In Every Generation by Kendare Blake
Hailey Larsson’s older sister Vi is a slayer and getting ready to spend the weekend at Slayerfest, a quarterly meetup of all the slayers in the world including THE Buffy Summers. As any responsible half-sister/parent figure would do, she has bought enough cereal, hot dogs and milk for Hailey to survive on for the next three months. Hailey has lived with Vi since both her parents died in a car wreck six years ago. It hasn't been easy, but they’ve both adjusted. Hailey always stays home when Vi goes hunting in Portland, the Northwestern vamps are certainly one of a kind but it still doesn’t make it safe for her. These slayer meetups are a great time for Hailey to chill, read and eat the stockpile of junk food so the whole weekend passes without concern. Slayerfest seems to have morphed from a training/networking gathering to a slumber party anyway, but as Tuesday rolls around, Hailey becomes super worried. Vi hasn’t come home yet and she hasn't heard anything from her since she sent a few pictures from when she landed in Halifax. Hailey starts to gather her things, figuring she needs to go investigate when there is a knock on the apartment door and a man with a British accent calls her name. It’s Vi’s Watcher Spike and he needs to talk to her.
Cut to Sunnydale, California, home of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scooby Gang, and former proud owner of a Hellmouth. Frankie Rosenberg is one of those who knew of Sunnydale’s colorful history and is the daughter of the strongest witch in a generation, which makes her keep one eye open. Frankie is sitting outside during lunch at Sunnydale High watching the crowds. Her friend Jake Osborne bounds over to her as she’s sorting the recycling. Frankie is a bit of an eco-witch, or as Jake likes to say, she performs magic-tivism. Though they run in different circles at school, Frankie and Jake have been friends since they were babies. Willow, Frankie’s mom, has experience with werewolves, so she often babysat Jake who now lives with his Uncle Oz (cousin really, but the age gap weirds-out Jake). They often have family dinners together, and tonight is one such occasion. As they are finalizing plans, Frankie passes out.
Frankie wakes up in her bed the next morning. Strangely her mom isn’t doing her usual chicken-soup-to-the-rescue routine. Getting ready in a bit of a fog, Frankie snaps several hair ties and rips her favorite jeans, then heads downstairs to find her mom on the phone with Uncle Xander, Oz and Jake sitting at the kitchen table with her. Everyone looks devastated. Buffy is dead.
There was an explosion at the slayer meeting. Xander and Dawn are in Halifax and trying to get to the retreat site, but it’s currently blocked. Giles is okay and has taken what’s left of the Watcher’s council down deep. Spike is on his way to Sunnydale after a detour to pick someone up. No one has heard from any of the slayers. The conversion is a little mixed up when Xander asks how Frankie is doing and then Willow and Oz start talking about Potentials, as in Potential slayers. But the slayer line is finished, isn’t it? Willow activated all the slayers at once, no new slayer has been activated since despite the slayers dying. After the explosion, well… When Willow cast the Scythe spell she channeled the energy of the slayer through herself, and into herself. Willow didn’t know she was pregnant at the time… Congratulations Frankie, the baby-daddy is Sineya, the original slayer and you’re the next, and potentially the only, slayer.
As Frankie is dealing with this revelation, Spike turns up with Hailey in tow. Introductions are made, though Hailey already seems aware of the witch who nearly ended the world and Oz the werewolf. Hailey has no intentions of hanging around in Sunnydale though, and plans to take the bus to Halifax and find her sister herself. Frankie, struggling to deal with the massive events, tells Hailey she’ll show her where the bus station is, and Jake tags along. They wander around, talking about some of the things that happened in Sunnydale that everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten or don’t find weird because they grew up with it. As they’re waiting for the bus to LA to arrive, Jake smells something in the air. Blood. Checking around, they find three vampires feeding on the station clerk. Frankie shouts that Sunnydale is off-limits, it belongs to Buffy Summers. One of the vampires smiles and says, “Buffy Summers is dead… And Sunnydale is open for business.”
The vampires chase Frankie, Hailey and Jake who unfortunately split up. Frankie is panicking, but still manages to trash talk the Kiefer Sutherland impersonator chasing her into a junkyard. As they are fighting, Spike turns up and shouts for Frankie to use her magic. She calls a hubcap towards her which slices through the vampire's neck, decapitating it. Frankie realizes she really is the frackin’ vampire slayer. Crap.
