A Highly Valued Employee

Chapter 4

4

Harmony arrived in the cafeteria for lunch, a few minutes after midnight.

The tables and chairs were half filled with both living and undead employees. The live ones ate meat and vegetables, and drank coffee, sodas or fruit drinks, while the vampires drank blood from large mugs.

Harmony sat at a table across from Fred, who ate a tuna salad sandwich and drank a fresh, yellow, pulpy fruit juice. Harmony didn't touch the mug of blood in front of her.

She said, "I've already had enough to eat tonight. I'm full.

"By the way, I think you ought to know, that I tried out one of your quick vamping lozenges, when I gorged on that guy Xander."

"That's good. Any results yet?"

"No. I killed him about two hours ago. Is it too early to tell?"

"Yes. Much too early."

Fred told her, "Wesley's got a job for me to do this weekend; so we won't be picking up any guys and getting laid, like a couple of airhead schoolgirls."

Harmony joked, "Speak for yourself girl."

"No problem. We can always postpone that 'til the following weekend."

Then Fred told her, "Wesley wants me to go to Sunnydale, and find out what's going on there, now that the Slayer's dead."

"Good. We'll definitely have to know that."

"Since you come from there, you're familiar with the place, so he wants you to come along with me. It'll be a three day weekend, from Saturday night to Monday night."

She smiled. "He wants me to come along?"

"I know what you're thinking Harm. Your fangs and my neck, far away from the Violence Restricted Zone."

"Do we have a great boss or what?"

"I agree, and he wants you to act as his fiancée’s bodyguard."

"Bodyguard"?

"Yes. That's because he knows that he can rely on you."

"Right. He can rely on me to guard your body; whether it's alive, dead, or undead."

Fred said, "I don't think you understand the definition of the term 'Bodyguard'."

Harmony said, "That's how this vampire defines the term."

Fred said, "And so does this about to become vampire."

"About to become?"

"Yes." She told her, "I decided that you're right. I shouldn't be so inconsiderate, that I'll risk getting one of my co-workers fired. Since getting vamped is inevitable, I've decided to just get it over with."

"Oh! That's really great!"

Fred told her, "I've decided to arrange for a discrete encounter, someplace away from work, with a certain vampire guy in my department, who will remain anonymous. Then after I've come back undead, you and I'll have that celebration."

Harmony said, "Oh I think that's wonderful! Why don't we invite your whole department, so everyone can party?"

"Good idea."

"By the way." Harmony added, "I think we ought to take Xander back to Sunnydale with us."

Fred asked, "Take him with us?"

"Well Sunnydale is his home. We can't leave him here, can we? He doesn't have any place to stay, and I don't know if he's got enough money to pay for a motel room."

"But he'll be in the same car with us. He'll be a brand new vampire. A hungry carnivorous predator, with a primal need to hunt, kill and eat."

"You just said you were ready for it."

"Oh I am," Fred told her, "but with that certain guy from my department. Not just anybody. I want to save my neck for him; but if Xander's in the car, I won't be alive by the time we get to Sunnydale. I'll probably be dead before we leave this City."

"That's right." Harmony told her, "So don't you be the one who's doing the driving."

The team from Wolfram and Hart approached Sunnydale around 9 PM, on Saturday night. Xander did the driving in his own car. Harmony sat beside him with Fred in the back.

Before they'd left, Fred got in the car, dressed casually. She wore dark blue shorts and a zipped open light jacket over a dark blue halter-top. She'd also had a necklace made of garlic hung around her neck, making both Harmony and Xander gag.

He said, "You're not wearing that in here lady."

Harmony asked scornfully, "What are you wussing out? I thought you'd have it taken care of by now, by that guy in your department."

"I would have," Fred told her, "But he's away on vacation this week; so Xander, it looks like you'll be the one who gets lucky, instead of him."

Harmony asked, "Then what's with the garlic?"

"Don't get the wrong idea. I'm still ready to get vamped, but I'd like to stay alive 'til after I've made my preliminary observations."

Xander said, "If you want me to take you on a two hour drive to Sunnydale, you're not wearing that thing in my car!"

Fred had sighed. She'd removed the necklace, tossed it out the window, and got ready to die at any moment.

Now the "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign was illuminated in Xander's headlights.

