Author’s note: Umm...it seemed like a good idea when I started it at 2 a.m. after way too much caffeine. Now, not so sure.
Disclaimer: please see end of chapter one for disclaimer.
* * *
The city center was in full celebration to honor Umbrella Corporation’s fortieth anniversary. The festive atmosphere did not quite reach to the top of the skyscraper where the Slayer stood, watching it all. The cold night air blew steadily across her night-black bodysuit and whipped through her long blonde hair. Buffy felt the tiniest lump form at the back of her throat as she stared down from the edge.
PAST: six months ago
The lesser slayers had been dying off, singly and in pairs, in the course of the War on Evil. But it took Faith’s unfortunate death before someone—finally—noticed that no new slayers were being called. “Unnatural unselection,” Dawn had joked in a very poor attempt at levity during the emergency Council session.
The strangest part of it all was that Buffy had recently become even better, stronger, faster, although she thought she’d been at her prime years earlier. “Many women don’t hit their sexual peak until their third decade,” Willow had said, when the Slayer brought it up. Buffy had spit iced tea across the table.
So they’d started researching. Andrew, of all people, put together the pieces. His conviction that the truth WAS out there kept them on track of some of the more bizarre conspiracy theories. The Council unearthed disturbing bits of information about a company that had its fingers in all the wrong places. In its early days the Umbrella Corporation had provided ‘think tank’ services for the government. Then they had ties to some of the Initiative people. And what proved to be the worst of all, Umbrella was heavily into bioengineering.
The icing on the cake had been a Slayer Dream, more powerful than Buffy had experienced in years. She floated, weightless and warm. She tried to open her eyes, then gave up and relaxed completely.
“Death,” husked a familiar voice.
“But I’m not dead,” Buffy answered. “Sorry, been there; this ain’t it.”
“Death is your gift,” the voice replied.
Buffy sighed. “Goddess, not again.” Her dream shifted, and Buffy suddenly stood in a darkened chamber. A brilliant light clicked on and illuminated a clear cylinder in front of her, containing the body of the First Slayer floating in fluid. Another floodlight clicked on, and another. Buffy turned in a circle, surrounded by identical tubes, all containing bodies of the First Slayer. Six pairs of eyes opened, and despite the intervening liquid and plastic, Buffy could hear her words. “Death IS your gift.”
A shaken Buffy called Willow the next morning. The Slayer related the dream as best she could, then asked, “What if the Slayer essence-”
“Don’t,” interrupted Willow. “You don’t even want to think about that possibility.”
“But the Initiative...” the Slayer trailed off.
Willow cast a divination that confirmed it. The glare from Buffy’s aura burned out the witch’s supernatural senses for the better part of a day. “Like looking into the sun,” Willow said.
“So my aura’s intense?”
“Too intense,” Willow answered. “No human, not even a Slayer, should have that much chi.”
“Cheese?” The Slayer wrinkled her nose.
Willow grinned. “Chi, spirit, life energy, animus. You shouldn’t have that much.”
“I think it’s related to the other slayers,” Buffy said.
Dawn’s years of research into the nature of life force came in handy. “It’s your soul, only moreso,” she explained to her sister. “All the additional energy from the activated potentials is freed up; now it’s trying to reintegrate with your normal slayerness.”
Buffy frowned. “You think someone’s doing it on purpose?”
Dawn was momentarily stumped. “Someone NOT the PTB, you mean?”
* * *
“Can’t have a secret evil lab out in the middle of the desert,” Buffy grumbled. “No, it has to be in the corporate offices, right in the middle of downtown.” Far below, the domed skylight of the Umbrella Corporate ballroom shone like a golden beacon, an easy target. Buffy stepped off the edge of the building. Down she flew. “It’s not the long fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom.” Her whisper was lost in the wind as Buffy fell, faster and faster.
* * *
PAST: four months ago
Andrew had nearly hyperventilated. “Seriously Buffy, there’s stuff you can do now...you’re like the Bionic Woman. Without being all cyborgy.”
“Like what kind of stuff?” Buffy fussed with her perfectly-manicured nails.
“Hit the plate.” Andrew gestured at a piece of lab equipment, all clamps and sensors and things best left to science people.
“It’s not a plate,” Buffy pointed out. “It’s a piece of metal.”
“It’s a metal plate. Please,” Andrew whined, “It’s an important test.”
“If I break a nail, you’re gonna owe me a spa day.” Then she hit it. To be sure, she focused, and used perfect form. And to her slight surprise the metal plate now had a Buffy fist-sized hole in it. And without any broken nails.
