jay yelped, jumping away as Bethany was covered in armor.

Even Bob made a sound that vaguely sounded like an oath as he jumped.

"Basically, it's combat armor." Xander said, straightening up and turning around. He tapped a similar shield on his own arm and was instantly surrounded in a gleaming armor right out of some hollywood directors idea of the age of camelot.

It glowed visibly, lines of rainbow light running along the silver surface of the armor, and on the chest piece Bethany could just catch sight of a pair of stylized wings outstretched to his shoulders.

"W... who are you?"

"No time, Ma'am." He said, his voice now hollow from inside the armor, intimidating and impersonal. "Bob, get her into the viper. I'll hold them off."

Bob nodded quickly, staring at the armor in open mouthed shock.

Xander drew his pistols from under the projected armor, the modified holographic projector feeding him intel from KARR and his networked devices as he began to move forward, the guns extending outward. Behind him the two stoners picked Bethany up, looking shocked that she didn't seem to weigh anything more than normal as they did, and the three followed behind Xander as he opened fire.

"KARR. Clean sweep." he ordered as they moved, his pistols chattering in rapid fire.

The AI didn't respond verbally, but a rectangular section of the hood popped up, revealing the large .50 caliber machine gun mounted underneath. The weapon swivelled into action, roaring to life as the computer coldly and methodically began executing the approaching demons.

"Holy SHIT!" Jay screamed, "It's the killer car from hell, dude!"

"Who IS this guy!?" Bethany wailed as they pushed her toward the car, "I need help not some kind of rambo wannabe!"

"Ma'am," Xander replied over the intercom with her armor, pistols still blazing. "Like a cop friend of mine in LA says... Rambo, is a pussy."

She gaped at him as he pegged another demon with a shot to the head, then moved to cover them as Jay and Bob helped her to the door. "I thought guns didn't work on demons??"

"Blessed ammunition, Ma'am." He said curtly, "KARR, let her in."

The door popped open on it's own, the passenger side seat sliding way back to admit her and Bethany let herself be manhandled into the seat. The door closed behind her as Xander began to push the others back, "KARR is armored, she'll be fine. Jay, get in the other side. Bob, with me."

"I get to drive!?" Jay grinned as he bolted around.

"KARR, do NOT let him drive," Xander hissed as the door slid open. "And pop the trunk."


"Let me OUT!" Bethany screamed as Jay jumped in, "I'll take my chances with the demons!"

Xander noticed Bob giving Xander a concerned look, casting glances over to where Jay was. "Relax. He's not going to drive."

Bob wiped his forehead and looked relieved as they reached the trunk. Xander pulled out a shotgun, handing it over to Bob who took it with some trepidation.

"It's loaded," Xander told him seriously as he opened the case inside and pulled out the M41. "You take the left side, I'll take the right. We're going to walk right out of here, got it?"

Bob nodded, then paused, and finally shook his head.

"Just rack the slide and shook anything KARR or I miss." Xander said, snapping another projector onto Bob's shoulder.

In an instant Silent Bob was covered in the gleaming armor, chrome mossberg in his hands as he and Xander took up positions along either side of KARR.

"Ok, buddy. Let's go. If I go down, you get her the hell out of here," Xander ordered, "Don't stop until you're in Sunnydale. Got me?"

"Affirmative." The AI said aloud, earning a squeal from Jay and a gasp from Bethany.

As the car began to move Bethany screamed again, hitting Jay, "Don't you DARE try to drive, you maniac! You'll get us stranded out here with nothing but demons around!"

"I'm not doing it!!" Jay yelped, "Stop hitting me! It's not me! It's not me!"

KARR briefly considered telling his passengers that he was the one in full command at the moment, but decided that there was little reason.

The sound of gunfire could easily be heard booming through the small town, giving Gabriel little down as to the fact that he had the right location. As they rounded a corner Theodore hit the brakes and they skidded off the road, coming to a rocking halt on the sidewalk in a spectacular screech and burst of snow, but neither of the Vatican team seemed to notice.

"Well there's something you don't see everyday." Gabriel allowed tightly as the monk beside him nodded.

Two men in gleaming armor were escorting a car up the street, walking alongside it as scores of demons charged from the side streets and buildings themselves. Guns roared, from the car as well as the men, as they massacred the horde in turn, never pausing in their slow drive.

"Well... I think we've found the place," Gabriel decided.

"How can you be sure?"

"Maybe it has something to do with the scores of demons trying to kill people?" The team leader and namesake asked dryly, looking over in annoyance.

"Well... this could be..."

"Forget it, Theodore." Gabriel rolled his eyes, "This is the place."

"Well... the GPS data seems to bear that out..."

"Right." Gabriel shook his head, popping open the door. "Wait here."

"But... but.. Procedure!"

The man known as the bane of monsters stepped out of the car, drawing out a large and very custom assault rifle before closing the door. Someone had gotten to the child first, obviously, and thank God they were competent. Now all he had to do was worry about the demons, something he was quite well equipped to handle.

As he started forward, however, something blind sided him, sending Gabriel into the side of the car hard enough to shatter the glass and dent the door frame. As he hit the ground, the monster hunter rolled and twisted, his rifle seeking a target as a voice came from the darkness.

"Sorry about that, but I'm afraid I can't let you get involved."

"Who are you!?"

"Just someone who is paid to slow you down... not really the best use of my talents, but the money was right."

Gabriel swung around, trying to find the source of the voice. "I'm not going to let you stop me."

"Don't need to." The voice replied calmly, still not showing itself. "Just looking to delay you."

"What's going on!?" Theodore screamed from inside the car.

"Stay in the car, Theodore!"

"Yes Theodore," The voice taunted, "Stay in the car... because otherwise..."

Gabriel stared, eyes widening in shock as a figure cut from darkness itself dropped onto the car and ripped the engine out easily. It tossed the big block over it's shoulder, than vanished back into the ether from wence it came.

"That might happen to you..." The voice said with mock sadness. "Such a waste it would be too."

"Where is he!? Where is HE!?" Gabriel demanded, turning around.

"I... I don't know! He's not showing up on any of my instruments!" Theodore screamed back.

Down the road, the fight over the black car continued unabated.

Chapter 5

The streets of the small town were running red, or whatever color the demons bled, when Patience arrived. The situation was... bizarre.

The independent scion of the Magdalen line paused on a rooftop, looking over the situation for a moment. The demons were out en mass, attacking a black sports car and it's two defenders, but were getting cut down like wheat before a scythe as the armored figures opened up with a shotgun, a weapon she didn't recognize, and the car itself seemed equipped with a heavy machine gun.

Surely, if this were where the child was, the little boy or girl had picked up some defenders already.

She turned her head slightly to the left, noting that the warzone wasn't the only fight currently being waged. A wrecked car further up the street sheltered two people, one of them aiming at shadows. That was enough to pique her curiosity, so Patience examined the area closer.

The Darkness.

She looked back to the car, then back at the small fight and made up her mind.

The demon horde were nothing compared to the Darkness. It had to be neutralized or else things could well go much worse for the child.

The Magdalena dropped from the rooftop, hitting an emergency escape ladder, then slid to the ground as she turned and headed toward the wrecked car. The other car and it's defenders would have to hold out while she attempted to settle the greater threat.

Bob was out of ammo.

He'd wracked the slide twice and pulled the trigger before he realized it, the mass of demons filling his vision. The entire situation was INSANE.

When Loki and Bartelby tried to end the world it hadn't attracted this level of violence. Well, except when Bartelby lost it there at the end, and that was just caused by one Angel. This was hordes of demons, all of them throwing themselves into the fight, practically giving their lives up on the bullets being fired back at them just to open a breach for their fellows.

But that was insane.

It HAD to be insane.

There was no way it could work.


"Damn!" Xander cursed, the sound coming clear over the armor Bob was wearing, and he looked over to see the armored Knight toss a heavy magazine down to the ground. "We're going to run out of bullets at this rate. How's your reserves, Pal?"

"Twenty three percent."

Who said that?

Bob shook it off and just signaled when Xander looked his way.

"You too?" The other man asked, dropping back as he fired single rounds into the attacking demons. "KARR, reload."

The trunk popped open on command as Xander reached it and he walked along, still firing as he tossed a box of shells to Bob and pulled out another four mags for the heavy assault weapon he was using. He checked the chrono display on his armor HUD and shook his head.

Thirty three seconds since the fight had started.

"Merlin. Harris."

"This is Avalon, Commander."

"Get the ready response team moving. We've got a full on demon blood bath going here." Xander said as he blew another demon away, the explosive round practically turning it inside out as the thing fell.

"They're already moving. I have been monitoring the situation. ETA... eight minutes."

"The lady and her child survive this Merlin."

"Of course..."

"They're the TOP priority."

"I understand, Commander."

Xander just nodded, stepping out from behind KARR as a demon fireball splashed off the raised trunk. He put a round into the demon, but was irritated to see it shimmer out.

"Shit." Xander growled, expanding his senses just in time to feel it appear behind him. He spun on his heal and slammed the butt of the M41 into it's head, dropping it like a rock. Before it could think straight, Xander leveled the rifle and put two 10mm rounds into it at close range. The rounds detonated in it's chest, sending blessed silver shrapnel tearing through the demon's torso and starting it's inexorable dissolution into toxic waste.

Bob looked over from where he was fumbling with the twelve gage rounds he was trying to load.

"Wrong way." Xander told him, dropping the M41 on it's straps and taking the shotgun from Bob. Xander smoothly loaded the weapon in a few seconds, racked a round into the breech, and handed it back.

Bob looked down at the gun, back at Xander, then shrugged as he hefted it again.

"Eight minutes," Xander looked around, "We're not going to last eight minutes in this. KARR, reserves?"

"Twelve percent."

"Shit. Bob! Get in!"

Bob looked over at him, eyes wide as he looked in to the two seater. He shook his head.

"Get in or stay here and die."

Bob hesitated, thought about it, then sighed and nodded.

"Hey, what's going on, bitch?" Jay asked as the door opened, "You need my help to kick demon ass... hey! Get off! No! Please God no! Don't sit on.... ahhhhhhhhh!"

Xander jumped up on the hood, kneeling with the rifle to his shoulder as he fired. "Step on it."

