Boris, Doris, & Faith
Chapter 2 - Part 1
Gib sometimes comes across as somewhat of a buffoon, always telling bad jokes and trying to lighten the mood through humor. And sometimes he comes across as a quasi 'yes man' with a grating subservient manner. But underneath it all my Dad always said Gib was the one you went to when you needed to get something done as he had all of the contacts to get things accomplished.
He certainly proved it when we reached the hospital in Cambria. We had barely gotten the injured ones off the bus when a military helicopter landed on the hospital's helipad. Gib, Kennedy, and I were quickly whisked down the coast to Vandenburg Air Force Base where Gib got us on a military cargo jet to fly us to Washington.
I had never been on a military jet before, well excluding a five-minute, terror-filled flight with my Dad, and didn't know what to expect. While this plane had the big open cargo area I was expecting, it also had a small seating area for 20 right behind the cockpit that looked like it had come straight out of an everyday commercial jet.
When the three of us climbed aboard the seating area was empty. I had this fantasy I was joining some 'James Bond Movie' type organization and that the whole plane was at our disposal. However five minutes after we boarded I could hear cargo being loaded in the back and more people started boarding. Gib's 'pull' meant we were able to bump three people who were flying military standby!
It might have been nice if my fantasy had been true, as Kennedy and I were getting a lot of unwelcome stares. Not the 'wow, you are the two hottest babes I have ever seen' unwelcome stares. No, these were the 'Eww, what are you two filthy people doing in our nice clean airplane' unwelcome stares. The day had been moving so fast; we were still wearing the same clothes from the battle with 'The First'. My leather pants and jacket were torn in several places. My white tee shirt was nowhere near white and had several large, nasty bloodstains. Mostly my blood, but fortunately my slayer metabolism had healed the wounds. Kennedy's clothes weren't any better.
And that wasn't even the worst. No, definitely our smell was the worst. There are two kinds of sweat. The good kind you get from a hard workout in the gym or wonderful session in the bedroom. The good kind smells okay in an erotic sort of way. Then there is the bad kind of sweat you get when you are fighting for your life and the fear factor is right up to your eyeballs. After the fight with 'The First' we definitely smelled from of the bad kind of sweat. Add the disgustingly bad odors from the cavern that were lingering in our clothes & hair and I wouldn't want to be seating next to us for a five hour flight either. Gib had been hustling us so fast to make this flight we barely had time to duck into a restroom to wash our hands and faces.
Kennedy and I took a couple of seats in the front while Gib pulled his cell phone and wandered up to the galley. A few minutes later a crew chief brought us a couple of boxed lunches and two bottles of water. Apparently Gib realized it had been quite some time since we had eaten.
As we sat there eating and watching the other people boarding, Kennedy leaned over and asked. "Is it always like this?"
"What?" I asked not certain what she was talking about.
"The rush. My body is throbbing with power. It constantly feels like I need to go run or fight or do something to burn it down a little. It is hard to just sit here," she explained.
"It is always like that for me, unless I am seriously hurt. Eventually you will get use to it. I can ignore the feeling most of the time, but occasionally you just have to do something to burn off some energy. In prison sometimes I would hang from the top bunk by my knees and do stomach crunches. It would drive my cellmates crazy to watch me do crunches steadily for a couple of hours, but at least it had the side benefit of intimidating the other inmates so very few ever messed with me." Giving her a silly grin, I continued, "If it gets to be too much, let me know and we'll put on a little demonstration for the other passengers. Maybe a contest to see which of us can do the most one-handed handstand pushups in 15 minutes."
Kennedy got this cute little frown. "I thought we were suppose to keep a low profile with our slayer abilities."
Just then Gib walked up and sat in the seat on the other side of me.
"Yeah," I responded. "I guess you are probably right and we better do the push ups out of sight of the others."
Turning to Gib, I asked, "Speaking of Slayer abilities, how much do you know about our abilities and how many people in your organization know about us?"
"At this point I believe I am the only one at Omega Force with detailed knowledge of the slayers. A few others are aware of the Initiative and its activities, but without first hand experience their reports about demons and monsters are hard to shallow.
"If we are going to make you part of the organization and immediately let you go into the field," continued Gib. "We are going to have to brief Spencer Trilby, the head of the organization. He will probably need some kind of demonstration to convince him that you're an asset worth breaking rules for. And it may take some convincing. Your father convinced Mr. Trilby to make an exception for your Mom and I think he regrets this decision since it cost you both your parents. He is probably not going to want to risk losing you, too.
