Duh, Prisoner...



PG-13



Disclaimer: I get to get up at 4 am, you get the cash, Joss... All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters remain the property of Joshua X. Whedon, his brother Joss, ME, and all owners unknown to me...

Summary: In a follow-up to my 'Revelation' story, Buffy (Number 5) and Number 6 receive help from an unlikely source... (A Buffy reworking of an older story I wrote long ago)

Archived for some bizarre reason at the 'Normal' Buffyverse page of my Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html



***

The palatial corporate office of one Charles Montgomery Burns, billionaire nuclear power entrepreneur...

"So...?" Monty Burns eyes the large, fat sloth occupying space in his palatial office...

Homer Simpson...Worked here for many years, son of the woman you nearly married, your bowling team buddy, son saved your life, daughter shot you, etc...Smithers at Burns' side hisses to his beloved boss...

Hmmn...Never heard of him...Burns hisses back...Well...

"Well..." he snaps a finger, it breaks, he howls as Smithers applies a splint...Homer...Simpson...Smithers hisses again...

"Yes, Simpson..." Burns continues...

"The assignment I'm giving to you is vital for the continued existence of this plant...And your job..."

Homer gulps...Oooh...I knew I should've pretended I was locked in the toilet when they called me...Again...

"You are to represent us at the National Conference of Nuclear Safety Engineers..." Burns solemnly intones...

Oh...Boy...Smithers sighs...

"Yes...Homer...You will show the country the kind of high-quality safety measures we employ here to protect our workers and the populace at large...Bringing credit to our beloved plant...And accolades to me..."

Or...Else...Burns glares...

"Smithers...I'm off to the hospital before gangrene sets in on this finger as well...Make the travel arrangements and see that our nuclear safety poster boy has everything he needs...Good luck, Simpson..." he buzzes...A 24/7 team of stretcher-bearers rushes in and takes him off, Smithers waving...Burns calls him over...

Oh, God at last...Some word of affection to lighten my aching heart...Smithers hopefully races over...

"The cheapest way possible..." Burns hisses...And is carried out to his 24/7 stand-by ambulance...Where Dr. Nick (Hi, everybody!) waits with drugs...

"Well, Simpson..." Smithers turns back to Homer..Pulling out enormously thick binders from a dusty file cabinet...



"Here are the latest safety regulations...Better get fully acquainted with them..." he points to a table and chair... "While I set up your travel arrangements..." he heads to his small desk and turns on his computer...

Hmmn...Expedia?...No...Ah...Priceline...Smithers eyes the screen...

Homer lugs the manuals over to the table, sighing...Oh...How'm I ever gonna get through all this...?

"Mr. Smithers...?" he waves a hand... "Could I use the phone?...It's company business..."

Smithers frowns and nods...Eyes narrowing...He listens intently...His attention diverted from the Priceless travel menu he's been selecting...

"Hello, Principal Skinner..." Homer calls into the phone... "Can I talk to Lisa?...It's important..."

Hmmn...Smithers frowns deeply...And presses the wrong series of button...

***

Deep in the bowels of some dark, mysterious vault of automated files...A photo is pulled out...Onto an automated conveyor...

Homer's photo, with name and address...

A series of keys slashes across it...To form a X with the words... "Highest Urgency...Topmost Attention...Special Action"...

The photo reaches the end of the belt and is dropped into a cabinet...The cabinet automatically closes and reveals a large, black-type label on its front...

RESIGNED...

Other systems click away in different sections...Orders are sent out...

And actions begin to be taken...

***

Hmmn...Smithers looks at the screen...Damned slow connection today...He backs up and tries again...

Ah...

"Simpson..." he frowns at Homer reviewing the safety manuals with Lisa by phone...

"Your tickets are printing up..." he points to the office printer... "You leave tomorrow..."

***

The next morning...Plane tickets in hand, Homer prepares to head out...

"Now, Homie...You take care..." Marge kisses him...

I'm so proud of you...she beams...

"Knock 'em dead, Dad..." Bart calls from the kitchen table...

"Bart..." Lisa eyes him... "This is a safety conference..."

"And that's Dad...He'll knock 'em dead...One way or another..." Heh, heh, heh...Arghh!...As Homer chokes him... "Why you little!..."

Homie...Marge frowns...



"Well...I'm off..." A horn blares...What?...They all head to the living room window...

A long, black, grim-looking limo sits outside...A chauffeur smiles out at them...Waving slightly...

"They sent a car for you...Way to go, Dad..." Lisa proudly pats him...

Wow...Homer blinks...I guess this is an important conference...Not the blow-off I took it for...

"Can I ride to the airport with ya...?" Bart asks hopefully...

***

"Mr...Simpson...?" the chauffeur opens the rear door...Smiling...A tall, gaunt man in tall top hat and black suit...

"I am to take you to the airport...If you would be so go as to enter..."

Homer beams and slides in...Wow...

Never thought Burns would go for something like this...

"Bye, Dad..." Lisa waves with Marge and Maggie from the front lawn...Bart glaring, refused his ride...

Unusual...The chauffeur notes to himself, as he pulls away...Most men of his "special" importance don't have families...And certainly don't live in a dump of a town like Springfield...

But then, rather clever when one thinks about it...

"Does this thing have a TV?..." Homer calls from the back...

"Certainly sir..." the chauffeur presses buttons...The TV pops on...A shatter-proof window slides up between the rear and front...A white gas pumps into the rear of the car...

Hey?!...Homer gasps, then passes out...

Interesting fellow...the chauffeur thinks...Heading for his prearranged rendezvous point...

Must try and look him up sometimes in the secret files of top operatives worldwide when I'm on guard duty with nothing better to do...

***

Play theme

"Hey...Where am I?..." Homer looks around the room...

Nice...he eyes the comfortable surroundings...

Never thought Burnsie would spring for rooms like this...But, hey...

"Hey...?" he calls out... "Anybody here?...How'd I get here...?"

A television screen snaps on in the living room...But remains darkened...

Homer looks over...Rats...TV's all screwed-up...No wonder Burns went for this dump...Well, I guess I'd better get out the stupid manuals and then go find out where I...Hey..?...He looks round the room...

"Where's my stuff...? My wallet?...Where am I, anyway?..." he calls out...

"In...The Village..." a voice intones from the TV...Still no picture...Damn...



"Who the hell are you...?" Homer calls...And how about getting somebody over to fix my TV...

"I...Am the new Number Two..." A British-accented, clipped voice...

"Well...I wanta speak to Number One..." Homer glares...No need to let some flunky push the Burns plant's Nuclear Safety Engineer around...

"You are Number Six...Teen..."

"Duhoh...Is that my room number?...Or do you mean I'm number 16 to get my TV fixed...?" he sighs...

Crap...Lemme speak to Number One...he demands...I have complaints about service...

