Nothing the Same, Book 3
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Primarily season 4, but anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same & Nothing the Same, Book 2
Previous parts here
“Well, that’s something you don’t see every day.”
The Lhrrasyn demon was suspended in mid air, tied spread-eagle between two trees and rather thoroughly dead. Spike had found the body while on patrol - the smell of meat and fresh blood alerting him to something recently and messily dead. The body was so mutilated, it had taken a moment to recognize the species but only Lhrrasyn had that dark red skin and the prehensile toes at eye level had clued him in to what he was seeing.
Lighting a cigarette, Spike looked up at the remains of the Lhrrasyn, studying it with curious eyes. Lhrrasyn kept to themselves for the most part. Boringly pretentious, they had an arrogant belief that they were better than other demons - some twaddle about being descended from the last of the pure demons to walk this dimensional plane - as if vampires couldn’t make that same claim. They were good fighters when provoked, but this one didn’t look like it had had much of a chance to defend itself.
This was a dissection not something ritual, Spike decided. He couldn’t see anything missing as if removed for sacrifice to some demon or other. Heart, lungs, sex organs, all there. Not exactly intact, but there. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to dissect this thing.
He could almost admire the exquisite delicacy of the display: the way the dark-red skin had been kept whole even as it was peeled back from the chest cavity displaying the bony skeletal structure underneath. The surgical neatness with which the internal organs had been removed. The mathematical precision with which the body was suspended exactly halfway between the trees.
If he hadn’t been so sure who was responsible, Spike would have taken a moment to admire a fellow artist’s work, but he couldn’t give credit to something that he suspected went about this sort of thing with nothing but scientific curiosity driving him and that was too reminiscent of the Initiative scientists for Spike’s comfort. This Adam was more machine and human than demon: cold and calculating, taking no pleasure in the kill, just mechanically butchering things with robotic precision.
Which was why he found it so bizarre to find the demon strung up this way. The body was displayed with the intent to frighten, to warn others away from something bigger and badder then themselves. Maybe Adam did take pleasure in his work after all, Spike conceded, and had hung the bloody thing up so others could admire his efforts. Adam didn’t think like a demon, or a human, and Spike was finding him frustratingly difficult to figure out.
The Slayer’s toy soldier had gotten word to them that the soldiers had located Maggie Walsh’s files on her pet project. Adam had been created from a single human, half a dozen demon species, plus machine and computer parts. From the notes they’d found, the goal of Project 314 was to create an unstoppable fighter, a ruthlessly efficient killer, one that was obedient to the will of its controller - in this case, Maggie Walsh.
Two out of three wasn’t bad for a first try, Spike thought with a flash of malicious amusement.
He’d taken morbid pleasure in the fact that the prototype had apparently killed its maker within minutes of being activated. Served the bitch right for creating that thing in the first place. Problem was, he was the one who now had to deal with the unstoppable monster she’d created and he didn’t know how to kill the thing - yet.
Adam was stronger than both Spike and the Slayer. It had kicked both their asses and made it look easy and Spike didn’t let anything get away with that. He needed to find a way to take Adam down and that meant figuring out what Adam was up to. He obviously had some kind of agenda, even if Spike had no clue what it was yet. When Adam broke into the Initiative, he’d reportedly said something about wanting to learn about itself. Somehow, Spike doubted the creature was merely seeking enlightenment.
Spike flicked another glance up at the flayed demon over his head, wondering what Adam was trying to accomplish with these kills. First, he’d killed and mutilated a human child. Now a demon. What was the point? Adam was only days old, two weeks at the outside, activated full grown, programmed with basic information and apparently with the desire to learn more - about demons, humans, and itself. Was this just some bizarre quest for knowledge about different species? A hands-on practicum instead of book learning?
Something about the situation made Spike think back to his own awakening after human death in that alley in London. Power such as he’d never known surging through his body, his senses overwhelmed, bombarded by input he had no words to describe, a thirst for blood and an insatiable craving to know and explore the limits of his new existence. If he could have found a way, he would have taken over the world in that first week of unlife, so cocky and arrogant in his newfound strength. Instead, he’d settled for taking bloody revenge on every person who had insulted or belittled him during his human existence. If he had possessed Adam’s power in that first week of unlife, Spike wouldn’t have settled for goals that petty. He would have wreaked havoc on a scale that would still be being talked of in hushed voices now, a century later.