"If we do end up putting together a team and going to Romania, I want to brief the other team members to at least some degree. If we understand your capabilities, we can better plan our strategy."
Gib paused for the aircraft's take-off roll and climb-out before continuing. "As far as my knowledge about slayers, it is pretty limited. All I have are Dr. Margaret Walsh's reports. Apparently Buffy became associated with the Initiative a few weeks before Dr. Walsh's death and there are only a few terse entries. First, the slayer has enhanced strength, stamina, healing abilities, and fighting skills compared to a normal person. Second, that there are two slayers, Buffy and Faith."
At this point he glanced over to Kennedy and then asked, "From the comments back on the bus, I take it that Kennedy and some of the other girls are also slayers?"
As Kennedy nodded, I proceeded to give Gib the short version of the history of the slayers. How there had always been just one plus a large group of potentials. Then how we ended up with two active slayers. Finally, how we were able to turn all of the potential slayers in the world into active slayers.
After finishing the history of the slayers, I moved on to the topic of a demonstration for Mr. Trilby.
"If you need to convince Trilby of the value of having a couple of slayers on this mission, round up at least a dozen of your best martial arts people for a little demonstration."
"You really think the two of you can take on a dozen of our best people?" Gib slowly shook his head. "Some of our guys are world class and in their free time compete all over the world."
"You don't understand, only one of us will fight and the one who does is going to have to be careful to pull her punches. 12 on 1 should be a sufficient demonstration. Besides, if we do more than 12, we will have to push the speed up and the odds of someone accidentally getting killed become too high. As it is, I am afraid there will be a fair number of broken bones. You should definitely have some medical staff standing by."
I turned to Kennedy. "How about a coin flip at the start of the demo to see who gets to fight?"
When she shrugged her acceptance I turned back to Gib who was looking a little pale.
"Are you sure you're Harry and Helen's little girl?"
Chapter 2 - Part 2
Between the long flight and the time change it was almost eleven in the evening before we landed at Andrews Airforce Base on the outskirts of Washington. With the late hour and having lost everything but the filthy clothes on our backs in the destruction of Sunnydale, we ended up at WalMart to stock up on clean jeans & tee-shirts and the basic necessities like toothbrushes to get us through the next couple of days.
We were just exiting the store with Gib pushing a cart full of supplies when I felt the tingle. A Vamp. B always claimed she couldn't sense them. Well, I fell at the other extreme. If there was a vamp within a block I could feel it. However my problem is like the time with the mayor's assistant, I can tell there is a vamp within a block, but I can't always differentiate which person it is.
No one was within 20 feet of me except Gib and Kennedy, so I wasn't going to have that problem this time. Even before thinking about it my eyes were already scanning for the vamp and my body was cranking up for combat.
"Kennedy," I asked softly. "Do you feel it?"
"Feel what?" she asked in a conversational tone before she suddenly tensed. "Oh yeah, it's a vampire, right?"
I nodded. Good, it was still at least 150 feet away when she first sensed it.
"What direction," I asked.
We had ground to a halt in the middle of the parking lot, still a couple of rows from Gib's car. Kennedy slowly turned in a circle with one hand outstretched. She stopped with her hand pointed to the corner of the building.
"Around that side of the building," she said as she started moving in that direction.
"Wait," said Gib. "Are you saying there is a vampire here in Arlington?"
"Afraid so," I said as I pulled from the shopping cart the two wooden baseball bats I had forced Gib to purchase.
I handed one to Gib and then grabbed the ends of the other and quickly snapped it in two. I tossed the narrow, pointy half to Kennedy before dropping the larger portion back into the cart. I quickly did the same to the other bat and then pushed the cart between a couple of parked cars.
Gib was just standing there with a dumb look on his face, staring at the portion of the bat still in my hand. I grabbed his arm and started guiding him towards the corner of the store.
"Stay behind me," I said, not wanting Kennedy to get too far ahead. Sure, she had come through the battle with the über-vamps okay, but it was still her first day as a slayer.
As Gib and I rounded the corner, Kennedy had almost reached the pair of vamps. They were like a pair of cats playing with a mouse. Cats in full vamp face mode. The mouse was an attractive young blonde with a couple of WalMart blue plastic shopping bags clasped tightly in one hand.
The two vamps in black jeans, white tee-shirts, black leather jackets, and slicked back hair like something from a bad 50's movie were shoving the girl back and forth between them while talking trash. Spike once told me that the higher the fear in the victim the better the tang of the blood. Good thing for us slayers all vamps seemed to have this same tendency to play with their meal before eating, it sometimes gave us time to act.
