"BOADICIA"

Irvine...

    Sasha surveyed the room around her with no small amount of impatience.  She and her year of Slayer trainees sat impatiently in a prefab classroom that had been requisitioned from the local Irvine high school.

     The campus looked like it had survived a prolonged siege, but a place to teach is a place to teach.  Sasha frowned and tapped meditatively on the surface of her desk.  It was WHAT was supposed to be taught that she was internalley seething about.  A diffident tap on her shoulder made Sasha turn around; it proved to be Marco looking at her conspirationalley.

     "Okay, what have YOU heard about why we've been dumped back into acid flashback memories of highschool?"

     Sasha considered.  "Options: We're being held back because we aren't academic enough.  Or, we're here to mingle with the mortals that it is our responsibility to save, which is a bad idea because high school kids are idiots, or god knows what else.  And then there's GAVAL."

     "What about him?"

     "He's lost the Rush.  Basicalley got given a pink slip, a handshake, and the door.  But then, in the army and stuff people who've been forced to retire get brought in to teach.  They have experience."

     Marco's eyebrows were orbiting his scalp.  "You think GAVAL is going to come here and teach us?"

     "I'd like to see another option."

     The door was kicked open and a shambling, rangy proponent of Escaped Mental Patient Chic limped into the room.  Sasha's eyes narrowed.  The man didn't feel quite… right.  There was a tingly sensation about him, but not a full Rush.  It was still suspicious.  There was a brief moment while he surveyed the room, before heading for the blackboard.  The man grabbed a piece of chalk in front of the flabbergasted group of young Slayers and started to scrawl on the board, unleashing scrapes and squeals that felt like a nail file across the brain.  He stepped away, revealing a hideously poorly drawn, mangled caricature of a hovering skeleton surrounded by some form of nimbus, with strangely emphasized teeth.  The madman grabbed a metre ruler and made a sweeping gesture with it to punctuate his statement.

     "THIS!  Is the ENEMY!"

     He slammed the ruler into the board with a soul-shattering crack, making the class jump.  Several inches broke from the tip and caught him in the forehead with an audible thud.  The madman rubbed his face meditatively, before throwing the ruler to the teachers desk.

     "And THIS," he said, grabbing something behind the desk that made a metallic ‘tzing' sound as he picked it up, "is what we DO, to the ENEMY!"

     A large two-headed battle-axe was planted into the blackboard, which cracked.  A section of plaster fell from the ceiling,     hitting this creature on the head.  He brushed dust from himself and looked at the picture on the board.

     The madman pointed accusingly.  "Oh, you're STILL smiling, are you?  You cheating swine, I'll see about that…"

     There was a heavy thud as the apparition hauled a chainsaw onto the desk.  He yanked on the starter cord and the engine coughed repeatedly, but refused to engage.  He planted one foot on the desk to lean on, and tried again, to no avail.  Having seemingly forgotten about the class' presence, the madman shook the chainsaw and muttered something about petrol.

     He grinned unsettlingly up at the board.  "Oh, I'll get YOU, my pretty…" before pulling out a large roll of duct tape from his jacket.  The madman was searching for something else within the confines of his jacket, when Sasha spoke.

     "Uh, excuse me?"

     The apparition looked at the class with an audible "Hmm?" and an expression of bemused surprise, while clutching a roll of duct tape and with a grenade being held between his teeth.

     "The eraser?"

     The tall man managed to communicate through eyebrow semaphore around the grenade that he hadn't understood.  Sasha stood, moved to the board, and quietly erased the chalk image that had so agitated this individual.  For his part, the madman put down the duct tape and the grenade, and picked up the eraser.  He seemed to study it for a time, took a brief note on a grubby piece of paper which was then tucked back into the jacket.  He leant on the desk.

     "Right."

     There was a pause.  Sasha again chose to take the initiative.

     "Sir?"

     "Yes?"

     "Why are we here?  Why are YOU here?"

     "Ah, that's simple.  I'm supposed to teach you."

     The class, which had remained in a stunned silence throughout, broke into mutters or giggles.
Sasha raised an exquisite eyebrow.

