“Great!” Cordelia smiled broadly as she spoke
on the phone. “I’ll be there.” Heaving a sigh of relief she hung up the
phone and turned towards Felicia, at that moment sitting on the couch watching
‘The Man from UNCLE.’ “Hey, Licia!” The lithe brunette called out as she
playfully tossed a pillow at her friend. “Think you can tear yourself away
from Ilya and Napoleon long enough to answer a question?”
“Not now!” The young strawberry blonde groaned as she tossed the pillow back at her roommate. “You just interrupted the grooviest fantasy. I was on the beach with Napoleon and Ilya and they were rubbing me down with. . .”
“I don’t wanna hear it!” Cordelia teased back. “Cause I’m taking Napoleon and Ilya in mine and they’re taking me out for dinner and dancing and then back to my place where we’re gonna. . .”
“Cordy!” Felicia gasped, a look of mock horror on her face. “You are one NASTY chick!”
“I know.” The young seer smirked. Then, getting serious, she changed the subject, “Ummm…Felicia, I just got off the phone with that friend of my family’s—you know the one I was telling you about that lives in London?”
“Yeah.” Felicia replied, nodding her head.
“Well. . .he said that his plane had just landed at LAX and that he’d be here on tomorrow morning’s train.” Then, taking a deep breath, knowing how much her roomie doted over her red Corvair, Cordy asked in a rush, “And I was wondering if you’d loan me your car so that I could pick him up at the train station in the morning?”
Chuckling with amusement at the look on her roommate’s face, Felicia mock pouted for a moment as she seemed to think about it. “Uhhh. . .I’m not sure. . .” She teased, “You know how much I love my baby. . .”
“I promise I’ll gas it up and bring it back without a scratch.” Cordelia pleaded.
“Oh. . .all right!” Felicia, snickering, at last agreed. Then, flashing a wicked smile, the young strawberry blonde added a condition. “But…you’re gonna have to do the dishes the next three days.”
“Ok!” Cordy mock pouted as she flopped down on the couch next to her roommate. “You drive a hard bargain, Licia.” Then, as the two women saw Napoleon Solo on the screen entering the Headquarters of UNCLE, Cordelia licked her lips, “Don’t you just love how he fills that suit?”
As the train pulled into the station, Cordy stood in the passenger’s lounge, tapping her foot nervously as she held up her sign with the name ‘Giles’ printed on it. As the travelers entered the lounge, her alert eyes scanned each and every one of them as she tried to figure who was the one most likely to be the father of the high school librarian that she remembered. ‘Nope…too short.’ The time traveling seer shook her head as she dismissed a gentleman wearing a business suit and porkpie hat and carrying an attaché case. ‘Too fat.’ She thought as she dismissed another man, this one wearing a plaid sports coat and smoking an especially smelly green cigar. Then, she saw him.
His tweed suit, sandy blond hair, and rugged good looks immediately catching the young brunette’s attention, she permitted herself an appreciative leer. “Figures.” She grinned in amusement, shaking her head at how much he reminded her of the first time that she had seen his son. “Tweed must run in the family.” Then, getting a good look at his face, she nodded her head approvingly as she licked her lips, “I can see where Giles got his cheekbones from.” Holding her sign above her head, she sighed in relief as the Watcher, recognizing her sign nodded his head and smiled slightly.
Entering the lounge, Edmund, clutching his valise in his right hand, looked about anxiously, then, seeing the sign with his name printed on it, smiled as he got his first look at the strange woman who had contacted him just a few days earlier. “A most attractive young woman.” He said in a low voice as he took in her lithe form, clad in a pink top with cream pants, a scarf covering her chin length blonde highlighted brown hair. Making his way towards the young woman, he motioned for the porter carrying his bags to follow. “Miss Chase, I presume?” The Englishman asked somewhat diffidently.
“The one and only.” Cordelia smiled back, then noticing the large steamer trunk, observed with a chuckle, “Traveling lightly, huh?”
“Books. . .and so on.” The Watcher replied in a shy voice. “I brought what I thought would be most helpful to us immediately. More references should be here within a day or so.”
“Thank God!” Cordy sighed in relief as she led Giles and the porter towards the parking lot and the red Corvair that her roommate had loaned her. Then, making her way toward the front of the car, she popped the hood.
