Rating: FR 13/15
Ripper 1.2) Potential for Disaster
INT – RAYNE FAMILY HOME
Two young men are sitting cross-legged across from one another, in a salt circle that has been drawn in the centre of the room. The carpet has been rolled up so that they are working on the bare floor. All the lights have been turned off, and the only illumination comes from four black candles behind them and four white ones in front of them, which are set between the black ones.
One of them has reasonably light hair, an angular face and deep brown eyes. He is reasonably tall, but not ridiculously so, and seems to be completely at ease in his position. The other has a slightly more rounded face, his hair has an almost ginger tinge to it, and he is in the beginning stages of growing a moustache. He seems less at ease than his companion, and is constantly shifting himself around, as though trying to find a more comfortable position. His eyes are brown too, although a slightly lighter shade.
As he shifts again Ethan narrows his eyes.
Ethan: Can you not sit still for five bloody minutes, Phillip? Your constant fidgeting is just a little distracting, you know. I do rather need to concentrate, especially once we’ve started.
Phillip (teasing): You’re honestly telling me that you need to concentrate to make nothing happen, like the last three times, Eth?
Ethan (pointedly): Well, maybe if I could concentrate.
Phillip: Maybe if you had better willpower.
Ethan rolls his eyes, as much as he looks like he wants to lob something at him.
Ethan: Oh, just shut up, would you?
Phillip: Certainly, lord and master; whatever you say.
Ethan simply glares again, then can’t help but crack a grin in response to the smile that Phillip gives him, a look that makes a poor attempt at conceiving of his innocence. Ethan holds his hands out across the circle, which has a map placed in the middle of it, directly under where their hands meet.
Ethan: Now, same as last time. Concentrate on that feeling that you described to me.
Phillip closes his eyes and Ethan does the same as he starts a low chant. Unseen, a small ball of light drifts down from their hands and comes to rest on the map, over a street that’s to London’s west side. Also unnoticed are the two adults and the young girl who has her blond-brown hair in pigtails, that come into the room, at least until the light is snapped on. At that exact moment the spot of light bursts into a small flame, and both are thrown back out of the circle as the young girl crosses over the salt line.
The man quickly stamps on the flame as Ethan tilts his head back, groaning, and pinches his nose. The start of a nosebleed is just visible.
Ethan: Bloody hell.
EXT – A DANK LONDON STREET
Giles and Addams are walking down a street. The sun went down hours ago, and they look tired.
Addams: We’re going to have to face it, Giles. We’re not going to find any place to sleep in tonight.
Giles: I know that. Keep your eyes peeled for a van.
Addams: A van? Why a van?
Giles (thoughtful): How many vehicles do you suppose go missing in London every year?
Addams: Oh. (Frowning) But, how are we going to…
Giles stops walking and digs out a leather pouch from the front pocket of his shoulder-bag. He lets it unroll, to reveal several delicate metal lock-picks that glint in the streetlight.
Giles: Remember these?
Addams: As clear as yesterday. (Grinning)You mean you actually figured out how to use them properly?
Giles: Worked out a hell of a lot more than that, too. Then tomorrow we’ll start looking for a proper place to doss down.
Addams: Sounds like a plan to me.
They keep walking in silence and stop at the corner, glancing left and right.
Giles: So, you suppose anything interesting is happening in London at the moment?
Addams (shrugging): I guess we’ll find out won’t we?
Giles spots a van half-way down the street. Raising a hand he points towards it.
Giles: That’ll do us for the night. There should be enough room to crash out in the back.
Addams (giving him a sidelong glance): Quite the rebel when you want to be, aren’t you?
Giles (laughing slightly): You have no idea, my friend.
The library is a large room, although not as large as the Council’s, and is lit by a single flickering candle which is an odd brown colour and is producing more black smoke than it should be. By the titles that are visible in the minimal light it is obvious that the main theme here is dark magic.
Williams is running a white gold necklace that has a rose apache gold pendent on it through his fingers, and is in full morph. We recognize the necklace as one that Sachs was wearing, and Williams seems twitchy and restless. Thomas, who is standing across from him, simply looks afraid.
