Soulripper 10

Part 10: …Reaction

The sound of thunder echoed loudly, even in Room 17 at the Rest and Go Motel on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

“I know we’re on a tight budget here,” Lorne stated, “but couldn’t we get a hotel a little less roach infested to hide out in?”

“We could have,” Gunn agreed. “But that would entail staying in LA. It’s best to clear ground zero for a while. At least until we get an idea what Wolfram and Hart’s reaction in gonna be.”

“I guess,” Lorne agreed. “But what do we do about him?” All eyes turned to the still anesthetized figure of the ‘fantasma’.

“First, we get Angel’s soul back. After that, well, I guess we’ll figure something out.” Crouching by the body, Gunn began to search his pockets for identification. Finding a passport, he read aloud. “Everyone, say hello to Senor Carlos Ramirez Diaz.”

“Hello,” Groo said. Gunn and Lorne stared at him for a moment, wondering what the hell Cordy ever saw in him.

“Senor Diaz has been here since the 15th of February. This is a Peruvian passport,” Gunn observed. “Well, buddy, your passport has just been revoked.” Tossing the passport aside, Gunn removed the necklace from Diaz’s neck. “All we gotta do is bust this thing and the souls are released?”

“That’s what Red said. No incantations or anything.”

“Well, that’ll make it easy.” Gunn placed the necklace on a small table. Grabbing the complimentary Bible from the bedside drawers, Gunn prepared to do the job. Raising the book high above his head, he brought it back down hard on top of the beads.

The three occupants watched in awe as souls of all colors drifted slowly into the air. Pinks, blues, oranges, and greens filled the room. “That’s something you don’t see every day,” Lorne whispered.

A hot white flash blinded the occupants for a moment. When they recovered their vision, the colors were gone.

“I guess that’s it?” Gunn asked.

Any answer was interrupted by the sound of knocking. Crossing to the door, Lorne looked out the peephole. He quickly undid the bolt and opened the door. A drenched Willow, Tara, and Fred came in.

“Did you do it?” Willow asked.

“Done and done, Red,” Lorne answered. The women shed their rain-drenched coats and tossed them aside.

“You might want to turn the television to a news station,” Tara said. “We heard something pretty bad on the way here.”

Gunn grabbed the remote control and flipped the TV on. The sounds of a news report were quickly joined by images of the exterior of the Wolfram and Hart building.

“This is Debra Morris reporting live from Los Angeles at a scene that police are calling a massacre. Behind me is the law firm of Wolfram and Hart, a well-respected office. Inside are the bodies of two-dozen individuals reportedly the victims of a possible gang attack. 

“This brutal attack occurred only hours ago. Police are stunned by the discovery of the scene. At this time, authorities seem to have little idea who could possibly be behind the attacks. 

“Once again, this is Debra Morris reporting for Channel 8 news. We will provide more information as it becomes available.” 

The scene went back to a newsroom shot of some gray haired man trying to look sympathetic. Gunn flipped the television off. Everyone was stunned by the news.

“He fucking led a massacre,” Gunn said in disbelief. “If only we’d destroyed the necklace in the van, maybe we could have stopped that.”

“No,” Willow admonished. “Giving Angel his soul back wouldn’t have stopped that. There had to be at least a dozen other vampires to do that. We did all that we could do.” Willow almost believed that, and she saw that Gunn almost believed it too.

“I guess we’ll never know for sure, will we?” Gunn asked.

“Um, I hate to ruin the guilt thing,” Lorne started, “but I think Mister Diaz-Rahi or whatever is waking up.” The ‘fantasma’ was beginning to move slightly.

“Well, tape his mouth shut,” Gunn said. “Can’t have the son of a bitch screaming.” Looking at the gang, he asked, “So who votes we poor concrete around his feet and take him to the beach?”

*************
The old woman shrank back from Angel as he stumbled through the halls of Cordelia’s apartment complex. Edna Rhodes quickly unlocked her apartment and darted inside as the rain soaked form of the resouled vampire walked by.

Angel reached the end of the hallway. He grabbed the door handle and turned. Locked. “Hello?” he called meekly. He was greeted by a pair of resounding knocks. “Dennis, please, it’s Angel. Let me in.”

Angel heard the deadbolt turn. The door swung open. Tentatively reaching out, his hand was stopped by the barrier. “I can’t come in,” Angel said softly. “Please, I need to know where everyone is.”