“Oh. . .I see. . .” The Englishman flashed an embarrassed grin. “The boot is in the front in this car.”
“Yeah.” Cordelia smiled back as the porter, straining under the heavy burden, placed the luggage into the front trunk and then closed the hood. “Took me a little time to get used to it too.”
Tipping the porter, the Watcher then opened the driver’s door, holding it open for the young woman who, with a broad grin, put on her sunglasses and slipped in behind the steering wheel. “Hop in.” She said, maintaining her sunny smile. “I’ll take you to your hotel so you can check in and all, and then we’ll swing by my pad—my roommate’s out for the afternoon with her boyfriend so we can talk freely…at least ‘til they get back.”
Entering the underground cavern, the robed figure strode majestically between two rows of similarly clad figures towards his chief acolyte and the two children of the Master. As he approached them, the three knelt and bowed their heads reverently. Holding out his hand, the Grandmaster flashed a cold smile as first his junior, and then the others, kissed the ring on his finger, the large ruby reflecting the dull light coming from the candles on either wall.
“Arise.” He commanded as the ancient vampire pushed back his hood, revealing to all that, like the Master, the demon that had taken up residence within the Grandmaster’s body had almost completed its transformation of the human host.
“You honor us with your presence, Grandmaster.” Luke spoke reverently as he stood. “We all anxiously await the return of our Master.”
“As do I, Luke.” The Elder replied as he looked about the cavern. “I have been told that, while all is nearly in readiness, that there appears to be a …complication of some sort?”
“Nothing serious, Most Unholy One.” Luke assured. “Angelus appears to have made the acquaintance of someone new…a half-demon woman…nothing that we cannot handle.”
“I hope so.” The Grandmaster cupped his chin as he looked deeply into the eyes of the Master’s child. “Angelus plays a vital role if the Master is to be returned now, and not thirty years from now as the Prophecy states.”
“We will have him.” Luke stated definitively. “And his female companion will be dealt with.”
“Then, I shall leave the matter to you.” The ancient vampire, satisfied with the other vampire’s words, nodded his head in assent. “It has been a long voyage and I am both tired and hungry, and there is still much to be done before the ritual can commence…”
“Darla shall show you to your quarters.” Luke volunteered as the blonde temptress stepped forward, flashing a smile at the powerful cult leader as two other vampires stepped forward, the twisting and terrified form of a young teenage girl between them, their powerful arms restraining her. Seeing the frightened youth, a cold smile crossed the face of the Elder as Luke, happy at the pleased reaction of the powerful vampire, flashed a satisfied grin, “And please accept this tender morsel to ease your hunger, Unholy One.”
“I mean. . .I’ve been trying to get through all that gunk that dead Roman guy wrote, but it’s really confusing—I’m so not up to Wesley’s or even Angel’s level as far as Latin goes.” Cordelia rolled her eyes as she stood up from the couch where she sat next to the English Watcher, volumes of Langston’s Vampyre, and of Titus Livinius’ De Cultibus Vespertilionibus, amongst other references sprawled about the coffee table in front of them.
Coughing slightly as he took in the beauty of the lithe form stretching before him, a somewhat distracted Edmund took off and cleaned his glasses. “Why don’t we take a short break then?”
“Sounds good to me!” Cordy smiled back as she strode towards the kitchen. “How’s about I make us some tea?”
“Ummm…well…” The Englishman, not expecting his American host to know how to prepare a proper cup of tea, yet at the same time not wanting to offend, stammered as he tried to come up with an appropriate reply.
“Don’t worry.” Cordelia, sensing the reason for her guest’s unease, chuckled with amusement. “I work with an Englishman…I know how to make tea right. How does Earl Grey with some milk sound?”
“That should do nicely.” A surprised Edmund replied, a slight smile crossing his features as he spoke.
“Cool.” Cordy smiled back. “I’ve put the kettle on—it’ll be a few minutes.” She then spoke in a soft voice, “Go a lot easier if I had a microwave!”
“Excuse me, Miss Chase?” The Watcher, hearing her mutter, asked.
“Oh…nothing, Giles. I was just…thinking about a few things…” Cordelia replied as she fetched the tea bags and a pair of cups. “By the way, you can call me Cordy.”