Thomas: I’m sorry, but you asked me to come here why, Sir?
Williams (shaking his head): Drop the pretence, you imbecile. It certainly wasn‘t to discuss the patterns of the stars, portents though they are. I want to know how that damn search of yours is shaping up already.
Thomas (bowing his head): My apologies, master. I forget myself.
Williams (growling): See that you do not do so again.
Thomas: Yes, master. As far as the retrieval team stand, they have yet to locate any sign of the boys. It seems that they have yet to use any traceable spell, too. Our best Seekers have put out a trace on the signature of Giles’ power, too. As soon as he does use a traceable spell then we’ll have him.
Williams: I see.
Thomas: By his profile, it’s not a matter of if, but when, too. In the mean-time we’ll keep up the physical search of course, but the former is the one that’s bound to produce the results.
Williams: Good. I’ll expect to here from you with an update in a couple of night’s time. Did you have anything else to add?
Thomas: No, Si… (bites his lip) master.
Williams: In that case, unless you wish to stay around for breakfast with my new child, then you are dismissed.
Thomas: Thank-you, master, however I think I’ll pass.
Thomas looks relieved, as he turns and leaves the room. Williams smiles after him in a manner that seems reasonably fond, before he turns towards the couch that has been set against the far side of the room. We can just see the outline of a figure on it, and his smile become colder as he surveys this person.
Williams: Soon enough he’ll join us. In the mean-time, I think I’ll have my hands quite full enough with you, once you wake up, my dear.
Reaching out he puts the candle out with two fingers, and all that we can see are his eyes, glowing in the darkness.
Williams: And if not, then I’ll have another pot of blood to add to my wax.
We move towards Williams’ face, until his eyes obscure everything.
Woman: I’ll give you bloody hell if you don’t get this mess tidied up and see your sister off to bed and your friend out the door, Ethan. And watch your language. (Staring at the mess) what were you playing at anyway? Candles and salt indeed.
Ethan is muttering to himself in a tone that we can’t make out, and still pinching his nose he gets back to his feet, grabs the map and folds it with one hand, before heading out to grab a hearth-brush and shovel.
Phillip: Sorry Mister Rayne, Mrs Rayne. It was something that I read about, seemed like a good idea at that time.
Girl: So what was it that you were doing? It looks weird, Phillip.
Phillip tugs the little girl into a quick, one armed hug, rubbing at his temple with the other hand.
Phillip: We were imagining real hard, Anne. (Grins and winks) and anything that has your brother involved is weird, anyway, don’t you think?
Anne giggles, and looks at Phillip as Ethan comes back in, and his parents head towards the kitchen.
Ethan: I hope the two of you weren’t talking about me behind my back too much.
Phillip (deadpan): What are you going to do about it if we were?
Ethan moves towards Anne, and begins to tickle her. It isn’t long before the little girl is gasping for breath, and Ethan lets up. Turning around he picks up the hearth-brush and shovel from where he dropped them and goes to work on the circle.
Ethan: That’s what people who talk behind my back get. (Smiles at her) Did you want to blow out the candles, honey?
She runs over to the first candle and crouches to blow it out.
Anne: You gonna tickle Phillip, too? He started it.
Ethan pauses in his task.
Ethan: Nah. He’d probably make me eat my own fingers.
Anne (giggling again): Gross.
Ethan: Maybe I could hold him down, and you could tickle him one of these days.
Anne blows out the rest of the candles, and Ethan finishes his task.
Anne: That’d be fun.
Ethan: It would, wouldn’t it?
Phillip (clearing his throat): Well, it’ll take me a good half-hour to walk home with this bleeding headache. I’ll catch you tomorrow, Rayne.
Ethan: Sure thing. Goodnight, Phillip.
He tips the salt into the wastebasket, picks up his candles, and tucks them into a paper bag, which he holds with one hand as he picks Anne up with the other, and slings her over his shoulder, carrying her up the stairs to her bedroom, where he sits down on the bed and lowers her head-first onto the bed, letting her go so that she lands on her back. Swivelling around, he faces her and gently tugs her hair-ties out.
Ethan: So, how did things go?
