He dreamt of the sun.
It was strange, because for over two centuries there was nothing he feared more than the burning sensation of sunlight on his skin. Now, he could only think of it, remember it, hang on its cruel image as if his life depended on it.
Sometimes, when the blackness became too unbearable, he longed to be released by the killing rays of the sun.
He opened his eyes -- or maybe that too was in his imagination. It was hard to tell in this everlasting darkness. The hunger that had gnawed on him had transformed into a kind of mania he could not express. He remembered screaming himself hoarse one time, but he wasn't sure when he did that. Days ago? Weeks? Months? Maybe years?
The thought of spending a century in this box was enough to send him on another fit. He began to sob, but his arms could not lift to wipe the tears that fell from his eyes. He was surprised that there was that much moisture left in him. He felt dry, paper-thin.
"Connor..." he moaned. He sounded frightening, like an animal ... or the demon that he was. He tried to remember good times, but the good times were Connor, and Connor were bad memories too. There was only one good memory he had the past year.
"Cordelia," he whispered. Then he closed his eyes and willed himself to dream of the sun.
In the higher plane where the Oracles dwelt and the Powers that Be had form, two glowing eyes opened in answer.
Avarice, 12:34 PM
"We have to put a stop to this! We can't go on living like this!" a voice muttered in the dimly lit confines of warehouse. Several heads nodded at this.
"Hate to put a dampner on everyone, but we're dead."
Growls were the only response to that comment.
"Hey, just a joke," the vampire said weakly.
"Four lairs. Wiped out in two weeks. The guy's worse than a Slayer. At least the Slayer don't go on berseko kills!" complained one.
"He's right! The man kills not because he has to -- he kills because he likes to!"
The crowd of vampires growled in agreement.
"And him being a warlock doesn't help," complained another. "If this continues, Avarice will be full of happy humans again. And us not being able to have any of them!"
"Do not worry. A plan has already been executed to counter this problem. And so far, it has been working to our advantage," said a voice with a heavy Slavic accent.
Koskov Nureyev, the man who spoke walked into the circle created by the vampires. Unlike the others, he did not wear his game face. His hair was jet black, and it trailed to his shoulders in an unruly mess. His eyes were cold and flat, his cheekbones high and commanding. When he was alive, Koskov was not a pleasant fellow. He was a sorcerer and hitman for the Russian secret police -- back in the days where Tsars ruled -- and when he was vamped, he was three times as cruel.
"And if our plans work out well, this vampire hunter will no longer trouble us."
Suddenly, the door to the warehouse crashed open. The gathered vampires burst into activity like a tightly wound spring, all of them in their vamp face now, ready to kill the intruder.
It was another vampire. She looked terrified and blood ran from a gash on her forehead. "He's here! He-"
She didn't have a chance to explain because she burst into flames. Screaming, the vampire tried to beat the flames out, but it was futile. Barely a minute later, she was a pile of dust.
The vampires moved then. Some crashed through the glass windows, others ran for the back exit. Some foolhardy ones like Koskov remained behind to confront the man.
Koskov casually picked something that was not completely burnt away near the pile of ash. It was a charred arrow. The trademark of the Vampire Hunter-
-just as the two vampires standing beside him burst into flames and disintegrated into ash. The remaining vampires decided that they'd had enough and disappeared along with the fleeing vampires.
Koskov regarded the man in black that stepped over the pile of ash that was the female's. Koskov was disappointed. He expected the man to be taller, larger. Hopefully Slavic like him, because only a man from the steppes could hunt so viciously and cravenly. Instead, all he saw was a slightly-built man -- dishevelled at that -- who was fortunately tall, but not tall enough to match Koskov's 6 foot 5.
"And you're not running because?" said the Hunter in a clipped, British accent.
Koskov felt his disappointment increasing. "Because I was curious. I wanted to see the man who wiped out a hundred vampires in two weeks. Now ... I'm disappointed."
