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Eternal Spartan

By PJ Brown

Romance / Action


The sequel to "Faithfully Spartan" brings you more of the story of Spartan Michael-113, Faith, Buffy and the rest of the gang from Sunnydale... The "Battle of the Hellmouth" is over and humanity has won, but not without losses and sacrifices... Michael managed to seal the Hellmouth with a nuclear bomb ending the danger to Sunnydale and the rest of the world, but he now finds himself trapped and separated from Faith. Can he find his way home? Will Faith sit and wait or will she take charge and look for her Spartan? Will they find each other and will they be able to overcome the dangers that are out there as they search for each other?

The Briefing

Female voice (Identified — Faith Lehane): “Michael... Please… Please don’t leave me! I love you!”
Male voice (Unidentified — Unknown): “Faith, I love you! I will—” {Rest of transmission garbled}

— Communications intercepted by US military during ‘Sunnydale Event’

Fort Meade, Maryland
February 22, 2004 — 0845 EST

The woman behind the desk looked up, greeting Riley Finn as he entered the office, “Agent Finn, General Gheller is expecting you. Please, go straight in.”

Riley nodded as he entered the inner office. He was a little confused as this wasn’t the General’s normal office. That he had to tromp down to the building basement raised a lot of questions about what was going on.

His questions and confusion only grew as he entered the office, moving towards the General sitting behind his desk, appearing to be reading papers. Riley noted the few furnishings decorating the austere-looking office. Along with the obligatory desk and chairs, there was only a plasma TV and DVD player sitting on a table along the wall. He got the sense that something was missing from the room and it took a moment to realize that there was no computer in the office. There was only an old style corded phone on the desk. It surprised him to see such a retro-styled phone here and no other piece of high technology. He put his questions and confusion aside for the moment as he stopped in front of the desk and came to attention, saluting.

The General looked up from his paperwork and Riley noted his commanding officer giving him a look up and down. This raised more questions as the General returned the salute and gestured to the empty chair, “Good morning, Riley. At ease... take a seat.”

Riley tried to relax as he took the offered chair.

“How’s your wife?”

“She’s keeping well, sir,” Riley replied, using the standard military tone.

Riley got the sense that the General was studying him as he continued on, “Your last mission debriefing report said it was rough. That was the one in Brazil if I remember correctly?”

“Yes, sir. It was pretty rough, but we got the job done,” Riley acknowledged, trying to figure out what was going on.

“That’s good,” Gheller replied, his face still not betraying any sign of why Riley was here.

The General’s poker face and Riley’s military experience combined to warn him that this was no simple meeting to review or rehash the previous mission. He let it play out waiting for the other shoe to drop and find out what he was really here for.

“Riley… I was reviewing your file. Before you joined our operations here, your last assignment was with Doctor Walsh and The Initiative program, correct?”

With the words ‘Walsh’ and ‘Initiative’ being used in the same sentence an alarm rang in Riley’s head. A dark cloud grew as he got a bad sense of where this conversation was going. Despite the topic, Riley maintained his composure, betraying none of his growing worry or concern, “Yes, sir. That is correct,” he replied in a flat tone.

“You were in Sunnydale, correct?”

Riley’s bad vibe continued to grow. He didn’t know where the General was going with his line of questioning, “Yes, sir.”

Gheller noted Riley’s reactions–the subtle changes in body language and eyes–trying not to betray his inner thoughts to his questions. He continued on, “It’s my understanding you were in a personal relationship with Buffy Summers… also known as ‘The Slayer’.”

And, there it is, Riley thought, finally getting a sense of where the General was going with his questions.

Memories of Sunnydale... and Buffy bounced around his head competing with attempts to maintain his composure. Riley wondered what the General’s game was as he well knew of his previous activities in Sunnydale.

There’s something going on...

“Yes, sir,” he replied in a plain matter-of-fact tone. Riley thought he detected a funny expression cross his commanding officer’s face. He filed it away as the General continued on.

