Part 1 of 7
Faith & the Eater of the Dead
By Philip S.
Summary: When a dangerous demon breaches the walls between two worlds, the heroes of two different dimensions will be forever changed. For one it will mean a new home, a new job, and a new idol to live up to.
Timeline: Post Season-7 for BtVS. Set shortly after ‘The Killing Dance’ in Anita Blake’s world.
Rating: PG-13 for now
Disclaimer: All things Anita Blake are property Laurell K. Hamilton. All Things Buffy are copyright Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Only the plot is mine. Part 1 of 7
Consciousness slowly returned and with it came quite a bit of pain. Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, the person this was happening to was not exactly unfamiliar with this state of affairs, so the confusion and panic that usually came with waking up to pain and strange surroundings remained at a manageable level.
She was Dawn Summers, after all, baby sister of the oldest living Vampire Slayer, and being knocked out and kidnapped just meant it was Tuesday again.
“Buffy’s gonna kill me,” Dawn muttered, still not fully conscious. “I promised not to get kidnapped this month after that whole racoon demon thing last month.”
The world slowly came back into focus, but offered little to cheer her up. She was in some kind of abandoned warehouse. What was it with warehouses, anyway? Why were there so many of them around and why were they always abandoned? Didn’t people know that abandoned warehouses were never a good thing? The only things you found in abandoned warehouses were criminals and demons, possible even demon criminals.
With her vision working properly again, she tried to sit up. Sadly that proved to be quite impossible, as she was tied down.
“Kidnapped, knocked out, and tied down,” she muttered, trying to discern more about her surroundings despite her limited mobility. “Now the only thing missing is some kind of...”
A growling sound from somewhere beyond her field of vision made her shut up. She really should know better, she scolded herself. Tempting fate is never good, almost as bad as saying the w-word. Twisting her head as far as she could, she finally caught a glimpse of her kidnapper.
“... demon,” she finished, sighing deeply.
The thing walking out of the darkness was huge, inhuman, and looked very, very unfriendly. Thick leathery skin, huge teeth and claws, deep red eyes, it appeared like a cross between a huge grizzly bear and the creature from Alien, Dawn figured. Judging people based on their appearance wasn’t a good thing, she knew, but with demons that looked like that, nine times out of ten it meant they were planning to eat you. And the tenth time they usually had worse stuff in mind.
“Finally awake I see,” the demon growled. The words were barely understandable. Dawn figured that this thing’s humongous mouth hadn’t been built with human speech in mind.
“No thanks to you,” she said, trying to remain composed. “Why do demons always feel the need to knock me senseless? Just threatening me with those claws would have been good enough, you know? I’d have come along willingly.”
“Possibly,” the demon growled, walking closer to her. “No sense in taking chances, though. I’m on a schedule.”
“Really? I had plans for tonight, too.”
The demon did something that looked like a shrug. Any impression of casualness was ruined by the bony spikes sticking out of its shoulders and upper arms.
“Too bad. At the risk of being impolite, my needs take preference to yours.”
“Oh yeah? Why?”
“Because I am a powerful demon and you’re just a little girl.”
“Okay, you might have a point there. Still, if you think I’m just some little girl...”
The demon cut her off. “Oh, I know exactly who you are, Dawn Summers. Or should I call you... the Key?”
So far Dawn had been worried. As of this moment, though, she was terrified.
Most people would have trouble keeping up a conversation while running at speeds above thirty kilometres per hour. Come to think of it, most people would have a lot of trouble running so fast for any length of time in the first place. Fortunately the woman known simply as Faith had never been ‘most people’. She was a Vampire Slayer and running fast while keeping up conversations was the least of what she could do.
“Something’s interfering with the tracking charm,” the voice on the other end of her cell phone answered. “I’m getting a general direction, that’s all. You’re getting closer, though.”