“Buffy, you just put your fist through a quarter inch of steel armor plate.”
“Is that good?”
Andrew’s eyes bugged out.
* * *
Buffy crashed through the glass ceiling and landed in the meters-deep pool of the fountain, as planned. Not that Andrew figured she couldn’t survive a fall from that height onto a marble fountain. Just better safe than sorry.
As she rose from the pool, Buffy noted the shocked stares of Umbrella employees and their guests. Some of the looks were from crashing through the skylight, she knew. The majority of the revelers--most of the men and a good portion of the women--stared at her as she strode, dripping, from the pool in what Dawn called ‘non-slutty slutwear.’ Buffy gave her walk just a bit more sway than usual...not that it was hard, wearing thigh-high kicky boots.
The security guards stepped forwards. They were human, this far from ‘secure’ areas and out in public view, so Buffy didn’t hurt them. Much. Just when she started to think, ‘yeah it might be that easy,’ the crowd parted. Or rather, was parted by an enormous brute of a man who casually tossed partiers and security guards aside to close with the Slayer.
* * *
PAST: three months ago
Dawn entered notes on a Blackberry as they walked down to the containment area. “When’s the last time you fought a vampire who wasn’t in game face?”
“What? I don’t remember. Dawn, is there a point to this, or is it just another ‘practical joke on Buffy’ day?”
“One time, just the one time since we moved here,” grumbled Dawn.
They stopped in the viewing room. Inside a very CSI-style interrogation room, a vampire and a slayer faced each other across a table. “Watch.” Through the window, Buffy watched Louise, one of the youngest slayers, lean across the table and knock a vampire unconscious with a single punch. His features became human. Dawn keyed the door. “C’mon,” she said. “Keep your eye on the vampire.”
As Buffy approached, the vampire’s demonic visage surfaced even though the monster was unconscious. “What the heck?”
“Back away,” Dawn said. As Buffy did, the vampire’s face rippled back to normal. “This is sooo cool,” Dawn squeaked. She blushed and cleared her throat. “Thank you, Louise.”
The other slayer left.
* * *
Right in front of Buffy’s eyes the giant’s form began to change. The thin veneer of humanity fled before the Slayer’s presence. He charged like an angry bull, then threw a punch that could smash concrete.
So Buffy kicked the monster in the head. She mentally paused for a microsecond as seven feet of three hundred and eighty pound demon was knocked across the room. The body lay on the floor, head caved in by the single blow. *Huh. I guess I really AM stronger.*
No one else tried to impede Buffy’s progress. Belatedly, alarms wailed. A voice over the PA system issued instructions. “There has been a security breach. All visitors must exit the building. All security personnel report to your duty stations.” Buffy just strode through the room as though she owned the place.
After several minutes of walking—without a single wrong turn—the Slayer stood in front of a door armored like a bank vault. ‘DANGER,’ read the sign on the door. ‘Access By Unauthorized Persons Is Prohibited. Note: non-lethal deterrents carry some risk of serious injury or death.’ “Hmph,” scoffed Buffy. “So does getting up in the morning.” She accessed the security terminal.
Despite Willow’s assurances, Buffy was somewhat surprised when the door actually opened to her bioscan. “That’s all kinds of freaky,” she mumbled the multi-ton door hissed open. The conscious part of her mind did NOT want to address why this place would have her fingerprints and retinal scan on their security clearance list.
Buffy stalked through the facility. Cloned bodies in vats, representing all stages of growth stretched in the distance. She walked down the rows, and finally found the tubes she sought, with the lowest batch numbers, at the back of the room.
* * *
PAST: one month ago
“And this clicky thing?” Buffy pointed at one of the many Bond-esque gadgets in Andrew’s sanctum.
“There’s a master arming device, with this timer, see. You have to use it to arm or disarm these.” Andrew pointed to six hockey puck-sized devices.
Buffy picked one up. “This is...?”
The Director of Technology for the International Council of Slayers and Watchers tried not to flinch. “Buffy,” Andrew said, “please put down the scary bomb.”
“But you said it had to be armed with your master whatsamajig.”
“I’m glad you were listening. Now...”
“Are you sure they’re big enough? Cause you know, size matters...”
Andrew sputtered, “It’s like in Stargate, where the Naquadah of the gate fuels a nuclear explosion, enhances it. Willow’s tied some serious majicks into them; they’ll bring the house down. Literally.”
“I believe you,” Buffy said. Andrew’s smile lit the room.
