Isle de Muerte
by Liz M
Some fought. Some died... but we lived, found a new life. We had set up home base or home rather on the outskirts of L.A., enjoying what we could, finding comfort in finding each other.
Funny, we ran away from hell, only to end up right back in the middle, the ruin, death, destruction, a closed doorway to hell and all by an uncanny chain of events that pulled us apart... but only brought us closer, that released my inner tormentors and opened my soul to the one I truly loved.
I had finally found a purpose, a calling, a role of leadership, shaky as it was at the moment. I had a team, one that I chose, one that had chosen me and one that I had suddenly ran away from without word or warning. Young, raw, ready and willing, most likely worried over my last actions, over my running away from them, from my calling, from pain. I had to go back and soon, for them, for me, for everyone.
I'd been captured, drugged, tested by so called scientists, lab coats, the initiative, hell even the watchers for all I knew... but I'd endured, freaked a little,.... Okay, A LOT... but I was dealing and this time I wasn't alone.
I let all my pains and secrets out, to one, the one, the one who followed me to hell and stayed, vowed never to fail me again or leave me behind. I found comfort in her, in her arms, in her voice, in her embrace I regained my soul, my self worth, my value.
I finally opened my eyes after crying and running for days, opened them from all my musings to find her staring down at me, still holding me, still rocking us, comforting me among the dirt, debris, the blood and guts of what was left of Sunnydale.
I stared intently into her eyes, melting into her, feeling a warmth stronger than I'd ever known. I raised my hand, bringing my fingers to lightly rest against her cheek, feeling the texture of her skin, just a touch, soft, sweetness enveloped me, sending chills along every nerve ending, losing myself in her warmth, her smile and her gaze. "Thank you." I said, whispering, voice straining.
I sat up, looking around and stumbled as I tried to get up.
She was there, helping, lending her strength, her body, her arms wrapping around my torso, helping me to get my balance, to walk away from the mess, the past, to live in the here and now. We slowly started making our way back to her car. "You okay?" She asked.
"Yeah, I was just thinking,..back at the house.. well.. you told me off." I gave her a half hearted grin, then laughed as I thought over the last few days.
She looked confused by my sudden burst of laughter. "What?" I shook my head but she wouldn't let me keep my laughter to myself. "What?!" She asked again. "What Faith, What?"
"It's just....." I glanced at her, slightly smiling. She widened her eyes, using them to 'make' me continue. "It's just....you said fucked."
She laughed. "All that you've been through, all that's happened and that's what you remember?" Her face reddened slightly as she shook her head in disbelief, smirk staying in place.
We kept a steady pace back to the car, even with her helping me I was tiring fast, fatigue and quietness taking me over.
"You okay?" She asked as she pulled me closer into her, bringing my arm up and over her shoulder so that she could support me more.
I thought for a bit, saying, "that's not all I remember, it's just...I...I can either laugh, make light of it or I can cry....and I'm kinda just all cried out." I sighed, adding. "I'm tired, I hurt and I'm starving."
"I know." She said as she pulled me closer against her. "We're almost there...we just need to climb up that last bit, okay, then we're out of here."
We walked the rest of the way in silence, arms wrapped tightly around each other, stopping only to gaze up at the area we'd have to climb to get out of the crater.
I sighed, shaking my head. It might've only been a six foot climb but right now, the way I felt, it might as well had been 26 feet.
"Give me your foot and I'll boost you up, Okay?" She asked, positioning herself.
I nodded my consent, braced myself and was pushed up and over, rolling a bit to clear myself from the pit. I lay on the ground, tired and spent.
"Uh..... hello? I need a hand up." She called out.
"Oh." I moved over, steadied myself, giving her my hand. She was up and out in no time at all, helping me to my feet and into the car.
"I don't feel very well." I whispered.
"You'll feel better as soon as you get a hot bath, some rest and some food." She encouraged.
"Yeah..." I agreed, looking around, watching as she cranked the car and put it into drive.
"God B, this car reeks, what's that smell?" I asked, disgusted.
She sighed, scrunched up her face, turning to look at me.
"We're almost at the motel.. just a..."
I cut her off. "I'm gonna be sick!"
She swerved to the side of the road, stopping abruptly as I clambered out, staggering away from the car, throwing up.
As the sickness subsided I felt her behind me, touching my back, giving comfort. "Faith, can you make it to the motel? It's not far." She asked.
I whispered. "Yeah." She wrapped herself around me, helping me back into the car.
Twenty minutes later we pulled up in front of the motel. I waited while B checked us in, then she got us into our room. I walked around slowly, glancing up at her.
"You get into a hot shower. I'm gonna run and get some dinner. I'll be right back, okay?" She looked to me for an answer, waited for acknowledgement.
I half smiled. "Sounds good." I answered, turning to make my way into the bathroom, finding and turning on the hot water. I heard B yell out, "I'll be right back." , heard the door close and I stripped, letting the hot water soothe my aches, mental and physical.
First thing I noticed when I got back was Faith's clothes, thrown outside the door. I had to smile in spite of it all. I found her wrapped up in a blanket, warming herself by the vent.
"Good call on the clothes." I stated, giving her a full on smile.
She was being exceptionally quiet, it bothered me, scared me more than I'll admit. I moved closer. " I brought you some soup and a sandwich. It's still warm."
I sat down next to her, started eating, coercing her to do the same. "Faith." Nothing but silence. "Faith." I nudged her, getting her attention. "Eat." I prompted. She finally relented, slowly eating but still quiet. I watched her, aware that something was bothering her.
After she finished eating, I rose to get cleaned up. "I'm gonna take a shower. Why don't you lie down." I turned to leave and she spoke, catching me off guard.
"Can you feel it?" She asked quietly.
I walked back towards her, getting close. "Feel what, Faith?"
