Certain things made Chris Keel nervous and one of those things was going into a situation where nobody was quite sure what to expect. Two FBI agents, three Interpol officers, one SAS operative and two Securite agents had disappeared on the same case and no agency anywhere in the world was any closer to finding out what was going on than before they had vanished. The case was international and hence, finally, the job of tracking down the culprits had been handed to CI5. People, mostly men, were disappearing all over the world. The base of operations seemed to shift every few months and people in another city would start to turn up dead. It was only the death of a somewhat distinguished UK businessman that had sparked the detailed investigation to begin with. When he had turned up floating down the Thames the British police had gone into action on a big scale and other suspicious deaths started to form a pattern.
That had been six months previously, and now the case was centred in San Francisco. Keel and Curtis were hot on the heels of a top lead. The men and women who had disappeared so far had been from all walks of life: students, businessmen, drug dealers, thieves, blue collar workers, all could be added to the list. Tracking it back, the case was over ten years old and spanned half the globe. The only solid information CI5 had was that it all started with sex.
"You're sure this club is where it starts?" Chris asked his partner as they slowly walked away from their car.
"The Flamingo was where Myers used to go every night," Sam replied calmly, "and Kranmer's buddies said this is the last place they saw him. We can tie two victims here, which is more than we do anywhere else."
"Let's get on with it then," was Chris' reply and they headed for the door of the somewhat seedy dive.
The door opened with a squeak and loud rock music filled the gap. Inside was a wall of sound and colour.
"Such taste," Chris commented as he surveyed the glittery, neon-strewn interior.
"But what a view," Sam returned as his eye fixed in the gyrating behind of one of the pole dancers in the centre of the room.
Chris just looked at him with one eyebrow raised.
"Do you always disengage your brain at moments like this?" he asked sarcastically.
"Just getting into the role, Chrissy boy," Sam replied with a grin.
Keel made a face and they walked further into the club. They took seats and signalled to the waitress.
"How long do we have to be here?" Chris asked after the woman took their order.
"Kranmer's friends said they left him propped up by the bar when they went on to another club at about 2 in the morning," Sam told him. "He may have been here until 4 when the club closed."
"Just great," Chris commented somewhat unenthusiastically.
"Enjoy the view, compardre," was all Sam had to say.
Sam enjoyed himself the entire evening; if there was one thing that he never had trouble entertaining it was his libido. However, no matter how enthusiastic he was on the surface there was still part of him that was looking out for anything to do with the case. The club began to slow down at about 3am and it didn't take a secret agent to realise that there were more girls on the floor than there were customers. A stunning red head, and a buxom blonde came over and sat at the CI5 agents' table.
"Well aren't you the ones with stamina," the redhead commented and picked up Sam's drink.
She sipped it and smiled at him.
"I'm Jamie and this is Diana. We're going on to somewhere a little more private, if you boys would like to come," the blonde said and let her hand wander towards Chris'.
Sam put on his most killer smile lent forward to the redhead.
"Do you read minds?" he asked, almost nose to nose with her.
"When I need to," she replied.
The blonde obviously wasn't getting quite enough of a reaction out of Chris because she stood up and wandered around the table. Sam grinned as she quite deliberately sat in his partner's lap.
"Don't mind him," Sam whispered to the redhead, "he just got dumped and he needs cheering up."
"Oh, I'm sure Diana can do that," the red head returned.
Sam found himself looking into her large green eyes. They were so beautiful, and they sparkled with little flecks of yellow. She lent forward to kiss him and before he knew what he was doing he was kissing her right back. The sensation removed all coherent thought.
Sam felt really strange. He shook his head to try and clear it, but reality just wouldn't fall into place properly. He was standing in a medium sized room and the only furniture was a large, wooden framed bed. He had absolutely no idea how he came to be there, or for that matter what had happened to Chris. The red head was wandering away from him towards the bed and she was happily shedding clothes as she went. Just for a second Sam managed to drag his eyes away from her and look around the room. The walls were deep red and there were strange designs drawn on them in black. The patterns all seemed to force the eye upwards and they came together above the centre of the bed.