"Glad to disappoint you. Now ... you were saying about me not being a problem anymore?" the Hunter raised his crossbow and aimed the wooden arrow at his heart.
Koskov only looked on, amused. "And what do I get in return?"
"A few more days of undead life."
Koskov chuckled. "Unlike the other worthless creatures, I know what you are, Hunter. I know the magics that you use. I know your weaknesses."
The man's eyes narrowed.
"Elemental magic, isn't it?" Koskov volunteered. "It's not hard to figure out," Koskov said when Wesley's eyes widened slightly in surprise. "Especially when I'm a sorcerer," Koskov murmured.
The Hunter did not respond.
"And of all the elements that you are open to ... Fire has chosen you. It is flattering to be chosen by the most powerful Element, but it carries grave weaknesses, as you must know. So ... I must advice you to back away from Avarice before it is too late.?
At this the Vampire Hunter laughed sardonically. "Too late. It's already too late for me. I will kill every single one of you until you're wiped out from these streets."
"Ah. Don't tell me I did not warn you."
Before Wesley could react, the vampire disappeared in a burst of light. Teleportation.
"Perhaps you should go after the others ... who knows what they know?" the Russian vampire's disembodied voice mocked him.
Wesley hissed in anger. If he could see himself, he would be shocked to realise that his eyes glowed a brilliant green.
Avarice, 1:00 AM
"You cold, baby?"
"Yeah Charles. I'm shivering because of the summer heat. Or maybe because vampires are around the corner," she answered sarcastically, crossing her arms before her.
"You're snarky tonight," Gunn said, but he had a smile on his face.
"Well, it's not everyday that I volunteer to be bait. I don't know ... I don't really like the sensation," Fred complained. "I'm better at hiding than walking around saying 'Eat me!'"
Gunn tried his best not to smile at that.
"Are you smiling? Do you think this is funny?" Fred said, miffed.
Gunn shook his head quickly. Not a good idea to make Fred snarkier.
"I mean, how *long* does it take for a vampire hunter to notice two helpless-"
"-not helpless," he interrupted.
Fred threw him a glare.
"Right, helpless. A little," he corrected.
"Helpless. Defenceless human beings with rich, hot blood pumping in their veins walking these abandoned streets all alone, with no stakes in sight, or anything sharp for that matter! Hey, vampires? Blood here!" her voice rose with each word.
Gunn looked around nervously.
Somewhere a cricket chirped.
Fred's shoulders slumped in defeat.
"It's been two hours. How long are we going to walk? There must be an easier way to find him," Fred sighed.
"Are they avoiding us? Doesn't sound very vampire-y of them." Fred wondered.
Gunn was about to answer her when he heard a growl behind them. Instinctively, he reached for the stake hidden in his pocket and turned-
-in time to see the vampire running away from them. And another. And another.
Their heads went from left to right, trailing one fleeing vamp after another. "Wow. Look at them run," Fred murmured in astonishment.
"They're like, totally ignoring food here," Gunn said, just as another vamp ran past them in total panic. Only this time, the vamp did not escape like the rest. With a bloodcurdling scream, the vamp began to convulse. Fred watched in horrified fascination as veins of light formed beneath his skin. His lips opened to scream, but flames shot out instead. His eyes began to melt-
Fred and Gunn stumbled back a few steps. "I think we better-" Gunn began.
The vampire burst into a shower of flames and ash.
"-move back," he finished lamely, coughing as some vampire ash got too near.
"Oh my God Charles! Look!" Fred whispered suddenly, her voice tight with horror.
And he looked, and wished he hadn't.
It suddenly became apparent to him that the still night was no longer still. It was filled with the terrified screams of vampires, who ran towards them in alarming numbers. From their position the figures were dark and ghostlike, running at incredible speeds. However, that wasn't the thing that creeped them out.
What really scared them was that the ghostlike figures were bursting into flames one by one, as if hit by an invisible ray gun. What if the ray gun didn't know the difference between humans and vamps?
