The Manchurian Slayer

Summary: Faith is captured by the Mayor and Trick and brainwashed. . .can she be stopped from her deadly mission?

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for violence and portrayal of brainwashing.

Time Frame: Between "Amends" and "The Zeppo" (so that's where Faith was!)

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.

Note: I have borrowed from the basic plotline of "The Manchurian Candidate", which was written by the brilliant Richard Condon (who, alas, is no longer with us). Obviously, the plotline here is far less complex and far more compressed in time frame, and I would also say that the ending is far more reminiscent of the movie made from the book in 1962 (which starred Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh, and was directed by John Frankenheimer) than of the book itself.


THE MANCHURIAN SLAYER

Part I


Faith prowled the graveyard, inwardly smiling at the small patches of melting snow that she saw on the ground as she walked along. That had been quite a sight. . .snow falling just as dawn was supposed to break. . .she and Joyce Summers had walked out onto the front lawn and had looked up in sheer wonder at the sight. It had apparently been a life saver for Buffy's squeeze, too. Faith frowned: she was still ambivalent about the ensouled vampire-he made her edgy with his relentless brooding, not to mention his obsession with Buffy. Inwardly, she shrugged: it wasn't as if she'd let them get inside. . .she trusted no one, and she liked it that way.

Abruptly, a vampire ran close by her, heading for a nearby alley. Faith grinned ferally and chased him into the alley. She cornered him and drew a stake, smiling sadistically at the cowering vampire. "Now that wasn't very bright, was it?" She advanced on him slowly and was only a few feet away when she heard a voice from the entrance of the alley."

"Actually, he did exactly what I told him to." Faith turned slowly with a sinking feeling and saw that Mr. Trick was at the entrance of the alley, pointing a tranquilizer gun at her. Desperately, she charged at him, only to take a tranquilizer dart in the chest. She went down, and the last thing she heard was, "What do you know. . .this thing isn't just for werewolves any more."

One week later. . .

Trick waited impatiently as the Mayor worked on the crossword puzzle and sipped from the glass of milk in front of him (Trick had politely refused a glass when he had arrived a few minutes before). The Mayor looked over at him and asked, "Mr. Trick, do you know a five letter word for extreme boredom?"

Yeah, particularly since I'm living it right now, thought the vampire. He stifled the response and replied, "Ennui." As the Mayor smiled and filled in the space, Trick felt compelled to say something. "Ah, Mr. Mayor. . .would it be unreasonable to ask what I'm doing here?. . .I've got stuff going, including some projects you put me on yourself." He frowned and asked, "Does this have to do with us putting the snatch on that Slayer rather than just taking her out last week?"

Wilkins smiled and replied, "Mr. Trick, your instincts, as usual, are quite good. Yes, it does have to do with our. . .acquisition of Faith." He gestured, and ordered, "Have a seat. . .we'll begin now." He pressed the intercom button on his desk and asked the secretary to send the waiting visitors in. Trick was shocked to see that the first to enter the office was Faith: he tensed for a moment before noticing the blank look in her eyes. She walked over to an empty chair and sat without a sound as the other visitor entered. He was Asian (Chinese probably, Trick thought after examining him for a moment) and very old, with folds of parchment-like skin obscuring most of his features-he had dark, hooded eyes. Trick watched him for a moment before noting that he was not breathing; clearly, this was not a human. The Mayor turned to Trick and spoke in a cheerful voice, "Mr. Trick, this is Dr. Yen Lo." The two shook hands, and the coolness of the doctor's hand confirmed what Trick had suspected-Yen Lo was a vampire.

The Mayor asked the doctor to sit down, but he refused, indicating that he was comfortable as he was. The Mayor nodded in assent and requested, "Why don't you start, Doctor? We're both anxious to see what you've done with this stubborn little girl here."

Yen Lo smiled coldly and began, "Faith is quite a challenging subject. . .even with the modern hypnotic drugs, which I would have loved to have access to in my days with Chairman Mao's government before my turning, it took me several days to get her into a pliable state. She trusts no one, and she has turned that distrust into her armor against the world, for better and for worse." He frowned, then continued, "Still, my techniques have improved in the last fifty years, and no one human-or superhuman-could resist them forever. To make a long story short, I have conditioned Faith to respond to a certain triggering phrase that will trigger a stimulus that will cause her to respond to commands, then forget immediately what she has done. The trigger is absolutely reliable and will put her under the control of the person who utters the phrase and thereby triggers the stimulus."

Trick frowned and asked, "You're telling me that you have that crazy bitch under your control right now?" The Mayor frowned at the use of language, and Trick continued in a more sedate vein. "I don't suppose you would care to demonstrate that control, Doctor?"