Of course, we slayers have our own tradition of starting off with a sarcastic barb when there was time. As Kennedy approached them, it was interesting to see that she had picked up that habit from Buffy and me.
The vamps were so focused on their victim; they didn't notice Kennedy until she called out. "Hey, buttfaces, that girl is way too cute for you, I think she will be a lot happier playing with me."
The two vamps looked at Kennedy and then got big, very toothy grins. The taller one said with a bit of a lisp around his fangs, "How about you come party with us."
"Sorry," said Kennedy as she continued to approach. "I don't swing that way. If I WAS interested in boys, it certainly wouldn't be a skanky pair like you. Now give me the girl before my eyes start turning green. You won't like me when my eyes turn green."
Kennedy was now about eight feet away when the tall one squinted at her stupidly and said, "Your eyes are already green."
"Too bad for you," said Kennedy as she did a fast, hard, high sidekick to his chin.
The vampire went backwards in a flying double somersault, which ended in a very impressive faceplant. Even from 50 feet away Gib and I could hear the satisfying crunch of several vertebrae snapping.
Good, I thought. That will slow him down while Kennedy takes care of the other one.
Kennedy had pivoted straight from the kick towards the remaining vampire and grabbed the wrist, which was holding the girl. She tightened her grip on the pressure point just as we had trained her until his hand opened, releasing the girl.
With her free hand, Kennedy grabbed the girl, pulled her free, and shoved her towards us yelling, "Run!"
Of course, as always seems to happen, getting the victim clear gave the vamps a moment to regroup. The one who had been holding the girl grabbed Kennedy from behind in a bear hug as the other approached from her front. The one approaching her was slowed a little by the way his head was resting flat against his shoulder.
Finally, when he had approached within four feet and started to reach his arms towards her throat, Kennedy made her move. She slammed her head back into the face of the vamp behind her to loosen his grip. Then she walked her feet up the front of the approaching vamp, accelerating as she went until she managed a high backflip over the one holding her. As she descended she did a half twist, that I could never manage, and solidly kicked the vamp in the back forcing him into the other one.
Kennedy landed on her hands and pressed it into a quick handstand before performing two backflips and landing astride the two fallen vamps. As she completed the second rotation she pulled the stake she had tucked in the back of her pants and hidden beneath her jacket.
Landing on the pair she slammed the stake through both their hearts for that always-impressive double-kill.
An all around magnificent display until the final moment when she forgot to close her mouth, sucked in some vamp dust, and started to cough.
As I walked up shepherding Gib and the girl along I had to appauld.
"Woo-hoo. Way to go, K. I loved the backflip over the short one and the half twist to kick him in the back on the way down. I can never quite manage it and have to resort to a leg sweep to bring them down which leaves them within arms reach." As I finished, I gave her a traditional high five.
Then I turned to the girl and checked both sides of her throat. Clean, no blood, no toothmarks.
Still holding her chin in my right hand, I tilted her head back until she was looking me in the eye. "The WalMart parking lot is never a safe place for a pretty girl alone after dark. I hope you will take this incident to heart."
When she nodded, I asked, "Do you have a car or do you need a ride?"
She had a car, so after telling Kennedy to go with Gib to get the cart, I escorted the girl back to her car. By the time I had seen her safely on her way and got back to Gib's car the others were already there, loading the purchases in the trunk.
As we climbed into the car I could tell Kennedy was still wired from the fight. For me the post-fight solution to being wired was food or sex. I decided we better try food this time.
"Hey Gib, anywhere we can get something to eat this time of night?" I asked.
We settled on Chinese take-out. After swinging by there we finally headed over to Gib's house.
Gib still lived in the same house about a mile from my old house. It is kind of small and rather unkempt just like Gib himself. But at that moment all I cared was that it had a lot of hot water for the shower. Therefore while Gib put away the groceries from WalMart and got out some plates for the Chinese, Kennedy and I each grabbed a quick shower. It felt wonderful to have a clean body and clean clothes after what had been one of the longest days in my life.
Now I was ready for some food and then a solid seven hours of sleep. Normally my slayer enhanced body functions fine on four and a half hours sleep, but I knew from experience that after a hard day of fighting and stress I need a little extra to get back to peak performance. And tomorrow looked to be another interesting day, so I wanted to be at my best.
After wolfing down the Chinese and a brief discussion on vampires with Gib, Kennedy and I retired to Gib's guest bedroom. After my parent's disappearance I spent a number of nights in that bedroom. When I entered that room the first thing I noticed was 'Kookie', my stuffed Koala, still sitting on the shelf where I had left it. God, how I use to love Kookie.
