The Kitten, the Witches and the Bad Wardrobe - Willow & Tara Forever

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 Post subject: Sins of the Children (Updated 24th May 2009)
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:16 pm 
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Title: Sins of the Children

Author: Paul aka Darth Pacula

Distribution: Knock yourself out, just ask first. ( That means yes if you're not sure )

Feedback: Go nuts. The more the merrier. Unless you're all wanting to roast me at the stake that is. Then, less is more.

Disclaimers: I own diddly squat, except the original characters, and the setting, which are products of my own deranged imagination.

Summary: It's been two years since the warlock Nameless haunted their lives, but Willow and Tara are about to find out that the many sins of their dead son cast a long, and pervasive shadow.

Rating: PG-13, maybe R at times for a touch of violence.

A/N: This is the sequel to 'At Any Cost', so if you havent' read that, this might not make a whole lot of sense. But then again, it might do that even if you have read it. :p

Thoughts are in italics.

**********

Part 1.

From the diary of Katie Davis -

Dear Diary,

It's been more than two years now since Timothy died, and I still dream about him sometimes. Other ten year old girls dream about ... I dunno, normal stuff I guess. Ponies, clothes. Their latest crushes. As if any of us know anything about romance! Please! They're just copying adults, trying to play at being grown ups.

Me? I had to grow up two years ago, when ...you know. God! I feel so lame writing this! What am I supposed to be, the narrator for my own life? As if! But Tara suggested that it might help me, I dunno, deal with stuff I guess. She promised that she'd never read it, and made Willow promise the same thing. Tara, I trust. Willow? Well, let's just say that she's the reason I hide you, Diary.

Hah! Would you look at this?! I'm talking to my own diary! Still, that's hardly the strangest thing going on in this house. How can it be, when I live with two gay witches in the house given to them by their impossible, time-traveling son?! Not to mention the vampire-slayer who lives across the street!

Whatever, it's cool. So, where was I? Oh yeah, Timothy. Or Nameless as he called himself. I still dream about him, even more than I dream about the vampires that .... you know. Those dreams, I hate them, just like I hate all bloodsuckers. One day, when they finally realize I'm old enough, I'm gonna help Willow and Tara kill them. Vampires, I mean. But at the moment, every time I even bring it up, Willow just about starts hyperventilating! What a goof ball, right?

Yeah, but Timothy. He saved me from the vampires, and he killed them all. Don't get me wrong, I don't have like a crush on him or anything. I mean c'mon! He's even older than Willow and Tara, weird as that might be, and seriously messed up. He's a mean, snarky jerk ... not to mention the whole dead thing.

It's weird (yeah, like none of the rest of this is!) but ... it's like he's not really dead. When I dream about him, it's like he's talking to me. It's like he's still watching us. Which is ridiculous, right? If Timothy could've brought people back from the dead, he never would've done what he did.

Today would have been his birthday. I know that, because it's the baby's birthday, and the baby is him. Sorta. Most pregnant women, they have a rough idea of when they'll have the baby. Willow, she had the exact date and time, down to the second. Willow being Willow, she had her doubts. She went on about all this stuff about randomness, chaos theory and causality ... but in the end, the baby came exactly when Timothy's notes said it would.

Which made it that much stranger when he turned out to be a she.

I wasn't there (kids aren't allowed in the delivery rooms, jerks!) but Tara always laughs when she tells how Willow actually had an argument with her own doctor, because she didn't believe she'd had a girl rather than a boy. Kinda ironic, right? When Willow's all about the girl-love ...

I can't believe I just wrote that! I'm actually blushing!

Yeah, so anyway. Timothy was actually Chloe, Chloe Joyce Rosenberg-Maclay. How's that for a mouthful, am I right?

So, in a way, Timothy isn't dead, he's just had a sex change. (I crack myself up sometimes) But there's still a dead body in that isolated grave that the Scoobies dug, and Timothy's still dead, so I still remember him. The others don't talk about him much.

Tara and Willow, they prefer to focus on their living kid, I guess ... kids I suppose, if I count myself. I think Buffy still feels guilty, cuz she was the one who actually killed Timothy. I don't blame her though. I think she expected me to, that's why for a long time they never told me how he died. But in the end, I know she was played, just like he played everyone else.

See? Jerk, like I said.

But he did save my life, so I still remember him. I still visit his grave, alone out there in the woods. I know at least some of the others do too, because there's flowers there whenever I go. I -

**********

“Katie!”

The sound of Tara's voice, harassed and mildly desperate, make Katie look up from her desk and her open diary, her pen resting frozen upon the page.

“Yes?” she called back, hoping that this was just an attempt to determine her presence inside.

“Can you come down and give us a hand?” was the inevitable reply. So much for that hope, thought Katie with a wry grin.

Yelling out a resigned acknowledgment, Katie finished scribbling a last few words in her diary and, with a furtive inspection to determine that she wasn't being watched, returned the book to its hiding place behind the bottom drawer of her bedside table.

She didn't seriously think that Willow would violate her privacy, but she'd seen firsthand her foster-mother's thirst for knowledge, and had decided to try and keep Willow from out the path of temptation. When it came to Katie herself, at least. When it came to Tara, there was no force strong enough in the universe to counter that temptation.

Once her diary was secreted away, Katie slowly trudged downstairs, operating on the hope that whatever task Tara wanted her assistance in might be completed before she arrived. Katie wasn't especially lazy per say, but for the last few months she been projecting that image on the grounds that she was nearly a teenager, and it was past due time for her to muck up just a little.

The house where Katie lived with Willow, Tara and Chloe was, as she'd noted in her diary, the same house where Timothy had lived, using the alias of Timothy Garner to spy upon his mothers and their friends. Two stories high, and comfortably large for a family of four, their home differed only slightly from all the others in the neighborhood.

On the outside at least. On the inside was an entirely different matter indeed. Most of the house wasn't that unusual, if you ignored all of the cunning hiding places that had been added to virtually every room to store a variety of esoteric weaponry. The real difference lay in the basement, which had been the proper lair of the warlock who had called himself Nameless.

Most people in Sunnydale used their basements for the storage of various odds and ends, like Christmas ornaments, old clothes and the like. Willow and Tara instead inherited a rabbit's warren of tunnels and chambers, magically burrowed out the ground as if by a giant gopher. The greater part of Nameless' wealth still resided there, in the form of countless artifacts and weapons, obscure machines and vast collections of magical lore. Katie still remembered with a smile Mr Giles' almost indecent glee at the knowledge contained within.

But for the most part, Tara kept the basement securely locked. She said it was because they didn't know what potentially dangerous items might lie within, but Katie had the feeling that it was a more emotional and personal reason that kept Tara out. More than any other place in the house, the basement remained Nameless' domain, and his presence, for lack of a better word, remained strongest there.

“There you are!” muttered Tara in good-natured exasperation as Katie finally slunk into the lounge room. The room currently resembled the site of an explosion, if the bomb largely consisted of party streamers, confetti and silly string. Katie raised both eyebrows in amazement at the sight.

“Having fun are we?” she quipped.

“Nonono, sweetheart! Don't do that!” begged Willow hopefully, and Katie turned to find her other foster mother crouching over the perpetrator of such chaos. Chloe Rosenberg-Maclay, two years old today, sat happily in the middle of the floor, red-gold locks run through with a riot of multicolored confetti, a cannister of silly string clutched possessively in her pudgy little hands. And it was aimed directly at her mother.

“Momo!” Chloe cheerfully burbled, and opened fire. Willow straightened with as much dignity as she could muster, which wasn't much when her entire face was plastered with silly string, and glared at her partner, who was regarding the scene with gentle good humor from the safety of the other side of the room.

Tara replied with a shrug and a look that clearly said, 'She's your daughter'.

Willow turned to Katie with a smile so manufactured that Katie knew exactly what was coming. “Katie, sweetie,” she asked as she attempted to wipe her face clean, “How would you like to do me a massive favor?”

“Let me guess,” Katie drawled, “You want me to mind the terrorist while you two finish up the decorations?”

“Would you?” Willow blurted hopefully as Chloe coated her mother's nearest leg with a burst of silly string.

Katie shrugged. “Disarm her, and you've got a deal,” she countered. In a display of strange synchronization, both Katie's and Willow's heads turned as one to face Tara, girl and woman alike wearing pleading expressions. The subject of their focus sighed mightily.

“I don't see why I always have to be the bad cop,” Tara muttered beneath her breath, but she still abandoned her work on the far side of the room, and moved to confront her errant daughter.

“She listens to you,” declared Willow helpfully. Her comment was only really helpful in that it suggested that Willow herself didn't need to do anything.

