|The Risks of Glory
Author: harsens-rob PM
Spanderverse Story number 10: Glory tracks the Key to Sunnydale and Spike is on the outs and not liking it. Joyce takes a turn for the worse. R & R is always appreciated!Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Chapters: 8 - Words: 23,595 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-30-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3176942
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Risks of Glory
Ch 1- Friday Night Fights
Buffy stalked through Quiet Hills Cemetery, not quite alert to the sounds around her. Her mind was on the important surgery her mother was going to be scheduled for. The doctor had made it clear that they shouldn't put it off, and yet, so far no word on when it would actually be.
At least, she sighed, Riley is feeling a lot better. They were keeping him overnight for observation, but the treatment seemed to work just fine. With her mother back at home resting, Buffy decided to go looking for a fight. Sure, she was still in pain thanks to Adam, but she was healing as rapidly as ever. Surely she could take a vampire or three tonight.
Of course, her mind wandered back to her mom. The problem was Dawn, of course. Joyce had still not told her what exactly was going on. As far as the runt was concerned, she "had to go back for a few more tests". Buffy didn't like keeping this from her. She knew she'd be upset, but she was going to be even more so when she found out that she was being lied to 'to protect' her.
Buffy's attention was drawn back to the here and now when she heard the clear rasp of a mausoleum door scraping. This wasn't Spike's usual haunt and since as far as she knew he hadn't picked out a 'fall cottage' in Quiet Hills, somebody was in for a bad night.
She quickly pushed thoughts of Spike away. The gang had yet to hear of his latest exploits to hurt them and that he had once again hooked up with Harmony. Thinking about that too much could cause a rational person's brain to melt. She was worried about Xander and how he'd take this latest betrayal. For reasons she'd never be able to comprehend, he'd insisted that Spike could change; had been changing. He wanted to believe they were friends and that the vampire could grow. Maybe she wanted to believe it, too. Maybe that's part of the reason that she hadn't allowed Riley to stake him when he was out of control.
Buffy hid behind a large statue of a Greek woman pouring an empty vase and watched as a tall and buff vampire strolled casually through the graveyard. He had short, kempt blond hair and moved athletically. As she honed in on him, sensing his strength, she determined he must have been only a few decades old. Piece of cake, she thought to herself as she stepped out confidently behind him.
The vampire, dressed in the black leather that they all thought made them look bad-ass, spun around. Obviously he had sensed a hunter nearby, as he was in a defensive stance before she even got to attack.
"Slayer? Look, girl, I'm not here to tango with you. I'm just passing through."
"Uh-huh. And you're what? Taking the moonlight tour of Sunnydale's mausoleums? I don't remember that being on our Chamber of Commerce's brochures."
"So…maybe I'm looking for a place to crash. It's only for a day or two until I can dust William the freaky Bloody."
"Spike? What's your business with him? And please don't believe for a minute that I actually care."
"I'm here to dust him," the vampire said. Unknown to Buffy, he used to be Perry Whitfield, mechanic and twenty eight. Now he called himself Stud. "So you see, I take out a nuisance in your fair city and then I leave. We both win."
"It's not like I'm down with Spike or anything, but you crashed my town just to…what…take out an annoyance for me?"
"Not for you. For me and for my sire. William has become an insult to everything the Aurelius Clan once stood for. As a member, I have the right to eliminate him."
"Aurelius? I thought they were nearly extinct. Just Ang…uh, just Spike left. And he can't sire anyone right now."
"You're forgetting our sire, Dru. Will broke her fragile, undead heart. That's not something I'm going to just put up with. Now, you want to be smart? You let me do what I'm here to do and go about your business. Believe me," he said, brushing a hand down the white t-shirt showing from his unzipped leather jacket, "you don't want any of this. I've killed legions."
Buffy shrugged. "I've heard that before. And, for the record, you are my business."
As Buffy surged forward to engage, she found her first three punches blocked. She grinned as a kick caught the vampire to the shin but as she tried to follow up with a snap kick to his head; that was blocked as well.
"I sure do hope you taste as good as you look, cutie," he said as he punched her in the stomach.
Again, her Adam-inflicted wound protested its continued rough treatment. She ignored the pain however. It was healed shut and she'd learned to ignore pain while in hand to hand combat. It was the only way a Slayer survived.
As they continued raining blows on each other, Buffy was pleased to note that she was landing more than he was. Even injured, she hadn't lost her touch.
"I can't (block, block) understand why (punch, block, punch) you're defending that (oof, block, punch, ugh) creep!"
"It's just (ow!) that it's (punch, punch, kick) my (block, block, kick, argh) problem to deal (punch) with. Besides, since (duck, punch) when does a (leap-kick) vampire make deals with a (oof!) Slayer?"
