Posted here: 05-26-2002
Summary: A small town. A horrifying secret
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Just ask.
June 12, 2003
“Please, don’t hurt me,” Carol Emerson begged.
The two masked individuals paid no attention to her. They dragged the young woman by both arms past the procession of people.
A twenty-foot wide pathway had been cut down through the cornfield in which all had gathered. People stood single file along both sides of the pathway, holding small torches and chanting in Latin. The procession all wore dark, flowing robes and wooden masks covering their faces.
“Please, you’re scaring me. What are you doing?”
The two continued to drag the woman through the aisle of corn until they reached a hundred foot wide clearing in the center of the cornfield. Carol looked around in fear at her surroundings. In the center of the clearing stood a large rectangular boulder, standing perhaps ten feet high and six feet wide. On three sides were lit large bonfires, and in front was a stone bench.
The two men holding her stopped at the clearing’s edge. The double row of people walked by them, torches held high as they continued to chant. The processions stopped when the lead individuals reached spots on either side of the bench.
From behind her, another appeared. This person was different from the rest. His robe was a bright red, and the mask he wore was decorated in the fashion of some monster. The being walked confidently down the center of the aisle of parishioners. When he reached the bench, he turned around and nodded at the two holding Carol.
“What’s going on?” she cried. “Why are you doing this?”
The two dragged her past the parishioners and threw her before the red cloaked being. Cold blue eyes stared down at her through the mask. “What’s happening?” she cried again. “Let me go, please!”
The red being ignored her and began to chant in Latin. Hands raised in the air, he cried out emphatically.
Then he was silent.
He turned, and from his cloth removed some powders. Chanting a few phrases, he tossed the powder at the boulder. Then again, silence.
The fear in Carol was multiplied as the boulder began to glow a bright yellow, seemingly turning the night into day. The boulder did so for a minute before fading out.
The red being turned back and faced Carol. For the first time that night, English was spoken.
“Josiah has deemed you…unworthy.”
“What?” Carol screamed. “I don’t understand.”
The red being spoke no more. He nodded to the lead parishioner on his left. From his cloak was produced an axe. Carol tried to jump back, but the two who brought her grabbed her once more. The red being moved aside, allowing the two to throw Carol on the bench.
Forcing her on her back, the two strapped her down, the young girl screaming all the while. “Please stop! What are you doing?” Carol struggled against the ropes, but was unable to break free.
The axe man stepped closer and raised his blade. With a swift stroke, he brought it down.
County Road W
Three miles outside Serenity, California
June 20, 2003
Cordelia Chase lifted the hood of the Plymouth convertible. Brushing back a piece of stray hair, she shook her head in disgust. “It’s the radiator,” she said.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, that is why you always check the engine before going on long road trips.” Faith hopped from the passenger seat and joined Cordelia in looking at the boiling over radiator. “Oh yeah, that puppy is shot.”
“Thank you, Faith,” Cordelia said dryly. “But I kinda noticed.”
Faith grinned in amusement. “Hey, just trying to lend a helping hand. Offer input, trying to be a productive member of the Angel Investigations team.” Faith then turned serious. “Well, we’re a couple miles from the nearest town. You wanna walk it or wait to see if a kindly local will give us a ride?”
“Number two is sounding good to me.” Cordelia pointed in the distance. Coming towards them on the gravel road was a pickup truck. “You wanna show leg to get him to stop, or you want me to do it?”
The two women waved their arms at the coming vehicle. Both breathed a sigh of relief as the truck slowed to a stop by the side of the road. “Car trouble?” the middle aged man asked.
“Nah, we stopped to set up a produce stand,” Faith muttered.
Cordelia grinned at the slayer’s quip before answering. “Yes sir. It looks like our radiator is shot. Could you give us a ride into town?”
“Sure can,” the man smiled. Faith almost busted out laughing at the man’s yellowed teeth. “Hop in back. I’ll drop you off at the auto repair shop.”
“Thank you. We’d appreciate it,” Cordelia said. They hurried back to the car and grabbed a few bags. Then the two women went around back and hopped in the bed of the truck. Once they swept away some beer cans, they took a seat. In moments, they were moving again.