Harmony said, "Welcome to our hometown Fred. A great place to live, and hopefully, a much better place to be undead, than it was when the Slayer was alive."

They continued driving, going past the Doublemeat Palace on the road just outside of town. The parking lot was almost entirely deserted, except for a handful of cars parked up close to the building.

Harmony said, "This place is usually packed on Saturday night."

At the entrance to the parking lot someone had put up a handwritten sign saying,

HUMAN BLOOD

FOR VAMPIRES

Xander said, "It could be that most of the local citizens are no longer eating solid food."

Now they drove into town along Main Street, passing the Sun Cinema, and the nightclub called The Bronze. A young woman was lying dead just outside the entrance, with vampire bite marks in her neck. Vampires stood around her, chatting amiably.

"Ah-ha!" Harmony laughed, "So Amy the witch has finally got nailed!"

Fred asked, "They're leaving the dead untouched?"

Xander said, "I called Anya today, to let her know we were coming. She said that the Vampires aren't allowing anyone who they've vamped to be buried; so they won't have to dig themselves up out of their graves any longer."

"Good." Harmony said, "Without the Slayer, we vampires can now start living the way we should."

They drove past a boarded up shop, with heavy fire damage.

"That's the Magic Box." Xander told them, "That was Anya's place of work, until Willow went off the deep end; when her girlfriend Tara was shot by Warren Mears.

"She totally lost it. She flayed Warren alive. Then she left an illicit, black magic dealer named Rack dead and hanging upside down from his ceiling.

"That night, Willow used the most powerful wiccan spells she could find in the Magic Box, and the Shop caught fire, as part of the collateral damage."

They drove beyond downtown, past the High School's Football field. A Sunnydale cheerleader lay dead beside the bleachers, with vampire bite marks in her neck. Her pom-poms lay beside her.

Out on the field, a cheerleader from the opposing team hung dead from the Sunnydale goal post, with a rope around her neck.

Then they drove around the corner, passing the front of Sunnydale High School.

Harmony said, "That's the parking lot where I got vamped, on the night of my Senior Prom. It was right after they made all the presentations.

"Our classmates honored Buffy. They credited her for being the one most responsible, for us having the lowest mortality rate in Sunnydale History. They gave her a really lame, 'Class Protector’ Award. It was a gold plated, toy umbrella.

"Right after that, my date said he wanted to make out, so we went out to the parking lot. That's when I found out that he was a vampire, and two minutes later I was dead.

"I bet that kept Buffy from dancing and singing in the rain, with that stupid umbrella."

Now Xander drove into a residential area, and parked in front of a two-story house, with a front porch, and the name "Summers" painted on the mailbox.

He said, "Here we are ladies. The Slayer's house."

He, Harmony and Fred got out of the car, and went up the front walk, toward the porch.

The screen door opened. A trim figured woman in her early twenties came out onto the porch. She stood silhouetted in the light coming through the open door. She wore only a skirt and shoes, had her hands on her hips, and an inverted cross, made from human bones, dangling between her naked breasts, on a chain of human knucklebones around her neck.

Xander said, "Anya."

The three from Wolfram and Hart stepped into the patch of light, in front of the porch steps.

Fred told them, "She's wearing shrunken heads on her belt."

Anya said, "They're Phoebe, Paige and Piper Halliwell. The 'Charmed Ones', who had the Power of Three. Now the Power of Three belongs to me."

Then the Vengeance Demon said, "Good evening Harmony. I'm glad to see that you fulfilled my own wish, about killing Xander."

Harmony smiled, "Oh he was a lot of fun to play with; and thank you for killing the Slayer, and restoring Sunnydale to us vampires."

"You're welcome Harmony. You vampires owe me big time."

Harmony told her, "Wolfram and Hart has already sent you the one million dollar reward for the Slayer's head, by electronic transfer into your account."

"I know. Thank them for me. It's a good beginning."

Then Anya spoke to her ex-fiancé. "Why Xander, what big teeth you have."

"All the better to rip your neck open, and drink your blood 'til you die, my dear."

She laughed. "Not as long as I can do this."

Anya grabbed the inverted cross, and turned it right side up.

Xander shielded his eyes.