“We all do,” added Katie, struggling to keep a straight face. The single crooked eyebrow Tara directed in her direction told Katie it had been a forlorn hope. A similar expression was aimed at Willow also, promising a much more in depth discussion at a later period, then Tara was bending down.

“Mama!” Chloe brightly greeted her other mother, and opened fire again.

**********

As Katie escorted her foster-sister out of the room, fighting back the urge to laugh at both of her foster mothers, something followed her.

It was not a corporeal being, this presence, not at the present anyway. Nor was it in any way visible, or detectable by any conventional means. Neither Willow nor Tara sensed any trace of this entity, despite the fact that it had been spying on them almost constantly for more than two years now.

Invisible and intangible, it floated after the two children, a swollen, formless cloud of focused, dispassionate malevolence. It watched over them as they moved from lounge room to dining room, it brooded high in a corner as Katie sat down to watch as Chloe busied herself with a pile of toy bricks.

Whispers trickled through the air of another sphere of reality, undetectable to any ear, natural or supernatural. The entity communicated with its fellows, hours worth of discussion flickering past in mere seconds. A consensus was reached. A decision was made.

A featherlight touch upon the recesses' of Katie's mind provided a moment's distraction that Katie would never realize came from an outside source. A similar touch upon Chloe made her loose interest in her blocks, and toddle alone down the polished corridor towards the kitchen. A third and final touch disengaged the locks on the door leading down into the basement.

The magic naturally present in Chloe's blood, responding to the resonant echo of sympathetic magics emanating from below, did the rest, luring the innocent toddler down into the former of lair of her alternate self.

The lair of the self-proclaimed monster, Nameless.

To be continued ...

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Last edited by Darth Pacula on Sat May 23, 2009 6:40 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:27 am 
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Oh! I loved the prequal! Time to read the next one. Yay!

So, after reading this chapter, I realized I'm gonna have to refresh my memory. Not a problem though, seeing as I'm always up for re-reading great fics. Can't wait for this sequal to get updated ;-)

~Sara

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:12 am 
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Yay! Sequel time! I thought the part about Timothy having a sex change was amusing. Heh. What's this?! Unknown entities?! And they're planning something with little Chloe it seems! *Must read more*

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Tara ended up next to Oz in the elevator. He looked at her, nodding to himself.
"What?" She asked.
"You look good. Kinda radiant."
Tara nodded. "I was resurrected a few days ago."
Oz arched an eyebrow. "That'll do it."
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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:22 am 
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okay... so speaking as "naughty person" having not actually finished At Any Cost in its entirety (I know... like I said, naughty... but in my defense I plan to finish it. *grin* ) I slipped right into this sequel without missing a beat (yes, you are perfection, Paul, this we know. :D ) So Timothy was Nameless!!?? wow.... I never would have guessed that. (must hurry to finish At Any Cost 'cos as intrigued as I was with that story before, I'm even more intrigued now)

Okay so... how adorable is Chloe?? SoooOooo adorable. And this Katie is great. Who is she? (man I really need to finish AAC :lol )

You've hooked me, Paul! Can't wait for the next chap!

xoxo
Emms

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:30 am 
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:pinky Yes a sequel thanks Paul your the greatest time to hold on to my seat again right :bigwave

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:07 am 
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Oh Boy! Sequal -- HOORAY!!

At Any Cost kept me on the edge of my seat with every update, and I already see that this one is going to do the same.

Ooh, eerie feeling about cute little Chloe being lured to the lair. Can't wait to see what's next!

Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:14 am 
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Yay, you did it!
Gee, Katie is bratty :D But hey, the title of the story has to mean something right?
Quote:
But at the moment, every time I even bring it up, Willow just about starts hyperventilating! What a goof ball, right?

Haha, yeah.
Quote:
When I dream about him, it's like he's talking to me.

You know, that doesnt sound too good.
Quote:
Timothy was actually Chloe.

That actually explains a lot :pinky Got me wondering if his protection spell did something else than just protecting... just kidding!
Quote:
“You want me to mind the terrorist while you two finish up the decorations?”

There is a reason they call it Terrible Two's.
When can we expect the next update ;)?

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:48 am 
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Oh my freakin' god! How did I fail to realize that you hd posted a sequel?!

yay!!!

I *love* Katie as the narrator -- I don't know if you plan to continue it that way but it really kind of channels Dawn in a way and I found myself really enjoying it and kind of looking at the ways that the scoobies had shaped young Katie.

Ooooh and Chloe is adorable with the silly string! All mischeivious and Willow like.

Plus, Willow arguing with the doctors made me giggle!

I love the start and, you know I'm just going to keep on reading!

Hats off to your evil onion-ness.

db

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:52 am 
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I just went in for a visit, and found this sequel. Just had to read it. :smug

The interaction is great, as always.
Willow and Tara have left the scooby house and started their family? Both good and sad, that house will always be the core for the W and T I remember.

And that prescence, now what can it be? Surely not the First, but one never know these days, and these stories. I'm anxious to find out what will happen with Chloe.

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:33 pm 
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G'day Kittens!

Now, I meant to post this a few days ago, but I let myself be carried away by other things ... like my shiney new computer arriving. :grin

Anyhoo, on to replies!

-----

tazraven - G'day Sara! Yep, it's sequel time!

I'm not surprised that you had to refresh your memory. 'At Any Cost' was a fair size, and I did let three months pass, to my everlasting shame. I never meant to procrastinate for that long.

-----

EndlessDestiny - G'day ED! Yep, it's sequel ... wait, that sounds familiar ... :p

I suppose I could have strung out that Chloe was a girl rather than a boy, but her name's pretty much a giveaway, wouldn't you say? :grin

As for the 'Unknown Entities' and their plan for Chloe, well, they're unknown to the Scoobies, but I'll give you a hint. They did appear at the end of 'At Any Cost'. :devil

And please do read more! :grin

-----

Emms - G'day Emms! You, naughty? Never! :p Well how naughty am I? I'm behind on feedback for a least a couple of your stories.

So, lets see ... yes, Timothy was Nameless, Chloe is adorable, and Katie was a young girl grudingly rescued by Nameless from vampires and entrusted to Willow and Tara's care ... as you would know, if you'd finished AAC. :p

-----

Dianneswillowtree - G'day Dianneswillowtree! Yeesh, that's a bit of a mouthful ... mind if I call you Diane from here on out?

Now, I wouldn't exactly call myself the greatest; my ego isn't quite that overblown :p, but thank you.

-----

wimpy0729 - G'day Wimpy! Thanks, I hope I can maintain seat-edge holdage for you. Cheers!

-----

WillowRulez - G'day WillowRulez! Oh my, yes, the title does mean something. But Timothy is one of W&T's kids too, so whose sins do you think are more likely to cause problems? :devil

The next update is coming up shortly. Until I've got all the chapters prewritten, I'll aim for a weekly update schedule, but after they run out it'll probably stretch out to a fortnighty schedule at best.

-----

db - Oh my freakin' god, I don't know! :p

Katie as narrator probably won't stretch for too long, I'm afraid. But I'm glad you're enjoying it while it lasts. You never know, I'm open to changing things on the fly. (A point in case, originally, Katie wasn't even going to be a recurring character. But she elicited a reaction, so she stuck around! :grin)

Here, have your hat back! :p

-----

Darkness - G'day Darkness!

Yes, they've left the Scooby house, as you put it, but they haven't gone far ... just across the street! :grin And the way I envisage it, all the Scoobies would be popping in and out on a regular basis.

The presence is definitely not the First; it's actually one of those three schemers from the end of AAC.

-----

Cheers Kittens!

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:35 pm 
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All disclaimers apply.

Part 2.

Katie blinked, and for a brief second she was confused to find herself leaning against the door jamb leading into the lounge room, contentedly watching her foster parents decorate for Chloe's birthday party. But she discarded that faint sliver of unease with a shrug, and turned to check on her young charge.

Who was distinctly not there.

Oh crap! she thought guiltily, and couldn't restrain herself from turning to see if Willow or Tara had noticed her reaction. They hadn't, and for a moment Katie wrestled with the idea of telling them straight off that she'd ... lost their only daughter. Am I out of my freakin' mind?!

Katie sidled out of view as nonchalantly as she could manage, but once her foster parents were out of view her movements became much more frantic as she quickly, but quietly, searched the room. To no avail; unless Chloe had suddenly mastered the ability to render herself invisible, she wasn't here.

That idle thought gave Katie pause. Thus far, Chloe hadn't given any sign of the magical ability that her male alternate had so thoroughly mastered. But that didn't mean that she wasn't capable; if Chloe was going to possess the same level of power that Timothy had, it might take a few years to manifest itself.