The Viper lurched forward, making Xander brace back on the armored windscreen, accelerating dead ahead into the horde as both KARR and Xander emptied their weapons. They ran the surviving demons down, breaking through into the open and speeding away, leaving a mass of bubbling ooze flooding the streets of McHenry, Ill.

"Where ARE you!?" Gabriel growled, leveling his rifle into the shadows. He couldn't see the damn guy, like he was made of shadows or something, but whenever he tried to make a move the guy was there to slam him back.

It was really pissing the monster hunter off.

He seethed as he forced himself to calm, rifle seeking out something... anything... in the shadows.

"He has to be up here somewhere," He murmured.

"Oh, I am." The mocking voice returned, "Well, well, well... looks like I'm almost done with you."

Gabriel spun, firing a short burst up into a shadowed corner.

"Tsk tsk tsk... firing wildly will get innocent people killed..."

Van Helsing adjusted, his hand reaching forward, and fired a dragonsbreath round up into another shadow from the barrel mounted shotgun.

Jackie Estacado threw himself out of the way as the flames erupted into the place he'd been hiding. The firelight ate away at his cover, even as the burgeoning dawn chewed up his power. He hoped that he'd delayed the bastard long enough, because he was about to lose his edge.

And how in the HELL did the little shit figure out where he'd been hiding anyway??

He rolled across the rooftop, coming to his feet as the sun rose in the east and shook his head. That was it for him, unless he absolutely had to get down and dirty he was going to call this mission a success.


Jackie froze.

Oh shit.

He turned, recognizing the woman standing there behind him.

"Hello Patience." He said, hand dipping into his pocket.

Her hands came up instantly, filled with large guns. "Move and I'll end you here and now, Estacado."

Just what he needed. The rogue Magdalena.

She was good, he knew. Not in his league normally, perhaps, but with the sun rising and no cover for shadows around... he was in a situation. He fingered the smoke grenade on his belt, hooking a finger into as he tensed.

"I'm working for the good guys here, Patience. Vatican orders." He told her, knowing that she and the Vatican had at least a semi-allied arrangement.

She just snorted, "Right. You mean to tell me that the Vatican hired you to kill one of their own agents?"

"Who? The midget or the dweeb?"

She actually smiled crookedly, "That is Gabriel Van Helsing down there, and while you had him at a disadvantage... he is the one man on the planet that no superhuman wants on their trail."

That chilled Jackie's blood somewhat. Van Helsing was the guy who took down Dracula the first time. Granted that particular bloodsucker was pretty damn impossible to keep dead, but killing him even temporarily was notable. More recently Helsing had been spotted in combat with second circle demons, Terakan Assasins... while they were still viable competition for him, among other unsavory types.

"Why would Cardinal Innocent hire me to slow down Gabriel Van Helsing?" Jackie asked, somewhat put off by that.

Patience raised an eyebrow, easily reading the man before he. He was telling the truth. She was here on the recommendation of Bishop Dominic. Why would he send her? He had his own Scion of the Magdalen line working for him.

"The child." She hissed, face twisting as she turned.

"Child?" Jackie asked. "What child!?"

"The child the demons want dead." She said, ignoring him as she rushed to the edge of the roof and looked down.

There was nothing below them now, no sports car. No demons. Just a mass of demonic ichor that coated the streets and a set of tracks vanishing around the corner. She relaxed marginally, "They're still alive."

"Who is still alive!?" Jackie Estacado demanded.

He wasn't a particularly nice guy, he'd be the first to admit, but he didn't kill kids and he didn't like to be manipulated.

The Magdalena turned to pin him with an intense stare, causing him to fall back.

"Wh... what?"

"You're a sinner, Jackie Estacado."

He snorted, "Tell me something I don't know."

Her eyes became unfocused as she looked at him.

"Save the child, Mr Estacado. It will be the first step for you on the road to redemption."

"Lady, who says I want to be redeemed?"

She didn't answer, just turned away from him and dropped over the edge of the building to the ground below.

Chapter 6

"How many dead?"

The voice was low, but it reverberated through the air like a living entity, separate and distinct from the speaker.

"N... nearly a hundred, Lord...."

"One hundred." The demon growled, "one hundred of my legion, laid low in less than a handful of minutes."

"Y... yes my lord..."

The lord lunged forward, grabbing the groveling demon by the throat and lifting it clear off the ground. "The only reason I don't kill you now is that you might be more useful dying in the next attack."

He let the demon drop in place, then turned to the others waiting around him. "Send out trackers. Find them. NOW."

The Viper pulled to a stop in a cleared area just outside of town, leaving Xander to hop off the hood and deactivate his armor as the doors popped open.

"Get off of me, Fat ass!"

Silent Bob fell out of the car, rolling along the ground before coming to a stop at Xander's feet. Xander looked down, shaking his head. "Tap the projector to turn it off. It's under the armor, so you're the only one who can touch it without a medical override."

Xander stepped over Bob as Jay clambered out, walking around the car to the trunk where he tossed his empty M41 and pulled off his own projector.

<Forty two percent depleted.> he noted, vaguely remembering being struck by several fireballs. For a battle that last less than five minutes that wasn't great. He tossed the partially depleted projector into the case, and picked out a fresh one.

"Who are you!?"

He looked over to see the bulging armor of the woman lumbering toward him, and Xander had to suppress a smile. It wouldn't be bright, in the slightest, to let on how funny she looked at that particular moment.

"Xander Harris, Ma'am." He told her, replacing the magazines in his pistols as he keyed open his comm. "Merlin, we need dustoff ASAP."

"On the way, Commander. Five minutes."

"We've got five minutes before we're picked up," Xander said grimly, "But we're low on ammo and there's probably every demon and mystically inclined scumbag for five hundred miles bearing down on our position."

"But why!?" Bethany asked plaintively.

"I'm just guessing, but I'd say that they really don't want your child to be born," Xander said, not looking over at her.

"That's insane! Nothing like this happened when I was born! My mother would never have let me forget it!"

Xander looked over at her, slightly perplexed. "Um... Why would it?"

"I was the last Scion, now my daughter will be. If they want her dead, wouldn't they have wanted me the same way?"

"What the heck is the last Scion?" Xander asked, checking his weapons before returning them to his holsters.

"The last living descendent of Jesus Christ?" She told him, blinking.

"Ah. Is that why we're involved in this?" Xander shrugged, "The winged ones are a little weak on the intel."

"Tell me about it," Bethany grumbled, "It was like pulling teeth to get anything out of Metatron when he came to me last spring."

"So, who's the dad?" Xander asked, keeping his tone light.

"What?" Bethany paused, frowning.

"Who's the dad?" Xander asked again, "I mean, you're the last scion, so is the dad from a line of power too?"

"Uhhh...." Bethany trailed off, "I..."

Xander closed his eyes, "You don't know?"

"Well... I never... I mean... I just sort of became... this."

Xander sighed, leaning against the car. "Just tell me, did Metatron deliver the good news?"


"Look, lady, I really don't think we're dealing with just another child in the line of Jesus of Nazareth," Xander said, "There are dozens of family lines of power across the planet, and none of them gets this kind of attention for a new birth. I'd say we're dealing with a prophecy child here, and from what you just said, I'm going to assume that it's the Second Coming."

"What? No! That's not..." She trailed off.

"Dude, what the FUCK are you two talking about?" Jay asked, yelping when a wide eyed Silent Bob slapped him. "What the fuck did you hit me for!?"

Bethany ignored them, her hands sinking into her projected armor and cupping her swollen belly. "You can't be serious."

"You're the one who just said that there's no dad, and the Voice of God himself delivered the news, lady," Xander closed the trunk. "Do the math."

She leaned against the car, shocked and stressed.

"KARR, keep up the active scans. If you catch anything coming our way, I want to know about it."


"That doesn't answer who you are."

Xander turned to look back to where the woman was breathing deeply, trying to relax. He nodded, "Sorry. Xander Harris, at your service for the duration."

"Bethany Sloane." She said in return. "And thanks. You know, for saving my life."

Xander just shrugged, "It's what we do."


"We call ourselves the Knighthood," He told her.

"The terrorist organization?" Bethany blurted, then covered her mouth.

"The same," Xander shrugged, "Not what we consider ourselves, but the current government has some objections to how we work."

"Great. I'm on the run from demons and a terrorist is the only guy I can hope to protect me." Bethany slumped.

"Look, do you think Metatron would send a terrorist to protect you?"

"Why not? You're a fundementalist organization, aren't you?"

Xander snorted, "Not likely. I'm... well, I guess saying that I'm atheist would just be stupid, but I don't worship anyone. God is a nice lady and all, but respect is as high as I'm willing to go."

"You... don't believe in God?"

"Not what I said," Xander smirked, "I believe in God, the Creator. I just don't much believe in worshipping anyone or anything. The way I look at it, if someone needs worship, they're not really much of a God... and if they WANT worship, that's even worse. I hold the Creator in higher respect than that."

"Oh." She stared, a little stunned.

"Besides, the Knighthood is pretty much multi-denominational," Xander said, "Everything from witches to even the occasional catholic. Not too many of them though, oddly enough they don't tend to believe in demons."

"Figures." Bethany slumped. "So when is this help due to arrive anyway?"

Xander shrugged, looking up at the sky. "Couple more minutes."

"Can't be soon enough."

"Yeah, well, I'm not too crazy about the company myself." Xander said dryly. "Usually when I pull off a rescue I get thanked."

Bethany opened her mouth, but before she could speak a whine sounded in the air.

Xander glanced up, "Lift's here."

They all looked up in time to see a large, ungainly looking craft slow down in the air over them, floodlights coming on and filling the field with light. To either side of it there were two nastier looking craft, both with wide toothy mouths painted on the front, looking like they were hoping for someone to start trouble.

"Holy shit!" Jay yelped, ducking behind Bob, "We're being invaded!"

"Avalon Bravo to ground, Commander is that you?"

"Roger, Bravo Flight." Xander said, looking up, "Looking for dustoff something fierce here."

"Coming down, Commander. Have you out in a jiffy."

The orca twisted in the air and started to come down on thrusters, drawing stares from the others. Suddenly it twisted in mid air as something struck it from the side, then another form flitted in and hit it from the other direction.