Spike dropped his cigarette butt and strode away from the display, leaving the carcass to the waiting scavengers. Adam was a bigger threat than the Initiative and Spike was not willing to let a demon stronger than himself move in on his Territory. The Initiative had first created Adam, then been careless enough to let him escape. Scowling, Spike realized he might just have to delay his plan to attack the Initiative until they had a go at taking out Adam. While he doubted they would be successful, they had weapons and expendable fighters in droves. He had no doubt that the soldiers would make an attempt and it seemed only fair to let them have a chance to find out for themselves just how unstoppable the thing they’d created was.
If a bunch of soldiers got killed trying - well, bonus.
“So, this is it?” Xnader shoved the papers aside in irritation.
“What do you mean?” Buffy was hiding her worry well. She and Oz had met Xander at the job site at the end of his shift and dragged him off to the Espresso Pump, ostensibly for coffee but really to share the latest information on Adam.
“I mean what good is it to have the list of parts that Adam is made out of? Didn’t they have a plan for shutting him down if things went wrong? Some kind of off switch?” What kind of idiots didn’t put in a fail safe, he thought, once again furious at the Initiative’s short-sighted arrogance.
“I guess not.”
“Of course, because that would make sense,” Xander said bitterly.
Oz leaned forward and tapped the drawing Buffy had brought with her.
Riley either couldn’t, or wouldn’t - Xander had his suspicions about which word was more accurate - supply them with copies of the actual blueprints they’d found, but he’d given Buffy a rough sketch of the crucial information. Part of Xander couldn’t believe they were losing sleep over an amateur-looking anatomical sketch of body parts, even if the parts were labeled: “left arm - polgara - skewer” and “legs - shinzik” and so on. And how tired was he that he found himself wondering if the reason there was no neat little circle and label for the groin area of the sketch was because Riley was embarrassed or because Adam wasn’t an “anatomically correct” Frankenstein monster.
He really needed to stop trying to save the world at the end of his work shift.
“What worries me most,” Oz said in that calm way of his, “is Riley’s information about Adam’s power source.”
Riley had told Buffy that Adam’s power source was a uranium core embedded inside his chest. The diagram showed a neat little circle near the spine, labeled ’uranium core’. Riley was irritatingly anal about his diagram labels, Xander decided, knowing he was being petty and unreasonable and not caring. Hey, he hadn’t said it out loud, had he?
“Why?” Buffy asked, looking down at where Oz’s finger was pointing on the diagram.
“Because it implies almost infinite power,” Oz told her.
Buffy frowned, digesting that. “So, Adam was designed to be both really hard to kill and he’s the Energizer bunny of demons?”
“Yeah, I’m guessing wearing him down enough to hurt him isn’t really going to be an option.” Xander couldn’t help remembering the desperate hours of research into how to kill the Mayor, when they had poured over every scrap of material they could find, looking for an answer about how to kill something impervious to harm. There really ought to be a limit to how many impossible to kill things you were required to tackle in one lifetime, he thought grumpily.
“Which leaves…what? Beheading? Removing his power core?”
“Somehow I suspect he’s not going to agree to just lie down quietly while we do some exploratory surgery,” Xander pointed out. “Who votes for total annihilation?”
Oz raised his hand and Xander grinned at him, feeling a bit more cheerful for some reason.
“Which leaves us with the question: how do you totally annihilate something you can’t even dent?” Buffy asked grimly.
No one had an answer.
Spike woke instantly, rolling to his feet as his eyes shot open at the sound of his Claimed’s distress. Xander’s muffled exclamation and accelerating heartbeat were clearly audible over the sound of the television, volume turned low as it always was when Spike was sleeping. Xander wasn’t giving off signals of imminent danger but it was more than just a normal reaction to an upsetting news item.
Spike crossed the room in three rapid strides, jerking open the door to the living room and saw Xander, on his feet, a bowl of cereal forgotten in his hands as he stared wide-eyed at the television. Spike moved to stand beside him, wondering what was on that had provoked this reaction. He frowned, seeing the Breaking News logo on the screen, as the announcer, standing in front of what looked like half the Sunnydale police force milling around in front of a church, finished her description:
“There is no report on the condition of the parishioners still trapped inside, but their assailants have vowed to kill all of them if police attempt to storm the church.”
Xander gave him a look in which worry and puzzlement were mixed. “Three or four vampires have barricaded themselves in a church and are holding a bunch of people hostage,” he explained, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s broad daylight. That’s just not normal behavior for vampires.”