     "You?"

     "Yup!" The grinning apparition sat down and put his boots up on the desk.

     Sasha asked the question clearly on the entire classes mind.  If the figure noticed the significant degree of impatient disdain in the statement, he didn't show it.

     A quiet and observant young Slayer known as Jude chose to speak up, "Who ARE you?"

     "Me?  I'm Lothos.  Friend of GAVAL's."

     There was an intake of breath and more hurried muttering from the class.

     Sasha decided to play along.  "What are you going to teach us?"

     Lothos clapped his hands with evident relish.  "I'd almost forgotten that part!" He whistled sharply and yelled, "You can come in now!"

     Sasha turned towards the door, along with the rest of the class.  A gigantic figure with roughly carved features and glistening skin ducked into the room.  The entire class Rushed as one, and was immediately clustered against the back wall behind glowing eyes, weapons, desks, and any other barricade they could grab.

     There was a profoundly tense moment as the class waited for an attack.  Lothos was merely looking cheerfully expectant.  Sasha found her voice, but kept one stake directed at each figure.

     "You…  it…  EVAHL!"

     "Well, that was almost a sentence."

     Sasha ground her teeth.  "EVAHL!"

     Lothos made a dismissive gesture.  "I'm largely harmless."

     "Are you SANE?"

     "Depends who you listen to."  Lothos looked up brightly and pointed at Sasha as if the entire class wasn't trying to decide to attack him or not.  "You!  Spokeslayergirltype.  Stake Moe." He gestured at the towering, wet figure.  Sasha bit her lip.

     "Come on!  This one of those… demonstration type things.  Class participation, or some random drivel."

     Sasha inwardly shrugged and then attacked.  Her stake sank into the creature up to the forearm, which then stuck in the sludge.  She looked up, expecting a counterattack, but the creature was ignoring her completely.

     "Lesson one.  Stakes do sweet buggery to things with no organs.  I can't think of anything ASIDE from SPAM WARRIORS," he produced a small tape recorder, which proclaimed, "*click *  DUN DAA!" "that don't HAVE any organs, but what the hell.  It's a good first lesson."

     Sasha tried to pull free, but her arm was firmly lodged.  "A little help here?"  Marco and Jude along with several of her comrades managed to extricate her, with some difficulty.  It was then she realised that the stake was still inside the beast.  This was turning out to be one hell of a day.

     "Right.  Next, hit Moe an anti-evil Holy Turn spell thingie.  See what happens."
The young Slayers exchanged glances.  Marco was the first off the block.  A quick prayer and a flash from his Crucifix  struck the unwholesomely pink creature in the torso.  The smell of burnt spam was almost overpowering, and a plate-sized section of the torso fell away to the floor with a wet splatch.  As Marco watched, the gaping wound slowly began to seal.

     "Lesson two, the SPAM WARRIORS! (*Click * DUN DAAA!) are fairly damned cool, if I say so myself."

     Jude looked intrigued.  "You MADE that?"

     "Yeah, there are two others, too."

     "How the hell did you do that?"

     "Twas nothing but a stolen spam truck and this." He revealed a two and a half-foot staff with an unpleasant green crystal orb on the end.  Sasha's unpleasant tingly feeling about the man crystallised instantly around the staff.

     "EVAAAAAHHHHHHHHLLL!"

     Lothos looked moderately bemused.  "Haven't we already been through this?"

     "That thing is EVAHL!"

     "Of course it is!  It's a Death Knight staff."

     Instantly the class was back against the wall again, a mob bristling with weapons.

     Lothos seemed to consider something.  "Slayers use undead corn, yes?"

     Sasha nodded cautiously.

     "Well, just consider Moe here a towering, wet pink piece of helpful, harmless everyday undead corn, that regenerates and can punch through walls."

     Sasha looked remarkably unconvinced.

     Marco straightened cautiously.  "Doesn't that make that thing a flesh golem?"

     Lothos sighed.  "Nope, he's a SPAM WARRIOR! (*Click* DUN DAA!)"