* * *
Buffy mounted the motorized gantry and steered it up towards the centerpiece of the freak-show. She stared for a moment at the clone, a perfect copy of herself, just like all the others in the room. But this was the oldest, fed growth rate enhancers so it appeared to be her twin. Tubes connected to the clone carried in nutrients to keep the body alive, along enough drugs to keep it brain dead, despite slayer healing. Buffy leaned forward, and kissed the bulletproof plastic. “I’m sorry, she whispered.
Buffy placed one of Andrew’s explosive charges on the lexan tube. She placed four other charges on other tubes in the room, carefully recalling Andrew’s lecture on proper spacing. As she walked from the room, Buffy pulled out the master arming device and activated it.
* * *
PAST: one week ago
Willow frowned. “Now, Buffy, we believe Umbrella Corporation’s project manager is actually an avatar for this demon.” The witch turned the book around so Buffy could see it right-side-up.
The Slayer pursed her lips. “And the bad news?”
“If this is it, he’ll heal very rapidly from normal weapons. And he has a talisman that makes him invulnerable to enchanted weapons. It may be in the form of a necklace, a ring, or a bracelet, but it will be golden, and bear this seal.” Willow pointed out the illustration on the next page.
“No enchanted weapons...” Buffy murmured.
“No Scythe,” Willow agreed. “The good news is he can be killed by a specific combination of blessed ingredients.”
“So we have to make him drink this stuff or inject him with this holy-mole?”
Willow nodded. “Yes, a non-enchanted blade can introduce this into his body.”
“I have a better idea,” Buffy said.
* * *
Up to the penthouse, the Slayer she rode. With a message of vengeance for the Umbrella corporate toad. Buffy shook her head. *Shouldn’t mix holiday songs and slaying.*
Ding. The elevator doors parted. The Slayer walked out into the hall, pulled an item from her pack, and placed it in a decorative fern. Buffy stepped to the door of the penthouse, and was again surprised when it opened at her approach. “That’s not a good thing.”
The head honcho for the North American branch of the corporation sat on a leather couch, a beautiful young woman on each side. “Slayer,” he growled. At his gesture, his two female companions scurried from the room.
Buffy sauntered up to the couch, and knelt astride the demon hiding in a man’s body. When he reached down to caress her thigh, Buffy slapped him across the face. “Nope, no touching...yet,” she said. “There ARE rules.”
Buffy leaned close to the demon and whispered, “I’m testing a theory.” And she kissed him. The demon’s concealing enchantments were broken by the intimate contact. Then Buffy’s lip gloss with specific, blessed ingredients was introduced to his body through the passionate kiss of the Slayer. The monster thrashed as it was seared from the inside out.
Buffy straightened up from her lethal kiss and glanced out the window. In the other tower of the building, hundreds of feet away, a sniper’s rifled was aimed at her. As the man began to squeeze the trigger, Buffy threw herself backwards. The supersonic crack the bullet made as it went by was anticlimactic.
Even before the door burst inwards, Buffy heard the enhanced security troops swarming down the hall outside. Over a dozen all told, with more on the way up the elevator and emergency stairs. Each one carried a riot shield and a shock baton that crackled with electricity. “Great, Darth Vader clones,” Buffy griped.
Buffy reached into her satchel and pulled out one of the last items. Another one of Andrew’s creations, it was a non-magical grenade that sprayed a mist enough of holy water, silver dust, and pepper spray to fill a medium-large room. 100% guaranteed not to impair the functioning of a slayer in the least. Unfortunately, it didn’t work on the cybernetically enhanced security team either.
The building bucked violently as the explosives in the lower levels began to detonate. “Oh, my...look at the time. Gotta fly,” and Buffy launched herself at the window. Even with her enhanced Slayer strength, Buffy aimed for the section already weakened by the sniper’s bullet. Buffy crashed through the window as the sixth and final demolition charge, planted just outside the elevator shaft, detonated.
As she plummeted through the air, Buffy felt the extra strength from Umbrella’s slain clones flow into her. All the engineered copies of her, bodies vaporized in the explosion set off in the depths of the building, poured some of their essence into her body. The ground rushed up at her from hundreds of feet below.
TO BE CONTINUED
Now watch the video that inspired the story: “Break the Ice”
or, if you REALLY hate the song, watch this
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Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all associated characters are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, United Paramount Network, and Fox Television. Break The Ice is property of Britney Spears and Zomba Recording, LLC. Resident Evil belongs to Shinji Mikami and Capcom. The One belongs to S. Chasman, G. Morgan, C. Newirth and J. Wong and Columbia Pictures. This work is not for profit, and no ownership of aforementioned copyrighted material implied, nor any infringement intended.