This has been written for the 'We're not in Kansas anymore' ficathon atgeneral_buffy, which asks you to write a crossover between the Buffyverse and some other fandom. And the story kind of ran away with me...
(Sections will be posted progressively as soon as I've put the links and so forth in)
Summary: Buffy has hunted demons before. She's seen her share of killing and death. But when she crosses through a portal to confront her nightmare, she discovers that this time, it's not just another big bad to fight. Not just a battle. This time, it's war.
Timescale: Set between the end of Season 7 and the start of Season 8.
Rating: R (violence, suspense horror and profanity)
Wordcount: Chapter One is 2071 words.
Highlight to reveal what this is a crossover with, if the subtle clues haven't already told you:** The film 'Aliens'. The story starts about two-thirds of the way into the film. **
Buffy hates portals. She associates them with death and suffering. Killing Angel. Her own death (the second time, if you're counting). Those creepy old guys who tried to demon-rape her. None of it good. So as she steps through this one, crossbow at the ready, she is prepared for the worst.
What she does find is icy wind and pouring rain that instantly plasters her hair to her scalp. As water begins to trickle down inside the back of her bulky jacket she raises her eyes to the cold grey sky and sighs in resignation.
It began with a dream, a few days earlier. The sort of dream that would convince a normal person they were going mad; but she's given up pretending she could ever be normal long ago. A dream about a rip torn in reality, and a horde of demons pouring through killing and maiming and slaughtering. Trying to destroy the world. As per.
She already knew what to expect, so she had rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Swung out of bed and slipped into her dressing gown. Sure enough, a few minutes later there was a hesitant knock on her door, and she'd opened it to find Leah and Rowena standing there, wide-eyed and anxious and ready to report the exact same dream.
They were both trying to look competent and professional, but she saw the relief in their eyes as she took charge. Rowena was sent to wake Xander (let him suffer too!), because the communications room would need to be manned; Slayers would soon be calling in from all over the world. Leah's job was to go back to the dorms, ask the girls to begin writing down their memories of the dream. Buffy promised to go down and talk to them as soon as she was dressed.
With the door closed again she sank down on her bed and sighed. Another day, another apocalypse. She shrugged off her nightclothes as she walked over to her ensuite bathroom - one of the privileges of rank she was truly grateful for - and got herself ready.
Having several hundred versions of the same Slayerdream was actually pretty useful. Because everyone remembered slightly different details, they could build up a comprehensive picture of the threat. That was just as well, actually, because none of the reference books listed these particular demons. They were big and slimy and vaguely insectoid, if insects could have long, vicious jaws and wicked barbed tails. And there were a lot of them. A hell of a lot. Some of the Slayers had received an impression of some huge great Mama Bug in the background, laying countless eggs that hatched into more demons. Which explained why there were so many of them, and also suggested an obvious way to defeat the threat. Find the portal, hop through, kill Mama, clean up the rest. Easy.
Of course things are never that simple, are they? They'd tracked down the location of the portal from clues in the dream, and luckily it was still closed. Willow seemed to think it would open at a particular time - "When the stars are right", Andrew interjected; he obviously thought that was a really clever and meaningful comment, and looked like a crushed puppy when everyone else just looked blank. The good news was, the mystics seemed to think they'd be able to open the portal early, just enough for a person to squeeze through, and then seal it again.
The bad news was, when they said "a person" they meant just that. One person. Willow had been all apologetic and said she could try to find a way to make it bigger; but that might risk letting the demons out as well. So Buffy had decided to go in alone.
She'd solemnly promised she'd not take risks, and retreat if it was too dangerous; and of course there would be an army of Slayers waiting on the other side of the portal in case the demons broke through. But truth be told, she was secretly glad of the opportunity to be by herself. The Chosen One, just like it used to be. She was of course unspeakably grateful for the support of her sister-Slayers and her friends, and wouldn't be without them for the world. But just sometimes, having to be the leader all the time was wearing. Forcing herself to always seem strong and confident, even when things went wrong. Even when people died. Hearing people had been killed and it was her fault - she who had sent them into danger, she who sent them to their deaths... it got to her. And so maybe she had something to prove to herself here; prove she was still willing to put her own life on the line...
Prove she was willing to get soaked to the skin, at any rate.
What is this place, anyway? Rather to her surprise, she isn't in a desert or rocky cavern or demonic hellscape; in fact, she seems to be standing in some kind of village or settlement. Concrete walls and sheet metal roofs stretch up high all around her, and the rain clatters off the buildings and turns the narrow street to mud.
The demons in her vision hadn't seemed intelligent enough to build something like this - though the drab depressing architecture is hellish enough in its way. Maybe there's a second demon race living here, using the first as their army? Or maybe this dimension's equivalent of humans built this village. Regardless, there doesn't seem to be anyone around. Probably sheltering inside from the rain, which is very sensible of them. Probably where she should be too... and that way she might also get a better idea of what's going on.
So she trudges shivering down the street, thankful for the thickness of her kevlar jacket. She still thinks the things are ugly, but they've already saved the lives of several Slayers, and so she's decided to set an example to the troops by wearing her own into battle. At least it's warm. Hooking her crossbow to her backpack alongside the Scythe, she pulls on gloves too, and keeps her eyes peeled for a door of some sort.
