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: 1985 words.
Chapter Three: We're In Trouble
She doesn't know what wakes her. Some instinct, a suffocating dream, a distant noise. But her eyes are open and her senses alert instantly, Slayer-sharp. There's danger, somewhere close.
Ripley's awake too, holding the little girl in her arms. She's staring at something on the floor, pure terror in her eyes, and Buffy follow her gaze until she sees it too.
A couple of the tall glass containers, upturned and broken on the floor. Empty.
She reaches for the Scythe where she'd laid it beside her, and her hand closes on nothingness. Where--? It's not on the floor. Not on the other nearby couches. Angry now, she storms over to where Ripley is fiddling with the MedLab doors, all ready to blame her for taking it... when she sees her weapon. Lying placidly on a table just outside the glass walls of the room.
The locked room. They've been trapped in here. Trapped with two hungry demons that like to lay eggs inside you. Oh yeah, and also? The building is going to be ground zero of a nuclear explosion in about two hours' time.
And today started so well. Not.
Newt starts beating on the glass, trying to break it - a pretty sensible idea for the kid - but when Buffy hurls herself against the window, she bounces. Clearly not normal glass then; some kind of special future technology Slayerproof glass. She's looking around for something hard to hit it with when Newt screams in panic.
Buffy spins around, takes in the situation at a glance. Small girl. Hungry demon. Slayer, five metres away and weaponless. Newt pushes over a table, trying to pin the demon against the wall, but six-year old muscles are no match for its cruel strength.
It does give Buffy the second or two she needs, though. She snatches up a shard of glass from the broken containers. Takes aim, holds her breath, throws. Her aim is true, but her weapon is not so much. It slices through one of the thing's multi-jointed legs, causing it to squall in pain and bunch up, dropping down onto the floor. Just long enough for Newt to flee to the other side of the room.
Weapons. She needs better weapons, and now. Ripley is shouting and waving at one of the CCTV cameras that line the room, with no apparent effect, and Buffy scowls angrily. She's trying to listen for the scuttle of legs, the scrape of chitin against wall or floor, and she doesn't need the distraction...
Wait. There. A magazine, lying on a workbench. She picks it up and starts rolling it tightly, ignoring the shocked, hostile look the older woman suddenly shoots in her direction. What is her problem, anyway? At least she's shut up now.
Buffy drifts silently through the room, alert for the slightest noise. Holding her makeshift weapon underarm, pointed down towards the ground.
Paper is soft and flimsy. A rolled up magazine is useless for swatting anything much larger than a fly. But compress the paper tight enough, and apply force just so, in a perfectly parallel direction... and the paper remembers that it was once a tree.
Movement, in the corner of her eye. Buffy's hand shoots out in a perfectly measured, calculated blow... and all the pent-up supernatural strength of a Slayer is concentrated onto an area one inch in diameter.
The magazine cleaves through the demon's shell and pins it to the wall.
It squeals in agony, and the magazine starts to smoke and char in its acidic blood. Buffy's weapon is literally melting away in her hand. She drops it, grabs the thing's frantically lashing tail. Whirls the demon around her head as she runs full tilt and smashes it hard as she can against the glass wall of the room.
The demon smushes. Bits of leg and disgusting innards go everywhere, and a bubbling yellow mess is left on the glass. Which stars, and goes cloudy, and starts to crack. Buffy watches for a moment, a grin of triumph on her face, then kicks out. Her boot shatters the weakened window and they're free! Two birds, one stone. Yay her.
Then the second demon drops from the ceiling and wraps its tail around her throat.
It's unbelievably strong. Breathing is impossible. Its legs claw at her face, trying to clamp on. Somehow she manages to get a hand in the way, fend it off. Its exposed underside looks like wet sushi. An obscene little tube extends, twisting and groping for her mouth. She's starting to black out. Suddenly there are other hands, helping her, trying to pull it off. Voices shouting, scarce heard above the blood roaring in her ears. Her free hand claws at its tail, pulls it back. One blessed sweet gulp of air fills her lungs. Then it's off, and gunfire rings out, almost deafening her, and she's alive.
Hicks smiles at her, gun in hand, but Ripley beside him looks mad as hell, and her voice is cold and deadly as she says "Burke." And Buffy is just wondering why she's using one of Spike's favourite insults on her when she remembers it's the other civilian's name.
And someone set them up to die here.
Within minutes, the casually-dressed man is pinned down in the centre of a hostile, panicky and furious crowd of survivors. Ripley's explained what happened; she's talked about smuggled bioweapons and fortunes to be made and unfortunate accidents on the return journey. And Burke is desperately trying to explain himself, but it isn't working. And Buffy is as mad as any of them... until she realises with shock that at least half of the marines are ready to kill him in cold blood. Here and now.
"We can't just kill him! He's human!"
"The fuck we can't. Just watch us!"