“Got that right.” Spike didn’t wait for more details, spinning around and heading back into the bedroom. He needed to deal with this right away. And those bloody idiots in the church were going to pay for the fact that they were rousting the Master of the Territory to deal with their foolishness during the middle of the day.
“Spike?” Xander had followed him into the bedroom where Spike was already yanking on last night’s jeans.
“Toss me a shirt, luv.”
Obviously still bewildered by Spike’s reaction to the news, Xander did as asked and Spike caught the black t-shirt that Xander tossed to him, pulling it on over his head. He grumbled under his breath as he pulled it on, promising himself exactly what he was going to do to those idiots the moment he got his hands on them.
“Spike?” Xander’s voice was a little more insistent this time and he was standing planted in the doorway, making it clear he wasn’t moving until Spike explained himself.
“Got to deal with this personally, luv. Only two explanations for what they’re doing: either they’re challenging my control or they’re too stupid and out of control to follow the rules. Either way, if I don’t deal with it immediately, it’s as good as admitting I can’t control what goes on in my Territory.”
He snagged the leather coat he’d nicked from a store a week ago out of the closet and pulled it on. It wasn’t the same as the beautiful coat he’d worn for nearly three decades as a souvenir of his second Slayer but it was serviceable: pockets to hold weapons and made of finely worked leather that could serve as shelter against the sun in a pinch. The pockets already held an assortment of items: stakes, knives, a pack of smokes, and Spike took a second to check they were all in place.
Xander was no longer blocking the door and Spike knew that his boy understood the necessity of Spike leaving. Xander hated Spike having to move around during the day, always worried that something would go wrong and Spike would be burned by the unforgiving light of the sun but Xander had a clear understanding of how fast things could spiral out of control if the vampires of the Court thought Spike was losing his edge.
He paused long enough to give Xander a quick, hard kiss, then Xander pulled back.
“The police are in a holding pattern for now, according to the news. I’ll take the car and pick up Giles. He and I will work on damage control from the outside, try to keep anyone from getting ideas about storming the place until you get a chance to take care of the vamps.”
Spike considered that for a quick second. “Doubt it’ll be necessary, luv. The police aren’t going to be in a hurry to get inside, not with that many nice church-going voters at stake. Everyone’s going to be wanting someone else to give the order, just in case things go wrong.” Xander’s jaw set stubbornly and Spike could tell that Xander just wanted to be there, in case Spike needed help.
He wasn’t worried about it himself. Granted, the training he’d been putting the Court through had kept the vampires off the streets more than usual lately, but he would have heard about it if anyone strong enough to seriously challenge him had arrived in town.
Any vampire who thought this stunt was a good way to challenge the Master of a Territory wasn’t working with a full deck, or else they were worse than Angelus at the peak of his religious phase. Spike shook his head at the thought. At least Angelus hadn’t been getting his rocks off in churches during a century in which television cameras had been invented. Unlike these wankers.
“Still, can’t hurt,” he conceded and was rewarded by Xander’s smile. “Know where this place is at?” Spike wasn’t familiar with the church but it was obvious it had a sewer entrance. Vampires stupid enough to pull this shite weren’t going to have the patience for an ambush job.
“It’s the Sunnydale Presbyterian, corner of Third and Myrtle, two blocks down from the elementary school.” Xander told him, grabbing a pair of his own pants and pulling them on as Spike headed for the back stairs and the entrance to the tunnels.
Spike hoisted himself up through the trap door and took a quick look around. He was in the dust shrouded crypt of the church and it was deserted. Only the need for stealth kept him from snorting out loud. What kind of idiot set up a public hostage situation and then didn’t bother putting a guard on the entrance they’d used themselves?
Climbing the flight of wooden stairs leading up to the ground floor, Spike stretched out his senses. A lot of humans, all of them stinking of fear, at least a couple of whom had soiled themselves in their terror, and one voice, raised to address them all.
“…been avoiding this place for so many years, and it’s nothing. It’s nice! It’s got the pretty windows, the pillars . .. lots of folks to eat. Where’s the thing I was so afraid of? You know, the Lord? He was supposed to be here. He gave us this address.”
The speaker paused long enough to heave a dramatic sigh. “Well, we’ll just have to start killing off His people. See if He shows up.”
