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One Tin Soldier


Part Twenty-One

Spike secured the straps to his chest plate, giving the body armor several firm tugs to seat it properly. Glancing over at Coffey, he asked, "Hey, Coffey, can I ask a question?"

The medic nodded, still concentrating on fastening her own armor. "Sure. What's up?"

Spike pointed down at his armor, then at the weapons lying between them on the floor of the truck transporting them to staging area. "Why don't we just tranq the bitch instead of trying to take her out the hard way? It worked before."

Coffey's brows shot up in exaggerated shock. "Do my ears deceive me? Spike, William the Bloody, doesn't want a chance to kick a Slayer's ass? What is the world coming to?"

"Har, bloody, har, Coffey. I am not in the mood," Spike growled.

Coffey held up her hands in a placating manner, "Sorry. Sorry. If we get a chance, we'll use the tranqs. I brought plenty. But I don't think we'll get that chance. She has to know something is up by now. It's not like she can just ignore the fact that her boyfriend pulled a Houdini. She'll be on guard. And I am not taking a chance with the witches. We'll pop them first and then take on the Slayer. A fight we can handle. Mumbo Jumbo? I don't even want to go there."

Spike grinned in surprise. "Good thinking there, Coffey. Don't really fancy the idea of being turned into a frog." Spike shuddered. "I hate those slimy, nasty little things."

Coffey just laughed, "You could always have the Major kiss you and turn you back."

Spike glared at her, thankful that he couldn't blush anymore. Coffey wasn't fooled. Not for a minute.


Riley Finn and Graham Miller suited up, still drooling over their new gear. Harris' squad always got the best toys. They were lucky. And they knew it. Xander had decided that they might - might - make good additions to his unit. So, at the moment, they were on probation.

They had been put under the command of Sargeant First Class Jamison. While they out-ranked him, he had the authority. One of the first things anyone learned in the military was the difference between rank and authority. And neither was willing to let this opportunity pass them by due to some misguided arrogance over rank.

Jamison's crew was responsible for taking down McIntyre's 'Hit Squad'. A bunch of military rejects was more like it. The research team had done a Hell of a job with the information Owens had given them. Files had been compiled on every individual involved with McIntyre or Owens.

The people in those files were, for the most part, active duty personnel that were only trying to do their duty. The others though - the others were a shrink's wet dream. Borderline psychopaths, sociopaths and some just plain mean.

Jamison had given very, very plain orders. McIntyre's people were to be taken alive 'at all costs'. The Major and the General wanted them in good shape for their trials. Then Jamison had made one thing perfectly clear. 'At all costs', did not mean at the cost of their lives.

Oh yeah. Riley was going to like working for these guys. No doubt about it.


Xander tried moving the pillows supporting his back into a better position, but it wasn't helping. Not that he was going to complain. Nope. Not him. It had taken every bit of his begging ability to get Wilson to agree to this. Under very strict stipulations. If, and only if, Xander stayed in the hospital chair, would he be allowed in the control center during the operation. And, Rom would be there to monitor his vitals. Should Xander's temp, blood pressure, pulse or respiration go up a significant level, he would be returned to his hospital room. Immediately. If not sooner.

If he couldn't be with his team, then he could at least watch the video feeds and hear the radio transmissions while it was all going down. Of course, no one made mention of the fact that Xander's monitor was locked on Spike and Coffey's trans-receiver instead of cycling through all the units'.


Spike disbursed his men to block all the exits of the building where the Slayer and the witches were holed up. He and Coffey were going in alone. No sense in taking chances. These men were very well trained, but they weren't part of the Squad. And all the military training in the world wouldn't prepare you for taking on a Slayer. Or a couple of pissed off witches for that matter.

So Spike made the orders very simple. If anyone other than he and Coffey came out of that building, they were to be terminated. With extreme prejudice. The amazing thing was that he'd managed to give that order with a straight face.

