All usual disclaimers etc. apply, see the first chapter of the archived story for more details.
The Rosenberg Inheritance - XIX
"I still think this is a really bad idea," Billie said three nights later.
"You don't have to be involved," said Wesley. "Everything's in place, you could go home and get an early night."
"Sure I could," she said sarcastically. "What time do things start?"
"My guess would be twenty to thirty minutes after our message arrives."
"I can't believe she agreed to do it."
"Harmony isn't the sharpest pencil in the box," said Cordelia, leaning forward from the back seat of the car, "but I promised to stake her if she stayed in LA, and she knows I can do it. She's broken her side of the bargain, there's only one way out for her."
"To betray us," said Wesley. "But fortunately that's exactly what we want her to do."
"There she goes," said April, pointing towards the Wolfram and Hart building. "Just entering now, and... yes, there go the anti-vampire alarms."
"Must be handy having amplified ears," said Cordelia. April shrugged, seemed to listen again for a moment, and said "Zap's inside. He thinks that nobody noticed in the confusion."
"Even if they guess we're up to something," said Wesley, "they ought to think that Angel's broken in again. Why else would we use a vampire? Let's get out of here, nice and conspicuously if you will."
"Okay," said Cordelia, flooring the accelerator so that the SUV screeched off down the street. "Someone ought to notice that. Probably took a hundred miles off the life of the tyres."
"Is Zap okay on his own?" asked Billie.
"He's already in the ventilators," said April, "he says that the alarms aren't set up for anything his size, but he's had to kill two rats."
"Can he trace the air flow back to the main air-conditioning unit?" asked Wesley
"He should be there well before Lilah is ready to make her move."
"She's on her way," Fred said over the radio about half an hour later, "With... three cars and a truck following her. I think there may be a helicopter too, I saw the lights just after they left."
"What about Zap?" asked Wesley.
"He's ready to start," said April.
"No time like the present."
"Everyone know what they have to do?" asked Willow. There was a chorus of "yes," "of course," "yup", and "Naturally."
"Just passing checkpoint one," said Fred, "ought to be there in about twenty minutes."
"A helicopter just flew over really low," Tara said a couple of minutes later, looking up from a magically-enhanced building plan, "and we've got five new auras on the top floor."
"Playing SAS," Wesley said grimly. "Well, I hope that they've got good insurance, they're going to need it." There was a loud crash followed by a rumble and a high-pitched scream. "That'd be Fred's fire extinguisher trap, I think." The lights dimmed a little, and they heard another scream. Gunn grinned, and said "And that's the thing with the electrified door-knob. Five bucks, Willow."
"Didn't think that would work," said Willow, reluctantly giving him the money. "The others will be a lot more careful."
"Won't help though," said Gunn. "How long until Lilah gets here?"
"At least fifteen minutes," said Wesley. "Any word from Zap?"
"They don't know it yet," said April, "but they don't have an air conditioning plant any more. Not without replacing every motor and bearing. He's going after the water supply next."
"My cue to set the ball rolling on the sewers," said Willow. She hit enter on the keyboard of one of the laptops she was using, and watched the results with a mixture of awe, pleasure and horror. "All outgoing sluice gates closed, all incoming pumps at maximum... yep, emergency flushing system activated, but there's nowhere for it to go but up. About two minutes, then the shit hits the fan. Literally, if they have fans in their washooms."
"David really came through for us," said Cordelia. "Hope he's got his ass covered when the authorities try to work out what went wrong with the control system."
"Year 2K error," said Willow. "Shouldn't have been using Windows."
"That was years ago."
"Um... never mind."
"Another one down," said Tara, watching the plans. "No... all three. Holtz and Justine got them."
"Dead?" asked Wesley.
"Unconscious, I think. They're keeping their end of the bargain."
"Let Justine know that's the last of the intruders," said Wesley. "We'll need them downstairs in a few minutes."
"How about our secret weapons?"