In his quarters, sitting in his bubble chair, Number Two...( The fussy, harried 2 from "A,B, and C" and "The General") stares at his view screen...Hmmn...A strangely balanced fellow to cope so well...Hmmn...Well...File says "special handling, topmost attention..."...Damn, he sighs...Why do I always get these cases whenever they let me come back...First that 6 and now this...

If they'd only let me do what I do best...All my KGB skills in torture wasted...he sighs...

Still, another chance to redeem myself...Best to proceed cautiously...

"What do I hafta to do to get some service...? and find out what's up here?..." Homer calls to the screen...Well, at last...The screen lights up to reveal Number 2 in his chair...

A stern-looking, mustached fellow with horn-rimmed glasses...And a somewhat harried air...

"We want...Information..."

Information...Number 2 solemnly intones..."Information..."

"Well, if you want ID...Somebody took my wallet when you guys brought me here..." Homer glares...

"Didn't Mr. Smithers tell you everything...?...He made the arrangements..."

Smithers...? Number 2 looks at the file...

Ah...A very clever game...Trying to throw us off-balance and learn what he can from our slips...Very good, very good...A deceptively brilliant fellow...This will be a challenge...

"Hey?...Is there a mini-bar in here?...I like those little bottley things..."

***

The Café...The most carefully monitored outdoor spot in the Village, which in fact makes it the one place for the prisoners to try and pass on information with any hope of success...

A weary, nearly broken-looking Buffy...Number 5...Sits forlornly at table...Watching her carefully from his own spot at the adjacent table...The mysterious renegade...If he is as he claims to be...Number 6...

But she has grown instinctively suspicious of all...None, even those who are truly prisoners, can be trusted...And those who seem most resistant to the subtle and not-so-subtle methods of torture practiced here are the ones one suspects most of all...

Her family...Friends...Her vamp 'lover', William...All frauds...Deceptions...Her own 'sister' Dawn in fact a lie, placed in her mind at her own treacherous Watcher's suggestion...

Nothing can be believed in...And Death will be the only escape...Even for the Slayer...



If she is actually the Slayer...Impossible to believe anything about her past now...

6 moves to her table quietly... "May I?..." she gives a wan nod...But looks him over with a quick, careful, wary glance...

"Number 5?..."

"Buffy Summers..." she shakes her head...Several patrons around their table frowning...A few moving away...

"John...Drake..." he eyes her carefully...Then smiles, a bit wanly...

"Nearly forgotten it myself, it's been so long..."

"You've been here a long time...?"

"Decades..." he sighed...

"You look pretty well for someone who's been here for...Decades..."

"You look pretty well for a very young woman who's ranked high on their list of important prisoners..."

(At the main control center, deep underground, the Supervisor eyes the new...Well, lucky fellow, reinstated yet again, Number 2...Must be something this guy's got, he thinks, eyeing his superior as Number 2 watches the screen where Numbers 5 and 6 can be seen, talking...Important relatives or something to keep letting him come back like this...

"Shall we send someone to deal with them?...It is a violation of rules..."

No...2 shakes his head... "Lets see what they come with in putting their heads together...It may be useful..."

Tell me...he turns to the Supervisor, then views the large bank of video screens... "What's going on with our latest acquisition...?"

"16?...I believe he's still asleep..."

Hmmn?... "Still asleep, first night after his reawakening?...Fellow must have nerves of steel"

...Show me...

The Supervisor presses a few buttons on a keyboard...Homer's room comes on view on the center video monitor...Loud snoring is heard...

"Remarkable...Wake him...Now..."

A cheery voice blares in the new home of Number 16... "Good morning, rise and shine...Today is Wednesday...The weather is sunny and mild with a slight chance of ..." Homer rolls over and rips the speaker box from the table by his bed, throwing it across the room...Then resumes snoring...

"He did that at morning wake call...Didn't even wake up when our repair team...Ah, there they are..." the Supervisor noted as two repairmen entered the apartment on camera, bearing a new speaker box...

Hmmn...Number 2 frowned a bit...Then looked to the screen where Buffy and Drake were cautiously feeling each other out...

"They say it's impossible to tell the prisoners from the jailers..." Buffy noted... "I've found ways...Though they don't apply to everyone..." 6 replied...

"No, not to you, my friend...As one of my predecessors pointed out to you..." Number 2 nodded, smirking...

"Is he up yet?..." a quick turn to the Supervisor...Who shakes head as he watches Simpson snore...Roll...Fart...(Damn I hate this monitoring job sometimes...the Supervisor sighs)...Roll and snore...

"Well, wake him...Whatever it takes...I want to talk to him..." 2 returns to observing 6 and 5...Who now rise for a little stroll at 6's suggestion...



"Maintain surveillance..." 2 snaps at a technician...Who presses buttons, bringing various tracking cameras on line...Images of 6 and 5 showing now on various screens from various angles...

"Number 16?...Time to rise and shine..." the cheery voice begins again at Homer's...And is again immediately cut off...

***

One hour later...

Two weary-looking goons on screen at Homer's apartment continue trying to shock 16 awake with their electric prods...

Not a peep other than an occasional roll-over...

"Sir..." The Supervisor returns yet again to 2... "Still no luck?..." "We've tried drugs, a beating...The men are trying electric prods now..."

Hmmn...2 frowns at the screen where Buffy and Drake are talking of commonplace things as they walk towards the Village waterfront...

"Give me the direct line..." he is handed a phone that might have been high-tech in the 60's...

Damn cheap bastards...He frowns at the phone...When are we going to get some modern equipment here?...

"Number 16!!...Report to Number 2's house immediately!!...I want you there in ten minutes, 16!!...You'll breakfast with me!..."

Or lunch I should say...2 glares at the wall clock...

Hmmn...Homer pops an eye open...Breakfast?...

Lunch?...

"Finally..." the Supervisor sighs... "All right, men...Leave off and return to your duties..."

The two weary thugs pack their prods and begin to head off...

"Hey, thanks for the massage, guys...This place is great!..." Homer calls after them...

"Remarkable fellow..." 2 stares at the screen...

"Say when is the first safety seminar?..." Homer calls into the room... "I don't wanna be late..."

"Amusing chap..." 2 eyes Homer's image coolly... "He'll find I can also be...Amusing..."



***

***



Part II...



The seashore of the Village...Packed with Villagers in gay apparel, some genuinely content, most doing their best to appear so, many casting the occasional nervous, hooded glance round...

Numbers 5 and 6 strolling, giving quick, pleasant smiles and 'Be Seeing Yous' to those they pass...A few passers-by eyeing them narrowly...



"So..." Buffy looked out to sea...Where a lone tugboat could be seen patrolling...

No need of elaborate, expensive sea patrols with Rover at hand...

"How do you tell the prisoners from the jailers?..."

"The ones who try to fit in best, unless they're very good...They're the prisoners..." 6 noted...

