I've never posted anything that generated over 200 responses plus a 40+ response thread on Whedonesque before... it's positively exhausting. So to unwind, I decided to write some fic that's set at the opposite end of the Buffyverse, chronologically speaking.
Title: I Am Destruction
Characters: The First Slayer, and lots of vampires
Setting: Prehistoric Africa, about 8,000 years ago
Rating: 12 (Warning for a few vague references to various squicky things that vampires did to the First Slayer's family in the past)
Summary: The Slayer is the thing that monsters have nightmares about. This story explains why.
Author's notes: I've referred to vampires as 'nightwalkers' in the fic since Transylvania hasn't been discovered yet: assume it's a translation into English of proto-Geze or whatever they spoke in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa in 6000 BC. My references to the First Slayer having once had a younger sister who was captured and turned by vampires will be familiar to anyone who's read my WIP 'Hiywan's Story', If you haven't read it, all you need to know is, well, the First Slayer once had a younger sister who was captured and turned by vampires.
I Am Destruction
The jagged piece of petrified wood in my hand feels sharp and rough against my palm. The heat of my flesh cannot warm it; it's cold, cold as my heart, cold as night under the empty sky. There is no hesitation in my step; though I may go to my death, I will welcome it as a bride does her lover.
The cavern is huge, a vast temple carved from solid rock. Lamps of burning tallow smoulder with wan yellow light, smoky and smelling of burnt flesh. There are people here, dozens, hundreds, more than I can count, more than I have ever seen - but no. Not people. Their breath does not steam in the cold air. They have no breath; they are dead. Dead, but refusing to die.
The blade in my hand will convince them otherwise.
I step out amongst them, one small shape among many, and they pay me little heed. Their attention is fixed raptly on the raised rock at the far end of the cavern, and on the man who stands there, and on what he is calling forth. It hurts my eyes to look upon, vast and twisted and green with glowing energy as it claws and tears at the fabric of the world, seeking to gain entry here. This is my mission. This is why my Masters have sent me here, to prevent this. And yet, whispering in the secret places of my heart where even they cannot pry, there is another reason. That man. My enemy, the one who took my sister away from me, who turned her into... into what she became. The man whose name she hurled at me in triumph and mockery: Awrelye, her father and husband, her creator. Her destroyer.
The blade in my hand will know his heart, and then I will know peace. That is what I tell myself as I walk through the thickening crowd towards him. And then, even with his back still turned towards me, he knows I am there, and he speaks.
"Welcome, Sineya, to our gathering. Have you come to join in worship of Our Divine Father?"
His voice shakes me to the core. It is melodious, deep and resonant, entrancing. I feel like a little girl again, running towards my father's welcoming arms, wanting only to be enfolded in his love and trust. When I was young, and my sister and I had nothing to fear except... My sister. Dead: twice dead.
My voice is cold and dismissive as I reject his appeal. "That is not my name. You do not know me."
"Do I not?" There is amusement in his bewitching voice as he turns to face me at last. "Did not your sweet sister prattle endlessly to me about you? Of the things you did with her? Of the things she'd like to do to you?" His smile grows lascivious. "Oh, I taught her well, that one. Such a hunger in her, for one so small. She was truly the finest of my creations."
The wooden dagger trembles in my hand as I fight for control. "She is free of you now, monster."
"Ah yes. Such a tragic waste. And yet, her hunger and passion are not lost to us. Her children are strong; her blood runs true in them, as mine did in her. As it will in you, when you take your place at my side."
"I will kill you first."
"Such charming defiance. There will be such pleasure in taming you. But enough of this." His voice grows cold, commanding. "Come to me."
His eyes seem to grow huge, filling my vision, blanking my thoughts. I step forward; one pace, then another. My arms go limp by my sides, and I dimly sense something drop from my hand and clatter unseen to the ground.
Something stirs inside me. Deep and black and hungry, coiled around the hidden part of my soul. It wakes. And it is angry.
