Chapter One of this story is here.
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.
Rating R. This chapter: 1949 words.
Chapter Two - Let's Rock
There would be a sinister beauty in the sight, if it weren't so terrifying. At least a dozen of the long, black sinuous shapes slowly stretching, uncurling from the rafters. Almost as if the steel beams themselves are coming to life. Evil, deadly life.
Buffy backs slowly towards the distant doorway. Judging distances and angles. Making no sudden moves.
One of the demons stares right at her, hisses.
Her crossbow bolt catches it square in the eye. It squeals in agony and falls twitching to the ground as Buffy frantically reloads. The others are dropping down more slowly from the roof. Unhurried, sure of their prey.
She suddenly turns and runs full-tilt for the exit. A black slimy shape rears up before her and she fires from the hip without slowing. The monster goes down, spurting acidic yellow blood as she leaps clean over it, flings herself through the door. Back out into the street, slamming the steel door behind her. As she does a heavy body slams into it, almost shaking it off its hinges.
She backs off, reloading again. Hopefully they'd be too dumb to...
The demon hisses evilly as it operates the latch to open the door, peers around, sees her.
"Shit. So much for that theory."
Her crossbow twangs again as she aims for the slimy chinks in the chitin exoskeleton armouring the demon. It goes down in a heap, but another replaces it, and there are more coming, and she can't reload fast enough. Her last bolt catches one in the throat, and she throws the useless crossbow aside. Draws the Scythe. Two demons lunge for her at once, and she frantically dodges one, swings the Scythe around in a backhand blow that cuts the other in half. Its blood spurts out, causing its companion to squeal in desperate agony as its own flesh melts; but there is no time for triumph; more are coming. One rakes its claws and scores bloody gashes on Buffy's leg; she almost falls, turning her movement into a duck and roll that brings her up behind her attacker. The Scythe impales it; she yanks it out desperately to parry a whipping tail just as another of the monsters sinks its fanged tongue into her shoulder.
Her eyes fill with tears of agony; she frantically punches upwards, knocking the demon away and losing a chunk of her own flesh as she does. The Scythe carves a glittering arc of death around her; but it is slowing now, its blows weaker, less precise. She is surrounded by dead and dying demons, but there seem no end to their numbers, and she is only one woman: and mortal, however strong. She summons up her last reserves of courage and determination, forcing her battered body through the steps of its deadly dance. They might kill her, but they will never defeat her...
A sound like ripping cloth magnified a thousand times comes from nowhere.
And half a dozen demons tear apart into bloody shreds in seconds flat.
"Fuck yeah! Rock and roll!"
"Do your job, asshole. Watch my back."
Again the noise. Again, demons die. The few survivors flee squealing, but there is no escape from the death that leaps out to claim them.
"All right! See how you like it, you fuckers! Eat that!"
"Can it, Hudson."
Buffy looks around at the odd couple standing at the end of the street. They are both dressed in bedraggled, soaking wet military uniforms... and the woman is holding the biggest gun Buffy has ever seen. For a moment, she feels a pure twinge of rocket-launcher envy, which she sternly suppresses. The woman notices her, stares in shock.
"The fuck? Looks like another civilian survived. Hey, man, you got to rescue a colonist's daughter after all."
"I'm not-- " she stops. Telling the truth about who she is? Probably a bad idea. "Yeah. You guys from the army?"
"Colonial Marines. You wanna tell us what the hell you're doing out here, chica?"
"Surviving. You got somewhere safe to go?"
"Fuck, man, she's right. Be dark soon, Vasquez, we gotta get back undercover. She said those things come out at night, mostly. There'll be more of them..."
"We'll finish our sweep." The woman - Vasquez - speaks into a radio mike clipped to her ear, nods in acknowledgement, continues her report. Buffy takes the opportunity to retrieve her crossbow.
"What the fuck's that? Shit, girl - uh, ma'am - what do you think mediaeval ironmongery's gonna do against these things? We got state of the art firepower and we still got our asses kicked."
Stung, Buffy retorts sharply, "I killed four of them with it." She reads disbelief in his eyes, shrugs angrily. "So what happened to you? What was with the ass-kicking?"
"Dumbfuck lieutenant got most of the squad killed." Vasquez has finished her report, and now speaks with a voice icy with contempt. "If you stayed alive this long, don't care how you did it. Come on. Hicks says to report back soonest."
"Corporal Hicks." She suddenly grins evilly, remembering something. "He's got the authority now, of what's left of us. Eight, with the kid. Nine with you. You really kill 'em with that thing?"
"Damn. We need to get you a gun, then. You ever use one?"
Her stock response dies on her lips. After seeing the demons close-up, she's starting to think that maybe there are a few situations where guns could actually be quite useful indeed. At least here, in this parallel dimension...
"Do you have another big one like yours?"