"Come here, lover," the red head purred as she threw aside her last item of clothing.
Sam was snared once again and he did exactly what he was told. As he moved closer to her he reached out to touch her, but she danced away.
"Aren't we eager," she said with a laugh and walked behind him. "First we have to make sure the master gets what he needs."
Her hands ran down the back of his neck and connected with the collar of his shirt. When he had lost his jacket he wasn't sure, but he really didn't care at all. He was barely even surprised when his companion grasped the edge of his shirt in both hands and then casually ripped it in half.
"Don't move," she whispered in his ear and walked to the head of the bed. There she twisted the knob on one of the bedposts and a small door in the headboard opened with a distinct click. She put her hand in the opening and drew out something on a chain.
"This will be the most incredible night of your life," she told him as she came back towards him. The object in her hands was some sort of amulet and she let it fall as she held on to the chain. "Unfortunately it will be your last," she continued and placed the pendant about his neck.
The moment it touched Sam's skin it burned, and if he had thought he was aroused before it was nothing to the passion which blazed through his body at that moment. He closed his eyes and let it wash over him for a few moments. Every cell was on fire and he knew exactly what he needed. The woman's hands were on his chest, moving downward. She was playing with him, touching his skin lightly as if teasing him. He opened his eyes and stared at her, seeing her properly for the first time.
The red hair, beautiful face and stunning body were still the same, but the green eyes had changed. They were no longer human eyes, with round irises and creamy whites, they were completely green with orangey yellow slits running from top to bottom. She looked up as him and smiled to reveal long ivory fangs. Sam just stared for a long second, but this new vision did nothing to reduce the raging need in his body.
"Tonight I shall taste of your body," the woman said, "and the master will taste of your soul."
Where her hands touched him Sam could actually feel the power in her. It pulsed through her veins and he wanted her more than anything he had ever wanted before. She pushed him onto the bed and he let himself fall, landing in the soft sheets, eyes still firmly glued on her body.
"Some are repelled when they see my true form," she purred in his ear, leaning low over him and allowing her breasts to rub his chest, "they fear me. But you still want me; I can feel it. Do you still like me? Am I your secret fantasy?" She laughed at her own little joke and Sam watched her dangerous teeth. "The amulet binds you to me, but you wouldn't run even if I gave you the chance, would you?"
She kissed his chest and then nipped him with her razor sharp teeth. Her tongue flicked over his skin, lapping up the droplet of blood she had drawn. Sam's mind just exploded. Sensations he had never felt before flooded his system and a very well buried instinct came bubbling to the surface. Suddenly he was no longer a helpless pawn, his body was not responding to the manipulations of his captor but to his own needs alone. He grabbed the woman by the shoulders and twisted her onto her back, coming to rest straddling her. She pushed against him with unnatural strength snarling at him as she did so. Yet he held her down almost with no effort. She looked startled then; her demon eyes filling with an uncommon fear. Sam just looked at her for a moment his eyes taking in every detail. She was still intoxicating, but he would not let himself be completely snared.
"I will not run," he said and his voice sounded strangely resonant in his ears, "and neither will you."
His vision was tinged with a luminous quality and he could feel the rhythms of her body. Sam rubbed his still clothed leg along the side of her naked body and she squirmed beneath him. The fear in her face was being replaced by the same hunger which had been there before. Sam wasn't thinking about consequences or where he was, or what was happening, he only knew that he wanted the creature below him, and she seemed to be giving in to the same instincts.
He bent down and kissed her, tasting her lips and letting himself become lost in the sensation. She was soft under his touch and she pushed against him, connecting with as much skin as possible. When he broke away and pushed himself back up there was no fear left in her expression, only need.
"We agree," she said, her voice husky with unadulterated lust, "I will not run."
He let her go then, releasing the vice like grip he had on her body. She pushed him onto his back once more and knelt above him as if displaying her body in all its glory.