"Mayday, mayday..." The pilot's voice came urgently, "We're under attack. Something's into our electronics... we're losing control... Mayday, mayday, we're going down! I say again, Bravo Flight is going down!"

The Orca wheeled around, dipping over as Xander grabbed Bethany and pulled her down behind KARR's armor.

"Get down!" He screamed over the whine.

Silent Bob grabbed Jay and drove them both to the ground as the large craft hit the ground and blew, sending a shockwave over their position and a fireball high into the sky.

"This just keeps getting better and better," Gabriel grumbled, looking at the fireball as it erupted into the air in the distance.

"You don't suppose they're over there, do you?"

"What do you think?" Gabriel asked dryly.

"I think we need a car." Theodore sighed, looking at the wreckage.

A siren sounded in the distance as a police car came wheeling around the corner, coming to a stop near them as the cop jumped out.

"Who are you people, what's going on down here?" The cop asked, one hand on his pistol.

Gabriel glanced at Theodore, who shook his head. Gabriel shrugged apologetically and pulled up his rifle from where it had been laying, aiming it at the cop.

"Sorry about this," He said, "but we need transportation."

Chapter 7

"For the record," Bethany said as they picked themselves up and looked over at the burning wreck, "I did thank you, and what was that about having 'pulled off' the rescue?"

"Everyone's a critic," Xander said distractedly, eyes on the flames that marked the place where his ready response team had just died. He shook his head, "We're going to have to get out of here."

"What? What about those things?" Jay asked, pointing up at the two remaining flyers, "can't they pick us the fuck up?"

"No. They're just two man fighters." Xander said, hustling Bethany around to the passenger side of KARR. "And we're going to need the air cover in a minute."

"What? Why the fuck would we need that?"

"To deal with those!" Xander pointed behind Jay.

The lanky blond turned around, his face dropping as he turned ghostly white. A small army of demons was topping the crest of the hill, led by one big mother of a demon who stood head and shoulders over the rest.

"Well what the fuck are we waiting for??" Jay yelped, "Let's get fucking moving!"

"Commander," a voice crackled over Xander's comm, "Bandits inbound. We've got trouble in the air."

Xander looked up, immediately spotting three large winged demons circling the Orcas. <Christ they pulled out all the stops.>

"Engage at will, Flight Leader. Weapons Free."

"Yes Sir." The Orca's peeled off, gunning their thrusters for range before they began to loop back around. "We'll clear you some room on the ground while we're at it. Good luck, Sir."

"Thank you, and good hunting."

"What are those, human?"

A dark priest looked up, frowning as he shook his head. "Military... they resemble combat helicopters, but I don't know exactly."

The two small craft looped back around, one coming low as the other tipped it's nose up and came high. The three winged demons shrieked in the air, turning on the flying craft as they came and charging with talons outstretched.

"No matter." The lord growled, "My Shialbats shall eliminate them."

"As you say, my lord."

The sky was rent with a pitched scream as fire erupted from the lead craft, and the first of the winged demons vanished in a cloud of flesh and demon ichor, shocking even the lord with the sudden brutality. Before any of them could react, however, the second opened fire and the ground erupted into explosions that tore the massed demons apart.

"Can't you turn the damned siren off!?" Gabriel yelled over the noise as they raced through the town, heading for the smoke in the distance.

"Sorry! One second!" Theodore yelled back, flicking switches.

Lights flashed, the computer flickered, until finally the siren died.

"Thank you." Gabriel muttered sincerely as the monk guided the commandeered police vehicle out of the town, glad to be able to hear himself think once more.

With the siren off, however, they could hear another series of explosions roar over the sound of the engine, and in the distance flashes of light were tearing into the low rolling hills and trees.

"That's not demonic attacks." Theodore said, his voice shaking.

"No. That's high grade military explosives," Gabriel responded grimly.

"What is going on, Gabriel?"

"I have no idea."

"Go you muther fucking badasses go!" Jay screamed, looking over his shoulder at the explosions lighting up the hill.

He was once again crammed into the sports car with Bethany beside him, and thankfully Bob under him this time, but all he could do was look back the direction they'd come as the two fighters tore into the demons like the wrath of god.

"Please, God, shut him up!" Bethany moaned, breathing hard as she clutched her midsection.

Outside, Xander was once more hanging on as they drove, heading well out of town and as far away from the demons as possible. Luckily for them all, in his opinion, Demons hadn't moved into the twentieth century, nor even the nineteenth, and none of them seemed to be the driving type.

However, with airlift, it was a long way to go hanging on the outside of the damn car.

Xander figured that his best bet would be to find a safe place to drop the stoner twosome, then make like hell for the west coast. A safe place, however, was going to be tricky, and he'd be damned if he left even those two to die.

He was still worrying about that when the car suddenly slowed down, almost pitching him off.

"Hey, what the hell!?" Xander demanded, turning around.

"Hey dude! Shit dude, we got a BIG problem!" Jay was screaming out the window.

"What NOW!?"

"I think it's time..."

"Time?" Xander frowned, "Time for what?"

"Shit man, TIME TIME!" Jay screamed, pointing at Bethany, who was curled over in the cramped cockpit of the car, obviously in pain.

Xander grimaced, "Oh come ON! Just one fucking break on this mission, that's all I want!"

Well, whoever they were, they were impressive. She would have to give them that.

This child was a great deal more important than she knew as well. The demons were gathering a concerted effort to take the child and the mother, which was quite rare. They were primarily of one type, with some random numbers of different ones mixed in.

<A Lord then... and his Legion. What little is left of it.> She thought. <Possibly the Black Thorn, probably one of the northern Lords.>

Patience stood amidst the carnage for a moment, then turned and ran off in the direction the tracks went. She could only hope that they were still on the trail of the child, and were not now leaving after the job had been completed.

Not that it matter much for her own immediate future.

Either she would save the child, or avenge it.

In either case, more demons would die this day.

"Well holy shit."

"Please, Sir, don't blaspheme."

Gabriel Van Helsing shook his head as the police cruiser slowed through the mass of dead and dying demons. "Yeah. Right. Tell me Theodore, have you ever heard of a group that could do this?"

"Some," the monk said, sighing. "The US Military, possibly... rumors have started to indicate that they are eliminating some supernatural threats."

"Oh joy. Don't they have and *make* enough problems in the regular world?" Gabriel asked caustically.

"That's hardly a fair sentiment, sir. The military, at least in the US, doesn't make problems so much as inherit them. And the current situation is hardly something they could easily have avoided anyway..."

"I don't need a lecture on world politics, Theodore." Gabriel growled, "anymore than I needed those guys to almost bomb me back in Afganistan while I was hunting down that Djinn two months ago."

"How were they to know you were there??"

Gabriel just snorted, leaving his companion to sigh.

"At anyrate, they're one possible group. There is a group in Europe that has been showing some hint of this level of capability, though... perhaps not quite to this level. Then there are the rumors of the Knighthood."

"The guys who took out the Terakans?"

"The same sir. There are definite indications that they have access to high level military technology."

"I thought WE had access to high level military technology?"

"We do, but not about the squad support level. Whoever did this used artillery, sir."

Gabriel frowned, looking over at Theodore. "Tell me something, where in hell did the Vatican dig you up from anyway?"

The monk's eyes darkened and he was quiet for a moment, "A very dark section of hell, sir."

A black sedan cruised silently through the small town, dark eyes looking out through the tinted windows as it slowed by a wrecked car.

"It would appear that we are late."

"Obviously. Are their any clues as to the meaning of the portent?"

"A child. One related to prophecy, but more importantly one from a line of power."

The man nodded, "So... we are to find the child."

"Yes. We must have this child."

"It should be simple enough..." The man shrugged, "Follow the carnage."

KARR slowed to a stop as Xander hopped off and grabbed the door of the old barn, pushing it shut. He looked around, shaking his head.

"A freaking stable..." He muttered, looking up, "You've got a pretty sick sense of humor, you know that, right?"

There was no response, but he'd expected none either. So he just moved around the car and helped Bethany out.

"Some on... over here," He guided her to a pile of hay that was stacked in the corner. It didn't smell great, and was probably rotting underneath from the feel of the heat it radiated, but for the same reason it was warm and also soft. The fact that it provided her with room to lay down was the best that Xander could do for the woman as she gasped in pain.

"What the fuck do we do now??"

"Shut up." Xander told Jay, already keying open his comm. "Merlin, come on Mr Wizard I'm in deep here."

"You have no idea, Commander."

Xander felt a chill rise up his spine. "Talk to me."

"Satellite surveillance shows that there are more things moving in that area than the population of the county. I'm afraid that even without Miss Sloane's 'condition' you probably would not make it out in one piece."


"Twelve hours."

"Shit." Xander said succinctly.

Chapter 8

The sun was high in the sky when the remaining demons of the Legion located the barn, following the powerful aura of prophecy exuded by the child, even unborn. It lay, however, across a long stretch of open land, and the sunlight was no demon's friend.

The Lord, caked blood running down his arm from a piece of shrapnel that had ripped the supernatural muscle in the last attack, growled as he crouched on the edge of the treeline and looked on.

"Shall we go?"

He turned to his lieutenant, snarling, "Silence fool. They've already destroyed almost half my legion, I will not press the attack at our weakest. Dispatch scouts to surround the building and call for more warriors."

"Who my Lord?"

"I care not." The Lord hissed, "recruit vampires, demons, any who will serve. Promise them what they want, I'll pay it if it ends the life of this child."

"Yes, right away, my lord."

The obsequious demon backed away, leaving the demon lord to look out at the barn from where he knew his quarry was waiting. Inside he was seething, though he knew he should have expected no less. For the birth of the Creator's kin there could be no less defense than the very best possible, and they had obviously summoned a warrior of exceptional skill and resources.

Still, he was now cut off. His aircraft were gone, and he was alone. The seer had forseen that they would not return until well after dusk, leaving a window to make the assault before more defenders could arrive.

It would do.

It would have to.

Xander glanced back from the door when Silent Bob tapped him on the shoulder. He shook his head, "They're not coming in."

Bob looked relieved as Xander let the door close behind him and walked back to the car.

"They're going to wait for nightfall and hit us when they're strongest," Xander went on, "Right now they're calling for more support."

Bob looked vaguely ill.