Harmony stepped up to Anya with her fangs extended. She reached out with both hands, and closed them around the cross.

Then she told Anya, "'The Lord is my strength, my shield, and my fortress. Of whom shall I be afraid?'

"A few weeks ago on the Undead Network, I watched a Mayan Religious Celebration, in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Mass immolations took place. The women with naked boobs were the ones who got their heads chopped off."

Harmony opened her hands, and took a few steps back. Anya let go of the cross, which fell back to its inverted position. Xander stopped shielding his eyes.

Now Anya said, "I see you've brought a guest, who's alive."

Harmony said, "That's right. This is Winifred Berkle. She's my very good friend, and co-worker. She's also my boss's fiancée."

Fred smiled. "Hi. I'm Harmony's dinner. She'll be making me into a vampire tonight, as her engagement present to me."

"Isn't that thoughtful." Anya told her, "Then you'll be the second course.

"All of you please come inside."

Anya opened the screen door and went inside the house. Xander went up onto the porch, opened the screen door, and held it for Harmony and Fred who entered the house.

He heard a teenage girl yelp.

"Anya! What'd you do? You've invited a vampire inside?"

"Everything's changed in Sunnydale little girl! Buffy's dead! It's time for you to grow up and die too!"

Xander went inside, into the living room.

Anya's stood behind a 16-year-old girl, tightly gripping her upper arms with both hands. The girl wore a Sunnydale High School cheerleader's uniform. The two stood in the middle of the room. Harmony and Fred stood a few feet away from them.

Anya said, "You people at Wolfram and Hart are too stingy; but the local vampires aren't. They're offering big bucks, for the death of every potential Slayer."

"Dawn." Harmony told Fred, "It's Buffy's kid sister Dawn. If anyone's a potential slayer, it's got to be this girl.

"Hi Dawny. Remember me? Harmony."

Dawn rolled her eyes in disdain.

Harmony said, "You've got Slayer's blood. I bet your gonna taste absolutely delicious."

Now Dawn said, "Xander? You're a vampire now?"

"Yes Dawnster." He spoke sadly, "Your old friend Xander, is now the Big Bad Wolf, who is about to eat Little Red Riding Hood; or I should say, the fully grown young woman, in the cheerleader uniform; and I'm going to enjoy the meal."

Harmony and Xander came over to Dawn. Anya stood to the side, while Harmony gripped Dawn's arm tight with both hands, and Xander gripped her other arm.

Dawn said, "I'm not afraid of either of you. When you kill me, I'll be laughing at both of you."

Harmony spoke, "You're a brave girl Dawn. There's no better way to die. You're also very beautiful. Every woman should die brave and beautiful, like you."

Dawn asked, "Could you do me a favor? When you kill me, let me stay dead. I don't want to be a vampire like either of you."

"But Dawn," Harmony told her, "becoming a vampire, is the best thing that can happen to anybody. You're a beautiful woman now, and you will be a beautiful woman forever. You'll also be strong and healthy forever."

Dawn said, "Xander! Make sure I stay dead!"

Xander let go of Dawn's arm.

He said, "I'm not gonna kill her."

Anya screeched, "Xander!"

"I know you have all the power here Anyanka. There's not a thing I can do to protect her; but I'm not going to kill her."

He walked away from the Vengeance Demon, the Vampire and the frightened girl. He went past Fred and out the front door, slamming the screen door behind himself.

Anya had grabbed Dawn's arm again.

"Listen Dawn." Harmony told her, "I'm gonna leave you the brand new, fully illustrated edition of the Vampire's Handbook. It's got a lot more information than the old one."

Dawn cried out, "I don't want to be a vampire!"

Anya said, "Harmony. Did you know that Dawn is a very bad girl?"

"She is?"

"She uses dirty words. She lies. She cheats at School. She shoplifts."

"No!" Dawn said, "I don't anymore! I paid you back every cent, for everything I took from the Magic Box."

"She's a ho."

"I am not! I've screwed, but..."

"And she cursed at her mother."

Harmony said, "You're right. She is a very bad girl. I did those very same things."

"Then you know what happens, to you very bad Sunnydale girls."

Harmony nodded, "We all get killed and eaten by vampires."

Fred stepped out of the house, onto the porch, where Xander stood looking out into the dark.

