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MORTAL KOMBAT: Phoenix Fire

Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns the rights to the characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merrick her Watcher, and later characters of Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, Rupert Giles Buffy’s next Watcher, and Jesse, The Master, Darla, Luke, oh and Joyce Summers. The Lin-Kuei and Sub-Zero of the Mortal Kombat universe belong to their creators and producers. Kahn Harris is more or less an original character, so if you want to use him, please ask first.

Summery: Crossover with Mortal Kombat universe. Raiden sent Buffy to the Lin-Kuei when she was a baby and was raised to be a ninja. On her 14th birthday, she is sent to her mother in LA, and learns of her true destiny.

Rated: PG-13

Prologue

Lin-Kuei Training Temple, Realm of Earth;

The Council of Elders, the leaders of the ancient and powerful Ninja clan the Lin-Kuei, were gathered in the dark and shadowed Training Hall. The only illumination of the room was the moonlight filtering in through the stone roof skylights. Of the full thirty members of the Council, only the seven highest of the order were present, along with the High Elder, the leader of the Council.

They had no names, only places and power. All were of oriental decent, yet only the oldest and therefore the wisest and most powerful could be described as an old man. His full silver beard reached to his chest, while his equally silver hair reached to the middle of his back. His skin, dark and worn, bearing the signs of age, hard work, and much punishment while many more successes, was mostly covered by his dark maroon robe, a robe that the other Council members present shared. His eyes…his eyes were both haunting and intense. No ordinary man could stand to look into those eyes for any longer than a few moments. No woman could ever look into those eyes, for fear of going insane with what he had seen few ever looked the Elder in the face.

The other Council members were of varying ages themselves, yet all appeared to be less than forty human years old, in truth they were far older. For obvious reasons, none of the Council were of the female class, though for the last thousand years women had been allowed into Clan as warriors, none could ever to be conceived of becoming a member of the Council.

The reason for this rare gathering of the highest of the High, at the Training Hall no less, was standing before the awaited group. Standing at the forefront, the High Elder, and then two others directly behind him, with another behind both of them and then two more. Kneeling before the column lay a prone figure, a girl.

Her back-length blond hair was strewn about her form as she knelt before her masters. There were attendants at the back of the hall, standing in the shadows staring at the ground and waiting to be called upon. They did not have long to wait as the High Elder made a simple gesture, and despite not looking at him, the requested attendants immediately sprung forth with their instruments, dedicated upon their chosen task.

When the four attendants, all male, reached the girl on the floor, they immediately took their machete blades and began to cut the girl’s tresses until she had a boyish haircut that almost made her look naked. Since she was only wearing the undergarments of her gender that was mostly true.

Waving another gesture, at which the attendants scurried back into the shadows, the High Elder called the next attendants forth. These were warriors, dressed in light armor, each, of six, were carrying bows and a quiver full of colored feathered arrows. Each warrior’s arrow had a different colored feather.

One of the Elders near the back then snapped his finger, and immediately the girl stood up, her head bowed before the Elders. One of the warriors behind her came forward then and produced a long silken red cloth. He wrapped it over her eyes, blindfolding her. The girl remained as she was until a different Elder this time snapped his fingers.

Instantly she was crouched into a defensive fighting position, her head snapping back and forth scanning the room. The archers began to move in a circle around her, taking out their bows and loading them with arrows. After several minutes of this walking, they all stopped, aimed, each for a different part of the girl, a couple on fatality shots. Somehow able to sense this, the girl stopped scanning the room and just stood there, ready. She did not have much longer to wait.

At an unseen command, the archers as one let their arrows go. As fast as the near point-blank range arrows traveled, the girl moved much faster. The first arrow to reach the girl, a yellow-feathered one had been aimed for her right leg. She bent down and plucked it from the air and dropped it to the ground. Then she grabbed the blue-feathered one aimed for her left thigh and also dropped it. Standing straight, but leaving her head tilted at a backward angle, she caught the green and red feathered arrows with her respective hands and without moving, the last arrow, the orange-feathered one, in her teeth. Slowly, patiently, the girl bent back down and carefully placed the arrows on the ground. Each colored arrow facing the very archer that had fired it. She didn’t even have a scratch on her.