Katie knew that the idea troubled Chloe's parents. Willow and Tara were no slouches in the magical department themselves, but she gathered that they would greatly prefer their daughter to have as normal a life as Chloe possibly could. Personally, Katie couldn't think of a much worse idea than giving a two year old immense magical powers. It had the potential to give a whole new meaning to the terrible twos.

But even if that was the case, Katie doubted that Chloe could have made herself invisible. A much more likely prospect was that the adventurous toddler had simply wandered off while Katie had been distracted.

Then she saw the open basement door, looming in the corridor like the mouth of some great, hungry beast, and her reaction was audible this time.

“Oh crap.”

**********

Chloe Rosenberg-Maclay burbled happily to herself as she walked down the length of the main room of the basement. Benches and work-tables loomed to either side, looming over her like monoliths of a long forgotten race. Her eyes darted to and fro, eager to drink in every last detail they could find.

Momo and Mama had never let her come down here, no matter how many times something down here had called to her. Which, of course, had just strengthened the allure this forbidden room held for Chloe. That her mothers might have a perfectly valid reason for keeping her out had never even occurred to Chloe's still developing mind.

All she needed to know was that she was fascinated with lay down here, though she didn't know what it was that fascinated her so. But there was something here, and it called to Chloe, called to her with a siren call that was beyond the young girl's ability to resist.

The light switch at the top of the staircase leading down into the basement had been considerably beyond Chloe's reach, so by rights the basement should have been couched in darkness, since what few small windows there were had long since been painted and boarded over. But that wasn't the case; as soon as she had entered the room a number of crystal formations set directly into the walls, floor and roof had begun to emit a powerful azure glow, not unlike the color of Chloe's own eyes.

These arcane lights followed Chloe's progress, blossoming to life as she drew near, and fading into darkness as she passed, an escorting procession of pure light. Behind her, there was only impenetrable darkness.

She was wandering blindly, guided by what appeared to be random chance, but what was actually subtle manipulation. In much the same fashion that Warren Mears had once been slightly nudged to fire a wild, fatal shot; that the mind of a grief-stricken woman was turned towards the idea of vengeance; that an intoxicated man stepped on the accelerator rather than the brake at a red light; that a troubled teenager was turned onto a path of murder, insanity and revenge; Chloe Rosenberg was ushered towards the instrument of her own doom.

That doom came in a most unassuming form. Deep within the maze of tunnels Nameless had dug through soil and rock alike, it lay amongst a pile of clutter, jumbled together with a mess of artifacts. Pole-arms, gleaming, murderous steel atop a shaft of glimmering wood, lay beside empty tomes of leather-bound parchment. Amulets lay tangled with dark jewelery, both pregnant with somnolent dark magic awaiting the call to burn and char the unwary.

The doom was none of these things, for Chloe rooted through this dross with no more result than if she had been rooting through the decorated toy chest carved for her by Xander Harris, though a displaced pole-arm might have decapitated her if it had fallen in a different direction. The doom lay at the center of the pile, innocuous and anonymous; a simple, unpolished sphere of plain steel, plain and unremarkable, but Chloe regarded it with amazement and delight. Something within the sphere was calling to her, singing to her, begging her to touch it.

So she did.

**********

Reality rippled, a pond surface disturbed by a falling rock.

**********

Far away from the world humanity called Earth, there was a place where the skies burned, and life was exceedingly cheap. In this place lay a device; a complex, chaotic matrix of burnished geometric shapes mounted on golden rods and wires that danced about each other in constant, impossible patterns.

This device awoke. And it screamed.

**********

“What was that?” asked Willow and Tara in perfect harmony, looking back at each other from opposite sides of the room.

A second presence hovered above them now, a twin to that surveilling Chloe like an invisible Pied Piper. It could not remove the memory of the event from the witches mind, nor disarm the sense of alarm it instinctualy stirred within both women. Nor would it, even if the entity were capable; their plans depended upon anonymity, on complete ignorance of their involvement, and even their very existence.

What it could do was redirect that alarm, divert it from the supernatural to the natural.

“Was that an earthquake?” asked Tara, her brow slightly furrowed. For the briefest of moments, she felt ... off, as if that wasn't what she had originally intended to say.

Willow shrugged, her face revealing that she didn't share her lover's unease; unlike Tara, the redhead was much more comfortable following her head than her instincts. “Wasn't a very big one,” she judged with a born Californian's blasé acceptance regarding minor earthquakes.

But something in Tara wouldn't let her let it go. “Katie?” she called out, “Chloe?”

There was no answer.

**********

Katie breathed a sigh of relief as she found Chloe standing in the main chamber of the basement, staring quizzically at a metal sphere she held in one hand. Swooping like a hawk, she scooped Chloe up in her arms and reached for the sphere.

Chloe let the sphere go without a struggle, and blinked as it was removed from her hand, as if awakened from a deep sleep. Spotting Katie, Chloe wrapped her arms about the older girl's neck in a spontaneous hug.

“Kat!” she greeted enthusiastically.

“You shouldn't play with this stuff, Chloe,” Katie insisted, tossing the sphere idly onto the nearest workbench. “You never know what it's gonna do. You could have blown us all up.”

Scurrying upstairs, Katie flicked the light off and hurriedly shut the door. Just in time, for Tara stepped around the corner just after the door latch slipped home. She looked relieved at the sight of the two young girls, and Katie gave her foster mother a guilty smile.

It was the wrong move, for Tara recognized Katie's smile for the sign of guilt it was. The blonde's eyes, the exact same color as her biologically impossible daughter, narrowed intently and Katie gulped.

“What have you two been up to?” Tara asked, crooking one eyebrow wryly.

“Umm ...” Katie stalled.

Tara sighed, believing she'd identified the source of Katie's guilty expression. “Have you been sneaking junk food out of the fridge again?”

Katie grabbed at the lesser infraction like a life raft, but tried to keep her relief low key so that she wouldn't give the game away. “Who, me?” she blurted, trying to project an air of abject innocence, and given no reason to doubt her initial suspicion, Tara took the bait.

“You'll spoil your dinner,” Tara announced, shaking her head, despite the fact that both Tara and Katie knew that was highly unlikely, for Katie had a prodigious appetite.

Unseen and unnoticed, two entities departed, their work down for now. The latest step of their plans was now set in action.

**********

A figure hurried down a vast antechamber, booted footsteps echoing like gunshots beneath a roof so high that it was shrouded in impenetrable gloom. The walls were not visible at all. Great fluted columns of polished stone, jet black flecked with crimson, bestrode the figure's path like the legs of attendant giants, each twice the thickness of a man. Other figures in spiked, segmented armor lined the path, unnaturally motionless, bladed staffs of black steel held at attention. Each one stood in a pool of light, cast by glowing crystals that hung in the air without any sign of support.

The hurrying figure itself was garbed in voluminous robes of blood-red, face concealed beneath a hood. Its body was disturbingly tall and thin, like a humanoid stick insect stretched to nearly eight feet tall. Its knees bent back the wrong way as it ran.

As it approached a massive door worked in burnished brass, the figure warbled a command in a wet, phlegmy voice. Two of the armored guards rapped the butts of their staffs against the flagstones of the floor in perfect concert, and the door obediently swung open in perfect, eerie silence. The robed figure scurried through into a smaller chamber.

This new chamber blazed with a golden light as glorious as the antechamber had been bleak. But while this light seemed bright and cheerful upon entry, as time passed its nature began to change. It became hot and hungry, ravenously so, as if you stood within the heart of a fire. The light had no visible source, for the room was empty but for two things; the squat, elaborate throne worked in of pure silver, and the demon who sat brooding upon it, forked chin resting upon a many fingered hand.

This demon was tall, if not so tall as its servant, and well built, with skin that gleamed with the color of pure gold. Though basically humanoid in shape, it was obviously not human, but still possessed a kind of unearthly beauty. A long face was couched in subtle, solemn sorrow, long borne without complaint. Long, fine white hair fell from the back of its skull, pulled back behind ears that were pointed at both tip and lobe. A loose robe of white fabric was wrapped around it.

The hooded figure drew to a halt before the demon, trembling in excitement. When it spoke, it was not in any human language.

“My lord! We have him! At last, we have found the spoor of the Nameless!”

The demon looked up sharply, and smiled with a mouth filled with sharp, pointed teeth, like a shark.

“Bring the traitor to me,” commanded the demon, rising to its feet, “And slaughter any who get in your way. The Nameless shall finally answer for his treachery.”

**********

And much closer to Sunnydale, somewhere in total, abysmal darkness, a single burning eye flared open, blazing with an incandescent, all-consuming rage. Its owner screamed, voice echoing within a tightly confined area, and there was nothing whatsoever human in that agonized wail.