     "It follows all the descriptions about flesh golems that we've been taught…"

     "Nah.  He's definitely a SPAM WARRIOR! (*Click crackle*)"

     The small tape recorder rustled as the tape rolled off the spools and began to coil chaoticalley.  Lothos gave a small scream and franticalley started to wrestle the tape back into the cassette while the class watched with a degree of morbid curiosity.  When he was satisfied that it should work, Lothos paused dramaticalley.

     "SPAM WARRIORS! (*Click* Hrooun gaaaaahhhhghd…)"

     The sound was the uniquely warped gurgle of sound coming off a mangled tape, and was rapidly cut off as Lothos hammered the tape recorder against the desk until it came to pieces.  He looked up at the class brightly.

     "MOVING ON." He paused, to recover whatever Lothos considered to be his composure.

     "My task, is to teach you that there are some things that Slayer training have not prepared you for how to deal with.  Moe here, is Exhibit A."

     A voice from the back spoke up.  "So you're going to be our teacher?"

     Lothos looked aghast.  "HELL no.  I'm not a teacher!" he gestured at the shattered tape recorder, the axe buried in the blackboard, the duct tape and the grenade.  "I'm way too much of a bad influence.  I'm a demonstration." He chuckled.  "I show you what happens in various circumstances, frequently what SHOULDN'T happen in various circumstances, and you can draw whatever conclusions you want."

     The voice spoke again.  "So you're BASICALLY a teacher."

     "Look, how old are you?"

     There was a slightly defensive caste in the voice when it responded.  "Nineteen."

     "See?  I'm twenty.  And I've never had Slayer training.  And there's more legislation designed to keep me from positions of education than there is legislation designed to keep me contained or out of the public eye."

     Lothos paused, and started to count on his fingers before giving up.

     "That's a lot." he added.
 
 
 

Chapter VI.
"Suspicion"


"MONEY"
 

    Closing the dorm door and locking it behind him, Jude threw his backpack onto the bed and logged onto his UC Irvine account at an old desktop Pentium I PC that was set in front of the window between the two permanent beds that came with the room.  He bit his lip and squinted as he waited for the computer to dial-up and connect.  After a few seconds, patience ran out and he grabbed a stale bag of Oreos that he kept hidden in his headboard drawer.  Finally the modem stopped singing and his 14.4kbps connection was complete.

     Opening an instant messenger window he accessed an ICQ account he had reserved specifically for special occasions such as this when private communication was essential.

     On the other side of the Globe in Rome, Italy a young priest glanced up from his keyboard at the knocking sound of ICQ announcing that someone on his buddy list had logged on.  It was Father Courville's job to keep track of any signals incoming from young Slayers in training who desired to speak with someone of authority in the ambiguous Slayer's guild.  It was screen name "Fangstakr69."  One of Cabbott's recruits in America.  Ignoring the name since he had nothing of importance to say, he looked back down at his keyboard, placed his hands on the appropriate keys, and began typing up a handwritten report mailed in from a barely-educated Slayer-Redneck in Kentucky.

     "Incoming Chat Request"

     Father Courville glanced up again at the icq window and saw a small yellow icon the shape of a thought bubble blinking next to the clock of his computer's toolbar.  It was a message from Fangstakr69.  He double clicked the flashing icon to see what the bother was.
 
 

    Jude hit CTRL/ALT/DELETE as quickly as he could when he heard the door unlock and turned to face his roommate.

     "Sorry, I musta locked the door by accident again," he said feigning embarrassment.

     "AND computer problems again too I see?" asked Jude's bookworm roommate, Gervaise.

     "Yeah...old thing barely works any more!"

     "Dude, why don't you just admit you have an Internet porn addiction?! I'll leave you two alone," frowned the Gervaise as he left and locked the door behind him again.

     Jude re-booted and logged on again only to find Father Courville had already logged off to inform the elder Slayers.  All he could do now was think up a story as to why he wouldn't be attending Lothos sessions anymore.  Something about what GAVAL was doing just didn't seem right, but it wasn't his business to do anything more.  He just hoped the Cajun wouldn't come looking for him...or even worse, Cabbott.  Maybe he should have just ignored this whole Slayer thing altogether.  Things were getting way too complicated.