Back at the Rosenberg house, everyone is cleaning up. The main topic of conversation is how the vampires knew about the explosion. Is the Hellmouth open again, or leaking? Do vampires have their own Twitter? It seems it is time for Willow to come out of magical retirement. To test her magic, Jake suggests they make sure Frankie’s Watcher, Spike, has access to her at Sunnydale High, so it would be a good idea to put a glamor on him. Time to make Billy Idol a librarian and ward the school so he doesn’t burn up during the day!
In a demon tavern, there is a celebration. The slayers are dead and it’s time to converge on the Hellmouth. Milt, the barkeep, prepares the heart of a young woman, Rebecca Granger, and serves it to the brooding demon sitting at the bar. Milt points out that it may not be as nice as a slayer heart, but it will do now they are hard to come by. Milt has recognized the Hunter of Thrace, a demon with the reputation of eating the hearts of slayers. Milt tells him of the rumor of a new slayer at the old Hellmouth.
Frankie and Hailey head to the Sunnydale High School Library, well Media Center, a huge room that is basically a vampire microwave and filled with people. Uggggh. Spike, or Mr. Pratt, shows his lack of understanding of what is cool now, saying they’re going to set up a Dungeons and Dragons club as a cover for their Slay and D club. Luckily the library clears out after the final bell so they can start Frankie’s training uninterrupted but not without an audience as Hailey, Jake, Willow and Oz come to watch. As Frankie’s parentage is a little unusual, they’re training her to physically fight but also use her magic. It doesn’t go great. While Frankie is having a meltdown, Xander calls. He and Dawn managed to get to the site but it’s not good. They’ve found some bodies, though they don’t know who they are, and there are many more still missing. Willow is frustrated that she can’t astral project that far to help with the search, but Frankie has an idea. Grabbing Hailey and some supplies from the Librarian’s office, they head out to a spot near the former Hellmouth where it’s quiet to cast a remote viewing spell.
What they see is pure devastation. The wreckage dwarfs the searchers. Part of the site is clear though with scorch marks in a swirling pattern. It looks like a portal. As they’re staring, Frankie feels a sting in her eyes and when the spell is eventually broken, Frankie is blind but somewhat unconcerned by that. Making their way back to the gang upstairs, they tell them about the potential portal and Hailey sketches it out for them. They’ll hit the books with this new information and Willow will contact her friend who is a Sage demon for help.
Frankie gets her sight back by the next afternoon, luckily Hailey took notes in their classes which they now share, thank you Willow and your computer-beep-boop skills. When Hailey comes home, Frankie is having wardrobe angst over her outfit for her first patrol. Long sleeves? A hoodie? Ugggh. Once sorted she and Hailey head to Sunnydale Cemetery where Jake meets them. As they walk through the gravestones, Hailey finds out that Jake is a born werewolf unlike his parents and Oz who were bitten by Jake’s older brother. One night his parents broke out their cages and got busy.
Patrol could have gone better. Frankie manages to stake newly risen Mr. Palmer fine but when she starts to chase after formerly Eric Sullivan, Frankie trips and stakes herself. Dangit, Buffy never staked herself! Eric manages to get away and runs to an old mansion where he meets mega-vamp, the Countess.
Training continues the following day, and there are no cookies for Frankie since she’s pulling her punches. Hailey however shows she's a bit of a scrapper and is willing to fight dirty. Their cemetery escapade also makes the newspaper as a grave robbery though Eric was only buried with his promise ring. Suddenly, there are gold sparks as a portal opens and out steps the extremely handsome Sigmund DeWitt, half-Sage demon and portal expert. Hailey is instantly thirsty. Sage demons have the ability to charm, so she might not be that dehydrated, just Sigmund is very nervous. After their introductions, it’s down to business. Unfortunately it will take some time for Sigmund to research the potential portal marks.