Xander ignored him, stopping at the trunk of the car and taking out the boxes of ammunition for his pistols, carefully reloading the empty magazines. "If the child is born before then, we'll put mother and daughter into KARR and they'll run the gauntlet. You and Jay will have to share a seat again."

Bob grimaced, then frowned and slapped Xander's chest, expression curious.

"Me? I'll keep them occupied." Xander said calmly.

Bob stared, wide eyed, but was distracted by a scream from Bethany.

"Oh GOD!" She groaned, "Please, God, PLEASE send someone else... ANYONE else to help deliver this baby!"

"Would you relax?" Jay said casually, "I got it covered, Beth. You're in GREAT hands."

"PLEASE!!" She gasped out, glaring up at the ceiling, "This isn't funny!"

Jay looked around, "You know, we need some fucking water or something like that... I saw it in a movie once. Gotta boil water."

Xander reached into KARR and pulled out a couple bottles of distilled water and tossed them over, "Knock yourself out. Don't burn the barn down. We still need it."

Jay caught the bottles, staring at them, "How the fuck am I supposed to boil water in these? They're plastic!"

"Be creative."


"Gabriel!" Theodore hissed.

"Cut me some slack, alright!?" The Vatican demon hunter growled.

"Not that, look!"

Gabriel turned, frowning as he saw yet another group of non-humans moving through the woods. "This is bad. They're gathering forces."

"But to attack where?"

"I don't know. Stay here, I'm going to follow them."


It was too late, however, Gabriel Van Helsing had already vanished into the murky light of the trees.

Patience watched the activity with very little of her namesake, beginning to grow irritated as well as concerned with the increase in demon activity.

<What kind of child would warrant this??> She wondered for the hundredth time.

Patience knew of only one precedent that might fit the bill, but deep down inside she refused to believe it. It was simply too far fetched, to insanely impossible. That the child she had to protect might be...


It wasn't possible.

It was a child. Only a child.

That was enough.

She dropped from her tree top perch to the soft ground below and padded off in the direction of the demons, keeping carefully down wind. Some of them had good senses of smell, she recalled, and she wasn't ready to be seen just yet.

Not just yet.

<This place crawls,> Jackie Estacado thought grimly as he slowed his sedan, pointing it's nose out of town.

The demon filth was everywhere, skulking just behind the shadows like that would hide them from his sight. He'd never seen them in such concentrations before, however, and it made him wonder yet again about the child.

<No.> He thought firmly, <It doesn't matter. I did my job, delayed the midget. The rest isn't any of my concern.>

He turned onto the interstate, and floored his sedan. It was time to get the hell out of this place.


The deck was a mass of confusion as people rushed from one direction to another, seemingly at random. They threw crates of gear into a pair of Orca's, topped off the fuel cells, and generally tried to get them ready as fast as humanly, and inhumanly, possible.

Another Orca had just landed, disgorging armed troopers who looked a little dazed.

"What's going on!?" Apone snarled as he grabbed a tech who was running by. "We just got called up with no brief!"

"Commander's in a situation!" The guy panted, "We lost the ready response team to some kind of flying demons. They never got on the ground!"

"Shit." Apone stared, shocked. He knew all of the guys on that team, they deserved better. "What the hell happened?"

"Don't know exactly, just that we've got four Orcas to prep *yesterday*!"

Apone nodded curtly, letting the man go. He turned back to Hicks and the others, "Come on. Let's get a real briefing."

They nodded, following him through the mass of men and machines.

General William Grey growled as he stepped off his own transport, acting for all the world like he was pissed at being recalled while on vacation. Truthfully, though he was grateful for the distraction. Christmas was a bad time for him since the divorce, and really his kids didn't need to see him around, they were all grown up and had families of their own. Certainly they didn't need an old warhorse darkening their doors.

He looked over the bustle of the flight deck and nodded.

This was where he belonged.

There had been a time when he wasn't sure, when he'd been doing the job just because he didn't trust anyone else to. Now, though, he believed.

He, William Grey, was a believer. Who would ever have believed it?

He fit a cigar in his teeth and walked to the command elevator, catching it straight to the central control.

"Talk to me." He said simply as he stepped in.

"Commander," Merlin's image appeared, surprising him. He didn't think he'd get a simply briefing from Merlin, there were others who could do that.

"What's going on?" He asked gruffly.

"Things are... complicated." Merlin said simply. "This situation is quite possibly the most important mission to date since the revival of the Knighthood."

Grey blinked.

They'd actually prevented the end of the PLANET several times in that period. What the HELL had the Commander gotten involved in?

"Alright... You'd better lay it out for me then."

McHenry, Illinois

Bethany Sloan screamed in pain, the contractions coming closer as she lay there on the hay and tried to beat Jay off with anything that was at hand.

"Leave... *puff* *puff* me the hell... *puff* *puff* alone!!"

Jay, for his part, was hyperventilating almost as bad as the pregnant woman, caught between trying to do anything to make her more comfortable keeping her from hitting him.

Xander pretty much ignored them. He had no idea what to do in case of pregnancy, and frankly the way he was looking at it, the least Metatron could do was make sure the birth went alright. He had bigger problems to worry about.

The sun was going down.

Chapter 9

It was time.

Xander turned around and calmly walked back to the trio, then past them as he stepped up to KARR. "Sorry, Pal. Gotta do it."

KARR rumbled as Xander stepped up on the hood, then walked to the roof of the small sports car, drawing his two pistols.

In the hay below, Bethany looked up as she puffed painfully. "What... the... hell... is he... doing?"

Jay and Bob looked at each other, then up at Xander, who had his hands crossed over his chest, pistols filling both fists. Bob shrugged and Jay made a face, "Fuck if I know."

As they watched he looked down at them sharply, his eyes suddenly glowing silver.

"Keep your heads down."

Bob and Jay looked at each other, eyes widen, then they both dove on top of Bethany and forced her down into the hay. Above them Xander's hands suddenly flashed out, guns thrusting out ahead of him as he fired into the barn door.

Screams erupted from outside, but Xander didn't pause. His guns rode the recoil back and he spread his arms apart, firing into the opposite walls. More screams, then more shots as Xander began firing seemingly at random all around the barn.

"Hey's going to kill us all!" Bethany wailed as the other two kept her down.

Neither Bob nor Jay seemed inclined to disagree as they watched him spin on the roof of the sports car, thrusting his guns out in random directions, firing a shot, then letting the recoil push him into a new position.

Both weapons clicked empty at once, and he ejected them without pause, slapping the guns down to the clips on his belt. Thumbing the slide release, Xander chambered a pair of rounds, then pivoted and opened fire again.

The Lord watched, anger boiling as his troops began dying even before they reached the barn. A muffled sound of gunfire could be heard, and it was obvious that there were more people inside than he thought. They were laying down a circle of bodies all around the barn, lethally accurate fire dropping the demons in their tracks from all sides.

"We've found the party." Gabriel said dryly, checking his rifle.

"Y... yes, I can see that."

The demons were black against the darkening sky, but they could both tell that the lord was leading with the fodder first, testing the defenses. Defenses were pretty decent, as well as could be expected for a ramshackle barn, Gabriel supposed. It looked like four or five guys with interlocking fields of fire were holding the first wave off.

But only the first wave. They could both see the rest holding back, waiting for the order.

"I don't think we can do much, Gabriel," Theodore said tersely. "We don't have enough ammunition, guns, or men to swing the tide."

Gabe slapped the slide on his rifle, chambering the round, and shrugged. "Target rich environment, Theo. Wait here."

"Gabriel! Wait!" Theodore hissed, but it was too late as the famed monster hunter vanished into the shadows.

"Stupid hero." The monk muttered. "I hate heros. They only turn up when everything is all fucked up."

He paused, winced, then looked up and crossed himself.

Patience blew out a silent whistle as she crouched in the tree line. That old barn had a few surprises apparently, but the fire was too light to hold off the horde for long. The child must be inside, but it was a lost cause now.

Nothing could hold them back.

It would take a miracle and nothing less.

"Miracles happen, Patience."

The scion of the Magdalen line nearly jumped out of her skin, twisting in mid air as she pulled her guns and brought them to bear on the speaker.

It was a man in a suit, standing quite calmly like he was chatting at a dinner party.

"Who the hell are you?"

He smiled, "You know me, Patience."

Her eyes widened as a pair of visible wings extended from his shoulders, flowing out gracefully in a way that made him seem more real than reality. She shuddered as her mystic sight saw a second pair nestled under the first, and she suddenly knew that if she had the divine sight, there would almost certainly be a third pair there as well.

She fell to one knee, "Seraphim. I am at your service."

"Oh get up," The Angel seemed annoyed, then stopped and slapped his forehead. "Blast these americans. I'm getting so used to their actions that I've forgotten how to accept respect when it's given. Rise, Magdalena. Heaven has need of warriors this night."

"The child...?" She asked, almost fearfully as she rose. "Is it?"

The angel nodded, sending a chill down Patience' spine. "Yes. She is."

Patience turned, "I must go."

When she looked back, the Angel was gone. Patience shook off the daze, then leapt from where she was crouched and sprinted toward the barn, pistols out and already tracking.

The third pair of magazines were almost dry when Xander froze, eyes seeing the demons back off. He sighed, shaking his head, and tossed the pistols to either side. Less than five rounds left before he was dry and they finally stopped testing the defenses.

"About empty. How many rounds do you have pal?"

"Forty eight." The AI replied.

"Save them." Xander ordered, "If the perimeter is breached, take the woman and the child and break out."


"You hear that?" Xander said, looking down at the cowering trio. "If the demons get in here, you two stuff her in that car. I don't care if the baby is here or not. Then you get in yourselves if you can, otherwise KARR is leaving without you. Got that?"

The two nodded rapidly, eyes wide.

"In the meantime, stay down, help her with the baby, and saying a few prayers might be an idea." Xander told them as he picked up a projector and checked it for a full charge before fixing it to his upper arm. "Who knows? They might even be answered for once."

He walked past them then, stopping in front of the large doors as he heard gunfire open up outside. He frowned, tilting his head. "Alright, who prayed for reinforcements?"

All three raised their hands.

"Apparently someone is listening," Xander rolled his eyes, "guess it just must be me. Maybe my accent sucks."