The first Elder that had snapped, did so again and the archers retrieved their arrows and hurried back to the shadows. The second Elder then snapped once again himself and this time twelve fully armored warriors stepped out of the shadows, just on the outer edges of the light. Each carried two swords, already drawn.

This time, there was no signaling snap, just another silent gesture from the High Elder, and the twelve warriors, as silent as the air around them stalked forward, their intent the death of the girl. Three steps away from the girl, the first warrior prepared his first strike. Before he had even fully drawn back his blade, the girl snapped out with a silent and incredibly strong kick to his chest. He doubled over, stifling his grunt of pain.

The girl ducked under the silent swing of the next warrior rolled backwards to avoid the down-slash of another. Before the next warrior even knew what was happening, the girl launched out with an elbow to his chest followed by sweeping his legs and then a sharp kick across his face to knock him unconscious. The girl rolled back forward and swept out the legs of the second warrior and grabbed one of his swords on his trip down. She leapt back up and barely managed to get her borrowed sword up in time to defend against another warrior with a loud clang as the two swords hit.

Using her single sword, the girl successfully blocked or avoided all attacks that her opponents, with their two swords. After several minutes, and many traded blows with multiple simultaneous opponents, the girl managed to completely disarm three of her opponents, and knock out three more in addition to the disarmed ones. The only sounds in the large hall were those of the blades clashing and the blows being delivered.

Yet try as the girl might, some of the warriors’ strikes made it through her defenses, leaving long slash marks or cut along her arms, legs, and torso. With her final four opponents, amidst the fallen bodies of the other eight, the girl picked up a second sword, and couldn’t repress the wild grin that came to her face. It was gone a second later, but it was enough that the remaining warriors saw that she was enjoying herself. They became scared.

Not waiting any longer for them to come to her, the girl attacked on her own, either disabling the last of her opposition, or completely knocking them out. The entire encounter had lasted ten minutes. None of the warriors were dead, though some did obtain wounds similar to her own, she had not killed any of them, despite the ease of the possibility.

Once the girl was sure there were no more enemies, she returned to the position she had begun in, and kneeled once more, laying her blades silently on the floor. The High Elder made another gesture and the first four attendants scurried out and dragged the fallen warriors out of the room. He then stared harshly at the girl, and though she could not see it, she could feel it on the back of her neck. She was still wearing the red blindfold, yet if she had not, the others in the room would see her eyes squeezed tightly shut in stark terror of the High Elder’s wrath.

“You did not kill them,” he commented. His voice, despite his appearance, was not humble, old, or in the least feeble. On the contrary, it was strong and held even more power than his stare did. Though his posture, his gaze, and his voice radiated pure power and raised the tension of the room by orders of magnitude, his comment was just that, a comment. Not a question, not an accusation, not an exclamation. Just a comment.

Relief could be seen radiating off the girl as she realized that her master was not angry with her, though she did not move even a micrometer, nor did one muscle relax or tense any further. Yet still, the girl could feel the High Elder’s cold yet intense gaze upon her. Her trials were not through yet.

Another Elder this time snapped his finger. Five attendants, as undressed as the girl, but male, came forward and stood on all sides of her kneeling form. There was a tense minute as they all waited for the next action, the High Elder staring intently down upon the girl. Finally it seemed he had decided and made a small almost unseen gesture.

In the very next moment, the five men grabbed the yielding girl and pulled her to her feet. One of them removed her blindfold, though she kept her eyes on the floor, two others held her by the arms as the last two quite forcefully ripped her undergarments, the only clothes she had on, from her pale white body.