The next day, Frankie meets Hailey outside school. While Frankie was resting, Hailey was making stakes. Walking up the steps they accidentally bump into a group of girls taking selfies. Because someone wasn’t in the perfect light, they push another girl down the stairs and she snaps her leg. This is made worse when she grabs for her phone to take more selfies, stands on her broken leg and the bone pushes through. Yikes. Frankie and Hailey tell Spike and Jake. When they check out the social media page of one of the girls, Jane Montclair, it is filled with selfies and is constantly being updated with the same picture with mild filter changes. It’s seriously odd behavior. During a class Frankie and Hailey share with Jane they follow her to the bathroom. Jane is standing looking in the mirror. Frankie comments on her creepy black tattoo of a snake with beetle legs. Jane starts to apply foundation but it doesn’t work to cover her dry grey skin that starts to break and strip away until one side of her face is drooping and exposed to her teeth. They had to restrain her to get her to the hospital because she wouldn't stop trying to remake her face.
On top of everything else it seems there is a freaking Insta-demon on the loose. Weren’t demons supposed to be terrible with technology? Straight away Sigmund is suspect number one for Jake as he saw him tutoring Jane the previous day. Shut up, it’s not an alpha wolf or jealousy thing. Sigmund is a newbie and his half-demon status is enough to force Frankie and Hailey to very reluctantly tail him. And he’s so boring! Sigmund goes to get coffee and wander the town, not exactly nefarious stuff, but then he tosses his coffee and seems to disappear. Dang it, better tell Spike. When they get back to the school library, who should be there with Spike and Jake…? Sigmund, that’s who. Sigmund has been doing his job and investigating the portal so it was required that he use portals himself to get to the site for tests. Also, he feeds on stupid not making people's face melt, so while he tutors, they learn and he grabs lunch. As the Insta-demon investigation is back to square one, Hailey decides to test it by pulling out her phone and posting a cute selfie. Instantly she has a DM and follower, CollegeBro21, who seems to be following the whole school. Very soon after Hailey is craving eyeshadow, foundation and scented lotions. Her social media is constantly posting pictures from her phone despite it being in her pocket and CollegeBro21 is liking every picture. On Hailey’s arm the creepy snake tattoo has appeared. Thankfully Sigmund recognizes the symbol for a Succoro demon who siphons energy from people. For it to be pulling this much so quickly, it must be a big contract and the only way to stop it would be for the contract to be completed or the broker killed. While Sigmund stays with Hailey, Spike starts the hunt while Frankie makes sure Jake gets home okay. It’s a full moon that night so he needs to wolf out. As Frankie is finishing the Three Little Pigs story to Wolf Jake, Spike texts that he’s found the Succoro demon's lair.
Frankie heads to the woods near Marymore Park where she finds the Succoro demon hunched over a tablet. The demon is tall, very tall, with long hooked talons and sharp pointy appendages. As they begin to fight and exchange witty repartee, Frankie lets slip she is the slayer making the demon turn tail and run off into the woods. Crap! Meanwhile, back at the library, Hailey is getting worse until suddenly it all seems to stop. Frankie must have found and killed the demon after all! No, no she did not. Frankie got lost in the woods. Willow, Oz and Spike find her and not long after the remains of the Succoro demon thanks to Oz’s nose. The demon is in pieces, its heart is missing and its entrails spell out COUNTESS. Entrails are notoriously bad spellers so who did this?
The Countess has lost her energy supply that she was getting from the Insta-Demon leaving her hangry. Her trusted right hand Anton appraises her of the tunneling work from the old Mansion to the city and lets her know that she has a visitor, the Hunter of Thrace, Grimloch. He has come to offer his services to kill the new slayer. All he asks for is her heart.
During a breakfast meeting of the Scooby Gang, they’re debating whether the entrails spelling Countess refers to THE Countess, Erzsébet Báthory, or a fake Countess. Spike calls bullshit, there are always fakers coming out of the crypt styling themselves as Elizabeth Bathory. Hailey suggests that they start spreading the word that Frankie is the new slayer because if the Succoro demon was scared of her, the news may chase off the Countess, too. Meanwhile the Countess is enjoying a delicious meal of virgin’s blood.