"Let me taste you," she almost begged.
Sam could feel the urgency in her, and he could also feel the raw sexual energy it would release. That was what he wanted, what he needed and he would give her anything to get it. His hand snaked up behind her neck and he pulled her down. She did not hesitate and as soon as she was close enough her fangs pierced his skin. The moment the contact was complete a connection formed between them. For the first time in his life Sam saw through another's eyes. He didn't really understand it, but he was in her mind, and without knowing how, he knew she did not realise it. Her mind was totally focused on him and he saw how she perceived him. It was this vision of himself that shocked some rationality back into his mind. The image of him in her mind was not the image he saw in the mirror every day: it was something else. His eyes were not their normal grey green they were black, obscuring all the whites with only a red dot where the pupil should have been to break the darkness. When he had smiled at her he had revealed shorter, but just as deadly fangs as his companion's. He had sets of three on either side of his upper jaw.
With this shock came the recollection of his mission and his missing partner. Chris was in danger; Sam knew it as surely as he knew his own name. Suddenly he was not in his companion's mind anymore he was somewhere else. It took him a second or so to realise that he was seeing Chris, he was behind Diana's eyes. Chris was lying on a bed almost exactly the same as the one Sam was on and he was wearing a similar amulet. His eyes were vacant and glassy and there appeared to be little life in his expression. His captor was straddling him and Sam could feel that she was very hungry.
Sam dragged his mind back into his own body and with all the strength he could muster her threw the red head off him. She sailed through the air and collided with the wall, sliding down it into an unmoving heap. Sam just stared at her for a moment, completely surprised by his own strength and then he climbed to his feet. With one hand he took hold of the amulet and pulled it off his neck, effortlessly snapping the chain that held it. With his other hand he reached for the door handle.
His route was not blocked and nobody tried to stop him as he ran into a bland looking corridor. Working on instinct alone he headed left and he never hesitated as he passed several doors. They all looked the same, but Sam was not working with his eyes and when he reached the door he was headed for he calmly kicked it in. Diana turned where she had Chris pinned to the bed and she snarled at the interloper.
"Get away from him," Sam demanded in a tone that would have shaken Satan himself.
"Make me," was all the woman said, and Sam needed no other encouragement.
He moved across the room in the blink of an eye and his fingers, now tipped with sharp talons gripped the woman around the neck. She flailed at him with similarly sharp claws but he just lifted her from the bed at arms length. Almost casually he flicked her head sideways, snapping her neck and threw her limp body into the corner. Chris was just lying on the bed and his eyes were the only thing that moved when Sam bent over him. Carefully Sam took the chain of the amulet in both hands and broke a single link. He threw that into the same corner as the she- demon. Chris closed his eyes and slumped into unconsciousness, the power of the amulet being the only thing keeping him awake. Sam didn't hesitate; he lifted his partner onto his shoulder and headed for the nearest exit. Nothing could have stopped him.
The alarm went off and Phoebe sat bolt upright in bed. It took her a few seconds to get her bearings and turn off the beeping.
"Demons," was the only coherent word she uttered before scrabbling out of bed.
She only just remembered to grab a robe as she dashed out of the door and down the stairs.
"We've got trouble," she announced as she entered the kitchen, already knowing the Pru and Piper would be there before her.
"What kind of trouble?" Piper asked calmly and placed a mug of coffee under her sister's nose.
Phoebe took a deep breath. "Demon trouble," she said, trying to sort out the jumble of thoughts in her brain.
Pru stood up from where she was reading the paper and joined her sisters by the counter.
"Premonition?" she asked evenly.
"Sort of," Phoebe replied, unsure of exactly what it was, "more like dream vision."
Now both of her sisters looked a little worried; Phoebe had never had dreams before. However, if she said it was a vision they weren't going to argue.
"What did you see?" Pru asked, Piper letting her take the lead as usual.
