Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland
ffutures

Counter-Coup - Part III of IV

Here's the next part of my BtVS / Modesty Blaise crossover. Previous parts are on line here and I've made a few changes, mostly in chapter II.


This is a BtVS / Modesty Blaise crossover, based primarily on the Modesty Blaise novels and short stories, not the comic strip. For BtVS this is post season 7 and immediately post Angel Season 5; for Modesty Blaise it's after the novels but before some events in the collection Cobra Trap, and goes a little AU. The film never happened, it was a horrid figment of your imagination... This story is for Speaker To Customers. All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, production companies, etc. and there is no intention to infringe copyright; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.

Counter-Coup

by Marcus L. Rowland

III


Willie came out of the old pub as they were getting out of the car, and Faith took one look at him and gave a wolf whistle. Willow blushed and dug her in the ribs with an elbow. Willie smiled at the girls and kissed Modesty's hand. She touched his cheek then said "Willie, I'd like you to meet Willow Rosenberg and Faith Lehane. We need to talk."

"Privately?"

"The barn, I think, if you've got someone looking after the pub."

Willie looked surprised, but led the way through the pub, said a few words to the barmaid, and continued out to the barn which housed his gymnasium, workshop, and armory.

"'ere we are," said Willie, flicking on the lights. Willow blinked as the fluorescent lights came on, and Faith's eyes lit up as she saw the weapons racks at the far end. "Cool! Mind if I take a look?"

Willie looked at Modesty, and she gave a tiny nod. "Okay, if you know what you're doing, but you clean anything you fire. Targets are over there, the backstop'll handle anything up to .38"

"Not the guns," said Faith. She picked up a replica Bowie knife, tested the balance, then flicked it into the air, caught it by the point, and threw it into one of the targets. It went in deep.

"Three o'clock, inner," said Willie, trying to hide his surprise. "Good shot."

"I'm better with something a little heavier."

"Heavier?" said Willie. "Tell you what, I've got the knives I used to use for a circus act, want to give them a try?"

"Uh, Faith," said Willow, "maybe later. We've got some business here, remember?"

"Maybe you'd better start at the beginning," said Modesty, "Willie will probably think of some questions I've missed."

* * * * *


"What happens if Lucifer returns home?" Willie asked eventually.

"Like I told Modesty," said Willow. "I'd have to run more tests to be absolutely sure, but it feels like you'd simply start aging normally again. Don't worry, you won't put on forty years overnight."

"I wasn't talking about us, though it's nice to know. What happens to... well, to Hell?"

"Lucifer takes over, the Senior Partners lose part of their power base, and hopefully we get our friends back."

"Aren't you missing a few steps there?" asked Modesty. "You said 'Lucifer takes over,' but won't there be some opposition?"

"Of course, but we'll be going in with him."

"You'll be going in with him?" said Willie. "A witch, action woman over there..." he pointed towards Faith, who was practicing with a katana "...and Lucifer against the massed demon hordes of Hell. Aren't there a few thousand demons in Hell?"

"Most of them'll switch sides as soon as Lucifer gets back. The demons that took over aren't popular."

"And if they don't switch sides?"

"Then I guess Lucifer fights them." Willie and Modesty stared at her, then Modesty said "They beat him once. Why wouldn't they beat him again?"

Willie said "This was never about restoring Lucifer to power, was it?"

There was a long pause, then Willow said "No. We're trying to destabilize Hell."

"What's the plan?" asked Willie. "Send Lucifer in to claim the place, then nip in and rescue your friends while they're killing him?"

"Not exactly," said Faith, who had somehow put the katana away and crossed the barn completely silently. "We're gonna give him some help."

"What sort of help?" Willie asked suspiciously.

"A military advisor," said Willow. They stared at her again, as Willow seemed to be thinking about her next words, then she said "Okay... not exactly an advisor... Got a VCR handy?"

* * * * *


"I did not ask for this form," said the blue-haired woman. "It is small, cramped, and incapable of holding my power. This world is incapable of holding my power."

"Does she ever stop complaining?" asked Modesty, pausing the tape.

"Not so far," said Willow. "Trouble is that we really weren't paying enough attention to what was going on in LA. I guess she's got cause."

Modesty pressed 'Play' and Illyria said "And even as we speak, those you betrayed by your neglect are being tortured by demons. You will help me to leave this world and enter their Hell, or suffer the consequences." She stalked away from the camera.

"There's more," said Willow, stopping the tape again, "but it's pretty repetitive. Our friends are in Hell, we were supposed to be helping them - and we would have done if anyone had bothered to tell us what was going down - yadda yadda."

"The important part," said Faith, "is that she turned up at our base in Cleveland seven hours after things went down in LA. And she didn't take a plane, she ran."

"She's incredibly powerful," said Willow. "The way she tells it, Wesley drained some of it off, but if we could get her into Hell the power would flood back. She'd be a match for anything they could throw at her."

"And Lucifer?" said Modesty.

"Maybe. Don't really know."

"So if Lucifer wins," said Willie, "she might try to take over. Blimey, you're right about destabilizing the place. But what about all the prisoners, the poor bastards that ended up there."

"It's got to be an improvement," said Willow. "Even if all we do is disturb things a little, the disturbance might give some of them a chance to move on to Purgatory or whatever, without getting impaled on a pitchfork as soon as they pull themselves out of the mud. And Illyria isn't actively hostile to people; she just thinks we're beneath her notice."

"And if we don't help?" asked Modesty.

"We'll try to get in without Lucifer. Illyria still ought to help, but it'd be a lot easier if we had Lucifer on our side and fully functional."

"You can't restore his memories without our help?"