Frankie is on patrol in a playground when, as she’s hanging upside down from the monkey bars, vamps attack. Hailey is waiting for Jake to turn up so they can join Frankie on patrol. He lies to his friends, as cover of course, and tells them that he and Hailey are going on a date ((eye roll)). They hear Frankie fighting and when they reach her, having staked a vamp on the way, they find Frankie winded but okay. She took out two vampires and a handsome mysterious stranger took out the last. On Monday in the library, Frankie tells Spike about the stranger. Hailey recognizes the tall, dark and handsome description of a man in a photo Vi sent her from Slayerfest. Sitting in the background, he is clearly watching Vi and the other slayers in the photo. Sigmund identifies him as Grimloch, the Hunter of Thrace, and says that this is bad news. He must have been the one to take out Buffy and the other slayers.
Willow and Frankie perform a location spell over a map of Sunnydale to find Grimloch. They find a huge nest in the hills. Great. Downstairs Jake and Hailey are picking out weapons, oooh a cleaver! Sigmund won't be joining because he’s a researcher not a fighter, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go after a Hunter. Sigmund also points out that he’s not too sure Grimloch is the one responsible for the explosion, because what good would it do him to explode all the hearts that he wants to eat, plus he’s had ample opportunity to kill Frankie. Jake and Hailey don’t agree.
Piling into Spike's car, the new Scooby Gang heads to the spot the spell burned into the map, an old mansion on the hill. When they reach the house, they find lookouts in the trees and a near-constant stream of vampires with tools coming in and out. Then they spot the Countess, resplendent in a gold dress with the Hunter of Thrace by her side. Everyone but Jake wants to attack, then they realize they’ve been spotted and Spike changes tactics… RUN! It’s a fight back to the car but Frankie stays to draw the vampires’ attention letting the Scoobies escape. As Frankie runs, this time with a plan, the vampires chase. Eventually she is cornered and she tries to fight the overwhelming numbers when Grimloch steps up and starts ripping vampire throats out. Why is he helping her?
The stories of Grimloch, Hunter of Thrace, eating slayer hearts is grossly exaggerated. He fought a slayer once but didn't eat her heart. He also didn’t cause the explosion, he was actually there to watch over the slayers, and Buffy and the other slayers know him. Grimloch also informs Frankie that the Countess is THE Countess Bathory and she can’t be killed, she is a true immortal. He has been running interference but it’s going to become obvious soon what with all the times he hasn’t killed her yet. Frankie reports all this in the library the next day. Sigmund has been able to find a reference to a poison called ‘virgin’s bane’ that was apparently useful once in taking down the Countess. Across the city, the Countess is planning a party so she may bathe in virgin’s blood and walk outside again. She also orders Grimloch to find the new slayer so they may share her.
Hailey and Sigmund are left alone in the library and reshelve some of the books they’ve been looking at. As Sigmund reaches up, a baggy with dirt in it falls from his pocket. He’s been portaling to the explosion site to get samples of the portal there for testing in Willow’s lab. A little while later, as Sigmund walks Hailey back to the Rosenberg’s, they see flyers for a dance that weekend at the school and Hailey asks him to go, he says yes and as they carry on their walk, Sigmund slips his hand into Hailey’s. Just before they reach the Rosenberg’s, they come across Frankie talking to Grimloch. The demon tells Frankie that ‘virgin’s bane’ isn’t a poison, it was a virgin who drank poison and sacrificed herself to the Countess in order to neutralize her. Crap. Spike comes along then and an argument starts. Hailey points out that Spike is projecting his issues on to Frankie and Grimloch and though this may be true, he also has a point that Frankie needs to start following orders more including not inviting the Hunter of Thrace, who they can not trust, to dinner the next evening!
In the Rosenberg kitchen, Sigmund hands the baggy of portal dirt to Willow who promptly has a taste. Definitely a portal with magic residue enough to recast. Also, it tastes nasty. Sigmund takes the remaining dirt and the remains of Spike's dinner, mixes it into a bowl, says some demon language and the portal opens. As they dither about who is going through, Hailey jumps in, Willow follows as do Frankie and Spike. They end up behind where The Magic Box used to be.