“I take it you’re aware of what transpired in Sunnydale several months ago?”

Riley paused, as he wasn’t expecting this question. Alarms triggered in his head that seemed to confirm his hunch and it somehow involving Buffy, “Only from what I saw on the news. Something about a seismic event and a natural gas explosion,” he replied with a slight shrug.

The General’s uncomfortable expression caught him by surprise, “Um, yes. That’s the story being given to the public… Before we go any further, I need to ask several more questions?”

Riley’s confusion continued to grow as he tried to figure out the connection. Again, he betrayed no emotions in his reply, “Go ahead, sir.”

“Have you ever met the other Slayer… Faith Lehane?”


It was like a slap to the face as he recalled his one and only ‘encounter’ with Faith. Granted it wasn’t his fault she’d gotten hold of a magic charm allowing her to switch bodies with Buffy. Still, there was still a sense of guilt knowing it was Faith who’d seduced him using Buffy’s body. Inside, memories and emotions grew into a whirlwind as he replayed events, but he betrayed none of this as he maintained his professional demeanor, “Yes, sir. I’ve met Faith… the last information I had was that she was in prison?”

Riley noted the look the General gave him, “Well, your information is out-of-date soldier. Faith broke out of prison.”

For a moment, Riley forgot about his wife as long dormant feelings and worry about Buffy burst to the forefront. He maintained his demeanor as he recovered his inner composure. His mind tried to put all the questions and information together to figure out why he was here. He was tiring of the game and playing docile as his tone took on a harder edge, “Does this have anything to do with what happened in Sunnydale, sir?”

The General read the change in Riley. He was already aware–from his own sources–all about Riley’s “interaction” with Faith. These questions were a mere formality for him to get a sense of Riley before they got to the heart and reason they were meeting here.

“Settle down, Agent Finn. Your ex-girlfriend is doing fine and we’ll get to the matter in due course.”

Riley picked up on the change in the General’s tone. He suddenly got the sense that this was more of an interrogation than a meeting.

Gheller studied Riley as he continued, “When you were dating this Slayer, you got to know the people around her, and the weapons and tactics they used?”

The question caught Riley by surprise, Huh? Where is he going with this?

He replied warily, unsure of this sudden twist, “Yes, sir.”

“What kinds of weapons did they use?” the General’s tone became more serious as he studied Riley.

A wave of embarrassment overcame Riley as he felt silly talking about the weapons used by Buffy and the Scoobies, “Wooden stakes… swords… crossbows… magic.”

Gheller nodded, “Understood… Did you ever see them use or have access to automatic weapons, claymores, explosives or any other military hardware and equipment?”

Riley blinked, staring at the General as he wasn’t sure if he’d heard him, “Huh! What’re you talking about?”

“Just answer the question, soldier!”

Riley’s military reflexes kicked in, “No, sir! I never saw Buffy or any of the others use military hardware or weapons in the time I was with her! I was the only one to use military hardware when I used grenades to take out a vampire nest. They talked about one time where they used a rocket launcher to take out a demon called ‘The Judge’, but other than that nothing... sir!”

The General studied Riley closely for his next question, “To your knowledge, are you aware if Buffy Summers or any of her associates had access to nuclear or fissionable materials?”

Riley’s mouth dropped open at the question, “N-Nuclear! You’re joking! Right?” he replied, forgetting where he was for the moment.

“Enough soldier! Just answer the question!”

Riley recovered his composure, taking a deep breath to clear his mind while trying to figure out what was going on, “No, sir!” he said, shaking his head vigorously.

The General nodded, satisfied with the response, “Thank you. Just one last question, are you aware of anything peculiar or strange that happened outside your normal experiences while you were in Sunnydale?”

Riley took a moment to think about the question, “Well, it seemed as if nothing ever normal occurred in Sunnydale, so—,” he paused as something clicked in his memory.