To be continued ...

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:00 am 
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PAULIE!!! An update!! *Swoon*

Ahhh I was so scared for little clhoe with the whole being lured to her doom thing-y you were cooking up...

Paul, you have a flavor of Stephen King in your writing style... only much, much better. This part in particular made me think of something the king of horror would write:

Quote:
The light switch at the top of the staircase leading down into the basement had been considerably beyond Chloe's reach, so by rights the basement should have been couched in darkness, since what few small windows there were had long since been painted and boarded over. But that wasn't the case; as soon as she had entered the room a number of crystal formations set directly into the walls, floor and roof had begun to emit a powerful azure glow, not unlike the color of Chloe's own eyes.

These arcane lights followed Chloe's progress, blossoming to life as she drew near, and fading into darkness as she passed, an escorting procession of pure light. Behind her, there was only impenetrable darkness.


but mostly this:

Quote:
Far away from the world humanity called Earth, there was a place where the skies burned, and life was exceedingly cheap. In this place lay a device; a complex, chaotic matrix of burnished geometric shapes mounted on golden rods and wires that danced about each other in constant, impossible patterns.

This device awoke. And it screamed.


That is sooo good, Paul!

can't wait for the next chapter!!

xoxo
Emms

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:48 am 
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:pinky Paul please feel free to call me Dianne ;-) Why is it when you write I end up holding my breath alot :hmm As always holding on and enjoying the ride :kdevil

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:52 am 
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Ooooooh. Curiouser and curiouser. Ok, so about a paragraph in, I slapped my forehead (literally) and yelled out Oh! scaring my girlfriend in the process, hehe. I suddenly remembered who Katie was and actually everything from the story came back to me. Anyways, great chapter Paul. I love your writing and everything so far is just making me even more intrigued. Loved this bit.

Quote:
Personally, Katie couldn't think of a much worse idea than giving a two year old immense magical powers. It had the potential to give a whole new meaning to the terrible twos.


and this...

Quote:
She was wandering blindly, guided by what appeared to be random chance, but what was actually subtle manipulation. In much the same fashion that Warren Mears had once been slightly nudged to fire a wild, fatal shot; that the mind of a grief-stricken woman was turned towards the idea of vengeance; that an intoxicated man stepped on the accelerator rather than the brake at a red light; that a troubled teenager was turned onto a path of murder, insanity and revenge; Chloe Rosenberg was ushered towards the instrument of her own doom.


and this...

Quote:
“Have you been sneaking junk food out of the fridge again?”


I know they're all exceedingly different quotes, but you're writing just makes me so happy, I had to include some of my favorite bits. That paragraph about Chloe walking towards the object that called to her, just amazing. Your descriptions, the story line, the characters. I'm not sure I can gush enough. Awesome Paul. "Til next time.

~Sara

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:56 am 
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gosh.

I have absolutely nothing to say, no speculation not even a garbled word. I am totally transfixed, but I have no idea with what.

You've gone and rendered me (practically) speachless.

whoa.

(I heart chloe)

db

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:26 pm 
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Quote:
“Bring the traitor to me,” commanded the demon, rising to its feet, “And slaughter any who get in your way. The Nameless shall finally answer for his treachery.”

Oh boy, that doesnt sound too good :D
Can't believe Tara fell for that :rofl
Great update!

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:41 am 
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Wow, another spine tingling update.

Okay, some relief knowing that Chloe is okay (for now), then all the other ominous stuff going on. Now I'm actually worried for Nameless (Timothy/Chloe?) I'm so confuzzled, and again, on the edge of my seat.

Amazing job!

Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:57 pm 
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More awesomeness. This device sounds very interesting...and dangerous. I love the wording you used for that part. *Hoping for an update soon* :pray

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Tara ended up next to Oz in the elevator. He looked at her, nodding to himself.
"What?" She asked.
"You look good. Kinda radiant."
Tara nodded. "I was resurrected a few days ago."
Oz arched an eyebrow. "That'll do it."
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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 1:07 pm 
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Heya Dartho!

Oh, god, here I was waiting for the sequel to At Any Cost and now I find out it's been posted since march and part 2 is already released! I missed it completely. (sigh) I *hate* tax-season. Working the files for the fraud department is cool work, but it's murder at tax-season. At least now my life can settle for a bit of normality (and for the playing of Oblivion). But enough about my woes. Time to get on with the story.

Hehehe, like the little detail of Katie's Diary. Tara, indeed, is trustworthy, but I can see Willow tearing the house apart trying to find it. ;)

Uh? Chloe?! Uh-oh... this isn't paradox-time, isn't it? Temporal Paradoxes make Captain Picard cry! :D

Chloe bombarded both her own mothers with silly string?! Ah, so young and already prime material as a heart-less commando for Brotherhood of Nod. :D

Oh, dear... what kind of insanity-driven chaotic devices has our little Chloe inadvertedly set in motion. Like the great Stephen Hawking once said : "Great... the universe is destroyed..."

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:46 pm 
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Emms - Cool! I induced swoonage! :p

Hmm ... a comparison to Steven King? Does this mean I can have half his money? :grin

Wait no more, Sir Emmy-pants! The next chapter is nigh!

-----

Dianneswillowtree - G'day Dianne! Why do I induce breath-holding? Dunno. It's certainly not because I'm attempting to take over the world by making everyone pass out from lack of oxygen. No siree bob .... ;-)

-----

tazraven - G'day Sara! See? That's you needed to remember; a mild dose of head trauma. Now why didn't I suggest that? :p

Feel free to gush all you like, it certainly doesn't hurt my ego. :grin

-----

db -
Quote:
gosh.

I have absolutely nothing to say, no speculation not even a garbled word. I am totally transfixed, but I have no idea with what.

You've gone and rendered me (practically) speachless.


Transfixed, hmmm. :devil You are in my power! Bwhaa haa haa! :p

-----

WillowRulez - Doesn't sound too good? Oh, you have no idea! :devil Cheers!

-----

wimpy0729 - Confuzzled huh ... I'll take that. :grin

Oh, and that feeling of relief? Get ready to kiss it bye-bye! :devil

-----

EndlessDestiny - Thanks! Soon enough for ya? :grin

-----

Useful_Oxymoron - G'day UO! Good to see you back! Don't worry about being a little bit late. I cringe every time I think about how far behind on all my feedback I am.

Paradox time? With time-travelling warlocks? Nah ... never! :grin

Quote:
Chloe bombarded both her own mothers with silly string?! Ah, so young and already prime material as a heart-less commando for Brotherhood of Nod.


:rofl

I wouldn't go so far as to suggest universal destruction ... but Chloe has just turned on a certain fan, and oh, what's that coming straight towards it? :p

Good to have you back, mate!

-----

Cheers,
Paul.