Fred told Xander, "That was mean. I know Harmony likes to play rough, but she's never mean. Wasn't it enough for Anya that she got Dawn killed? She didn't have to humiliate the girl, by saying those things about her."

He said, "Anya's a Vengeance Demon. She enjoys tormenting people."

Fred said, "Dawn really meant a lot to you, didn't she?"

"Dawn meant a lot; so did Buffy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the center of my life, for the past seven years, and Dawn's always been a part of it; so has Willow, and so has Anya. I'm now a hungry vampire, but I just couldn't cause any further harm, to anybody who's meant as much to me, as they have."

He turned to face Fred with his fangs extended.

He said, "You've never been part of my life. I'm hungry, and I took one of your lozenges before we left".

Fred stiffened and took a deep breath. Then the researcher removed her jacket, revealing the tight, dark blue halter-top she'd put on, exposing her bare shoulders, midriff, back and slender neck.

She called out, "Harmony check the time! The experiment's about to start!"

Harmony called back, from inside the house. "It's 10 PM! Does your Boss know where his fiancé is?"

Fred draped her jacket across the porch railing. Xander reached for her. She gasped. Then he hesitated.

"I've only been drinking bottled pigs' blood." He told her, "You'll be my very first kill. I'm afraid I'm gonna be really clumsy, and I don't want to hurt you, more than I have to."

"Oh of course you do Xander. I'm a researcher at Wolfram and Hart," she spoke with a sultry voice, "and I know what every vampire really wants; so go ahead. Have your way. Hurt me any way you want. I'm ready whenever you are."

Xander put his arms around Fred, and pulled her up against himself. Now she felt his cold mouth and sharp fangs against her neck. She took a deep, final breath.

"Hey Xander!" Anya shouted angrily from inside, "Stop playing with your food and get your ass in here! Now!"

Xander let go of Fred. He retracted his fangs and went back in the house. She breathed a sigh of relief.

About an hour later, Fred and Harmony were seated together on the porch, on a thickly cushioned porch swing, holding porcelain mugs. Fred wore her jacket again. It remained unzipped.

Harmony asked, "So how do you like the taste of human blood?"

Fred's words were slurred. "I've drunk warmed up human blood before, out of curiosity. It didn't do me any harm. This time it's different. This blood is fresh. It's made me crapulous."

"The bathroom's upstairs."

"'Crapulous' means I'm drunk! On human blood!"

"It's not the blood." Harmony told her, "It's diluted with alcohol, for human consumption."

"How diluted?"

"151 proof."

"Don't you think that's excessively diluted?"

"Not for you, when you're about to get vamped. I'm like your friends at your sweet sixteen party. I'm getting you drunk, so you'll have the courage to go through with it all."

"Thank you Harm." She chuckled, "I think Xander could use a swig too."

The screen door opened. Anya and Xander stepped out onto the porch. The Vengeance Demon swaggered over in front of Harmony and Fred, with her thumbs tucked under her belt. She sat upon the porch railing, and leered at them. The Halliwell sisters' shrunken heads remained tied on her belt, with the inverted human bone cross dangling between her naked breasts.

Xander said, "Anya's been trying to take over Sunnydale. She's been giving orders. She ordered that all of Willow's black magic books be burned, along with Willow herself."

Harmony asked, "Willow's been burned to death at the stake?"

"No." He said, "The fire engulfed her, but she used her witch's powers to walk through the flames unburned. Nobody's seen her since then. They're sure she's left Sunnydale."

"So Harmony," Anya jeered, "You watched the televised Mayan immolations, from the safety of your living room. Well I was actually there, and I wasn't safe at all. As a matter of fact, I was sacrificed myself."

Harmony said, "Yeah-right."

Fred said, "That is a possibility. She is a demon, like you are, and like I'm about to become. As long as a vampire's body remains intact, he or she remains undead. It might be the same with Anya."

Anya told them, "I didn't remain intact.

"You see, I attended a Sacrificial Fiesta, at the Archeological Site of Uxmal. That night there were mass immolations taking place. I lent my services to the festivities, and ripped the beating hearts out of a few studly hombres, with my bare hands."

Harmony said, "If I hadn't just eaten, you'd be making me very hungry Anya."