"Something... nearby... watching." She breathed out, barely audible but making goosebumps along my flesh all the same.
"It's following me, can't you feel it?" She asked again.
I shook my head, signifying no, walked over to the window and peered out. "I don't see anything, Faith." I continued to search the perimeter.
"Do you feel it though?" She asked.
I walked back toward her. "No, I don't sense anything or see anything." I touched her, trying to sooth her nerves, calm her, make her at ease.
"I'll be right out okay? I just want to wash the grime off of me. I'll leave the door open, that way you can hear me and I can hear you." She nodded and I left to get a quick shower. She had really kind of scared me, made me paranoid.
That was the quickest shower in history. I found Faith in exactly the same position that I had left her in, wrapped up in a blanket, quiet, listening to her surroundings.
"Let's get some rest, okay? Tomorrow will be at Angels and sort out things." I went to get some clothes to sleep in, changed quickly and crawled into bed. I pulled her close to me, basically forcing her to lie down. She turned into me, fitting herself into the curves of my body.
"Angels?" She questioned.
I enveloped her against my body, sharing my body heat. "Yeah, the girls went there, it helped to keep them out of trouble and kept their minds off of you."
She nodded, understanding. I felt her leg move in between mine, felt her moist heat as she moved closer against me, felt her hands move underneath my top, her fingers burning trails along my skin, felt as she pushed herself closer, tighter into me, relaxing.
"Buffy." She whispered.
"Yeah." I answered, pulling my arms around her tighter.
"I want to feel you against me." She said lowly, almost a question.
I disentangled myself from her and slowly removed my clothes, laid back down and resumed our previous position, no barriers, just us, flesh on flesh.
She lowered her head, snuggled against my chest, pushing against me. Her breathing finally slowed, became labored and I lazily massaged her back with my fingertips, watching and listening as sleep overtook her. I kissed her head and closed my eyes, wrapped up in Faith.
Her sounds echoed through my head, her flesh warmed my face, comforting me, lulling me into a sense of security. I burrowed deeper against her warmth, her heartbeat calling me, taking me to another place and time.
'Thump.. thump,..... ..thump..thump..'
I nuzzled against her breasts, bonding, drawn, pulled into her life sounds, the slow, rhythmic beating of her heart.
"Mmmmmmm....." I moaned against her, moving my head upward, feeling her body with my hands, learning her curves, driven, by desire, by need.
I grazed my lips over her, slowly upwards, feeling her shoulder and neck with my mouth, feeling the texture of her skin, tasting the saltiness against my tongue, stopping as my lips hovered above her pulse point.
I smiled, listening.
I slowly descended, letting my mouth rest against her pulse, softly biting, sucking against her skin, sighing as I pulled in all of her that I could.
"I'm taking it you feel a lot better?" She asked, moving into my touch, giving me access to her, free open reign to her neck.
"Starved." I moaned out against her skin, moving my hands, searching out her pleasure zones.
"Whoa." She laughed, grabbing my hands, stopping them from feeling her erogenous areas. "Places to go and people to see, remember?" She added "Are you really ready for that, so soon... after....." She trailed off but I got her meaning.
I sighed. "Mentally, well yeah, physically, oh hell yeah. Relationship wise, I know we need to wait, you just felt so warm and good, you make me feel things I've never felt, I was half asleep, feeling your closeness, you, heard your heartbeat and I just wanted to be close to you... does that make any sense? I'm not one for meaningful talks... but I'm trying."
She smiled at me, kissing me lightly. "Lots of sense." She removed herself from the bed. "We've got to get going, get up, get a bath or whatever, let's get some food and get on the road." I threw myself back into the blankets, groaning and got a pillow to the head for my efforts.
"Okay, Okay... you win, I'm moving." I laughed getting up, heading for the bathroom.
Breakfast was wonderful.. I'm feeling much better physically, not quite as sick. Mentally and emotionally I'm a mess but I feel so much, I don't know, lighter after having let go of so much hurt. I basically just laid across the seat, my head in B's lap, relaxing as her fingers trickled over my skin.
Well, maybe I spoke too soon. I actually got sick again, delayed our ETA by many, many hours, it'd be dark now before we got there.... Or at least dusk... but we would arrive there today... just not as planned.
I spent a good few hours on the side of the road, upchucking my breakfast, leaning against the car, lying in the grass, resting, getting my energy back. We stopped for lunch, I was almost too scared to eat, but she made me, putting it on thick, acting all dramatic.. like some kind of southern belle, so I obliged. Talk about whipped.
After lunch, I had a mental breakdown, broke into a fit of crying. Man, I couldn't help it. It's not like I wanted to cry again, I was just sitting there... and BAM... out burst the tears...I'm thinking some kind of withdrawels, not bad mind you.... but just enough to annoy the hell out of you and who ever you were with.
She pulled over into a park and made me run, in circles, until I sweated like a pig, then made me run some more until I puked, then made me continue until I fell over in the grass.
" I think that'll do it." She said as she looked down at me. "If that didn't sweat that crap out of you, nothing will. So how do you feel?"
"Tired!" I breathed out. "Hungry." I added.
To that I got my first big, unrestrained smile of the sick part of the day. We got back in the car and headed to L.A., well just as soon as I got her to pull over and get me a flame thrower and some onion rings, oh and my weakness, don't tell, a caramel moolatte. Some tough chick, huh?
We pulled up at Angel's new headquarters just as the sun was setting. We got out and I stopped instantly, looking around. "You coming? Come on, hurry, I have to go, like NOW!" She ran off into the building. I walked toward the shrouded area, covered by trees, brush, darkness, looking, the hairs on the back of my neck raising upward, putting me on edge.