The word ‘nuclear’ triggered a long dormant memory, “T-There was one thing,” as he recalled the event, “There was an incident where we deployed to search the town. Doctor Walsh received a report of an energy event… almost like a nuclear flash that occurred in the area. One of our recon satellites detected it and we were tasked to investigate it. Is that what you are asking about, sir?”

The General leaned forward, his interest obvious, “Did your teams find anything during their search?” he asked, trying not to show his eagerness.

Riley shook his head, “No, sir. We located the event site and investigated. We discovered a thermal burn where the intense heat turned the soil into glass. There were a few tracks from civilians that didn’t lead us anywhere. As per SOP, we took photos and soil samples. As far as I can recall, everything got shipped to the Pentagon for further analysis. We heard nothing back on the incident and I guess it got forgotten.”

Gheller leaned back in his chair, the look of disappointment on his face surprised Riley, “Thank you, Riley. That at least gives us somewhere to start.”

Riley was tired of being confused and not knowing what was going on, “Start what? Where? Sir?”

The General, noting Riley’s confusion, felt satisfied Finn wasn’t hiding anything as he leaned forward, “Riley, what I’m about to show you is classified ‘Beyond Top Secret’. Only a small group knows what actually happened in Sunnydale. If you ever breathe a word about it… You will be buried… period! Understood?”

Alarm bells rung in Riley’s head along with the brief thought of standing up and running the hell out of the office. He shook off the doubts and hesitation as he realized that he wanted to know more and would stay, “Understood, sir,” he replied as a small sigh escaped him.

As the General picked up the TV remote control and turned his chair towards the plasma TV, Riley took the cue to turn towards the TV too.

“You’re probably wondering why we’re meeting down here. Normally, we would use my office or one of the conference rooms, instead of hiding down here in the basement,” the General said as he turned on the TV. A grim expression crossed the General’s face, “We believe our computer network has been compromised.”

Riley blinked. In a day of surprises, he hadn’t thought it was possible for any more surprises... he was wrong, “O-Our whole network! H-Hacked! T-That’s impossible! Who was it? The Russians? Chinese? North Koreans?”

Gheller shook his head and despite the seriousness of the situation, Riley saw a smirk flash on the General’s face, “It is possible. Fortunately, we don’t believe it was any foreign power, terrorist or hacker group.”

Riley debated pinching himself as he was sure that an elaborate joke was being played on him, “B-But then who?”

“That’s what we would like to know. We think this video offers some insight and clues,” Gheller said, pressing the play button on the remote. Riley’s attention focused on the plasma TV as a video started. A test pattern flashed and then darkness filled the screen. He took a moment to realize that he was seeing an aerial view of the ground at night.

“What you’re seeing is drone footage taken over Sunnydale on May 23, 2003,” the General explained.

Riley studied the footage as the drone flew over the nighttime countryside. It was real color video rather than a thermal imaging video which surprised him. He got a sense of why he was seeing this format as lights appeared in the distance... the drone was closing on a large town. The lights grew brighter, removing the darkness, and Riley’s eyes widened in shock as flames and explosions became clear and distinct. As the video panned the area, what looked like tracer rounds from automatic weapons fire became more distinct, adding to the scene.

Gun fire and parachute flares filled the screen while Riley sat in disbelief watching a war rage in Sunnydale. He blinked to make sure he wasn’t dreaming as the drone circled the town, observing the fighting taking place. The video zoomed in on the rubble of a large building. Flames provided an eerie lighting to the hellish scene as he picked out movement–lots of movement–in and around the rubble. The video seemed to anticipate his question as it zoomed in to get a closer look at the movement. His heart froze seeing the creatures streaming out of the destroyed building.

Riley realized he was viewing the Hellmouth. Somehow it must have opened, and these creatures were pouring out of it... and someone in town was fighting those demons. A sickening feeling grew in his stomach as he realized who was probably in the middle of all that fighting.