The next day Spike is training Frankie in both physical and magical attacks. Grimloch turns up as promised, but his presence distracts Frankie so her performance is only so-so. Grimloch points out that they’re training her incorrectly which annoys Spike and they start arguing only to be interrupted by a phone call from Xander. They’ve found a survivor, Sadie. She’s in the hospital unconscious, and Xander and Dawn are now dividing themselves between Sadie and the site as the search and rescue team were going to change tactics to recovery until they found Sadie and realized there is a chance that more slayers survived. He’ll keep them updated.
Frankie is helping Hailey shop for a dress to the dance, and while they’re searching the racks, Hailey warns Frankie away from Grimloch. Though slayers have a history of tragic relationships, Frankie doesn’t need to follow it. They then spot a flyer for a promise dance Saturday night, celebrate your decision to wait! BYOB. This is obviously a trap as they know the Countess is gearing up for a big virgin feeding. In the library the next day, Frankie tells them about the party, BYOB could be bring your own blood or it could be an underground rave, Sigmund has seen this around DC a few times. It’s decided that Hailey and Sigmund will go to the school dance and Frankie and Jake will check out the promise dance.
It’s Saturday night and Hailey looks stunning in a new burgundy dress and Frankie looks amazing in her mom’s black prom dress. Hailey and Sigmund head to the school dance but prepared for it to be interrupted in order to save a few dozen lives. Jake is late picking up Frankie, which she expected. When they get to the address, there are loads of people milling about but no signs of a party. Asking one of the girls standing around, they learn that the real location of the party is at a mansion and they have really fancy shuttle buses running between. Time to activate the Scooby Gang as this is definitely the Countess which is somewhat unfortunate as Hailey and Sigmund are having a great time on their date. Sigmund even reveals he’s thinking about staying in Sunnydale to help the new slayer. Things take a turn though when they spot formerly Eric Sullivan in the crowd and the Scooby signal is activated. While Hailey and Sigmund head to the mansion, Spike will go after Eric on his way out.
Frankie and Jake sneak inside the mansion behind a group fresh off the shuttle. Vampire security is everywhere. When they reach the ballroom, Grimloch spots Frankie and doesn’t look pleased and with supernatural speed, he reaches her side. He was going to enact the virgin’s bane plan by poisoning someone at the front of the crowd and not tell Frankie as he knew she would object. Jake takes the poison so neither Frankie nor Grimloch can do anything stupid. Meanwhile at the warehouse, Willow and Oz are dealing with disgruntled teens and vampires and Hailey and Sigmund rush to help. Oz partially wolfs out and fights a couple of vampires, Willow gives up acting normal and starts throwing fireballs at vamps while ushering teens away, Hailey dismembers a vampire to death and Sigmund uses his mojo to get more of the teens away. Eventually Hailey, Willow and Oz are able to take one of the buses to the mansion to help Frankie and Jake.
As the Countess takes to the stage to welcome her meal, Frankie, Jake and Grimloch frantically debate what they should do. Chaos, they need chaos, so Jake disappears to create just that. A cry of “Cops everywhere!” has the crowd panicking and making a mass exodus. As the Countess calls for Anton, Frankie makes a graceful and very slayer-like leap onto the stage and lands next to the Countess. They fight, they banter, then Frankie gets distracted by someone chomping on Jake, and the Countess utilizes this opportunity to strike. Frankie stakes her and nothing happens. Grimloch enters the fray, grabbing the banister the Countess was wielding before it hit Frankie. Spike, Hailey, Oz and Willow enter the ballroom. Hailey and Oz head for Jake and pull off the munching vampire. Meanwhile the Countess has turned on Grimloch, he promised her a heart and must deliver so she reaches into his chest but her hand leaves red but empty as Frankie hits her over the head. Frankie then grabs Grimloch, shouts to the rest of the Scoobies and they escape the ballroom. Piling into the bus filled with virgins, Oz drives straight to the hospital and hurries Jake inside followed by Willow; Sigmund arrives to take over driving so they can take the rest of the virgins home. Tonight has not been a victory.