He lifts the blanket up and she scrambles to the top of the bed and slips under the covers.
Ethan (with a smile that seems sad): Yeah, I’ll bet it was.
He stands and kisses her on the forehead.
Anne: Stay with me a while, Ethan?
Ethan: Sorry honey. I have to go and talk to mum and dad. You try and sleep well, huh? It’ll be morning before you know it.
Anne (nodding frantically): Goodnight, Ethan.
Ethan: Night, Anne.
He flips off the light, and heads back downstairs to the kitchen where his parents are sitting across the counter from one another. His mother has a glass of wine and his father has a glass of whiskey in front of him. As he come in his father grabs the bottle again, and pours out a small measure, pushing it across to him.
Ethan: So how did it go?
Father: Sit down, Ethan.
Ethan grasps the glass with one hand, and doesn’t move towards the seat.
Ethan: Rather not, thanks. I’ve already worked out that I’m not going to like it.
Mother: They say that it is irrefutable. She is like your aunt was.
Ethan swallows the contents of the glass in one swift movement.
Ethan: But… but that’s not fair. She’s five, for…
Father (sounding grim): Life doesn’t care about fair, or right or wrong, Ethan. You should know that by now. She’s a Potential, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it, aside from hope and pray that she’s never called.
Ethan (frowning): Yeah, there is. I can do better than pray. I’ll talk to something that might actually listen to me.
Father (sharp): Ethan, you’ll not go doing anything stupid.
Ethan: I know my limits, I know what I can do, and I know that I’m good at it. Why the hell can’t either of you accept that and let me do what I can? Or is it that you’ve a Potential in the family, but you’re still so damned hypocritical that you don’t believe in magic?
Mother: It’s not like that at all, Ethan.
Ethan: Then you tell me what it’s bloody like, damn you. Tell me why I can’t do the only thing that might actually do some good.
Father: I don’t want to risk it. I saw what an addiction to magic did to your grandfather, and that’s something that I never want to see happen again.
Ethan (yelling): So you’re not prepared to risk me over something that I know I can control, but you’re prepared to take the chance that Anne might wind up facing the thing that kills her down some dark sewer when she’s seventeen, or maybe even younger?
Ethan slams the glass down hard enough that it shatters, cutting his fingers on the edges.
Father (with the same heat): There is no controlling it, and there is no undoing this!
His mother stands and opens the cupboard to grab the First Aid Kit out. She takes his hand to start cleaning it, and he yanks it back sharply.
Ethan: Don’t… Just, don’t. Save it for when it’s needed. (Dully) I’m going to my room.
Mother (after his retreating back): Ethan…
Father takes her hands between his.
Father: Give him some time, love.
CUT TO Ethan, standing in the bathroom, going to turn on the tap with his undamaged hand. He pauses staring at it, and flexes it, opening one of the wounds a little. We focus in on his face, and his eyes are dark, thoughtful.
Ethan (softly): Hmm. I wonder.
He prods at the back of his own hand, and raises the slightly blooded finger until it is eye-level with him, and stares at it.
Ethan: I wonder.
Frowning, he holds his hand under the water, and watches as it runs red for a moment.
Ethan (obviously talking to himself): No way he’d let me do anything here, though. If I want it done, then getting out of here is my first step.
We back out of the room, with the camera aimed at the back of Ethan’s head, as he stares at the mirror, as though challenging himself.
We start with a high, angled shot down towards the battered van, which has been moved from the street that it was on and parked by the river-bank. It’s just past dawn and there is still a remnant of red in the sky, which is reflected on the sluggish-flowing water. Moving towards it we pass through the door, to see Addams, sprawled out in the back and Giles standing, hunched over, and nudging his shoulder with a boot.
Giles: Come on, Addams. Open you eyes and get your lazy bloody arse up and moving. The sooner we get out of this thing the better.
Addams (with a pointed groan): For Christ sake, Rue. What bloody hour of morning do you call this?
Giles: Doesn’t matter. It’s light out, though, that’s what does. Now get up, before I drag you outside and throw you into the river. That ought to wake you up.
Addams: You wouldn’t.
Giles: Did you want to try me, mate?
