Part One

March 10, 2026, New Glenbury, PA

Willow Rosenberg entered her house. Emily was in the kitchen, cooking dinner for the two of them. They’d been roommates ever since Emily had graduated from college; although the two of them could have each afforded their own places, they preferred each other’s company.

They were both fairly small with reddish hair, though Willow’s was now tinged with streaks of gray; they both knew about vampires on an “up-close-and-personal” level; they both were computer experts; and they’d both lost people they loved tragically. So, after the events of St. Patrick’s Day almost fifteen years previously, they’d bonded very strongly. Despite the ten-year difference in their ages, they’d needed friends. Willow had Xander and Cordelia, but Emily had had no one else except Regan, really, since Cale had died.

Emily looked up. “Hey there, Willsy! Good day?”

“Any day with nothing supernatural is a good day, Emily.” Willow called out, “Messages?”

“You have three messages, Willow,” the house phone system answered. The first two were routine; the third was from Galen Petrillo.

Emily giggled when she heard that final name. “Oh, Galen, hmmm?”

Laughing, Willow retorted, “It’s not like that, and you know it. It’s probably just another mystical message.” Galen Petrillo had been in sporadic touch with Willow, and other Watchers, for a number of years, though he seemed to have a special fondness for the auburn-haired ex-Watcher. He’d found out about vampires, he’d said, twenty years ago when one of them caused the death of the woman he loved. Ever since, he’d traveled the world looking for ways to aid in their destruction. He contacted Watchers and ex-Watchers when he ran across lost books of prophecy or bizarre mystic artifacts.

Galen was such the world traveler, though, that he rarely had time to actually meet any of the people he was helping, relying primarily on phone calls, mail, and e-mail. Emily thought he had a sexy voice.

“Second message,” Willow called out.

“Willow, hello,” Galen’s voice came. “Sorry you weren’t in and I hope the new Slayer is doing well. This isn’t good news, I’m afraid; this deals with the prophecy of Dark Judgment. I’ve found more on it, and while I sent the details to your computer, I wanted to tell you some of it … myself.” Willow heard a deep breath. “It also has to do with why New Glenbury’s been overrun by vampires recently. Seems there’s a record of a very powerful mystical artifact having been hidden underneath town. It was shielded for years, but the shields must be wearing thin.

“The item is called, perversely, the Orb of the Savior. When properly invoked it has the power to recall the dead to life — vampires, humans, it doesn’t matter. The invocation requires a blood sacrifice. And there’s more, but it’s mostly details.” Another deep breath. “This is fairly important. I’m … going to need to come there for this one. There’s something you’ll need to have that I can’t send through the mail. I’ve also sent a copy of the e-mail to Regan. The union of the blood and the red is coming.”

Another pause, long enough that Willow thought the call had ended, and then. “I look forward to meeting you.” Then it was over.

Emily and Willow looked at each other. All thoughts of the sexiness of Galen’s voice had long ago vanished. Two things stood out in what the man had just told them. One, of course, was the fact that the day of Dark Judgment was near.

The other, and oddly more immediately disturbing, was that Galen had sent the information to Regan.

To protect Buffy …

… they’d never told Regan.

*                  *                  *

New Glenbury was quite different from Sunnydale in many ways. While it was also small, it was small differently. Sunnydale had been, in essence, a miniature large city, complete with warehouses, docks, and a mall — not to mention caves and a huge sewer system. New Glenbury was a small eastern town — with suburbanized outskirts, admittedly, a McDonald’s, a Pizza Hut, a Super-Giant WalMart, among other things — but the surroundings were primarily farmland and woods, with the occasional abandoned factory or church rotting away within.

It also had no sewers, and no large network of caves. Still, vampires will always find places to hide. The most popular were abandoned barns, of which there were a large number.

It was just past sundown at one of the old barns, and the vampires inside were slowly stirring, when the side door shot open. The residents jolted fully awake and stared at the interloper, from whom power and rage radiated openly.

Without preamble, the newcomer strode up to the nearest, grabbed it by the neck, and lifted it two feet off the ground. “Who’s in charge here?” came a fierce growl. “Well?”

A large male vampire, dressed in a black suit, walked forward. “That would be me,” he said, not at all hesitantly. “I’m Liddell. What are —” Without a word the newcomer took a stake and thrust it through Liddell’s heart; before his ashes even had time to dissipate the question came again.

“Now, who’s in charge here?”

As one the vampires said, “You are.”

“Good. Got it in two.” Then the new leader reached up and carelessly, almost haphazardly, broke the neck of the one being held by the neck and let him drop to the floor. “That’s for not answering my question,” the hiss spat out.

“So what do we call you?” one of them asked nervously.