“You gonna call Angel when we get in town?” Faith asked. “He’ll probably be worried about us.”
Cordelia gave a sardonic grin at Faith. “He’ll be more worried about needing a new radiator than anything else.” Faith laughed. It was probably true. “I figure we can get a hotel room, then I’ll call him. He’ll need to call that Davidson guy and tell him we’ll be late for our appointment.”
“Yup,” Faith agreed. “Until we get a new radiator, Sacramento will have to wait.”
Earlier that day
“Angel, it’ll be a simple job. I’ll only be gone two days, three at most. I’m sure things won’t fall apart that quickly around here without me.”
“That’s not what I’m concerned about,” Angel sighed. He loved the girl, he really did, but sometimes she frustrated the hell out of him. “I don’t like the idea of you going up to Sacramento by yourself.”
Cordelia turned her best smile on the vampire, the one that turned him into putty that she could mold. “Angel, I’m a big girl. I’m also half demon, and I’ve learned self-defense from the best. Besides, the job is to exterminate an apartment full of Vocklar demons. A Chihuahua could kill one of those things.”
“I know that’s what the guy says, but how do we know? You’re going to be a couple hundred miles away. We won’t be able to help you if you need it.”
Cordelia gave the frustrated vampire a kiss on the cheek. “I get that you want to protect me,” she started, “but I’ll be fine. Anyway, no use in arguing. Since I’ll be traveling in daytime you can’t ride up there with me.”
“I wasn’t going to suggest that I go,” Angel defended. “I want you to take Faith.”
“Because. She just got paroled, she just got a place to stay, and she just got a job. I want her to feel like she’s earning her keep around here, that I’m not letting her stay out of obligation or something. Besides, it’ll be someone to watch your back. And, maybe give you an opportunity to get to know each other. You know, girl to girl.”
He wasn’t going to relent on this, she realized. “Fine,” she huffed. “Go up and tell Faith to be ready in thirty minutes. I want to be up there by sundown.”
Angel smiled and pulled his Seer close for a kiss. “That wasn’t such a big deal, now was it?” he asked.
“I guess not,” she begrudgingly admitted. She more than willingly accepted the vampire’s kiss.
“Do I get a goodbye smooch, too?” Faith quipped. The recently paroled slayer had a duffle bag all set.
Cordelia pulled away and glared at the vampire. Angel had the good sense to look embarrassed. “I might have told her I might be able to, uh, you know, let her come with you.”
Smiling would ruin the death look she sent him. “If I didn’t need to go real soon, I’d take the time to stake you.”
“What about my smoochie?” Faith asked again.
Angel rushed over to the newly employed slayer and gave a peck on the cheek. It was an excuse to get away from Cordelia. He thought she was only pretending to be mad, but he knew best not to chance it.
“Come on, Faith,” Cordelia called. “Looks like a road trip.”
The head mechanic looked to be about fifty. With calloused hands and a smile missing a few teeth, he wasn’t the prettiest thing either woman had ever seen. They also didn’t like what he was saying.
“I’m sorry, Miss,” Henry said, rubbing the stubble at his chin. “But it’ll probably be three, maybe four days before we can get a new radiator in for ya.”
“I don’t believe this,” Cordelia said.
“I’m sorry,” Henry apologized again. “This is a small town. There’s no need to carry around parts for a 1960’s Plymouth.”
Cordelia was, to say the least, very upset. She felt a hand on her arm and turned to face Faith. “C’mon,” Faith said. “It won’t do any good to get upset. Let’s just get a hotel room and get some rest.”
When did Faith become the voice of logic? But still, Cordelia had to agree. Losing her temper would not help matters. “Fine. Sir, we’ll be back tomorrow to discuss this further. Is there a hotel around here that we can stay at?”
“Sure is,” Henry nodded. “Just down the road here about half a mile.”
Resignedly, Faith and Cordelia gathered their bags and began to trudge off in the direction Henry had pointed. They had gone only ten feet or so when they saw another young woman arguing with a second mechanic. The young blonde woman walked away, realizing the argument was going nowhere.