What she actually finds answers one question, and raises several more: a printed sign over a metal door says "General Store". In English. So this is probably a human village, and she is apparently in some sort of parallel world. She does hope she isn't about to meet herself, because that would just be too freaky. Especially if her double turns out to be some leather bondage dominatrix type, because Willow will be insufferable once she knows.
She pushes the door, which swings open silently, and steps inside. A harsh buzzing sounds in her ears, and bright fluorescent light dazzles her eyes. She stands blinking, waiting for her sight to adjust. Instinct screams for her to draw her crossbow, but she fights it back. This is a shop, the owner might be armed, might call the police...
She steps forward and her foot crunches down on something that squishes... the crossbow instantly is in her hands, and damn the consequences.
Now she can see again; and the room is a mess. Overturned shelves. Food and supplies scattered on the floor. No people.
No living people, at any rate.
Clearly there's been a fight here. She can't see any bodies, but that doesn't mean there aren't any. Across the back of the room is a large, solid counter. She walks cautiously over to it.
Leans on it, peering over the edge. Nothing.
Except... eww. The counter is sticky. She lifts her hand, and stringy grey slime clings to her glove like glue. Eww eww eww. She looks around for a cloth, and finding none, scrapes her hand over the edge of the counter, scrubbing away the slime.
Okay, this is creepy. She has a nasty feeling the inhabitants of this village have already met the demons of her dream. But where are the bodies?
And more importantly, where are the demons?
Behind the counter is a door marked "Staff only". She levels her crossbow, approaches it carefully...kicks it in. The door slams back on its hinges with an echoing crash.
Behind it is a huge storage room. More of a warehouse, really. Transparent panels on the high roof let in dim grey light, given a murky submarine quality by the water streaming across them. In places the roof sealing leaks, and water drips down the walls and makes the floor slippery.
She walks cautiously into the row between two racks. Metal frameworks loaded with crates loom up high either side of her. Somewhere in the distance, metal clinks against metal. Probably just the wind.
She reaches a crossing, looks around. Forward, left, right, each direction unpromising; more towering caverns of boxes stretching into dim greyness.
A sudden instinct makes her spin around...
Gaze back the way she's come...
And stare into the face of nightmare.
It is huge. Glistening black. Uncoiling from the highest racks with evil, silent grace. Hungry jaws slaver, dripping sticky slime as it looms out of the darkness.
Buffy aims and fires without hesitation.
The crossbow bolt skates off chitinous armour, and the creature screams with high-pitched rage. And charges.
It's demonically fast, and Buffy scarcely manages to dodge the first sweep of its claws. But then its tail swings around, whipping into her side with a crushing blow that would have caved in the ribs of any normal person. Winded, she gasps in pain, and the crossbow flies from her hands and clatters uselessly to the floor. The demon whirls, squealing its warcry again; acting more by instinct than planning Buffy reaches out as it lunges and grabs it by the throat, holding its wicked fanged jaws away from her face with all her strength.
She stares up into deep-set black eyes, dull like those of an insect; and feels sure she is looking at a mere animal. But the creature seems to pause, and tilts its head to one side, as if studying her curiously. For a long lifetime - or a few seconds - human and demon regard each other.
Then the thing's tongue shoots out and teeth clash barely an inch from her frantically averted face. Teeth! It has teeth in its tongue! Way gross!
Again the hideous appendage strikes at her head, but this time she's ready. Her free hand shoots out, grabbing the demon's tongue; she braces her arm then pulls hard as she can. Rips its tongue out by the roots. The demon screeches in agony, collapsing to the ground, yellowish blood gouting from its ruined mouth. Buffy flings the lifeless, twitching organ in her hand aside, then winces in sudden sharp pain as some of the blood splashes over her arm.
Shaking it frantically, she grabs the Scythe from her back and swings it one-handed. The demon's head is severed from its body, and more blood runs hissing out onto the ground.
And starts melting its way into the floor.
Buffy looks at her arm. The angry red marks on her skin are already starting to fade, but there are a couple of holes in her sleeve big enough to put her finger through. She thinks ruefully about her wardrobe back at home, and the likely impossibility of finding decent replacement clothes in this hellhole parallel dimension.
Then she panics, and swings the blade of the Scythe up to study it more carefully, dreading what she might see. Yellow blood coats it and drips smoking off the edge; but the glittering blade is as shiny and unblemished as ever. Undamaged.
She breathes a heartfelt sigh of relief. "Yay for ancient mystical craftsmanship!"
She carefully wipes the Scythe clean on a nearby box - ruining the box in the process - then slings it again, walking over to pick up her crossbow from where it had fallen.
She looks around cautiously. Peering into the dimness, she stares down the long aisles. To the left. To the right.
She looks behind her again, then forwards. Everything seems still and quiet, except for the constant thrum of rain on the roof.
"...there aren't any..."
And then slowly, inevitably, her eyes are drawn upwards towards the steel roofbeams.
"...more of them.
On to Chapter Two, "Let's Rock"