***

     As Father Courville finished his report and was asked to leave, Gatral looked at Chalice and shook his head.  "Sounds like that college kid has been gettin' his groove off one time too often.  Dere's no way mah nephew is doing what he said.  It must be some CWAL thing.  The necromancer in question could be any number of dose guys."

    Chalice nodded, "Ah don' think the story holds much water mahsef.either.  Dere's no damn way GAVAL's got his Rush back.  Can we just table dis and move on to somethin' more important?"

    A much older man than the two Slayers-Cajun broke in from his chair, "Now slow down a bit, lads.  I dinnah think we should write off any story with such serious ramifications even if't DID come fromma college lacky trainee.  Trainin' Slayers for personal business is a serious charge.  I doon't think GAVAL could possibly have gotten his Rush back but if he's influencin' young Slayars ta doo his revenge work on the Spectre, we oughtta at least--"

     "The Spectre case is being handled."  All three of the Slayer elders turned to face the sturdy voice that came from the head of the table.  Blowing heavily from his cigar, all the three could make out of him at that moment was a backlit figure wearing sunglasses, but they knew the voice well as that of the rarely seen leader of the Ambiguous Slayers' Guild.  No one knew his name but his ASG presence was stronger than that of the Pope in church matters, and his word was law.  It was simply never questioned.  He was Slayer will.

     A thousand reasons to question canceling such a discussion so quickly ran through the minds of Basal, Gatral, and Chalice, but they simply nodded and looked at their papers for some new topic to discuss.

     "Speakin' of that," said Gatral, "What's the latest on the Spectre case?"

     "We have several new teams followin' up on a variety of leads.  None o' them soond very promising but I think a fresh start was the right decision ahfter what happened to the team Van originally assigned," croaked Basal in his telltale Scottish accent.

     "What about dat loose canon problem?" asked Chalice as he circled a name on his legal pad with a dull pencil.  "After GAVAL went nuts lookin' ta get his Rush back, seems we got all kindsa  personal scores tryin' to be settled by our best agents."

     "Nabob has been reassigned.  I had Van take care of it personally," finished Basal.  Feeling bold he continued on, "...but it wouldn't hurt to check up on Benoit after he's been so quiet all this time."

     "I can pay him an uncle's visit," chimed Gatral excitedly.  "He's probably enjoyin' his new classes, partyin', and that sweet girl he's dating....  We can rule him out as a worry immediately with one quick–"

     "Men, we have bigger worries than ex-Slayers."  When he spoke, everyone listened.  As he chewed on a pipe Gatral thumbed his pencil under the desk so hard be felt it begin to crack.  "There's a killer on the loose that almost took out Purebloods on this world before they had a chance to flourish, and after over 900 years its back with Slayers as the only thing on its menu.  Nabob's been reassigned and may even find a few clues for us.  He's got enough things to keep him from going on some damned fool idealistic vengeance crusade.  GAVAL chose to leave the ASG after Plague-Sever's first attack.  His mind is made up and he's quite happy in his new life.  I don't want to order you all to drop this but we have to stay focused on the real problem at hand, so no more worries about this vigilante Slayer business, alright, boys?"  The leader finished what he was saying and sat back in his chair, faced turned up at the ceiling as it always was with the blind.  His Sunglasses hid the direction, if any, his eyes were looking...if he had eyes.

     The four of them chuckled at the mention of such a thing as "slayer vigilantism" and continued on with their bi-monthly discussions of vampire movements and random acts of evil that ought to be balanced out with objective acts of vanquishing.

    "Now, on to more local matters.  This archive break-in...we lost a variety of items but I can't ignore the painful fact that almost all of the items taken by the murderous thieves were related to ancient lore on Spectre attacks..."
 
