Soulripper 13

Part 13: Storm Rising

“What the fuck is that?” Gunn shouted.

Angel returned shortly after sundown to the hotel. When everyone came out to greet him, they noticed the way the trunk of his convertible sagged. When the vampire popped the trunk, they found something that shocked them all.

“That,” Angel said seriously, “is 200 pounds of C-5 explosive.”

The gang stared at the 20 bricks of explosive that weighed down the car. Willow carefully took one of the bricks in her hand. It was plainly marked: US ARMY, C-5 HIGH EXPLOSIVE, PLASTIQUE.

“Um, Angel, I don’t mean to be a snoop, but where the fuck did you get plastic explosives from?” Willow asked.

Angel grimaced as he remembered. “We destroyed a vampire clan in south LA. They were major weapons runners. I went and found their main competition, a group led by a Mosack demon named Sumner. When he found out I was responsible for him now having a monopoly, he was gracious enough to give me some complementary explosives.”

“Nice guy,” Tara commented.

“Not really,” Angel answered. “If Angelus was still around, Sumner would be at the top of his hit list. He’s got a real bad attitude. He also has a tendency to smell like cottage cheese.”

Everyone was still staring at the explosives in awe. “Uh, Angelcakes, I hate to be the one to ask a stupid question, but what the hell are you planning on doing with 200 pounds of explosive?”

“Well Lorne,” Angel said, “I plan on killing them all. Two hundred pounds should be enough.”

“Should?” Gunn asked incredulously. “Angel, dude, fifty pounds of that stuff will level a building. Two hundred will obliterate it.”

“Like I said, two hundred should be enough.”

“I’m going to assume you have a plan,” Tara said.

Angel slammed the trunk shut, much to the chagrin of the gang. “Don’t worry,” he said. “They can’t go off unless the detonator is in place.”

“I’d rather not test that assumption,” Lorne declared. “But Cutie Pie brought up an interest point there, something about a plan I believe it was.”

“It’s simple: Tara uses her spell to blanket movement. Gunn and Groo haul Cordy out to safety. Meanwhile, I create a major distraction by parking the next Oklahoma City right in Kelemoke’s living room. I’ll try to find a way out, then I’ll blow the place down.”

“Try to find?” Fred asked fearfully.

“Try,” Angel said emotionlessly. “If I can’t, then the place goes down anyway.”

“But wouldn’t this kill you?” Groo added. The group moaned at his stupidity, while Lorne tried to refrain from slapping the back of his head.

It was Willow who spoke for the group. “Um, Angel? I think everyone will agree with me when I say Bad Plan. Very Bad Plan.”

“Well, one way or another that place is coming down. Personally, I’d appreciate it if you guys rescued her before I flip the switch.”

“Angel!” Willow tried to reason. “You cannot just destroy a building!”

“Why not?”

Willow would have laughed if the vampire didn’t look so serious. “Do you even realize the ramifications of doing so? This isn’t like staking a vampire. There will be evidence of a bombing. The hollowed out crater in downtown Los Angeles will probably be a giveaway. If you go through with this, the authorities will find you. It might be tough to explain certain things, like the fact you’re a vampire.”

“Willow,” Angel said gently, “they will not trace anything back to me. This C-5 has been missing for several months. If they can trace it, it will lead them to Sumner and his people, not me. And it’s not like they can trace this car to me either. Since I’ve never officially owned a vehicle, plus the fact that I don’t have a valid Social Security Number, Driver’s License, or Birth Certificate. I’m a ghost. You can’t trace a ghost.”

Willow threw up her arms in frustration. “Will somebody reason with this stupid vampire?”

It was Gunn that stepped forward. “When do we do it?”

“What?!” Fred, Willow, and Tara all turned to face him. “Charles, what the hell are you saying?” Gunn didn’t flinch at his girlfriend’s tirade. “He can’t blow up a building! It’s ridiculous, it’s…”

“The best idea we have,” Gunn answered calmly.

“It’s best by default,” Lorne said. “If there’s only one team, that kind of makes them the best whether they play or not.”

“Are there any other choices?” Gunn shot back. “We go charging in? The seven of us? Against something like fifty vampires? We’re good, but were not that good.”

Silence fell as they considered the options. Not that there were many. But still, blowing up a building? It was suicidal at best for Angel. He may have done some awful things recently, but none believed his death to be an acceptable outcome.

“It’s simple,” Angel said. “Either you’re with me, or you’re not. I could care less. But one way or another, that place, and every vampire inside will be destroyed. I’d just prefer Cordelia wasn’t there as well. Tara?”

The vampire’s piercing brown eyes captured hers, demanding an answer. Sighing in resignation, she agreed. “I’ll do the spell.”

“Gunn, Groo?

“I’m in,” Gunn answered.

“So am I.”

“I am too,” Willow said. “I’ll go with the boys. Just in case there’s trouble.”

“Where Charles goes, so do I,” Fred stated.

“Well, I’m certainly not going to be the lone duck on this pond,” Lorne said. “I guess I’m in.”

“When do we do it?” Tara asked.

