by Marcus L. Rowland
I washed my mouth out with some water from a canteen Vi had found, rubbed my wrists, and looked round the helicopter. There were more bodies than Hamlet on the floor... sorry, the deck. "What the hell happened?" shouted Dad.
"I guess Willow's spell was still working," said Vi, cold-cocking the last soldier, who fell to the deck. "They must have brought me aboard then forgotten before they got round to sedating me again. Slayers recover fast. So I took the soldiers out while they were looking the other way, I was just finishing when you got rid of the zombie."
"Zombie?" I asked.
"That woman. She was some sort of zombie, not quite sure what kind." I hoped that it was true, and that she wasn't just trying to make us feel a little better about killing Lilah. "Whatever she was, she was probably pretty tough. Don't count on the fall finishing her off, and if she comes back mad don't blame me." Okay, not trying to make us feel better.
"What about Willow and Xander?" I asked.
"They're out of it," said Vi. "Unless one of you knows enough to identify an antidote, it could be hours before they come round." I took a look, tried pinching Xander, and it was pretty clear she was right. "Broke their medic's neck before I realised who he was."
Dad took a big pistol from one of the soldiers and checked it was loaded. I followed his example. Dad frowned but didn't say anything, and helped himself to an assault rifle, some clips of ammo, and some grenades. Vi took grenades and some belt knives, searched a couple of the bodies, and eventually found a cell phone and began dialling. "What about the pilot?" asked Dad.
"Still flying this thing," said Vi, "I hope he didn't hear anything." There was a door separating the hold from the cockpit, I just hoped it was soundproof, though with the noise the thing made it wasn't likely he'd heard much. She listened for a second, then said "Rona? Everyone okay in Neptune?" She listened intently for a minute, then said "Helicopter, a big mother..."
"A Chinook, I think," interrupted Dad.
"...Veronica's dad says it's a Chinook, coming in to Los Angeles. Willow and Xander are sedated, I'm free, so are Veronica and her Dad. We've got weapons." She turned to us and said "Lot of property damage in Neptune, a couple of cops and some civilians were hurt, two fatalities, and there's a wrecked helicopter on your football field."
"Any idea where we are?" asked Vi. I took a look out of one of the side windows and could see a lot more lights below us now, and a big blaze of light ahead. It was hard to make out details, rain was running down the window.
I said "We must be pretty close to Los Angeles. I think I can see the business district up ahead, maybe five miles or so." She relayed the information and listend again, then said "Okay... yeah, I get that. Can't be helped. Get Riley on it, warn him we haven't got much time."
The engine note changed, and there was a sinking feeling, like an elevator going down. Vi said "We're landing, talk to you later."
"What do we do now?" shouted Dad.
"We're on our own, nobody near enough to help for a while. Soon as we land we'll try to get away. Rona says there's another helicopter, a small one, about five minutes behind us, it has a machine gun and she thinks maybe a rocket launcher. We need to be under cover before it shows up."
"Hey, if this stuff was easy everyone would be doing it."
The second we landed and the rotors started to slow Vi was into the cockpit. I didn't see what she did there, my guess is it was fast and violent. Dad went out one of the side doors, rolling and firing, and I followed a couple of seconds later. Whatever they were, they weren't human; they had yellow skin, and a ridge of spikes instead of hair. But they weren't bulletproof, and the survivors scattered for cover as Dad went Rambo on them with the assault rifle, then threw a grenade after some of the stragglers. I think I hit a couple, but it was hard to tell in the rain and the dark. It looked like we'd landed on the roof of a big building, maybe some sort of factory. Vi came out, dragging Xander with Willow on her shoulder, and threw one of her knives at another of the creatures with her free hand. It went down screaming. "Which way?" shouted Vi, and it sounded unnaturally loud without the engine noise.
"There's a door over there," said Dad, pointing to a square structure that stuck out of the roof, then firing at another of the creatures as it looked out from behind a ventilator duct, pointing a shotgun in our direction. It went down. "All we have to do is get past these things."
"No problem," said Vi, lowering Willow to the roof. She raced off to one side, took an incredible leap into the air, and threw a couple more knives at the survivors, landing between them and the exit, and rolling behind another ventilator. After that we had them pinned from two sides, and after a few more shots the last eight surrendered.
"What the hell are they?" asked Dad, once Vi had taken their guns and pitched them over the edge of the roof.