We were barely in the bedroom when Kennedy stripped off her tee-shirt and crawled into bed. One look at her eyes and I could see she was still flying high from the fight with the vampires. Generally, I lean toward boys, but once and a while spending some time with girls can be fun too. And Kennedy looked like she was on fire.
Needless to say, I didn't get the seven hours of sleep I was hoping for when I arrived at Gib's house, more like two. I did start to have some understanding of Buffy's attraction for vampires, it was a lot more fun being with someone you didn't have to worry about hurting if you got overzealous. And overzealous we got. When dawn arrived and I saw the state of the room, I was actually a little embarrassed. Me, the badass slayer, embarrassed over the state of a room after sex.
Of course, this wasn't just any room. This was a room from my old life as Dana. Sweet, innocent Dana. It brought back memories and feelings I hadn't had in a long time. Therefore, the embarrassment. Compounded by the fact that Gib couldn't have helped hearing some of it. I mean when the bed collapsed like a scene out of an old movie and Kennedy started screaming at the top of her lungs. God.
Chapter 2 - Part 3
Breakfast started as a pretty somber affair. Gib was being the real gentleman with no mention of all the noise coming from the guest bedroom the night before, but obviously I was still little Dana in his mind and he was bothered by my behavior.
Kennedy was also very subdued. One look at her eyes and I knew she was bothered by what we had done. Not that the sex wasn't great, but that she was in love with Willow and felt she had betrayed her.
I reached over for my fourth piece of toast to go with the six eggs, four strips of bacon, and two helpings of hash browns. Gib's cooking and a slayer's metabolism made a wonderful combination. Finally, I tried to clear the air.
"Come on guys, it is stupid to pretend last night didn't happen. Gib, I am not fourteen year old Dana anymore. I am a slayer and a slayer's life is generally hard, scary, and short. You learn to grab pleasure where you can find it."
Turning to Kennedy, I continued. "K, yesterday was your first day as a slayer and it was about as intense as the first day can be. I mean being part of an apocalypse on your first day; even Buffy and I didn't experience that. So, of course, your emotions were on overload. I know from personal experience that like the constant rush you feel for combat, you also feel an almost overwhelming urge for sex after a slaying. Don't worry, you will learn to control it."
Kennedy still had an uncomfortable expression on her face. I reached over and squeezed her shoulder. "Did last night change your feelings for Willow?"
Kennedy shook her head. "No, I still love her." She looked at me and then dropped her eyes. "Last night was just sex. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was great sex, but just sex. I don't want to lose her."
"K talk to her. Willow has been through a lot in her life. I know she will understand. But it is important that you talk to her about this. Listen to an expert, secrets cause more harm in the long run than a painful truth." I lifted her chin. "Please talk to Willow."
I stared into her eyes until she finally gave a small nod of her head.
I leaned back in my chair. "Okay, what's on the agenda for today?"
Gib glanced down at his watch and then stood up. "We have a meeting in Mr. Trilby's office in 90 minutes. It's about a 45 minute drive from here so we need to clean up the kitchen and be on our way."
A quick twenty minutes later, we were out the door and piling into Gib's car. Gib was dressed in his usual sports coat and slacks. Apparently, casual business attire hadn't reached the spy business yet. Kennedy and I were however a lot more casual: jeans, tee-shirts, and battered leather jackets. We had done what we could to clean up the jackets, but late spring in Washington was still too cool to leave them behind. At least WalMart had stocked my favorite lipstick, Midnight Passion, a deep burgundy shade, almost plum.
Gib drove us into central Washington. I was surprised when he pulled into the parking garage under a typical office building, about ten stories tall with the standard glass and metal exterior. We got out of the car and walked over to the elevator. We entered the elevator and I was just about to ask Gib about the mundane location of the agency when he inserted a key and the elevator started to go down instead of up. Not some impossible distance like in the movies, more like five or six floors.
The elevator opened into a small alcove with a secretary behind a desk. At the only door, Gib swiped a badge he pulled from his jacket pocket and punched his access code. The door clicked and Gib waved us through. We entered a short twenty-foot long hall. At the end it turned 90 degrees and extended another twenty feet before widening out into a much larger area. At the entrance to this larger area was another desk this time with two armed and uniformed security guards. Beyond the security desk were three hallways heading off in different directions. Also beyond the security desk was the normal hustle and bustle of a typical office.
