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One Tin Soldier


Part Fourteen

Xander keyed his throat mike with one hand, using the other to keep his Glock aimed at the door. "Snipers...we need intel down here."

The sound of almost continuous gun fire came through Xander's ear piece, "We're picking off as many as we can, sir. But right now, you've got a Xztk demon leading the pack, immediately followed by an entire clan of Falensia demons, twenty members strong."

Xander rolled his eyes, "Oh, yeehah. Got any other good news you'd like to share with the rest of the class?"

"We're about to get overrun, sir, pullling back to secondary positions."

"Watch your ass."

"Always, sir."

Xander shoved his Glock back into its holster and yelled at Blake, "Give me a pinger, Blake. Quicksilver load."

Xander winced when the door bowed in again, its hinges starting to give way.

"Sir." Blake said as he handed Xander a really odd looking gun.

"What the Hell?" Oz growled, "Paintball gun?"

Xander grinned, "Oh yeah. Compressed CO2 cartridge, and the ammo is loaded with Mercury. Xztk's really hate Mercury." The scream of twisted metal filled the room and Xander took aim, "Heads up, kids, the party's getting started."


Spike stayed back as the first wave broke through the door, not really wanting to get caught in the crossfire. Besides, he was having too much fun at the moment just watching.

The split second the Xztk cleared the door, Xander emptied the ammo cartridge of the paintball gun directly into its face. Spike immediately understood why they called it a 'pinger', the noise the gun made as it was fired was actually kinda funny. Definitely not the most masculine gun in the world, but the effect it had on the seven foot tall demon was immpressive.

Huge welts appeared everywhere one of the little Mercury balls hit. Then the welts started bleeding as the Mercury ate into the demon's flesh. Spike smirked, one down, a whole Hell of a lot to go.


Oz ripped the head off another vampire and howled as a set of claws tore into his back. The were-wolf turned on his attacker, only to find Spike there first. The vampire twisted the demon's head around until it could have looked at its own ass, if had still been alive. Oz grinned in thanks and jumped feet first back into the fray, the vampire right beside him.


Xander shook the blood out of his eyes and slammed another clip into his Glock. He had to pick and choose his targets now, ammo was running low and most of his team were down to hand-to-hand combat. Xander winced as he watched Coffey use her steelwhip to put out the eyes of an unknown demon. The demon went down screaming, Coffey very calmly and methodically wrapped the whip around the demon's neck and sawed his head off. Xander shook his head, that was one corpsman he wasn't going to argue with.


Giles and Maggie flinched everytime they heard a scream or the sound of weapons fire. Rom had been annoyed, but calm for the most part. But as the fight continued with no word, the young vampire became more and more agitated.

The sound of a painfilled scream finally broke Rom's control. He wrenched open the door and started killing. Any demon that wandered into his path, died. Giles and Maggie watched from the doorway, thankful that Rom kept enough control to be able to tell the difference between friend and foe.

Rom suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, head tilted to the side as he listened to something only he could hear. With a scream of pure rage, the formly kind-hearted corpsman tore through a cluster of demons to reveal a badly injured Spike. The vampire was in an odd huddle against the wall, but he moved as soon as Rom cleared a path. Maggie cried out when she saw what Spike had been protecting.

Xander was unconscious, several still bleeding wounds covered his chest and arms. Rom scooped Xander up and the injured man groaned, Rom pulled Xander in tighter and ran for the infirmary, Spike covering his back.

Once inside, Rom started working, his healing skills augmented by his vampiric speed. His hands were moving so fast it was hard to see what he was doing. Spike blocked the door and took over command of the squad.

"Xander's down. You buggers fall back to secure positions and cover your asses until Marshall gets here."


General Marshall yelled over the noise of the rotors, "How long?"

"We're coming into view now, General."

Marshall looked out the side of the chopper and started praying. Literally dozens of dead demons littered the ground outside the command post, but even more living demons could be seen trying to get over the pile of bodies to get to the people inside. "Get these birds on the ground, now! Get second squad on the roof, tell them to go for a hot insertion. Close range weapons only!"

The co-pilot nodded and started relying orders, hoping like Hell there was still someone inside left alive to save.


Marshall was convinced that he'd stepped into Hell. The dead and the dying covered the floor, some bodies so badly mangled it was impossible to tell what they had been in life.

Emergency medical crews worked at a feverish pace, assessing the wounded soldiers and getting them ready to transport to the surgical unit set up in the parking lot. Amazingly enough, very few of the dead were members of the Death Squad, but the General knew how Xander felt about losing anyone in the Squad. He took each death personally, and refused to rest until their families had been contacted and he had deconstructed every step of the operation to see where he'd gone wrong.

