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 moved.

“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 glass.

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 to work.

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 alongside Angel.

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 fighting.

“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 for you…

A shrill whistle cut through the din. Two long blasts, and one short.

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 towards them.

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 crowd.

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 plan.”

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 conversation/argument.

“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 we?”

“Yes. We did.”

“Then I say we par-tay.”

“Yeah, sounds good to me.” Buffy had come up.

“Giles’ place?”

“We’ll get supplies and meet you there,” Nancy said.


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 round.

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 me to…”

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, please.”

Posted 06 September 2003

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