Gib stepped up to the security desk and told the security guard on the left that we had an appointment with Mr. Trilby. The guard nodded and pointed to the hallway off to the left.
As Gib ushered us down the indicated hallway he said, "The first stop is the security office to get you temporary badges. No big deal, just get your photo taken and sign a couple of non-disclosure security forms."
A middle-aged woman manned the badge room. After Gib explained what we needed, the woman started by taking our photos. Then she asked me for my name to put on the badge.
I looked briefly over to Gib before deciding this was one of those times requiring my real name. "Dana Tasker," I responded.
"Any relation to Helen?" she asked.
"My mom," I responded, perhaps a little tersely.
She didn't seem to take any offense. "It was so sad when they disappeared on that mission. We try to be somewhat of a family here, since we can't discuss our jobs with our real families. When someone doesn't come back, it is really hard on all of us, but especially when it is someone like your mom. Even though she was only here for a couple of years, she had made a lot of friends."
"Now, dear," she continued. "Do you have a nickname you would like on your badge?"
"Nickname?" I asked sort of dumbly.
"Sure," she said holding up her own badge. "See, my name is Katherine Anne Harmon, but everyone calls me Kat. So I have Kat in big, easy to read letters above the photo and K.A. Harmon in small letters below."
"Ah, I didn't realize you would do that. I go by Faith."
"Well, then Faith it is. As I said, we try to be one big family here."
I was smiling as Kat turned to Kennedy. "And your name, dear?"
In the same way I had always been just Faith, Kennedy had always been just Kennedy. So I was surprised when she answered. "Rose DuPont."
Kennedy had never flaunted it, but also she had never made a secret that her family was well off. However, the DuPonts?
"DuPont?" I asked. "As in DuPont Chemicals?"
"Yeah, my step-father is on the board of directors. He heads up the finance committee. He is also on the boards of a number of other big companies. He doesn't need the money, but that's what he loves to do."
"If you don't mind my asking," said Gib. "Where did the name Kennedy come from?"
Kennedy shrugged. "It's no big secret. My mom remarried when I was five and my parents decided it was best if I was legally adopted and my last name changed to DuPont. My last name at birth was Kennedy. When Charles from the Watcher's Council first contacted me, he told me it was not uncommon for slayer's to pick new names when they were called. Sort of like nuns changing names. Anyway I had never cared that much for Rose or Rosie as my mom calls me, so rather than wait until I was called I decided to change it when Giles showed up to escort me to Sunnydale."
Suddenly, things clicked together in my head. Maybe it was my time in Boston where they were always in the news. "Are you saying your birth name is Rose Kennedy, as in 'The Rose Kennedy'?"
Kennedy nodded. "I was named for my great grandmother. My grandfather was Bobbie, although he was assassinated almost twenty years before I was born. All I know about him is from documentaries and some old home movies."
"So you are one of the heirs to the DuPont fortune, a Kennedy by birth, and now a slayer," I marveled.
"Yeah, and now that you have known me for a while I am sure you understand why I think of myself as Kennedy rather than as a DuPont. I mean, who has ever heard of a wild DuPont? It just doesn't happen. But a wild Kennedy? It seems natural."
As Kennedy finished speaking, Kat handed us our new badges. After signing about a zillion forms, okay maybe five, we were finished at the badge office.
Before we left Kat had some final instructions. "These temporary badges are good for a week. You don't need to return the badges here everyday. You can leave them at the guard desk and they will keep them until the next day."
At this point she reached across the counter and shook our hands. "I hope things work out. I hope to see you back sometime to get a permanent badge."
"Thanks for your help." I said and found I actually meant it.
After that we headed back past the security desk and down one of the other corridors. This corridor ended in a large open office area. At least forty computer workstations separated by short four-foot cubicle walls. At that moment I was glad I was the slayer. My life might be dangerous, but spending every day sitting at a computer would bore me to death.
After we past the cubicle area we entered another hallway, this one lined with conference rooms and executive offices. At the end of the hallway was a much larger office with a private secretary, obviously for the person in charge.
Gib stopped at the secretary's desk. "Good morning, Mrs. Jamison. We are here for the 9:30 meeting with Mr. Trilby."
Mrs. Jamison responded with a cool, professional smile. "Good morning, Albert. The meeting has been moved to the secure conference room. Mr. Trilby is on a conference call, but will join you shortly."
Gib nodded his thanks and turned to us. "This way ladies." He then headed back the way we had come. At the third door on the right he stopped and swiped his badge again. The room we entered already had four people sitting on one side of the long conference table. Gib directed us to seats on the opposite side of the table before he walked over to a small table in the corner and picked up the phone.