"You don't seem to fit in well..." she eyed him as they paused in their stroll...6 shifting an umbrella over her head...

"It's been my downfall before...I can only assure you I am like you..."

"And you're so sure I'm not one of them?..."

"I'm not..." he smiled... "But every once in a while I have to try and make the gamble...It's the hope I will find someone, someday who isn't and can stand up to them that keeps me sane..."

"Bad info to give a possible jailer..." "Yes, but trust is like breathing...You have to do it occasionally..."

"I trusted many people...They were all liars..." she sighed...Taking a seat, he moving to the one next to her...Politely but icily eyeing the man occupying said seat into vacating...

"Was he?..." she watched the fuming man stalk off... "I'd say so...A bit too willing to challenge me for a moment..."

"Then you'll be paying for it..." "Probably not...They're as tired as I am of these games..." he smiled wearily... "They tolerate my little outbursts now..."

"You remind me of someone I..." she began...Then looked away... "He was a liar too...But he couldn't help what he was...Not like...My..." she trembled...

"Why are they doing this to me?...I saved Humanity...I don't deserve this...What do they want?..."

"For you to beg them let to you serve them..." Drake eyed her... "In the end they want you to love them...Freely...Completely...And without reservation..."

Then...And only then...Will they let you leave...

"All of these people..." she waved a hand... "They don't love them...They hate them and this place, even if they won't say it..."

"Which is the single most encouraging thing about this place..." 6 noted... "That it has to exist...That even that portly old fellow over there hasn't completely given in to them..." he indicated a distinguished-looking man of military bearing... "General..." he nodded...

"But they've..." "Cracked, given up their secrets...?" Drake shrugged... "Perhaps...But they still fight...Or they wouldn't be here..."

It took me a long time to appreciate that...And their spirit, however whipped and servile some may seem...he scanned the group...

"And if they had a leader...Someone with the strength to give them hope..."

"Wouldn't you do?..." she frowned at him...

"I've tried...I'm not strong enough..."

"And lil' me is?...I think you seem to know quite a lot for a prisoner..."

"I knew a Slayer, long ago..." Drake nodded... "I can see a little of her in you..."

"This Slayer's no good to you, pal...I've tried matching with Rover..."

"Rover's run by humans...If we could get to them..."



Right...Buffy sighed... "And just how do we manage that?...Oops, guess that just landed me in the psycho ward here for a few days..." she looked round for any signs of the usual attendants...

"Or are you playing the clever game with me?..."

"Or you with me..." 6 smiled... "But listen...There may be other help at hand...There's a new arrival here that seems to be attracting their attention...I think an American, judging by what I heard of his voice..."

***



Number 2's domicile...

Homer is politely waved in by a small, bald, dapper butler in impeccable attire...The doors outside and in, opening electronically...

He follows the little man to a large, steel door which parts in two, revealing what would have been a high tech office in the late 60s or early 70s but now, excepting a reasonably modern computer at the large, open O-shaped desk...Looks rather quaint...

"Ah..." 2 rises from his bubble chair, just elevated up from the main control room far below... "16!...My dear chap..." he offers a hand...

Tea, please...he turns to the butler who bows and moves to a tea cart by the side wall...

"Have a seat, my friend..." 2 waves Homer to another slightly sunken bubble chair in its chute...Thanks, Homer beams...Duhoh!!...He trips on trying to climb in...

Tight fit, these things...he notes...Squeezing himself in...Ah...Oops...

"Sorry..." he nervously smiles at 2... "Better in than out, right?...Yeah?..." Thanks, he takes the cup of tea... "Oooh...Cookies..." he grabs a fistful, wolfing them...

Remarkable...2 eyes him...Who would ever suspect this obese, ungainly fellow of being a top agent?...Brilliant concept whoever runs him...

"16?...My dear fellow...I imagine you're a bit puzzled as to what all this is about?..."

"Oh, no...I looked over all the manuals before I came...And Lisa, my little girl...She explained it all to me...I'm ready..." Homer tries to project a confident air...

Your...Little girl?...Hmmn?...

"Your superior warned you of us?..." 2 eyed 16 shrewdly... "This 'little girl' of yours...?"

"Oh, she said to focus on the coolant stuff...Make sure the coolant system's been checked...Don't handle the hot stuff without gloves...All that...I'm all set..." a beam as the butler brought over a cart on which were... "Waffles!...I love waffles, thanks...You guys are the best!..." forking over a large mound... "Eh, wait..." he grabbed at syrup and butter...

Hmmn...2 pondered, watching... 'Coolant stuff' eh?...Keep a cool head and you'll endure, that must be it...I see...So what is up here?...Is he a plant, sent to test me?...Or has security been breeched?...Has one of our opponents actually uncovered us...?

"When do the seminars start?..." Ummnphf...Homer paused to gobble a waffle whole...

Hmmn...Anxious to face our worst, eh?...A spirited chap...

Still if he is a plant...Or has knowledge we need of a security leak...Best to proceed cautiously...

"We can start very shortly, 16...But..." a friendly, confidential tone... "If you know what's about here, why not save yourself needless trouble?...Give us what we want to know and you can be out of the Village in a few days...A whole new life ahead of you, with us..."

Hmmn?...Homer paused in mid-bite... "Well...That's nice of you...If you got a job offer I'd sure look it over, seeing how nice you guys do things here..." he scratched at his back, moving lower...Sorry...Gotta scratch where it itches...he noted... "But, if you just want me to take some tests instead of the seminar...I might need a chance to look over my stuff...Where is my stuff by the way?..."

"Our experts are reviewing all materials taken from you as we speak..." 2 nodded... "You'll find us most efficient..."

The door to the office opened... A slight young woman, dark-haired frowning at 2...He turned...

"Ah...Number 12..."

"Buffy and..." she began...2 frowning at her... "Number 5 and 6 are in conversation...Why are you letting them meet?...The Council and the General will not be pleased..."

"My dear 12...I am engaged with our new arrival here...16?...Number 12..." he waved to Homer...

Homer smiling up at the frowning 12...

"When I was 2..." she began...

"When I was 2 my mom said I could walk right through the house to the back yard..." Homer noted...

Hmmn...? She stared at the overweight man stuffed into a bubble chair, somewhat hideous in standard gay colors of Village dress, gobbling waffles in huge forkfuls from his plate...A large circle with "16" pinned to his shoulder...

"You'll find 16 a sharp fellow, 12..." 2 smiled... "I expect us to have an engaging time together, but I'm sure we'll get on famously by the conclusion...Eh 16...?"

"Ummn...Well, I'd like to get to know everybody in the business better..." Homer nodded carefully...

"And you being no longer 2...As a result of your lamentable failure with 5..." 2 beamed a bright smile at his most hated opponent in the game of power... "I think we will proceed according to my wishes..."

The former 2... Once known to Buffy as 'Dawn'...glared bitterly..."I am assigned by the Council...And the General..."