 

     When the meeting was over, Basal, on his cane crept over to a quiet corner and dialed his cell phone.  "Yea, Dick?   Aye...how are you, ya sooty old bloke!?   Well, could be worse.  Ya could be an old fart like me.   Listen, I need for you to check up on somethin' fer me....no nothin' ah think needs worry aboot.  Just want you ta pay an old war buddy a visit.  No one ah know parsonally, but you met him at Mojave; a young guy who was farced into retoyrement.  Yeah, just find out fer me what GAVAL's up to these days and make it look like a random visit. ...yeah...ya know where ta find me, lad.  Oh, and check to see if he or Nabob have been anywhere near Rome in the last week or so.    Aye...bye."

    With that Basal turned off his large, antiquated 80's cell phone and caned his way to a helicopter that would return him to Britain.
 

Chapter VII.
"Slayer Vigilantism"
 

     00Chause pulled the hood a little further over his scarred face as he trotted down the street.  Having recently pulled out of ASG training, he had taken up most of his free time with watching wrestling on the NP television and finding new ways to consume mass amounts of ketchup.  These activities seemed to suit him much better than all that sneaking around the Slayers tried to instill in him.  As a turned the corner in front of Starbucks and headed through the light night mist for the back entrance to CWAL Headquarters a set of footsteps could be heard behind him.

     Extending a switchblade he turned around quickly to surprise whomever was following him.  "I hear you!  You can't sneak up on a sneaker-upper!  What do you want?!"

     A sharp PSSST! came from behind him.  He turned to face the sound but nothing was there.  Another PSSST came from behind him again.  Frustrated he pulled the hood off of his head to clear his hearing and allow better peripheral vision.  PSSST! came from behind him a third time.  Expecting to see nothing he looked in the direction the sound was coming from to meet the eyes of a man in a soot-covered blue uniform.

     "`Evenin' mayte!"

     "You...you're a Slayer, aren't you?"

     "Slayer-Chimneysweep to be precoise.   Wanna shake me hand?  A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be, mayte!"

     "Well, okay, if you're with the ASG, but I've already told GAVAL I'm not up for being an agent anymore..."

     As 00Chause reached his hand out as Van spoke to him with a big smile.  "I know, mayte.  You just decided to up and leave the ASG, didn't ya?  Nothing personal, but no one just leaves the Guild, chum.  It's ‘gainst the rules, it is."

     00Chause slowly retracted his hand before Van could grasp it and began to step back, bumping into a black man who appeared to be as tall as Shaquille O'Neal.  "Meet Saxon.  Slayuh-Premiere, mayte.  He's here to give me a hand."

     "Give you a hand?  What's all this about?"

     "Like I said, mayte, no one walks away from the ASG.  Not without going through me."  With that Sax grabbed 00Chause by the shoulders as Van reached his hand out and touched it to the imprisoned ex-agent's chest.  Sparks shot out and 00Chause's body shook, then all was dark.

***********
 

    "We are known amongst ourselves as the Rogue Slayers."

     They sat now in the well-lit kitchen of the Vienna household to which Nabob had followed the woman previously.  Although old and worn on the outside, the interior of the building displayed a unique, quaint charm.  It seemed to be perpetually filled with the warm scent of baking bread, and Nabob wondered whether or not it was yet another strange magical effect, since he could see that the oven was empty.  Kali and her fellow magic-user - she had introduced him as Jabez of the Bloodchildren, whatever that meant - sat with Nabob at the kitchen table, having shed their soaked and tattered cloaks.  The bigger brute whom had earned Nabob's animosity had gone elsewhere, taking the body of their fallen comrade with him.  The Chimneysweep, now cradling a cup of hot coffee, was rather glad for that fact.

     "Rogues," he murmured, taking a sip. "Sounds rather appropriate.  I'm operating under the assumption that you're not licensed by the ASG."

     Jabez snorted contemptuously. "In a word, no."