The others, three men and one woman, gave us a curious look and then went back to their conversation. Two of the men and the woman were all young and attractive. Well, young for the spy business, but pretty old by slayer standards, maybe upper twenties. The remaining man was at least in his early fifties.
I waited for someone to make introductions, but none of the others seemed so inclined and Gib stayed on the phone. My patience was starting to wear thin when the door to the conference room opened and another man entered.
From the instant quiet that overcame the others, it was apparent this was Spencer Trilby. He was tall, well built, about 65 and had the commanding presence of someone like Charlton Heston. Plus he wore an eye patch, similar to Xander's, which added to the overall effect. I wonder if Xander's will also make him look more distinguished in another forty years?
Gib quickly ended his call and hurried over to sit by us while Trilby took a seat at the head of the table. Trilby looked over at us and then asked in a deep, craggy voice, "Which one of you is Dana Tasker?"
I considered my usual sarcastic response, but decided it might not be the best approach here. No, these people looked to respond better to strength. I had discovered during my time in prison that it was possible to project my slayer strength with just my voice. Most of the other inmates would back down when I used my 'slayer voice'. Only the truly insane would keep coming and force a fight. Of course, there were plenty of the truly insane in prison, but hopefully these people weren't.
"I AM DANA TASKER, ALTHOUGH MY FRIENDS AND ENEMIES CALL ME FAITH. ONLY THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW OF ME CALL ME DANA." I answered in my most menacing tone. "AND WHO ARE ALL OF YOU?"
I have to give Trilby credit; he only scowled a little harder with his one good eye. The response in the others was more dramatic. The four across the table all blanched. One of the younger men gasped, slide his chair back, and reached into his jacket as though he was going for a gun in a shoulder holster.
Trilby quickly said, "Stand down, Daniels."
Even the people on my side of the table were caught by surprise. Gib let out a nervous little laugh. Kennedy had only seen me use my 'slayer voice' once or twice to distract vamps, but never on normal humans. She leaned over and whispered. "You need to teach me how to do that."
I just nodded, but kept my attention focused on Trilby. If I was going to become involved with this organization, I wanted to have as much power and freedom of action as possible.
After a moment Trilby stated, "Okay Faith, I am Spencer Trilby and I run the Omega Force. These are the people I have assigned to coordinate the search for your parents."
Then he proceeded to introduce the four across the table. Walter Stevens, the older gentleman, communications and encryption specialist. Rebecca Fairchild, field ops, weapons and linguistics specialist. Pete Daniels, field ops and vehicle specialist. Kelly MacDonald, computer specialist.
At this point he glanced over at Gib with an annoyed look on his face. "Gibson, here, seems to have assigned himself to this mission."
I shot Gib a glance. He shrugged his shoulders and got a sheepish expression on his face.
I turned back to Trilby and responded with my normal voice. "Gib brought me in because I have a personal interest in finding my parents. Plus he knew I had special gifts that would be an asset on this mission. Although he didn't really understand my abilities and only in the past 24 hours has started to get an inkling of what I can do.
"Now that I am aware that my parents may still be alive, I intend to find some answers. Gib thought we should work as a team, but if you disagree, then we can each pursue our own investigations. However from the little Gib has told me, I think you are in over your heads this time and are going to need my help before this is over."
The young guy who had gone for his gun, Daniels, was obviously a hothead, jumping into the conversation between his boss and me.
"What help can a couple of teenage girls provide?" He snarled. "We have the whole fucking U. S. Government for backup."
I picked at a torn fingernail for a minute realizing I should have picked up a manicure kit at WalMart last night. Finally I looked back over to Trilby and asked, "Have you learned anything useful from the old Gypsy lady?"
Trilby glanced at Gib and then responded. "Rebecca, please bring us up to date."
Rebecca Fairchild was almost the stereotypical female secret agent from the movies. Tall, almost six foot. Blonde with shoulder length straight hair. Athletic. The only thing marring the traditional look was the small pair of frameless glasses she was wearing. I found myself wondering what it would feel like to remove those glasses and stare directly into the ice blue eyes they were hiding. I guess the night with Kennedy was still affecting my thinking.
The woman seated across from us sat up a little straighter and answered, "Yes, sir." She tapped a purple mechanical pencil against the legal pad in front of her. "Unfortunately, there isn't much to tell yet. The woman arrived at nine o'clock last night. We had Professor Hunedoara, our consultant on southeast European languages from Georgetown University, standing by. He spent over an hour with her before giving up. Apparently she speaks some variation of the Romany language he doesn't know. Professor Hunedoara suggested three others that may be able to help us, language professors at SMU, Yale, and the University of Oregon. So far I have been unable to contact any of these individuals."