“My God...! Buffy!” Riley whispered still finding hard to believe what he was viewing as the fighting raged on.

“My god indeed,” Gheller replied in a muted voice. Even though he’d viewed this video many times, he still found himself humbled by the creatures and the intensity of the fighting by those holding back those hordes.

He shook if off as he continued his briefing, “As you’ve probably figured out... the Sunnydale Hellmouth opened. Those creatures that came streaming out of there was nothing like we’d ever seen before. We’re not sure what type of creatures they were, but intelligence believes it was a new type of vampire... something stronger and more vicious compared to the standard vampire.”

Riley swallowed hard. He’d been in his share of fights against of vampires. The idea there was a new-type of vampire even more vicious and stronger was not a happy one. His mind noted the fighting, how the fire was being directed and that these vampires were being channeled into kill zones.

“Which unit engaged these... vampires?” he asked, somewhat recovering his composure.

The General’s face became awkward and uncomfortable, “As you’ve probably observed, these vampires are being engaged by a military-type force… quite effectively too. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view there were no US military units involved in this battle.”

Riley found himself afraid to ask, but he had to, “So who or what group was fighting in Sunnydale?”

The General sighed, “That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?”

Riley blinked at the General’s response as he continued. He pressed a button on the remote to unmute the sound, “The group fighting these vampires was well organized and their defense military textbook. They had an elaborate communications system in place to co-ordinate their defense. Most of their communications were in the clear, but we did pickup ELINT of some highly encrypted communications taking place on a different channel. The NSA says it is nothing like they’ve ever seen before.”

Riley was still trying to comprehend everything being thrown at him when voices came over the TV. He noted the panic and fear-filled voices, but noted a sense of determination and resolve mixed in there too.

“There’re so many…”

“Watch the left side… they’re swarming…”

“OH GOD! They’re coming through! Someone—”

“Keep firing!”

The voices were all female and sounded young. Some voices cut-off abruptly… sometimes with screams. He was trying to grapple with the whole situation when another voice came through clear as day.

“This is Bravo-Team, I can see vamps flowing into the gap by Fox-Team…”

Riley blanched as he recognized Buffy’s voice. This reaffirmed his earlier suspicions and fears she was in the middle of all this.

The General read Riley’s obvious reaction, “Yes, we’ve identified that was Buffy Summers through voice analysis.”

A stunned Riley was running out of adjectives to describe what he was experiencing, “I-I d-don’t know what to say, sir. The last time I was in Sunnydale and saw Buffy… I had no idea they were that organized or armed.”

Gheller smirked, catching Riley off-guard, “Oh, that’s not the most interesting part.”

Riley blinked, not sure how to react anymore.

“Watch closely now,” the General said, directing Riley’s attention back to the TV.

At first, Riley didn’t see what the General wanted him to see, but then he picked up something moving across the battlefield. It was moving fast that the drone’s camera was having a hard time keeping a steady lock on target. To Riley, the object looked man-shaped, but no human could move that fast... not even a Slayer.

The drone finally locked-on the moving object, giving a close-up view. Riley blinked in stunned disbelief seeing the human shaped person who appeared to be in some sort of full-body armor. Yet, it wasn’t any configuration he’d heard of was familiar with. His first impression was that this was a robot he was watching.

“W-What is that?” he asked.

The General didn’t answer him as the video continued. More shock overcame Riley as the armored “person” encountered a vampire, his eyes widening as the “person” easily warded off a blow from the vampire. He winced as the “person” picked up the creature and crippled it with a crushing back breaker move then followed up by tearing the head off the crippled vampire.

“My god…!”

“Wait, it gets better,” the General said.

Riley watched in stunned silence as the “unknown person”, ran again… faster than he thought was possible for any human. The person came to a strip mall that was the scene of intense fighting as waves of vampires attacked the defenders there. Tracer rounds streaked into the swarming vampires and for a moment Riley didn’t think the defenders could hold back the attackers. In a movement so fast he almost missed it, the armored person scooped up what looked like a mini-gun and jumped, landing on top of an abandoned vehicle.