Addams opens his eyes, and seeing Ripper’s completely serious expression scrambles up.
Addams: Okay, so you would. I’m up all right?
Giles opens the back door and jumps out, landing in a light crouch, before he straightens and grabs his bag and suitcase from out of the van. Addams winces and cracks his neck, as Giles looks at him.
Giles: Good boy.
Addams grabs his bag from the side and scrambles out the back door, to stand, blinking in the light as Giles slams the door closed. Addams watches as a leaf drifts past on the tide, and pulls a face as his stomach growls.
Giles: We should be able to find somewhere that’s reasonably cheap and out of the way, at least for the next few days, until we find somewhere a little more permanent. The trick will be to keep our heads down until they stop looking for us actively?
Addams: You think they actually will be looking for us, then?
Giles: I’d almost bet on it. When do the Council ever let people just walk away from them? It’s a case of you’re in unless they fire you, or until death, whichever comes first.
Addams (frowning): Perhaps I didn’t think this through, Giles. I mean, it wasn’t me that they wanted to do anything with.
Giles (scoffing): Oh, toughen up, Addams. We’ll be fine.
Addams’s stomach growls again, and Giles laughs.
Giles: Or we will be if we get some food into you before you collapse, anyway.
A wooden sign above the door calls this place the ‘Horse and Cart’. It has that fake-old look about it, which is now combined with a touch of neglect, and the sign in the window advertises board and food as well as fresh beer on tap. Giles turns to look back at Addams.
Giles: What about this one? You’ve turned down the last three, you’ve got to say yes at some stage, mate.
Addams: I swear that first place was run by a family of Borlea demons.
Giles: Perfectly nice people as long as you don’t bring up their preferred choice in cuisine.
Addams: Or you will be dinner.
Giles: Actually, that’s pretty well taboo with them these days, unless it’s for a special occasion, like a birth or a feast of passing. Did you pay no attention at all?
Addams: Did you absorb every single thing they told you?
Giles (laughing): Touché, my friend. So are we going in?
Addams (shrugs) I suppose so. Don’t have anything to lose by trying (a hint of a smile plays over the corner of his mouth) Aside from our lives, that is.
Giles pushes the door open: That’s the attitude, Addams. What’s a life between friends?
We go through the door behind them, and the camera follows them in, shows a sweeping shot of the bar and the man behind the counter, who is dressed in a check shirt of brown and white, and has grey hair, bright blue eyes, and stubble the doesn’t look like it has been shaved in the last three days. He looks up from where he is wiping out a glass at the far end. There is no-one else around, and there are several photos of him pinned to the wall, a couple with a woman who has pale skin and black hair, who looks as though she were beautiful once, and another one of him with the woman and a young child between them.
Barkeeper: So, what can I do for you two?
Giles: A couple of pints and a menu would be good thanks, mate. Would be even better to know if you’ve a spare room up there (jerks his head towards the stars that lead from behind the bar to another area) My friend and I just got into town and we’re looking for a place to kip down for a few nights while we get things sorted.
Barkeeper (looking at them coolly): Only the one room vacant, boys. (he pulls a couple of beers and passes them down the bar without asking for I.D) But the couch folds out, too. It’d do for a few nights. Extra if you want breakfast, of course.
Giles and Addams share a glance.
Addams: Your prices, mate?
Barkeeper: Three quid a night, five with grub on top. Each.
Giles pulls a face (to Addams): What did you think? Can’t get much more on the down low than this.
Addams (laughing): You’re not wrong, mate.
This school is a lot more modern than the one we first met Giles at, with white-wash walls, a carpet-lined hallway and just a feeling that things are new here. The desks haven’t been scrawled on, the windows are bright and clear, and through them we can see young trees that were only planted ten years ago at the earliest.
Phillip is leaning against the wall outside near the front door, waiting, folded map in his hand. We hear the bell ring, but he doesn’t move, doesn’t join the flow of students hurrying to class, or the late stragglers. No one takes any notice of him, not even the groundskeeper who is circling the school grounds.
We can only just see a subtly shifting patch of colour coming towards him through the air (think ‘Predator’). Phillip doesn’t notice it.