"I just thought you'd (duck, block) have better things to do…"
Stud went into a round house kick that caught Buffy in the side of the head. Momentum spun her around, facing away from her opponent. Even as she retaliated with a back kick that kept him off her, her eyes were scanning the new arrivals striding toward her with confidence.
In the lead were two vampires wearing the tattered remains of lab coats. Next to them two more vampires, looking unsure and worried tried to hang back. Behind the group of blood suckers, Adam strolled robotically.
"Oh, great," she sighed.
She spun around to push her attack of her current foe before the others could gang up on her, but found him staring at the new arrivals.
"These friends of yours," he asked her.
"More like bad pennies. They keep showing up when I'm fighting somebody else."
As the new arrivals came with ten feet of Buffy and Stud, her opponent called out to them. Buffy tensed, already trying to formulate a strategy that would allow her to escape.
"Hey, now! What's this?"
"We're here to kick a little Slayer ass, what do you think? I hear they're good eating," lead lab coat said.
"Yeah? Well, piss off. Can't you see me and the Slayer got our own thing going on here?"
Buffy couldn't keep the surprise from her face. She'd expected the guy to join his fellows in an attempt to wear her down. Apparently the other vampires were just as surprised.
"B-but…look, we have prior dibs on her. If you don't want to help, then just stand aside and let us get down to business. Adam here has been missing our little bird."
"Tough. Finder's keepers, dude. Right now, the Slayer is engaged with me. You can have anything that may be left."
"Look," the lab coat said confused, "I don't know why we're arguing about this, we could…"
"…don't even suggest," Stud said, "that we team up. The Order of Aurelius doesn't need the help of some group of nerds."
The vampires variously growled and hissed at the insult, but were still looking to lead lab-coat guy to give them directions. He was looking flabbergasted by the odd turn of events.
"Look, man, I don't know who this Aurelius is and I don't give a damn. We live here, you're just a visitor. We should have dibs."
"Okay everybody!" Buffy was just slightly miffed. "Could we stop talking about me like I'm not standing right here?"
"Tell you what, Slayer," Stud said, "Truce? Just until these upstarts are out of our way."
She raised an eyebrow in surprise, but he seemed sincere enough. Who would have thought a vampire other than Angel could show a little shred of honor?
"It's a deal," she replied. "Looks like you guys are outclassed. If you want to take off, that'd be the smart thing."
Of course they didn't. Roaring in rage, the lead lab coat guy waved his team to attack. Buffy found herself facing the two fledges and Adam. Fortunately the newbies were so unused to fighting; she was able to use a few simple moves to keep them between her self and the robot-zombie. Unfortunately, that meant pulling her blows so that they'd stay in Adam's way.
Stud meantime was fighting off one Initiative lab coat while the lead guy stood screaming encouragement. Encouragement, anyway, if you included a barrage of insults in that definition. When it was obvious his companion wasn't able to overpower the Aurelius guy, he sighed through his fangs and jumped in as well.
Buffy heard the brief roar of a dusting in progress and risked a quick glimpse over. She saw the lead lab-coat guy wrestling with Dru-sired vamp. The other lab coat was gone. As she was returning to her own fight, she barely missed being grabbed by Adam who had found space to reach an arm between the two hissing vampires. With a quick dodge she yanked one of the fledglings into his way again, while side kicking the other vampire.
She let things sit like this until she knew which side was going to win in her temporary allies' battle. It was unfortunate and a little sad when the roar of another dusting led to decent-guy's ashes fading from view. With leader guy rushing to gang against her, she quickly staked the two fledglings she'd been playing with and turned her attention to Adam.
She couldn't believe it, but she was actually missing the old cyber-demon-human hybrid. At least then, she had the luxury of distracting him with debates on world conquering and clever dialog. Now he was just a shadow of his former self.
"Ooff," she yelled as his fist caught her in the chest and sent her flying backward. She stumbled back, but kept on her feet. Glancing behind her she'd found that they had positioned her on the embankment of a large hill, the steep incline leading down into dense thickets and thorns and forest beyond. She smiled as they thought they had her trapped.
Once again, leader guy was playing the coward on her seeing as his gang was down to him and a zombie. "Just kill her already, Adam!"
Adam lunged at Buffy and she went into a dodge, grateful that the vampires had removed his jagged skewer. She should have known it wouldn't be that easy.
From each wrist, short but lethal knife blades sprang forward. Even as they did and before Buffy knew what she was seeing, she was going into a desperate lunge to dodge the slicing, stabbing blades.
She easily evaded one, but Adam moved far faster than she was used to and the other sliced cleanly through her baby blue sweater and the skin underneath. She hissed with pain, but never slowed down. Grabbing him by a forearm, she swung him around and toward the embankment. Following up with a two-footed jump kick, he was sent briefly out into the air before gravity caught him and sent him plunging down into the debris below.