Riley held his breath as the drone camera panned out, showing the waves of creatures rushing towards the lone figure. Tracer rounds spewed out from the weapon, cutting into the attacking ranks of the vampires turning them into dust.

“Jesus…! This is unreal! Who or what is that?” Riley muttered, shaking his head continuing to stare at the unfolding scene of death unleashed by the unknown person.

“Unknown, and that’s what scares us,” the General replied, the nervousness and fear obvious in his voice, “At first, we thought it was a robot or cyborg. Something along the lines or similar to Walsh’s Project-314.”

At the mention of Adam, Riley’s heart skipped a beat. Just the thought of another Adam running loose sent chills down his spine.

The General added, “We re-evaluated our hypothesis and upgraded the threat level after this point of the battle,” as the audio continued to play.

“Under UNSC command authority… Sierra-113 has authorized deployment of nuclear weapons…”

“What the hell is going on? Adriana? What is Michael doing? He can’t be serious?”

“We obtained a high yield fifty kiloton nuclear warhead. We modified it to be used as a portable battlefield weapon.”

The General paused the video as a visibly stunned Riley held up his hand, “T-This… T-This has to be a joke! A-Are you saying that a nuclear weapon was used in Sunnydale? H-How is this…? How did they get one?” he sputtered out, shaking his head in disbelief.

A grim-faced General met Riley’s eyes, “That’s another million dollar question. After the battle we reviewed all nuclear weapon inventory records. The computerized inventory records showed all weapons accounted for. Yet, soil samples recovered from Sunnydale continued fissionable trace elements we identified as having come from our nuclear weapons facilities. We ran the inventory again, this time doing a hard count of every warhead... we discovered one fifty kiloton battlefield nuclear warhead was missing.”

Riley stared at the paused video, trying to comprehend everything he was seeing and hearing. He was final able to put a coherent thought together, “In the audio they mentioned a Spartan... Sierra-113 along with a Michael and Adriana. I don’t recognize the names. Any idea on who or what they are?”

The General shrugged, “We’re not sure, but we think this Spartan, Sierra-113 and Michael are all the same person... and is our mystery person in that armored suit. We have no idea who Adriana is other than what we have on audio.”

The General pressed the play button, “There’s more you need to hear.”

“All fireteams will seek shelter and protection at alternate defense positions from nuclear blast and radiation.”

Riley watched as the armored figure again used its unbelievable speed to move towards the building ruins, containing the Hellmouth. Swarms of vampires chased after the figure, vainly trying to catch up, pursuing the armored man down into the Hellmouth.

“Michael... Please… Please don’t leave me! I love you!”

“Faith, I love you! I will—”

The audio cut out as the screen flared white and distorted. After a moment the screen went black.

Riley sat there, staring at the black screen, as his mind raced. He finally turned to the General, shaking his head, muttering to himself.

The General anticipated the question, “The nuclear weapon detonated in the Hellmouth. Despite the depth of the explosion, the EMP from the blast fried the drone’s electronics, causing it to crash.”

“This is just so unbelievable, sir,” Riley muttered.

“Well, believe it soldier! Our problem is that it appears an unknown, apparently well-organized and well-armed group fought a major battle against vampires and detonated a nuclear device on US soil! You can understand how that would trouble some people,” the General replied.

“But... but they stopped those demons from spreading! They saved us!” Riley exclaimed. Yet, as he said the words he also realized how others would view them as a threat.

The General sighed, “When we discovered what happened in Sunnydale, there were many that felt they’d done the country, and the world a great service. After much debate, the highest-levels decided to leave the situation and them alone to avoid any problems that could result from any further investigation.”

“So, the cover story about the earthquake and natural gas explosion then?”

The General nodded, “The panic and backlash that would follow if news leaked out about what really happened was more than enough justification for the decision. It was also felt that with this Spartan apparently dead, that removed a potential threat and danger to us. The situation and risk was considered ‘manageable’.”