"There were these vampires," Phoebe started, "well sort of. They were some sort of hooky mix of vampire and succubus I think. They were seducing these two guys, only one of the guys wasn't a guy he was some sort of demon. Only ..." she paused, "he ..." she tried to quantify what she had seen. "I don't think he was a bad demon. He killed both of the other demons and rescued his friend."
"If this guy demon isn't a bad demon and he killed the other two demons, what's the trouble?" Piper asked in a most practical manner.
Phoebe screwed up her face and tried to think. There was something she was missing, something that was the root of her anxiety.
"There was something else," she said slowly, "something worse than the vampire thingies." Phoebe paused again. "The master," she finished in a half awed tone.
"His name is Benias," all three sisters jumped a mile when the voice interrupted their reverie.
"Leo, don't do that," Piper admonished as they all turned round to find the whitelighter standing in their hallway. Almost immediately, however, she walked over to him and threw her arms around him.
"Sorry," he apologised and returned the gesture.
"And Benias would be?" Pru asked pointedly.
"He used to be a warlock," Leo provided helpfully, "but about two hundred years ago he called on powers darker than even his own and become something worse."
"Ooh, a challenge," Phoebe commented, picking up a piece of toast and sitting down. She was much happier now that she had someone to back her up.
"He has the power to turn witches into his evil slaves," Leo continued. "He steals their souls and turns them into a sort of a vampire. They in turn seduce men for blood and sex and he feeds on the souls of the men and the sexual energy the couples produce. The longer he lives the more energy he needs and the more people he kills."
"Nice," was Phoebe's only word on the subject.
"Since you have so much information, I assume the answer to this one isn't in the Book of Shadows." Pru wasn't wasting any time.
Leo shook his head.
"You can't defeat him, not yet, maybe never," he said honestly, "he would just make you his slaves. I'm supposed to make sure you stay safe and out of his way until he's gone from San Francisco."
"But he can be killed?" Piper didn't like puzzles without solutions.
Leo looked down at his wife and patted her on the arm in reassurance.
"It's possible that in a few years you might be able to kill him with the Power of Three," he told them, "but your powers aren't strong enough yet."
Phoebe didn't look satisfied with that answer.
"If we can't do anything about him, why am I having visions? I know last time you told us we couldn't handle it you were right, but I wasn't having visions about that," she asked a little confused.
Leo shrugged; he didn't have the answer to that one.
"And there's no other way to defeat him?" Pru wanted to make sure she had all the cards.
"Well there is one," the whitelighter explained, "but it's not exactly practical."
He paused and all three sisters indicated he should go on.
"When Benias used a complicated ritual to turn himself into what he is now, he also captured and absorbed the power of an incubus. Incubi are territorial and vicious among their own kind, they're vulnerable to one another. To counter this Benias also absorbed a little humanity. Humans are the only creatures immune to an incubus' power. To be vulnerable, humans have to give themselves up willingly. This makes Benias immune to most human magic because of his demon part, and immune to incubi power because of his human part, but he would not be able to stand against a human-incubus hybrid."
There was silence for a moment.
"Well I told you it was impractical," Leo said, uncertain of their reaction.
"Something I don't understand," Phoebe said evenly. "How come the incubus thing makes him immune to us? We've fought a succubus and surely an incubus is just a male version of that."
"You've met a mortal succubus," Leo explained quickly, "a witch who make a pact with the darkness. A male witch would become an incubus in the same way, but that's not what Benias absorbed. The name basically describes what they do, in that they kill during sex. There are pure demon succubi and incubi as well. They're much more rare, a lot more powerful and are for all intents and purposes, immortal. Luckily they are only interested in sex and they don't go out of their way to battle the light. They kill their victims by draining the life force rather than the physical destruction caused by their mortal counterparts."
The three sisters looked at each other and Piper shrugged. They were used to catching up with information later rather than sooner.
"What does a demon incubus look like, exactly?" Phoebe asked slowly.
Leo frowned, but answered the question anyway. "In their natural form they look almost human accept for the talons and fangs they use against their own kind, and they have no soul so their eyes are completely black."