"You're telling me we've made no progress on the one solid lead we have?" asked Trilby.
Rebecca slowly nodded.
For the first time during the meeting Kennedy spoke up. "I may be able to help."
"You speak the old lady's language?" asked Rebecca with a surprised look.
Kennedy looked at me while chewing on her lower lip. "Willow gave me something before we left California. Not much as she didn't have many supplies left, but it should allow us to communicate with the woman for maybe an hour. Willow said she would make some talismen when she got to England that would solve our language problems while in Romania."
Rebecca asked, "Who is this Willow and what is this talk about talisman?"
I took a deep breath and stepped back into the conversation. This was always the hard part, convincing a room full of people of the existence of magic and demons and hell dimensions. Where was Willow to put on a little demonstration when I needed her?
"Willow is a friend of ours. She is a very powerful witch." I said.
"A witch," scoffed Daniels. "As in broomsticks, cauldrons, and long hooked noses with hairy moles?"
"You better be careful not to say things like that to her face. I don't think you would enjoy spending life as a rat," I replied with just a hint of a smile.
Kennedy jumped in to Willow's defense. "Hey, that's not fair. Willow didn't turn Amy into the rat. Amy did that to herself. Is it Willow's fault it took her three years to come up with a way to turn her back?"
I turned back to Trilby. "Magic is real. It doesn't intrude into your world often, but it is an integral part of mine. From what Albert has told me about the message you received from my father, I think his last mission drifted across the line into the world of magic."
"If magic exists," began Trilby. "How did Harry and Helen Tasker's little girl end up involved with it?"
"It's a long story, but here's the short version. Through out history one girl is chosen to defend the world against demons, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night. This girl is given special fighting abilities. This girl is the Slayer. When one Slayer is killed another is called. Four years ago when the previous slayer was killed I was called."
"And your friend here?" he asked.
"This is Kennedy. While there has always been only one slayer, there are many potential slayers. Who is chosen when the current slayer dies has always been a mystery. Anyway while we were fighting a big bad yesterday we broke the spell that always limited the world to one slayer and turned all of the potentials into slayers. So as of yesterday there may be forty to fifty slayers scattered around the world and Kennedy happens to be one of them."
At this point Gib spoke up. "The demo should be ready about now down in the training center."
"What demo?" inquired Trilby.
"We thought a little demonstration might convince you of the value of having a couple of slayers on your team, even if you are not yet willing to believe in magic. Although I think when you see the magic translation spell work on the old Gypsy woman you may start changing your mind a little about the realities of magic." I answered as I climbed to my feet.
"Mr. Trilby, if you would join us down in the training center," said Gib. "I think you will find this interesting."
"Hmm, I think I will do just that. It has been a long time since anything 'interesting' has happened inside this facility," said Trilby as he also stood up. "Rebecca, Daniels, you're with us. The rest of you, back to work."
With that the meeting was adjourned and Gib led us out of the conference room.
Chapter 2 - Part 4
We followed Gib down two floors to the training level. It was becoming obvious that this facility had a staff well into the hundreds. I was curious about how that many people could enter through the parking garage we came in without outsiders noticing. Gib explained that there were five different entrances to the facility scattered in different parking structures around the area. We had used that one because it was designed for first time visitors who needed to stop in the badge office.
The stairway down to the training level let us out in a weight room that could have been found in many upscale gyms. Off in the distance I could hear the muffled sounds of weapons fire, which is not something you hear in many upscale gyms. Fortunately, the soundproofing was quite good and the noise was not too annoying.
As we were walking towards an exit from the weights area at the far side of the room, Kennedy stopped by a man who was just finishing doing bench presses. The man was built a lot like my father, massive upper body slimming down to narrow hips and waist. Now I see where my Dad maintained his impressive physique.
Kennedy walked up to the man and said, "Can I try that? How much is the weight?"
The man, who was at least 6'3" and about 260 lbs, all muscle, looked at Kennedy, who is barely 5'4" and 105 lbs, and said, "200 Kilos."
Kennedy gave an uncomprehending stare and asked, "How much is that in real numbers?"
"That's 440 lbs. If you want to try it, let me take off the weights. The bar alone is 45 lbs and a good place to start, if you have never done this before," he replied with a surprising helpful tone.