A tall, red-haired female vampire stepped forward. “You call me Your Majesty,” she said. “My name, though, is Siobhan.”

*                  *                  *

Regan Leary visibly got angry on the average of once a year. All her actions since childhood had been carried on in the same near-monotonous voice and the same coldly efficient manner. So the glint in her eyes as she pounded on Willow Rosenberg’s front door showed her to be in a towering fury.

It wasn’t fucking right, not to have been told this. How was she supposed to protect her charge when she wasn’t told about all the relevant prophecies? Galen Petrillo — whoever he was — had blithely assumed that she knew about the prophecy of Dark Judgment, which by Petrillo’s judgment was going to happen sometime very soon, with Buffy Harris as a potential sacrifice.

She kept pounding. Buffy was out patrolling the northern section of town tonight; near the abandoned factory by the old railroad, and Regan hadn’t had the chance to tell her yet. She would, though.

A voice came nervously through the door. “Regan?” Emily called. “If we let you in, do you promise not to kill us?”

“No,” she whispered. “But if you don’t, I will. I feel a strong urge to break a few necks.” She wouldn’t go through with it, but she was proud that even now they were a little bit afraid of her.

They were the closest friends she had. They were the only friends she had.

Slowly, the door opened. Willow and Emily stood there, unflinching, ready if she decided to try something. Good. That took guts. It also showed they had a reason for not telling her.

Or thought they had. “Well?” she whispered. “I just got a message from Galen Petrillo — something about a prophecy where the Double Slayer is due to die. That’s Buffy. I expect you have a good reason for not telling me.”

“We didn’t want to worry Buffy about it,” Emily blurted out.

“I expected wrong,” Regan said coldly. “That was my decision to make. How long have you known about this?”

“Um … five years?” Willow said.

“Five years,” Regan answered. “Five years.” She took a deep breath. “You remember those fucking courses in how to keep secrets? They don’t apply to other Watchers.” Regan stopped. “It’s not like I don’t understand why you did it. You wanted to protect Buffy and the Harrises from knowing what was going to happen. Unfortunately, it blows the lead time all to hell.” She took a printout from her backpack, between the stakes and the holy water. Regan was an active Watcher; she figured, just because her primary goal was to preserve her charge’s life, no reason she couldn’t slaughter a few vampires herself along the way.

“Here’s the message. Tell me what you’ve figured out, and tell me now. By Petrillo’s message, we’ve got very little time to figure out what to do to turn away the day of Dark Judgment.”

“Okay,” Willow said and reached for a remote control. She pressed a button and the screen on the wall lit up. “I’ve got it saved … here.” The original scroll popped up. Regan studied it intently. “What’s this?” she said, pointing to a phrase in Latin heading the document.

“We’re not sure if that belongs to the prophecy or not. It means —”

“I know Latin,” Regan interrupted. “‘She who wills, controls.’”

*                  *                  *

Buffy Harris looked down the railroad tracks. They were rotting and abandoned, but vampires tended to use them as a not-often checked route through town for just that reason.

Her training had ended awfully early tonight; Leary’d gotten some e mail and abruptly shooed her out. It was the first time she’d ever seen her Watcher that angry.

God’s balls, this was boring! she thought as she extended her Slayer senses to check the trees nearby. All the vampires in town seemed to be taking the night off. Some movement in the trees! Just a raccoon. Buffy walked further up the tracks near the abandoned factory. There wasn’t a roof, so it wasn’t a hideout, but sometimes they congregated there at night to take advantage of a particularly naive kill or two.

“Here, vampire, vampire,” she called out in a singsongy voice. “Here, vampy, vampy.”

Amazingly, one stepped out from behind a nearby wall. Buffy’s stake sprang to her hand like it was born to go there. The vampire laughed and said, “Easy there, Slayer. You are the Slayer, right?”

Both moved into full moonlight and Buffy got a good look at the vampire for the first time. His hair was short and he wore dark clothing. Just once, she’d like to see a vamp with a sense of style. “Hold on there a minute,” he said. “I’ve got to be seeing things. You could be her goddamn twin if it wasn’t for that brown hair.”

“Whose goddamn twin?” Buffy asked.

“Oh, the name wouldn’t mean anything to you, Slayer. Buffy Summers.” An involuntary jerk of the head. “That name does mean something to you. I wonder what …” he mused.

“Oh, nice work, Holmes,” Buffy said sarcastically, getting tired of being grilled by a vampire. “I was named after her. And since we’re trading secrets, how do you know her?”

“Almost killed her a couple of times myself. The name, by the way, is Spike.” He bowed. “Charmed, I’m sure.”

Previous Part               Next Part