"Run!" he grabbed Fred's hand and began to run with the vampires.
Fred cried out when a vamp running beside her disintegrated in flames. It was too close.
The air was thick with fear and something else -- swooshing sounds from the sky. Fred looked up and saw arrows that moved too fast to see where they came from heading towards the vampires. When they bit their targets, they burst into flames. Fred watched in fascination as the missiles streaked the night sky with fire.
"This way!" Gunn yelled, pulling her into an alley. They ran into the darkened alley, looking for a place to hide. Gunn found it. A fire escape led to a partially hidden nook on the first storey. They took it hastily, climbing noisily to the top.
When they were finally in the nook, four vampires ran into the alley, panting hard.
"He killed all of them!" a female vampire cried out. "I'm scared," she whimpered. "I don't want to die like them. I don't want to burn. I don't like to burn."
Gunn found himself sympathising with her.
"We got to find a way out!" a male vampire said.
One of them looked at the spot they were hiding in. Fred and Gunn huddled closer together, hoping that they were well hidden.
"There!" said the vampire. "Up the fire escape!"
Fred shivered. They were trapped!
Suddenly, she heard a whistle and then a very loud thunk.
The vampire heading towards the fire escape cried out in agony and turned into ash. The other three whirled in fear, their gaze directed at the mouth of the alley.
Gunn and Fred followed their stares.
A dark figure stood there, his features hidden in the shadows. In his hand was a crossbow, but it was pointed at the floor.
"You will tell me what I need to know," the man said.
His voice was low and harsh. Fred winced at the coldness she sensed in it. Could they ask this man for help?
"Anything, anything!" the female vampire cried.
"Shut up! We can't-"
"You shut up!" the female vampire yelled back. "I want to live!"
The Hunter laughed shortly at that and walked slowly towards the trio, who backed deeper into the alley nervously.
"I've always found it funny that vampires say that. It's not as if you are alive," he said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. The British accent was precise and cultured, just like Wesley's. She winced at that memory, but something tugged at her consciousness...
The man stopped. The vampires froze with him.
Gunn was amazed at the man's ability to put fear into the creatures. Lisle and J-Bob were right. The vamps were terrified of the Vampire Hunter. He didn't remember anyone inspiring fear in vamps before.
"Now, tell me what that vampire said," the Vampire Hunter growled, his voice deep with menace.
"He said ... he said that he had a p-plan," the woman stammered.
"Yeah, a plan!" the third vamp, pitched in. "He said that he had a plan to er ... put you out of..." the vamp hesitated.
"-trouble?" the Hunter volunteered.
"Y-yes," the female vampire said nervously. "Please, let us go. We told you what you wanted to know."
"That's not all," the man growled. "What else did he tell you?"
"Nothing! He didn't tell us anything else!" the male vampire protested.
The man flung his crossbow against the wall. It splintered apart. He took a few long steps and grabbed the vampire by the throat who yelped in protest.
The Vampire Hunter was obviously seriously pissed.
"Hey man! I don't know nothin'! We swear that's all he said. Then you busted in!"
The man lifted the vampire up by the neck. "You LIE!" he snarled.
"Please ... please don't make me burn. I don't want to die like that!" the vampire begged, kicking furiously in terror.
Gunn saw that the other vampires were sneaking away.
So did the Hunter. His head turned towards them quickly and -- this made both Fred and Gunn freeze in shock -- the man's eyes began to glow a furious green.
Fred gasped at that, but quickly clasped a hand over her mouth, praying that the man had not heard her.
The vampires were suddenly lifted off their feet and tossed violently back into the alley where they landed before the Hunter in a tangled heap. They groaned in pain and tried to scramble away from him, but an unseen force slammed them back down. The female vampire began to cry.
"We don't know anything else. Please," the female begged.
They were yanked off their feet again. This time they were flung against the wall of the building. They stayed there, pinned a few feet above ground.
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