“Just before sunrise,” Angel said. “When all the vampires will be there. I want to kill them all.”

***********

“I have to say, Miss Chase, I’m surprised Angel hasn’t appeared yet,” Kelemoke said. The master vampire sat on Angelus’ bed flipping through a copy of Playboy. “Hello Miss February,” he whistled. He tossed the magazine aside at Cordelia’s disgusted look.

“As I was saying, I expected Angel to come charging in last night. I’ve never known him to have much restraint.”

“Maybe he’s changed more than you think,” Cordelia told him.

Kelemoke laughed at the suggestion. “My dear, perhaps you give him too much credit. At his core he is still a malevolent entity. Brutal, savage, impulsive. I think that has all been proven.”

“But that’s when he’s soulless,” Cordelia argued.

“And now he has a soul,” Kelemoke agreed. “But even without a soul, you were the object of all his desires. With a soul, those feelings are only intensified. Emotions can be a real bitch, as you Americans might say. He’ll come for you, and soon, I hope.

“Buy anyway,” Kelemoke continued, “I’ll leave you alone now. It’s nearly two in the morning, and I still haven’t eaten yet.”

“Yeah, you go do that,” Cordelia said dryly. “You gotta keep your strength up. But before you go, how about letting me out of these handcuffs? I think my hands are turning blue. Besides, it’s time for a bathroom break.”

Kelemoke thought for a moment before calling in two of his minions. “Please free Miss Chase from her bounds,” he ordered the minions. “Escort her to the bathroom. When you bring her back in, you may keep the handcuffs off.”

Kelemoke then breezed out of the room, leaving Cordelia alone with the two minions. Even though she knew they wouldn’t hurt her, it still made her anxious. Once more, she prayed to whoever was listening to send her some help.

**********

Under a street lamp at the Rest and Go Motel, Willow and Tara sat on the curb. Tara sipped a Doctor Pepper while flipping through her magic book. She’d long memorized the spell she would need, but now she was merely killing time.

Willow sat next to her, a can of Sprite between her legs and a cellphone to her ear. “Yeah, Buffy, I know we’ve been gone a while,” she spoke to he friend. “We’re still here in LA helping out on the case. No everything’s cool. It’s just with Wesley on sabbatical, Cordy and Angel needed someone to help with research and such.

“No, you don’t need to come down here. If all goes well, we should be home in a day or two. Yeah, I did see the news about that. Yeah, it is the law firm Angel’s been having trouble with. I don’t really know what that was about. Maybe they pissed off the wrong client. From what Cordy and Angel have said, they’re scum.”

When Willow saw Gunn coming out of the hotel, she spoke quickly. “Hey Buffy? I’m going to need to let you go. Yeah, we got some night work to do. Sorry for calling so late. Goodbye.”

“You lied to her,” Tara said without looking away from her book.

“Yup,” Willow said simply. “It’s need to know information, she didn’t need to know.”

“You’ve seen too many X-Files.”

“Probably,” Willow agreed. Gunn crossed the parking lot to where the two women were sitting. “Is it time?”

“It’s time.”

The women slowly rose to their feet and followed Gunn back inside. Glancing at her watch, Willow noticed it was only an hour and a half until sunrise. Willow caught Tara’s eye, and in a simultaneous moment, both understood the truth of the situation.

Good or bad, it all ended in 90 minutes.

*********

Angel pulled the Cadillac to a stop a block away from the garage entrance to Kelemoke’s building. On the opposite side of the building, the rest of the gang would be gathering to make the extraction.

Taking a deep breath, Angel tried to steady himself. Contrary to what the others believed, he didn’t want to die. Not again. Because he knew where he’d go afterward.

But Angel had every confidence that they could rescue Cordelia. So he didn’t have to worry about her getting hurt. And he knew what he had to do. Remove the threat. Because Angel knew if he didn’t, Kelemoke would launch a campaign to destroy them all. But Kelemoke wouldn’t have the chance.

“God. I know I’ve done some evil things in my lifetime. I know I’m a monster, an abomination, a plague. I also realize you might not even be listening to me right now. But if you are, please give me the strength to do this. Give me the strength to keep my family safe one last time.”

With that, Angel floored the accelerator. The Cadillac flew down the street and onto the entrance tunnel. The car shattered through the gate at over sixty miles per hour. The sentries could do nothing but leap out of the way.

Slamming the brakes, the car skidded to a stop in the center of the garage. Quickly, he reached into the glove box and removed the radio detonator. Tucking the small controller in his jacket pocket, he glanced at the clock. The gang had thirteen minutes to find Cordelia and get her out. Meanwhile, Angel wanted to find Kelemoke. Dying by a bomb was too good for him. Angel wanted to see his face when he buried a stake in his chest.

“Angelus!”

Angel turned and saw the two sentries streaking towards him. Pulling out the crossbow slung inside his coat, Angel ended both of their lives. Angel took a moment to look at his watch. Twelve minutes, twenty seconds left.

Angel calmly walked to the elevators and pressed the button. Seconds later an elevator opened up. Climbing aboard, Angel pressed ‘3’. He would find Kelemoke there.

PART FOURTEEN

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