by Philip S.
Summary: When Faith, the Vampire Slayer, tries to stop a group of demons from getting their hands on a powerful alien artefact, her world becomes forever... transformed.
Setting: The events of this story take place early in Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before Faith comes to town.
Author's Notes: Just a little idea I've been playing around with for a while. Not sure if I should continue it, so let me know what you think, okay?
Part 1: To Save the Talking Fire Truck
The girl's name was Faith, just Faith. She had a last name, of course, but it had been a long time since it had mattered to her in any way. She had never known her father and her mother, well, she'd been happier never having known that bitch, either. She was on her own now and that was just the way she liked it. Or at least that is what she told herself.
Faith was a unique (or almost unique) individual. To the naked eye she might seem nothing more than an ordinary teenager, but she was far more than that. Blessed, or maybe cursed, to be this generation's protector from the forces of darkness, she'd been given powers beyond any mere human. She was the Slayer.
Being the Slayer entailed a lot of things. Enhanced speed, strength, and endurance, certainly. An uncanny sixth sense for picking up things that weren't quite natural, sometimes ending up in prophetic dreams, too. It also entailed being assigned a Watcher, a member of an ancient society of scholars and teachers who had taken it upon themselves to guide and train every new incarnation of the Slayer.
Faith's Watcher was dead now, which was part of the reason she had left her hometown of Boston and was now on the run. On the run to a town called Sunnydale, on the run from a very powerful vampire named Kakistos. Kakistos had been her first real challenge as the Slayer, seeing as she had only been the chosen one for about three months now, and she had quite thoroughly failed to meet this challenge. Kakistos had beaten her. And he had killed Clarice, her Watcher, right before her eyes.
So now she was on the run. The first thing on her mind was to escape from this monster that had torn her life apart. Clarice, her Watcher, had been the first person that had ever made her feel like she was worth something, like she was here on Earth for some kind of purpose. Now Clarice was dead and Faith had been unable to save her. Which made her feel useless in ways no one else had ever managed to make her feel, not even her bitch of a mother.
Kakistos was hunting her, that much she knew by now. Demons were a chatty lot, so she knew he had put a bounty on her head. He wanted her alive, though, not dead. No, that pleasure he wanted reserved for himself. In her panicked flight she had managed to wound him quite severely, putting out one of his eyes. It had only made him more angry, though, and now he wanted her in the worst way.
Ever since that night, three weeks ago now, Faith had been running non-stop. She stopped only to sleep and her dreams were filled with nightmares. It was ridiculous, really. Here she was, one of the most powerful beings on the face of the Earth, and she was running like a scared little girl. The truth was, though, that she was a scared little girl. One that had been forced to grow up way too fast and dumped into a world filled with monsters.
At this moment she was in a small town somewhere in California, waiting for a bus to take her to Los Angeles. From Los Angeles it wasn't far to Sunnydale, the town where she would find a representative of the Watchers Council. Maybe the Watchers would know what to do about Kakistos. Maybe they could help her escape from him. It wasn't much of a hope, but it was the only thing she had right now. So she sat waiting for her bus, uncomfortably aware that the sun had set.
Her feelings were pretty conflicted. Sunset meant the vampires and demons were coming out to play and the Slayer inside of her was filling her with an almost irresistible urge to go and seek them out, to kill them all before they could endanger innocents. The scared little girl knew, though, that one of those vampires out there might well be Kakistos and she would give anything never to encounter him again.
For the moment the scared little girl was stronger, so she kept sitting on the bench, waiting for the bus. Her chocolate-coloured eyes darted every which way, watching every shadow for signs of the hulking, brutish shape of her hunter. Under her jacket, within easy reach, was a stake, her preferred weapon for dealing with the Undead. She didn't fear any normal vampire coming after her, she could handle them. But she wasn't running from a normal vampire.
She was so focused on the shadows around her that she completely missed the approaching vehicle. A bright red fire truck, sirens wailing, thundered past her at speeds way too high for a small town street like this. She was momentarily blinded by the bright lights and deafened by the sirens, afterimages dancing in front of her eyes.