They are miserable and defeated and exhausted. Sitting around the Rosenberg’s house every Scooby is banged up somehow. Thankfully Jake is going to be okay, and Oz and Willow stay at the hospital with him. Tonight was a wake up call for Frankie, she’s the slayer for goodness sake! Frankie tells Sigmund to round up all the books on the Countess because they must have missed something. Frankie put a stake in her heart and nothing happened, but something must work because the Countess needs to die at dawn. Meanwhile, in the mansion on the hill, the Countess is sulking. The stupid slayer spoiled her party. Anton assures the Countess she did not and brings out twenty virgins who had been hiding in the wine cellar during the chaos. Perfect, the Countess can have her meal then go after those closest to the slayer. The witch? Best not right now. The old werewolf? Soon. The vampire Watcher. Yes. Perfect.
Frankie doesn’t sleep, she just keeps researching. Spike has returned to the library to continue searching there and the others have fallen asleep on the books. Shortly before dawn, Frankie heads upstairs to prepare when Xander calls. Sadie is awake and able to talk. Sadie told Xander that Faith died saving her from the explosion. Faith got her out of the way before running back into a building to save Buffy when all hell broke loose. Her resolve hardened, Frankie gets dressed, wearing a leather jacket her aunt Buffy gave her. As she leaves the house, Grimloch tells her that she looks like a slayer. He’ll also be coming with her to put the Countess down.
Sigmund shakes Hailey awake with the news that Frankie and the Hunter of Thrace have gone. Quickly getting ready, they head to the hospital and spring Jake and then go to the mansion. They find Frankie and Grimloch walking up the road. After much arguing and denial about needing friends and putting people in danger, they finally agree that the slayer needs her Scoobies and she just needs to accept that as fact. Next they need a whole load of mirrors so Sigmund can light up the catacombs and also create a trap for the many vampires down there. Grimloch points to the dumping ground the vampires made when clearing out the mansion, and amongst all the stuff is a Prada bag (nice!) and a pile of mirrors.
The mirrors work brilliantly helping to light the way and take out vamps. Frankie, Hailey and Grimloch slowly make their way through the catacombs taking out more vamps on the way when suddenly Grimloch is pulled into the darkness, and formerly Eric Sullivan steps out. Hailey’s got this. Eric starts showing off his track skills and Hailey, not being a sports fan at all, only puts up with his shenanigans for so long before the opportunity to stake Eric presents itself. Meanwhile, Frankie runs off after Grimloch into the dark. Casting a spell to create a cool magical red light, Frankie hears a bellow. Further down the tunnel in what is obviously the queen's chamber, Grimloch has Anton beaten on the remains of a box of dirt, Dracula style. The Countess is nowhere to be seen because she has gone after Spike. Frankie suddenly realizes that the Countess is a daywalker. At the school, the Countess has had her first go at driving and made it to the school library and the Watcher. He may be protected from the sun by the witch's spells in the school, but that only extends a few hundred yards…
Frankie and co reach the school just as the Countess is dragging Spike to the edge of the sports field. Frankie makes a cool dive out of the moving vehicle and runs toward them as the Countess throws Spike into the air. Before he turns to flamy dust, a mysterious, masked, hooded figure grabs him out of the air and starts giving the Countess the beating of her immortal life. Frankie can tell it’s a slayer, is it Buffy? The mask falls as the slayer, Vi, stakes the Countess just as Frankie shouts to her that stakes don’t work on the Countess. The fight is relentless, and when Frankie uses her magic to wield her knives to shred the Countess, it gets messy. As the Countess weakens, Vi is able to help and together they dismember the Countess, and scatter her body parts across the field. They did it!
Once the Countess is down, Hailey comes running toward them shouting Vi’s name but Vi puts her hood back up and takes off into the woods not acknowledging her sister at all. They decide they need pie so they go to the bakery down the street before bagging up the Countess’s parts to take back to Willow. After many, many, many hours of sleep, the new Scooby Gang are looking at the Countess’s parts, missing her head as Anton took off with it, on the Rosenberg kitchen table. The parts are weakening and trying to reassemble, but if connecting parts are kept separated, it should keep the Countess at bay. They decide to ship her parts to various people and places around the world to keep her apart, but Willow decides to keep some little bits for magical science. Frankie takes a hand to Grimloch, the same one that tried to pull out his heart. It’s a nice gesture. Grimloch isn’t sticking around because he needs to find his slayer-love, the whole reason why he was helping them all in the first place, but he’ll keep one ear open for Frankie should she need his help. Frankie heads home feeling like the slayer, because she is one.