He extended his hand, closing around a shimmer of silver that just appeared from thin air, then held tight as Elan bucked in his grip and extended fully in either direction. Xander kicked the big doors open as the gunfire closed, armor shimmering into existence as he extended the staff outward for battle.

Gabriel fired a tight burst into a group of demons, sending them screaming the ground. They weren't dead, but the rounds were silver slugs with wooden flechettes, and they would hurt just about anything. Across the way he could see a woman making the same move he was, heading for the barn, a pair of pistols filling her hand. She was cutting through the demon horde with an ease mirrored by himself, so he angled his motion to meet up with her partway.

This was most certainly a moment of 'My enemies enemy' in his mind, though he'd stay ready to put a round in her if she made the wrong move just the same.

Long years of battle, comrades, and treason had taught him two things.

First, only a fool doesn't take advantage of competent help.

And second, only a fools fool turns their back on anyone with a weapon.

Right now, however, rule one was in effect and overriding rule two.

They met about eighty feet from the barn, the woman spotting him with a grin.

"Gabriel Van Helsing, lovely to meet you... duck!"

Gabe saw her pistols come up and hit the ground in a roll as she fired, killing two demons behind him. He came up to one knee, triggering a dragonsbreath round into a group of demons to one side of her, sending them screaming as the phosphorous stuck to their flesh and began to burn.

"You know me?" He asked casually, coming up to his feet and matching her continued run toward the barn.

"Of course, everyone knows Van Helsing!" She called as they ran and fought, "Hero, Murderer, Vatican Lackey!"

"Hey, that last one hurt!" Gabriel replied as he turned and fired two short bursts.

Her laughter was entirely out of place in the massacre, but they two of them proceeded to fight their way, side by side, back to the barn just as the door was kicked open by a figure in gleaming armor.

"What took you so long," A hollow, dry voice asked. "I've got a VIP in here that needs evac in the worst way."

"Sorry pal," Gaberiel said over his shoulder as he fell back into line with the armored figure. "I'm afraid that's something we don't have. I wasn't told this was going to be a warzone."

"Me either, I'm afraid," Patience said softly, barely audible over the noise. "There was very little information forthcoming about this one."

"Lovely." The man in armor growled. "And here I thought it was just me."

Gabriel laughed, "You new to this game?"

"Not new enough to put up with this shit," was the reply, "Alexander Harris."

"Gabriel Van Helsing."


"For what?" Harris asked, looking at the girl. "We don't have much time here."

She glared at him until the slight tinge of humor in his voice filtered through. "You're a laugh riot."

He just shrugged, looking out. "Let's see if I can't knock a few of them dead then, huh?"

They watched as he lifted a silver staff, angling it outward.

"You must be kidding," Patience said, "What about your guns?"

"I'm out of bullets, lady." He told her, leaning forward as the demons came. "Besides, it's time to bring the game to a new level."

"What are you...?"

She was cut off when his armor suddenly shifted, wings of blazing light erupting from his back. The charging demons faltered, then fell back as he suddenly charged forward in a single sliding bound that almost appeared to be low level flight and was in their midst in a single fluid motion.

Chapter 10

"By the abyss."

The whispered oath was heard only mere feet from the Lord's position, but the aura of shock was the same all through the lines.

The rumors of what the child was were confirmed when the Angel rocketed into the midst of several attackers, slashing his gleaming staff in a diagonal cross that nearly decapitated one demon, then shattered the limbs of another before hooking back up and spinning his victim through the air.

Only the child of the creator would warrant this kind of direct response, only the second coming would tip the scales this badly.

"A cherub." The lord whispered, shaking his head. "It's not possible."

The warrior tore through the demons like flame through paper, even as the two warriors behind him moved into action, opening up with their weapons to clear the demons on either side.

"Attack!" The lord screamed, hefting his scythe to the sky. "Death rides with us this night!"

"Death!" Those nearest him screamed in reaction, their Lord's voice spurring them on.

They were his most powerful soldiers, the elite of his legion, and they hungered for the death of the Angel. He had to be the one responsible for the deaths and humiliation they had suffered over the past twenty four hours, and they knew that here on the Earth Plane he was no longer an Eternal. There were ways to slay even an Angelic warrior.

They charged forward into the fight, fighting and slaughtering their way through the lesser filth that was trying to flee from the winged warrior in their midst. The cowards no longer mattered, it was something for real demons, real warriors now. This was no helpless child, it was a trophy worth of their efforts.

The Psy-op design of his 'angelic' armor worked initially, Xander noted calmly as he slashed Elan into the face of a vampire, shattering it's jaw and sending it down to the ground in a moaning heap. Large groups of the attacking wave had faltered, even fled, before the surprise assault.

He stopped when there were no more bodies standing within his striking range, slowly turning to glare at those stunned demons who had not decided.

Many of them broke then and there, the inhuman gaze of Xander's holographic helm combined with the glow of his armor and staff causing them to turn and flee. As they did, however, a second group that had been holding back roared and charged into the wave, slaughtering those who were running and turning a few of them back toward Xander and the barn.

<Qualified success then,> Xander thought dryly, <Maybe Tara can make the design a tad more imposing.>

<I doubt it would change matters, Alexander.> Elan replied softly, <That is a Demon Lord and his Elite charging us. He would not be turned back now, better death in the face of an all powerful enemy than what they would do to him if they perceived weakness. He is committed.>

<I hate demons.> Xander thought grimly.

Elan merely shrugged as they watched the charge waver, then firm up as they got the fleeing demons sorted out, and come barreling onward.

"What... is... going... on!?" Bethany panted, clenching in pain as she tried to control her breathing while desperately wanting to see beyond the protection of the car.

"You really don't want to know," Jay replied from where he was looking over the hood of the Viper.

She looked over at Silent Bob, who was pale as a ghost, and moaned. "I'm going to die out here and the last voice I hear is going to Jay's!"


The booming voice stilled the battlefield, the demons spreading out as the defenders turned to look at the huge demon who had let out the yell.

<Is he talking to me?>

<Without the mystical and devine wings, that would be what you most resemble at the moment,> Elan told Xander dryly. <Play into it.>

Xander straightened, flipping the staff back into the crook of his arm as he turned to the demon lord and simply cocked his head in acknowledgment.

"I challenge you, Cherub." The lord growled, hefting an eight foot scythe like it was a toy. "For the life of the child."

Xander flipped his weapon about in a flourish, then solidly planted the staff into the ground in front of him as he felt rather than heard two sets of feet come upon him from behind.

"Don't do it," Patience hissed softly. "We cannot play games with the child."

"Can you take him?" Gabriel asked in riposte.

Xander didn't move as he stared ahead, "I don't know. He's a full Lord... maybe. I wouldn't have a chance on his home place, but here on Earth? This is my home field. I belong here, he doesn't."

"You're not filling me with confidence here." Gabriel said quietly.

"We cannot play games with this child's life!" Patience hissed, "You don't know who she is!"

"The daughter of the Lord God, our creator." Xander replied quite calmly. "Whom I have pledged to Metatron to defend with my life. One way or another, she will leave this place alive tonight... but if I can delay a little longer..."

"What?" Gabriel asked as Patience fell quiet in surprise. "If you can delay a little longer, what?"

"My people will be here soon." Was all Xander had to say to that before he stepped forward and pulled his staff from the ground and leveled it at the demon lord. "Watch the demons during the fight, he'll try to sneak them in past us."

Gabriel and Patience nodded, falling back to the barn door as the Lord grinned toothily and began to advance. He hefted the scythe up into the air and visible lightning crackled along it's surface.

"Recognize it, Cherub?" The Lord hissed, sounding amused. "You will not be the first Angelic to fall before Soul Render!"

Gabriel heard Patience hiss and glanced over, "What?"

"That's one of the Unholy Blades," She whispered, eyes on the crackling energy that ran along the dark blade of the scythe. "It was made over four thousand years ago, supposedly powered by the souls of tortured victims."

"Can it really do what he just said?"

"Kill an Angel?" Patience nodded, "if it's really SoulRender... yes."


"That would sum it up," She replied, "The Unholy Blades are in the same ranks as the Witchblade and Excalibur."

"Holy shit, Silent Bob, that's one BIG fucking demon!"

Silent Bob nodded, eyes wide.

"What... the hell... is going... on!?" Bethany screamed between pants.

The duo looked at each other, shrugged, and Jay turned to look at her.

"Everything cool, Bethany, cross my heart..."

Bob crossed his heart.

"... Scouts Honor and all that shit..."

Bob held up two fingers in the scouts salute, the looked over as Jay held up only his middle finger. Silent Bob slapped him, glaring.

"What? What the fuck was that for, Fat ass!?" Jay demanded, then yelped when bob grabbed his finger and twisted it. "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ok, I get it, wrong finger, right!?"

Bob covered his forehead with one hand, then sighed and shrugged apologetically at Bethany.

"It's... alright," She panted, "I actually... think it's kinda... sweet... that he's trying to... make me feel... better."

Jay grinned and slapped Bob's shoulder, "Oh yeah. She has it bad for us, pal."

Silent Bob rolled his eyes and turned around, resting his head on KARR's roof as he groaned. Silently, of course.

"What? What the fuck did I do now!?"

"This is... unexpected."

The man snorted from where he was sitting, shaking his head. "You have a spectacular talent for understatement."

The driver shrugged, "Sorry, Mr White, but I don't believe we have the forces needed for this."

"The entire cult would be hard pressed to deal with this." Mr White said bitterly, "That is a Demon Lord and, apparently, one of the Angelic Host. This child is more important than we believed. It can't simply be a prophecy child, or a scion of a line of power."

"What do we do?"

"We wait. We watch." White decided, "If the opportunity presents itself, we'll grab the child and vanish into the night. More likely, however, we'll try to tag the child for a future operation. We don't need immediate access... thirteen years from now will do fine."

The driver nodded, repressing a relieved sigh.

"I'm impressed." Xander said blandly, reading off the armor charge while he struggled to keep focused.

He actually was, in all honesty. The scythe was radiating power in ways he'd not felt since... Since Glorificus, only this felt like *real* power, rather than the muted afterglow that had been the Hell Goddess.

Still, that meant two things. The first was bad, the second... slightly heartening.

First, it was a weapon of power. Significant power. If the Lord's boast was true, it was a God Killer weapon at the least, possibly more.