Yen Lo did not take offense; instead, he turned to Faith and called out, "Faith, dear, would you please walk up to Mr. Trick and kiss him on the lips?" He turned to Trick and whispered for him to assume his true face: he did so. Without hesitation, Faith walked up to Trick and kissed him on the mouth, hard. He was so surprised that he actually lost his game face, and he was still staring when Yen Lo ordered her to resume her seat. "I gave her an open-ended command to follow all of my orders until I say a certain word to her. Left alone, she would sit there until she starved without the slightest complaint."

"Impressive," the Mayor noted, looking intently at the vacant gaze of the Slayer sitting in his office, "but will she do that for me? And how versatile is the range of control here?"

Yen Lo walked over to the Mayor and whispered to him for a moment before walking away and placing a deck of cards on the edge of the Mayor's desk. The Mayor pressed his intercom button and called, "Alan, would you come in here for a moment?" The assistant mayor came in a moment later, looking befuddled as usual, and sat down in response to the Mayor's signal. Wilkins turned to Faith and called out, "Up for some solitaire?"

Faith stiffened, then stood up and took the deck of cards from the desk. She looked around for a convenient surface; finding none, she flopped down onto the floor like the teenager she was and began the layout for the classic solitaire game of Klondike. As she did so, Yen Lo explained, "The phrase has triggered the automatic response of starting the solitaire layout. The beauty of this is that most of her peers would not be caught dead playing solitaire; thus, the phrase is unlikely to come up in any discussions she might have with her acquaintances. The stimulus that will make her ready to receive commands is the King of Hearts, which represents her love/hate relationship with the men who have traveled through her life. . .ah, there it is."

The King of Hearts had appeared on the layout: Faith paused and waited silently. Wilkins waited for but a moment, then spoke up with an evil grin. "Faith, go open that cabinet over there and take out the crossbow in there, then wait until I give you another order." She got up and followed the order without hesitation. Wilkins smiled and ordered, "Now, load the crossbow, point it at Alan over there, count out loud to ten, and fire."

Alan turned white and looked as if he wanted to run, but the sight of Trick sitting there shaking his head discouraged that idea. He began to sweat freely as Faith pointed the now-loaded crossbow and began counting in a flat tone: "1...,2...,3...,4...,5...,6...,7...,8..." At this point, Wilkins called out, "Faith, unload the crossbow and put it down, then go to Alan and sit in his lap and await further instructions." She did so, and Alan began to blush as the beautiful young woman climbed into his lap and sat there blankly, waiting for an order. Wilkins chuckled and commented, "I do so love teasing that boy. . .Doctor, I am very impressed. Is she ready to go back?"

The vampire nodded and elaborated, "There are a few more things that I would like to plant in her mind, with the goal of making her more useful for your stated goals for her. After that, we should let her go back on her wandering patrols. . .I have planted false memories of a dozen or so slayings in the last week, so that she does not wonder where the last week has gone. Eventually, she will rejoin her friends, and you will be able to have her pick them off one by one, finishing with the other Slayer. After that, she will be available to return to you as your perfect assassin."

Wilkins began to clap, and after a moment Trick joined in. Alan just sat there, looking terrified at the presence of the "perfect assassin" sitting in his lap. The Mayor stood up and said to Yen Lo quietly, "Well done, Doctor. I'm doubling your promised bonus. . .though you might have to wait for a little while. . .fifteen year old virgins aren't thick on the ground here, you know." Yen Lo chuckled at the truth of the Mayor's statement and nodded as the Mayor continued, "I'll leave you two alone to finish the job. . .come on, gentlemen. I'm up for some ice cream." Trick followed, rolling his eyes, while Alan gently untangled himself from Faith and fled after his boss. With the room empty but for himself and Faith, Yen Lo carefully looked at his project and spoke calmly: "Now, Faith, if you're ever going to be a useful ally for our friend the Mayor, we're going to have to deal with this unfortunate distrust you have for everyone." He smiled at the irony of the statement, then began: "Up for some solitaire?"


***


In the history of the world, much of what we know as being history resulted from simple chance. Some person living tens of millennia ago discovered by sheer chance that spices made food taste good. Lou Gehrig launched his legendary consecutive games streak because Wally Pipp woke up with a headache one day. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her best friends avoided being picked off one by one by a conscienceless assassin because, at the time, Xander Harris had a tremendously bad love life.

