Author Notes: Here's an old concept I had been working on about 2 years ago but put by the wayside when SFA went offline. I still haven't actually finished anything, so we'll have to see how it goes, but the first half is mostly done. Just needs some revision.
It's mostly an adventure fic with a little comedy intermeshed, especially once Buffybot strikes out on her own. Timeline starts at the beginning of season 6.
October 2, 2001
The flickering lights cast ominous reflections on the car windows as the car crept to a hesitant stop alongside buildings of the smoldering downtown core. When John opened the door his nose was immediately assaulted by gasoline fumes and the smell of burning lumber. Two cars that had been parked earlier on the same street were burning, their windows shattered and hoods smashed in, but their owners would be happy enough with not being present at the time.
"Jesus," said Neil as he slammed his door closed. "I'd hoped that I'd never get to see Sunnydale like this. Last thing this town needs is motorcycle gangs."
John agreed. Neil had only been on the force for a few years, yet he had already seen death and violence on a scale usually reserved for warzones. To John it was old hat, but he was surprised to see big city style gang violence. Usually things were indoor and local, they could sweep it under the carpet and no one would need to know. But this…
The police radio squawked at them causing Neil, still a little stunned from what was in front of him, to jump.
"Dammit," he muttered, and picked up the mic. "MacIntyre here, Susan. We're downtown, a block south of the park. A row of burned out buildings and cars, but we don't see any of the bikers at this time. Request the fire department send someone down here." He shook his head as he threw the handset back into the squad car. "Hell in a handbasket, John. Hell in a handbasket."
John snorted. "You're not old enough to say that yet. I tell ya, Neil, I picked the right time to call it quits." He'd had enough of the ritual eviscerations, wild animal attacks, and serial murders to haunt his nightmares for the rest of his life. This town had a thing for the occult too. It just creeped him out. He never thought joining a small town police force would be so trying. Even the legit accidents - like that gas explosion at the high school a few years back that killed the mayor - were gruesome. "Yessir, retirement's going to be nice."
"Party's at Crabby's?" asked Neil. They walked, picking slowly through the ruined buildings looking for injured victims to help, or possibly gang members to arrest.
All John could do was shrug. "Assuming it's still standing after this." He stood up straight and surveyed the damage around him. There was a motorcycle that looked like it had been dumped. A Harley.
"Looks like it could be one of theirs." John examined the bike, from its dented gas tank and bent forks back to its warped rear struts. "That's odd," he murmured. "That's got a chain attached to the frame." Rubbing his chin thoughtfully he followed the length of chain back where it came from - back toward the car park.
"Hmm?" Neil was a few moments behind John, crouching down to examine the bike for himself. "Think they were pulling something?" he asked. "At this time of night, nothing in the lot but lamp posts and shitty beaters." He started to follow John when another set of red and blue flashing lights added themselves to the eerie luminescence. Backup. It looked like Burke and Costanza. Judging from the bucket of chicken on the dash, that is. Following the second police car was the first of several fire engines that were approaching slowly through the wreckage. Already firefighters were jumping from their vehicles to begin their work.
John tapped Neil on the shoulder. "Hey Mac. Why don't you fill those guys in. I'll take a closer look at the bike."
"I think those guys are full of it already," retorted Neil. He straightened his cap and uniform to flaunt his respectability to the two larger officers who had arrived on the scene, then started to make his way to their car. John continued to follow the chain. It was definitely heading from the car park. It didn't make any sense to him. The only thing he could think of was that they were trying to tow something valuable; valuable enough to risk a Harley. But from the parking lot? Unless they were towing a person, like in the movies. He didn't want to think of that possibility. Should have retired last week.
The sound of loud V-twin engines roared in the night. John had let himself get distracted, his concentration had waned, and the two bikers surprised him. They came thundering out from the intersection to his right - he barely had time to dive from his feet as the inhumanly large bikers bore down on him, swinging lengths of chain. John escaped their wrought iron by inches, splayed out on the ground in gutter between the road and the sidewalk. The pavement had taken a heavy toll on him as well. He really should have retired last week.
The bikers turned away from him but headed toward the two police cars and fire engines.
"Neil!" John yelled, no doubt an extraneous warning. In the middle of the street, however, Neil MacIntyre had not taken cover behind any vehicle or building, instead pulling his revolver and standing down the onrushing bikers. John sprung to his feet as fast as his aged and aching bones could allow. He could not outrun a Harley, but tried to reach his young friend before anything could happen.