Right now over a dozen Slayers were busy scouring Cleveland for any sign of the missing Summers girl. The baby sister of the oldest living Slayer often complained about the fact that just about every single member of the New Council of Slayers and Watchers considered protecting her part of the job, but Faith knew that the former Key secretly loved having so large a family around. And family they were.
Which meant that Aunty Faith was going to rip anyone threatening her little D a new one.
Only two hours ago they had found Dawn’s apartment in tatters, the door smashed by something strong enough to get past all the wards Willow had put up around the place. It hadn’t been a random thing, either, that much was clear. Whoever had taken Dawn, and odds were it was a demon or something, had snuck by a dozen other apartments, all of them not warded, to get to her. For whatever reason, Dawn had been targeted specifically.
Faith fully intended to have her back safe and sound before the sun rose. Certainly before a certain blonde Slayer came back from her visit to the European branch of the Council, because she was quite certain that this city wouldn’t survive the wrath of the senior Slayer if her little sister wasn’t back by then.
“Can’t you be a bit more specific, Red?” Faith asked, still running full-out. “Just getting closer isn’t really cutting it for me.”
Willow Rosenburg, witch extraordinaire and best friend of Buffy Summers, was sitting in the middle of her sanctum back at Council headquarters, doing her best to stretch her magical senses to the utmost.
“I can’t be more specific, I’m afraid. Hold it, though. I’m picking up something else. Some sort of magic is beginning to build. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s in the same general area as Dawn’s tracking charm.”
“No such thing as coincidence, Red,” Faith told her. “Tell me which way to go!”
Faith received her directions and increased her running speed.
“What key?” Dawn asked, doing her best to sound sincere and not-terrified.
“You can pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about if you want,” the demon answered. “It doesn’t matter.”
The giant monster methodically began clearing a spot in the middle of the warehouse from dust and debris. If the situation hadn’t been so serious Dawn would have giggled at the picture of a ten feet tall monster using a broom to clean up a dirty floor, but she wasn’t feeling very humorous right now.
Once the demon was finished sweeping it put the broom aside and vanished into the darkness for a moment. When it returned it was dragging two bodies behind it. Dawn gasped, fearing the monster had already killed someone else. Then one of the bodies twitched and Dawn realized they weren’t dead.
Then she saw their faces and she knew they were.
The monster was dragging the two vampires onto the clear patch of floor and left them there. Dawn gave them a brief once-over. They were still alive... undead, whatever you wanted to call it, but only just. It looked as if every single bone in their body had been broken, splintered, and ground into powder. If there was any blood left inside them it wasn’t for lack of trying on the demon’s part. Dawn had never seen two vampires demolished this way, not even during Buffy’s worst time-of-the-month.
“What’s with the bloodsuckers?” she asked, trying to keep up her brave front. Maybe if she learned something about what was going on here, she’d be able to help whoever would eventually come to rescue her.
“A necessary ingredient,” the demon replied. “This is going to take quite a bit of magic.”
“I never heard of a ritual that required vampires as a sacrifice,” Dawn said, her natural curiosity briefly getting the better of her fear. “Well, there was this one thing, but I doubt you want to raise another vampire from the ashes, right?”
“That is not my intention, no. And the vampires aren't exactly part of the ritual. I’ve just learned never to do magic on an empty stomach.”
Dawn was puzzled for a moment, then finally remembered where she had seen a picture of this particular breed of demon before. One of Giles’ musty old books had mentioned them. A rare breed of creature known as Comburo Silenti, meaning ‘Eater of the Dead’. A demon that feasted on the dead and dying, as well as the undead. It wasn’t considered that big of a threat because it mostly went after vampires and the like. Some had been known to dig up graves and feast on the recently dead, but that was about the extent of it.
“Would you mind telling what exactly you are trying to accomplish?” she asked hopefully.
The demon turned toward her and Dawn was reasonably sure that it was smiling. Either that or it was just showing off its many, many shiny teeth.
“Let’s just say I am heading off to better feeding grounds. The vampires and zombies here are starting to get really stale. Besides, too many of those pesky Slayers around these days.”
