Part 11: The Factory
The Master was magnificent, his plain black clothes shone with his
power making the sycophants standing with him near the machine in
their Sunday best look tatty in comparison.
Xander stood at the very back of the crowd with Willow, feeling
the distance between them. He should be up there, with the Master
instead of down here with the common bloodsuckers.
“Vampires!” The Master’s voice thundered through
the room. “Undeniably, we are the world's superior race. Yet
we have always been too parochial. Too bound to the mindless routine
of the predator. Hunt and kill... Hunt and kill... Titillating?
Yes. Practical? Hardly... Meanwhile –the humans, with their
plebeian minds, have brought us a truly demonic concept: Mass production.”
The crowd cheered, even though most of them had no idea what he
was talking about. Xander knew. Willow clutched at his still not
quite healed arm in excitement and he winced, reminded of why they
were down here, exiled.
“The days of compromise, of living alongside the humans,
are over,” the Master decreed. “It's time to take them
out. Time to treat them like... well, let's not mince words here
-- like the cattle they are!”
The crowd cheered. Xander couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit
“Bring the first!”
Rodney, a skinny little vamp who’d been with the Master for
fucking-ever, leapt to obey. He grabbed a screaming girl out of
the wooden holding pen the minions had worked hard over the past
few nights to fill. The terrified humans didn’t even try to
fight, they just huddled together moaning with fear, like the cattle
they were. Every eye in the place watched avidly as he stunned her
with a cattle prod and strapped her limp body to the conveyer belt.
The Master’s permanently stained lips curled back from his
magnificent teeth. “She's still alive here, see? For freshness.”
The conveyer belt moved the girl into an open chamber and stopped.
She jerked once; Xander knew that the trocars had plunged into her
body. There was a low hum as the pumps went to work. There were
oohs and aahs as the plastic tubing filled with blood and transferred
it into a large container. None of the witnesses paid any attention
as the girl gave one last gasp and expired.
An unfamiliar vamp turned the spigot, the sweet smell of fresh
blood wafted through the room as he filled a wine glass and then
carried it to the Master. Taking it with a gracious nod he moved
up onto a platform at the end of the plant and raised his glass
to the gathered crowd in a toast.
“Welcome to the future!” He shouted and drained the
Xander was filled with a sudden sense of excitement. Of purpose.
They’d be up there at the Master’s side again. They’d
make amends for their failure and he and Willow will be restored
to his right hand and help him make this into a golden age filled
with death and blood without end. He grinned down at Willow, sure
he saw the same light of conviction in her burning yellow eyes.
Getting into the factory hadn’t been hard; they’d only
needed to dust two guards to get close enough for Angel to pry up
several boards far enough for them to get through. Slayer and vampire
skulked along until they found a good hiding place behind a refrigeration
unit. They stood listening to the Master's oratory.
“Blah, blah, yammer, yammer, blah,” Buffy whispered.
“Sheesh, he sure likes the sound of his voice.” She
glanced at Angel out of the corner of her eye. It felt weird having
a vamp this close without trying to kill him, even though he didn’t
set off her Slayer sense; probably a side effect of the soul, like
the moping and the blank face. Spike set off every one of her alarms,
but at least he didn’t mope. Angel didn’t answer, but
his big white hands flexed around the stake he held ready. She checked
her watch; the others should be in position by now.
“Time,” she told him. He nodded once.
They slipped into the crowd unnoticed; the vamps were all too busy
staring at the demonstration of the machine to two interlopers.
They split up: Buffy headed for the center of the room while Angel
slipped away to the holding pen. She heard the screaming but she
didn’t look or hesitate, intent on the final objective.
The vamps were applauding wildly when she stood up with the crossbow
and let fly. Her aim was perfect, it would have hit the Master in
the heart but at the last moment he yanked another vamp in front
of him. Inhuman yellow and human hazel eyes met through the dispersing
cloud of dust for a moment.
“Kill her!” The Master roared.
Buffy laughed. She dropped the bow, pulled out her stake and went
Round and round they went, vamps throwing themselves at her and
being kicked, punched and staked so fast they barely had time to
look startled before they blew away. This was her kind of party.
There were at least a hundred vamps in the factory, but they could
only come at her in threes and fours and after she’d dusted
the first five or six they were a lot less enthusiastic.
She heard the engine just in time to jump out of the way as the
van crashed through the wall. She glanced over as Oz, Giles, and
Cordelia jumped out and hustled over to the pen where Angel had
already dusted the guards and broken the door open.
“Get the hell out of here!” Cordelia shouted waving
them towards the gaping hole in the wall. Most fled, but a few grabbed
pieces of broken wood and went after the vampires instead. Cordelia
went out with the escapees, while the other two joined in the fight
Xander and Willow stared in disbelief at the chaos. Badly-armed
but furious humans fighting vamps. The girl who had to be the Slayer
continued to fight her way steadily across the floor, her target
was obviously the Master. Xander shivered, he’d never really
believed the stories about the Slayer but she was like nothing he’d
ever seen before. She was a gleaming, ridiculously tiny, killing
machine. His gameface slid on and his teeth itched with an atavistic
urge to attack – even though his brain knew he wouldn’t
stand a chance in his current one-armed condition.