I couldn't see anything. I turned to leave for the safety of the building when I heard something snap behind me. I jerked around and saw a blur coming at me fast, hitting me hard, rolling me over backwards, I put my arms out in front of my face to try and deject it, trying to get a good look at it.
“Sam." I called out, pushing, rolling myself on top of her.
I relaxed into a hug. "Are you okay? God I was so afraid that they'd come after you. I'm so glad you got what I was doing and took off."
She sat up, feline features adorning her face. "Yeah, I'm good, still feeling the guilt and all but I get over it every time I see myself. What about you, are you okay? Are you changing?"
I shrugged my shoulders, "well my hearing is off, I mean I hear some freaky stuff, like wind and heartbeats, and I kind of want to bite things but in a good way." I laughed.
"I bet." She stated, laughing, pushing my shoulder.
"How long does it take?" I asked, getting serious.
She kind of smirked, looking vicious and comical at the same time, "hell you should already have two heads by now or at least a tail." She laughed, "I don't think you need to worry much, if it happened, it's already there." She glanced at my ass, looking, smirking.
"Hey, nothing wrong with a little tail." I shot back.
"You really are sick, you know that right?" She asked.
I smiled. "Yeah, I know, but it works for me."
I touched her, getting her attention. "Do you know anything about that girl? Who she was, what she was, where she came from?"
She nodded a no, asking, "Are you feeling anything?"
"I think but I'm not sure. It's like I feel a presence, not like the slayer thing, more.....damn... more...I want to say, haunting?" I sighed, feeling disgusted at not being able to express it.
She grabbed my hand. "I've called to be picked up, maybe they can help me, help you, the others, make us normal again. Here's the number, when you get ready or if you need to come in, call me and I'll come." She put the number in my hand, closing my fist over it.
"You're going back, to the initiative?" I asked.
"Where else would I go, look at me, at least there I can still be a soldier." She looked straight into my eyes. "It's probably not over so watch your back." I nodded.
"Was it the initiative that did this?" I asked quickly.
"Don't know, don't care. We got the ones who actually did it. That's enough for now." She got into a standing position.
You'd better go. I don't want anyone getting any ideas about you because of what they saw. She nodded, confirming and stepped into the shadows, hopefully into safety.
"There you are. Who were you talking to?" She questioned.
"Monsters." I admitted.
She just gave me one of her looks, pulling me close to her, "come on in, something's going on, you're not gonna like it.... So prepare yourself."
I blew out a breath. What else could be wrong? What else could go wrong?
I walked into the office, stared into the faces of strangers. "New slayers?" I questioned. "And then some." B answered. I nodded. "What's up?" I prodded.
Angel stepped close to me. "Faith, your girls, well most of them, they picked up a signal, an S.O.S., some kind of a salvage call, they went off to prove themselves, along with some of the other hotshots, including some of yours Buffy." She lowered her eyes. I think maybe nine in all."
"Jayme?" I asked.
"Stayed behind." He answered.
I felt relieved at that fact. Jayme had issues, issues that could get someone killed. "Okay, so what's the deal? It can't be that bad, right? They went off in a group to help someone."
"It's bad because we've lost all audio and video with them. They haven't called, answered, we're not getting any pictures from the cams they had and they missed the pick up. They didn't show, we can't find them and we don't know what happened." He looked at me, concern playing over his features.
"Angel." I was trying to think of something but got nothing, relenting, I asked the obvious. "Okay, where did they go?"
"The coordinates lead to a small, privately owned island." He stated.
I laughed. "You let kids go to an island, by themselves, isn't it like party weekend for kids or something?" I asked. "They are probably dancing their asses off, drinking, getting rubbed up."
"I hope that's the case, I really do." He said lowly.
"Yeah, well that better be the case." I said threateningly.
"Did anyone go out there, take a look, see for themselves?" I asked, becoming annoyed with the whole situation.
"We were just getting ready to." He admitted.
I blew out a harsh breath. "Give me the coordinates, give me the gear, only do it up better, fix it so we don't lose signal, make it work, now!" My temper starting to rise.
"Faith, I'll go with you." B said.
I blew her off. "No, I got it, if I need help, I'll call."
"If you need help it'll be too late to call." She replied. "And you're not exactly in top fighting form, are you?"
I sighed, shrugged, looking around. "B, we got all these new slayers here, they need someone like you to give them the what for. I'll take a couple of older slayers with me. You just be ready to go if I need you. You back me up, save my ass, or at the very least, come and pick me up after I've partied my ass off." I winked at her.
She nodded. "I don't like it but I do understand. Don't take chances." She gave me a quick hug and a kiss and got me into all the latest hi tech gadgets.
"B..." I whispered.
"Yeah." She moved in closer.
"Have Willow keep the lines of communication open, just in case." She nodded.
I looked around, making eye contact with the ones going with me, Vi and Rhona, nodding, giving them the heads up that I'm here, I'm okay.
We had about an hour ride to the docks, where we acquired a small boat, stealth and speed, in and out. That was the plan. I could tell that Vi and Rhona were rethinking their choice of coming with me. It was obvious in their eye contact, their body language and their quietness.
I had kind of withdrawn into myself, thinking, rubbing the bridge of my nose. I'll admit it, I was kind of spooked. I still had that, 'somebody's watching me' feeling. I was also thinking that I should've let B come with, I mean, she was my anchor, my strength and now I had two people who were obviously worried about me being able to perform.
"You okay?" Vi asked, breaking through my musings.
I looked up at her, smiled. "Yeah, I am. Just thinking."
I got up off my ass and started searching the boat. I found an emergency kit, so I plundered. I found a first aid kit and a flare gun with rounds so I packed them in my ops bag. I breathed out a breath of relief. It was all good, all okay. I could do this. I was ready. Most likely the girls were just getting their groove on but....in reality I knew, that this wasn't about them, this was about me, if I could handle myself, If I could still cut it. Like it or not, this was a test and I had to pass. Failure was unacceptable and could mean deaths for those I cared about so I had to keep it together, focus.