     "We have a…how can I put it…a long-standing history of avoiding the Ambiguous Slayers Guild," Kali continued carefully, her eyes often straying down towards the amulet around Nabob's neck. "They do not know we exist, which is no small feat considering the size of our organization."  She eyed him, slightly suspiciously. "Unless you were sent here specifically to find us…"

     The distrust, it would seem, still ran deeply. "No.  This was my own personal initiative, with a little help.  And when you can go about waving your hands and making people forget things like that," he snapped his fingers, "then you have a slight edge in terms of secrecy.  I'd never heard of any ‘Rogue' Slayers before tonight, except maybe when people were talking about that bastard LAVAG, and that's entirely unrelated."  He took another sip of his coffee and smiled with satisfaction.  It was loaded with sugar.  That, if nothing else, proved that they were proper, if slightly irregular, Slayers: there were scores of sucrose-filled goodies about the pantry.  "While we're on the subject of secrecy and making people forget things, perhaps you folks would like to explain exactly how you go about performing those little magical tricks of yours."

     Kali looked down, slightly embarrassed. "That has much to do with our heritage."

     "I sort of figured that."

     "Please, Kali, allow me to play the little light bulb of enlightenment here," Jabez cut in sharply.  He struck Nabob as being somewhat raffish. "Are you, Nabob, at all familiar with the persona of Karvalle?"  The Chimneysweep nodded and dutifully recited what he knew about the original Slayer. "Well, you know then that she was a powerful Sorceress, perhaps the most powerful ever to appear on this planet.  It shouldn't surprise you greatly, then, to hear that we, the Rogue Slayers, are the direct descendent bloodline of Karvalle."

     Although the thought had passed through Nabob's mind, he hadn't really considered it before now. "That's impossible.  Karvalle's bloodline was wiped out during the Dark Ages."

     Jabez turned to Kali and laughed. "Who would have thought that such naiveté would have survived to this modern day?  We're sitting here right before you, aren't we?"

     "This may be hard for you to believe, but what the old Slayer documents say are untrue," Kali said. "The descendants of Karvalle, my ancestors, broke away from the ASG over eight hundred years ago and faked their own extermination so that it would go unquestioned.  The powerful magics we command have kept us hidden ever since."

      Nabob sighed and put his hands on the table. "You're right, that is hard for me to believe.  A lot of Slayer records have been destroyed over the centuries, but those that survive are accurate almost to a fault.  That's what comes of good bookkeeping.  Maybe you'd better start at the beginning."

     And so she did.

     "About a hundred years after the first Slayers arrived here on Earth, there had developed a great deal of animosity between those Slayers who shared Karvalle's blood and the rest of the Slayer bloodlines.  Much of this came from jealousy, as many Slayers were jealousy of our talents in the magical arts.  Others feared us, or feared that we would come to dominate the Guild because of them.

     "To make a long story even shorter, there were several incidences of conflict between the factions.  The elder descendants of Karvalle made council, and over the course of several years it was debated and decided that they should sever all ties from the ASG.  They wanted no rivalry, no more animosity between the two groups, so they staged the destruction of their own bloodline."  She looked sad. "Few in the ASG were particularly heartbroken by this.  They never questioned it at the time."

     "And you've managed to stay hidden from the Guild for eight hundred years?  That's impressive to the point of being unbelievable."

     "Believe it, lad, because it's true," Jabez said. "Or would you fancy another demonstration of our magic to prove it?"

     Nabob simply tapped the amulet hanging around his neck.  "I have just one question.  You said in the alleyway that somehow my appearing here might be an omen.  What did you mean by that?"

     Kali stiffened. "The Amulet of Karvalle that you wear around your neck is an artifact that has not been seen in this world for nine hundred years.  Karvalle passed many gifts on to her descendants, but when she died she never passed on the knowledge of where she had hidden the amulet.  It is valuable beyond all possible calculation.  Some say that it is possessed with the spirit of our Matron Mother…"

     "That I believe."

     She continued as though he hadn't spoken. "The reason I suspect that it might be an omen is because of an ancient prophecy that has been handed down from generation to generation of Rogues.  Many treat it as a fairy tale, so cynical and full of hate are they.  I, however, have always kept away in my heart the hope that I would live to see it fulfilled."

     "What kind of prophecy?"

     "It was prophesied by some of our greatest diviners many centuries ago that we would…" her breath nearly caught in her throat, "…that the Rogue Slayers would someday reunify with the Ambiguous Slayers Guild."