"To assist me in any way I see fit..." 2 smiled... "And I will make full use of your help...In my own good time..."

"And how much time will you allow 5 and 6 to plot together...?"

"Leave these matters to me, 12...If I wish to let them spin their little plot, it is my concern, not yours...Right now, I have other things to attend to..."

"If you fail...There may not be a next time for you...Giles..." she coldly noted...

"I won't fail...As you did...Goodbye, my dear..."

I will contact you when I need you...

Hmmn...Kinda nasty young lady...Homer eyed her cold face...What's she so pissed about?...The guy here seems to be doing a great job runnin' this thing...I know I'm having a good time...

'Dawn' turned on her heel and stalked out the metal doors which closed behind her...

"Now, 16...To business..." 2 smiled at him...

"Call me Homer..." Homer smiled back... "Say, what's up with the bratty kid?...She used to run the place?...Or is she the boss's lil' girl...?"

***





Part III...



Deep within the underground bowels of the Village...

Homer is somewhat perplexed to find the tests he is now required to take...(Oh, tests!?...Nobody said there'd be tests!?)...Including his being stripped and secured to a large...And cold!...Brrr...Duhoh!...Metal table...While Number 2 and various pointy-headed types in lab coats with large numbers pinned... Number 25, Number 37, Number 112, etc...Standing round observing...As two technician pull a large machine with what seems to be shock paddles attached, close to him...One cranking a part down over Homer's face...

"Is this to see if I'm radioactive?..." Homer shrewdly guesses... "Cause I'm over that..." he notes...

The pointy-heads eye each other...Then 2...

All back away from the table...Slowly...

***

At Drake's suggestion he and Buffy had moved to the long cement railing of the Café overlooking the seashore to ostensibly watch the gulls flying in...

Naturally every camera in the place turning to follow them...From the top of a flagpole, flag of no specific nation, of course...From within a bust of Caesar...From the back of a Village service van, parked nearby...From the radio loudspeaker pole broadcasting light tunes endlessly ...And from the tower above Number 2's residence, fed to the office of Number 12 in said residence...Where 12 coldly watched her 'sister' and said 'sister''s new friend...

Several assorted groups of apparently carefree Villagers moving closer to them...

"What good is this...?" Buffy hissed... "They're all around us..."

"In three years here you should have learned..." 6 replied... "Always conduct your business out in the open where all can hear every word spoken..."

Every word...He smiled... Moving towards the radio speaker pole and into the crowd hanging about the railing...

"What's he saying...?" 12 fumed at her sole assistant...The little butler, now in apron...Who shrugged sadly as he tried to readjust the monitor...Music and the multiple conversations drowning out the couple's words...

"Just keep mixing up the conversation as we go..." Drake told Buffy who nodded slightly...

"You said an American...?" "Yes...I say the weather has been rather rainy this year...Clouds louring near every day, eh Number 141?..." 6 smiled to a middle-aged lady who beamed back as they passed her...Indeed, Number 6...

They stopped directly under the speaker pole...

12 in her office glaring more than ever...That sis...er prisoner of mine...She would finally hook up with the one man who might possibly be able...

A slight smile on the young woman's features...That's my...

No...Damn it, next I'll be mooning over William my babysitter vampire protector...she frowned at herself...

She is my charge...My prisoner...Mine to break for the greater good...That is all...

Would be fun to let her know my real age though...she grinned a moment...Bet she'd laugh so hard...After ripping my guts out in revenge...She'd tinkle...

But if she and 6 are up to something...And knowing them, they are...Allowing them to cook together for a while might actually not be the worst possible thing...

They might, possibly...Cook up a stew my dear colleague 2 will choke on...



Hmmn...she pondered, as she struggled to hear whatever it was 6 and 5 were gabbling about... "Say...?" she turned to her assistant...Whose sad face had lifted very slightly on seeing her apparently pleased over something she was viewing...

"Who is that fat guy 2's got below?..."

A sad-faced shrug...

***

"Simpson...A Homer Simpson..." Drake whispered to Buffy... "Yes, I once saw your Hank Aaron hit a homer in California...Simply marvelous..." he noted loudly as a young woman passed close by...Eyeing him briefly...

"And you know his name...How?..." Buffy eyed 6 suspiciously... "In 30 years here, I've built up contacts...I can obtain and disseminate information in a limited way..." he looked over to a large waiter in straw hat, Number 93 prominently displayed on his jacket...The waiter beamed a broad smile as 6 signed to him and came over...

"Ah, welcome back sir...Your usual?..." "Yes..." 6 nodded...

"And the lovely young lady...?"

"She'd like to try the apple pie...And tea..."

"Just so sir...I do believe the apple pie is in fresh...Yesterday..." the waiter led them to a small table near the railing... "A quiet spot...Just the place for a rendezvous..." he beamed broadly again and sauntered off...

"Even I got that..." Buffy eyed Drake... "An American, yesterday...Right?..."

"Clumsy but effective..." 6 nodded...

"They must see through that..."

"They prefer to believe their control is absolute...And my friends are, as I indicated, those least likely to be seen as capable of resistance..."

"Except for you..."

"Yes...I am the liability..." Drake nodded... "Which is why they've refused any serious attempts at following my lead in escape since our one try many years ago unless and until they see some real hope of success..."

Can't blame them...A number were exposed and suffered terribly back then...All because I couldn't see the truth...The arrogance that even today still keeps them from fully trusting me...

"Hmmn...?"

"I'm not too tough for the Village to break...If they wanted to...I simply have been too valuable to them...A potential commodity they prefer not to damage...Too valuable to them even now, aging and out-of-date as I am..."

Like you, Slayer...he eyed her...

"And our Mr. Simpson?..."

"Perhaps...Depending of course on whether he endures...The first session..."

***

Back at the examination room, Homer was gradually becoming aware that things were getting a bit strange for a safety seminar...



"I am going to put a series of questions to you, 16..." 2 informed the strapped-down, naked Homer in a precise, pedantic tone...The subject's eyes forced open now in a device about his head much like that which an eye doctor would use to determine proper lens corrections...

"Number 16...First session..." a technician spoke into the mike of a recording device...

"Ok...But I can't write like this, so it better be an oral exam..."

"Amusing, 16...However...Should you provide the answers I wish...You will be quite all right and returned to your room shortly...Should you not..." 2 turned to a technician who twisted a knob on the outside of the device now about Simpson's ample chest...

Arrrrggghhhh!!!....Homer screamed...Duh-oh!...he groaned as he hit his left temple on the inside of the device masking his face...

"Good...We understand each other then..." 2 beamed...

"What the heck is going on?...Geesh!...Arrrrrrgggggghhhh!...."

"I ask the questions, 16...Right, then...First question..."

Why did you resign?...A hard, demanding tone...