When you think of it, it was really cake, I mean, friendly or foe, we had it going on. We were packing 9mm's, couple extra clips each, long blades and a couple of stakes each. We were a fearsome looking trio if nothing else.
"What?" Vi asked, Rhona gazing at me out of the corners of her eyes, trying to see me but trying to steer the boat at the same time.
I let loose a hearty laugh that filled the gaps between us, calming us, bonding us as one.
"We're so.... Badass!" I cried out.
They joined me in laughter, relaxing, enjoying the fresh salt air.
"How much longer?" I questioned.
"Shouldn't be too much longer, if the coordinates are right." Rhona answered, adding, " I think 20 to 30 more minutes.
I nodded. "I'd better call in."
"Angels to Charlie." I stated, smirking at the looks Vi and Rhona were giving me.
"Angels to Charlie, come in." I said, almost laughing.
"Good morning Angels." Angel deadpanned, causing us to all but die laughing.
"Can you hear me now?" I asked, smiling.
"Yes." He answered, voice calm, calculated.
I sighed. "20 mins to touchdown." I breathed out heavily, anxiety taking over, "Willow working on the comm problem?" I asked.
"She's on it, we won't lose you, just keep checking in." He said, adding, "hold on, Buffy wants to talk to you."
I waited a minute. "B?" I questioned.
"Yeah, it's me. How are you?" She asked.
"We're good. I can see the isle in the distance." I answered.
"No, I mean, are you okay?" She tried again.
I smiled. "Well, I wish you were here but other than that I'm good."
I could almost feel her smiling, it made me smile even bigger. "Listen, I don't have long. You keep on Willow, stay in touch and if I need you I'll call." I stated, standing up looking at the island coming into view.
"How will I find you?" She asked.
"Shit....good question." I blew out a breath, thinking. "We'll leave a marker where we go ashore, you can track it.... if something happens, we'll meet up there, plus I have a flare gun so I'll let you know somehow."
Vi cut in. "There it is.... What do you want to do?"
"B, I gotta go, see you soon." I looked to the island. I swallowed hard as I noticed how the full moon seemed to hang directly over the island, casting a greyish hue over the water and land, keeping the dark at bay but refusing to let the dawn set, twilight.
"You better." B's voice cut through the silence.
I looked around. "There's no place to dock. Let's circle a bit, see what looks good."
Rhona pointed. "There's a clearing, a beach like area"
I shook my head no, "don't want them to see us coming.... But damn...too late for that now, huh?" I asked, disgusted on our show of stealth.
"Drop in a marker and move closer to shore, no sense trying to hide now." I looked around. "We'll have to swim or wade in." My voice, even, void of emotion. I looked into the water. "I hate murky water." I said to myself.
We anchored the boat as close to shore as we could and waded into shore. When we finally stepped out onto land, we peered up above us, the moon hang directly over us, large, bright, casting a glow all around the place. "Kinda spooky, huh?" I asked.
Rhona answered quietly. "Yeah, like we stepped into Pleasantville." I glanced over at her, giving her a questioning look.
I tapped my comm. "Can you hear me now?" I asked into the receiver.
"Funny." Came the reply back, causing me to smirk.
I looked to Vi and Rhona, questioning, "sweep, left to right?" They nodded and we started methodically searching, marking our way to know where we'd been, to help us return, slowly, quietly, moving smoothly out of the open and into the brush.
Forty minutes in, we heard something. We circled, drawing weapons, angling inward, jumping out, ready to fight.
"Kelly?" I asked, way too loud to be discreet.
"Where is everybody?" Vi added. "Where are the other girls?"
"Shhhh..... listen." I whispered.
"I don't hear anything." Vi shot back.
"That's just it, shouldn't we,?" I asked, adding. "It got quiet here but there's something far off, moving fast."
Rhona reached out and grabbed Kelly, trying to pull her along. Kelly screamed and lashed out, nails tearing into skin, head descending fast and hard, finding flesh at the base of a neck, biting, pulling a chunk of flesh out of Rhona.
"Oh Fuck!" I yelled.
I kicked Kelly back, off of Rhona, pulling her to her feet and pushing her towards Vi. Kelly came fast and furious, catching me off guard. Down I went, backtracking fast but not fast enough.
A shot rang out, booming through the thick air. Vi had shot Kelly but she was still coming at me.
"The head! Shoot the head!" I screamed.
Another shot echoed. Kelly fell. We scrambled to our feet. That's when we all heard it. A buzz, a shrill menacing hum, a frenzy.
"Retreat! To the boat! NOW!" I yelled.
We pulled Rhona, fast and hard through the brush, forgetting the search pattern, forgetting the drill, making a straight path back to the boat.
We cleared the brush, out in the open, the beach area. I looked around, stunned. "Where's the boat? Where's the God damned boat!?"
We could hear them coming through the brush, fast, hard, unrelenting. I looked around. "There! We need to make it to those rocks, find a place to hide, get our bearings, find a place to fight."
We started running, pulling Rhona. I tapped the comm. "Angel!" Nothing, I tried again. "ANGEL!" I screamed.
I heard some static.
"Angel! Somebody come in!!"
I barely heard them but they were there. I gasped in relief.
"The S.O.S..... It's a trap! Stop the signal. Do you hear me? Stop the signal. It's not an S.O.S.... it's a dinner bell. A GOD DAMNED DINNER BELL!"
"Move!" I said as I pushed us forward, heading toward the water. "In the water, around the rocks, there's got to be a place to dig in."
