A Murderous Melee
Toothpick fell on Gianni hungrily. Gianni tried to fend him off but Toothpick grabbed hold and gobbled on his hand. Vince's men swarmed and hauled the big man off Gianni, who screamed and held up finger stumps that spouted blood. Toothpick chewed with a finger protruding from his lips like the omnipresent toothpick that gave him his nickname. Vince barked an order and his men threw Toothpick down and peppered him with bullets. He jerked and contorted with each shot, but didn't die. Instead he lurched toward a shooter named Gino and clutched his arm. The men closed in and bashed Toothpick's head with their gun butts. They punched and kicked him, but Toothpick was able to tear off a mouthful of arm and sleeve with his teeth. He masticated this mess with a surreal look of gusto on his gray features. A horrified Gino jammed his .38 on Toothpick's forehead and fired point-blank. The zombie dropped and lay still with a shocked expression on his ghastly face.
Hermione led the others up the ladder to the book stacks. She whispered, "Hide," and they scuttled urgently to the back of the shelves.
Guy Smalls was calling at the top of his lungs to be cut loose. Gianni staggered toward him, and when Guy saw his face he freaked.
"Stop him," he cried. "He's a zombie!"
"What in hell?" Vince demanded. At that instant a passing vampire, seeing a good chance to feed, swooped in and plucked a man outside. Several of the men opened fire.
"Stop," Vince bellowed. "You'll kill Benno." He jogged to the door and scanned the empty street. "He's gone, and Roger's disappeared too."
Guy's shrieks rang out hideously as Gianni fed on him, ripping chunks from his face and neck as he squirmed in his chair. Vince slammed the door shut and told a man to guard it. He cried out Gianni's name in disbelief, but Gianni was lost in his undead frenzy.
"Okay," he ordered miserably, "waste him."
Guns blasted and Gianni fell. Guy spasmed as bullets struck and killed him.
Gino tried to bandage Toothpick's bite. He took off his jacket to wrap his arm, but then his eyes clouded over murkily and the palliating charms of raw human flesh caused his lips to skin back from his teeth, and his nose breathed in the aroma of meat from the men around him.
Vince went to where Gianni lay. His friend opened his eyes and reached for him. Vince shot him in the head.
"Kill everybody here," he yelled. "Find 'em and dust every sumbitch."
"I saw someone up there," one of his men pointed.
They opened fire on the book stacks, and Hermione and the others hugged the floor as books disintegrated around their heads and shelving splintered. No one noticed Gino snatching a shooter. He dragged him behind the sales counter.
The roaring engine of Spike's motorcycle grew through the din and they stopped shooting and turned to the front. The bike crashed through the front door and floored the sentry there, its churning rear tire flensing off a swatch of his face before crashing into a wall. Its motor sputtered and died.
Vince gestured and two torpedoes ran outside. "Connie!" he called to another man. "Get up there and smoke those bastards."
Connie trotted to the ladder. At the top he saw Tara and Alex huddled together and raised his gun.
Hermione shot him in the head with her derringer.
Another volley flamed death at them, and a splinter tore into Hermione's hand like shrapnel. Alex had Guy's pistol but had no chance to aim. He pulled Tara protectively to him, and Tara hugged him in response.
Gino lifted his face from the man he just killed. He craved even more fresh meat. Crawling around the counter, he surprised the man crouching there and gorged on his plump neck. A couple of the others saw and fired at him. At that moment, someone found the back door and threw it open, and Surgat swooped into the store.
A trio of Kungai demons neared the Magic Box. "This is truly chaos," the leader commented. "There is much life force to feed on."
"Perhaps we will conquer Sunnydale," another suggested.
"Look," the third one pointed.
Two men came out of the Magic Box with guns held ready. Spike was waiting, and she kicked one in the head and knocked him senseless. She rushed the other, who got off a shot before Spike fanged him.
Then Surgat's blood-curdling shriek shattered the night.
The Kungais paused.
"Maybe we should try another part of town," one suggested.
"Perhaps another town," the leader countered.
They turned on their heels and ran.