"What?...Arrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!...Duh-oh...Duh-oh!....Hey, tighten this thing up or take it off...I keep hitting my head!..."

"Sixxxxteeeen...Why...Did...You...Resign?..."

"I didn't resign...Much as I sometimes kinda wanta...Gotta think of the kids, ya know?..." Kids?...2 eyes his staff... "Though I'm telling you guys if this is your way of tryin' to get me on your team...It sure ain't ...ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!..."

Duh-oh!... "Oooh, come on guys, fix this thing would ya?!..."

***







Part IV...



Number 2's residence...Seven long hours later...

A weary Number 2 sat in his bubble chair...Rising into his main office from the underground complex below...One of his 60s-ish phones buzzed and he reached for it...

"Yes?...Yes, sir...This is 2...Yes, I have been conducting interrogation on our new resident..." a sigh...

"He seems...Quite resistant as yet...Though if I could be allowed to employ more rigorous physical...Yes, sir...Yes, I realize the man is noted in the file to be of considerable value...Yes, sir...Very well, sir..."

We'll continue with our current techniques...Nothing further in physical terms...he replaced the phone in its holder with a winsome look...

Damn...Fourteen years excellent KGB training in all aspects of physical torture before I went to England as a sleeper agent and joined the Council as 'Rupert Giles' to learn whether they were a bunch of perverted freaks playing at the occult and keeping young women on hand with their 'Slayer tales' or a real source of potential power ...Before I was recruited by my current masters...2 frowned...All down the drain, thanks to the damned liberals running the show now...

Yes, heaven forbid we should bruise the valuable merchandise...We might break something useful...Oh, my...



Psychological torture...Oh yes, that's the way...Hmmphf!...Did it work with 6?...5?...Even that idiotic old bag 141?...Please...

Of course this dratted 16 stood up well to the initial electroshock...Hell, 37 thought he seemed to be enjoying it once he'd gotten use to it...

114 was sure he was getting aroused from it by the fourth hour...

Well, with an agent of his obvious brilliance and agile mind, the mental approach might be the key...

And I have pushed for the psychological at times myself...As with Buffy...er 5...And my suggestion of bring in a substitute family and 'sister' after the mother passed on...

But damn...She had been my Slayer after all.. and I of all people knew she was hardly likely to break under physical...Whereas with these normal human agents...

Another phone buzzed... "Yes...What?...So, he's sleeping?...Probably exhausted after our seven hours' will-breaking, God knows I am...Wake him and continue till he...What?...What do you mean you can't wake him up?...My God, man...You didn't kill him?!...He was...Oh...Yes, I hear the snoring..."

Phew...

"Don't be ridiculous...What?...A full charge barely made him turn over?...Well, have 114 in and use whatever drugs are necessary?...What?...Oh, yes..." a sigh... "Yes, we must avoid permanent physical damage at this stage pending approval...Very well...What?...Duh-oh..." Uh...Ummn... "I mean...Oh, just...Send him home to bed...We'll deal with him in the morning..."

The steel doors parted, Number 12 smiling in at him...

"Well...?" he eyed her...

"Just wanted to let you know 6 and 5 seemed to be getting on famously through the afternoon and this evening...Though I'd have thought my 'sis' would be off older guys after your betrayal...Giles..." she beamed...

Then again...'Xander' and Spike having let her down...she grinned...

"What do you have to report, 12?...Besides 5's new romance...And your own appalling inability to distance yourself from your subject emotionally?..."

"That's it...They had a pleasant stroll where it was nearly impossible to make out their conversation...And quite a nice dinner at the Village restaurant...6 must've used up half his personal credits for the month tonight..."

"Did they...?" he eyed her...She frowning to his rather unconcealed amusement...

One might wonder who was really on the receiving end of that little experiment in emotional manipulation...he thought...

"He's old enough to be our...her...Father, Giles..." she glared, her face suddenly that of a young girl...Then blinked quickly, resuming her normal cold poise...

"I hardly think sex is the thing bringing them together..."

"Oh, never underestimate an Englishman like 6, 12..." 2 grinned... "And your 'former sister' was always rather eager to try new things...As I recall from when she was my charge..."

"When you betrayed her..." the young girl again...For the briefest moment...

"When I did my duty as a member of this organization...As you did when you stepped into the role of Dawn..."

"How is your new charge?...16?...I hear he's a problem as well..." she blithely and hastily shifted subjects...

"A challenge...But we've made progress and I never expect these things to be easy...You of all people, given your own problems with 5...Ought to understand that..."



"One of your technicians I spoke to just now...54...Seemed to think the man knew nothing..." 12 smiled... "That his stout resistance came from his not having a thing to reveal..."

... 'Ruddy bloke's a moron, if you ask me...' to quote him...

"That is why 54 is a technician...And we run operations here, 12...16 is a clever and shrewd agent, one of the finest I've ever encountered...And his mask of deception...That foolish exterior...Is brilliant and brilliantly played..."

But...In the end...He will crack...12 snapped a pencil he'd pulled from his desk...

Duh-oh...He sucked the finger into which the splintered edge of the broken pencil had gone...

12 staring at him... Duh-oh?...she blinked...

"Is that all 12?...If so, I have things to attend to, including my own dinner..."

Gee...He could invite me...I live in the same house and we're almost like family...Buffy, me, and him ...she thought, a tad miffed as she watched 2's bubble chair descend...

Ummn...she shook herself...Living the role a mite too intensely, 12...she sighed within...

But it was kinda fun being Dawn...Neat, really...

Hmmn...Wonder how sis...Er...she blinked...5...Liked meeting Number 6...

He is kinda a Spike type...Even if he is getting on in years...

Gee...I wonder how Spike's doing down in containment...I really outta go visit...Another blink...

I mean...Coldly torment him and see if he can be useful to my climb to absolute power in our organization of course...

And I am not going to tell 'sis' how he's doing later...

Though she would be very pleased to hear he defied some of our worst tortures in refusing to follow our orders to fully exploit his relationship with her...Almost like he really did come to care for her...

Gee...I always there was something real...Ummn...I mean...What a fool...I must see if he could still be of use to my plans...

And it is nice when he calls me 'Nibs'...

Hmmn...

Buffy wouldn't actually sleep with 6...Would she?...

He is pretty cute yet...But gross...He's older than Dad...

I mean...Her father...

Course she has slept with two vamps each over 100...

***

The next morning...About 9am...

Number 6 walked carefully but with an open, casual step by Number 16's apartment...Eyeing the door...



Well, same number on the door...They've have removed it if he were dead...He must have survived the first session...Excellent...Though he'll need rest after that torment...

Just have to await a later opportunity to...

"Hey...!" Homer called from his bedroom window... "You gotta minute, pal?...I gotta talk to someone about this place...You work here, right?..."

Ummn...6 scanned the lane...Monitored, naturally...But the fellow had, quite cleverly, given him an opening...He moved to the door and it opened...

