Hunting Grounds
Chapter 12

Buffy joked with her sister for awhile and then left, saying she needed to get ready. Once in the safety of her room she sat down in a stunned stupor. Too much was happening, too many things were going wrong. It was if life was deliberately pilling problems on her. (Authors note: Sorry to interrupt but:- "Bwhahahaha!"). Strangely she couldn't feel any one emotion, far too many were far to strong to have a complete hold and most contradicted themselves and each other. Buffy didn't know how long she was sat there but eventually someone came to check on her
'Hello Xander.' She greeted the boy.
'Hi, I came to offer a shoulder to cry on but that's not needed. So lets talk.'
'What about.'
'Life, the universe and everything... Really, your taking this well.' He moped around the room.
'What can I do? Scream at the world to make it alright again? Press the universal reset button and start again?' Buffy watched as he seamed to look for something.
'I was thinking more along the lines of swearing and breaking stuff but if you want to scream...' Xander shrugged
'Don't worry Xander I am going to brake something.'
'Well that's good. Ah here's something.' Xander went into the box at the foot of her bed and pulled out a long curved knife. 'Use this.' He tossed the kukkri to her.
'Thanks but this thing needs more than a knife..' She got up and went into the box herself, taking the biggest and most damaging she could lay her hands on.
Heading down stairs he went for the main weapons chest, inside lay her crossbow. In total she had four knives, an axe, two swords, a number of stakes and one crossbow.

Spike watched as Buffy armed herself and was profoundly grateful that neither he or, when he was around, Angelus ever got the Slayer truly angry like this. She was going to war.
Distracted by this he almost didn't notice the smell at first. Following his nose he stumbled to the front door and looked out of the small frosted window. 'Slayer! Your not going to like this.' The whole gang gathered.
'What aren't we going to like Spike?' she asked in a toe that showed that she barely tolerated his existence. Wordlessly Spike opened the door and without cowering from the sunlight placed himself directly between the door and the youngest Summers. Hanging upside down was the burnt and charred corpse of Riley Finn. A trail of blood lead to the pavement and down the street.
The slayer cut the body down with her sword and turned to her friends, 'Wesley, Cor and you... Gunn take him inside and kill Spike if he does anything. Guys stay here, keep Dawn safe.' With that she ran in the direction of blood.

Buffy ran and ran. Each time the trail ran cold a new body hung from another tree or building pointed out the direction. Eventually she found herself outside one of the abandoned warehouses. The sun was beginning to set and it cast long shadows across the open space in front of her.
'Nice!' she shouted to the empty car park. 'Very cute. Now where are you.' One of the shadows moved. The wavering ripple that hid it sparkled and faded showing the green and black hunter. This was the first time she really sized up her opponent, a plane almost featureless mask was only broken by two inset eye holes. Most of his body seemed to be muscle but he was thin enough to be fast as well.
Flexing the grip she had on the crossbow she waited for him to make the first move. He started by reaching over his shoulder and pulling out a three foot long cylinder. Bracing herself she was shocked when he threw it aside. From his thigh he produced another disk, he buried it in the tarmac at his feet and began to side step around her.
From his left shoulder he detached his gun, then from his right gauntlet pulled a small box off from the outermost point. He dropped both to the ground but never stopped moving. Then he pealed off a cone like thing from his back and tossed it way.
Finally beginning to understand Buffy was tempted to shoot the thing now that it was unarmed, but something within her told her not to. With one arrow she could end its life but this was no demon. Despite all it had done to her and her family it didn't deserve to die without a chance, besides part of her knew that while an arrow might kill it she wouldn't be satisfied until she hurt it, a lot.
Buffy dropped all her weapons save for the two foot long curved blade Xander had given her, which she held tightly. Remembering the lessons when Giles had first shown her this one she swished it in an infinity loop, the blade was held in what would be "upside down" for most, meaning that she could flick with it easier and she could rest it along her lower arm to block any strikes.
In response the giant pale green alien reached for his mask, after pulling a tube from the side he pulled it off. He was as ugly as any demon she had seen before, a long ridge of bone ran around his head, just above his eye brows. The mouth had four mandible tusks that were tightly tucked together. Finally face to face Buffy looked deep into its pail yellow eyes. She saw what she expected. He was intelligent, powerful and old. She also saw something she didn't expect. He respected her. Grudgingly she admitted that she respected him, anyone who didn't wouldn't survive this and she intended to win.