Riley picked up on the General’s choice of words, “Apparently, sir?”

“Even with the decision made not to investigate further and confront the group, we continued to monitor them. To avoid problems, we maintained a light surveillance presence from a distance. In the aftermath of the battle, they’ve been keeping a low profile with their activities and movements confined to the Sunnydale area as the town rebuilds. There was one exception... Faith Lehane. She left Sunnydale, ending up in Los Angeles. She kept a low profile, staying off the grid which made it hard for us to track her. As you heard in the transmission, it’s obvious that Faith and this Michael were in a close relationship. Our PSYOP profile workup on her says she left to deal with her grief.”

Riley got a sense that something was happening for him to be here now, “So what’s changed now?”

A smile flashed on the General face, appreciating Riley’s quick uptake, “Two weeks ago, Buffy was in Los Angeles. Her ex-boyfriend before you... Angel, located Faith, and she brought Faith back to Sunnydale. Since their return, we’ve monitored an increase in activity around their base of operations with increased shipments of electronic parts and other supplies going in. We can’t get any audio or video from inside the warehouse they’re using as their base because it has some heavy-duty security protecting it. We have no idea what they’re doing or what they’re planning, and this gotten a lot of people spooked.”

“And, you think they have something to do with the compromise of our computer networks? I know Willow’s smart and good with computers, but to pull off a hack like this seems even a little too much for her. Besides, how do we know we’ve been compromised?” Riley asked, putting all the information together in his head.

Another sigh escaped the General, “We have no definite proof they’re involved, but there have been certain anomalies in the data from our networks. The nuclear weapon inventory count was the starting point. They stole a nuke without us even knowing about it! We’ve also noticed computer data related to Sunnydale, and the battle has either suddenly gone missing or become corrupted. There are too many coincidences taking place for us not take a second look at this group.”

The General paused, taking a quick drink of water, “Riley, you can see our dilemma. We have a group with unknown allegiances that has a lot of firepower and stole a nuke from us! Granted, they used it to save the rest of us, but despite that we don’t know what their long-term goals are. Some of the more alarmists in the administration are panicking that this group may try to expand its power beyond Sunnydale. If they have access to our data networks anything becomes possible! We need to get a handle on the situation before it spins out of control.”

Riley considered the situation and the list of possibilities, “Are you planning an active intervention? Where do I fit into this?”

“There are no plans for extreme measures… for the moment. Right now, we’re looking at all contingencies. The main problem is that with our networks potentially compromised, we’re limited in our communications and what we can say and do. Where you come in and where I need you is back in Sunnydale.”

A part of Riley was expecting this, but it was still a shock, “You want me back in Sunnydale? Sir?”

The General nodded, “Yes, I want you to take a small team into Sunnydale and keep an eye on this group. You know the people involved, so you’re the best person placed to study, evaluate and determine their intentions. Your former relationship with Buffy may prove beneficial. Any intel you gather would be valuable, especially if you can get a look inside their warehouse.”

Questions about the mission filled Riley’s thoughts. There was one important question he needed to address, “If our networks and communications are compromised, how do I communicate and report in?”

The General smiled, knowing he’d selected the right person, “You’ll use hard copies for reporting. We have a courier system in place for you to send in your reports and make requests. If there is an emergency or a requirement for immediate contact, there is a onetime code system you can use over electronic communication networks. Your briefing package is outside with my assistant in hard copy format. Review all information and make sure none of it is transmitted electronically. Understood?”

The General stood up, signaling their meeting was at an end. Riley took his cue, standing up. Outwardly he was an image of military professionalism, but on the inside confusion reigned from everything he’d seen and heard. He was full of questions and doubts, but he knew there was only one person that could answer and allay them as he came to attention, saluting, “Yes, sir! Understood, sir!”

“Dismissed, and good luck soldier.”
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