As a puddle of rainwater pooled at his feet, Angel watched as a piece of paper was pulled from a desk drawer. A magic marker began to scribble upon it. Dennis then floated the paper to the door. ‘Come in’ it read.

Reaching out again, Angel was able to cross the threshold. “Thank you, Dennis,” Angel said. The vampire hesitantly stepped into the apartment. The place was an absolute mess. Makeshift beds were strewn all over the living room floors. The dining room table looked like a SWAT team command center. Glancing through the schematics, Angel realized his friends performed some sort of operation.

“But that doesn’t help me,” Angel muttered. “Dennis, I need you to tell me where the others are at.” When nothing happened after a few moments, Angel tried again. “Dennis, Cordelia is in danger. I need to know where everyone is so we can save her. Please, Dennis.”

A phone book was pulled from a drawer at the desk. Angel stepped closer as the pages turned. It was a strange sight to see. It looked as if a wind picked through the apartment and opened the book. When the pages stopped, Angel glanced to see what the ghost wanted to show him.

In the Yellow Pages, the Rest and Go Motel was circled in red marker. “Is this where they are?” Angel asked the ghost. Two knocks was his answer. Ripping the page from the book, he stuck it in his pocket. “Thank you, Dennis,” Angel said. “Now we have to go save Cordelia.

***************
Cordelia tried jerking on the handcuffs, but she only succeeded in making her wrists raw. “This would be a great time to manifest demon strength,” she muttered. Cordelia adjusted to a more comfortable position against the pole as she contemplated the recent occurrences.

First, she would like to know what the hell just happened. She remembered arguing with Angelus, and then she woke up with a nasty hangover. A burning sensation shot through her body. It was nothing like she had ever felt before. It was nothing she ever wanted to feel again, either.

She also wondered if the gang went ahead with the plan. She sure as hell hoped so. Cordelia would much prefer not having to face Angelus again. She wouldn’t have to stake him then.

But then, that made her wonder where the soulless wonder was. As much as Cordelia despised his presence, at least when he was around she could keep an eye on him. Who knew what he was doing, or killing, when he wasn’t around.

Cordelia strained her ears to listen to the noises outside the room. She could barely distinguish the sound of the black vampire’s voice. Kelemoke, she remembered. He sounded angry.

“What the fuck is going on?” Cordy wondered aloud.

************
Peter had the unfortunate assignment of telling his Master that Angelus was missing. He didn’t like it, but he drew the short straw. It was also a bitch because Kelemoke had a habit of killing the bearer of bad news. This time was no exception.

The minions stared at the spot where Peter had stood just moments before. A pile of dust was all that remained.

“Angelus just vanished?” Kelemoke shouted at his minions.

“Yes, Master,” Luke answered. “He disappeared as I went to inform the others of where to gather. He may have been the one to call the police.”

“Damn!” Kelemoke screamed. “Gather up some of our best minions. Sweep the city. I want you to search every hole and kick over any rock that son of a bitch might be hiding under! I want him brought here so I can ask the bastard why he ran. Then I will kill him.”

Luke obeyed his Master’s order. Gathering a dozen men, the vampires set out upon the city, searching for the warrior that had given them victories

**************
Diaz wouldn’t be waking anytime soon. Willow gave him a shot of some kind of sedative. He could try mumbling some kind of spell, she reasoned. Not that the gang minded, they really didn’t want to deal with the ‘fantasma’.

As Groo played with the television remote in awe, the rest of the gang tried to come up with some sort of plan. They looked to Gunn for some sort of leadership, but he was clueless about any sort of action.

“Hey, I just said follow through with today’s plan,” he defended. “That doesn’t make me Macarthur. Red, you’re smart, what do you think?”

As all eyes turned to her, she said, “Right now I think we need to concentrate on finding Angel and Cordelia. I think we can put of dealing with him for a while.” Everyone glanced at the him in question. Still unconscious.

“Easier said than done, Sweetie,” Lorne said. “We can assume Angel took Cordy to basecamp, but we have no idea where that is. And who’s to say we’ll find Broody. Wesley ran because he betrayed us. Angel’s worst nightmare came true. His demon attacked the people he cares about. Who says that he won’t try to run?”

A knocking at the door stopped Lorne’s speech. Rising to her feet, Tara crossed the short distance to the peephole. Turning back to Lorne, she said, “You were saying?” Unlocking the door, she opened it to reveal a rain soaked Angel.

“Hello,” Angel said softly. “Can I come in?”

PART ELEVEN

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