Spike peeked into the doorway, gathered herself, then ran inside. Surgat flew in circles, terrorizing the survivors as they scampered for cover. He grabbed up a mobster, bit off his head and hurled the body at Vince, who ducked under the round table. He swallowed the head and cackled. "You see, kids? I get it one way or another."
The remaining guns flamed, and multi-colored fluids spattered as bullets tore into Surgat's dripping body. The rogue demon laughed at the pain, swooping and capering with his jaws locked in a maniacal grin.
In the back room Anya sifted sand onto the broken lines of the pentagram. Buddy knelt by Rayne, who lay in the corner hugging his blankets and crying.
Spike spied Buddy and crawled in her direction. Gino sprang onto her and sank his teeth into her back. Spike rolled over, slammed the Golem against the wall and shook his grip. She twisted around and pummeled him with both fists.
"A bleedin' zombie," she snorted, noting his indifference to the blows. She scooted back and kicked Gino's head with both booted feet, cracking his skull against a shelf. Gino's green and diseased brain plopped onto the floor, and Gino flopped down next to it and lay still.
Vince saw Spike and shouted, "That's her! Kill the blonde bitch."
The others didn't divert their eyes from Surgat, who tried to catch a man in his claws but missed. "Fiddlesticks!" he seethed.
Vince hastily shot at Spike but missed. The slide locked back on his automatic - out of ammo. He dumped the empty clip and slapped a new one in place, then took aim at Spike's head.
Buddy jumped on him ferociously. He jerked the gun away and whipped his head with it in time with his rebuke. "Leave – her – alone!" Vince's scalp split and he lost consciousness.
Anya was almost finished repairing the circle, angry at her hands for their trembling. She didn't notice Rayne get up and step quietly to the outside door. He opened it and slipped through, but bumped into Garnerbot, knocking the lock picks from his hands. He tried to run but Garnerbot trapped Rayne in his arms.
"Going somewhere, ace?"
"I have to leave," Rayne burbled.
"Good save, Jim," Anya called. "Hold that slippery little creepo."
Upstairs, Alex shot at one of Vince's men who came up the ladder. The round hit him in the neck and he fell strangling, and Alex immediately felt regret. Maybe the man was just trying to escape Surgat. He dropped the gun as an unclean thing, and pushed his face to the floor to stifle his sobs. Tara squeezed his shoulder and slowly picked up the gun.
Surgat broke a man in half and used the flopping corpse to swat the last few shooters. The tactic worked, and as he laid the last man low with smashed bones and brain trauma, an abrupt silence fell.
Surgat's mismatched hoof and foot thudded to the floor. He turned his poison eyes on Buddy. "Pretty man," he purred.
Spike jumped on his back. She pounded his head with hammer blows and Surgat, unaccustomed to being attacked, staggered and flailed at her, crunching dead bodies under his tremendous weight. He howled in frustration and rage.
Buddy kicked a display window in and fished out a war hatchet. He rushed Surgat, who saw him and stopped howling. He held out his paws expectantly with an anticipatory grin stretching his evil mouth.
Then he was yanked violently sideways. Surgat slammed onto the floor, impelled by the insistent forces that channeled through the pentagram. Spike leaped off as the demon slid to the back, his claws gouging deep grooves in the floor. At the door he held on with his massive arms, the door jamb cracking but holding. Surgat glowered malevolently at Spike and Buddy, working his gory fangs and cursing them.
Buddy threw the hatchet. It chucked into Surgat's arm at the elbow and severed it. The demon flew back, raging and spewing blood, back to the swirling mist that marked his portal.
Angel ran in the front door. Spike and Buddy looked at him from the middle of the carnage.
"I'm here," he said wanly.
Surgat screeched his displeasure, assaulting their eardrums. Anya smacked Rayne in his head. "Tell him to shut up."
Rayne reluctantly commanded, and Surgat reluctantly obeyed.
"Now I'm not fooling," Anya told Rayne. "Order him to reverse the spell, and I don't want to hear about correct pronounciations."
"Pronunciations," Rayne corrected.