The Vengeance Demon turned the inverted cross right side up, in Harmony's face. The born again vampire did not cringe, but Xander retreated to the far end of the porch.

"That night," Anya went on, "dozens of girls with naked boobs were getting their beating hearts ripped out, or their heads chopped off by Mayan Priests. People were making bets on whose blood would gush the furthest."

Harmony licked her lips and looked at Fred's neck. Fred looked toward Xander who was also watching her hungrily. She gulped down the remainder of fresh blood, diluted with alcohol in her cup.

Anya continued. "I was going topless in the tropic heat, so the Mayans thought I was volunteering for their Decapitation Sacrifice. I told them I was already scheduled for a sacrificial drowning, at Chichen Itza."

Fred said, "It sounds like you were wimping out."

"That’s what they thought too, and they were right. It didn't work. The next thing I knew, I was kneeling down with my head bowed, while a Mayan Priest slashed a machete through my neck, and chopped my head off. My blood gushed a good competitive distance, and my head rolled the furthest. I wish I'd put money on that.

"Then my head was displayed upon a stake, for the remainder of the Fiesta. Then when the festivities ended, and it was time to leave, they returned my head to me."

"Just what I thought." Fred said, "Everything you just told us is nothing more than a gory story."

Anya told Fred, "I thought you were supposed to be Xander's dinner."

Then the Vengeance Demon called out, "Okay Xander! Come and get it!"

Fred called out, "No! Stay there!"

Fred removed her jacket, again exposing her bare shoulders, back, midriff and neck. Then she reached behind her back, unsnapped and removed her halter exposing her breasts.

Now Anya asked, "What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm bringing him what every vampire guy really wants for dinner; a sexy bad girl to eat."

She stood up, and tossed her halter over the railing onto the lawn. The she swayed a little.

"Oh Harmony!" Her voice remained slurred, "Are you sure it's only 151 proof?"

She moved unsteadily across the porch to Xander. She came up to him and stumbled against him, while he held her up. She pushed her naked breasts up against him.

She told him. "I hope you enjoy your meal sir." She began to sway again. "It will be my pleasure to serve you."

Xander put his arm around the wobbly researcher's waist, and another hand on her shoulder, to keep her steady. Then she put her arms around his neck and he held her tighter, with both his hands against her naked back. Then he started licking her neck, while she giggled nervously.

Over at the porch swing, Anya told Harmony, "I'm not making it up. The Mayan Priesthood has fantastic powers that are beyond comprehension. If you don't believe me, you can go to the Yucatan and try it for yourself. See if the Mayan Gods will do the same for you."

"Anya." Harmony laughed, "Do you really think that anyone here believes that story?"

Anya told her, "I do, and I was there. It happened to me."

The vampire said, "I do not worship the gods of the Maya. I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and only Him shall I serve."

At the other end of the porch, Fred's giggling changed into a single sharp scream, as Xander plunged his fangs deep into the soft, warm flesh of her neck. Her voice echoed up and down the quiet, residential street. He continued holding her tight. She began squealing and squirming.

Harmony checked her wristwatch. "The experimental testing, of the vampiric transformation acceleration formula, has begun at 11:14 PM. If things go as expected, she'll be walking around and hungry, with a brand new pair of fangs, by 3:30 AM."

She smirked at Anya, "And you'll be the only one here, who's still alive."

"If she tries anything," Anya told her, "I'll rip her apart! I'd be using the power I was granted by the Mayan Gods. It was with their power, that I managed to kill the Charmed Ones; so I won't have any trouble, doing the same to that drunken bimbo friend of yours."

Xander stood at the far end of the porch, holding the trembling, whimpering Fred tight in his arms, with his fangs deep in her neck, while he gulped down the weakening woman's blood.

He heard her whisper with a harsh gasp; "When I…return…undead, fuck me."

Over on the porch swing, Harmony told Anya, "Now your killing of the Charmed Ones is something I'd like to hear about."

Anya said, "It wasn't as difficult as you think. As a matter of fact, anyone could have done it. Not just a supernatural being; but any ordinary mortal could have put an end to them.

"You see, every demon who's tried to kill them before, has made a basic tactical error. They've attacked them when they were at their strongest. They've attacked them when the three of them were together, inside their mansion, which they called "The Manor" and fully equipped, with all their magical powers.