He wasn't feeling the urge to laugh at the moment, however. Right now, he had the creeps. Which wasn't an easy thing for a vampire to admit, but he'd never liked being around magic. And this place reeked of it. Sulfur, herbs and other things best left unsaid.

The witches were in plain sight, but the Slayer was nowhere to be seen. Spike didn't like that. He really didn't like that.

Coffey, however, didn't appear to be the least bit concerned. She loaded one of the tranq guns, handed it off, and prepped the second. Then pointed at her watch and held up three fingers.

Spike nodded and picked up his target through his scope. In a second, it was over. Two very quiet puffs of air and the witches collapsed where they sat. No fuss. No muss.

They both reloaded before moving down into the main room. Both witches were checked, then secured. Now they just had to find the absent Slayer.

Spike pointed to the nearest room, then took up a position to the left of the door. Coffey covered the right without a word being spoken. Their element of surprise was long gone. If the Slayer was still in the building, she'd sensed Spike by now.

That meant a standard search and secure sweep. Spike had to hand it the military, they knew what they were doing when it came to shit like this. Vampires normally just went in screaming and tore the place up. One of the reasons the attrition rate for vamps was so high.

Spike spent a precious moment dreaming what it would have been like if he'd had this training when he was first turned. Heh. No one would have been able to stop him. Then he shrugged off his dreams of grandeur. That wasn't who he was. Not anymore.

As they neared the next room, Spike felt the unmistakable sensation of the skin on the back of his neck trying to creep up his skull. The Slayer. She was close. With a sharp nod to Coffey, he set himself. Then without a word, burst through the door ready for anything. Except what he found.

"Shit! Coffey! Grab your kit!"

Spike slung the tranq gun over his shoulder and reached out to touch the Slayer. The bitch was burning up. Hearing a chirp in his ear, he keyed his mike. "The silly bint is sicker than a dog." Spike wrinkled his nose in disgust and pulled the damp blanket from Buffy's limp form.

"Christ. Her leg is infected. Looks nasty and smells worse."

"Copy that, Spike. A medevac chopper is in flight." Spike heard Xander's voice say in his ear.


"Fifteen minutes. Have Coffey try to stabilize her."


"Hey, Spike."

"Yeah, mate?"

"You did good."

Spike's smile was pure pleasure, "Yeah. I did, didn't I?"

Coffey flew into the room with her medkit and the time for conversation was over.

While Coffey worked on the Slayer, Spike called the team in and had them move the witches to the transport. Then he started collecting all the papers and books he could find. Let the Watcher and the research teams figure out what they'd been up to. From the looks of some of the books, Spike wasn't sure he wanted to know.


It was proof of Jamison's talent at command. The so-called 'Hit Squad' had given up without a murmur. No fuss. No muss. Personally, Jamison couldn't be happier. That wasn't the case with Graham Miller, however.

The former Marine was beyond pissed off. First they didn't let him maim Owens, and now the bad-asses they were supposed to take down turned out to be a bunch of pansy-asses. Jamison considered having him sedated, but figured when Miller woke up, his life wouldn't be worth shit. So Jamison took a page from the Major's book. When all else fails, lie your ass off.


"Yes, Sargeant?"

"This was just a little too easy. I think they're up to something. I want you to ride in the transport with the prisoners and watch them like a hawk. You'll have to give up your weapons, of course."

Miller stared at him for a second, then calmly handed over his M-74, a Beretta 9mm, four knives, a garrote and a stun grenade. Jamison never flinched. Miller turned to the transport, then stopped. Turning to face Jamison again, he asked, "Sargeant? When we get back to base, can I stand guard duty on Owens?"

"I think that can be arranged."

Miller's smile was a thing of beauty. "Thank you, Sargeant."

Riley, who had watched the entire episode in stunned disbelief, said, "You know, he's going to kill Owens if he gets a chance."

Jamison slapped him on the shoulder, "Nah. He just wants to make sure Owens never gets another decent night's sleep. Killing him wouldn't be as much fun. Terror is the gift that keeps on giving."

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