“Very well…Cordy.” The Englishman, not really used to American informality, answered back, somewhat tentatively. Then, after a few minutes of silence during which he continued to peruse De Cultibus Vespertilionibus while waiting for his host to return with the tea, his eyes fell upon a sketch of a robed figure and then another one of an inverted pyramid with an eye in the middle. Quickly looking up, he called out as the young brunette returned to the living room bearing a TV tray with a pair of cups with steam rising from them and smelling with the telltale oil of bergamot that marked the Earl Grey tea inside them and a creamer containing milk. “Miss…I mean Cordy…”
“Yeah, Giles.” The young lady, setting the TV tray down before them, asked as she poured milk from the creamer into both of their cups. Then, seeing the look of alarm on his face, she inquired, somewhat nervously, “What is it?”
“The figures that you saw in your vision...” The Watcher then pointed towards the sketches. “Did they look something like this?”
As she saw the robed figure and the sketch of the medallion, she gasped, “That’s exactly what I saw! Who…what are they?”
“Oh my.” The elder Giles sighing in a manner that reminded Cordelia once more of his son, explained. “That is a symbol of the Order of Merovinus—a very powerful vampiric cult. If your visions are correct, Cordy, then the situation is far graver than I had at first feared.”
“Ok then.” Cordelia said as she sipped her tea. “Exactly who—or what—is this order of Merovinus supposed to be?”
“They are an ancient cult.” The elder Giles began as he warmed up to his lecture, “That has its origins in ancient Carthage. You see…” The diffident Watcher said before taking a sip from his own cup, and, finding it to his liking, smiled. “They were the true cause of the Third Punic War. They were the real reason why the Roman senator, Cato, ended all his speeches with the phrase, Cartago est delenda.”
“Carthage must be destroyed.” Cordelia translated, then, seeing the raised eyebrow of the Watcher, smirked, “Hey…I’ve got layers.” Then, shaking her head, she admitted, “That’s also one of the few things I remember from my world history class back in high school. I always thought it sounded kinda neat—in an ancient, dead language kinda way.” Seeing the stuffy Englishman beginning to laugh in spite of himself, Cordelia smiled warmly. “Gotcha.”
“Quite.” Giles smiled back as he continued with his lecture. “As I was about to say, Cato realized that, should this cult not be stopped, it, with the help of certain other forces, would bring on an apocalypse that would consume the world, so, he agitated and maneuvered and pressured until, finally, he convinced the Senate to declare war, and, with the sack and destruction of Carthage, removed the threat posed by the Order…for a time at least.”
Taking another sip of tea, the young seer grew serious again as she asked, “So now they’re back. Okay, you got any ideas on how they’re planning on bringing the Big Ugly Guy back?”
Taking a deep breath, the Watcher then said, “First, I need to tell you about the prophecy of the Master’s rising.”
Remembering her first encounter with the world of vampires that time years ago when Buffy had confronted and slain the Master while she, Willow, Giles, and Jenny Calendar were trapped in the library fending off the hordes of attacking vampires, Cordelia sighed deeply. “You don’t have to tell me, I already know it. Short version, the Anointed One leads the Slayer to the Master who then drinks her blood and that releases him from his prison.”
“How could possibly know this?” Edmund demanded, his curiosity and suspicions both rising, “That particular prophecy is only known to a handful of people and even we don’t know the full divination—one important book in particular is missing—so how could you possibly be familiar with this?”
“Look.” Cordy shook her head. “If I tell you, you’re probably not going to believe me—or you’ll think I’m crazy…”
“Now see here…Cordelia…” The English Watcher replied, deliberately addressing the seer by her formal name. “I’ve come all this way on a few snippets of information and blind trust. You obviously know who I am and the nature of my…profession…but I know nothing about you except that you called me telling me that you saw these visions of future events and that you know about the Watchers Council and the Slayer, and now you tell me that you are familiar with an arcane prophecy. If we are going to work together successfully here, we need to trust each other. In other words, I think it is time for us both to…as you Americans are so fond of saying…put our cards on the table.”
“You’re right.” Cordelia reluctantly admitted as she looked into the determined eyes of the man seated next to her, once again not believing how alike father and son were, or would one day be. “Okay…here goes…don’t forget though…you asked for it.” Taking a deep breath, she then asked, “So what do you know about time travel magic and another set of prophecies concerning the Champion and the Seer?”