We ran splashing through the water, waist deep, working our way out and around the rock formation. "Swim under", were my last words as we submerged, swimming underneath the blackness, feeling our way along the surface of the stone.
I came up for air, gasping, pulling Vi and Rhona with me, keeping us hid beneath the waves. We pushed ourselves against a tiny recession, trying to blend in, become invisible.
'Shhh.' I put my finger to my lips, peering around, electricity so thick the air was crackling.
I saw a small crevice deeper in the recessed area, not much but it would have to do. I pointed and we pushed out way backwards, slowly, quietly, taking Rhona with us.
We crammed ourselves into it, still half in the water but protected somewhat by the jutting rocks around us. Vi pressed back against the stone, pulling Rhona in tight against her body, offering her what body heat she could.
I checked Rhona's wound, lots of blood, way too much. I covered the wound, applying direct pressure, knowing it was hopeless. The bite cut into her artery.... It was only a matter of minutes before she was completely gone. She'd passed out right before we hit the water and now death was hovering over her, over all of us.
I looked at Vi, shaking my head. The clarity of the moment hitting us like a hammer to the head.
The air around us stilled, became silent. We tensed. Vi's eyes got big, her gaze locked over my shoulder. I grabbed my knife from its sheath, turned and looked into a pair of red eyes, mouth pursing, getting ready to scream. I thrust the knife forward, putting all the strength I could muster behind the momentum, sinking the blade into the skull, the blade making a slurping sound as I pulled it out, the body sliding from its attack position. I grabbed hold of it, easing it down into the water, being as quiet as I could, my breaths coming fast and shallow.
Rhona started convulsing, knocking Vi back against the rocks, the rocks slicing a gash along her leg. She let go of Rhona, covering up her wound, immediately trying to stop the bleeding.
I pulled out the first aid kit, dropping most of it into the water, opened some butterfly strips and put them on Vi's leg. I got some gauze, whispering, "got to wrap it tight."
I heard something, turned, face to face with Rhona. I froze. She smiled and I noticed she had her knife drawn. As I breathed in, she attacked. I blocked best I could, my hands and arms showing the blade marks, as red strips appeared and started dripping. I kicked her backwards, giving myself a second to regroup. She moved in fast. I grabbed a stake and put all my body weight behind it. I hit the mark, heard the sickening crack of a skull as it broke its way through, felt the wet slurp as it came to a stop. A small cry broke free from my body.
I turned to Vi. "I've got to lead them away from you."
She shook her head no. "Don't leave." She pleaded.
"I have to. There are too many and they have an idea of where we are. I'll lead them away and you get on the radio and get us a pick up. I'll circle back and if I don't, well, have them destroy the island. Turn your comm on channel 1. Base will be able to hear you as well as me." I pushed some gauze into her hands and gave her a nod.
I waded quietly over to Rhona, took her gun and ammo, pried the knife from her hand, put the extra weaponry in my waistband and climbed up onto the rock. I looked back at Vi. "Get us a ride." I whispered. I pointed at her and brought my finger to my lips, Shhh. She nodded.
I cast a last glance toward Rhona, her body slowly making its way toward the current, being swallowed by the waters blackness, I lowered my eyes in disgrace as she silently bumped against the fiend. I sighed inwardly, sucked up my emotions and started climbing away from Vi and toward the top of our hiding spot, thinking that from the top I could get a view of which way I needed to run.
I looked back to the ocean thinking, sharks, funny but at the moment the sharks weren't really looking all that bad to me.
I moved slowly, keeping my footing, inch by inch, heading toward the top, slipping slightly, causing rocks to clamber downward, making noise, giving away my concealment. I stilled, listening. I breathed out a sigh of relief when I didn't hear anything and moved upward.
I heard a splash and my heart fell. I looked back to where I'd left Vi. Fear and loathing creeping its way up my spine. I tapped the comm. "Vi? You okay?" I asked.
Her voice finally came through, cracked and worn, shaken. "yeah.... It's sharks... they're...." She trailed off, composing herself before adding, "I'm out of the water, dug in tight, go on."
"I'll be making a lot of noise soon, when I do, you get us help." I looked up, just a few more feet to go before I could pinpoint the 'things' and make a break for it. Higher and higher, closer to the top, my breathing slow and paced.
I reached my hand up grabbing the ledge, anchored my foot, getting ready to hoist myself up the last bit.
A hand reached down, fast, quick, hard, grabbing a handful of hair and started pulling me upwards.
I started struggling.
The hand twisted, tightening its grip in my hair, making my scalp scream. I grabbed at the hand,holding on, trying to relieve the tension. My body scraped against the rocks, abrasions coming to the forefront. I found a solid footing and propelled myself upwards, drawing my gun as I ascended.
The extra momentum put my attacker off balance, me included. I landed in front of it, that thing, stumbling forwards, their hand still tied up in my hair. Red eyes flashed, lips curled, revealing sinister teeth. It started pulling me toward it. I sucked in a breath, pushing myself backwards, bringing up the gun, point blank, firing, flinching from the sound, the sight of flesh bursting apart. It fell, hand still holding firm in my hair. I shook my head, pulling at its arm, disentangling myself from it.
I looked at the thing, looked back up and found four more, smiling at me. Human, beast, both working together at a common goal, destruction of me and mine. I took aim, firing, mowing them down, one by one, pushing myself forward, further away from Vi.
The sound began again, that buzz, that hum, that shrill pitch. I swallowed hard, looking around, trying to find the source. I moved inward fast, away from the ocean, only stopping when I ran into the edge of the rocks, a dropoff. I'd have to climb down.
I had my way down but I didn't know which way to go. The sound was everywhere. I hesitated, breathing heavily, eyes frantically searching out the 'right' path.