Recovering, she looked after the truck, seeing it heading towards a nearby building. The building was smoldering. Why hadn't she noticed that before? Quite a few people were out on the streets. Spectators, probably waiting for the flames to come bursting out of the building. Faith looked at the receding fire truck again. Something was off about it. It gave off... a vibe. Something that sparked her Slayer senses.
Checking the schedule, she realized that her bus would not arrive for another thirty minutes at least. Maybe more if the fire thing caused a delay. So she might as well check out the weird feeling she got from that truck. Some parts of her rebelled, jumping at every shadow, thinking it might be some kind of lure laid out by Kakistos. She chided herself. She might be scared shitless, but not of a fire truck or a fire. She was the Slayer, damn it!
Jogging over, she saw some flames were now visible from behind the building's windows. The fire truck had come to a stop alongside another truck already present. Water hoses flipped out from the ladder and started spraying the building's roof. Faith saw several firemen already hard at work, breaking down doors and searching the building for any people left inside.
There was something strange, though. The newly arrived fire truck looked much more modern than the one already there. Also, she had not seen anyone climbing out from it. From her vantage point she couldn't see into the driver's cabin. Was the driver directing the water hoses from in there?
Before she could think more about it, though, things started happening. The top floor of the four story building suddenly erupted, flames shooting out of shattering windows. The spectators quickly got some distance between themselves and the spectacle, driven back by the scalding heat and showers of glass shards raining down. Faith inched back as well. She was the Slayer, but she wasn't exactly fire proof or anything.
There it was again. A tingle, much stronger this time. It didn't come from the fire truck, though, but rather from somewhere inside the building. Faith hadn't been a Slayer that long, but she knew that tingle. Something was in there and whatever it was, it wasn't natural.
Her instincts took over, her eyes looking for some kind of entrance into the burning building. Reason told her to cut it out, the building was on fire, but she hardly listened. She had gone three weeks with barely any demon or vampire to slay and pent-up energy was bursting forth in a hurry. The tingle inside her head was intense, almost like an air raid siren, and left no room to argue.
The firemen were desperately trying to get the blaze under control, but Faith had the distinct feeling that they weren't going to succeed. Something unnatural was feeding these flames, something demonic. Mere water wouldn't put them out. She reached under her jacket for her stake, feeling safer with it in her hand. She found a side entrance and quickly used her strength to break open the lock.
The ground floor of the building was not in flames yet, but thick smoke obscured most of it from view. Faith coughed and quickly pulled up the neck of her T-shirt to protect her lungs as best as she could. Smoke inhalation could kill you almost as quickly as fire, she knew. Carefully she made her way deeper inside, letting herself be pulled along by her instincts.
The tingling was growing stronger. Something was in here. Something despite the heat and smoke that were quickly starting to take its toll on her. She'd have to wrap this up quickly. Dying in a fire might be a way to cheat Kakistos of what he wanted, but she didn't intend to die that easily.
Breaking open another door, she found herself looking into a big warehouse space, empty except for a few crates here and there. Wooden crates. They'd light up real good once the fire got here. Chasing those thoughts away, she made her way forward until she could see her prey. There they were.
Demons, not a species she recognized. Human-sized, maybe a bit larger, black skin, black robes, red eyes. Probably fangs and claws, too. Just a guess, but demons usually had them. There were over two dozen of them, quite a gathering.
"It's here," one of them growled. "Drawn here like a moth to the flame."
The others chuckled as if sharing a private joke.
"Soon it will be in our possession," another growled, sounding quite eager.
Faith had no idea what it' was, but seeing as they were demons, she was quite sure that it would be best if they didn't get it'. The only problem was, there were so many of them. Her self-confidence wasn't what it had been before Kakistos and even if it had, her common sense told her that she was outnumbered.
"What to do," she whispered to herself. "What to do."
Suddenly one of the demons looked up sharply. "It's here!"
For a moment Faith feared that they might have discovered her, but her fears were unfounded. As one the demons looked toward the far wall, anticipation written all over their faces. Faith, too, felt something from that direction. A tingle, yet very much unlike that she felt from these monsters. It felt... purer. What was...