Dawn was a rather intelligent girl. The demon wanted to go somewhere. He knew she was the Key. There was a ritual in the works. All of which screamed portal. In her experiences portals were never good. They ranked even higher on the not-of-the-good list than abandoned warehouses.
“Look,” she began, deciding that denying any knowledge of the whole Key thing was pretty pointless. “If you know I’m the Key, than you should also know that using it/me can only lead to badness. Multiple-dimensions-destroyed kind of badness. It’s really a bad, bad idea.”
The demon walked over to her. “If I were a crazed Hellgod like Glorificus, then you’d be correct. Fortunately for everyone involved I am a bit more sane and intelligent. I have no intention of unleashing the full energy of the Key. Sometimes less is more.”
From somewhere on his body the demon produced a small syringe. For a moment Dawn marvelled at how delicately he handled it despite having those huge claws on his hands.
“Now hold still! This will only hurt a bit.”
“Talk to me, Red,” Faith demanded, looking around the many rows of warehouses she’d arrived at. “Where do I go now?”
“The magic is building south-east of your position, Faith,” Willow replied over the phone. “It’s getting stronger. Back-up is on the way, but you’re closest.”
“Can’t you just do with the witchy mojo and teleport us there?” Faith asked, running in the direction Willow had indicated.
“No way. With the magic fuzzing up the locator charm and all that power building, you’d be as likely to materialise inside a wall as anywhere else.”
“That would smart. Just tell the others to hurry then if they want a piece of little D’s kidnapper!”
Faith kept running, switching directions when Willow told her to, until she finally spotted what had to be her target. The warehouse at the end of the street looked just like all the others around here, but it did have a little something extra. Eerie green light was shining through the windows.
“Green light, Red,” she muttered, not breaking stride. “Not good, right?”
“Key energy,” Willow replied. “I knew I had sensed that before somewhere. Someone’s trying to use the Key.”
Faith could hear the horror in Willow’s voice. The dark Slayer hadn’t been there all these years ago when the mad Hellgod Glory had used Dawn to breach the boundaries between dimensions to go back home, but the red witch had. The last time it had taken Buffy’s life to put a stop to it. The fact that she had returned did nothing to lessen the severity of that.
“Let’s see if we can resolve this without any dead Slayers or Keys this time around, okay, Red?”
“Hurry, Faith”, the witch just pleaded. “Please hurry!”
It probably wasn’t much longer than a minute until she reached the place, but it seemed to take forever. Faith didn’t bother with the stealth routine. Without even slowing down she hit the warehouse’s main door with a flying kick that buckled the metal door like it was tissue paper. Faith came to a stop inside, taking in the surroundings.
Her eyes were immediately drawn to the huge green portal hovering in the middle of the warehouse. One where she just saw one final glimpse of something huge and monstrous before it vanished into the green glow.
A heartbeat later she spotted Dawn tied to a table right next to the portal. Faith was by her side in an instant, relieved to find that she was alive, awake, and apparently not injured.
“Little D, I’m here,” she said, drawing Dawn’s attention.
“Faith?” Dawn looked at her, tearing her eyes from the portal. “Thank God you’re here. What took you so long? Last time you needed less than two hours to find me after I was kidnapped.”
Faith smiled despite hearing the quiver in the girl’s voice. Dawn was trying to be brave, so the least she could do was help keep up the illusion.
“It’s your twenty-fifth kidnapping, little D. We figured we’d let you enjoy the anniversary for a bit before busting you out. You okay?”
“He... he didn’t really harm me. Just drew a bit of blood. Actually... for a big, evil demon he was quite polite.”
Dawn was untied in an instant and both of them looked at the still present green portal.
“This gonna be a problem, D?” Faith asked, all her Slayer senses humming with tension.
Dawn hesitated a moment, then shrugged. “I’m honestly not sure.”
TO BE CONTINUED