Another of Willow's laptops beeped, and she said "We've got movement in the sewers leading to our cellars."
"Not unexpected," said Wesley. "It was always on the cards that they'd try a pincer movement."
"Good thing you won't need that entrance again," said Willow, reaching for a panel of switches wired to a cable that snaked down to the cellar.
"Wait until they're trying to open the door. In the meantime check for life signs."
"Nothing human," Willow said a few seconds later. "Vampires with a side order of demons, I think."
The lift doors opened. Holtz and Justine dragged out the intruders from the top floor, bound and unconscious, and piled them to one side.
"Miss Cooper," said Wesley, "we have several vampires trying to break in through the sewers. Would you like to do the honours?"
Justine smiled, showing teeth, and came over to Willow, who handed her the switch box and said "Press this button and hold it down until the light comes on, then press the red one." Justine stabbed a finger at a green button, waited until the light flashed, then pressed the red. There was a rumbling noise then a loud explosion, and the hotel shook, the chandelier swaying and jingling. Outside manhole covers blew from their openings, and the street was momentarily lit by columns of blue flame.
"They're all crispy critters," said Willow. "Hope nobody was cooking, the gas for this area is gonna be out for a few hours."
"Three miles to go," Fred said over the radio. "I'd better break off before they spot me. I'll go back and pick up Zap."
"Maybe we should have left the sewers until they were in the street," said Wesley. "It might have given them pause for thought."
"This way's better," said Willow, "it'll be more of a surprise when they come inside."
"Don't count on it," said Gunn, "they must have someone watching the hotel."
"Zap's cut the water main," said April, "and he's found Harmony. He's taking out the guards and the locks now. Do you want him to help her escape?"
"God no," said Cordelia, "let her find her own way out, she's bound to do some damage along the way. But tell him to get out now, before they realise what's going down."
"Ask him to activate the fire alarms and sprinklers before he leaves," said Wesley, "that ought to add nicely to the mess."
"It'll wash the sewage about a bit," said Willow. "But hey, by now there's plenty of sewage to wash around."
"He's on it," said April.
One of the radios crackled, and a distorted voice said "They're outside."
"Places everyone," said Wesley, picking up a copy of the Tribune and a pen, and turning his attention to fifteen down on the cryptic crossword. Holtz and Justine went out towards one of the less conspicuous exits, and Willow pulled the office doors closed to conceal herself, Tara, and April. Moments later the doors slammed open and a dozen black-clad goons charged in, covering the lobby with AK-47s. Wesley looked up and said "I really wouldn't recommend trying to fire your weapons." Four guns turned towards him, and two of the intruders collapsed clutching their heads as he added "I'm afraid our anti-violence spell might hurt you." Gunn feinted, pretending to be about to throw his axe, and another of the guards collapsed.
Lilah Morgan walked into the lobby, looked disdainfully at the writhing mercenaries, and said "If we can't hurt you, I'd imagine that you can't hurt us. What's to stop us from burning the building down?"
"Good evening, Lilah," said Wesley. "That would be in the nature of a threat, I suppose. You know Miss Newman, I think? I wonder what her readers will make of it."
Billie smiled, and ostentatiously made a note on a shorthand pad.
"Do you really think that's going to save you?"
"Not at all," said Wesley. "Shall we put our cards on the table? You want Connor, I believe, and you've been told that Angel is dead. Would that be a fair summation?"
"Mor or less," said Lilah, with an air of slight surprise. "Miss Kendall's too stupid to lie, but of course she's only parroting what you've told her. What's the real story? Did Angel walk in while the guards were capturing her?"
"Not at all," said Wesley. "I'm afraid that Miss Kendall was telling the exact truth. You'll possibly want to reward her, if she's still there when you get back. Angel is dead, which I'm afraid means that all your neat prophecies are in ruins. No vampire with a soul, no apocalypse, no Shanshu."
"Then we'll settle for the boy."
"He's not here, I'm afraid. Oh, did I mention that all of the prophecies concerning him were faked by the demon Sahjan?"