"No". A single word, but it is filled with all the passion and hatred and righteous fury that has lain within me, banked up like a fire, since my sister was taken from me when I was eight summers old. The thrall breaks and I see Awrelye for what he truly is. Nothing but a walking corpse, hideously pale like bleached bones, like a piece of dry wood to be cast into the inferno of my rage.
He shrugs, and turns his back on me once more. "Very well then." A casual wave of his arm to his massed followers. "Kill her."
There is a moment of stillness. A held breath, if there were any but me in all of this vast cavern who still needed to breathe. And within me, the Power stretches and expands and awakens, filling me with its awareness, stronger than I have ever know it before; and I see the nightwalkers rise and turn and start towards me as if in slow motion, and the emotion that fills me at that moment is nothing but pure delighted joy.
Six of them roar and leap towards me, and I drop to the ground and laugh with glee as they become tangled and recoil away from each other. Then my hand closes around the haft of my weapon, and the power within me sings ever louder as I rise and strike. The strength in my arm drives the point through bone and muscle and flesh as if through water, yet I have whipped my hand around and pierced the second's heart before the first even knows he is dead. The rest follow quickly, grey dust in the smoky air of the cavern. I turn and grin wildly at the oncoming horde, daring them to approach. Three take the challenge with a furious snarl, and the battle begins.
There are legions of them, crowding each other in their desperate anger, to obey their master's word and taste my blood. I slide through them like the wind through savannah grass, dodging their clumsy blows, dropping down and coming up behind them, leaping high in the air above them. It is a wild and savage dance, and my hand flicks out, stabbing like lightning, left and right and up and down, cleaving hearts and slicing through necks, leaving death and ashes behind me. Within me the Power shouts in exaltation, guiding my feet, filling me with its lust for slaughter and destruction, but it is not in control of me. It is my will that drives the wooden blade through each nightwalker's breast; yet the power burns hot inside me so I can no longer say where it ends and I begin. We are one. I am destruction, I am death. I am the Slayer.
And after uncounted numbers of the enemy have fallen before me, their rage gives way to fear, and they draw back. But mercy is no longer part of me. I leap headlong into the largest crowd of them, laughing at their terror as I come, bearing death with me. My deadly dance takes me through them as they struggle frantically to live a moment longer, but all in vain. Dust hangs heavy in the still air of the cavern, dancing motes in the light of the lamps. I am not untouched; blood mottles my skin from a dozen cuts, but I do not feel the pain. Just anger and joy and passion that grows hot within me as I bring death to my enemies.
And then they are panicking and running, fleeing for the exit, kicking up great grey rooster-tails in the dust that now lies thick on the floor. I laugh again as I run in pursuit, springing up and trampling them as I run over their heads and somersault down into the passage out of the cavern, blocking their escape. They are desperate now, angry and frightened, and the battle is harder. Even with the Power still filling me I am starting to grow tired, my steps less sure, my reactions less rapid. Their fists and claws and feet and teeth are starting to score hits on me now, but the pain is still a distant fire that I shut out of my mind. I will not feel it until they are dead. Until they are all dead.
And then, so suddenly it takes me many heartbeats to realise... they are. The room is silent, empty except for the great drifting banks of soft dust. I lean heavily on the passage wall, suddenly feeling weak and drained, but my grip on my dagger does not falter for a second. I am alone.
Not all of the nightwalkers have died in this cavern. Some doubtless slipped out while the battle still raged; a few managed to force their way past me as their fellows died at my hands. But few. Very, very few. And broken. They will flee far away, and hide in the dark places of the earth, and whisper the name of 'Slayer' in fear and dread as they remember how I brought final death to so many of them. I will become their waking nightmare, and I will hunt them down and destroy them one by one.
But that is for the future. I steady my breathing and shift my grip on my dagger, and look across the empty, echoing cavern. Awrelye is still standing there at the far side, on his raised altar. He is alone now, but probably not defenceless. And killing him will be both my duty and my pleasure.