State of Nature
Big, big thanks to AwesomeGeek and DeepRed for the recs, and clockworkorange, Nightscream, slatergirl and starshinedown for the reviews! And of course to AwesomeGeek, kerrykhat, and SweetChi for being awesome sounding boards! :D+++
"Quinn! Who the hell are you–"
Buffy gave a start as a pale face suddenly appeared in the window to her cell. As soon as he caught sight of her, he snarled – right as he flashed a nice set of pearly white fangs at her.
A vampire. Of course vampires ran the place. Her only comfort was that he looked even more surprised than she was.
Then it hit her. His face didn't vamp out.
Before she could really think about what that meant, she heard the sound of the lock being undone, immediately making his lack of ridges a non-issue. Because honestly? She didn't care if he sprouted a pair of wings and danced the polka. He was still a vampire, one that stood between her and the way out.
As the door began to swing open, Buffy rammed against it with all her might. She gave a small smile of satisfaction as she felt the heavy steel crash into the vampire, knocking him off his feet.
Before he hit the ground, she was out the door. Unfortunately, that was as far as she got.
He was a little faster, a little stronger than she expected. That, and he had a friend standing on the other side of the door. This vamp was more than ready for her, lashing out at her as soon as she cleared the doorframe.
Luckily, Buffy caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, and she dodged his fist as it flew toward her face, countering with her own left hook that sent this vamp sprawling.
Sadly, all this meant was that she never saw the taser blast coming.
She sure felt it, though. In fact, she could almost taste
the bolt of pain as it coursed through her body again and again, making all of her muscles seize and spasm until she hit the floor for a third time that day.
It didn’t stop there, either. Nope, even though Buffy was so far beyond incapacitated it wasn’t funny, the pain kept on coming as Vamp Number 1 kept his finger on trigger well past any legally allowed time limit.
Even when the current finally, mercifully, stopped, her body still shook with after-tremors, and it took a good thirty seconds before she realized that the vamps had begun dragging her down the hall by her arms.
The worst part was there wasn’t a single thing she could do about it, her body as limp as a rag doll’s.
Still, determined not to just give up, Buffy looked around, trying to find something, anything
, that could help. But there was nothing – nothing except Purple Eyes, staring at her
with an intensity that would have made Batman blush.
Almost automatically, Buffy scrutinized him right back – and boy, was there a lot of him to scrutinize.
Seriously, the guy was insanely tall – as in, he was approaching Green Giant proportions – and he had the muscles to match. He was also completely bald, which wouldn’t have been noteworthy in it of itself, except that he was obviously very young. In fact, he probably wasn't much older than her, if at all.
Then the vamps pulled her through a doorway into a new, much narrower corridor, and he was gone from sight.
Buffy immediately tried to orient herself to these new surroundings, taking in every detail she could, but it was no use. One non-descript hallway led into another, creating a dizzying maze of concrete that made her head spin.
The doors were even worse. Not only did they all look exactly like the one before, but they were all guarded, either by a key pass and some sci-fi eye scan thingy or by some sort of supernatural creature, vampy or otherwise. And wouldn't you know? There wasn't a single 'Exit' sign to be seen.
And still, they kept on marching through door after door, hallway after hallway, going further into the labyrinth of corridors until they finally came to a set of doors that were noticeably different from the others.
They were gold in color and enormous, running from the floor straight up to the ceiling, with intricate designs covering the entire surface. When the guards opened them, they did so with a flourish; whether it was for dramatic effect, Buffy didn’t know. The impact was still the same.
Buffy inhaled sharply as she looked at what could only be described as a throne room, one that was lavish, richly decorated, with purple silk adorning the walls and gold glittering everywhere.
It was also brimming with vampires.
Fighting off a sense of panic, Buffy tried to flex her hands, willing her body to recover. It was useless, though. All she could do was watch as Vamp Number 1 released her arm and approached a woman sitting at the far end of the room.
She was tiny, with shiny black hair and white skin, looking every inch the Greek goddess. And her sharp green eyes never left Buffy’s face, even as Vamp Number 1 addressed her.
“Thalia,” he greeted.
Then he began talking in a voice so low, Buffy couldn’t hear what he was saying – though she could take a pretty good guess what they were talking about.
After what seemed like forever, the whispering stopped, and Thalia stood, looking pleased as punch. She leisurely strolled over toward Buffy until she was less than foot away.
"Ken hasn't sent us anyone in years. Did he send us a Britlingen?" she mused in a very stilted, very broken English. As she spoke, she cupped Buffy’s face in her hand, forcing her to look deep into her eyes. “How else could a kitten have such bite?”
“Call me a kitten one more time and you’ll find out,” Buffy retorted, jerking her head out of the vampire’s hand.
For some reason, this surprised Thalia, and her eyes narrowed until they were tiny slits. Then, without another word, she turned on her heel and returned to her seat, totally ignoring Buffy and looking at the others instead.
"Where is Ken?” she demanded.
The room seemed to freeze then, as nobody could answer their mistress’ question, and Buffy couldn’t help but snort with laughter.
"Yeah, he’s going to have a hard time getting back to you," she called out.
Though Thalia didn’t move, Buffy could see the rage flashing in her eyes.
"You cost us, girl," she snarled. "In ways you can't comprehend."
"Yeah, I'm all broken up about it," Buffy said dryly.
Thalia quirked her eyebrow, the anger disappearing as quickly as it came. "Not yet, but you will be. And in the process, you'll earn me back some of the money you lost," she promised.
She looked like she was going to say something else to Buffy. Before she could, however, another vampire stepped forward, one dressed in a suit and tie, looking distinctly out of sync with the whole Greco-Roman theme Thalia had going.
“I will notify Victor of this new development,” he stated, clearly neither asking for permission or approval.
Thalia turned on him, once again, her anger almost palpable.
“Yes, you do that,” she hissed. Then she turned to some of the other vamps in the room and waved her hand dismissively. "As soon as she can stand, take her to the Pit." +++
So… still with me?