Xander was angry with himself. As much as he wanted to stay there and do as Buffy told him he found himself following her. While they measured each other up he had a flashback going almost five years back, to when he followed Buffy into the Master's lair to save Jessie.
He was shook form his dark thoughts when Fangy screamed out his challenge and charged Buffy, she shrieked at him and charged. From the hunters right gauntlet two short serrated blades extended and glistened in the failing light.
To Xanders amazement the knives actually sparked with the force of the blows. Buffy was the fastest to recover and lashed out with a foot, kicking it in the gut. The hunter, already staggered from the clash of weapons, fell on his back. Xander resisted the urge to jump with glee.
Buffy took a step forward, and the hunter lashed out from the floor. His first kick knocked the knife from Buffy's hand, his second pushed her back onto her arse. He quickly stood up but was too slow for the slayers cat like reflexes.
Flipping back to her feet with practiced speed she charged, shoulder first. She didn't stop running when she hit, carrying her opponent she barged him into the factories wall.
Only a moment passed before the hunter picked her off of him and forced her into the wall herself. Once, twice, on the third time she grabbed his arm with both of her own and pulled him closer, hard. The wall gave and the two combatants fell through.
Nothing happened and Xander held his breath.
He was begging to see spots when finally something moved. A battered blond crawled out of the destruction and picked up her knife. Xanders heart soared before collapsing in on itself.
Brandishing a brick in each hand the hunter arose from the demolition site. Buffy turned in time to block one of the two flying objects but she missed the other. Her head hit the ground before her shoulders, continuing the movement she returned to her feet and kicked the block that hit her back to the alien. Running close behind it. The hunter was somehow fast enough to dodge out of the way and they grappled again, while they still held their knifes they seemed to forget about them and simply pummelled each other.
The hunter spat out a globule of bright green blood after one spectacular shot from Buffy, but in the realms of brute strength he had a slight edge over her. With one hand he clutched her neck and the other hit her repeatedly in her face. Xander could only watch as the hunter finally tossed the stunned slayer away and painfully clawed its way to its feet once again. Backing off it watched Buffy shake her head and stand up.
Flexing its hand again the two knifes came back, Buffy twirled hers' with her fingers and then the knife fight began. Because of her size Buffy was able to dodge a lot of the hunters strikes but not always. As she twirled away from one blow he changed its direction mid swing. The blade caught her back and left two jagged lines across her shoulders but this didn't stop her blow catching him under the arm.
The hunter recoiled from the knife and bent over, clutching his left armpit. Yet again Buffy came close, knife hand pulled back. With a mighty back hand he matched his earlier wound on her. Two deep gashes ripped just above her chest, below the neck and she screamed in pain. Before she finished the scream she brought her knife around in a upper cut. It ended up to the handle in the hunters gut.
'Yes! Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes!' Xander jumped up and down and ran over to Buffy. 'You did it!'
'Xander?' She croaked out in a rough voice. 'What are you doing here?'
'We had enough people back home on Dawn Patrol so I thought I'd help you. Lets get back.' He put his arm under the batted slayer supporting her.
'Thanks.' Together the hobbled away.
A shouted hiss stopped them.
Together they turned and gawked as the fallen hunter walked towards them and pulled out the knife, handing it to Buffy. 'Get out of here Xander. Now!' Buffy spoke softly but only had to say it once. Letting her down gently Xander backed off as she faced up to her enemy. She took the offered blade with a grim smile. They both nodded and prepared to fight again.
This time both fighters were slower, you could see the pain it took to move let alone fight someone so equal to themselves. In a blind effort Buffy flipped the knife around and swung it down from well over her head. The hunter punched up with his two blades catching Buffy's knife between them.
With a twisting of his right arm he disarmed her, then he followed up with a left hook. The stunned slayer didn't have time to fall when the hunter repeated the strike that they thought had killed him. Bringing his right arm from high above, to behind and up under Buffy's ribs.
Xander started to cry as the tall alien stood up straight, holding the slayer aloft, hanging off his out stretched arm. The hunter bellowed his victory to the heavens. Xander could only cry as the shout was echoed from all around.
They came from the buildings, they came from the shadows, they came from nowhere. First one or two, then dozens, then hundreds, then thousands. Uncounted and probably uncountable more and more hunters came. So many, each dressed slightly differently.
Eventually the first hunter lowered his arm and picked Buffy's corpse off. Putting her down every one was suppressed when her legs held her own weight. As he pulled his arm out of her she still stood. All of the hunters backed of and bowed their heads.
'Buffy?' Xander asked incredibly.
'Good bye. Tell mom I'm sorry...' With that her strength finally failed and the broken battered body that was once Buffy Summers fell, never to rise again.

Dawn sat quietly and drank her chicken soup. No one had said anything for such a long time. With a sad smile she watched the sun go down. She knew Buffy would win, she was the slayer any minute now she would walk in with a smile and not tell her sister how she messily killed the thing that kidnapped her.
From the kitchen she heard the front door open and her mother say; 'Thank god your home Xand...' Before a high pitched nose silenced her. Dawn saw the bail of light burn into her mother and simply fainted.

The next day Xander was found by the police. After they tried to question him they helplessly put the poor boy into an ambulance.

The local news paper headlines all read the same. "Massacre." "After an unprovoked attack a few days earlier everyone in 1630 Revelo Drive was found brutally murdered. Two, however, are missing one Elisabeth Ann Summers and her younger sister, Dawn Marie Summers. While another body was found and believed to be the elder sister the whereabouts of the 14 year old girl have yet to be discovered. She is not suspected to be alive..."


Post script

Ahh finally a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders! I have finally finished my first ever fan fiction story. I hoped you like it, I know the end isn't to everyone's tastes but sometimes you can't just bring the status quo back and leave it at that. If you think the "Redux" is a good idea I'm already planning to try again on my "Lost but Found" story (my third, the second is whole different kettle of fish that I'm not going to touch with a barge pole) If you think that's a good idea tell me and I'll start work on it as soon as my other current story "The Emperor's Key" is finished.

Thank you to everyone who read this story and a special thanks to those who reviewed. If you have any questions I will answer them in Q and A post later (in other words, if you spot a plot hole I'll tell you how it can be worked out).

Once again, thanks.

Thomas Fishwick
A.k.a. Mountain King.
October 2004