Title: Predator vs. Slayer, Part 1
Author: Gyrus
Email: gyrus1001@hotmail.com
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the creation of Joss Whedon and the property of Fox Television. The story itself is my own.
Summary: A team of alien hunters pursues the ultimate human prize.
Rating: PG, for violence.
Author's Notes: This story is set between seasons 4 and 5 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. The story is a serial; I plan to post one new part per week until the story is finished.

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PREDATOR VS. SLAYER

It was all they had ever known.

They built their lives around it. It was the focus of all their art, their religion, their language, their science and technology. Their history and folklore praised it, and every major achievement their species had ever made owed its occurrence to it.

The Hunt was everything.

Since their earliest history, they had tracked the most fearsome beasts on their planet and killed them, first with spears, then bows, firearms, plasma weapons. Then, driven by the need to find more challenging targets, they moved out into space. The galaxy was full of planets with life, sometimes tame and uninteresting, sometimes deliciously fearsome. Soon, the trophy dens of the great houses were decorated with bones, teeth, claws, and spines from thousands of deadly creatures on hundreds of worlds.

But no matter how many marvelous beasts they found to prey upon, the lure of finding some new and even more dangerous quarry was ever-present. These were the prizes on which reputations were made, and from which legends were born.

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Reghya was old by Hunter standards, but this morning, for the first time in months, he felt young. Months ago, he had attained the rank of Elder Huntmaster, a respectable title for a Hunter of Reghya's years, although, at the same time, it meant retirement from the off-world hunts. Elder Huntmasters frequently became teachers or lawgivers, useful and respected members of the community.

Reghya had been made an archivist.

It was not that he minded the work. Reghya had always been quite cerebral by Hunter standards, and he enjoyed reviewing the accounts of hunts past, from the legendary to the ordinary. But there was no honor attached to the position, no respect. The looks in the eyes of his peers, their slow withdrawal from his social circle, told him as much.

It didn't matter. Reghya considered his new position a sieve in which thin, weak friendships were strained out, so that only the substantial ones remained. Besides, the work itself was terribly absorbing. Reghya could lose himself for hours in the tales of adventure and misfortune on distant worlds.

One particular world caught his attention. A small, blue planet called "Earth", which, Reghya had read, was the indigenous preys' word for "dirt". Reghya chuckled to himself; the creatures had peculiar minds to go with their feeble muscles, fragile endoskeletons, and primitive technology. Unarmed, they were almost helpless; only their relatively primitive weapons made them even remotely challenging as prey. It was only their exotic location, far from the homeworld, that made them interesting enough for Hunters to pursue. A human skeleton could make for a few minutes of conversation in a Hunter's trophy den.

But that was the humans' only appeal. There were far more deadly prey elsewhere in the galaxy, and in places more convenient to the homeworld. So, for the most part, the Hunters left the little blue planet at the edge of the galaxy alone.

Until the day Reghya changed their minds.

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It was 2am, and Buffy Summers was out for a late-night slay. She was patrolling the graveyard on Rosewood and Elm, to which she had tracked a vampire just before dawn the day before. He'd evaded her somehow, but tonight, she was going to get him.

No matter that the vampire was Barry Lefkowitz, who had been in the class behind Buffy's at Sunnydale High, and who had graduated this past spring after finishing his senior year at Edgemont. And who, apparently, had stayed out a little too late celebrating and gotten an unexpected transfusion from one of Sunnydale's undead-Americans. It was ironic, really; Barry had earned the nickname "Crash" for passing out at the sight of blood, even his own. Buffy briefly toyed with the idea of letting him bite her, just to see what would happen.

But, as she gazed around the quiet graveyard, Buffy soon forgot all thoughts except one.

Find it and kill it.

She walked carefully among the headstones, slowly turning her head from side to side as her keen senses scanned for her inhuman target. The fingers of her right hand twitched at her side, like a those of a gunfighter, anticipating the moment when she would draw her weapon and take out her lone opponent.

And then, just as she passed a tall, square mausoleum, noticing, out of the corner of her eye, a flicker of movement just above it...

"YAAAAGH!"

The shout came from above, and Buffy turned just in time to see a large figure land right behind her and tackle her to the ground. She twisted around as a large, strong-looking vamp tried to crawl on top of her, and she snapped her elbow back into his jaw. The big vampire rolled off of her; rolling the other way, she curled her body backwards and launched herself onto her feet with her hands.

Just in time to get hit across the back with a two-by-four.

She stumbled forward, but didn't fall. Looking behind her, she saw Barry in full vamp-face, holding the makeshift weapon.

"I figured you'd come after me tonight," he said, pointing to the other vampire. "So I had to vamp Joey McMillan, here. He was Edgemont's best lineman, you know. They called him 'Bulldozer'."

"Yeah?" said Buffy, slowly stepping sideways to keep the two vamps from flanking her. "Well, tomorrow, they're going to be calling him 'Dusty'."

She whipped around suddenly as she pulled a stake from inside her jacket and hurled it at Joey, who had gotten to his feet. He dodged aside just far enough to get the stake through his bicep instead of his heart.

Joey roared in pain and charged her. Buffy lashed out with a front kick and caught the vampire in the stomach, then turned just as Barry swung his two-by-four in a diagonal path down towards her head. In a move that would have caused compound fractures in most human forearms, Buffy blocked the board aside with her right arm as she drove the palm of her left hand into Barry's chin, snapping his head back and disorienting him long enough for her to grab the two-by-four and twist it out of the vampire's hands. She rammed one end of it into Barry's solar plexus, knocking him down.

Suddenly, Buffy's lower torso exploded with pain as Joey's fist struck her left kidney from behind. She spasmed for a moment, long enough for Joey to grab her arms and trunk in a bear hug. As he brought his head down to plunge his fangs into her neck, Buffy leaned her own head forward and then snapped it back, smashing Joey's face with the back of her head and loosening his grip on her. With a shout, she pushed her chest and upper arms outward, throwing Joey's arms off of her, then stepped forward, turned, and slammed the two-by-four down on the crown of Joey's head. The vampire fell over as Buffy snapped the board in half with her knee, making two sharp-ended pieces, and drove one straight into Joey's chest. He exploded into dust.

Buffy turned, expecting to find Barry on his feet again. Indeed, he was, but he was now using those feet to run hell-for-leather towards the main gate of the graveyard. Buffy gave chase, retaining the other half of the broken board, her powerful legs accelerating her body to a speed most Olympic sprinters would envy. Then, just as Barry was about to pass through the gate, Buffy hurled the broken board at Barry like a spear. It took him through the back, piercing his heart and reducing him to dust.

Buffy stopped, breathing hard and leaning against a headstone. "Whoo", she said out loud, "track AND field. There should really be medals for this."

But as she recovered from her exertion, Buffy had an odd feeling that...well, she wasn't sure what. Ever since her encounter with the First Slayer, her perceptions had become more acute somehow, often in ways she wasn't fully conscious of. It was as if, somewhere in the deep recesses of her brain, tiny bits of information from all of her senses were being synthesized into one vague feeling that was allowed to reach her awareness.

Vague though it was, however, it felt familiar. It wasn't the feeling of danger, exactly....

Then she knew.

It was the feeling of being watched.

END OF PART 1