The noise the humans were making in response to the threat completely covered the sound of Spike entering the main part of the church. He took in the situation with one sweeping look: three vampires, young ones from the feel of them, were grouped near the alter, backs to him as they focused on their prey. Nearly 30 humans, at least half of them too old or two young to be any kind of threat, all of whom were staring with wide, terror-filled eyes at the three vampires. None of them, vampires or prey, noticed Spike’s arrival.
The third vampire’s dust was turning colors in the light from the stained glass windows before the other two vampires realized anyone was there. The leader spun around to face Spike and blinked momentarily in shock at the dusting of one of his companions before he recovered his arrogant assurance.
“I told the cops: they send anyone in, I start the whole massacre thing,” he said.
“Like I’m the bleeding cavalry,” Spike snorted, offended by the suggestion that he was an errand boy for the police. “Don’t give a damn about these people, I’m here to kill you.”
He could see it the moment in sank in and the other vampire realized Spike wasn’t human.
“I’m not afraid of you,” he blustered. “I’m not afraid of anything anymore!”
“Good for you, mate. Can’t stand gits who whine when faced with final death.”
The second vampire took that moment to attack, obviously assuming that Spike couldn’t keep track of both of them at the same time. He’d been perched on the wooden railing that ran the length of the alter and now he launched himself in a flying tackle aimed at Spike’s back. Spike could have given him some pointers about telegraphing his moves if he’d been in a better mood. As it was, he spun away from the attack, bringing his leg around in a spin-kick that landed squarely in the vampire’s back, adding considerable momentum to his original leap.
Spike was already turning to face the leader when he heard the sound of wood splintering as the vampire crashed into the carved wooden railing in front of the first set of pews. He grinned and ducked the furious blow launched at him by the leader, springing back up and hammering the vampire backwards with a series of lightning fast punches. The vampire was a bit taller than Spike which gave him the reach and a better fighter than Spike had been expecting, given the idiocy of the vampire’s actions in taking over this church. After his initial surprise, he gave as good as he was getting, throwing a series of rapid blows of his own.
They lunged and parried, trading blows and shifting quickly up and down the length of the aisle as they struggled to gain the advantage, humans scrambling out of the way in a panicked rush for the exit. Spike was peripherally aware that the second vampire had grabbed somebody’s coat and was making for the exit, obviously hoping to escape in the crowd. If he hadn’t been fully engaged in a fight, Spike would have rolled his eyes. The idiot had obviously forgotten all about the tunnel entrance in his panicked flight from Spike. Hopefully, Xander was outside by now. His boy wouldn’t miss a supposed hostage running out of the church and covering himself from the sun’s ray.
The momentary distraction let the other vampire get in a lucky blow and Spike staggered back, tripping over a fleeing human, sending them both sprawling to the floor, tangled in a mass of flailing limbs. Spike snarled furiously as he rolled clear, pushing the heavy-set man away from him and scrambling ungracefully to his feet. The other vampire had used the time to good purpose, breaking off the corner of a pew, and now he hefted the makeshift stake threateningly.
“I have strength you can’t dream of,” he gloated. “Adam has shown me the way, and there is nothing that can stop us.”
He flung himself at Spike, the stake stabbing downwards, aimed at Spike’s heart. Spike leapt backwards, his foot flashing out and catching the vampire squarely between the legs and Spike grinned at the pain-filled sound that escaped the vampire. He snapped off another kick, this one landing in the vampire’s stomach, then whirled around, bringing his foot up and around in a devastating blow at the vampire’s head.
The vampire crumpled to the ground, the stake flying free to land, clattering on the stone floor, well out of reach and Spike glared down at the vampire.
“We’re vampires, you pathetic twit. We don’t work for other demons. And we sure as hell don’t work for a pasted-together collection of spare parts like Adam.”
If he hadn’t already intended to kill this idiot, he would now. The knowledge that Adam was recruiting vampires infuriated him. It was the Mayor all over again and Spike had had it with vampires who would whore themselves out to other demons. Vampires hired other demons, not the other way around. Vampires like this gave other vampires a bad name.
The vampire was struggling to rise and Spike kicked him again, his booted foot catching the vampire in the side and flipping him over. Spike kicked him once more in the head for the satisfaction of hearing bones crack then pulled out a stake and stabbed downwards, jerking the stake back before it dusted along with the vampire.
As the dust settled to the stone floor of the now-empty church, Spike swore softly and vehemently to himself.
Adam was recruiting vampires.
An unstoppable, essentially immortal demon was setting up shop in Spike’s Territory.
*A/N - Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episodes ‘Who Are You?’ and ‘Primeval’