A hand latched onto my ankle, pulling hard, making me stumble. I hit hard against the ledge, falling downward, crashing hard against the sharp protrusions before I tumbled out into the sand.
I looked up, saw a distorted face coming at me. I realized I'd dropped my gun in the fall. "Shit!" I yelled. I struck out with my fist, hitting the thing in the nose, giving me time to pull the other gun I'd stashed in my belt. I fired from my laying position in the sand, getting up quickly, finding the other weapon and quickly securing it.
Trees rustled, the brush started to part, the wind seemed to whistle as they cut their way through it, making their path, fast and furious. I was no longer the hunter. I was the hunted.
They were fixing to break through. I took a last look around and took off, hoping I'd chosen right. I ran straight for the break, the area I thought they'd come through. Drawing the other gun I jumped into the brush, firing as they came into view, never stopping, never slowing, taking the term drive-by to a new level.
I felt invigorated, alive, my blood pumping fast, my heartbeat erratic. I could hear everything, feel everything. It's as though time slowed and I sped up. I whizzed past them, reloaded and continued making a path, away from the chaos, away from the madness, pushing myself harder, faster. One came out of nowhere. I screamed, throwing myself at it, caving its nose inside its skull with the blunt of my gun. As it fell, I smiled, dug my boot in its throat and fired a round in between its eyes.
I turned around, looking at them, drawing them out, letting them get closer, letting them get within range. When they surrounded me, I moved, firing both guns, turning, ducking blows, dodging, using one bullet per each fiend.
I stepped over the last one, walking, wary, listening, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I checked my ammo, few rounds left in each gun and two more clips. It would have to do. I blew out a breath, looking around. I was lost. I closed my eyes, reaching out, praying mostly.
I could hear the frenzy in the distance. I could hear all the yelling over the comm and I could hear someone screaming.
I broke, running toward the scream, the human scream, through brush, briars, ducking over and under branches, breaths shallow, fast, lungs begging for more air.
I was running so fast, everything was becoming a blur, melding into a kind of tunnel vision, one goal, one thought in mind.
I got hit from the side, hard, painful, knocking me off balance, my body rolling from the impact, only stopping as I hit a tree. I had time enough to focus before it was on me. It lunged. I brought my foot up, placing it on its chest, pushing backwards, trying to keep it off me, trying to keep it peeled off of me. My guns were off to the side, splayed around from the fall. Closer it came, inches away from my face. I pushed harder with my foot, trying to fend off its nails, claws, with one hand while I pulled my knife with the other. I thrust the knife upward, pushing it in at the chin, forcing the blade upward into the brain. It slowed its attack, slumping, I kicked it back, off of me, pulling the knife out.
I wiped the blade on my pants as I got to my feet, secured the knife and quickly retrieved the guns.
The scream grew louder.
I turned to run and ran smack dab into something. I stumbled backwards, allowing my eyes to slowly travel up, taking in the huge massive torso, sizing up the thing that was blocking my path. I looked up into a haunting, snarling face, its lips starting to curl up at the sides.
I stepped a few feet back, getting an accurate idea of just how big this thing was. "Oh hell." I breathed out.
I didn't move and neither did he.
He screamed and bolted for me.
I screamed, pointed my guns and started firing, one cap after the other, slowing it but not stopping it. I backtracked as I fired, careful, watching my retreat.
One round after the other hitting its mark but still not making an impact.
It closed in on me fast, hard, overtaking me, almost standing over me.
I raised my guns, pulled the triggers.
The guns clicked.
My breath caught.
His eyes bored into me as he towered over me. I held my breath waiting for the final blow. He slowed, lips starting to curl up along the sides.
He took a step toward me, stopped and stared right into my eyes. I stood frozen, caught in his glare, afraid to move, afraid to breathe, watching, waiting, anxiety making me sweat.
His eyes flashed with change, with fire, with hate. I kept close watch, slowly trying to make my hand ease around, to grasp my knife. I jerked my hand at the last moment, grabbing hold of the blade, never was one to be patient. He caught my movement, growled and lunged.
He stepped forward fast, falling right into the dirt. I stepped back as his body just barely missed knocking me down, his face fell against the toes of my boots.
I laughed half in disbelief, half relief, sounding like a gasp.
"You gotta be kidding me." I whispered to myself, breathing heavily, body shaking from the adrenaline overload.
I reloaded a gun, placing the one extra clip in my pocket, throwing the extra useless gun off to the side.
I looked around. Alone, I hoped. I tapped the comm. "Vi?" I asked.
I waited a minute, my heart falling second by second. Finally her voice broke through the silence, shaky and worn. "I'm okay... help's on the way. Get back here now!"
"Faith?" Another voice broke through.
"Faith, are you okay?" It asked again.
I smiled, forgetting the mess I was in. "B... is that you?" I asked, my body slumping as some of the tension left it.
"We're almost there. Hang on." She said.
"I'm lost B. I don't know how to get back." I breathed into the receiver.
The air got quiet as we both contemplated the heaviness of my words. I finally got up my nerve and continued. " Whatever happens B, don't you get off that boat. Destroy the island at all costs. Promise me?"
She hesitated before finally answering. "I promise." Her voice low, thoughtful.
A tear slid from my eye as I thought about what I might lose. The silence let me know that she was thinking the same thing. The heaviness hung in the air, bonding us for that brief moment. Our breaths started falling in unison over the airwaves, lulling me into a false sense of safety, of security.
A branch snapped.
I turned, saw a blur approaching me fast, tried to get my arm up in time to block the hit but I was too late. Its arm struck just below my neckline, forcing me backwards, flipping me with the force of the blow. I landed face down in the dirt. I sucked in a breath, hoisted myself off the ground and took a kick to the ribs. I rolled with the force, rolling to my knees, to my feet and up. It came again fast, grabbing around my neck. I pushed my arms upwards, fast, hard, in between its arms, dislodging them from my neck, instantly grabbing its neck, snapping it.