His jaw dropped again when he saw another familiar figure fighting
alongside the humans. Angel? How the hell did that souled freak
end up here? Uncomfortably he noticed how good his captive was at
“Uh oh. Puppy got out,” Willow purred. She let go of
his arm. Xander grabbed for her but he missed. She was gone into
the maelstrom. Xander went after her but the crowd had gone nuts,
divided against itself by competing urges: to kill the slayer, to
feed on the escaped humans, to get away from a chaotic situation;
they needed direction, but the Master just stood there, silent.
Xander went down as a vamp cannoned into him. Snarling, he fought
his way back up. “Willow!”
Willow grinned as she slid deftly through the riot. Puppy was fighting,
his back turned to her. Bad puppy. She’d teach him to leave
the yard. She picked up a length of two by four from the floor and
got ready to swing.
She sensed someone coming at her back, she turned, but not quickly
enough as a short red-headed human tackled her with enough momentum
that she was knocked off balance and fell backwards against the
battered human cage. She had an instant of surprise as the broken
plank impaled her. And then she felt nothing at all.
Buffy dusted another vamp. She spun around, punched another in
the gut, bent backwards, evading the punch a huge biker-vamp had
aimed at her, kept going turning it into a handstand and kicked
the one coming up behind her in the chin, hard enough to snap his
neck and send him tumbling into the spectators. She was back on
her feet facing her original attacker. “Hi!” She slammed
her stake into his chest and stepped through his ashes. She was
halfway there. She could see the ugly bastard standing there, waiting
for her. Sneering. Yeah, baby, just wait there, I’m coming
A shrill whistle cut through the din. Two long blasts, and one
Aw Ma! Not now! She was just starting to have fun! Buffy hesitated
for a moment. She knew she could do it, just a few more yards…
Xander had jumped onto a box for a better view to search for Willow.
He saw the Slayer stop in the middle of her slaughter-rama; she
seemed to be struggling with herself. Then she turned and headed
for the exit, cutting through her opponents like a knife through
butter, not killing now, just moving them out of her way as she
streaked toward the exit. He realized that the last of the surviving
humans were leaving through the broken wall. Angel stood by the
gap, covering their retreat. The Slayer barreled past him and was
gone. Angel grabbed hold of her leading pursuer and slung him back
into the others and then dived after her. A couple of vampires followed,
and there was a whoosh and screaming as they were set on fire. Someone
out there had a flamethrower. The others hesitated.
The van sat there, wrecked and abandoned.
Where the hell was Willow?
Oh shit. The van.
Xander leapt off the crate and ran for the back of the factory
and the tunnels. The Master and his cronies had already disappeared.
He’d almost reached the doorway when there was a sound so
loud it emptied his head of everything else as the explosion wrapped
its hot fingers around him and threw him into the dark.
The explosion shook all kinds of shit down from the old mine’s
ceiling. Dust and cobwebs and probably bat shit. Giles nodded with
grim satisfaction. That part of the plan at least had worked. Larry
swallowed hard. He could hear screams and shouts and footsteps heading
Spike grinned. “Get ready.”
A faintly smoking vamp came rushing down the tunnel and seemed
to throw itself straight onto his stake. Larry shoved upwards and
felt the sinewy give as the stake slid into the dead heart and his
enemy dissolved into dust. Behind him came a roaring, smoldering
Giles wreaked havoc with a short but very sharp sword, showing
all the skill and strength that he normally hid under layers of
tweed. As he jumped back from the vamp slashing at his face with
razor-sharp nails Larry decided to ask Giles to teach him how to
use a sword. Stakes were good, but a sharp blade would be better.
He reversed the stake and cracked it across the vampire’s
forehead. It grunted and lost focus just long enough for him to
slide the pointy part home between its ribs. More dust.
Spike tore into the vamps with his bare hands. He raged through
the would-be refugees, tearing off heads and pulling out hearts
with a manic glee. Larry made sure to keep out of his way. There
were obviously some issues there.
The crowd thinned out pretty quickly, Larry realized that they
were dealing strictly with the minions-r-us crowd here: the stupid,
the slow, and the badly dressed. No sign of the Master, or any of
his sidekicks. Larry hoped to hell that meant they’d been
caught in the explosion, but he was pretty sure they weren’t
that lucky. There was probably another exit, better hidden than
this one. It would be nice to believe that one carefully placed
bomb would rid Sunnydale of vamps, but he knew better.
When it’s done, Spike pulls a large handkerchief out of the
duster’s pocket and wipes his face clean of the worst of the
dust. Giles produced a nearly identical one (except for being clean)
from his own pocket and offered it to Larry.