     Nabob leaned backwards in his chair, deep in thought. "Two worlds must be united, or both will come to folly."  He hadn't known what the amulet - or whatever was working through the amulet - had been talking about.  Not until just then.

     The same renewed sense of purpose and belonging that he had experienced when he first returned to Austria suddenly filled him again.

     "Nabob, I'm officially asking your permission to take you out of Vienna, and to bring you before the Potentate of the Rogue Slayers."

     His eyes widened. "Potentate?  You mean your leader?" Kali nodded. "Look, I realize that this means a lot to you, but is my turning up with this amulet that important?"

     "It has the potential to be," Jabez said casually. "Even overlooking my esteemed friend here's optimism, it is a matter that should be brought to council."

     "Now that we have properly dealt with Cotbus, too, I am inclined to return to present my report on that as well," Kali continued. "It is, of course, secondary to this, but still something that should be brought to the Potentate."

     Nabob looked suspicious.  His trust only went so far. "Where would you be taking me?"

     Kali glanced at Jabez. "We…can't tell you.  Not yet.  For security reasons."

     "I'd be putting myself totally at your mercy, then.  No idea even where I was going."

     "I swore to you before that you would not be harmed, and I again swear by the power above that I spoke the truth.  No harm shall come to you if you accompany us."

     Nabob had come this far.  He realized fully that going any further was going to be craning his neck out.  But so far Kali had kept her word, and no harm had come to him.  The amulet had proven to be an asset as well, and seemed to be guiding him in this direction.  Besides, with the ASG leadership down his back and no real assignment to work on now that he had checked out the tomb and delivered the remains of the dead Spectre to the nearest Slayer field office, it wasn't like he had anything better to be doing with his time.

     He simply hoped that he wasn't going to regret the choice he was about to make.
 

*********

     "Thanks for making it guys, ah don't know what's keeping Agent 00Chause, but the we can all get started."  GAVAL looked across the table at the small group of friends he had assembled.  Sitting on his left was Lothos who was balancing salt shakers on his nose.  To GAVAL's right was Cabbott, ex Slayer-Cajun and now full time ASG recruiter.  He too had lost his Rush to the Spectre's first attack like GAVAL.  Across from them were the two local ASG agents who also happened to be CWALers.  Agent Archangel and Agent Senor Gato fidgeted at the table as they wondered after all this quiet time since they became agents what exactly it was that the Guild would assign to them.

     "I was starting to think you'd forgot about us, Gav," frowned Gato as he adjusted his goggles.

     "Well, it's not really my job to assign you guys on operations unless the ASG calls on me to do so.  That's kinds what I want to talk to you about.  The...project...Lothos and I are working on isn't exactly sanctioned by the Guild and might even wind you two up in a little hot water if we don't succeed."

     Archangel and Gato looked at one another once, then twice, and back at GAVAL as they sipped their cold drinks.

     Cabbott picked up where GAVAL left off, "You see, GAVAL and I lost our abilities as Slayers months ago and want to see that no one else in the ASG hazzat happen."

     "Isn't the ASG taking care of that problem?" asked Archangel as he shifted in his seat to make his implanted wings more comfortable.

     "They've been trying and failing since Halloween, Arch.  Dis thing is slippery."  GAVAL began to speak louder and with more feeling than they were comfortable with.  "Ah tried findin' it for several months.  The ASG was lookin' de whole time.  NOTHING.  Then a couple weeks ago a strike force of Slayers gets torn up, most of them killed by the thing, THEN, Cabbott tells me they took the one guy who might actully kill the thing OFF the hunt project!  THEN just a few days ago ah take a bunch of veteran CWALers out to start looking ourselves and the damn thing nearly kills five of CWAL's best!  WE have GOT to stop this thing.  NOW!" GAVAL paused abruptly and put his hand to his chest, quickly donning his sunglasses.  He immediatly sat down to calm himself.

     Archangel and Gato looked at each other again a bit more worriedly.

     "I can see you're really passionate about finding this thing," said Gato.

     "And if you really think we can make a difference, I don't care WHAT the ASG has to say.  I can't speak for Gato, but I'm in."  Archangel looked anxious at this point.