"Miquot demons. Mercenaries. Watch out, they can pull spikes from their wrists and throw them like knives." The demon chattered something in a language none of us understood, and Vi said "Speak English, I only got about three words."
"We surrender honourable," said the demon, "We quit and go. Or pay us, we fight for you."
"You tell us what we want to know and I'll consider it," said Vi. "Where's the other helicopter going to land?"
"Not know. Only expecting one."
"They must have another landing field," said Dad.
"Figures," said Vi, "this is probably some kinda containment facility."
"What would they want to contain?" I asked.
"Yes, Willow," said the spokesdemon. "Witch, want her bad."
As if she'd heard her name Willow jerked, and came awake gasping "Wesley!"
I knelt by her and said "What?" which was probably not the brightest comment I've ever made.
"Wesley's dead," said Willow. "I felt him die. Whatever it is that's going down is happening tonight, not Wednesday. Help me up." I grabbed and heaved, as gently as I could, and she looked around, taking in Vi, Dad, me, and the demons, her eyes and hair darkening as she stared at them. They knelt, and every one of them pulled a spike from its wrist and held it out to her in the palms of its hands.
"They've surrendered," Vi said quickly, "think they realised they were backing the wrong side."
"Well good for them," said Willow. "How's Xander?"
"Okay. Just let me recharge a little and I'll take care of him." She shook off my hand and moved back a few yards, saying something that sounded a little like Latin, and held her hand up. A bolt of lightning came down to meet it and sparked around her. She glowed, pure white, and floated into the air.
"Holy crap," said Vi.
"Is that good or bad?" asked Dad.
"Damned if I know. Last time she used that much power she took out Sunnydale."
Something flew past me, and I turned to see the spikes leaving the demon's hands. They were orbiting around Willow's head as she floated back down to the asphalt and strode back towards us. She was still covered in little flashes of lightning, like St. Elmo's fire, and her hair was rippling white fire. "Are you okay?" asked Vi.
"Think so. Don't worry, I'm not going over to the dark side, not yet." She touched Xander, and he jerked and came awake, looked around, and saw the demons.
"It's okay," Vi said again, "they've surrendered."
"Usual terms?" asked Xander.
The spokesdemon nodded "You go, we quit. Or pay us, we fight for you."
Xander dug into a pocket and pulled out a handful of coins, small gold ones. "Krugerrands. Acceptable?"
"Very yes. Eight of us, cost eight Krugerrands."
"Get real. Four."
"Six," said the demon.
"Done." Xander handed it the coins, and it pocketed them. I looked it up later, that was five ounces of gold, about $2200.
"Okay," said Xander. "Let's get moving. Willow, got any idea which way we ought to be heading?" He looked at her and for the first time seemed to take in her current appearance. "Whoa! You feeling okay?"
"Don't worry, you'll know if Darth Willow comes out to play." I was beginning to feel seriously freaked. What the hell were they all so scared of? "I can feel a disturbance in the force," she went on, "okay, some major mojo going down, it feels like it's ten or so miles or so away, due North from here, in the direction of most of the lightning. Where are we anyway?"
"Compton," said one of the demons.
"That's the business district then," said Willow. "Wolfram and Hart's offices, or somewhere pretty close. Wesley died somewhere in that direction, about ten minutes ago."
"Wes?" said Xander. "What about the others?"
Willow stood for a moment, her eyes unfocussed, then said "Can't feel anything from Angel or Fred... Gunn's hurt, feels like he's fighting something... Can't get details."
"Oh... yeah, right. He's... he's fighting too, doesn't think he's gonna make it."
"Can you talk to them?"
"Not without distracting them."
"We've got to get to them," said Xander, looking around the roof and settling on the helicopter. "That thing still got a pilot?"
"He's out," said Vi, "but Willow could revive him."
"Come on then! Move it, we've got work to do."
Xander ran towards the helicopter, followed by the demons, Willow, and Vi. I turned to Dad and said "We'd better go with them. No telling what's waiting downstairs."
"Dad, I think the odds are a hell of a lot better with Willow and Vi, don't you?"
He stared blankly at me for a second, then said "Okay. But try to stay out of trouble."
By the time we reached the helicopter we were both laughing so much that we had trouble getting aboard.
One more part and maybe an epilogue to go.