"If we murder him in cold blood, what makes us better than the - than them?"
"We're not better. You don't see them screwing each other over for a fucking percentage."
That tips the balance, and Buffy is just mustering up one futile, final protest as Hicks levels his gun... when all the lights go out. Pitch blackness.
"They cut the power."
Hudson's voice rises up in panic - "What do you mean, they cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!" - and Buffy instinctively steps in to take command. Taking control of the situation before things fall apart.
"Grab your weapons. How many ways in are there? Which direction will they be coming from?"
Ripley cuts in. "Let's get some trackers going. Hudson, Vasquez, see if you can spot anything." And Buffy, who doesn't know what a tracker is, swallows her pique and manages to say "Good idea".
Red emergency lights come on at this point, bathing the scene in a hellish crimson glow. The two soldiers are holding devices in their hands, which emit a soothing regular electronic ticking. *bip* *bip* *bip*.
They move out, into the corridor that runs past the operations centre. Cautious and slow.
*bip* *bip* *bip*.
Buffy wonders if she should pick up a gun. But she hasn't had any time to practice, and she doesn't really know how they work, and it would probably just get in her way.
*bip* *bip* *bip*.
Her crossbow is somewhere around. No time to look for it. At least she has the Scythe again.
*bip* *bip* *BEE-BEEP* *BEE-BEEP*
"I got something."
No shit. The two soldiers are arguing, Vasquez thinking Hudson's misreading his equipment; but then her own tracker picks up the same signal. They're coming. They're inside the perimeter.
Buffy calls the marines back into the room; it'll be easier to fight if the demons can only come at them through one narrow doorway. Ripley tells Vasquez to seal the door. Buffy can't see the point of that; if they got through the perimeter, they can get through the door, and hiding from evil never works for long. You've got to fight it. Still, it's no time for an argument. Hudson is reading off distances from his tracker. Ten metres. Nine metres. Eight.
"Can't be. That's inside the room!"
"It's readin' right, man. Look!"
They're still complaining when Buffy figures it out. It's obvious, really; she has first-hand experience at how good these things are at climbing; and besides, the bad guys always find a way in. She's shouting "Get back against the walls!" when the suspended ceiling caves in and a hissing, black, tooth and claw-filled nightmare horde of demons plunges into the room.
Turning it instantly into an inferno. Crimson glow of the emergency lights; glistening slimy carapaces lit up in the strobe-lightning of the muzzle flashes. High pitched demonic squealing, human shouts of pain and terror and anger. Gunfire is deafening, a smell of cordite and sweat and blood chokes away her breath. She kills one with a blow from the Scythe, dodges a second and sees it shredded by the bullets from Hicks' pulse rifle. Turns just in time to impale another on the haft of her weapon, then kick it away into two others.
Then hears someone scream in agony. It's Hudson. He's down, and they're all over him. Buffy doesn't hesitate. Leaps up onto a desk, ready to dive into their midst and drag him away to safety... and a flash of instinct makes her duck down again, just as a burst of autofire rips through the space she'd been occupying a heartbeat earlier. She doesn't even see who pulled the trigger, doesn't care. She remembers why she hates guns, as her momentum carries her painfully back down to the floor.
She's a Slayer; she rolls with the fall, turns it into a graceful move that carries her past a demon's guard so she can thrust up into its heart, then twist away out of the shower of blood. She's on her feet again, but it's too late, she's lost valuable time.
Hudson is gone.
Crap. This is all going to hell. She sees Ripley over by the door leading out to MedLab, and thinks that's the first sensible idea she's had. Tactical retreat. She has to shout a couple of times to make herself heard - "We are leaving!" - but they get the message, backing towards the door, firing as they move. Buffy covers them, hurling herself into the midst of the demons, Scythe chopping left and right around her, expending her energy recklessly to give the others time to escape. She's slaughtering them, but there are more and more pressing in on her... and then she does a standing jump to grab one of the exposed ceiling joists, swings around and flings herself over the heads of a dozen demons to reach the safety of the doorway. Somersaults around and lands on her feet, just as the last marine is out through the door.
Vasquez gives her a tight smile of approval, then levels her rifle. Does something unusual to it, and Hicks is just shouting "You can't do that--" when the world... explodes.
"---- --- ----?"
"---- --- ------- ----!"
Hicks is pushing at the door, and Buffy just catches a glimpse of the carnage in the room behind as it closes. Her ears are ringing, and she can see people's mouths moving, but...
"---- - ---- ---? Not again! What was that?"
"You know it's against regs to fire grenades in confined spaces." Despite his words, Hicks has a grim smile on his face, and Vasquez matches it.
She's doing something to the doorlock to seal it - just in time, as a heavy weight slams into the door from the other side. And again. The door is metal and sturdy, but Buffy gets the feeling it won't give them much time.
She'll just have to make sure it's enough.
On to Chapter Four: "It's Game Time"