"Hey!..." a rather annoyed Homer in standard Village jacket and pants, frowned at 6 as he carefully entered the apartment... "I just want you guys to know I did not appreciate that little hazing session yesterday...I'm a regular guy and fun is fun and all...But that went a little too far..."

And I'd tell your human resources guys...If they wanna rope in guys like me...They better get someone besides that English guy running the place...His sense a humor's a little over the edge for me...

Hmmn?...6 stared at the poor fellow...Obviously far gone, though perhaps well trained to give that impression...

Is quite a brilliant concept...Presumably the CIA...Has come up with...Anyone would assume him to be a feckless dolt...John Q Lowest Denominator of the Public...While clearly, inside that whale-like carcass...The steel trap mind of a master spy...Or brilliant scientist...Perhaps a diplomat...

That would allow for the massive weight...All that sitting and paperwork...

Though Ivor Steada was a rather large fellow as I recall...And a master killer, capable of lightening strikes despite his bulk...

"Now, look..." Homer glared...Chewing on one of the donuts he'd filched from the torture chamber technicians' break room when they'd left him, to their best guess unstrapped but fast asleep on the table, to make their reports...Oooh...Jelly... "I'm supposed to be attending seminars here...All week...And I don't got a schedule...And I don't got my papers...And I don't got nothing, you clowns even lost my clothes and wallet...Now, I'm a patient kind of guy...But that kind of thing really burns me..."

"Number 16..."

"Homer...Mr. Simpson to you...Burns Inc., Nuclear Power chief safety engineer... Now where's my stuff and when and where does today's seminar begin?..."

Oooh...Very nice...Homer beamed as Buffy entered...Bearing...

"Pastry...Oooh..." Homer happily took the box, subject of his 'Very nice' from her...

"5...This is not wise for both of us to make contact right away..." 6 hissed...

"I just thought I'd drop by to pay respects to the new resident on my street..." she noted, loudly for the video monitor... "How are you 6?...It's so nice to see you again...16?..." she turned to Homer... "I hope you're finding things ok here...."

She and 6 stared as Homer wolfed down two pastries without pausing...

"Eh...It's ok..." he waved a pastry... "But the service can be lousy at times...You staying here?..."

Mmmn-hmmn...she nodded... "Just down the street...Number 5..."

"Are you here for the safety seminar?...Do you know where it's supposed to be?...Cause while I am just about ready to pack my empty bags and go home, I'd better show up for one of them or Old Man Burns will have my ass..."

Huh?...Buffy stared at the large, fat man...Eyeing 6...

Old Man Burns, eh?...6 pondered...The current President, perhaps?...Or more likely his own chief...



"Old...Man...Burns?...Supervisor?..." 2 watching Homer and his guests from a monitor in the main control room turned to the harassed-looking bald Supervisor... "Run down this...'Burns'...He must be top echelon...Use every resource, but get me information!..."

No wonder why my Rogaine never works under this constant stress, the Supervisor sighed to himself...

I dunno...I'm beginning to think 54 had the right idea about this guy...he thought, eyeing Homer on the monitor...

Nobody could be that good an actor...

Still...he glanced at 2 beside him, staring intently at the screen... Four years from retirement I sure as hell am not gonna be dumb enough to hint we've made a mistake...

***



Duh, Prisoner...



PG-13



Disclaimer: I get to get up at 4 am, you get the cash, Joss... All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters remain the property of Joshua X. Whedon, his brother Joss, ME, and all owners unknown to me...



Summary: In a follow-up to my 'Revelation' story, Buffy (Number 5) and Number 6 receive help from an unlikely source... (A Buffy reworking of an older story I wrote long ago)



Archived for some bizarre reason at the 'Normal' Buffyverse page of my Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html...

***

Part V...



The Village residence of Number 16, aka Homer Simpson...

"So you see, 16...er Homer..." 6 continued...Glancing at Buffy Summers, Number 5, seated next to him on a sofa...She eyeing Homer carefully...Can't believe it, this guy's a top agent?...

Still he stood up to the 'first session' rather well...A nightmare of endless torture coming just to the brink of permanent damage that had left even her at the physical and mental edge...

"All of us here in the Village try to support each other..." 6 spoke carefully, occasionally eyeing the room monitor, then 16 for any subtle reactions suggesting a possible course of action or plan of escape to be discussed...

"Well, great...I'm for a team effort ..." Homer nodded, munching more pastry... "But the guys running things gotta get their act together...We should have schedules...Say, did they lose your stuff too?..." he eyed his guests' Village clothing...6 in light black suit with white edging, 5 in multicolored blouse and skirt...

Schedules?...No 2 from his bubble chair, watching the scene on his office monitor...Number 12 from her small desk in her office above...And 6 and 5 sitting next to Homer...All pondered...

"Yes..." 6 shrewdly but carefully replied...With a hard, keen look... "We should indeed have..."

"Schedules...And yes, I'm afraid all our...Stuff...Was... 'Lost'...as well..."

Hmmphf...Homer frowned, annoyed... "What kinda place loses all the guests' stuff?...And that reception hazin' last night was the strangest thing I ever been too...Were you guys there, watching from behind that big mirror window?..."

Hmmn...He is sharp...2 thought...Knew we had a psych team watching and is already feeling 6 and 5 out as possible jailers or no...Brilliant man...And amazingly resilient...Even my Slayer was out of things for several days after the first session...

We must indeed proceed carefully...He would be an incredible asset...

"No, 16...Homer..." 6 shook his head firmly... "We were not there last night...We've been through that 'hazing' as well..."



"They got you on that table...er..." Homer, looking at a now sadly-revisiting-the-horror, Buffy, had a vision of a naked Buffy on said torture table...

Offering him yet another pastry as he lay beside her...Ohhhhh....He scanned the box she'd brought...Duh-oh...None left...

"Yeah..." 5 quietly sighed... "I was on the table too..."

"But we're all here now..." 6 noted... "And as it's a beautiful day...And none of us are 'scheduled' for 'seminars' as you call them, Homer...Why don't we three take a stroll and have a bit of a picnic?..."

Well...Homer envisioned Burns' annoyed face...Hmmn...Picnic...And if no seminars are scheduled today...While the idiots here get their act together...

"Ok...Sounds good..." he nodded agreeably...

Hmmn...2 and 12 in their respective offices eyed their monitors...2 tapping his thumbs together as he sat in his bubble chair...

Hmmn...Homer...er 16...is right...he squirmed uncomfortably in the chair...These things are terrible...

Sigh...When are our masters going to spring for some ergonomic furniture and send this old 'super-cool' late 60s junk to the garbage or the antique shops?...

I think it's time I consulted with my ole babysitter...12 thought as she watched 6, 5, and their new friend 16, head off out the door for the nearby Shop...

Things may be starting to develop and I may need a little extra ace in the hole to properly exploit the situation...