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 5th April)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:46 pm 
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All disclaimers apply.

~~~~~~

Part 3.

The guest of honor was wearing what was currently her favorite outfit, consisting of a sparkle-y confection of a pink dress, a set of frequently broken gossamer wings ... and a thick faux fur hat with heavy ear flaps. Willow had no idea where that moth ridden monstrosity of a hat had come from. She knew she'd never bought it, and neither would Tara. Some people might describe their fashion sense as ... eccentric, but even they drew a line somewhere.

But Chloe refused to be parted with it. Willow had tried reasoning with her daughter, but that had soon devolved into outright pleading. It wasn't easy to use logic with a stubborn two year old, especially one who seemed to have inherited Willow's own patented resolve face.

Willow had brought her case to a higher authority, but even Tara hadn't been able to persuade their daughter to relinquish her hat. So, in the end, they'd had no choice but to let Chloe wear what she liked to her party.

Chloe was now firmly ensconced in the center of the living room, thoroughly enjoying being the center of attention. Currently, it was Buffy and Dawn who were competing for Chloe's undivided attention, arguing over whose present should be opened first. The rest of the Scoobies had already had their turns wishing Chloe a happy birthday, and were scattered in small clusters about the room.

Tara and Willow's time spent decorating hadn't been wasted; their living room was now a riot of color, and a testament to the inventive use of streamers. A long folding table had been set up against one wall, and was laden with food and drink.

Strangely enough, there were few children at what was supposed to be a child's birthday party. Besides Katie and the birthday girl herself, everyone else was an adult. Chloe didn't really have any friends her own age. It was a strange fact, but how bright, happy and outgoing Chloe was when surrounded by members of her extended family was in direct inverse proportion to how she acted around others.

It was remarkable to see; the transition from bubbly and vivacious toddler to quiet and withdrawn loner was virtually instantaneous. And it broke both her mothers' hearts whenever they saw it. Both women's pasts held more than their own share of social insecurities, and they hated to think their daughter might share that fate.

But Chloe's social difficulties weren't the only reason. By virtue of nothing less than who they were, every member of the Scoobies was exposed to frequent danger. It was a simple fact that danger sometimes spilled over onto the people around them, and Tara was loathe expose any other children to that.

Tara knew that she was being overly cautious, possibly even neurotic, which was normally Willow's department, but she couldn't help it. She knew how she would feel if anything happened to Chloe, and wouldn't wish that on her worst enemy.

In the end, that meant that the Scoobies were the only ones attending Chloe's party. Willow's parents were a no-show, which wasn't an unusual turn of events; they remained as self-involved as they had been all through Willow's own childhood. Not to mention the fact that Willow suspected they might still have a problem with her having a child out of wedlock ... not to mention the whole lesbian thing.

Willow didn't think her parents had completely accepted having a gay daughter. It wasn't anything they'd ever said, or done. It was more of an impression, but she couldn't shake it, no matter how much Tara told her that she was imagining things.

But right now, that didn't matter, because they were with their family, their real family. They were all safe, and they were all happy.

**********

The fabric of reality quietly screamed, like a small rodent snatched up by a bird of prey, as it ruptured along a vertical line seven feet high. For several moments, the rift was a knife's edge gash in the air, bleeding darkness even darker than the night air.

At the center of the line of the rift, a bulge of pure nothingness formed, in blink of an eye swelling in three dimensions to the size of a grapefruit. It paused there for several moments, pulsing, edges trembling like the limbs of a palsy sufferer. Then it grew again, exponentially, until the bubble reached the full length of the rift.

With a sound like ripping paper the bubble burst, and the rift was a window looking into a very different place. It burned with light, like looking into a furnace, like looking into the veritable cliché of hell itself. The air about the portal shimmered with the ambient heat.

A series of silhouettes loomed on the far side of the portal, indistinct from the intensity of the light source behind them. They moved closer, walking in file until each figure crossed the portal's boundary, one at a time emerging into this reality from their own.

There were eight of them in total, each one tall and inhumanly thin, like victims of starvation who had then been tortured upon the rack. But their fluid movements, full of confidence and strength, made that image a lie.

Wearing heavy robes of a fabric not know upon earth, over sectioned plate armor that gleamed matte black, they looked like militant monks transplanted from the Dark Ages. Each of the figures carried a tall, thick staff. One end swelled out into a smooth, maul-shaped protrusion, while the other featured a claw worked in gold, clutching a teardrop shaped crystal. The inside of these crystals flickered and surged with barely restrained energy.

Forming an outward facing circle, the figures intently studied their environment, staffs held upright at their sides with military precision. They stood in one of Sunnydale's parks, dark and verdant in the warm Californian night. No-one was in sight, and the night was mostly quiet, sounds of human civilization faint on the air.

Satisfied that their arrival was unwitnessed, they turned their formation inwards. One figure, face concealed behind a metal mask worked into a constantly leering expression, stepped forward and barked a command in a tongue not native to Earth.

A second figure raised its arm, and a globe of shimmering azure energy formed above a device like a wristwatch strapped to their forearm. Ghostly images, flickering and indistinct, crackling with static, appeared within this globe. A burning pulse of violet light blinked on and off at one edge of the globe.

Their leader turned, orientating itself along the same axis as indicated by that light, and barked a second command. Marching forward, their formation collapsed and reformed into a wide-spaced wedge with their leader at the point. Their staffs were held high now, and parallel to the ground, aimed with deadly intent as if they were rifles.

They were moving towards Revello Drive, and the house of Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay.

**********

Willow cornered her prey with a triumphant grin and a deft sliding maneuver. Leaning in, she gave her chosen victim a slow, lazy kiss.

After the kiss ended, Tara raised an appreciative eyebrow. “Having fun, sweetie?”

“You better believe it, missy!” Willow replied exuberantly. “And why shouldn't I be? I've got my girl, I've got my kids and I've got my friends, all in one place! Life couldn't be any better!”

“Oh, I don't know,” countered Tara, lowering her eyelashes coquettishly.

Willow all but wriggled like a happy puppy. “Have you got something else up your sleeve baby? Besides your beautiful arms?” she asked. “You have, don't you!”

Tara smiled. “We also have cake.”

**********

He needed something, needed it more than he had ever needed anything in his life. It was almost .... a hunger, an insatiable hunger. But he didn't know what it was. All he knew was that it wasn't here ... wherever here was.

Where am I? he thought. What am I doing here? The last thing I remember is ... nothing. I can't remember anything. I can't even remember who I am!

Everything was dark, impenetrably so. He couldn't even see the nose on his own face. Reaching out with an empty, fluttering hand, he blindly explored his surroundings. Slick, cool fabric, silk or satin. Beneath that was something hard, wood or metal.

Am I ... am I in a coffin?

Claustrophobia flared to life at the realization, and his probing became clawing, hooked fingers ripping and tearing at the walls of his prison. The fabric tore easily enough, and then his nails were scoring grooves into the wood.

Panic blooming, chest heaving spasmodically, he pulled back one hand and punched it upwards. The wood surface cracked and split beneath the blow, and in a desperate frenzy, he lashed out again and again, ignoring the pain as the skin on his knuckles lacerated, and splinters gouged at his flesh.

He had to get out. There was something he needed to do, had to do. The need, the hunger, consumed him.

**********

Tara stood proudly in the doorway, both arms supporting a tremendously oversize birthday cake, all the better to feed the ravenous horde of their friends and family. Home made, it had taken her half the previous day to bake and ice. Willow had tried to help, but her efforts had only served as a reminder to Tara exactly why she tended to do most, if not all of the cooking.

“Tah-dah!” Willow announced theatrically, sweeping her arm out in a wide arc as she stepped aside to reveal Tara and her burden. There was a distinct murmur of appreciation from the Scoobies, underscored by a jubilant cheer from Xander. Tara suspected that she might have to cut off his supply of red cordial before long; Xander was currently almost as hyperactive as the children.

The crowd began to surge forward, and Tara's eyes widened at the thought of being swamped. Pouncing on the opportunity to come to the rescue, Willow leapt into a blocking position and shooed the hungry Scoobies back with fluttering hands.

“Wait your turn!” demanded Willow. She emphasized her command with a dire threat, affecting a faux middle-eastern accent. “Or no cake for you!”

**********

The cadre of demons were clustered in a small stand of trees, half their number kneeling in the center. The other four were positioned one at each of the cardinal directions, looking outwards, on sentry duty.

It was nothing more than a precaution; the demons were magically shielded from detection. A fact illustrated when a middle-aged man walking his dog strolled right past without so much as blinking an eye. Even a Sunnydale native would have reacted if he'd seen them. But the demons set sentries anyway. They were nothing if not cautious.

The four demons who weren't on sentry duty were studying the surface of a brass mirror. Some sort of stark-white sand had been sprinkled on the burnished metal, and as they watched, the minuscule grains formed a rough moving picture. A picture of the inside of Willow and Tara's house.

Several of the figures on the mirror were a different color to the rest, the sand forming their image glowing red, green or violet.

+What are we dealing with, Krassic?+ asked the leader, looking at the demon holding the mirror. It was also the demon wearing the directional device that had led them here.

+Baseline humans for the most part, Lykonus,” replied Krassic in the same language, one long, four-jointed finger indicating the figures the same color as the rest of the sand. Finger moving over the different colored figures, Krassic continued. +But there are a few potential issues.+

+This is a human-world,+ snorted a third demon contemptuously. +How much of a threat could they be to members of the Renai?+