"We could try, but Doctor Benson thinks he thinks he owes you. I think it'd be a lot easier if you could help us get it over to him. For one thing, he's a lot less likely to kill the messenger."

"Less likely?" asked Faith.

"Well, this isn't exactly risk-free," said Willow. "We're letting loose the most powerful demon we know of. Okay, there'll be a god there to help, but unless he helps us she won't be at anything like full power. I'm not sure she could stop Lucifer in this world."

"What are the alternatives," asked Modesty.

"Pretty bleak," said Willow. "We could try to go in without him, but we have no easy way to locate our friends, no guarantee that my spells will work properly, and no way to get back if they don't. Lucifer knows that universe inside out, he's our best hope."

"Then we'd better go," said Modesty. "I rather like the world the way it is, and I really don't want to see something as powerful as you're describing wrecking the place."

"Lucifer?"

"No, Illyria. How long have we got?"

"We've got a private jet standing by at Northolt airport," said Willow, "with priority clearance to take off whenever we get there. How long do you want?"

"I'll have Weng pack a bag and bring it to Northolt. That'll give me a chance to talk to him. I think all the weapons I'll need are here."

"Weapons?" asked Faith.

"I'm coming with you, of course. You don't think I'm going to miss a chance to see this for myself?"

"Make that 'we're coming with you,'" said Willie. "Someone's got to guard the Princess's back while she's in 'ell, and you're going to be busy."

"You sure about that?" said Faith.

"'Course I'm sure."

"Can I borrow that katana then?"

* * * * *


"...So I go tearing out," said Faith, "stark nude, and this church bus has broke down, and there's these three vamps feasting on half the Baptists in South Boston. So I waste the vamps, and the preacher comes up, and he's hugging me like there's no tomorrow, when all of a sudden the cops pull up and arrest us both."

"Okay," Willow said, packing her bag of crystals and herbs and putting it into one of the executive jet's overhead lockers, "the good news is that I was right. When the spell's broken you'll start to age normally, not gain nearly forty years overnight. And I think you'll start to feel a little more connected to the people around you, and them to you, but that'll take a while."

"And the bad news?" asked Willie.

"Let me put it this way. Has either of you ever had any unusual luck? Survived accidents that should have killed you?"

Willie stared at Modesty, and Modesty began to giggle. Then both of them were laughing uncontrollably. In a moment Faith was joining in.

"What's so funny," asked Willow, glaring at Faith.

"You weren't listening while we were swapping war stories," Faith eventually gasped. "Modesty's been hit by lightning and survived, Willie was once thrown out of a plane without a parachute."

"Was that before or after you met Lucifer?" asked Willow. She wasn't smiling.

"After," said Willie.

"Thought so. The bad news is that you might not be so lucky if it happened again. I think that the spell was protecting both of you."

"Well," said Modesty, "there's nothing wrong with being more careful."

"Yes," said Willie, "always believed in a bit of caution." He looked at Modesty, and she looked at him, and both of them began to laugh again.

"Still want to go through with it?" asked Willow, when they'd sobered a little. "You still have a couple of hours before we land."

"Definitely," said Modesty.

"Yeah," said Willie. "Should have realised there was something a bit off. Can't go on like that."

"Okay, I'll get on the radio. We need to get everyone else evacuated from the clinic, just to be on the safe side, and they'd better start now."

* * * * *


"Lord Lucifer," said Modesty, "I have to warn you of another plot against your life."

"There are always plots," Lucifer said dismissively. More than thirty years since they'd first met, and he was still a perfect physical specimen, still seemingly in his mid-twenties.

"This one is close to success," said Modesty. "Somehow you have been drained of your power, so slowly that you couldn't notice, until you are little more than a mortal man. One of my servants noticed the change, a mere witch, not even a demon. And I see that it is true. You are greatly diminished, Lord Lucifer."

"I? Diminished?"

"While you have chosen to rest here, believing yourself secure, most of the power of Hell has been stolen. Already your hordes obey new leaders, and old alliances have been broken and new ones made."

"Nonsense, I am as strong as ever. Do you wish me to prove it again?" Lucifer was a formidable opponent in a fight, his precognitive ability allowing him to counter a blow before it was made. There were ways to block it, but this time she thought she had a better idea.

"The demon lord Illyria will prove it to you," said Modesty. "For my part, I lack the heart for this when you are so weakened."

At that cue the door opened and Illyria entered, in the form of a harmless-looking girl. "This is Lucifer?" said Illyria. "This is the Morningstar?" She laughed.

"You mock your Lord?"

"You were never my Lord," said Illyria, transforming to her inhuman form, blue haired and armoured. "I am of the Old Ones, those who abdicated power before the god that made you was created. We wait for this world to be ready for our return. I had thought to ask your help in a minor matter, but you will be useless. Your weakness offends me." She reached out with inhuman speed, seized him by the neck, and lifted him one-handed, indifferent to his struggles.

"Stop!" said Modesty, no longer acting, "What do you think you're doing?"

"This... this mortal thing is useless," said Illyria. "You told me I would meet a worthy ally, but he doesn't even know that he is diminished."

"Put him down," said Modesty. "You'll gain nothing by hurting him."

"True." Illyria opened her hand, and Lucifer fell to the floor, retching. After a minute or so he looked up, glared at Illyria, and said "So... I am diminished? I have been fooled again?"

"My apologies, Lord Lucifer," said Modesty, "but it may not be too late to save you. The witch believes that she can help."

"Then take me to the witch," said Lucifer. "Now."

TBC

Comments are as always welcome.

One thing - usually Willie has a psalm ready to quote in weird circumstances, but I don't know them at all. Any suggestions for one that might be appropriate at any point in this chapter?

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