Xander was holding a spiked baseball bat and talking to the potentials. Cordelia stood behind him holding a short sword and watching him talk. Oz was in the kitchen with Willow talking about putting up a magical barrier while Aurelia was gone.
"Now remember, we're looking for killing blows only, people." Xander said. "So, chest and throat if it's a vampire. Stomach, chest and face if it's a Bringer."
"What if it's something else?" Rona asked.
"Could happen. Something other-worldly. And here's a handy rule: don't go for the flashy tentacles just because they're waving 'em about trying to get attention. Go for the center. Brains, heart, eyes. Everything's got eyes."
"Except the Bringers." Cordelia said.
Xander shot her a look. "Except the Bringers."
"I don't want there to be tentacles." Molly said. "I'm not good with squishy."
"I don't care if it's Godzilla." Kennedy said, raising a huge sword. "I want to get in this thing."
"You people are even crazier than her." Rona said.
"Than who?" Rona asked.
"Buffy, man. I mean, taking us right into the bad guy's lair."
"Well, that's where, generally speaking, you'd go to find the bad guy. And I don't think you came here to fight plaque."
"No, I came here for protection."
"Well, you signed on to fight with…."
"Look, I know, but…. This plan is trouble. Ok, Buffy doesn't care how many of us she puts in danger…."
"Let me tell you something about Buffy. In fact, you should all listen to this."
"Uh, we kinda were." Kennedy said.
"I've been through more battles with Buffy than you all can ever imagine. She's stopped everything that's ever come up against her." Unbeknownst to Xander, Aurelia and Faith walked through the front door. "She's laid down her life…. Literally…. to protect the people around her. This girl has died and she's still standing. You're scared? That's smart. You got questions? You should. But you doubt her motives, you think Buffy's all about the kill, then you take the little bus to battle. I've seen her heart, and this time…. not literally. And I'm telling you, right now, she cares more about your lives than you will ever know. You gotta trust her. She's earned it."
"Damn." Faith said, interrupting the moment. "I never knew you were that cool." Everyone turned to look at Aurelia and Faith.
"You always were a little slow." Aurelia retorted.
"I get that now."
"All right, everyone, let's saddle up."
Aurelia led the small army to the vineyard where she and Faith had tracked the Bringer. The small army included Faith, Cassius, Xander, Kennedy, Rona, Molly, Chao-Ahn, Amanda, and another potential named Katie. They walked up to the front door and Aurelia paused to address the team. "Set up a perimeter. Guard the door. I don't want anything getting in behind us. My team goes in first and we will check the place out. You guys are our cavalry. If this place is a trap, then we will give the signal. You all will come in with weapons at the ready."
"So, what's the signal?" Xander asked.
"Lots and lots of yelling."
"Shall we?" Aurelia led a subset of the team inside. The coast was clear as they walked through the building and then down the steps into the wine cellar. Molly, Kennedy, Rona, and Chao-Ahn were behind her.
"What is this place?" Molly asked.
"It looks like an old vineyard." Aurelia said.
"An evil vineyard, huh?" Kennedy snickered.
"Stay alert. The Bringers are here somewhere. We just need to find out where."
"Shouldn't be too hard." Cassius said as Bringers came out of the shadows, from behind the barrels of wine, and attacked Aurelia and her team. The fight was fairly even until the Bringers stopped fighting and walked back into the shadows.
A tall man dressed as a preacher walked out into the light. "Well, now, you girls are just burning with righteousness, aren't you? Problem is, you think you're blazing like suns, when really you're burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness. You having fun? Now, I hope my boys haven't worn you out too much…. I need you fit for when I purify you."
Aurelia rolled her eyes. "Save your sermon, padre. I heard you have something of mine."
"Well, I do now. You liked my little message, did you? You know, I ruined a perfectly good knife on that girl. Got her soiled blood all over the place. I may have to get a new truck. So, you're the Slayer. The Slayer. The strongest, the fastest, the most aflame with that most precious invention of all mankind…. the notion of goodness. The Slayer must indeed be powerful." With one powerful punch, he sent Aurelia flying across the room to land unconscious on the floor. "So, what else you got?"
Cassius vamped out and attacked the man. He pushed Cassius down with ease. Cassius tried to get up, but the man head-butted him then threw him across the room into a huge wine storage tank that busted when Cassius hit it. Wine poured out of the tank and washed Cassius across the floor.