As it fell from the fight, another showed, swinging a clawed hand at my head. I caught it at the wrist, held on, bringing my free hand up hard against the joint, snapping it.
I dove, head first, rolling over the ground, picking up my gun and started firing. More and more came. Shots echoed over the island.
I was jumped from behind, rolling into the dirt, my face being pushed hard against the ground. I twisted, fighting to roll over. I turned in its grasp, getting a good view of its face. As he went to bite me, I thrust out my fingers, plunging them into an eye socked, pulling back.
It grabbed its face, falling off of me to the side, pain apparent in its screams.
I looked at my fingers. "Oh God... Oh God!" I yelled as I tried to shake the slimy mess off of me, my hand, my fingers.
A low growl shook me from my current panic. I eyed my gun, again on the ground. I silently berated myself for not being able to hold onto it.
I felt blindly in my ops bag as the thing ran at full speed for me. As it jumped me, I brought out the flare gun, stuffed it in its horrific mouth and fired.
Its eyes got big, so did mine as I waited to see what would happen. It disentangled itself from me, standing, sparks starting to show through its mouth, ears and eyes. The flames flared, burning bright. It grabbed its head and started running around, screaming at an unhuman pitch. I watched in disbelief and amusement as it ran around me looking like a human sparkler.
~Faith, what's going on?~
Another branch snapped.
I jerked by body towards the sound, waiting.
Out burst one of my girls, running straight for me, hands outstretched, fast and hard.
I looked harder at her, giving her a name. "Amy." I whispered, adding. "Oh no... please don't make me do this." I sighed out.
She ran faster.
My breaths came fast, hard, my gut already churning, weak, disgusted. I pulled the sickness down, steeled myself, got into a fighting stance, cocked my arm, waiting.
Closer she came, not stopping, not slowing, still wearing that chilling smile.
I rocked back onto my back foot so I could use my momentum to full advantage, my right hand balled up into a fist, my left casually wrapping around the hilt of my gun.
Ten feet and closing.
I gritted my teeth.
Two foot out, I threw my punch, so hard, so fast, my body turned all the way around. I drew my gun.
She flew backwards, the smile gone, her hand covering up the place where I had marked her. "Ouch! What'd you do that for?" She screamed out at me.
I blinked a couple of times, lowered the gun, looking hard at her.
"Shit Amy, why'd you run at me like that, I could've killed you. I thought you were one of those things." I yelled back.
She got up dusting off her ass, standing still, looking at me, tears forming in her eyes.
"Sorry." I breathed out, toeing at the ground with my boot.
She lunged, wrapping her arms around me. "I was just glad to see you." She said.
"Me too." I admitted, enveloping her in a hug.
~ Faith! Damn it, answer me!~
I pulled her from my body, looking into her eyes. "Is there anybody else?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I don't know."
"What channel were you on?" I questioned.
She looked away so I gave her a nudge. "Seven, we were on seven. I know we're supposed to stay on the main lines but it seemed fun, we didn't...." She got quiet and lowered her head.
I finally allowed the voice to filter through. "Yeah, I'm here. I got Amy." I smiled.
B's voice cut through the silence. "Listen, we're fixing to send up a signal. Look for a light and head for it. We'll be waiting"
My smile grew. "B, the girls were on channel seven, if there's anyone out there, let them know, give us all a chance of getting out of here.
I heard something shifting off to the side. I gave Amy my extra knife, saying lowly, "all or nothing. Don't hold back, go for the head, quick in, quick out, move on. Don't stop for nothing."
Another voice came over the comm. "Faith... you get your ass back here now." Vi said adding, "Get ready, suns gonna rise.....Willow style."
I looked around. "Look for a light, it's our way home."
I grew impatient. "I don't see anything! We can't stay here, those things are all around us and more keep coming. I don't have a clue why they're waiting either." I stopped walked to a clump of thick trees and yelled. "What are you waiting for!!"
I walked around, growing more and more impatient. A fiend jumped out at me, swinging some kind of weapon. I raised my gun, fired, widened my eyes mimicking his look of surprise and stepped over its body as it fell across my path, never faltering, keeping up my current tirade.
Amy got my attention and pointed. A faint light was appearing, growing stronger and brighter with each passing second, forcing its way through, lighting our way.
I grabbed her arm and took off.
We ran through branches, thorns and monsters.
One jumped out, coming at us from my right. I felt Amy pull back but I held on firm, speeding up. As I got close, I threw myself at it, hitting it with my elbow, knocking it over and out of our path.
More appeared. I felt Amy trying to pull away. I grabbed onto her tight, making her follow me. As the circle grew tighter around us, I drew my knife and lunged, sticking it into the beasts anywhere I could.
I look to Amy, frozen, offering herself up to them on a silver platter. I drew the gun and cleared them away from her. "Amy, MOVE!" I yelled. "Now!"
I became furious as she just stood there frozen. I made a beeline for her, drawing back my hand on the way, slapping her face. I grabbed hold of her shoulders, shaking her. "Help me fight." I said between gritted teeth.
She blinked a few times, shaking off her stupor. I pushed her back out of the way, myself just barely ducking a blow that passed over my head, a good inch away from contact. I kicked out, pushing it further away from us and tugged Amy's arm. "Lets go!"
We started running again, toward help, me putting the last clip into the gun.
I finally could hear waves in the distance, the surf calling out to us.
We pushed ourselves faster.
As we ran something grabbed hold of Amy's arm, stopping her in mid stride, making her fall to the ground. I stopped, turned, saw the fiend crawling up her torso, saw as she plunged her knife in the side of its head.