“Well, that was refreshing,” Spike said. He sure looked
refreshed; nothing like killing to put a spring in a vamp’s
step. “Why don’t we go see how the others got on?”
“Yes,” Giles said. “That sounds like an excellent
Larry didn’t like riding in Spike’s car, it stank of
liquor, motor oil, blood, and other things he really didn’t
want to think too much about. It didn’t help that Spike drove
like a lunatic down the narrow hill road. When he finally pulled
into the designated pullout Larry had his door open before the car
had stopped rolling. Giles got out with more dignity, but by the
grim look on his face, he wasn’t planning to take any more
rides in the vampmobile.
On the dark hillside behind them the burning factory was a bright
orange ember. Larry counted the faces he knew, his mood lightening
with every positive ID. Nancy, Oz, Buffy, Cordelia, Angel: they
were all here. Plus a crowd of battered strangers. Giles went over
to help Oz and Nancy triage.
Larry shuddered, and walked over to the edge of the pullout. He
took a deep breath of the night air. Below them Sunnydale glittered
obliviously, bounded by the dark line of the ocean. It was incredible
thinking about all those people, thousands of them, unaware that
tonight things had been made a little bit better for them. Because
tonight the good guys won.
He turned back to face the scene. Spike lounged against his car
smoking, spattered with blood and looking pleased with himself.
Angel had tucked himself next to the van Giles had rented, his handsome
face a sliver of pale in the shadows. He was watching the Slayer
again. Larry hoped, for his sake, that she hadn’t noticed.
Speak of the devil. At that moment Buffy turned away from Cordelia
who she’d been having a conversation with, and caught Larry
looking at her. She grinned and waved before turning back to her
“I’d better phone Joyce and tell her we’re all
well,” Giles said coming up.
“Yeah. Man, we did it, didn’t we?”
“It’s been a good night,” Giles admitted. “But…”
“Hey, never mind the ‘but’. We won one, didn’t
“Yes. We did.”
“Then I say we par-tay.”
“Yeah, sounds good to me.” Buffy had come up.
“We’ll get supplies and meet you there,” Nancy
Well, this was familiar, Joyce thought as she filled the dishwasher
in Giles’ kitchen. The others were still in the living room,
dozing, and in the case of Nancy and Oz, indulging in a bit of discreet
canoodling. No-one had asked her to do this but she felt better,
contributing something. Even Cordelia had been able to help, she’d
driven, helped the abductees escape, and afterward she’d driven
the wounded to Sunnydale General. All she’d done was sit here
and wait. She felt useless.
They were all so – united. Fellow warriors. Hashing over
the battle, talking about the battle and afterwards. Laughing over
how Oz had nearly staked Buffy when she dived out of the factory;
how Cordelia had panicked when the van wouldn’t move –
because the emergency brake was still on; how unhappy Buffy was
that she hadn’t been able to kill the Master this time, but
it was only a matter of time; every word driving in the fact that
she had nothing in common with them. Not even it seemed with her
daughter. Buffy had been polite, but she’d made sure not to
be alone with her.
The vampires hovered at the edge. Not in any way together, except
that both were drinking heavily. She noticed Angel watching Buffy,
slyly. She couldn’t see any reciprocal interest though. The
only person Buffy seemed less interested in than her mother was
the souled vampire. She was grateful for that at least.
“Here you are.” She jumped a little at Spike’s
voice. When she turned around he was standing right behind her,
an odd look on his face. He reached out and she felt his fingertips
ghost across the bruises on her throat.
“I hurt you. Won’t happen again.”
Joyce took a step back. “I’m fine.” She turned
back to the dishes. The hand on her shoulder startled her. She twisted
He moved so fast. He had her pressed up against the counter, narrow
hips firmly planted between her startled thighs before she had time
to react. His kiss was on the edge of savagery, his tongue sliding
cool and silken into her mouth, his lips swallowing her protest.
She tried to push him off but he lay on her cold and heavy as stone.
The traitorous bit of arousal he’d ignited guttered out at
the reminder of what he was, and what he was capable of. She shoved
harder and this time he let himself be pushed away.
“Why did you do that!” His eyes had gone dark in his
pale face, he licked his lips; her own lips felt swollen.
“Why not? We’re both free, white, and 21.” He
took a half-step towards her, that killer grin slowly opening in
his face. “Promise not to do anything you don’t want
Spike wanted her? Dear God, Cordelia had called it: this truly
was Bizarro World.
“No thank you,” she said firmly, ignoring the tiny
voice trying to file a demurral.
He cocked his head at her. “You sure?”
“Pity. Well, another time then.” He turned and swept
out of the kitchen, pushing past Cordelia.
“Rude much?” Cordelia huffed. “Ready to go home?”
Joyce couldn’t tell if she’d seen anything. “Yes,
Posted 06 September 2003