'Sides, it's so nice when he calls me Nibs...she beamed...

***

The caves by the Village seashore...Though giving an air of isolation conducive to open and frank conversation , naturally under heavy surveillance at all times...Jailers well-concealed at various monitoring points...

Homer, 6, and 5 carefully picking their way among boulders leading to one cave nearest the water...Halting just outside in a small patch of ground 6 had determined long ago received just enough shielding from the cavern's rock to make easy observation difficult and where the acoustics rendered microphones vulnerable to amplified echoes and background noise masking voices to some degree...

Especially if the jailers were distracted...As he and 5 intended for them to be, shortly...

If at some small personal risk to Buffy...

***

"Demoted, eh?..." Spike in his self-proclaimed 'rat-trap' of a cage, sneered on seeing the large '12' button on 12's blouse...

"Well, Nibs...Them's the breaks when dealing with Summers..."

"Spike...er 117..." she corrected hastily...Grinning coolly...

"Considering you were once 'hostile 17' I'd have to say you were the one to take a fall on our last operation..."

"Giles screw the pooch with Buffy yet?..." a slight, unmistakable note of tension behind the sneer...

"2 is having his problems...But he's a fool and I will be reappointed 2 shortly..."

"Really?...Well...Nice to know my friends are moving up in the world...Anything I can do to help in exchange for leaving this phone booth?...I'm always ready to be there for 'family'..."

"Don't be ridiculous, vampire..." 12 eyed him haughtily...

"I've no need of your...Help..."

"Oh, so this is just a social call, then?...Well, then...How's your sis, Dawn?...Buffy well?..."

"She's seeing this older guy, Number 6..." 12 eagerly began...Ummn...she caught herself and frowned deeply as Spike grinned...

Watch that psych conditioning, girlie...he noted, wagging a finger... "You'll be sobbing again over poor ole Joyce before you know it..."

Mom...12 thought suddenly, indeed her eyes misting at the name...Whoa, she blinked...Joyce Summers is not my mother...

And 5 is not my sis...Let's get that straight...

Though being Dawn was so neat...Not having a care in the world except that big sis would get hurt...And hopin' William might someday get over his obsession with her and maybe consider the other Summers girl...

"How is she, Dawn...?" Spike asked again...This time clearly serious, though he kept the mocking grin on his face...

"Like you care..." the words burst out...

Hmmn...Each eyed the other...

Good thing I arranged to keep this session unmonitored...12 thought...Looking back behind her to see the sad-faced butler in the room beyond the closed door explaining with sad sighs and hand signals how he'd managed to accidently trip and disconnect the monitors in 117's cell to two technicians...

***



Duh, Prisoner...

PG-13

Disclaimer: I get to get up at 4 am, you get the cash, Joss... All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters remain the property of Joshua X. Whedon, his brother Joss, ME, and all owners unknown to me...

Summary: In a follow-up to my 'Revelation' story, Buffy (Number 5) and Number 6 receive help from an unlikely source... (A Buffy reworking of an older story I wrote long ago)

Archived for some bizarre reason at the 'Normal' Buffyverse page of my Buffy Rebecca verse, http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/buffyrebecca/index.html...

***

Part VI...



At their 'picnic' by the seaside cavern, Homer, Buffy, and Drake...aka 16, 5, and 6...Were making light conversation, generally directed by 6 while 5 gathered her strength for the distraction effort which would hopefully allow their new arrival to disperse any real information he had for them...

Homer on the whole enjoying himself immensely...Having secured a large and varied number of eatables from the Village's Shop...But anxious to display a professional attitude and some Lisa-imparted knowledge of his field...

I mean clearly these two were tops in their profession...Probably 5 and 6 in the field as their room assignments suggested...And although he might only be rated 16...Which was not bad, really...Heck of a lot better than he'd expected, having seen a '214' on their way to the beach...It was time to let his new friends know he was no slouch in nukear...er nuclear safety...

"I suppose you guys are up on the latest...Ummn...Ummn...(what did Lisa say was important?...Oh, yeah!)...Coolant systems, right?..." 16 gave a shrewd look...



"We've developed our own ways of dealing, yes..." 6 nodded carefully... "But I must say yours held up very well from what I've seen..."

Oh...So the Burns plant's system is pretty good, eh?...So much for what Lenny was sayin' last week about us all going to die if the old controls weren't upgraded soon...

"Well...We're pretty proud of our system...at the Burns plant..."

Hmmn... 'Burns plant'...6 pondered...Must either be a new CIA division...Or some new intelligence force in the world...Geared to producing agents of incredible willpower...

"What the devil did he say just now?..." 2 in the master control room below his office, pulled off his headphones and stared at the Supervisor who shook his head... Too many echoes and background noises...And our lip reading software, besides being ridiculously out-of-date...Can only pick up what we can see of their lips...

And?...2 eyed him...The Supervisor sighed and turned on a subtitle unit...

Well...Proud...our...at...plant...The last part of 16's words rolled over the screen...

Hmmn...Plant...2 eyed the word nervously...

Oh, Lord...The Supervisor stared as well, then glanced at 2...And this one being as paranoid as that 2 who cracked up years ago...We're sure to start hearing of planted agents and conspiracies shortly...Hounded out of my job again, just four years from retirement...

"Well, get one or two of ours over there...Yes, I know they'll know..." 2 frowned at the Supervisor... "But I don't want them making plans we can't make out...I want to know everything they're up to..."

The Supervisor picked up a phone and punched a few buttons... "23, 47...Move to the area indicated...You are to observe but not intervene as yet... Don't break cover..."

They're a man and woman...They might be able to pass as a strolling couple...he noted to 2...

Who frowned impatiently as 6, 16, and 5 continued talking...

Where...from...America?...the subtitles ran...5 having now joining in...

Spr...eld...It's in...My...Bart...Lisa...Photos were in my...lost...Idiots...16 with an annoyed look as he stuffed another sandwich down...

"Photos?..." Hmmn...2 pondered...An escape plan, perhaps?...Microdocuments offering 5 and 6 an opportunity with his organization?...

"Did we find photos in 16's personal effects?..."

Oh, yes...The Supervisor nodded...Waving an aide in... "Get 16's personal effects, please?"

Sunnydale, California...the subtitles ran...London...6 apparently offering his home town as well...

"Oooh...California and London...This is a big deal..." Homer nodded thoughtfully...

"Yes, Homer..." Drake nodded... "Top men and women from around the world are here...It is very much a 'big deal'..."

He eyed Buffy carefully...

Right...she sighed...Well...Time for the Slayer's semi-monthly breakout attempt in any case...

"Excuse me, guys...16...er Homer..." she smiled at him... Good luck...Drake nodded at her... "Don't take any chances with Rover...They may consider you valuable, but..."



"Sure..." she waved, rising... "See ya...My place if they don't hold me in the psych ward overnight..."