Marshall shook his head, he couldn't see how Xander had managed to keep as many alive as he had. The Squad had been outnumbered at least thirty to one. The General was so lost in thought, he didn't hear the person yelling, "Make a hole!" until they were right on top of him.

He jumped out of the way just in time, then paled. The patient on the gurney was Xander. Rom was straddling Xander's unconscious body, his finger buried inside a gaping wound in Xander's chest. A panicked Spike was holding Xander's hand and yelling at the corpsmen to move faster.

The General looked up and seeing Maggie's tear streaked face, feared the worst.


Dr. Wilson left his team to transfer the patient to recovery and went to talk to the crowd waiting for some word about Xander's condition. This was one conversation he wasn't looking forward to.

Opening the door, Wilson was pinned by every eye in the room, each filled with the same question. "He's made it through surgery."

Everyone let out a sigh of relief and Wilson grimaced, he hated this part, and he'd been forced to do it too many times in his career. "He's alive, but the prognosis isn't good."

Everyone started yelling, and Wilson held up his hands, "The claws that ripped open his chest were covered with some kind of bateria. One of them nicked an artery and the infection is spreading. We're pushing the strongest antibiotics we have, but they're having very little effect. The labs are working overtime trying to find out what kind of bacteria it is, but the process is slow."

Spike got out of his chair and walked over to the doctor, "Give me some of his blood. I might be able to tell what it is."

Wilson glanced at the General, unsurprised when he nodded his assent. "Very well, come with me."


The lab technicians were at a total loss, and weren't about to turn down any help they could get, no matter how weird it was. Spike was given a sample of Xander's blood, he quickly tasted it and spat it out on the floor. "Christ, that's foul. Demon doesn't have a name, none that I've heard of anyway. They're ghouls, carrion eaters. Nasty blokes. Have five inch long claws and know how to use them."

"What can we do?" Wilson asked.

"Keep him cool, and keep the wound clean. You'll have to keep it drained. Pus'll build up and kill the flesh."

"Is there a cure?" one of the techs asked.

Spike nodded, "Yeah, if he's strong enough. I've got to go see someone, be back in a few."

Spike went back to the waiting room, looking for Giles. "Hey, Rupert, know where I can find a Fever demon?"

"Fever? Oh dear Lord, a ghoul?" The Watcher asked, already knowing the answer.

Spike nodded. Giles frowned, "I've heard rumors of a Fever demon living in the sewers under the Bronze. Do you know what to do?"

"Yeah, I got it. Keep an eye on the whelp for me. You know what needs to be done."

"I'll take care of it. You go get the demon."


Tracking the fever demon was just a matter of following his nose once he had the general location. For some reason, Fever demons always smelled of lavender. Spike found the tiny creature living in an old pot. It shrieked in fear and tried to run, but Spike was faster. Holding it carefully so it couldn't sting, Spike whispered, knowing how sensitive their ears were.

"Got a friend that got clawed by a ghoul. You willing?"

The little demon cocked his head to the side. "For me?"

"What do you want?" Spike asked, hoping it wouldn't ask for something extreme, but knowing that even if it wanted the Taj Mahal, he get it for him.

The Fever demon looked around, and screwed up its face. "Better."

Spike nodded with a grin, "I can do that, mate."


Spike set the Fever demon down on Xander's chest. It unfurled its whip-like tail, the tiny stinger on the end glistening from the venom it extruded. Looking at the wound in Xander's chest, the Fever demon stung him several times, making sure to hit the worst pockets of infection. "No more." It whispered. "Kill." Looking up at Spike it asked, "Better now?"

"Yeah, mate, better now." Lifting the demon in the palm of his hand, he turned to one of the lab techs crowding the room. "Prezzie for you, mate. Feed it nector a couple times a day and you'll have a friend for life. It likes dim light and moist heat. It'll be perfectly happy in a cage as long as it has a mirror to look into."

The lab tech shrugged and held out his hands. Spike transferred the demon, adding, "Watch the tail, mate. You lot might want to take a look at the vemon. It'll kill most any kind of infection if you can control the fever. They like a lot of attention so it won't mind being studied."

The techs left the room enmass, all of them eager to get started, the little demon chittering happily. "Nector? Hungry."


Spike turned and put his hand on Xander's forehead, feeling the heat he said, "It's started. Now we wait."

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