Ethan: Good morning.
Phillip jumps, then stares around him until Ethan drops the camouflage spell that he’s holding. He looks tired, eyes are bloodshot and there are dark rings around them. In spite of his protest of last night there is a bandage wrapped around his hand.
Ethan (smiling slightly): Nice masking spell, but mine is bigger. Yours works by what, shifting someone’s perception away from you, making them think about other things they have to do so that they don’t notice you? Mine twists the light refraction of the air itself.
Phillip: Bloody hell, Rayne. I think you just scared five years out of me.
Ethan (rolling his eyes): A little adrenalin is not going to do you any harm. It reminds you that you’re still alive, if anything.
Phillip: I don’t need something to remind me that I’m still alive. What I need right now is something to start my bloody heart again.
Phillip pushes off the wall, and heads towards the gate, Ethan falling into step beside him.
Phillip: Besides, how much would a fancy trick like that drain you? You’re looking rather shattered, I can’t help but notice.
Ethan: Not as much as you’d think it would, actually. I’m tired because every time I moved my fucking hand it reminded me what I’d done to it, and whenever I did manage to drop off I saw things that I wouldn’t wish onto anyone.
Phillip (looking curious): What did you do to your hand, anyway? Wasn’t like that when I left, or not that I remember.
Ethan: Cut it open about fifteen minutes later on a glass.
Phillip (light, teasing): It get in your way, Ethan?
Ethan (genuinely pissed off): You’ll get in my way soon, if you don’t mind yourself. (taking a deep breath) I may have reacted badly to something.
He balls and un-balls the unbandage hand, then does the same with the one that is covered, and a look of pain and satisfaction crosses his face.
Phillip: Oh, bugger. Anne?
Ethan (Nodding): Anne. She’s a Potential, and those Council bastards can’t or won’t do anything to change it. Father… Father told me this morning that they’re trying to them to sign custody of her over to some bitch that they want to work as her Watcher. I’ve never even met the fat fucking cow (voice rising in volume and getting rougher) and if she does take her, then the chance as to whether I’d ever see her again…
Ethan falls silent and twists away, shaking.
Phillip: Fuck. You have no idea how sorry I am.
Ethan: Not as sorry as I am.
The room is dusty, and obviously hasn’t been used in a while. The fold-out couch is threadbare in places, and against one wall, the mat over the wooden floorboards is almost completely worn around the table that’s in the centre of it, and the bed which is under the window is dipped in the centre of the mattress, and off-colour sheets and a couple of woollen blankets are folded and have been left on the foot of it. The table is worn, and heavily marked by rings from old mugs, a few scorch-marks and a lot of scratches. The wallpaper is a pattern that would have been old ten years ago, but surprisingly enough is still extremely clean. Between the bed, table and couch there will be just enough room to walk around with one foot in front of the other. It is small, and looks even smaller with the two young men in it.
They pause on the threshold for a few moments, and then Addams explodes into movement, headed for the bed. Giles drops his bag, grabs him by the shoulders, camera comes around to the side as Giles pushes him towards the couch, laughing.
Giles: I call the bed.
Addams: Fucking gentleman, aren’t you?
Giles grabs his bag, and dumps it on the bed.
Giles: Yeah, I am at that. Got the utmost respect for me, myself and I.
Addams: Oh, go take a long walk off a short bloody pier.
Giles: Why walk? The pier’s bloody, I may as well skate.
Addams (laughing): You know something, Ripper?
Giles: I know many things. Just not what you’re about to say.
Addams: You are un-bloody-believable, mate.
Giles: Is that all?
Giles looks at the mattress, then picks up his bag and puts it down so he can half-slide it under the bed with one foot, then grabs the edge of the mattress and flips it over, before dusting off the underside.
Giles: Much better.
Giles sits on the edge of the bed, and Addams flashes a grin
Addams: At least I know less people will have used the couch for a quick shag.
Giles thinks about this, then scowls, wrinkling his forehead as he stands up again.
Giles: Care to swap?
Addams: Not a chance in hell, my good man. It was your call, who am I to argue with you?
Shaking his head slowly, Giles pulls out his book and grabs a few notes out.