"I don't care. We'll find him, and we'll find out what makes him tick."
"I'll save you the trouble of looking. He's in Sunnydale at the moment, staying with the Summers family and their friends. I'd imagine you've heard of them."
For a moment Lilah looked uncertain. Outside there were a couple of shots and a high-pitched scream. Wesley smiled and said "I believe your colleagues may be experiencing difficulties. Would you like to give them some help, perhaps?"
"They can take care of themselves."
"I really doubt that," said Wesley, "but we'll see."
After a moment Lilah said "Well? I'd imagine that there's a point in all this. Planning to let me in on the secret?"
"Certainly." Behind Lilah the door swung open and someone came in. Wesley added "Is everything under control outside?"
"Five by five." Lilah turned, paled slightly, and backed away from the door. Faith grinned at her, and added "Zorro and his chick are just loading the bodies into the van."
"I believe you've met Miss Morgan," said Wesley.
"Sure," said Faith. "Lilah and me go way back."
"How... How did you get her out of prison?" asked Lilah.
"She's been paroled," said Wesley. "Someone seems to have forgotten to tell the judge her real age when she was convicted. As soon as our lawyers remedied that omission and paid a fairly substantial bond for her good behaviour she was released into our care."
"That's right," said Faith. "Wanna guess who's footing the bill?"
"Rosenberg, of course," said Lilah, recovering a little composure. "We'll soon see about that."
"I really doubt that," said a dour Scots voice. A stranger walked into the lobby from one of the side offices, carrying a leather briefcase and a Trilby hat. "Hamish McLein, of Phipps, McLein, Godfrey and Chatterton, of Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and Boston."
"Who?" Lilah said blankly.
McLein reached into his briefcase and pulled out a bundle of papers tied with a red ribbon. "I am fully accredited with the California bar, Miss Morgan. This is a cease and desist order which has been filed with the Los Angeles Supreme Court and all relevant Demonic courts on behalf of our clients, Angel Investigations and SunnyD Technology." He handed them to Lilah, and reached into his briefcase again. "I am also serving you with restraining orders on behalf of the Watchers Council of Great Britain and the guardians of Connor Angel." He gave her another bundle of papers.
"You have got to be kidding," said Lilah.
"Not at all," said McLein. "As you will find out to your cost should you attempt to defy these orders. Good evening." He put on his hat, tipped it slightly to Lilah and Cordelia, and walked out.
"We'll get those thrown out too," said Lilah.
"You might want to check with the Senior Partners first," said Wesley. "I can assure you that they are binding, in every sense of the word. Did you really think that your company was unique?"
For once Lilah looked uncertain as she asked "So what do you want?"
"Call off your dogs, Lilah. You leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone, unless we find that you are responsible for the problems of our clients. Otherwise I'm afraid that your company will find that things get rather... messy, shall we say. We've given you a small example this evening, and I'm fairly sure that we can be much more creative if we really try." Lilah looked at him, a little puzzled, and he added "Perhaps I should warn you that things may be a little ...untidy in your offices for the next few days. Or possibly weeks."
"Even if I agreed to that," said Lilah, "there are still dozens of cults after the child. I can't control all of them."
"True," said Wesley, "but you might want to mention something to them. There is no evidence whatever that Angel is Connor's father."
"What?" said Lilah, echoed by most of the people in the lobby.
"Think about it. Vampires can't conceive but humans can, and Darla was human for several weeks. We know that for much of that time she was living with the late Lindsey MacDonald. If by some chance she were to become pregnant during that period, and the foetus somehow survived when she was turned by Drusilla, well then...."
"It's an interesting theory," said Lilah.
"And not entirely unprecedented," said Wesley, "pregnant women have been turned before, and some have even given birth. Connor seems to be unusually healthy for such an origin, but he's hardly unique, and a good deal less than miraculous. I'm sure that you have samples of their blood, I'd suggest that you get them tested to find out."