Lykonus, the leader, turned his masked face to face his compatriot that had spoken. Even though his only visible expression was the frozen leer of his mask, disapproving censorship was clearly evident in his body language.

+The Nameless was a human, Dakaan,+ he pointed out, and the third demon, Dakaan, lowered his head in sullen acknowledgment, forced to admit the point. Lykonus indicated for Krassic to continue.

+Primary threat is likely this subject; meta-human, off the chart power levels. The eye suggests speed and strength, physically deadly.+

+Nezku!+ grumbled Dakaan. +I hate meta-humans!+

+That's just because that one meta-human beat you senseless during the Shas Festival,+ teased the fourth demon, sniggering.

Dakaan snarled. +It did not beat me senseless, Zemph!+ he insisted.

+You couldn't stand on your own power, could you?” Zemph taunted. +I can still remember how funny you looked, trying over and over to get back up, but never quite managing it!+

+Why you ...+ Dakaan lunged for his tormentor, but Lykonus intervened, his staff a blur as he bounced it off both demon's heads in quick succession.

+Cease!+ Lykonus sternly ordered. +Soon, we go into battle against the deadliest foe Hyriault has known. We have to be at our best if we hope not to disappoint our lord. Krassic, continue.+

+Besides the meta-human, we have these two. Readings indicate mid-level magical ability, but surprisingly impressive potential. I'm also getting some strange similarities between them and the Nameless' profile.+

+Meaning what, Krassic?+ asked Lykonus.

Krassic shrugged. +I am uncertain, but it would intimate some sort of kinship between these two and the Nameless himself.+

+And what of the target? What of the Nameless?+

+That is the strangest thing, Lykonus. We are receiving a definite signal, matching his profile. It is what led us here, but there are significant inconsistencies that I cannot explain.+

Craning his head, Lykonus examined the mirror himself. +The Nameless always was a master of trickery and misdirection. He could be attempting to conceal himself.+

+Or this could be an ambush,+ Daakan added darkly. +We might be supposed to follow this signal, and walk right into a trap.+

The other demons stopped to consider this. +If this is a trap,+ Lykonus finally replied, +Then it is one we will spring. Is there anything else, Krassic?+

+There are two other readings; one with trace elements of a demonic nature now lost, and another that shimmers in a way I have never seen before. But both signals are dormant, and can pose no appreciable threat to us.+

Lykonus nodded decisively. +Then we go in. Prepare the assault.+

**********

Tara was smiling as she carried a pile of dirty dishes back into the kitchen, enjoying the experience of their house being filled with the sounds of merriment. As she placed her burden on the counter top beside the sink, a pair of slender arms slipped around her waist, fingers interlacing over her stomach.

She felt Willow's body press up against her back as her partner rested her chin on her shoulder. Tara leaned her head back, and briefly pressed her cheek against Willow's.

“I love you,” Willow murmured in Tara's ear.

“And I love you, sweetie,” replied Tara, turning within the refuge of Willow's arms to lay a kiss on the redhead's brow.

Willow's arms tightened around Tara's waist. “Happy? Are you, I mean. Happy?”

Tara's smile widened even more. “I couldn't be happier, Willow. Life's never been better.”

**********

His hand finally punched through the sod, erupting out into the cool night air, loose soil cascading down from twitching fingers. Twisting and turning, the hand grabbed at thin air, at the grass, at anything in an attempt to find a secure handhold.

The ground bulged upwards as he struggled to claw his way out of the grave. Recent rains had soaked the ground though, and the moisture had clotted the soil together, making it difficult for him to dig through. But through pure stubbornness, and a final unnatural burst of strength saw his free arm slither out, and forced his head clear.

Spitting out a mouthful of dirt, he shook his head, sending clumps of sod and soil flying in other directions. A flicker of movement turned his attention to one side. A pair of sneakers stood beside him, rotting and on the verge of collapse. Rolling his eyes upwards, he caught an impression of a cadaverous shape, looming in the darkness. A single eye, burning blue in a shadow wreathed face, stared at him.

“Hi there,” he said. “I don't suppose you could give me a hand, could you?”

It bent down towards him, and the sickly-sweet stench of decay wafted over him. A painfully gaunt hand latched onto the top of his head, and the figure straightened, dragging him half clear of his grave.

The figure spoke now, a single word exhaled like the last breath of a dying man. “Leech ....”

Another hand came sweeping in, deformed somehow, longer, thinner ... sharper. For a second, he felt a distinct and confusing sensation of growing lighter, before his severed head turned to dust. The vampire's body suffered the same fate, and the ground around his grave slumped as his escape tunnel collapsed in on itself.

Ignoring its handiwork, the figure shambled onwards, staggering and twitching, trailing a cloud of corpse-stink, moving in a straight line directly towards the house on Revello Drive that Willow and Tara called home.

To be continued ...

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:19 pm 
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G'Day Paul!

I've been a right slacker! How have I missed the sequel? You see what happens when work goes nuts? Faithful kittens miss wonderful bits. sigh...

I'm preparing for a final presentation to my business research methods and principles course this evening (yes, it's just as boring as it sounds), but I'll be back with feedback-y goodness as soon as I can.

Just wanted to say thanks for continuing the story.

Michelle

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:02 pm 
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Oh wow, you've got the hairs on the back of my neck feeling all prickly, and that's rare since I'm not much for the prickly. But it's in a good, spine tingly way.

Now we have these new strangers arriving, still not sure what's going on with that, so I won't even attempt a guess. I know you'll explain this all in good time.

Also it seems stinky, decaying Nameless has returned, and is killing vampires?? Hmmm.

Now amongst the happy, domestic bliss of celebrating Chloe's b-day, Tara utters the worst thing possible, "Life's never been better." Oops.

Great job again. Can't wait to see what's next.

Wimpy

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:22 am 
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Oooh, great chapter Paul. I love the happiness in Willow and Tara’s home. Mixed with the evilness of everything else, it creates such a contrast. And I hate to say it, but Willow and Tara really should have remembered the cardinal rule of being a Scooby. Never, under any circumstances, say things like this.

Quote:
I've got my girl, I've got my kids and I've got my friends, all in one place! Life couldn't be any better!”


It’s like telling the universe it’s time to screw with you. Oh, and just had to say something about the demon things teasing each other. Just made me laugh. Can’t wait for more :wave

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:11 pm 
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I love your depiction of Chloe in her hat. It is so sweet and perfect and totally something I can imagine a head strong daughter of Willow doing!

yay

But the rest was very anxiety producing!!!

*eep*

:paranoid

How did nameless morph chloe? Is nameless a zombie now? Who are the hunter dudes and and I hope no one gets hurt!!!!!

db

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 5:45 pm 
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Once again Paul, you're off to a great start. I look forward to future updates. You definitely have teased my curiosity.


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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 6:06 am 
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It was remarkable to see; the transition from bubbly and vivacious toddler to quiet and withdrawn loner was virtually instantaneous. And it broke both her mothers' hearts whenever they saw it. Both women's pasts held more than their own share of social insecurities, and they hated to think their daughter might share that fate.

They shouldn’t worry. She is only two. It would change once she gets into preschool but... knowing you, this has to mean mooooore.
The description of trying to break out of a coffin was very vivid.
Quote:
+Besides the meta-human, we have these two. Readings indicate mid-level magical ability, but surprisingly impressive potential. I'm also getting some strange similarities between them and the Nameless' profile.+

Yeah well haha!

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 8:23 am 
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scary.... :paranoid (the hat, not the demons :P )

But I don't want the happy part to be ruined... :( I want it to remain happy...happy happy happy. :miff

The demons aren't going to come in and try to kill chloe or snatch her or something are they? 'cos that would just be terrible. *sniff* :paranoid

Great and funny chapter, paulie!!

xoxo
Emms

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:57 am 
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mole - G'day Michelle! Ahh, a fellow right slacker, huh. :grin Here's hoping you did well on your presentation.

-----

wimpy0729 - G'day Wimpy! Oooh, prickly neck hairs! Did I do that? Cool.

Quote:
Now amongst the happy, domestic bliss of celebrating Chloe's b-day, Tara utters the worst thing possible, "Life's never been better." Oops.


Yep, the classic Scooby jinx. :lol

-----

tazraven - G'day Sara! I'm a big fan of contrast; a lone ray of sunshine can really set off the darkness, and vice versa. And regarding the whole jinx thing? How could I resist? :p

Thanks for reading!

-----

db - G'day db! I might not have much experience with kids, but don't they all go through a phase where they have an item of clothing, a toy or something that they refuse to be parted from? Hence, the hat. :grin

Sorry about the anxiety ... it does seem to be habit of mine, doesn't it.

Quote:
How did nameless morph chloe? Is nameless a zombie now? Who are the hunter dudes and and I hope no one gets hurt!!!!!


1) Err .. he didn't.
2) Looks like it, doesn't it.
3) The hunter dudes are bad guys, from the Scooby pov.
4) Would I let anyone get hurt? Oh wait ... probably, yeah. :devil

-----

Roger Doger - G'day RD! Good to have you back. Enjoy!

-----

WillowRulez - G'day WillowRulez!

Quote:
They shouldn’t worry. She is only two. It would change once she gets into preschool but... knowing you, this has to mean mooooore.


One would almost think that you don't trust me ... nah! :p

-----

[b]Emms[b] - G'day Emms! Yep, scary hat. :lol

Quote:
The demons aren't going to come in and try to kill chloe or snatch her or something are they? 'cos that would just be terrible. *sniff*


Kill? No. Anything else? Well, you can't tell with me. :devil

Cheers mate!

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 Post subject: Re: Sins of the Children (Updated 18th April)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:58 am 
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All disclaimers apply.