Giles: Let’s get out of here. Get a few essentials.
Addams: How soon can we cast again, do you think?
Giles crosses his arms and leans against the table.
Giles: Yes, well, about that… It’s rather a catch-22 situation, isn’t it? Can’t cast without something to mask our magical signatures, and the best way to do that is by working with a circle. The best way to gather a circle is by putting out a magical call, so to speak, and since we can’t do that, we’ll have to go about things the old-fashioned way.
Addams: Well, any place has got to be better than this fucking dive. Might be easier to find a place that’s actually habitable with a few more of us, too.
Giles: Could very well be. Got anywhere in mind, mate?
Addams: Around a year ago I was talking with Todd, and he mentioned this place on the East side of London, not too far from where are now. The Creyastun. You ever heard of it?
Giles scratches at the side of his head: Yes, once or twice. Isn’t it a mixed crowd pub? Humans, demons, vampires and sorcerers, all rolled up into one great big infighting ball of violence, magic and anarchy?
Addams: That’d be the bastard. What do you reckon? Sounds like our sort of place, yeah?
Giles: If only because I can’t thing of anywhere better to put feelers out. For the love of god, don’t take anything that you still want to have on you at the end of the day, and don’t leave anything here out in the open that you don’t want our kind proprietor trying to hock off.
Addams: Do you honestly think I’m quite that foolish?
Giles (grinning): There have been times that I’ve wondered.
Addams shoots to his feet and swings a half-hearted punch towards Giles, who easily catches his fist and spins Addams around so that his hand is behind his back.
Giles (laughing): Did you want to try that again?
Addams: Not particularly, no.
Giles squeezes his wrist lightly.
Giles: Say ‘uncle.’
Addams: You’re not my fucking uncle.
Giles pushes Addams’s hand up a little higher, and tightens his grasp.
Giles: Say it.
Addams: Okay, okay, alright, you win. Uncle. It. Whatever.
Giles lets go and Addams shakes his hand and wrist, scowling.
Addams: Grip like a fucking vice. Tosser
Giles kicks his gear under the bed and gestures for Addams to do the same, then scowls.
Giles: Bugger, can’t even ward it. Wanker.
They head for the door, go out and Giles locks it behind him. They start down the stairs.
They cut across the pub, and out onto the street, camera following beside them.
Giles: That’s time. Game, set and match to me.
The boys are walking, matching one another step for step. Ethan has loosened his tie, and unbuttoned the first two buttons of his top, and Phillip has undone the cuffs of his sleeves and rolled them up to his elbows.
Phillip: So, where were we headed anyway, mate?
Ethan: I was thinking we might hop the train through to London’s East Side
Phillip: The Creyastun?
Ethan: That’s the bugger. (Raising his hand) I need something to take my mind off this. I’d rather like to start putting a few feelers out, too.
Phillip: Well, I don’t know. Did you have any bread on you?
Ethan (in a condescending tone): Broke again, are we Phillip?
Phillip: Oh, go flush you head in the bloody lav. Just because Father doesn’t quite have the money that your family do...
Ethan: Touchy. (Rolls eyes) Yes, I’ve the cash. I’m even willing to spend some on you.
Phillip: Well, that’s cool, then.
Ethan: So, shall we?
Phillip raises his bag higher
Phillip: Let’s shall. Were we going to get changer first?
Ethan: No, I don’t think we were. (adopting a posh tone) Excuse me, officer. I’m Sorry. My friend and I were headed up to London for a school project.
Phillip (laughing): Yes, I’ll give you that time when it actually did work.
Camera takes a high-angle shot, down towards the train, staying in place as several people disembark, with our boys at the very end of things. Some time during the train-ride both have removed ties and school blazers. Ethan looks far more at ease, but Phillip keeps on looking around them, as though expecting someone to come running out of the crown and stop them.
We move down, closer to them, as the train whistles and the doors close.
Ethan: Oh, for fuck’s sake, Thomas. Stop looking around you like you’ve nicked off with HM’s crown, or we’ve done over a bloody bank. You always look so damned guilty as it is.
