Chapter OneDrip. Drip. Drip.
The lights flickered on and off, casting eerie shadows over the slimy, organic material. The blood that had soaked through the cords now dripped slowly from the overhead shadows and down the walls, pooling beneath her feet. Buffy clutched at one of the organic ropes with a bruised hand, inhaling sharply, her mind spinning. “Vi?” she gasped. “Vi?”
She saw it then; a bloodied arm on the floor, extending just past the point where she could no longer see the rest of it. Pushing herself from the wall, she fell onto all fours and crawled, shaking off oxygen deprivation with a violent shake of her head.
She wouldn’t give up.
“Vi,” she rasped, reaching the other girl. She was against a wall, eyes closed and lips tinted blue. “Vi!” She shook her shoulder, even as the ship shuddered once. Buffy braced herself and fell back slightly, hearing the sound of metal scraping from the sword tucked through her belt.
Vi murmured inaudibly, her eyelashes barely fluttering against her cheekbones.
Buffy fell back ungracefully, scampering towards one of the walls and using the organic cords to pull herself unsteadily to her feet. As she straightened, she felt the oxygen flow out and was hit by another wave of dizziness.We can’t keep this up much longer.
The entire corridor was clogged with dead Wraith. Most were bloodied, evidenced by the blood slowly pooling across the narrow corridor. It’s the least they deserve.
Fighting unconsciousness, Buffy slid down the organic slime, the sword clattering to the deck next to her. She couldn’t fight oxygen deprivation. Besides, everything that needed to be dead already was. She looked fiercely at the bodies not two steps away. She would kill them again if she could, but she was having problems moving. Thinking was also becoming an issue. She inhaled sharply, but there was no oxygen left.I can’t believe I’m going to die here.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped, thinking of Willow and her sacrifice, Dawn and her death and Rowena’s protectiveness of her sister until the end. There wasn’t much she could do. But with that, their deaths on the first ship would mean nothing.I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sorry…
“Fight it,” she grumbled under her breath. She was tired now and she felt the first chill as exhaustion caught up with her. She was cold. So cold. She would give anything for the warmth…
Even the warmth of the cocoon.
She felt tears under her eyelids, felt one trace down her cheek. Her body shook at her emotional response, the only tears she would ever allow herself to cry. At least, before she died.
She forced her eyes open, even as she felt everything shutting down. Everything was turning hazy now, blurring together from one organic wall into another, each coated in blood.
“Forgive us,” she whispered. “Forgive me
.”Drip. Drip. Drip.~
Through a semi-conscious haze, she saw the blurred outline of a man over her and felt the rush of oxygen to her starved lungs. She inhaled gratefully as another wave of dizziness hit. Her body tensed as she felt the warmth of contact, a gloved hand that touched her face. She felt her eyes widen at the look of understanding in his eyes before she felt her mind slip away.
“Do not be afraid.” This voice was female and calming. It was the last thing she heard and the first thing she remembered.
Her eyes opened to an IV drip. Clear fluid dripping down a plastic tube. She blinked in comprehension as a rush of memory overwhelmed her. Then she turned her gaze beyond the metal pole.
Leah was lying on a hospital bed not five feet away, her face obscured by bandages. There was a splotch of blood on one corner of her forehead and her eyes were closed. An identical IV bag dripped clear fluid down a plastic tube into a needle in her arm.
Buffy craned her neck to the left. Vi was in a bed on her other side, her face a patchwork of cuts and bruises. The blue tint of her lips had gone away, likely because of the oxygen tube up her nose pumping it into her body.
All at once, Buffy remembered why she hated hospitals. It was not a comforting thought to see both of her slayers unconscious in hospital beds while she knew there was nothing she could do to help them.
A sudden noise brought her from her stupor. She looked through veiled lashes as a man walked into the room, writing something down on a clipboard. Buffy watched him for a moment, before he walked over to Leah’s bed, checking on the IV bag and heart monitor. His back was to her, giving Buffy a moment to reach down with one hand until her fingers found the needle going into the top of her hand. All she had to do was pull it out and escape. She didn’t need to be in a hospital. She needed to be elsewhere.
That was when the man turned his attention to her.
“Hello, there,” he greeted in a warm, accented tone.
Buffy opened her mouth to speak, only to find that there was also a plastic tube going down her throat. She made a motion that she wanted to speak, only for his brow to furrow in concern. With nimble hands, he removed the tube from her throat and she gagged, choking on the taste of plastic.
“I’d apologize, but you weren’t breathing when they brought you in.”
“They?” Buffy rasped. Her throat was dry and ached as she spoke.
“No need to worry yourself, dear,” the man said with a sympathetic smile. “Rest up now. You were near death when we found you.”
Buffy blinked for a moment. She remembered collapsing against one of the Wraith walls. She remembered the man above her and she remembered the woman’s voice. “Where am I?” she asked, before succumbing to a coughing fit. The man waited until she had inhaled and relaxed against the pillows before offering her a glass of water.
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that,” he said, not unkindly. His eyes drifted over to Vi and Buffy followed his gaze. Her sister slayer did not look as though she would be awake anytime soon. Neither did Leah. It would be difficult to escape without them, she thought pensively. She wasn’t about to leave them behind.
Slowly, she sipped at her water.
“How are they?” she asked, trying for a question that he would answer, since he had skillfully ignored the other ones.