The wall they were all staring at suddenly exploded inward and the red fire truck she had followed to this place came crashing through. Flames were licking along the roof now and the smoke was getting thicker.
"Everybody out," a voice rang out from the fire truck. "This building is no longer safe."
Faith tried to spot the driver inside the truck, but couldn't see him. The truck's windshields were opaque. The demons didn't seem interested in escaping from the fire, though. Instead they moved towards the truck.
"It is here," one of them snarled in satisfaction. "Just as we predicted."
"Didn't you hear me," the truck driver's voice rang out again. "I said... what are you?"
Apparently he had just gotten his first good look at the intended rescuees, because the truck was backing away a bit. Debris from his crash through the wall blocked the way he'd come in, though.
"Take it!" She didn't see which of the demons gave the command, but suddenly all of them surged forward and swarmed the red truck. Faith was about to jump up and save the driver, when the truck exploded into action. Its ladder swung around, swatting several of the demons against the far wall with incredible force. Powerful burst of water exploded from its hoses, taking several more off their feet. The truck performed some kind of crazy turn Faith would never have believed it capable of and its rear rammed into yet more demons, sending them sprawling.
Their numbers were working against the truck, though, and soon several of them were on top of it. One of them sent a fist (with claws, she noted) through the wind shield, shattering it.
Which revealed to Faith that the truck didn't have a driver.
She was still trying to figure that out when the truck screeched forward, trying to throw the demons off.
"I don't know what you are, but this is your last warning. Get off of me!"
The truck was talking, Faith realized. It didn't have a driver, but it talked. How was that possible? She had never heard of any kind of magical fire truck before.
"Okay, you had your warning," the truck stated.
Before Faith's disbelieving eyes the truck began to change. The front portion of it disengaged from the trailer with the ladder and screeched into a tight turn, managing to throw some of its uninvited passengers off. Others still clung to it, but suddenly found their hold evaporating as the vehicle began to shift. Plates rearranged, entire portions of it distorted, the sound of shifting gears and pumping pistons filled the air.
Little more than a second had passed, but a giant robot now stood in place of the fire truck. It was mostly red, with white legs and a blue head. It was at least ten meters tall and unable to stand in the warehouse space, forcing it into a crouched position. Faith was completely speechless.
As she watched the giant robot went to work on the demons, throwing them every which way like gnats. There were a lot of gnats, though, and they were quite persistent. Also, it seemed that the robot was going out of its way not to do too much harm to its assailants. It could have squashed many of them easily, but was content to merely brush them away.
This was its undoing. The demons boxed it in and, despite its vast size, managed to inflict wounds on it. Their claws sheared through its metal skin, not easily, but they did. The robot stumbled, apparently feeling pain from those injuries, and the demons managed to topple it into a pile of debris that had already caught fire.
The robot uttered a cry of pain, as unbelievable as it was, and this caused Faith to spring into action.
Later on she wouldn't be able to say what she had been thinking or even what exactly she had been doing. The entire fight turned into a blur of flames, smoke, and demon bodies. Armed with nothing but a stake and a jack knife she tore into the monsters, killing two of them before they even realized she was there. Some of them turned to deal with her, others were still swarming the robot, apparently trying to rip its chest plate open.
Time lost meaning as she fought, drowning herself in her Slayer instincts. There were demons to kill and she was the Slayer, nothing else mattered. Some of them had already been rendered unconscious by the giant robot, but there were still so many of them. She fought, but they fought back. There was pain, lots of pain, but it didn't register. At least not immediately.
She only realized at some point that the fight was over. Demon bodies littered the ground at her feet. Flames and smoke filled the space around her. And a giant alien robot was kneeling beside her, lots of gashes in its metal hide, but apparently alive (if such a thing could be said about giant robots).
"I thank you for your help," the robot said, "but we should get out of here fast. The flames have engulfed most of the building."
The flames, yes. It was quite hot in here. So hot she could barely breathe. Lots of smoke, too. And this searing pain in her belly. Looking down, she saw that her stomach had been sliced open, blood pouring out freely.
"You are wounded," the robot said, alarm in its voice.
"You don't miss a thing, do you?" she managed to say, then toppled over, darkness closing in around her.
End Chapter 1
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