Part Three

“Emily Harding, please report to the library. Emily Harding, please report to the library —”

Emily Harding looked up at her chemistry teacher hopefully.

“Are you done with your quiz, Ms. Harding?”

“Um, no, but —”

“No buts here. Ms. Rosenberg can wait five minutes.” Willow Rosenberg, although an excellent librarian and a genius at maintaining the school’s computer system, was considered about as eccentric as “that crazy Brit from ten years ago” by the elder faculty.

Hurriedly she scribbled down a bunch of answers, hardly looking at the questions. She thrust the test paper onto the teacher’s desk — Another C-minus, she thought, another lecture from Dad — and sprinted down the hall to the library.

Ms. Rosenberg was waiting in her office, studying a book in one hand and browsing on her computer with the other.

“So, what’s up now?” She asked her Watcher. “Upcoming vamp attack? Invasion of giant Ants? Another mysterious tip by —”

“Shush,” Ms. Rosenberg told her quickly and gestured for to sit. “I’ll explain when Cale and Regan show, okay? It’s about those dreams we’ve been having.”

“The dreams?” she said excitedly. “Good, I’ve been —” A glare from Ms. Rosenberg quieted her quickly. She thought she heard the Watcher mutter something like, “Giles, for all the grief we put you through, forgive me,” but she wasn’t sure. Her boyfriend showed up two minutes later, dragging the irritated Regan behind him. The tall blonde had been the school’s resident psycho until Emily started Slaying. She’d discovered the secret when trailing her after school, actually saving her from a vamp that was stalking her from behind. Since then, she’d been a reluctant ally, scared into a form of sanity by the realization that there were things out there that were so dangerous that by comparison she was still a little girl in a ghost costume. Cale? He was simpler: he was her boyfriend, and would follow her to the mouth of Hell. (Hadn’t had to yet, though.)

Cale had decided to call the two of them the “Slayers’ auxiliary”, but Ms. Rosenberg had firmly said, “No. You’re Slayerettes. Don’t argue the point.” As they sat down, Emily motioned for the two of them to be quiet. They did so with a bad grace.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, she closed the book, shut off the computer’s voice command box, and turned to the Slayerettes. “You’ve all been having the dreams still? And they’re always the same?

“’Cept we’re chained to the fuckin’ wall, yeah,” Regan said. Cale elbowed her. “What?” she asked.

“You’ve — found the significance of these dreams, Ms. Rosenberg?” Cale asked.

“Yes. I’ve been having them, too, as have some … friends of mine. Identical in every case. It has to do with this prophecy, written by a mad monk of the 14th century, Brother Mikos. Translated, it goes …

“‘On the first day of spring the Watcher and the Slayer and their companions shall face the undefeatable one, and shall not defeat her, and shall cause her to be defeated. This will end where it all started.’”

“Typical cryptic crap,” Regan muttered.

Surprisingly, the Watcher laughed. “That’s what I thought the first dozen times I read it. Brother Mikos was a grade-A Looney Tune. But the reference to the Companions also apparently refers to the Watchers’ Companions, the only prophecy I’ve seen ever do so. And those friends I mentioned earlier are my companions. They’ll be flying in sometime soon. Now all we need to do is find out who the undefeatable one is.” The bell rang. “Regan, you’re free next period, right?”

“Yeah.” she sighed. “I suppose this means another fun-filled free period spent on the internet?” Ms. Rosenberg nodded. “Oh, I am in such ecstasy …” Despite her loud grumbling, Regan Leary had an amazingly deft touch finding specific things on the web, or proving they couldn’t be found. While she lacked the Watcher’s hacking skills, she was usually good enough to free her up for more scholarly work.

As Cale and Emily left, Willow said, “Emily, after school, we’ll work on your crossbow technique a little more. See you then.”

As Regan started swearing at the computer, Willow turned back to the pile of books on her office’s desk. “No wonder Giles never organized his office. He never had the time!” Sadness crossed her face briefly, then she pushed those thoughts from her head and continued her research.

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