I stepped forward and said, "How about letting me adjust the weights for you? I have done this a few times before." Then I proceed to add two more 25-kilo weights to each end of the bar.
"There," I said motioning Kennedy to the bench. "I always find 660 lbs a comfortable warm up amount before moving to the serious weights."
When the weightlifter gave me a dubious stare, I said, "Let me spot for you, so no one gets hurt."
The weightlifter merely shrugged assuming both of us together wouldn't be able to budge the bar, so he saw little need to interfere.
"Okay," I said to Kennedy. "Let's try a set of 30 reps with a nice smooth motion."
Kennedy firmly grasped the bar and got this very serious expression on her face. She cautiously lifted the bar off of the stand and lowered it down to her chest. After the first complete rep she paused and said, "Shit, Faith, this is too easy."
I smiled. "Let's see you get to 30 and then see if you still want to say that."
Kennedy grinned and started a steady up and down motion. At thirty she eased the bar back onto the stand and laid back. "The last couple were starting to hurt a little, let me rest a minute before you up the weight."
By this time we had drawn a small crowd of weightlifters in addition to the people who had come down from the conference room with us.
I looked over to the guy who had been doing the bench presses when we arrived and asked, "So what is the bench-press record here?"
He looked at me with a dumbfounded expression on his face and said, "Until today, the record was 255 kilos held by one of the old timers, Harry Tasker."
I had to smile at this reference to my Dad. I guess he wasn't totally forgotten by his old organization.
Trilby asked, "Was this your demo?"
"This?" I shook my head. "No, this was just for Kennedy's curiosity. She just got her 'gifts' yesterday and is still trying to understand her limits. Of course, the longer you are a slayer the stronger you become. If everyone would step back and give me some space I will show you."
After I had everyone backed away a good 15 feet I grabbed the dumbbell in the center with my right hand and lifted it off of the stand. I hoisted it over my head and started spinning it like an oversized cheerleader's baton. After a few seconds of that I proceeded into the normal warm-up routine I would do with a Thai fighting staff. It was a little awkward with 300 lbs at each end, but I just thought of it as the way batters put weights on the end of the bat during the warm-up swings.
After a two-minute routine of thrusts, parries, and swinging the bar around my body I ended with a thrust towards Daniels that ended two inches from his nose. He was the one who most needed to learn that I was the meanest, toughest person in the building. After holding the position for about five seconds, I withdrew and walked over to return the dumbbell to its stand.
As I turned around the round of applause I received from the clustered weightlifters surprised me. I laughed and then gave my best attempt at a feminine curtsy, not something I practiced often when battling vamps and demons. I got this surprisingly warm feeling inside that this would be a fun place to workout. The guys seemed to appreciate my abilities without completely freaking out.
As I walked back over to where Trilby and Gib were standing I stretched the muscles in my back and arms and said, "That was a pleasant warm-up. Usually I have to go into a fight cold. How about we proceed with the demo now?"
Trilby turned to Gib. "Gibson, exactly what is this demo you have planned?"
Gib, who was staring at me like he was overwhelmed by the things he had seen Kennedy and me do over the past 24 hours, finally turned to Trilby. "Faith requested that I gather the 12 best martial artists we have and she would fight them all at once to demonstrate her abilities and why she should be sent on the mission to look for her parents. On such short notice I was only able to locate nine guys. However three of the nine just witnessed this little display and none of them look too excited about fighting her."
Trilby looked back over at me. "In the good old days I use to be pretty good at martial arts, particularly with a staff or a sword. Even at my peak I couldn't move an eight-pound staff with the speed and precision you were showing with that 300-kilo dumbbell. I will concede that you can probably take my 12 best men in a fight." At this point he held out his hand to me. "I will happily welcome you and your friend aboard for this mission without the demo."
Gib got the goofy grin he gets when everything works out the way he planned. Kennedy was also all smiles that we would be proceeding forward with the mission.
I smiled at Trilby, who suddenly didn't seem to be that bad of a fellow, and shook the offered hand. "Great. I didn't want to have to hurt anyone just to prove a point. How about we go see the old Gypsy lady? Now that we are all on the same team I would like to start focusing on the mission."
Trilby nodded. "Normally, I would leave this to the specialists like Rebecca, but I am curious about this 'magical' translation method. If it works and these talisman you were talking about work, it could revolutionize our whole operation."
As we exited the exercise room I was trying to explain, based on my limited knowledge, the pros and cons of using magical devices for mundane tasks. I definitely needed to talk to Willow and Giles before making any commitments.
End of Chapter 2