Hmmn...Homer eyed Buffy as she strolled off...Turning to Drake...

"So she's one of us?...And spends nights in a psych ward...?"

Like our last plant supervisor...he thought...

"Yes...One of the little...'benefits'...they provide here..."

Hmmn...Guess our job is kinda stressful...Homer pictured himself at his stressful position as nuclear safety engineer for the Burns plant...

Cut to shot of an alert, energetically watchful...Somewhat lighter...Homer at the plant barking commands..."Simpson!..." his intercom crackled... "This is Mr. Burns!...We're losing containment on levels 4 and 7...!!" He whirls in chair to another intercom, decisively slamming a button...

"Simpson here!...Increase coolant to the main reactor, on my order!...What?!!...No time for a safety margin, now!...We've got to have full power on line in thirty seconds or we're all dead!!..."

No, wait...That was Mr. Scott on the episode of classic Trek he'd been half-watching while sleeping in his chair as warning buzzers went off throughout the place...Lenny finally suggesting as he stopped by to shmooze that he turn the coolant pump switch he must've fallen asleep on back on...

Still, way lotta stress...Can see why the nice young lady's so frazzled...Reminds of my ole pal Ken Grimes...Good ole Grimey...He sympathetically thought, waving to the departing Buffy... ("For God's sake, I hate that name...And you!!!..." a disembodied voice called...Drowned out by the sound of a Village car pulling up...)

"Careful..." 6 tapped 16's arm as a man and woman emerged from their van stopped just up the road...

"Good day..." the woman called cheerfully...She and the man, their numbers unreadable at this distance, spreading a blanket...Hiya...Homer waved back...

"Hang on and in a few minutes 5 should make things a bit easier for us..." 6 hissed... "Remarkable weather we're having these days, 16..." he noted in a loud voice... "You're joined us at a perfect time of year..."

Hmmphf...2 complained as he and the Supervisor continued to monitor...

"He was grousing about it being rainy yesterday...Never sticks to a consistent conversational line...I wouldn't trust the fellow myself..."

An orange light blinked on the console on the Supervisor's desk... Uh-oh, he looked and picked up the phone attached...

At the same time one of the other staff monitoring the nearby area and seacoast called out... "Movement detected on the beach...Subject confirmed as Number 5...Now in water..."

Not again, Buffy...2 sighed, looking over at the monitor of the technician giving the warning...

"Confirmed..." the Supervisor nodded, still listening to his phone... "Number 5 is swimming underwater at a very good clip in a westerly direction...Estimated time to outer perimeter...Five minutes..."

Oughta be good...One tech hissed with a smile to a colleague... "She's nearly as fast as Rover at max...One of these days she may just make it...I'd bet 10 credits she makes it to Zone 2 before our boy gets 'er..." "Done, mate..." the other replied quietly...

"Orange alert..." 2 looked back at 6 and 16...Now moving off...Ah...A diversion, eh?...

"Orange alert!...Orange...Alert!..." the Supervisor called out to the control room and spoke into his phone...

"Tell our people in the field to keep 6 and our new guest in sight and earshot!..." 2 turned to the Supervisor... "Maintain our monitored surveil..." Hmmn...He stared at the monitor he'd been watching 6 and 16 on as it and the monitor on which the patch of sea where Buffy had been swimming could be seen went dead...



"She's gone and found our undersea cable..." the tech who'd bet on Buffy smiled...

***

Ooof...A hard punch to the stomach by 6 sent the young male member of the couple tailing 6 and 16 reeling back against a rock ledge...The cheery young woman who'd asked if they wouldn't mind company walking down to the beach on these rather dangerous ledges became less so immediately and took up a marital arts stance...Drake doing the same...

"Mr. Drake?..." Homer stared at 6... "These guys your competitors?..."

"Hard to say, Homer..." Drake called...As the young woman charged him...He smashing a hard blow against her side as he dodged her at the last moment...She rolling to the side and up immediately, taking defensive stance...A prominent '23' badge on her Village cloak...

47, the young man, now back on his feet as well, moving on Homer...

"Now look guy...I don't want any trouble..." Homer began as the now-sneering man closed, with not a little caution, having been warned that 16 was likely far more threatening in reality than his somewhat ungainly aspect would suggest... "My friend here just got a little upset when you guys started hornin' in on our..."

The man charged him...Seeing in Homer's sudden swerve of arm...Meant to protect the contents of his picnic basket...A clear sign of the imminent employment of the vicious Rukorsky chop...A deathblow to anyone caught by it in mortal combat...He bent to the left...And slipped on the banana peel Homer had just dropped while eating as he and 6 walked the ledges...Aaaahhhh!!...A harsh scream as the man went over the ledge...

The young woman now saw the better part of valor and raced back up the ledge...

6 beaming at Homer who was nervously looking over the edge of the ledge...

He does not look so good down there...Ah, phew he's movin'...A little...

"Well done, Homer!...I have not seen the Rukorsky employed so well since I was in Sweden years ago..."

"Rukorsky?...Banana?..." Homer stared...

"The Rukorsky banana...An excellent update of an old and worthy move...I'll have to remember it..." 6 nodded...

"Lets hurry now that you and Ms. Summers have given us a little time to talk..." he waved...

Hmmn?... "Say what's that big white ball bouncing on the beach down there?..." Homer pointed...

"Looks like somebody's big party balloon got lost?...Hey, it's going right on the water...Neat...Hey, now there's another one?..."

"You lose..." the technician betting against Buffy eyed his comrade as the image from the second Rover showed Buffy now swimming on surface being engulfed by the first...The Rovers' loud groaning cry coming through over the loudspeakers in the control room...

"Well, she's been a little under the weather recently what with the constant drugging and all..." the pro-Buffy tech noted...

"What's going on with our surveillance people?..." 2 looked at the harried Supervisor...Now receiving calls from various sources...The female agent calling in from her van...Rover's controllers complaining about the strain placed on the system in pursuing the Slayer...Her drug dosage should be upped...Village ambulance drivers requesting directions, having been called by 23 to pick up the fallen 47...Other agents in the seashore area calling to request instructions...

And someone, ah yes...Our 'little girl' 12 over at the occult containment facility demanding a repair crew to fix the monitors in 117's cell...They having been knocked out accidently...

"Well?..." 2 eyed him... "They've been forced to withdraw, sir..." the Supervisor shook his head... "23 says 16 dealt rather effectively with 47...She had to pull back..."

Maybe 54 was wrong about the fellow at that...he thought...



Grrr...2 reddened... "Have them all brought to the psych ward immediately..."

Have to catch em first...God, 6 and 5 and this new fellow can't be this potentially valuable to us...the Supervisor sighed inwardly...

"Yes, sir..." he nodded...

"I love you, William...Say you love me, too?..." a half-drowned Buffy murmured blearily as she floated between the two Rovers towing her in...

***