Second, however, the power was bleeding off at atrocious levels. Like his own control over Elan used to be, which may well indicate that the Demon Lord had poor control, or the weapon itself was frightfully inefficient.

Either way, he was committed.

Xander stepped forward, lifting the ancient staff to guard position as the Demon Lord lunged forward with a telegraphed overhead swing intended to split his foe wide open. Xander stepped into it, lifting Elan to catch the weapon's staff and block the strike. The demon growled, but with a hint of triumph in his tone, and jerked the weapon straight back to bring the curved blade of the scythe into Xander's back.

He'd expected as much, however, and threw Elan back over his head, muscles straining as the unholy blade met the staff and the air crackled with ozone as the demon's eyes widened in surprise. Xander grinned, then twisted back and around, hooking the blade into the staff as he moved. The demon was pulled off it's feet, thrown to the ground when it wouldn't let go of the weapon, and barely rolled clear of Xander's follow up strike.

"Nice weapon." Xander said, standing in full armored glory a bare twelve feet from the demon lord as it reached it's feet again, "but I wield Elanthielle. Sister weapon to Excalibur, Mjolnir, Sienele, and Turok. Let's see who has the most powerful ally in this battle, Demon. My money ain't on you."

Chapter 11

Patience laid a hand on Gabriel's shoulder, pulling him back from the fight. "This one isn't for us, Van Helsing."

"He might need help."

"If they're both speaking the truth, we're the ones who need help." She said flatly, "Frankly, I would rather be anywhere else than here right now. Dueling nuclear weapons rarely work out well for the bystanders."

Gabriel gave her an incredulous look, but he had an idea what she was referring too. He'd heard about Excalibur, of course, and a couple other of the names they were tossing around. If even a tenth of the stories were true, calling them nuclear weapons might even be an understatement.

He fell back with Patience, the two of them covering the door as the demons began to spread out, some vanishing back into the shadows.

"Do you...?"

"I see them." Patience nodded, "They'll make a move during the fight, just like he said."

"If they come in serious numbers, we'll be overrun."

Patience nodded, "I know."

"Any suggestions?" Gabriel asked dryly, not really expecting much of an answer. Lost causes were no stranger to him, so he knew what he was going to do. He was going to make them pay dearly for every inch of the barnyard they intended to take.

"Hold them off as long as we can," Patience replied, "And hope he knew what he was talking about when he said that one way or another the mother and child would be getting out of here alive."

"You really believe this is the second coming?"

Patience nodded silently.

"Yes." She said finally, "Yes I do."

Staff met blade as Xander intercepted a strike aimed at cleaving his skull, deflecting the scythe off to one side, then forcing it down into the ground. He and the demon met face to face as they strained against each other, then he stepped back and whipped the staff up into the Lord's face.

The demon staggered back three steps, dragging his weapon through the dirt as Xander caught his balance again, then leapt back to the attack.

He came in high, snapping Elan in an overhead strike accelerated by his jump. The Lord threw up his scythe in a block, the force of the attack sending him down to one knee as lightning flashed between the two weapons.

The Demon sidestepped, letting the scythe drop, then swung around in a vicious full circle spin at Xander's side. The armored knight flipped his weapon over, cradling it along his arm as he blocked the blow, hissing as the tip of the scythe penetrated his armor in a light graze along his back.

<Fuck!> Xander grimaced under the impassive helm, <that burns!>

<The injury is necrotizing.> Elan informed him grimly, <Focus and isolate the infected area!>

Xander jumped back from a follow up strike, swiping Elan across the demon's jaw, then rolled under a vicious swing before he could get clear enough to turn his attention inward. The flesh was already rotting where he'd been cut through his armor, festering bubbles closing the wound but destroying nerves and muscle in the area.

He threw up a quarantine around the area, effectively telling his body to cut it's losses and not let anything in or out of the area around the wound. He'd have to do some serious work when he got out of this, but for now that would have to do.

The only upside was the fact that his armor had automatically sealed, showing no hint that he'd even been touched.

Xander shifted his grip and snapped his staff around to block another strike by the demon lord, forcing his weapon onto his foe's and holding it there against the supernatural strength of the demon.

"You can't hold up for long, I will kill you Cherub!" The Lord hissed angrily, "Then I will feast upon the progeny within."

"Last I checked Hell hadn't opened it's doors as a resort destination, pal. Quit talking and bring on the game."

"Here they come."

Patience and Gabriel fell back into the barn, moving back to back as the demons burst through the walls themselves.

In an instant the sound of gunfire erupted, obliterating all else as the two warriors opened up with everything they had left. The demons fell back from the attempted breach, but others moved quickly to fill their place.

Gaberiel dropped to one knee, half turning back to the big doors as a group tried to rush them through the opening. A Dragonsbreath round from the barrel mounted shotgun engulfed them in flames, and he finished off the screamers with rapidly placed shots on semi-auto.

Behind him, Patience's pistol went dry and she tucked one under her arm as she pulled a blade from her hip and flipped it end over end into the closest demon's eye. It fell back screaming as she pulled another magazine from her thigh pouch and dropped it into the empty gun.

As she flicked her thumb to chamber a round, letting the slide snap back into place, she fired the last rounds from her other pistol into another demon who thought he could sneak in from the loft.

"How many are left??" She asked over the din.

"Left?? Almost all of them!" Gabriel yelled back, a hint of desperation in his voice.

The Monster hunter's rifle clicked dry and he dropped the magazine in a single motion, bringing the butt up to shatter a demon's jaw even as the empty mag clattered to the ground. The demon fell back in shock and pain while Gabriel pulled another from his pack. He slapped it into the receiver and chambered a round, putting two into the falling demon before it hit the ground.

"We're going to be overrun!!"

Xander dropped into a crouch, ducking a swing intended to decapitate him, and swept the demon's feet from under him. The Lord hit the ground hard, grunting as Xander rolled up to him and slammed an armored elbow into his face.

The Demon Lord growled, grabbing Xander's arm, and threw him hard across the yard. Xander twisted in the air, tapping the energy inherent in his motion, and reversed it just as his feet hit the ground. He lunged back almost instantly, crossing the distance before the demon could get to his feet.

Elan snapped out, cracking across the demon's face and jaw, hitting the ground and sliding along the dirt for a dozen feet. The Lord wiped ichor from his jaw as he rose, gripping the Scythe tightly. Xander flipped the staff forward challengingly as the demon smiled.

"Is that the best you can manage?"

"Let's find out."

"Where the hell did he find all these things!?" Gabriel growled in frustration, throwing his rifle down as it went dry for the last time. He pulled a pair of blades from his belt, flipping them into the throats of a pair of demons, just buying enough time to pull a short sword from his back.

"Funny you should mention 'Hell'!" Patience yelled back, snapping a kick into the face of a vampire, then reaching forward and hooking it's arm into a hip throw that sent it flying back into the splintered wood it had broken to make an entry way to the barn. It dusted almost instantly, leaving the hole open for another three.

Two dozen demons had managed to gain entry, and were closing around the two defenders by this point. Behind them the Viper's passenger door popped open, an angry voice speaking.

"Put her inside."

Jay looked down at the pregnant woman, then over at the demons, paling. "Man! She's giving birth! There's no room in there for this shit!"

"Put her INSIDE." The computer growled.

"I'm telling you there's no fucking room....!"

Jay's voice was cut off by the roar of an engine and he actually glared at the Viper for a moment until he realized that it wasn't coming from the sports car. He looked over at Silent Bob, then around at the fighting, "Where the fuck is that coming from?"

Lights suddenly gleamed through the broken pieces of the wall, then the wall splintered as a car barreled through. It skidded, wiping out several demons as it came to a stop, then the lights died and the barn went dark.

A chill went down Jay's spine as growls filled the dark around him, and the screaming started.

Xander hissed, almost going to one knee as the scythe again scored through the armor and drew a furrow in his flesh. He automatically cut the infected flesh off, striking back on instint as the demon tried to capitalize on the hesitation.

"I struck you that time," The Lord growled, pressing his weapon against Xander's. "I was not sure before, but I am now. You're dying, Cherub. Soul Render will eat your flesh, and then your soul."

"I've been dying before, demon." Xander returned. "My soul isn't on the menu."

They clashed again, throwing sparks and flashes of light through the air as the two drove at each other as hard as they could. The ground at their feet shook as they fought, the energy charging the air and lifting dust and dirt up with every strike.

Xander blocked a blow over head, then took a strike from the butt of the scythe to the jaw as the demon reversed. The armor absorbed the majority of the force, but it resulted in a warning chime to sound, informing him that the energy in the projector was almost depleted.

Xander cursed, spinning away from another strike, then swept Elan up and around in a blow aimed for the demon's head. The Lord blocked, then reversed and swept the blade around in a slash that nearly gutted Xander. Xander barely evaded the worst of it, but the blade again penetrated his armor and slashed a quarter inch deep furrow across his stomach.

His armor failed almost instantly, and Xander dropped to one knee as the pain from the slash tore through him.

The demon lord stared in shock for a moment as the angelic armor vanished, leaving only a bloodied human kneeling in the dirt.

"You are no Cherub!" The Demon muttered in disgust, then his eyes widened as he saw the multitude of slashes in the black armor, blood and poisoned flesh visible through the gaps. He'd connected an easy half dozen times, more then enough to kill any human, even most supernaturals. "How!?"

Xander glared up, focusing inward to quarantine the infection yet again. "I told you, demon. My soul isn't on the menu."

"No matter." The lord decided, hefting his Scythe. "You were doomed from the start, human. I know your weapon... it is powered by a single human soul. Mine is powered by a hundred."

That made sense to Xander, suddenly he knew why the demon's weapon could bleed so much energy yet still contain as much power as it did. The Scythe could afford to be one *percent* as efficient as Elan and still match her, power for power.

But why was it so incredibly inefficient, Xander thought as the Demon Lord hefted the Scythe to finish him off. Elan's control was based on him, but the demon must have wielded that weapon for decades... centuries... maybe more. Why was it so god damned inefficient??

The Scythe begun a slow motion swing to split him open, and Xander suddenly snapped up as he realized.

His hand snapped out at the last moment, grabbing the shaft of the scythe as his eyes suddenly glowed silver. He swept Elan up in a predictable arc and grinned fiercely as the demon easily caught it and completed the circuit.