A shot rang out, and then another. The gang members had not heeded Costanza's shouted warnings, nor were they deterred by the gunfire. A swinging chain caught MacIntyre across the chest and sent him staggering to the ground. John stopped in his tracks as the officer fell into a crumpled heap. He pulled his gun and fired at the withdrawing bikers. It was probably one of Burke's shots that rang true as he was the closest officer to the incident. With a halted yell one of the two bikers fell from his mount and rolled for many yards before crashing to a halt against a lamp post.
Already Burke and Costanza were by their fallen comrade. He wasn't moving, not that John could see from many yards away. As he approached he could hear the firefighters who had come on the scene calling for an ambulance.
Neil's chest was collapsed underneath his jacket, the chain had crushed his ribs. Contrary to John's previous assessment, he was moving, weakly flailing his arms and coughing up blood as he tried to breathe. "John?" he whimpered from the ground. Neil struggled to sit up, but a firefighter held him still and told him not to try to move. "Did you get them?" Neil asked, showing utter disregard for his own condition.
"Yeah," John's voice caught in his throat. "We got one of them."
"Spectacular crash, too," Costanza added.
A couple more firefighters had arrived with first aid supplies and began crowding John and the other two officers out. When the ambulance arrived some minutes later to usher MacIntyre away, he had been slipping in and out of consciousness. The police were forced to stand back and let the paramedics do their work. Slowly they remembered the gunfight's other casualty.
John stood with Burke over the body of the dead biker. His traveling companion had long since left, riding off into the night from whence he came with little regard for the man left behind. Animals, John thought. Certainly they barely looked human. The dead man's head and shoulder had been scraped badly by the slide on the pavement, but it wasn't enough to remove all signs of the grotesque personal mutilation that he had previously suffered. The scarring was symmetrical and well formed, obviously intentional.
"It's amazing what these punk kids will do to get into a gang," said Burke, coming to the same conclusion about the markings. "Well, not so much kids. This guy would have to be pretty old to be built like this. Jeez. Muscles on top of muscles." Indeed he was big, and not just by police standards. The guy looked like he could have made a career as a strong man - not world class big but worth two bits a gander. Maybe three or four bits if you include how ugly he was.
The big body barely moved when John kicked it hard. His leather jacket said 'Hellions' on it. It wasn't a gang that John was familiar with. He kicked the biker again. "I hope Neil's alright." He gave a little shrug then turned away. "If you can take care of our friend here," he directed Burke, "I'd like to finish taking a look around here."
"Alright, sir." Burke waved Costanza to help him with the biker's body.
John went back to the first crashed motorcycle and its mysterious chain. This time he looked both ways before he entered the intersection, but this time there were no nasty surprises waiting to ambush him, thank God. At the end of the chain there didn't look like there was much, just a broken off tree branch or something of that sort. Maybe it was a PVC pipe, just twisted and torn away from a wall. At least there wasn't a body dragged from the end. John let his body relax for a bit. He didn't want to see any more blood and guts today, or the rest of his life for that matter. He just wanted to take slightly early retirement in peace and forget about his messy divorce and other violence.
When his mind finally put assembled what the object at the end of the chain was he wished that he had stayed wound-up. His eyesight must be failing him. It was a human arm tied by the wrist and wrenched free from its body. And in the middle of the lot- "Oh God!" It was a torso and lifeless head. John sank to his knees and sobbed. It was just too much for him to take in. They had pulled apart a young blonde woman with motorcycles. They must truly be monsters to kill someone in such a horrible way. This was even worse than when Frank got his face chewed off two years ago. Slowly he crawled toward the poor woman's broken body, dragging his limp legs across the grass, willing himself to her side. He needed to see her. He just needed to see her. Take in the sight of the blood, the tattered flesh, the anguish on her face, the aluminum U-joint...
He collapsed at the woman's hip. She wasn't a woman at all. She was a mannequin. Not blood and bone but plastic and metal. The tattered shoulder and leg joints had wires streaming from them. Maybe it was some sort of animatronic. Sure was pretty though. No pain on her face, just a neutral expression with fine workmanship that Madame Tousseault's wax museum would be proud of. John sat up abruptly, instantly better. He hoped that no one else had seen his momentary breakdown. Ah, what the hell, he though, they'd only have another week to rib him about it.
Dragged in three separate directions he found her legs and other arm. Except for the joints, where the limbs had been torn from the body, all parts looked to be in good shape. It seemed a shame to let this animatronic hottie go to waste. It could make a good retirement project for him to try to get her running again. John discretely collected her parts and stuffed them into the trunk of his squad car. With all the commotion surrounding the riots and MacIntyre's injury he doubted anyone would notice that he had a well-sculpted mannequin in the back...