“They’ll recover, but it’ll do them good to rest,” the man said, now checking in Vi’s stats. “As well as it would do you.”
The man walked out then, leaving them alone. Buffy took the chance to look around. There were no windows, so wherever they were, it didn’t have the antiseptic smell of a normal hospital. The thought brought her little comfort.
She heard the sheets rustling to her right and her head snapped about. Leah had opened her eyes and was blinking up at the ceiling, looking astonished.
“Leah,” Buffy called out.
Leah turned her head towards her. The last time she had seen Leah, both eyes had been black and blue and she’d been bleeding from several deep gashes to her face. Most of her injuries had healed, but there was still bruising around one eye and her head was bandaged.
“How are you feeling?”
“Hell.” Leah looked up before her fingers walked down to the tube sticking out of her throat. “Vi?”
“She’s here.” Buffy looked back to make sure Vi hadn’t woken up. “Where do you think we are?”
Leah stopped tugging at the tube in her throat and paused, her large eyes looking around the room. “Huh.”
“Not your average hospital,” Buffy agreed.
“Ship, maybe?” Leah’s voice sounded weak and clogged. Buffy opened her mouth to respond when Leah did the unthinkable and pulled out the tube down her throat, choking out as she wiped the spittle on the shiny blue towel spread across her chest.
“That was disgusting.”
“I couldn’t talk with that thing down there,” Leah’s voice was stronger now, though still strained. “Where are we?”
“I couldn’t get any answers,” Buffy replied grimly.
A sound gasp let her know that Vi had awakened. Sure enough, she saw the other slayer struggling with both the tube down her throat and the one up her nose.
“You think it’s a ship?” Buffy asked, looking around. On the Wraith ship, she could feel everything, from the Wraith moving around to the organic cords straining to strangle her after they’d done their damage. If this was a ship, and she was starting to sincerely doubt it was, she wasn’t feeling it.
Vi stopped struggling for a moment to listen to their hushed conversation.
“Feels like one,” Leah said, pulling out the IV and sitting up. She looked more alive than Buffy had seen her in days. There was a fervent glow in her eyes that Buffy doubted would be going away any time soon.
“I don’t feel it.”
“That’s because it’s not Wraith,” Leah replied, just as Vi grunted something. Buffy looked up and saw shadows on the far wall.
“They’re coming back,” she breathed.
“Good,” Leah said grimly, now removing the patches from her chest as the heart monitor began to beep erratically. “We can finally get some of the answers we’re looking for.”~Tap. Tap. Tap.
Even if it wasn’t a ship, it felt like an interrogation chamber.
Buffy tried to ignore the pen against the desk, moving at an increasing staccato pace. Her eyes were on her lap, but the sound invaded her thoughts. She heard Leah breathing next to her. She heard Vi’s caustic attempts to answer the questions. So far, he had started with their names. He, being a straight-laced man in a suit, someone named Woolsey.Tap. Tap. Tap.
He wanted to know how they’d managed to escape Sickbay. On a ship.
At least she could credit Leah for her intelligence. They were
on a ship.
Vi finally fell silent, turning to look at her. She felt the weight of Leah’s eyes on her. Buffy inhaled slowly, trying to keep her anger at a manageable level. Yelling and pitching a fit would do nothing.
The man was looking at her, too, pen poised in midair. “I find it difficult to believe that three women are the lone survivors on a Wraith hive ship.”
“Believe it,” Leah said, her tone grim.
The man looked at her skeptically.
Buffy felt her jaw set. If they had a ship and all of these fancy systems, why couldn’t they have done anything against the Wraith attack on Earth?
“We were culled,” she finally said, breaking the tense silence. She was rewarded with a skeptical look all of her very own.
“Culled?” the man asked, his tone becoming more professional. It was something he was used to dealing with, she decided. “By the Wraith.”
“Yes,” she said grimly.
“From where?” His eyes were on their clothes. Leah was still wearing her oversized Scottish pride tee and Vi had on her Abercrombie belt, both of which would have been noticed by the men and women that had been poking at them.
“Earth,” Buffy finally ground out. “New York City, about three days ago.”
The man looked thunderstruck, looking from one girl to the other. Buffy and the others gazed back with such solemn expressions that he wasn’t convinced of the joke. “I don’t understand,” he said suddenly, uncertain.
“It’s quite simple, really,” Leah said, speaking up in her Scottish brogue. “Earth was attacked. Billions of people were killed. We watched them destroy New York.”
The man was shaking his head now, a small smile playing around the corners of his lips. “I assure you, that isn’t possible.”
“We were there,” Buffy snapped, cutting off the man’s lame attempts of denial. “The Wraith were at Earth. We,” she gestured to herself and to the slayer sitting on either side of her, “were culled. And I saw hundreds of others in that ship about to die. Tell me that it isn’t possible.”
The man was looking stunned as he set down his pen, a reprieve from the constant tapping. “It isn’t
possible,” he finally said after a long moment. “It's not possible because I was just there, mere days ago. The Wraith were never in the Milky Way galaxy. Earth hasn’t been culled. It's still there.”
Buffy inhaled sharply, sharing a dark look with the others before Buffy spoke, anger overriding her better judgment. “Then where the hell are we?”~A/N
: Thank you for the enormous motivation for this story. I've had a portion of it planned for awhile now, so I couldn't up and change directions at the drop of a hat. I hope you continue reading and I hope you enjoy.