The barnyard flashed, erupting in lightning and thunder as everything withing fifty feet of the two battling warriors was fried in an instant.

Chapter 12

"Holy shit!" Jay screamed, falling back into the hay beside Bethany as a demon lunged out of the shadows at them, only to be caught in mid flight by something darker than the night itself. It actually screamed in terror, hovering their over them for a moment, then was yanked back as it clawed at the air in a futile attempt to escape.

Flashes of light banished the shadows for brief instants of time, opening up the horror show for them to see as someone fired guns in the dark barn. Demons screamed, both in fury and terror, and died as the shadows became living things, tearing them to shreds without mercy or hesitation.

Through it all, though, Bethany's breathing and cries became louder and sharper as she curled up on the hay and screamed into the night.

Bob hit Jay, then pointed at Bethany, but Jay shook his head. "Uh, no way fat ass! I'm not sticking my head down there!"

Silent Bob rolled his eyes, then shoved the lanky blond clear and glanced apologetically at Bethany as he knelt down between her legs, a wide eyed and thoroughly perplexed expression on his face. The pregnant woman, for her part, didn't give a damn about the expression on Bob's face. She was torn between being completely distracted and simply glad that Jay wasn't in her face anymore.

"Uh... uh... uh... breath and shit, you know!?" Jay said from her side, eliciting a snarl from Bethany as she snapped her head over and glared at him in the dark. He fell back, pointing toward the fighting, "I'm just gonna go see if any of the demons still need the ass kicked..."

Gabriel slashed a demon with his blade, sending it sprawling back from where he was standing back to back with Patience, looking around for the source of the growls in the darkness.

"What the hell is that??"

"Be calm." Patience told him, her voice not sounded particularly relaxed. "I believe that we have recieved... reinforcements."

"Really!?" Gabriel yelled back, "Cause I don't remember selling my soul for any demonic rescuers!"

"I'm not demonic." A figure said, appearing from the shadows, blackness itself seemingly wrapped around his body as he smiled, his teeth gleaming white in a stray glint of moonlight. "I'm something much worse."

"Well," Gabriel muttered darkly, "It has a sense of humor at least."

"Hello Estacado." Patience said, turning to look at the approaching figure. "I thought you said you didn't want redemption?"

"I said I didn't care about redemption, Patience," The darkness wrapped figure told her, "However I really *despise* being manipulated."

He turned to Gabriel, leaning in close. "Tell Cardinal Innocent that I fulfilled my contract and slowed you down. Then tell him that if he tries this shit with me again, I'll be paying Vatican City a visit."

"Slow me..." Gabriel suddenly glared, elements clicking together. "You destroyed my rental!"

"Sue me. The Vatican pays for it anyway."

The Vatican monster hunter glared openly, only to have it matched and sent right back, until a sudden thunderclap roared over them, the side of the barn exploding into splinters as they were all tossed to the ground.

The three warriors rolled on the ground, looking up in shock as they saw a perfect semi-circle cut from the wall of the bar, fifteen feet high at it's apex, the edges glowing with red embers.

"Well Holy..." Gabriel blinked in shock.

"... fucking..." Jackie Estacado swallowed, staring beyond the wall.

"Shit." Patience finished, her eyes also on the battle raging outside.

Two figures, one demonic and over seven feet tall, one human and just over six, were locked in mortal combat, lightning crackling around them as they stood in the center of a circle of scorched earth. There were no demons left standing around them, though some charred husks around the edge of the circle spoke volumes of their fate, and the only two still standing were the combatants.

They were locked together, glaring into each other's eyes as lightning and fire crackled and roared around them, but neither were moving.

"Shit man, what the fuck is UP with that light show!?"

The three warriors turned as one to see a lanky blonde light up a joint as he leaned against the scorched edge of the barn wall and stared out for a moment before looking back.

"Youse guys ever see some shit like that before?"

The Demon Lord Cale'ay turned around once, looking about himself in genuine confusion. The farmyard was gone, the scene of the battle wiped away in the blink of an eye, and he snarled in anger.

"What has happened!? I demand to know where I am!"

"Welcome to the Dreaming."

The voice spun him back just in time to see his human foe step out of the air into sight a few feet away. Instantly, Cale grabbed for his weapon, but it was nowhere to be found. He glared at the human, lips curled back over sharp teeth, "Come human, do your worst."

The human just smiled like he'd made a joke, and walked calmly around the demon lord's position.

"You know, I've never been to this section of the dreaming before." He said, looking around, "Not very nice is it?"

That was a matter of opinion, the Lord thought. It looked much like home to him.

"A Demon plane," The human went on, as if reading his mind. "Well, part of one anyway. The fringes. Beyond that wall lies the human plane for this world, back there behind you is the demonic plane of the dreaming. We don't usually mix, afterall."

What was the human blathering about, Cale snarled, clenching sharp talons into balled fists.

"Ugly place." The human shrugged, glancing over his shoulder.

The Lord looked up as well, eyes widening as another human drifted down smoothly, landing by his enemy's side. She was tall, beautiful by human standards, and stood like a warrior. He knew, he'd killed enough of them in the past.

"What is this??"

"My partner." The human said, "Elanthielle."

She just smirked slightly in his direction, a glint in her eyes.

Cale'ay growled, taking a step back as he cast about for his own weapon. The Scythe, however, was nowhere to be found. Even as he thought that, though, more figures began to fade into existence around him. They were humans, with dead eyes and rotting faces, but he understood instantly that they were the representation of SoulRender in this place.

He turned back to the two humans and smiled, showing his teeth. "You have your 'partner', human, but I have my *legion*."

"Yes you do. But can you control them?" The human asked grimly, eyes sweeping past the demon to look at the horrific figures surrounding them. He was silent a moment, then shrugged, "He's all yours."

Cale'ay stared in confusion as the two warriors turned away from him, he lifted his hand and pointed. "Kill them!"

The battered humans around him made no move, however, as they turned to look at him. The Lord looked around, confused, "I said kill them!"

First one moved, then another, and another, a small group grabbing the demon and clawing at him as he slapped them back instinctively. "I am your master! Do as I say!"

They moved on him in a wave then, engulfing the demon lord in an irresistible mass that brought him down to his knees then swept over him as he bellowed toward the demonic sky above them.

Smoke was rising from the demon's skin as the lightning continued to crackle around the combatants, and the cautiously observing soon saw the demonic flesh crack and spill forward with ichor while neither moved.

"My God." Gabriel whispered, shaking his head.

The demon erupted into flames, jets of blue fire hissing from it's body as it was consumed by... something, and then it fell back, leaving it's opponent standing there with Scythe and Staff in hand.

"It's over." Patience said softly.

"Not quite."

Xander Harris turned from where he was standing, looking at the weapon in his hand. It was charred black, the blade a dark steel coated with caked blood. The Staff bucked in his hand, becoming a foot long cylinder that he tucked into his belt as his grip on the scythe shook.

"What's going..."

"Stay back!" He snapped, holding out his free hand before using it to grab the weapon in both.

"He's right," Gabriel said instantly, reaching out to pull both of the others away.

He could feel the vibration in the air, like the howls from a dungeon, or a legion of angry spirits. It was still soft, on the edge of his senses, but it was growing. The night was silent around them, the wind dead and no normal sounds of the night.

"I can feel it too." Patience said after a moment, her voice suddenly fearful.

"Feel what?" Jay asked from behind them, "I don't feel any fucking..."

Xander's eyes gleamed silver as he lifted the scythe up, voice booming out in a sound that shattered the quiet.

"METATRON!!" He screamed out, startling the observers into falling back in shock. "GODS! GODDESSES! THESE HAVE BEEN DENIED THEIR RIGHT! TAKE THEM NOW, OR BE IN VIOLATION OF YOUR PROMISES!"

He cocked back his hand suddenly, a silver edge glowing along the ridge of his hand as he drove it in with a hard slash. A bolt of lightning erupted from the clear sky as his hand connected with the scythe, shattering the weapon into splinters. The pieces fell to the ground, smoking in the charred dirt as a howling wind erupted around it, and glowing figures began to appear.

The gathered observers stared in shocked silence for a moment, then others appeared from thin air and began to gather up the ghostly figures.

A man in armor with a goatee was first, taking a handful, then nodding respectfully at Xander. Then two women in flowing robes, and a decidedly inhuman looking monster that was surprisingly gentle as it guided a few away. A black panther walked out of the shadows, it's coughing roar attracting a dozen spirits to it's side. It paused to roar into the night, then turned and vanished again into the shadows.

Three angels were the last, with Metatron between them.

"Well done." The Voice said simply as the other two began to escort the remaining souls toward a light that had suddenly opened up. "You have our thanks."

Xander just nodded tiredly, eyes flicking to the side as he spotted shadows moving along the edge of the farmyard. More demons, hesitant, yet still looking for a way to attack.

"They're defeated," The Angel said.

Xander cocked his head, as if listening to someone, then simply spoke. "Take them."

Lights erupted in the sky as four Orca's screamed out of the night sky, weapons blazing as they razed the treeline.

That broke them, the remaining demons fleeing wildly into the trees and vanishing into the night.

"Now, they're defeated." Xander said before turning around.

Chapter 13

"Not an Angelic." Isaiah White said grimly, "This isn't good."

"Why?" His driver asked, frowning. "He looks human. We can handle humans... can't we?"

"That's Alexander Harrison." Isaiah replied darkly, "CEO of Renaissance Technologies Incorporated, as well as it's majority shareholder."

"What's some rich corporate type doing out here in the middle of a warzone?"

"Because, if the suspicions of the Elders are right, he's also Alexander Harris... Head of the Knighthood."

"Shit. The terrorists??"

White looked over at his driver, shaking his head, "You're new aren't you?"

The younger man blushed slightly, but Isaiah just waved it off. "Never mind. We all are at some point. The Knighthood's current status with the government is a direct result of our political manipulations of President Kinsey. We've been trying to hamper their operations since we clashed with them back in '99."

"What happened?"

"The destroyed one of our strike teams, almost killing my son in the process." Isaiah White said grimly, "It was a fairly routine acquisition mission... we never found out how the Knighthood even learned about it."