Phoebe looked at her sisters excitedly.
"The guy in my vision," she said quickly. "That's what it was all about. He's got to be the one. He was normal and then he looked just like Leo described, well almost."
Leo was looking sceptical, and so was Pru.
"But if incubi kill women during sex," it was Piper who voiced her confusion, "how do you get a hybrid?"
"Incubi are all male," Leo went back to explaining, "but every now and then they feel the need to reproduce. In most species, even supernatural ones, there is a female counter part, but the female version of an incubus is a succubus and they always breed females. So the only alternative is a human host. In most cases the woman will carry the baby to term and the boy child will kill her as he is born, becoming a full incubus. In a few rare cases, however, the mother's love is pure enough to save the child from becoming fully demonised. These children can grow up to lead perfectly normal lives. Most of them never know what they almost were and the only sign would be an elevated sex drive which is not particularly uncommon in the human male anyway."
"You've got that right," Pru commented dryly.
"So what about it?" asked Phoebe with her usual enthusiasm "If we can find my vision guy, do we go after Benias?"
Everyone looked at everyone else; Phoebe was the only one who appeared anything but nervous about the whole idea.
"Look guys," she tried again, "I'm having visions about this. My power is telling us we have a chance now. We may never get another shot at removing this evil from the earth. What happens if no one's ever strong enough to beat him?"
Her powers of persuasion began to have an effect; finally Pru cracked.
"Okay," she declared in full take-charge mode, "Piper, you find out what the Book of Shadows has to say about immortal Incubi. I want to know everything there is to know before we do anything. Phoebe, go take a surf on the internet, find out anything you can about vampires, Benias and everything else that pops into your head. Leo, can you find out exactly how a hybrid is supposed to be able to kill this demon and if said hybrid is dangerous to us?"
"Good," Pru stated firmly, "and right now I have to go to a job. I'll be back by lunchtime to help."
The decision was made.
Sam opened his eyes and found himself looking at the back of a paperback book. He shifted his gaze slightly and discovered that Backup was reading it and she was sitting in a somewhat uncomfortable looking chair. A quick glance around and Sam realised he was in a hospital. He moved and found that most of his body didn't like the idea at all.
"Ow, what hit me?" he asked, and was dismayed to find he had no clue as to why he was lying in the sterile white room.
"Welcome back," Tina greeted and put her book aside. "I was beginning to think you were going to sleep all day."
"Where am I?" Sam decided to use the direct approach.
"St Bernadette's Hospital," Backup told him calmly. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I've been hit by a bus," Sam replied and gave up trying to move too far.
"What do you remember about last night?" was Tina's next question.
Sam relaxed back onto his pillows and tried to recall the previous evening.
"Chris and I were in the club. Nothing happened until most people had gone. It must have been nearly closing time when these two women propositioned us. They came over to our table, sat down, and ..." he paused and tried to come up with what happened next. There was nothing but a blank. "That's it," he finally concluded, "I don't remember anything after that." Sam was suddenly overcome by an intense sense of danger and it centred squarely on Chris. "Chris," he said urgently, "is Chris okay?"
Tina put her hand on his shoulder and gave him a small smile.
"He's fine," she assured him, "in fact he's better than you. He woke up over an hour ago. You staggered into the ER last night carrying him, blurted out Malone's contact number and then collapsed. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with either of you except a few scratches."
Sam was relieved, but incredibly confused at the same time.
"We think you must have been drugged somehow," Backup explained calmly. "We lost contact with you at about the time you must have met these women. By the time we got to the club you were gone. The next we heard was when the hospital rang Malone. You were missing for three hours and Chris can't remember anything of that period either."
Sam made a face as he realised that the operation was almost a complete failure.
"I suppose Malone is on the war path," he commented quietly.
"Well he's doing his usual man in charge routine," Tina told him, "but actually I think he's just glad that you came back alive. He's more annoyed at himself for allowing you to disappear.
End of Part 1