Kennedy and the other potentials got into gear and joined the fight. "Let's go!" The Bringers came back out of the shadows to fight the potentials as well. Kennedy stormed the preacher man but had to engage a Bringer instead. The preacher man punched Kennedy, knocking her into a stack of wine barrels.
"Kennedy!" Rona ran toward Kennedy, but preacher man cut her off. She swung the spiked baseball bat at him, but he caught it and looked her in the eyes.
"Miss, I do believe you have your own problems you should be worrying about." He broke Rona's arm with ease, sending her reeling back in agony. He chuckled and bent to pick up a knife from the floor. He tossed the knife to a nearby Bringer, who swung it back ready to plunge it into Rona's body. An arrow pierced the Bringer's forearm as he reared back. They turned to look and saw Xander standing there with a bow. Faith was there beside him. The Bringer left Rona to fight with Xander. "Oh, good. There's more of you."
Faith charged at the preacher man as Xander saw Aurelia lying unconscious against the wall. "Buffy!" Xander called her name because he was scared of giving out her real name to the new bad guy. He ran to Aurelia, fighting off Bringers on his way to her side.
Holding a knife in each hand, Faith engaged the preacher man in a fight. Unfortunately, she wasn't seeming to faze him. "Well, you're the other one, aren't you." Preacher man said. Faith attacked him with her other knife after throwing the first at him unsuccessfully, but he grabbed her arm, twisted it, and crossed it with her other arm in a way that she couldn't move but but she was looking right at him. He squeezed her hands until she was forced to drop the knife. Faith grunted at him and kneed him in the crotch, causing him to let go of her just enough that she could escape his grasp.
She backhanded him across the face. "Never was much for the good book." He grabbed Faith's arm and twisted it painfully behind her back, causing her to double over. She fell to her knees as he twisted and pulled her arm before walking around to the front of her.
"Oh, it has its moments. Paul had some good stuff, for instance. But overall I find it a tad complicated. I like to keep things simple." He kicked Faith across the room into a stack of wine barrels. "Good folk, bad folk," A potential with long black hair swung at him, but he grabbed her sword, then her face. "Clean folk, dirty folk…." He easily snapped the potential's neck and dropped her to the ground.
"No!" Molly cried.
Aurelia weakly tried to sit up. "Xander, get them out of here. We have to retreat. Do it."
Preacher man walked menacingly toward Molly, who backed up slowly, frozen with fear. She raised her arm back to stab him, but he grabbed her wrist, then her neck. Another potential fought a Bringer. Another Bringer threw Amanda against a wall and attacked her. Aurelia stood just as preacher man squeezed Molly's neck, lifting her off the floor. She tried to go to Molly, but Bringers kept attacking her, slowing her down.
"What can I say?" Preacher man said. "I work in mysterious ways." He stabbed Molly and let go of her neck, dropping her dead to the ground. "Also some fairly straightforward ones."
Enraged at seeing what he'd done to Molly, Aurelia rushed the preacher man. She fought him more evenly this time, avoiding his punches, and landing a few of her own. She punched him so hard, he was sent flying across the room.
"We're all leaving." Cassius said, grabbing Aurelia's arm and dragging her out.
Xander went to Kennedy's side. "Are you ok? Let's go. Come on." He helped Kennedy to her feet. "Let's go! Come on!"
Preacher man grabbed Xander and turned him around. "You're the one who sees everything, aren't you? Well, let's see what we can't do about that." Before anyone could move, preacher man plunged his thumb into Xander's left eye, gouging it out. Xander screamed in agony. Cassius charged the preacher man, knocking Xander away.
Xander, bleeding from his eye, stumbled back, falling to the ground in front of wine barrels. "Xander! Come on." Aurelia and Cassius lifted Xander to his feet and carried him out, one supporting each of his arms.
Aurelia wandered the streets of Sunnydale. She had been to the hospital where some of the potentials and Xander were. She had been to her house which had become a mini-hospital to the other, less severely injured potentials. All of it had been too much. She felt like she didn't know what she was doing anymore. She felt like this new life would've been much better if Angelus had just killed her again. Then these kids wouldn't be where they were. They wouldn't be hurt. Xander wouldn't be hurt.
She felt like becoming Aurelia once again had hurt these poor potential's and her friend's chances of having a normal life and had managed to lead all of them to their deaths.