    "Me too.  What do we have to do?" asked Gato.

     GAVAL eased back in his seat with a very satisfied look as Cabbott shifted in his chair and squinted at GAVAL's eyes as if he were trying to read them.  He frowned almost immediately.  Lothos noticed Cabbott's response and changed the subject immediately.

     "I've already begun training several hand selected Slayers that Cabbott was good enough to get us in touch with.  You guys will be hunting the Spectre with them.  Combined, we should have a fighting chance against the thing.  The new Slayers will be using magical items.  They'll also have the benefits of the Rush with my Spam warriors present.  Add your covert ops training to the mix and we might just survive!  Maybe."  Lothos grinned wildly and scratched his chin.

     The door to CWAL Headquarters behind the gathering Spectre Hunters and they all turned to see who was entering at this late hour.

     "00Chause?  You okay, newbie?" asked Lothos.  "If you are I can make you NOT okay!" grinned the CWAL vet.

     00Chause turned his head inquisitively and slowly approached the group.  GAVAL and Cabbott instantly noticed the small cut on the newbie's temple that was stitched up.  They looked at each other and nodded as Cabbott whispered to his Cajun friend, "mindwipe..."

     "Why the dazed look, Agent?" asked Archangel as he sipped from his cup of Sprite.

     "Agent?" asked 00Chause.

     "I think it's safe to say he's going by just plain `Chause' now, Arch," said GAVAL.  Cabbott nodded in agreement.  "Why don't you go lie down.  You'll feel better in a few hours, Chause."  The scarred newbie nodded and climbed down into the newbie dungeon slowly.

     "What happened to him?!" asked Gato nervously.

     "Simple.  He tried to leave the ASG.  No one leaves the ASG," frowned Cabbott.

     "But what HAPPENED to him?!"

     "Mindwipe," answered GAVAL.  "You just don't leave the ASG."

     "I'm starting to see that Mr. `GAVAL,'" said an angry woman's voice from behind the Cajun.

     Fear as great as any Plague-Sever had ever induced squeezed the air out of GAVAL as he slowly turned around to see the girlfriend he had neglected for two weeks standing at the entrance to CWAL HQ with her hands on her hips angrily.  Turning to his friends for support he noticed that they had all fled almost instantly at Rachel Hollis' arrival.

     "Forget the Spectre," GAVAL mumbled to himself.  "I've scorned a woman."
 
 

To Be Continued this summer...
 

***********

"COME WITH ME"

 Credits

Story Concept by:
GAVAL
Ravil
Lothos
Nighteye

Written by
Ravil
GAVAL
Lothos

Edited by
DarkLight
Nighteye
Lothos

Artwork by
GAVAL
Ravil

Web Design by
GAVAL

Music Provided by
GAVAL
Ravil
Nighteye
Archangel
 

Story Statistics in YotS so far:
34,800 words
74 Pages
Font: Times New Roman 12 Point
Six weeks in the production
Three days in post production
HTML: Netscape Composer
Streaming Music: Multimedia Flash
JPG Touchup:  Adobe Photo Deluxe

Episodes left to go: 6
Estimated Next Release:  Late July

Musical Selections:

Prologue

"Khan's Pets"
James, Horner: Star Trek II
 

Episode 1

"Dracula"
Rob Zombie

"Mission Impossible"
Moby: Mission Impossible

"Mountain King Grung"
Grieg

"In the Halls of the Mountain King"
Tchaikovsky

"Boadicia"
Enya

"Holy Water"
Oliver Haze

"The Rock"
Hans Zimmer: The Rock

"Money"
Lay it Down

"Come With Me"
Jimmy Page and Puff Daddy:  Godzilla
 
 
 

The authors invite you to stick with us through the Spectre series as it climbs towards a climax this coming spring.  Thank you for taking the time to read our diddlings.  Critique, comments, loves, and hates are appreciated as always.  Read all ya want!  We'll write more!
 

For More information on Slayers like Nabob and GAVAL go the the  Slayer Website  at Religion.CWAL.net.