~~~~~

Part 4.

When the attack came it was without warning. Tara, Willow, and the rest of their extended family were gathered in the lounge room, Chloe nestled on Willow's lap, half asleep, while Tara regaled their friends with some of their daughter's latest exploits. The sound of broken glass froze Tara in mid sentence, and her memory flashed back to the time two years ago that a gang of vampires with automatic weapons had shot up the Summers house.

But this time the room wasn't riddled by a hail of hot lead. Instead, the offending projectile was a cube of rune-encrusted silver, hurled through the window to rattle to a stop on the coffee table like an over sized die.

Even as Buffy was lunging for it, likely with intent of throwing it back out the window, a puckered orifice opened on each visible face of the cube, and it screamed. All of the Scoobies immediately doubled over in pain as the high pitched shriek ripped through them like a red-hot poker through the eardrum.

Willow hit the ground first, sprawled face down, limbs akimbo. The only thing she'd managed to do before passing out was to twist her body so that she didn't crush Chloe. So intense was the pain caused by the cube's shriek that Tara couldn't even bring herself to reach out towards her partner and child. She wanted to, but all she could do was fall to her knees, hands pressed to her ears, as paroxysms of agony ripped through her.

Four figures strode in, a pair entering from each entrance. Robed, hooded and masked, they each held a crystal-tipped staff, leveled like a spear. Forcing herself nearly upright, Buffy lurched the nearest pair. One of them swept its weapon in an arc at Buffy's head, but the Slayer ducked the blow, as much by accident as on purpose.

Eyes barely able to focus for the pain, Buffy swung wildly as she dropped to her knees. Her blind punch dented the greave covering the demon's leg and sent it staggering sideways into the wall. Its companion whipped its staff up so that the butt caught Buffy beneath the chin and snapped her head back.

Buffy fell backwards, but when the demon advanced to press its advantage, Buffy kicked it in the groin. The first demon pushed herself off the wall as its counterpart toppled, and slammed the butt of its staff down on Buffy's face, breaking her nose, and bouncing her head off the floor. The demon kicked the Slayer in the head for good measure.

Tara saw Giles and Xander struggling to gain their feet, but one of the other demons strode into their midst and laid each man low with a single brutal blow. Then the demon turned its attention to Tara, and the last thing she saw was a staff butt speeding towards her face.

**********

+Well ... that was easier than expected,+ noted Krassic as Lykonus rendered the last of the human unconscious with a blow to the back of the head.

+Speak for yourself,+ snarled Daakan, rubbing at one leg. +That damn human bitch nearly broke my leg.+ His masked face turned to look at Zemph, crouched over and wheezing in pain. +And I think Zemph's chances of successfully mating just went down a notch.+

+Well, I assume that female must be the metahuman,+ Krassic replied. +But which one of these humans is the Nameless?+

+None of them,+ grated Lykonus in a flat, monotone voice. +If the Nameless had been here, this would have been a much harder fight.+

+How can you be sure of that, Lykonus?+ Daakan demanded. +We struck without warning! Perhaps this beast of yours simply wasn't as fearsome as you made out ... sir.+ Daakan spoke the honorific with audible disdain.

+Underestimate him at your peril, Daakan. The same goes for me,+ Lykonus snapped back. The other demon straightened angrily, and rapped the butt of his staff upon the hardwood floor in a blatant challenge. Behind Lykonus' mask, orange eyes with elliptical pupils blazed with fury.

+Ahh ... sir?+

Lykonus bit back a violent oath at Krassic's interruption, and wheeled abruptly. +What!+ he barked.

The other demon was standing over Willow's unconscious body, eyes flitting back and forth between the redhead, and her equally insensible daughter. He studied the device strapped to his wrist again.

+Well?+ Lykonus growled irritably.

+I ... umm ... found the source of the reading,+ admitted Krassic, his voice reluctant, hesitant, confused.

+Where?+ demanded Lykonus triumphantly, striding over to join the other demon. Krassic looked down helplessly, and after a moments confusion, Lykonus' eyes tracked downwards as well.

+That ... that's an infant.+

+Yes.+

+That's a human child,+ repeated Lykonus.

+It would appear to be, yes.+

Bending down, Lykonus lifted Chloe into the air, hefting her uncomfortably at arms length, as if she were a bomb rather than a child. Keeping her held that way, Lykonus turned abruptly to face his compatriot.

+The Nameless is not a child,+ he pointed out irritably, but Krassic could only shrug helplessly.

On the other side of the room, Zemph forced himself upright and hobbled closer, walking like someone who'd been in the saddle for months on end. Peering intently at Chloe, who was dangling in Lykonus' arms like a humanoid sack of grain, Zemph grunted in surprise.

+There's another problem,+ he pointed out.

Lykonus glared at him. +What now?+ he barked.

+I'm pretty sure that's a female you're holding.+

All four demons peered even closer at their unconscious captive.

+Are you sure?+ inquired Krassic dubiously.

+Reasonably so,+ Zemph answered.

+How do you even tell the difference in humans anyway,+ complained Daakan. +They all look alike to me.+

+That's why you've never tasted the pleasures of a human female, Daakan,+ taunted Zemph. +You'd likely end up mounting a buck instead of a filly.+

+Pleasures?+ Daakan scoffed. +How could you find pleasure with one of these?! They're so soft and pathetic! Look how easily we took them down!+ He nudged the nearest fallen Scooby with one foot to highlight his foot.

+That's a male,+ Zemph chortled, and Daakan growled wordlessly at him.

+Enough!+ bellowed Lykonus, freezing his bickering subordinates with a withering gaze. +Zemph is correct, this is a girl-child.+

+Then it's not the Nameless, is it!+ snapped Daakan before pausing. +Unless ... Humans don't change their sex, do they? Like the Nuaise do?+

All eyes turned to Zemph, apparently elected the resident human expert. He shrugged, thought again, and reluctantly shook his head. +No, I don't think they do.+

+Then it can't be the Nameless, and this was all a fools errand!+ Daakan proclaimed furiously, jabbing his index finger at Lykonus accusingly.

+The scanner disagrees with you,+ argued Krassic. +There are minor discrepancies, certainly ...+

+Minor?+ Zemph quietly sniggered, but the other demons ignored him.

+... But there is no question,+ Krassic continued. +This ... girl ... is the Nameless.+

Silence fell amongst the demons, none of them willing to agree with or contradict Krassic's declaration. All eyes turned to Lykonus, for the decision of their next course of action fell to him.

After several moments thought, Lykonus spoke. +Krassic, take two of the Lessers and return to the temporal rift. Take this ... anomaly, and present it to the Priarch. The final decision is his, as is only right. The rest of us will remain, and interrogate these humans to find what they know of the Nameless.+

Drawing to his full height, Krassic saluted with a clenched fist against his chest. +Understood, sir.+ Taking Chloe's limp body from his superior, the demon turned to leave.

+And Krassic ... close the rift behind you. Just to be safe.+

**********

When consciousness finally deigned to return to Willow, it came reluctantly, in stops and starts. Like a half-tamed animal, it would draw near to her, then shy away nervously when she tried to reach for it. Despite these difficulties, Willow stubbornly kept trying; some primitive instinct kept insisting that she had to wake up.

Sound began to intrude on the fuzzy haze that currently formed the entirety of Willow's world. Muffled and indistinct, it was still somehow familiar, and Willow's consciousness swam towards it through the murk of her own muddled mind.

A word associated with the noise she was hearing popped into Willow's mind of its own accord. Tara. The sound was Tara.

No, Willow thought, recognizing her mistake. Tara wasn't a thing, it was a person. It was the person. It was her Tara, and with that realization her hearing came good, and Tara's voice flooded into her ears, clear and true.

And incidentally, it was also uncharacteristically angry.

“... is my daughter!”

Willow's eyes fluttered open, and she found herself looking up a roof that was vaguely familiar. It took her several moments to recognize that it was the roof of her living room. More sensations were slowly trickling in now, gradually filling in the picture of her current situation.

She was lying on her back, face up, her head cradled tenderly in someone's lap. From the sound, and feel of it, that lap was Tara's, which meant that Willow wasn't in too much of a rush to move. So she decided to stay where she was until she figured out what was going on.

With a guilty rush, Willow realized that Tara was speaking again, and hurried to listen.

“Where is my daughter!” Tara demanded. “What have you done with her!”

Daughter? What ... Realization hit her with the force of a thunderbolt. Chloe!

Willow sat bolt upright as if she were spring-powered, eyes flared wide open in panic as she remembered the attack. Three demons stood in front of them, staff-like weapons leveled with a definite air of menace even though their faces were concealed by leering masks of burnished metal.