Anya smacked him harder.
Garnerbot squeezed Rayne's neck until he squeaked. "Do what the lady says, or I'll break some of your favorite bones."
Anya smiled at Garnerbot, wondering why she hadn't noticed before how handsome he was. Her smile disappeared as she reminded herself that he was only a robot. Yes, a lifelike robot trained in the art of love.
Her smile returned.
In the store, Spike shook Vince awake.
He gritted his teeth. "You."
Spike gritted her teeth back at him. "You. Who the deuce are you, anyway?"
Vince smiled bitterly and said nothing. Spike pinched his nipple through his shirt and gave it a vicious twist. Vince squealed in agony.
"Tell me who you are, and who sent you and these Keystone hoods."
"I – I'm Vincent Scarpino," Vince quavered, rubbing his chest vigorously. "You hit my grandfather's drug lab, now he wants your head on a plate."Spike said, "Your grandpa's Nino Scarpino?"
"You know him?" Angel rolled his eyes. "That figures."
"Purple nurple?""Okay! Yeah, he's Nino. You may as well know it, 'cause it's the last name you'll hear before you die."
"So, Nino the Scar. Remember what I told you about him?"
"Angel asked, "What did he tell you?"
Vince leveled his eyes on Spike. "Anyone calls him The Scar, better have their affairs in order."
Spike laughed. "I knew Nino when he was just a young fatass." He gave Vince a friendly slap on the cheek. "Tell Nino the Elvis impersonator says hello. He'll know what it means.""You're gonna let me go?""We're not murderers like you," Buddy said.
"Maybe this once," Angel suggested.
In the back room, Surgat was intractable. "I won't" he puffed. "What's in it for me if I do?""We won't make you eat your own guts," Anya retorted. "And we'll let you go."Surgat shook his stump petulantly. "I want my arm back. And I want someone to take back with me, then you get your reversal."
"You can have your ugly old arm," Anya countered. "Jim, go get it."
Garnerbot looked back at her dubiously. Surgat waved at him in disgust. "I won't touch you, you have no soul."
Garnerbot was offended. He retrieved the arm and threw it to Surgat as he ran back to the circle. He said to Anya, "Really knows what buttons to push, this Surgat."
Anya snorted, "Next time we'll get a polite demon."
Surgat pressed the severed arm against his stump. Smoke steamed from the connection and fused the pieces together. He worked his claws with satisfaction.
"After the sun rises, the spell will reverse. But only when the truth is spoken to the cursed ones."
Anya said, "The truth about their really being men … and women?""If you cannot comprehend your own language," Surgat sneered, "tough titties."
"What a jerkoweenie," Anya sniffed.
Garnerbot said mockingly, "Next time we'll get a polite demon."
Anya scowled. "Sarcasm's unattractive." She prodded Rayne. "Give him the dismissal."
Surgat held up a finger. "But I demand someone, or no reversal. I care not what torture you devise, I demand a live human, someone to ease my loneliness."
Rayne shuddered.In the store, Vince stood up and touched the blood drying on his head. "I'm no messenger boy," he snapped. "I tell Nino nothing, not until I can describe how I cut your guts out and made you eat 'em."
He smoothed his hair at the temples and straightened his clothes, regaining confidence. "Y'know, I have your Sunnydale cops in my pocket. Hell, the governor's in there with 'em, and I got plenty more of these –" he spat on a dead man. "They come dime a dozen. So we'll be back, and this time we know what to expect."
Angel moved threateningly, and Buddy restrained him.
Surgat's bellow reached them. "Give me someone or else they'll stay cursed until they rot in their graves!"
"That's right," Vince went on, "I'm gonna waste you all personally. I'm gonna cut your mothers' hearts out in front of you, then I'll take a rubber mallet –"
Hermione stormed down the ladder. "Egads, will you idiots throw him to Surgat already?"
Spike and Buddy looked at each other, shrugged, and grabbed the mobster's arms. Vince hollered protest, but they got his feet and swung him once, twice, then threw him kicking and screaming into the back room.
"Hello handsome," Surgat drawled.