Another came out circling me. I gave it a good once over. "Don't fuck with me." I growled out, low, feral. It seemed to stop, think about it and backed away, into the brush out of sight.
I ran to Amy, kicked the thing off of her, hoisting her up. "Piece of cake." I said smiling at her. "Lets go home."
She smiled, nodding. We ran.
We rushed past trees, under, over, around. Our desire to win, to live, pushing our bodies beyond their limits.
The sound of the ocean was louder. "Almost there." I said as grabbed Amy again, pushing us both through the brush and out into the open.
We weren't the only ones who saw the signal.
Those things lined the beach, blocking our path.
looked left, right. "It's not that many." I mumbled.
It was a standoff. We didn't move, they didn't move.
I saw the boat come into view, could hear the shouts of encouragement, declarations, instructions. Just like B to backseat fight.
I glanced to Amy, winked and gave her a smile, pulled my knife, gripped the gun harder.
Strategy ran rampant through my head. * If they can't walk they can't get me. If they can't see they can't get me, well, let's forget that one, cause ewwww, that's was way too gross even for me. If they can't breathe.... Well technically their not breathing anyway... so back to basics, if they can't walk they can't get me. It just might work.*
"Aww, Fuck it!" I said, stepping up, aiming, starting to shoot the things in our direct path. "Run, get to the boat. I'll keep them off you!" I shouted, moving forward firing, making Amy a clearing.
I fired, dropping them with one hit, until I heard the click of the gun. I dropped it and jumped into the fray.
"Go!" I yelled as I hit one then slid the blade home.
She hit the water running.
I shoved one out of my way, ducking down, shoving the knife into its kneecap, twisting it as I pulled it out. I was grabbed from behind. I pulled my head forward, thrusted it back, hard, fast, winced as my skull met with theirs. I brought my leg up, pushing my foot back, kicking them at the knee. Another down.
I looked to Amy waist deep in water, almost to the boat. A fiend rose up behind her, mere inches away. It grabbed her, stopping her retreat. I took aim and let the knife fly, the blade sinking into its head.
"Go!" I screamed.
My arm was grabbed, pulling me off balance, swinging me around. I pushed out, realizing that I was surrounded with no weapon. I took a few steps back, hunting through the ops bag for something to defend myself with. I felt it.
As I pulled the aerosol can for sun relief, I whipped out my lighter, instantly spraying and lighting up. Flames erupted and blazed out at the beasts. I pushed my way back toward the water, getting ready to run for it.
As soon as I got an opening I ran, through the water, fast as possible, each step seeming slow and tedious. I could hear the splashes behind me, letting me know they were chasing me, I could see ripples in the water, fins breaking the surface only to disappear once again under the waters surface, letting me know that something else was in the water besides me and the beasts. I couldn't, wouldn't, refused to look back, refused to look at the water surrounding me. I didn't want to know.
"Hurry!" I heard them shout.
I waded on, deciding to swim, hoping it would be faster. I felt breaths against my neck, fingers graze my skin as I dove under, coming up swimming, gaining a lead when they lost me for that brief moment.
I swam hard and fast for the boat, only losing stride as I was momentarily tugged under, I came back up disoriented, heard the boat and swam again for it, finally I felt hands reach down and pull me up to safety.
I rolled into the boat as we took off. I laid there breathing hard, not flinching as hands checked me for fatal flaws. My leg started burning, I looked down to see B cleaning off and wrapping a bite mark. "That's a big damned bite!" I yelled. "What the fuck did that?" I questioned sitting up.
"You don't want to know." B said lowly. "You don't want to know."
I looked at the water then back to the passengers in the boat, noticed Willow performing a spell. I guess my look said, 'what the....', cause B was offering answers. "She's gonna burn it."
I nodded as I wrapped my arms around B in a hug. As my eyes opened I saw something in the distance. I looked harder, straining. Realization hit me. "Xander!" I shouted, getting his attention, pointing. "Take us in!"
He turned the boat around, speeding up, heading back into the shore, further down from our pick up.
"Get in as close as you can!" I screamed over the engine.
Two more of our girls were running down the waterline, one helping the other who was obviously injured.
As soon as the boat slowed into position, I started to hop out. B stopped me. "I'm going." She started toward the side of the boat as I touched her arm. She turned and as she did I coldcocked her, knocking her out, taking her place.
I jumped into the water, wading toward the girls.
Once there, I grabbed the injured girl, telling the other to, "Libby go! Run!"
She ran for the boat, I pulled Beth tighter against me and started running into the water, the things closing behind us.
Heat started to radiate behind me as the island slowly started to ignite. The water started to warm. I pushed harder through the surf, taking us closer to home.
Beth gave out. I picked her up in a fireman's carry and trudged on. Almost there.
Splashes echoed all around me, making me panic inside. Chill bumps covered my body.
Three feet out, Beth started convulsing.
I went under with her on top, screaming, slashing at me underneath the waves.
I heard a muffled shot, felt release as Beth fell over. I pushed myself up, gasping for air, backing towards the boat, the splashes closer to me, all around me fins surfaced and submerged.
I froze. Hands reached around me, pulled me up and back out of the water just as a shark was moving in to attack. I jerked my foot upward, causing it to miss and hit against the boat.
Arms wrapped around my torso, holding me firm as the boat sped off.
I looked into the bright embers of the island. The screams of the dead pierced my ears, causing me to shiver or maybe it was B's little threat that she whispered, "do that again, I'll feed you to the fish myself."
I leaned back against B, taking comfort in her arms, in her until a form emerged from the smoke. I stood up, walking to the back of the boat, B following, standing by my side, us wrapping our arms around one another.
A low gravely sound floated over the water, sending the smell of smoke and death all around us.
"You belong to me.......You will fall."
I set my face firm, stood ready, steeled my eyes. "Not today."