“Can you believe this town?” she asked when Cordelia and Faith approached her. “Four days ago they told me it’d take 72 hours to get me a new carburetor. Now they’re telling me it might be another two days. I can’t believe this damn town.”
“We know the feeling,” Faith sympathized. “They just told us maybe four days for a new radiator.”
“I swear they’re trying to run some scam,” the blonde huffed. “You girls heading to the hotel?”
“Yeah. Mechanic said it’s about half a mile?”
“That’s about right,” the woman said. “Don’t worry, there will be plenty of room. Surprise, surprise, but this place doesn’t seem to be a big tourist spot. I feel like I’m in Deliverance or something. By the way, my name is Andrea Ballinger.”
“I’m Cordelia Chase, this is Faith Burton. Pleased to meet you.”
The three women walked slowly back towards the hotel. None noticed the sheriff car that pulled up at the repair shop. The sheriff rolled down his window and called Henry over.
“I don’t believe I’ve seen those two before.”
“Their car broke down outside town. Radiator. Told ‘em it’d be a few days before I could get the part.”
“Good,” the sheriff said. “That’ll give us time to watch them.”
“You don’t want to just grab them all tonight?”
“No. We performed the ceremony just last week. We should wait a few more days. Don’t want any eyebrows to be raised.”
“Well, that one has already been here a few days. I don’t know how much longer I can stall before she tries to find another means out.”
The sheriff turned a pair of cold blue eyes on the mechanic. “If she asks, say the part will come in day after tomorrow. We’ll have a meeting tonight. We’ll prepare her for tomorrow night.”
“And those other two?”
“We will deal with them,” the sheriff said. “Just like the others.”
“No, Angel, we’re fine. Just an unforeseen delay.” Cordelia tucked the cell phone to her shoulder as she tossed some jeans into a drawer. “They say it could be a few days before we get a radiator. I know it’s bullshit, but we’re not exactly in a bustling metropolis. Things apparently take time around here. No, Faith is fine. Ya wanna say hi?” Cordelia held the phone out.
“Hi, sugar daddy!” Faith called. The slayer claimed the single bed furthest from the door as her own. “Cordy’s being mean to me!”
Cordelia tucked the phone back to her shoulder. “Just ignore her. She doesn’t know mean until I try to smother her with a pillow. Angel, I’m sure we’re fine. Just call Davidson and tell him we can’t get there until Friday. I know he’ll be upset, but tough cookies. Who else will exterminate an infestation of Vocklar demons? I can’t see Animal Control trying to deal with them. Bunch of guys in white overalls with butterfly nets trying to catch a couple dozen Vocklars. Listen, we’ll call if something goes wrong, right Faith?”
“Damn right!” Faith called out.
“You don’t have to come out and play knight in shining armor. Okay? I love you and I’ll call again tomorrow. Bye.”
“Oh, I wuv you,” Faith teased. “I’ll call again tomorrow.”
“Shut up, Faith,” Cordelia said, turning a slight shade of red.
“Aw, Cordelia’s blushing! Tell you what, how ‘bout we scream each other’s name and bang the headboards to see if we can freak out the neighbors?”
“Shut up, Faith.”
Nearly two-dozen people gathered in the living room of Sheriff Michael Brady. The people talked animatedly to each other, discussing the possibility of having not one, but THREE visitors in their town.
Brady sat in his rocking chair, cold blue eyes surveying those around him. It was time to call things into order. “Ladies and gentlemen.” The room quickly fell silent. “We’re here to discuss what to do about our visitors.”
“We should all take them out to be judged immediately!” one person called out. A chorus of support rang out.
“We will not,” the sheriff said calmly. “We have not had time to observe our two newest guests. Josiah would be displeased if we hurried and made poor judgment. We shall watch them. As for the other, this Miss Ballinger. Tomorrow we shall gather. We shall take her before Josiah. Perhaps she will be The One.”
The crowd enthusiastically agreed. Yes, maybe this girl would be The One.