Aurelia arrived to the bus depot just in time to find the potential, Rona was her name, backed up against a wall. A pair of Bringers were standing over her with their daggers at the ready with a third closing in on the girl's other side. Aurelia lifted them off the ground sent them flying apart. The third Bringer ran away while the two Aurelia had attacked came back for more. One lunged at her with his knife, but she grabbed his hand and stabbed the other Bringer with the knife he'd been holding. The stabbed Bringer doubled over in pain and Aurelia kicked him to the ground. She wrestled with the other Bringer, ultimately breaking his neck. Aurelia saw the one who'd started to run away and hurled the knife at his fleeing back. It flew straight and stabbed him through the heart.
Aurelia walked up to Rona, who was still cowering on the ground. "Rona, yes? Rona nodded. "I just got word you were arriving and I had a term paper to finish." She offered Rona a hand to help her up.
"You're her!" Rona said.
"You know, I thought, uh…. they told me I'd be safe here."
"Right. Well, you are. You will be…. safer…. with me around."
"Next time you're attacked…."
"Whoa, whoa…. next time? You saying I'm gonna get attacked again?"
Aurelia shrugged. "Welcome to the Hellmouth, Rona."
Aurelia walked in her front door with Rona right behind her. There were a few Potentials gathered in her living room. Since her mother was out of town and knew what was going on, Aurelia's house was the only place the potentials could stay. It was going to get crowded quick. Giles had volunteered his apartment for the overflow. Xander and Willow were staying with Aurelia when they could, telling their parents that since Joyce was out of town, someone should stay with Aurelia. Tonight, everyone was here, including Oz.
"You guys are all still up?" Aurelia asked.
"Ah! Who needs sleep?" Xander said.
"Everyone, this is Rona."
"Hi. Hi, Rona." Everyone said.
"Hey, Rona." Xander said.
"Molly, why don't you show our new houseguest where the kitchen is." Giles said. "I'm sure she's hungry after her travels."
"Fair enough." Molly said, chewing on potato chips. "I'm a bit peckish meself."
"Bit what as well?"
"That's English for 'hungry.'" Oz said.
"Oh, here I thought 'hungry' was English for 'hungry.'" Rona said, following Molly.
"Everything all right?" Giles asked Aurelia.
"She had a welcoming committee." Aurelia said.
"So, the First knows potential slayers are making their way here?" Xander asked.
"I must warn the coven to be cautious." Giles said, referring to a coven of witches in England he was friends with.
"The First is always going to be one step ahead of us, Giles." Aurelia said. "I need to know how to stop it. No, not stop it. Hurt it. I want to hurt it very bad. Tell me how."
"I…. I don't know, Aurelia. I've exhausted all the sources I have left with little result. The Watcher's records are still really all we have to go on."
"What about the Turok-Han?"
"The vampire time forgot?" Xander asked.
"Time may have forgotten him, but I sure won't. We know stakes don't kill it, but is there anything in those ancient books about what does? Sunlight, fire, germs? There's no way we'll be able to help Cassius until that thing is out of the way."
"Cassius?" A blonde potential said. "Sorry, I'm confused. Isn't he a vampire? He's the one you're worried about helping?"
"It's complicated, Eve."
"It's just, well, we've been talking, and do we have some kind of plan? You know, any kind of plan to keep us from dying?"
"We're working on it." Aurelia walked away.
Giles followed her. "There is one avenue that we haven't tried yet…."
"And exactly what part of town is that avenue in?" Xander asked.
"What is Beljoxa's eye?" Aurelia asked.
"It's an oracle type creature that exists in a dark dimension." Giles said.
"Unfortunately, only demons can open the gateway to it."
"Um, Xander, will you go with Giles and talk to Willy in the morning? See if he can get any demons to help you out? I'll take anything I can get. We're running out of time. Cassius is running out of time."
The next day, Willow was sitting in Giles' office talking on the phone. Aurelia and Oz were in the library during their study hall period trying to find more on the First. Xander had volunteered to stay at Aurelia's house and keep an eye on the girls while everyone was at school. Giles was going to try Beljoxa's eye. He and Aurelia had gotten into an argument about calling her mother back to town. Giles thought it would be a good idea to have Joyce back in Sunnydale to watch over the potentials while they were in school. Aurelia wanted her mother away from the Hellmouth until things were settled down.
Willow rushed out of the office. "Aurelia, word from the underground. Another potential arrived in town the day before yesterday. She's at the Sun Spot Motel, near the highway."
"The day before yesterday?" Oz asked. "Why are we just finding out about it now?"
"Bringers killed her Watcher before he could tell anyone he sent her. If it wasn't for a particularly powerful seer in the coven, we wouldn't even know about it now."
"Ok, I'll get her and bring her back." Aurelia turned to leave.
"I'll go with you." Oz said, following her.
"Cover for us, Willow?"
"Of course." Willow called after them as they went to leave through the back door.
Oz waited outside while Aurelia went in and talked to the clerk. She was back out in almost no time and rushing towards a different building. "You sure this is it?" Oz asked, looking at room 25.