The treeline below erupted into flames as spotlights flashed into existence around the farm and Isaiah just shook his head.

"Military strike aircraft. They're cleaning up the riff raff."

"How can they operate those this deep inside the United States?"

"Don't know," White shrugged, "This is a bigger show of power than they used on our team... I don't see any of their heavy armor units though."

"They have heavier units than a guy in glowing angelic battle armor??"

Xander looked over at the people watching him, noting the damage to the barn and how it was now open to the elements. He steeled himself, walking forward with slow and steady rhythm, and stopped by a face he recognized.

"Hello, Jackie." He said, turning to pin the other man with a stare. "Do we have a problem here tonight?"

"Not tonight, Xan." The other man said simply, "I'm off the clock now. Hell, if I'd know you were involved on this one, I'd told my client to go to hell anyway. He didn't pay me enough to piss off an army."

Xander nodded, knowing that there was a story there, but not really caring at the moment. "Good."

He pushed through them, nodding to the other two, but not speaking. From inside the barn they all heard a cry pierce the air, and then the scream of a child taking it's first breath. As one the gathered warriors relaxed, and the darkness in the air finally faded completely as the moon and star above them glinted off fallen snow, lightening the whole farmyard up.

They looked to see Silent Bob appear from behind KARR, eyes shining as he held a small bundle in his arms.

"It's a girl." he said simply, smiling.

Xander smiled, lowering his head tiredly.

"H... hey! Holy shit man, someone's coming!"

The warriors spun, Xander a half step behind as he almost stumbled drawing Elan from his belt. They looked out over the yard, noting the large flakes of snow falling freely as people began to appear from the night, walking slowly toward the barn.

"Commander, we have multiple inbound unknowns. They do not, I say again, not, register as demonic. Orders?"

Xander hesitated, blinking furiously as he stared, then keyed open his comm.

"Let them pass." He said simply. "Let them pass."

"Affirmative. Taking up security orbit."

Xander slid Elan back into his belt then turned back to the others. "It's a pilgrimage. Keep your weapons out of sight, but stay close to protect the child."

"Right." Gabriel Van Helsing said, moving to comply.

Patience too nodded as Jackie just shrugged and moved out of the way. Xander stumbled slowly around the car, until he came to where a very tired Bethany Sloane was laying back peacefully.

"Ma'am," He tipped his head, pulling a bottle of water from inside the sports car and drawing a long pull from it before offering it to her. "It's been one hell of a night."

She laughed weakly, accepting the water. "I'm not sure, but I think you look worse than I do."

He shrugged, then grimaced as he leaned back against the armored car. "Well, it was a tight one. I'll live."

Bob came back, kneeling by Bethany as he laid her daughter in her arms and looked back over his shoulder. Xander nodded and pushed off of KARR, patting the armored surface. "Security position, buddy."

The AI quietly moved, shifting so it could quickly interpose itself between the large gaping 'door' and the two in the hay, while Xander pulled the cross from his neck. The Celtic design had been mounted with his Atlantean lifestone, giving the powerful relic an unearthly blue glow. He looked around at those gathered, and at the first of those who were coming in.

"This is my symbol." He said, stumbling slightly as he stepped over to the mother and child, then draped the chain over the little girl's neck, resting the glowing cross on her. She cooed and immediately began to play with it, leaving him to smile for a moment before the girl looked up at him with eyes that shouldn't have been able to focus yet. She reached out and caught his finger in her hand, filling him with a sudden feeling of strength.

His eyes cleared as he felt the wounds on his body close up, and Xander straightened up.

"Now it's hers, until she can choose one for herself." He said, his voice carrying through the barn and outside. "Spread the word. If the person carrying that cross ever needs help..."

The gathered warriors nodded immediately, then so too did the men and women who were slowly gathering, brought to this place by a draw many of them couldn't have explained if asked. Xander knew that many of them were of the mystical community, some were simply near-mystics and sensitives, but they'd carry the word out.

"What's her name?" Xander asked, smiling down at them.

Bethany considered, then looked up. "Jessica. Jessica Christine Sloane."

"Of course it is," Xander shook his head as he smiled and stepped out of the way. He looked out, then nodded to the growing group. "If you're here to pay respects, enter. If you hold mischief in your plans... this place is not for you. Not tonight."

Then he stepped aside as the people slowly formed a line and approached the mother and child.

"They're walking targets," Jackie Estacado said grumpily as he watched the procession, eyes darting from one person to the next. "Not even walking in the kid's case. They won't make it six months."

"They'll make it." Xander said simply.

"He'd got a point," Gabriel Van Helsing said tiredly, "They need to be somewhere protected."

"I suppose you want to take them to Rome," Patience asked dryly.

Gabriel grimaced, but shrugged, "It IS the best defended place on the planet."

"Not quite, but it's in the top fifty anyway." Xander replied dryly, "But they won't be going to Vatican City."

"How do you plan to protect them?" Patience asked quietly.

"He can't. No one can, they're walking targets," Jackie repeated stubbornly.

"After tonight, they'll disappear." Xander said simply. "Bethany will raise her daughter somewhere away from this, in a place filled with people who don't know anything about them. Jessica will grow up... human, with no delusions fed by people who think they know her."

"You can do this? Provide a completely new life?" Patience asked softly.

Xander nodded.

"They're still walking targets," Jackie said for the third time. "You're relying on making them invisible... if even a slight crack shows through..."

"They'll be protected too." Xander said, taking a breath. "I have just the place."

"I suppose you aren't going to tell us?" Patience asked dryly.

"Sorry, no. I'm not even going to tell most of my own people who they really are." Xander told her.

"Then I am going to pay my respects with the others," She said, "since this is the last time I'll see her."

The trio watched the scion of the Magdalen line join the procession, pulling her cloak to cover her weapons. After a moment, Gabriel sighed and nodded, "I think I'll do the same."

The hunter of monsters walked away, leaving Jackie and Xander to watch over the group in silence.

"Not going down there?" Xander asked after a moment.

"That's not my place." Jackie said uncomfortably, shifting in place as he considered what the others had said about the child.

"I think you're forgetting who it is that's down there, and what her line is." Xander said softly, then smiled wryly, "Her family has a thing for sinners, you know."

Jackie glared over at him, "Keep it up, smart guy... You don't have your glowing armor on right now, so you really want to match yourself against me?"

Xander just smiled slightly, "Not tonight, Jackie boy. It's Christmas, Peace on Earth don't you know?"

Jackie laughed softly, nodded, "Good will to men and all that rot."

"This is an... important day, Jackie. And you were here for it. They're going to remember tonight for a long time, I think." Xander said, "The Community will, at least."

Jackie Estacado nodded, almost reluctantly. "I have to say, I'm surprised that I'm the one here. I would have expected Sarah or some other do gooder in my place."

"Three do gooders, one sinner," Xander shrugged, "Got to have some balance in the world."

"Three to one hardly seems balanced." Jackie told him dryly.

"Well, there were a couple stoners you can have on your side if you want."

"Those two?" Jackie asked in disgust. "Don't do me any favors."

The dawn was rising when they watched the party break up, a flying craft appearing from thin air as it descended to the ground and the black sports car drove up and into it.

Isaiah White grimaced, then looked over at his driver. "A girl you say?"

The Driver nodded.

"Perfect. And you marked her?"

"I think so."

"You think?" Isaiah glared.

"There was a heavy wash of magic down there," the driver shook his head, "I don't know what it'll do to the mark."

"What are you doing?"

The driver finished sketching something, then passed it over to Isaiah, "she's going to be wearing this..."

Isaiah white looked at the unique cross, noting the fact that it appeared to shine, even in the simple sketch, and nodded. "Alright. Let's go."

"After all," He said, as the car drove off. "We have thirteen years or so to find her before she's of any use to us. We can scour the world in that kind of time."

Prosperity, Arizona

The Orca slowly lowered into the abandoned section of the old gold mine, settling onto the pad laid there for it and disgorged it's contents.

The black Viper roared out into the night and headed quickly into town where it stopped at a nice home just outside of town and came to a stop.

"We're here."


"Your home, if you want it." Xander said, looking over at Bethany.

She looked up at the large house and blinked, "Are you serious?"

"It's a nice town, good school. We know the local sheriff, and the people are good folk," Xander said, "My people helped them out with a bug problem a little while back, and since then we've been using the town as a place to rest. There's almost no supernatural presence here, other than us... You'll be safe here."

"I need... I need work, I have to..."

"We'll get you started." Xander promised her. "Let me get you inside for now anyway. You can decide later... you need to rest, and be checked out. I'll call the local doc."

Bethany laughed wryly, "He makes house calls?"

"It's a good town." Xander smiled.

Later, with Bethany sleeping upstairs, Xander put a call through the Avalon.


"Miss Price, I have a job for you. A new Principle."

"Who?" The voice sharpened, frowning. "And why? I've been protecting you and Mr Whitmore when you handle diplomatic missions... Did I mess up?"

"No. Not at all." Xander said with a smile. "This is a promotion, though you may not understand it right away. I need a mother and child watched over, from a distance. Discreet protection."

"How old is the child?"


"That's easier. What kind of team?"

"You pick. Unlimited budget." Xander said simply.



"I'll have a team on site within 12 hours, and a full requisition form filed within 24."

"I'll be seeing you, Andrea."

Xander closed the link and sat back, a chill crawling up his back as he felt a presence in the room. He smiled, "Still no blazing glory, Met-man?"

Metatron grimaced, but shook his head, "I think not. Last time I tried that around you, I got shot. Last time I tried it around Bethany, I got hosed down with fire retardant chemicals. Frankly, I'm sick of it."

Xander chuckled softly.

"Oh, I'm sure it's funny for you, but it's bloody well humiliating for me isn't it?"

Xander just shrugged.

"Fine. You know you can't protect them from everything, don't you?"

"I'm not going to protect them from very much of anything," Xander said. "But God alone will be able to help the kidnapper, molester, or demon that goes near these two."

"Yes well, she might but I doubt it," Metatron shrugged.

Xander smiled wryly, "You know, I've actually read the book of revelations. This isn't precisely a... comfortable development from my perspective, you know."

"Is there a question in there somewhere?"

"Yeah, are we at the end?"

Metatron nodded, "Oh yes. Yes we certainly are that."

The End


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