Darting her eyes to either side revealed the rest of the Scoobies in varying states of consciousness. Buffy was still unconscious, as was Xander, Anya and Katie. Giles and Dawn both seemed partially aware, but neither of them were as lively as Tara, whose face was almost incandescent with thwarted fury.

“Chloe ...” Her daughter's name escaped Willow's lips in an agonized whisper, and she struggled to rise, blindly unheeding of their demonic captors. The nearest of them growled something in it's own language, and jabbed Willow in the chest with the butt, knocking her backwards and driving the air from her lungs.

“Willow!” cried Tara, glaring frightfully at her lover's attacker as she wrapped the winded redhead in the shelter of her arms.

The center demon spoke now, in halting, hideously accented English. “You no go nowhere, huumaan.”

**********

With two of their number escorting Krassic back from whence they'd come, there were only two of the Lesser demons left to guard the perimeter of the Summers house. The only warning the first had was the wafting stench of corruption. Even as its nose was wrinkling beneath its mask from the scent, the decaying carcass of a zombie loomed up from the darkness behind the demon.

Bone talons punched right through skull and helmet alike, and left the demon a twitching corpse. A nonsensical squawk escaped the demon as it died, which attracted its fellow guard from around the corner of the house. Discarding his victim like a used tissue, the thing that had once been a living person lurched back into the gloom.

The second demon advanced cautiously towards the body of its fallen colleague, weapon at the ready, senses straining to detect any threat. A quick glance and the brutal wound in the back of its skull revealed the first demon's fate, and its fellow spun around to raise the warning.

A walking corpse stood directly in front of it. Hands darting out, he caught the demon's head between either hand and twisted abruptly until the demon's head was facing backwards. As it sagged to its knees, he maintained his grip and wrenched upwards until the head came free with a grotesque, meaty tearing sound.

As the demon's headless body flopped to the ground, the walking corpse stared stupidly at the severed head he clutched in his hand for several moments, as if uncertain what to do with it. A tremor stole through that rotting frame, and the head fell from twitching fingers.

Spinning about, nearly falling, he lurched towards the back door of the house.

**********

Willow wasn't about to let herself be a helpless victim; as soon as she judged the demons to be sufficiently distracted by their own conversation, she reached for her magic. And it melted away from her touch like darkness before a light bulb. Willow tried again, and had about as much success as she would have had trying to bail water with a colander.

Panic tried to bubble up then, but Willow forced it back down. She was a mother now, and she couldn't afford to indulge herself in such a pointless emotion, not if she was going to help Chloe. Tara's arms tightened about her shoulders, and Willow knew that Tara had ascertained what she had just attempted.

“My magic won't work either,” she whispered in Willow's ear.

“What are we gonna do, baby?” Willow cautiously replied, keeping her eyes on the demons for sign of any reaction.

Tara's voice was full of frustration and an undercurrent of fear when she answered. “I don't kno ....”

Something glass shattered noisily in the kitchen, and the demons spun around in alarm. The lights flickered and died, leaving them all wrapped in darkness. All three demons rapped their staffs upon the ground, and their crystal tips blossomed with a pulsing crimson luminescence, coating the area in a red haze.

Snapping a command, the leader dispatched one of his number to investigate as Willow and Tara traded glances. What now? they both wondered.

**********

Daakan darted around the corner into the kitchen, choosing to rely on speed and fury rather than cautious advancement. His dramatic entrance was somewhat wasted on the room's occupants; a series of unimpressed kitchen appliances.

Scowling, Daakan swept angry eyes over the room. He fixated on the remains of a broken glass, dashed against the floor. Daakan's eyes narrowed; the glass was nowhere near any of the kitchen counters, and there was no way that it could have been blown to it's current location. Which meant ....

Daakan spun, only just in time to block a clumsy sweep of a clawed fist with his staff. Backpedaling, he tried to gain room to bring his staff to bear, but the shadowy figure assailing him lurched forwards, keeping the fight at close quarters. Bone claws slashed in from either side, each time deflected by the demon's staff with a noise like nails on a chalkboard.

With a furious snarl, Daakan pivoted and whipped the butt of his staff down on his opponents shoulder. The clavicle audibly snapped, and as the figure staggered, Daakan lashed out with one foot, driving them backwards into the combination fridge-freezer. Grinning triumphantly, the demon leveled his staff and fired. With a deep, throaty 'whump', a bolt of energy spat from the crystal at the staff's end and blew a chunk out of the other figure's torso.

The demon's grin faltered as his target refused to fall, and instead reached behind it and ripped the door of the freezer compartment clean off it's hinges. Before he could fire again, Daakan's opponent swung his makeshift weapon with both hands, catching the demon square in the face and hurling him into the nearest wall.

Daakan tried to push himself back upright, tried to return to the fight, but all he got for his troubles was a second blow that sent him spinning through the air. Blinking, blinded by pooling blood and the shattered fragments of his mask, Daakan could only stare blindly upwards as his attacker brought the edge of the freezer door down on his skull with a sickening thud.

**********

Lykonus and Zemph traded wary glances as the sounds of combat abruptly died away. With a nod of the head, Lykonus instructed his subordinate to cover the doorway that led to the kitchen, while he fished a small mirror from an inner pocked of his robes.

The demon caressed the mirror's surface, and it rippled beneath his fingers like the surface of a wind-kissed pond, firming into a close up view of ... grass. Lykonus frowned.

+Lesser? Report!+ he barked, but there was no response beyond the gentle sigh of a nighttime breeze. Snarling an obscenity under his breath, Lykonus indicated for Zemph to advance on the kitchen door, while he advanced on the other.

Shadow moved within shadow, and an ungainly figure barreled full pace into Zemph, propelling both of them into the nearest wall. Grabbing hold of the demon's head with one taloned hand, the shadow wreathed figure rammed Zemph's head clean through the wall.

Lykonus spun around, staff leveled, as the other figure abandoned Zemph's twitching body, snatching up his staff and lurched into the living room proper. The pulsing crimson light cast by his staff revealed a presence straight out of a nightmare.

Tattered rags hung off an emaciated frame so gaunt and sunken that there was no question that no natural life animated this creature. All the visible flesh was gray and waxy, riven with decay. In several places, bone gleamed through gashes in tattered skin and torn flesh. Long black hair was filthy, and tangled with clods of dirt. The face was worse still; the nose was a tattered stub, the lips missing, eaten away to reveal yellowed teeth fixed in an unthinking, atavistic snarl. One eye was a blind, shriveled orb of dead flesh, the other a crystal blazing with azure light.

+This is it?+ scoffed Lykonus, suddenly contemptuous as he cast a scathing gaze over the uncomprehending Scoobies. +Your secret weapon is a Revenant? A pathetic walking corpse? This is your great defender?!+

The corpse shuffled closer, using the staff like a crutch, and Lykonus' contemptuous defiance trailed off as he got a better look at his opponent.

+You!+ he snarled. Eyes blazing self-righteously, Lykonus tossed aside his staff and withdrew a circular bladed weapon from within the folds of his robe. Shaped in a U, with the hand grip between the upper prongs, its blade glinted evilly in the crimson light cast by his staff, as if already coated in blood.

+I name you Anathema, traitor!+ Lykonus recited formally, as if he were standing in a court of law, rather than the living room of a private home. +In the name of my Lord, I call for you to answer for your crimes in trial by combat! Surrender now, or the sentence will be carried out immediately!+

The corpse shuffled closer still, not making a sound, and beneath his mask, the demon's lips curved in a smile. Drawing back his weapon to beside his head, Lykonus charged. In a blur of movement, the corpse whipped its stolen staff up, and jammed the front end right into the demon's mouth as it opened in a battle cry.

For a split second, they stood there, frozen, Lykonus' eyes widening in panic. Then the staff fired, the sound of its discharged muffled, yet oddly enhanced by Lykonus mouth as the back of the demon's blew off in a welter of blood and bone.

The demon's body fell backwards, pulling itself free of the weapon that had killed him, and those Scoobies that were actually conscious watched him fall, uncertain if they were out of the frying pan, or just into the fire. No-one dared to make a sound, not even to complain about the newly made mess on the carpet.

Head tilting to one side, the creature that had killed Lykonus stared at its victim. Finally, it slowly sucked in a lungful of air, and spoke in voice twisted by years of unuse.

“You ... always ... did .... talk .... too .... much .... Lykonus.”

In a spasmodic movement like the final twitches of a dying man, it rounded on the Scoobies and lurched forward like a drunkard, glaring ferociously at Willow and Tara in particular.

“What ... have ... you ... done ... mothers?” demanded the undead corpse of Timothy Rosenberg.

Willow fainted.

To be continued ...

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