Phillip: In all honesty, I think that I could probably handle a bank heist better than this. It has only ever been the little things that get to me, after all.
Ethan: Of course, Phillip. Whatever you say. You could stab a man with a smile, but wouldn’t squash a fucking spider, would you?
Phillip’s expression doesn’t change.
Phillip: Now, why the hell would I want to kill a spider in the first place? I happen to quite like them.
Ethan laughs, and shakes his head. We follow them out of the train station, coming around to the front of them again at the door, and showing the crowd over Ethan’s shoulder. A small group of people cross the platform behind them, and a man with a wide-brimmed top-hat and dark clothing pushed through the middle of the crown, freeing himself from them just as the door closes behind Ethan and Phillip.
We are following Giles and Addams down a rough-looking street. Several of the windows are boarded up, and a couple of the stores doors completely wrenched off hinges, leaving them completely exposed to the elements. One place, to the left has a trash-can sitting inside the window, and shattered glass around it.
Addams (in a low whisper): I know it’s just the demons, but they say this area is cursed, you know. Unexplained deaths and disappearances, strange creatures spotted at night. Looks like a bloody warzone.
We hear yelling, and thuds from up ahead, and Giles glances at Addams then grins widely. He looks excited.
Giles: Sounds like a warzone, too.
He begins to jog, and Addams shakes his head.
Addams: Sometimes I wonder about you, mate.
Addams picks up his pace, and catches up to him. We follow down the street and around the corner, to a space that is a little more open than the rest of the street. We see Ethan and Phillip over the other side, facing back down the street, and between the four boys are five people dressed in shapeless robes, and the man from the train station.
Ethan is looking at Phillip.
Ethan: See, I told you we were being followed.
Phillip: Great, now if you can tell me a way we’ll get out of this with our skin in one piece… Got something in your bag of tricks, have you?
Ethan flicks a hand towards the man from the train station.
There is a bright flash of red light, and when we can see again, we are at Ethan’s shoulder looking up. The ‘man’ is now seven feet tall, with leathery black skin and a massive pair of wings that look like a bat’s aside from scales along the bone. The face remains oddly human, though, and the black top-hat stays perched on its head.
Ethan (in an awed tone): Dragon-kin. Well, that’s something I’ve never seen before.
Phillip (almost whining): You know I’m not entirely sure that was helpful.
Ethan rolls his eyes and we begin backing away.
Ethan: If that’s dragon-kin, then those are Mikoro.
At that moment Giles launches himself forward from behind, knocking one of the five to the ground and places one hand on either side of its head, before twisting savagely to snap its neck, before looking up towards Ethan and Phillip.
Giles: Care for a hand, gents?
The dragon-kin lashes around with a tail that we haven’t spotted before now, and picks Giles up with it, throwing him into one of the boarded windows. His back hits the wall just as the Mikoro bursts in flame. In seconds all that is left is a black mark on the ground. Giles heaves himself back to his feet, rubbing his back.
Ethan (snapping at him): I was going to cut a deal with it.
Giles: Sure you were. (he steps towards that dragon-kin, with a swaggering, cocky stride, and cracks the knuckles of his left hand) Hey, I got a deal for you. How about you clear off, and this fellow here (gesturing towards Ethan) won’t put your fire out?
The dragon-kin responds with a series of clicks and grunts, then swipes towards his chest. Its intent is clear. It draws a deep breath, and a bulge expands under its throat like a frog about to croak. It then opens its mouth wide and breaths a jet of fire towards him. He only just hits the ground in time, and Phillip steps to the side.
Giles: And that’s why they say you never cut a deal with a dragon (he glances back towards Ethan and Phillip) I don’t suppose either of you actually can put its fire out?
Phillip: I know the spell, but he has the power to pull it off.
Giles: Then for God’s sake, feed your power through him.
Giles pulls his sleeve down a little and grabs the handle of a knife that he has in a sheath attached to his arm. Pulling it out, he settles into a fighter’s stance, light on his feet and ready to move at a moment’s notice.
Giles (to the dragon-kin): In the mean-time, let’s play, you and I.
Ethan looks past the dragon-kin, to Addams, who is trying to edge past both it and the Mikoro.