Buffy grunted as she landed flat on her back on the hard ground. Going into a flip, she jumped up onto the balls of her feet and went into a defensive stance to block the vampire's follow up assault.
As it turned out there wasn't one. Fifteen yards ahead of her and running wildly, lab-coat leader dude was taking the 'tactical retreat' option of combat. She stood for half a second with an internal debate of 'vampire or Adam' and then she was sprinting after the blood sucker. Adam was down where the picker-thingies were and besides, he'd managed to hurt her…again! She wasn't ready to face him one on one, especially in a place where she'd be torn apart by the plant life while he shrugged it off.
Dashing around monuments and leaping over tombstones, she caught up to him after several minutes. He turned at the sound of her approach, still running, and hissed at her before tripping over his own feet. A moment later and there was a last roar of a vampire discorporating.
Buffy sat on the ground, waving vampire dust away from her face with one hand. The other was busy feeling her knife wound. It was relatively shallow so she wasn't worried about the wound itself. What it represented bothered her, though. Adam was connecting with her in every single battle they had. Not just with a punch here and there, but drawing blood. So far, all she'd managed was to turn him into a rolling stone.
Sighing, she got up and crossed back the way she'd run. When she returned to the embankment, she stared down into the darkness of the wild thorn bushes. Nothing stirred. There was no movement and no sounds of thrashing through the underbrush.
So, she figured, either he's out for good; fat chance. Or he's already wandered away. They probably have an automated homing beacon allowing him to return to the Vamp-cave or wherever they're holed up. She sighed out into the night. I gotta come up with a way to defeat him before they learn how to attach another bazooka to the big lug.
Buffy turned to make her way home.
As Buffy and Stud battled the Initiative gang, a dark haired man stood behind a mausoleum taking in the battle. He recognized Buffy, of course. She was always around fighting off the things that crept in the night. It didn't take too much research to come up with the only explanation that had fit. She had to be the Slayer. Of course, the 'Chosen One' was supposed to be only a myth, but then again, vampires were only supposed to be too. So much for stories only being stories.
Beside him, a short girl stood with long flowing brown hair. Where the man was dressed for the cold weather, the girl wore a simple shift. It was made of yellow cotton and on her feet were sandals, leaving too much of her skin exposed for comfort. She should have been freezing, but she completely ignored the elements. On her face was a beatific, but vacuous wide smile. Her eyes never left the lumbering Adam, no matter what else was happening in the battle. As Adam disappeared over an embankment and after Buffy took off after the blood sucker, Warren Meers turned to the young lady.
"April, stop recording. Analyze. Was that what I think it was…a cyborg?"
"Nearly, honey. It was a demon-human-cybernetic hybrid organism."
"That's incredible!" Warren was awed and excited. He'd been working himself on trying his hand at cybernetics/human interfaces. Even with all of his genius, however, he'd never been able to solve the communications barrier between flesh and wire. If he hadn't been here tonight grave robbing for research funds, he may never had known that someone had actually managed it.
"April, baby, what is the condition of the cyborg? Can you tell from here?"
"The organism lies at the edge of my sensor range, Warren. He appears to be inert."
"My god…my god. This is…I mean…wow…this is huge. This could provide a quantum leap in my understanding of true cybernetics. I could…" Warren fell silent, his eyes far away as he lost himself in the daydream he'd had since watching re-runs of a kitschy 70's program called 'The Six Million Dollar Man'. He'd made it his life's mission to discover true bionics and to make himself super powered.
"This could give me the answers," he said. "I could really do it. April, I have to have that cyborg. Carry it to the house, but come in through the basement door. Don't let anyone see you."
"Oh, Warren, I live only to make you happy. But, I'm not sure this course is wise. The being may re-activate and he is equipped with bladed weapons and superior speed and strength."
"Then disable him. But not permanently."
"I will attempt to, dearest, but I must re-iterate the risk."
"No. You really don't, you stupid bitch! Just do what I've told you. Now, go into evade mode….now."
April's face turned slack as she switched behavioral modes. A flat, robotic voice rang out, "Evade mode activated. This unit will avoid human encounters."
A moment later and April's empty, but sunny disposition returned. "Of course, Warren. Of course, I don't need to re-iterate anything. You are my boyfriend and you are wise, intelligent, handsome, funny, sexy and a great lover. Shall I prepare a hot bath for you when you get home? I could provide you with Program O-1 before your soak."
"Uh, yeah, yeah, that'd be swell, April. Now, go get that piece of equipment."
As the sex-bot did as ordered, Warren turned to make his own way home. April's scanners had picked up demon parts incorporated into the gestalt being: it was possible that is what his own experiments had been missing this whole time. As he traveled, keeping one eye open for vampires with his stun-gun in one hand, he was making a mental list of equipment and surgical tools he'd need to restock. Once he'd taken his own close look at the construct, he'd make a detailed plan for its study.
End Ch 1