Faith showed up back in town a few days after Buffy had suffered the horrors of her Cruciamentum. Buffy opened the door and saw Faith there, uncharacteristically cheerful. The younger Slayer's expression changed as she saw the remaining bruises and other injuries on Buffy's face: "What the hell happened to you, B?" Buffy sat her down in the living room and told her the whole story. By the time she had finished, Faith's face was a mask of rage. "Damn those bastards! They almost killed you and your mom, and they FIRED Giles for helping to save you!? Screw this!" She began to get up, but Buffy tried to restrain her: the still-lessened strength in her grasp caused Faith to get even angrier when she realized what was happening. Buffy resorted to locking eyes with Faith and quietly asking her to sit down, which Faith did, still mumbling under her breath. They talked for a while, and they agreed that while they were both definitely pissed off at the Council, they would stay on the job because it still needed to be done, and because Giles wanted them too. Buffy was pleased at the amount of loyalty that Faith felt for Giles, though it seemed out of step with her emotional state the last time Buffy saw her. . .perhaps it was the shock of hearing about the Cruciamentum. . .

After a few minutes, they headed out to the Bronze, and they didn't need to look long before running across Willow, Oz and Xander. They sat down, and greetings were exchanged all around before Xander piped up, "You two are just in time to hear the latest developments in the mini-Hellmouth I call my love life."

Oz commented, "Yeah, for some reason he thinks he needs a more sympathetic audience." Even Willow laughed at that, as Xander blushed and retorted, "I don't remember asking you to be funny guy, Oz man."

Faith laughed inwardly. Poor Xander, he'd had it rough since that Spike thing had resulted in he and Willow getting caught playing snugglebunnies. . .he wasn't a bad sort, really. Maybe she should. . .no, maybe not, she thought, Buffy would not be happy, she takes screwing too damned seriously, and Willow would freak, even though she'd gone back to Oz. Oh well, he's on his own. She listened as Xander continued complaining, ". . .so she said, 'Not in this lifetime, pal.' It had gotten to the point where my love life consisted of me looking in a mirror and saying seductively, "Up for some solitaire?"

While the others laughed, Faith stiffened and stood up, looking around until she spotted the bar. She walked away without a word, and walked over to the bartender while the remaining occupants looked at her in puzzlement. "What's with Faith?" Willow asked Buffy, scratching her head in bewilderment. Buffy frowned and replied, " I don't know, but it did seem a little weird, didn't it?" They watched as Faith obtained a deck of playing cards, sat down at the table next to them, and began playing solitaire.

Buffy called over, "Faith, are you all right?" The younger Slayer didn't answer, being intent on the game. After a moment, the group collectively put it down to Faith's antisocial tendencies and Xander began his narrative again, not noticing that the King of Hearts had come up and that Faith was staring blankly into space. Xander was on a roll, and he actually seemed to be relishing the story of his misery as her continued, "So I was fed up, and I thought, what the hell, if I'm going to get rejected, I might as well get rejected by hotter babes." Buffy and Willow rolled their eyes, but Xander was undaunted. "So I walked into this place with my handy-dandy fake ID, and there she was: five foot ten, redhead, absolutely stunning. I took a deep breath, walked up to her, and looked her right in the eyes as I said, 'Hey, I've got a great idea. Why don't you get out of your seat-" Faith, sitting within earshot at the next table, stood up at this "-come over to me, and give me the best kiss you've ever given to any man." The others groaned at this, as Xander finished glumly, "Do you have any idea how much a Bloody Mary stings when it's thrown in your eyes. . .Mmph!"

Distracted by their laughter, Buffy and the others failed to notice Faith until she had slid into his lap and started kissing him with a hungry passion. Once they did notice, they all were at a loss as to how to proceed. Xander did not seem to be in trouble, but there was definitely a glazed look in his eyes as he looked at the Slayer who seemed to be intent on sucking the air out of his lungs, if not the fillings from his teeth. Willow looked outraged, and snapped, "Cut that out, right now! How da-" She stopped at the sound of Oz clearing his throat, and turned to see a mildly annoyed look on her boyfriend's face. She blushed and backtracked, muttering softly, "Well, she didn't ask first." Buffy was also shocked, but she decided to wait, given the possible problems in removing her against her will. After about thirty seconds, Xander's eyes rolled over to Buffy and signaled frantically for her to intervene, though the activity around his lip area suggested that the sentiment was not shared by all of Xander. Buffy carefully moved behind Faith and lifted her off of the startled Xander. At first, she resisted, and Buffy knew that the younger Slayer was still stronger than her. . .this could be a problem. With his lips freed, Xander said quietly to Faith, "Uh. . .thanks Faith, but I think that's enough, now."

Immediately, Faith stopped resisting Buffy, got to her feet, and sat down where she had been sitting before she retrieved the cards from the bar. She blinked, then looked over at the disheveled Xander, asking, "So why did you stop, Xander? What happened after that chick told you 'Not in this lifetime?'"
She smiled as she anticipated the rest of the story, and only eventually realized that the other occupants of the table were staring openly at her. Puzzled, she said the first thing that came to mind. . .

"What? Was it something I said?"

. . .to be continued.


As always, comments are welcomed and desired