Ethan: Is he insane?
Addams (appearing to give it a little thought): No more so than usual.
The Mikoro have been following Addams’s progress, bunched together, heads moving as one, chattering among themselves, sounding like a flock of birds. As he draws lever with them they pounce at the same time. Addams roundhouses one of them, a savage kick that sends it flying back into one of its pack-mates. Its hood falls down, and we see that it has a green, scaled face and black eyes. There is no nose on its face, but when it opens its mouth we can see sharp, deadly looking teeth, and a black forked tongue. The other two hit Addams and knock him to the ground.
The dragon-kin draws another breath, and Giles launches himself at it, swinging a fist hard. It pulls back, head wiping around and its throat shrinks back down again, as it flairs its wings. The two Mikoro that Addams knocked back decide that Ethan and Phillip look like an easier target, and spread out a little, stalking closer to them as Ethan shoves his hand into Phillip’s.
Ethan: Take it.
A yellowish glow appears around their linked hands, pulsing and throbbing. As the closer of the two Mikoro hisses and tries to bite Phillip he pulls back, breaking Ethan’s grasp. Ethan staggers back, holding his hand over his heart.
Ethan: Fuck me, that hurt. Did you get enough?
Phillip spares a second to glance back at Ethan.
Phillip: You’re loaded.
The beast that tried to bite Phillip before takes advantage of his distraction, and sinks its teeth into his arm, and drives a knee between its legs, causing it to fall back, squealing, at the same time as Addams sends another one flying with a double-footed kick to its stomach. Giles leaps over the dragon-kin’s tail and manages to land a hit with the knife, a deep cut to its chest that bleeds a dark blue blood, then has to duck another burst of fire. Phillip, meanwhile, has drawn back to stand behind Ethan, and has started chanting. Addams snaps the neck of the one still on him, with an uppercut to the underside of the chin that snaps its head back. He only just manages to scramble out from under it before it bursts into flames.
Phillip stops chanting, and falls silent. Giles dodges another slash and hits it in the chest, then pulls his hand back, shaking it sharply.
Giles: Ouch. So, do we know if it worked?
The dragon-kin draws another deep breath, and its throat still bludges just like the last time, but this time all that comes out is a choking hiss.
Ethan: Looks like it.
The dragon-kin shrieks in anger, and the sound is one that makes the hair stand up on the back of a person’s neck. In fury it leaps into the air and makes a dive for Giles catching him with a wing a knocking him down, before wheeling and climbing high into the air. Giles rolls over onto his back. The hat finally falls off, and lands on its side beside him.
Giles (yelling): That’s right, you big, scaly, ugly yellow-bellied brute. Run away, why don’t you?
The two Mikoro that are still standing glance towards one another and make a dash for the end of the alleyway, going onto all fours as they run, and Phillip snaps the neck of the one that’s still curled up on the ground.
Giles starts to laugh, as Ethan pushes himself off the wall and takes a couple of steps towards Giles, extending a hand to help him up, which he takes, before leaning heavily against the wall himself, still chuckling.
Giles: Lords, now that was fun. Do the pair of you do that often?
Addams: You almost get burned to a crisp, and you call it fun. But then, I almost forgot who I was with.
Ethan: Do what often? Get stalked and ambushed by dragons? Fight for our lives? I’m Ethan Rayne, by the way, and this is Phillip Henry.
Giles: Giles. Rupert Giles, and if you ever call my by my first name I will make you see stars. This sod here is Randal Addams. As far as what goes, I mean any of it. All of it. Magic.
Addams: Most call him Ripper.
Ethan (nodding): Ripper. That sounds like a better name for someone that just went toe to toe with a fucking dragon-kin. Don’t suppose the pair of you were headed to the bar that’s about these parts? There’s every chance that thing would have killed me and made off with my power if you hadn’t shown up, so the least I can do is buy you both a drink.
Giles and Addams exchange a glance.
Giles: Sounds good. Let’s talk, shall we?
Giles and Ethan fall into step beside one another, and walk through what looks completely normal thin air, only to vanish. Addams and Phillip follow behind.
Addams: What a bloody day.