As it turns out, they don't. The same massacre that wiped out the rest of the squad also destroyed most of their heavy weapons. Which kind of puts paid to Buffy's plan of recruiting the marines to help her hunt down and destroy the big Mommy demon, assuming she actually exists. Not that this rag-taggle bunch of survivors is likely to be much help in a fight either, since they seem more interested in bickering with each other than actually fighting the monsters.
It makes Buffy feel right at home, actually.
At least she's been spared one thing she'd been dreading - thinking up a cover story to explain her presence here. The only person left out of the village's former inhabitants turns out to be a painfully shy (or, possibly, traumatised) six-year old girl who apparently rejoices in the name of Newt. Not that Buffy feels herself in a position to criticise anyone else for their odd-sounding name, of course. Newt barely speaks a word, certainly not "Who's she?" or "I've never seen her before in my life, how did she get here?" The rest of the group seem to accept Buffy as another survivor without much question. They have other things on their minds, to be honest.
Like the forty megaton nuclear explosion that is apparently going to blow them all to very small fragments of radioactive debris in about three hours' time.
"You're nuking the dem--, uh, damned alien... thingies? Top marks for proactiveness, really. But, uh, shouldn't we be a long, long way away from the explosion first?"
"Not our choice. The atmosphere processor is going critical." That soft-spoken voice belongs to Corporal Hicks, whose air of quiet competence impresses Buffy. He actually kinda reminds her of Riley, and she feels herself smiling warmly at him.
"Don't worry, honey. There's a dropship on its way down, it'll get us away safe." The woman speaking - some kind of civilian consultant with the marines by the name of Ripley - is trying to comfort Buffy, who feels oddly annoyed by the implication that she needs it. The woman then adds to Hicks, "Watching the blast from orbit is the safest way, after all. " They smile at each other in some kind of shared private joke, and Buffy feels a wholly irrational surge of jealousy. She stands up, wanting to distance herself from them as much as possible; then winces in pain as the cumulative injuries from her desperate battle earlier catch up with her.
"It's nothing, really." Or it will be, once I've had a couple of hours to rest, but I can't tell you that.
"We should get you to MedLab anyway." The new speaker is the other civilian, a handsome young man in expensively casual clothes who nevertheless gives Buffy the kind of creepy feeling she normally associates with the fangs-and-forehead crowd. But he seems harmless enough. "Get your wounds cleaned up, put you under quickheal."
"I don't need--" But now Ripley has joined in too.
"Come on, I'll take you there. It's only a mild sedative, puts you out for an hour or so while your body heals itself. You'll be awake again in plenty of time before we have to go."
Even in this group there are other people she'd rather play doctor with... but arguing too strongly will only raise suspicion. And truth be told, she is all achey, and a rest would be nice. So she lets herself be led off into the high-tech medical laboratory. On the way she decides that trying a little friendliness probably won't hurt, so she tries making conversation... only to be shushed abruptly as they walk through the door. She's just thinking up her best cutting remark in reply when Ripley points, an uncharacteristically tender smile on her face, at the tiny blonde form in the corner. It's Newt, fast asleep, lying on the floor under one of the medical couches, looking impossibly cute and poignant. Buffy feels a matching smile on her own lips as she meets Ripley's eyes.
It is a détente that lasts all of two minutes, as Ripley gathers up medical supplies and Buffy wanders over to investigate the tall glass cylinders in the centre of the room.
"Get away from there!" There is fear and disgust in the peremptory command, and Buffy reacts as she usually does to such instructions. She steps closer.
There is something moving inside one of the cylinders, and she peers in for a closer look. **Wham!** The shape hits the glass inches from her face, but Buffy doesn't flinch. She is fascinated by the coiled muscle and hunger in such a small creature. Its spindly crablike legs and long whipping tail don't look much like the larger demons she's fought, but she can sense the kinship. It's the killer instinct, the pure predatory urge that can be contained by the glass walls of its cage, but never stilled except by death.
"What's this doing here?"
"It killed one of the colonists. They clamp onto your face, shove themselves down your throat. Lay their eggs inside of you, to eat you away from inside. Hatch out into the adult things you've seen." There is raw hatred in Ripley's voice. "So of course they decided to keep it afterwards. To study it."
"Study is good." Buffy speaks absently, as much intrigued as repulsed, and oblivious to the hostile look Ripley gives her at those words.
"They'll all be dead in three hours anyway. Now come on, let's get those wounds treated."
She isn't gentle, but she is competent. As the quickheal hypo hisses, Buffy feels a lethargy creep through her limbs, weighing her down. The world seems to spin and recede.
"Don't worry, I'll wake you when it's time." Ripley's voice seems to come from a great distance. Through her greying eyesight Buffy sees her kneel on the floor beside Newt, climb under the bed beside her to hold and comfort the small girl.
It is the last thing she sees before the darkness claims her.
On to Chapter Three: "We're In Trouble."
(And the fact that this is an 'Aliens' crossover should hopefully now be obvious...)