Caleb stepped out of the shadowed depths of the wine cellar, a faintly amused, superior look on his face. "Well, now," he said, "you girls are just burning with righteousness, aren't you? Problem is, you think you're blazing like suns, when really you're burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness. You having fun? Now, I hope my boys haven't worn you out too much-- I need you fit for when I purify you."
Xander, poised above at Faith's side to provide back-up to Buffy and the Potentials, rolled his eyes at that; they'd all heard this kind of speechifying from Big Bads before, though the religious overtones were new.
"Save the sermon, padre," Buffy replied, clearly unimpressed. "I heard you have something of mine."
Caleb chuckled at that, a sound Xander did not like at all. "Well, I do now. You liked my little message, did you? You know, I ruined a perfectly good knife on that girl. Got her soiled blood all over the place. I may have to get a new truck. So, you're the slayer. The Slayer. The strongest, the fastest, the most aflame with that most precious invention of all mankind-- the notion of goodness. The Slayer must indeed be powerful."
The false preacher pulled back for a punch, and Xander winced in anticipation; either the guy was plain stupid, or he had more enhancements than the Scoobies knew about. His suspicions were proven out a few fractions of a second later when Buffy flew across the room, colliding solidly with the cellar wall.
"So what else you got?" Caleb said, smugly, looking around at the Slayer's supporters and friends with a taunting expression on his face. Rage and determination filled Xander's veins as he looked on, and he began to raise his bow, aiming down at Caleb's chest.
A hand on his shoulder stopped him. He jumped half-out of his skin as a voice with an Irish accent spoke up, answering the preacher's rhetorical question. "Back-up," the stranger said, then filed into the cellar past Xander and Faith, closely followed by another figure neither of them had heard coming. Both were wearing trench coats and sunglasses despite the darkness outside.
Xander gaped at the intruding pair as they walked slowly toward the black-robed servant of evil, smoothly raising a pair of guns to aim at Caleb's lower body. He couldn't understand how they'd got into the wine cellar without either the Bringers or Scoobies being aware of them, or why on earth they thought guns would do them any good. But the most surprising thing of all was the equally dumb-founded expression on Caleb's face.
The preacher batted Spike aside as the enraged vampire charged him, then snarled in the direction of the strangers. "You're supposed to stay in Boston," he said accusingly, giving ground before their advance. Xander mentally revised his estimate of the men then, upgrading them from 'whack-o maybe-mobsters' to 'unknown supernatural players'. They'd have to be either idiots or gifted themselves to think they had a prayer of succeeding here, and Caleb wasn't treating them like idiots.
The guns fired, and Caleb staggered backward, twin bullet holes appearing in his thighs. "You crossed into our domain," the man on the left said, "and killed one of our flock." The other nodded and continued, "We have come to deliver vengeance in her name."
Off to the side, Xander could see Buffy begin to stir as Caleb collapsed to the floor, sagging against one of the many wine barrels cluttering the room. Spike had regained his feet as well, and he and the Potentials were hanging back, clearly as stunned by what was taking place as Xander was.
"You know these guys?" Xander said under his breath, remembering vaguely that Faith had said she was from Boston once.
"No, but I think I know who they are," she said, an unreadable expression on her face. "I left before they made the news, but..." Her voice trailed off as the men stepped forward again, yanking Caleb up to his bloody knees, and pressed the muzzles of their guns to the back of his head.
"You can't let them do this!" Caleb said suddenly, staring off toward one blank, unoccupied wall. "After everything I've done for you!"
The First, Xander thought, chilled, and raised his bow again, though he couldn't see anything. Not that it would do much good against the incorporeal entity. But then again, if it really was there, why wasn't it helping Caleb? The evil preacher had thrown Buffy and Spike around like rag dolls; why couldn't he throw off these strangers with equal impunity? Who were they?
"And shepherds we shall be," the two men said in unison, interrupting his thoughts, "for thee, my Lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand that our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. We shall flow a river forth to thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."
Caleb's struggles were cut short by a pair of gunshots that echoed in the enclosed space. As he collapsed, clearly and thoroughly dead, Xander heard Faith muttering under her voice next to him.
"I guess they really are Saints," she said, and there was a tone of awe in her voice that he'd never heard from her before.
The men holstered their guns, stooped to turn Caleb's body over and place a pair of coins over his eyes, then filed back toward the cellar's entrance without a word. They nodded gravely to Xander and Faith as they left, then disappeared from the scene as quietly as they had come.
Slowly, the Potentials began to stir, whispering in shock amongst themselves. Spike hurried to Buffy's side and helped her up, and together the two strolled over to Caleb's body, studying the dead man with shocked expressions.
Xander moved to join them, swallowing heavily at the stench of blood and other unpleasant things rising from the corpse. "So," he said, "uh, I guess we have one less enemy to worry about. Do you think he was lying about him having something hidden here?"
Buffy stared at him incredulously, then blinked as her Slayer instincts kicked back in. "I don't know," she said, the familiar steeliness seeping back into her expression, "but we'd better check to make sure."
They could discuss these Saint guys later; Xander had a feeling pursuing them would be a bad idea. Everything had almost taken the express route to hell tonight already, there was no use asking for more trouble.