"I just did the simplest thing. I waited 'til they were all out of the house, away from each other, and their magical powers were turned off. Then they were just as easy to kill, as Dawn was, and as your friend is right now. That's when I killed them."

Xander was still holding Fred tight, while sucking the blood out of her. She had stopped twitching, and made no more sounds. Her arms, that had been around his neck, now fell limp at her side. He held her totally limp body tighter, while continuing to feed.

Harmony checked her watch again, "Subject dead at 11:16. Go on."

Anya continued her story. "I just came up beside each of them, as they were on their way to work, market or whatever, and I ripped their heads off. I was rushing all over the City, at Mayan God speed. I had all three heads in less than five minutes. I moved so fast that nobody saw me. People walking by, just saw three women's heads vanish in an instant, and their bodies collapsed, spurting blood out of their neck stumps, and splattering on everybody.

"Then, with me still moving at Mayan God speed, I hurried over to 'The Manor', and I grabbed the Book of Shadows, before any other demons knew that the Charmed Ones were dead, and no other demons could get their hands on it."

Harmony said, "Then congratulations Anyanka. When they hold next year's Demonic Achievements Banquet, I'm sure you'll be awarded first prize."

At the far end of the porch, Xander loosened his grip around Fred. The cutest gal alive (no longer), at Wolfram and Hart, slid down along the length of his body, then sprawled on her bare back across the dark wooden slats of the porch. Her bare shoulders, bare legs and bare arms, and bare breasts lay stretched out lifeless at his feet.

Then he stepped away from the dead researcher, went over to the screen door, stepped inside the house, and the screen door slammed shut behind him.

Then Anya told Harmony, "First I was beheaded, and I am still alive and intact. I now have the Powers of the Mayan Gods at my disposal. That's how I was able to kill Buffy and the Charmed Ones. I am now wearing the shrunken heads of the Charmed Ones on my belt, and I have their Power of Three and the Book of Shadows, at my disposal. Who knows how powerful I can become?

"From now on, I will be more than a Vengeance Demon. Everyone in this Town, both living and undead, will Worship me in the Mayan Way, as Goddess of Sunnydale."

"Don't include me as one of your devotees." Harmony told her.

"When you get back to Wolfram and Hart, you can tell your Superiors, that I want the head of every potential slayer, delivered to me here in Sunnydale, as Wolfram and Hart's free will offering to me."

"What do you mean 'free'?" Harmony told her, "We're paying 10,000 dollars a head to their assassins, who work as outside contractors. If you want their heads, you'll have to reimburse us first. You can afford it now."

Anyanka the Vengeance Demon said, "If they refuse to worship me, I'll be coming to Wolfram and Hart myself, to collect the heads of some of their own people. That'll include yours Harmony."

The blonde vampire sighed with exasperation.

"Anya." She said, "I think It'll be much easier, and a lot less expensive, if I bring them your head!"

Then Harmony jumped up out of the porch swing and pounced on Anya, gripping her bare shoulders tight, pulling her off the railing onto the porch. Then she plunged her fangs into the warm, soft flesh of the woman's neck, and began to suck her blood out fast.

Anya squealed, squirmed and tried to fight back, but Harmony had her overpowered.

Anya talks a good game, Harmony thought, but I'm killing her with no trouble at all. She's dying as easily as anyone else. This wannabe goddess'll be dead in less than two minutes. Then I'll have her head put on display in the Trophy Room.

After more than two minutes, there was no more blood coming out of Anya's neck. The woman had stopped struggling, but she wasn't getting any weaker. Harmony pulled her fangs out, and took a step back.

Anya stood in front of her, with deep two puncture holes in her neck, and a smirk on her face, looking just as strong and healthy as she had, before Harmony started.

Harmony asked, "What the hell's going on? You should be dead by now. You ought to be lying dead at my feet; but you're nowhere close to dying."

"Sorry to disappoint you gal, but in Sunnydale, I've got the power now!"

Then she shoved Harmony back down onto the porch swing, and went to the door. She entered the house, letting the screen door slam shut behind her.

Then Harmony heard Anya call out, "Xander! Where the hell are you? I'm horny!"



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