"Oh, one more thing," said Wesley. "Perhaps I'd better mention that Wolfram and Hart will not be acquiring the Los Angeles Tribune. I'm afraid that Mister Nabbitt has received a better offer."
"From Miss Rosenberg, I suppose."
"Hardly," said Billie. "There would be an obvious conflict of interest if my niece were to buy the Trib. The new owners will be Wilkins Investments of Sunnydale, California."
"Never heard of them," said Lilah.
"A company originally founded by the late Mayor Richard Wilkins in the nineteenth century," said Wesley, "and recently inherited by his sole heir, Miss Faith Lehane," Faith smiled, "although the trustees of the company, Phipps, McLein, Godfrey and Chatterton, will be making most of the day-to-day decisions until Miss Lehane's thirtieth birthday."
"And most of the money will be coming from Rosenberg, of course," Lilah said with a sneer.
"Prove it," said Willow, opening the office door. "We may eventually be investing in the company, if they seem to be making a success of things, but that's down to our financial and legal advisors."
"And they might be...?"
"Actually, we hired Wolfram and Hart for some of the legal work. I'm pretty sure that they set up Wilkins Investments too, and drew up the Mayor's will. Didn't anyone mention it to you? No?"
"You know," said Wesley, "Your department does seem to be rather... exposed, shall we say. Poor Lindsey took the blame last time, I wonder who's next. You, or possibly that Park chap? I wonder what the Bar Association will have to say if it becomes known that you've been working against the interests of your clients."
"That's an interesting point," said Lilah. "Now, if there's nothing else...?"
"Don't forget to take your friends with you," said Cordelia, pointing at the mercenaries on the floor. Lilah issued some terse orders, and the survivors began to move the others out.
"They didn't leave any bugs," April said a few minutes later, after Lilah and her forces had left.
"Thank the Goddess for that," said Willow.
"What was that about Angel not being Connor's dad?" asked Cordelia
"I'm sorry that I couldn't tell you earlier," said Wesley, "but your reaction had to look real."
"What do you mean?"
"It's what this evening was really about. Harmony was there to draw attention from the arrival of Zap. And Zap was there to substitute a few blood, tissue and hair samples, everything else was cover for that. We made sure that the building as a whole took enough damage to cover his tracks in their laboratories. Any tests they run now will show that Lindsey is Connor's father."
"That's pretty good," said Cordelia. "Think it'll work?"
"It's called FUD," said Willow. "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. They'll get their act together eventually, maybe realise what we've done... hell, Lilah may already suspect. But they won't know for sure, not the way we messed things up for them. And they know now that most of the prophecies are wrong, so they ought to be pretty cautious for a while. And we weren't kidding about the Bar Association. They set out to be lawyers, they're gonna have to live with the consequences."
"How the hell did you get the Watchers in on the act?" asked Faith. "They wanted to bury me."
"Simple," said Wesley. "Willow gave them a million pounds and suggested that the best use for a Slayer was working against the forces of darkness, not rotting in a cell. And they really wanted to recruit Holtz, which helped considerably since I could broker the deal. I take it that you have no objection to working for Angel Investigations until your parole ends?"
Fred came in with Zap riding her shoulder and handed him over to April, who took him upstairs to put him into his body.
"Did you run into any trouble," asked Wesley.
"Harmony tried to hitch a ride," said Fred. "Zap had to knock her out."
"Where is she?"
"I left her on the street. Couldn't bring myself to stake her, and I knew that if I brought her back Holtz would do it. Where is he anyway?"
"He and Justine are on their way to London, I hope," said Wesley. "With air tickets and passports provided by the Watchers Council."
"So they get a happy ending," said Cordelia. "Everyone does, I guess, except for poor Angel."
"Now that we've admitted he's dead," said Willow, "I guess we'll have to hold a wake. It's what he would have wanted."
That's actually more or less the end of the story, everything else will be aftermath and epilogue. Comments please before I post to archives.