"The clerk said it's the only check-in they've had in a week. Tourism must be down." Aurelia said, knocking on the door. "Hello. We're friendly."
Oz walked to the window and looked inside. "Aurelia, kick the door down."
Aurelia didn't hesitate; she kicked the door in and walked into the room. A girl was lying on the floor, face down in a pool of blood. Aurelia kneeled down to touch her and looked back up at Oz. "She's been dead for days."
Aurelia rolled the girl over. "Eve?"
"Eve, who's in your house?"
Aurelia looked up at Oz with a wide-eyed, incredulous stare.
Aurelia burst through the front door of her house and looked around. Xander was at the dining room table looking through a file. "Auri."
Oz came through the door next, following Aurelia. The potentials were down in the basement. "Get away from them." Aurelia ordered.
"Who?" Kennedy asked. "Get away from who?"
"What's the problem, officer?" Eve asked.
"I said get away from them now."
"Buffy, what did Eve do?" Xander asked, coming down the stairs.
"That's not Eve." Oz said.
"Eve's dead." Aurelia growled.
"I don't…. I don't understand." Rona said as all the girls backed away from Eve.
Eve stood and faced Aurelia. "Oops! One more down. Oh, well, can't save 'em all, can ya, Aurelia? Thanks for the slumber party, girls. It's been real fun the last couple of nights. I learned a whole lot…."
"Shut up, and get out!"
"Or you'll do what? I'll be sending a guest over to visit y'all later on tonight, after the sun goes down of course. Try and make him feel welcome before he rips y'all to pieces. Bye." Eve disappeared in a flash of light like a television being turned off.
************************The potentials were sitting around the dining room table looking around with scared expressions. Willow had rushed over from school when Aurelia had called her and told her about what happened. She was now sitting at one end of the table while Aurelia stood at the head of the table. Xander was standing next to the doorway into the kitchen and Oz stood just behind Willow.
"We should run." Vi said.
"And go where, Vi?" Kennedy asked.
"Annabelle ran. Look where it got her." Molly said.
"Safer in than out." Aurelia said.
"How can you say that? It was here, Buffy, in the house, living with us for days."
"And you didn't even know it." Chloe accused.
"Well, none of us knew it." Xander said.
"It could still be here. It could be any one of us." Vi said.
"No, the First can only take the form of dead people." Willow said.
"Yeah, well there'll be plenty more of those soon enough." Rona retorted. "We're dropping like flies here." All the girls started talking over one another.
"Hey!" Aurelia yelled. "I know you're all scared. You know what? I am too, but Giles will be back soon, and hopefully he will have the information that we need to stop the First. In the mean time, we need to stick together. We're stronger that way. We cannot afford to fall apart now."
"Auri, the sun goes down, and UberVamp's on its way." Xander said."So a plan'd be good right about now."
Aurelia nodded and looked at Willow. "Will, I'm sorry to ask, but…."
"I know, we need a barrier." Willow said.
"A serious one. Something tells me this vampire doesn't need an invitation to get into the house. Can you do it?"
"Try?" Rona asked.
"Aurelia, are you sure about Willow doing the hocus pocus again?" Oz asked. "The last time she…."
"I know." Aurelia said. "We don't have a lot of choices, though."
"And what if that doesn't work?" Chloe asked. "What if that monster gets through?"
"Then we'll deal with it."
"Deal? Fight, you mean." Rona said. "How are we supposed to do that?"
"And with what?" Vi asked.
"With whatever it takes!" Kennedy said. She looked at Aurelia. "Right?"
"Buffy, you fought the Turok-Han, and it almost killed you." Molly said.
"And you're the real slayer." Chloe added.
"Wh-what chance do we have?" Rona asked.
"Honestly, you staked that thing, and it didn't die." Molly said.
"Maybe it can't be killed." Vi said.
Aurelia looked at Willow until she caught her attention. When Willow looked up, Aurelia shot a glance at the kitchen door. Willow nodded and stood up. She knew Oz would follow her without having to say anything. Aurelia headed into the kitchen, grabbing Xander and pulling him with her. The four of them walked out onto the back porch and Xander closed the door behind them.
"I've got to slay the Turok-Han to get Cassius out of that cave, but I need those girls to see me do it." Aurelia said.
"I get it, but this isn't the best venue for a smackdown." Willow said.
"I think I know just the place." Xander said.
"Where?" Willow and Aurelia asked.
"They're building a new library about a mile from here. It's not finished yet, but it's got plenty of space for said smackdown and lots of places to watch it from."
"Good." Aurelia said. "That's perfect. Will you lead us there?"
"Willow, that barrier…. I don't need you to make it hold forever. Just long enough…."
"To get everyone safely out of the house." Willow said. "I get it.""Good." Aurelia looked at Xander and Oz. "I need more weapons here at the house…."
"We'll stock up at the library." Oz said.
"Don't take them all, though. Not yet." Aurelia headed back into the house. "Something tells me we're still going to need fast access to weapons at the school."