The girl truly was quite beautiful, but none present seemed to even notice. The girl herself hardly even noticed it. Instead she was waiting for the next trial that awaited her, readying her mind and body for everything and nothing. Come what may.

The attendants then left her standing in the middle of the room, staring at the floor, illuminated by the moonlight, naked. Another Elder then snapped his finger. Another figure came forward, but not far enough into the light. His clothing was black and if any had looked, it would seem he was wearing a mask. As he stood there in the shadows, directly behind the naked girl, he uncoiled something in his hand.

The answer to what it was came in the next second as his hand snapped up and a flash of movement, a thin red line appeared on the girl’s back that had not been there before. A crack as the long whip of leather and metal broke the sound barrier echoed through the Hall. The girl didn’t even react.

The whip lashed out three more times in rapid succession, each time a new red line appearing on the girl’s back. She didn’t even jostle as the whip landed on her back. To anyone looking at her, they’d think she was a statue, save that she was naked and bleeding. Yet the only ones that were looking at her was the whip master, and the Elders.

Fifty times total, the whip landed on the girl’s back. In some places she was openly bleeding, while others were just red marks. Even as the last of the strikes landed, the girl did not react in the slightest. Finally, even as the whip master was about to continue, the High Elder made another gesture, and the trial stopped.

Several tense, and painful for the girl, minutes later, as the whip master recoiled his whip and retreated into the shadows, the final trial was called. This time, and the only time, the High Elder himself snapped his finger. That single sound resonated far louder and longer than possible than all of the other sounds that had been present in the Hall so far.

Three attendants came forward this time. All fully dressed, but not in armor. The first carried a large tub basin. He sat it before the girl and then directed her to stand in it. The second carried a large bucket full of crushed and sharp ice. He stopped and stood to the right of the girl. The third carried a large urn with an even larger bowl on top of it. Resting inside the bowl were glowing red-hot coals.

Feeling a moment of sympathy for the girl standing before them, the High Elder risked a fraction of that to seep into his gaze as he stared at her. Rather than say anything, he just looked at the third attendant and nodded. The girl bent forward, so that her back was level with the floor and the three around her prepared for their tasks.

The attendant, wearing thick protective gloves, picked the bowl up off the urn and sat it on top of the girl’s back. The then left it there, removing his hands, for thirty seconds. As the seconds ticked by, the girl did not scream out or even drop to her knees in agony. Instead she grunted silently and tensed herself, accepting the pain and somehow forcing her body to react as though it were sunlight rather than a tray of scalding hot stones.

After the thirty seconds, the attendant removed the tray and placed it back on the urn. Only a deep flush of red skin lay there on her back, no burns whatsoever. The second that the tray was removed however, the bucket of sharp ice was then dumped onto the girl’s back. Most of it fell into the bucket, but enough remained on her back to make a difference. The girl jerked in surprise at the sudden change and gave a louder grunt. This time her limbs began to shake some, but they stilled within moments after they began.

Then a truly amazing thing began to happen. All of the ice in the tub around the girl’s feet began to melt, rapidly. The ice on her back began to steam, and thirty seconds after it was tossed on her, the ice was little more than water and was beginning to evaporate from her back. Yet the moment that the majority of the ice was gone, the girl lost her tension and visibly relaxed. Her head was still bowed.

The High Elder waved someone forward from the darkness, and five attendants, all female this time and fully dressed, came forward and removed the girl from the tub and wrapped her in blankets and soon had her clothed.

This clothing however was different than anything she had ever worn before. Rather than rags and cotton or sackcloth, it was fine velvet and leather. She was soon dressed and once she was, she took a moment to take in her new outfit. She wore black leather moccasins on her feet, both comfortable, durable and quiet. Her legs were covered in black velvet leggings that came all the way to her waist.

Her top was also black velvet and had snug sleeves that went all the way to her wrists without scrunching or coming short when she stretched. On top of that, she bore a Lin-Kuei Ninja’s tunic. It was much like a vest, though giving her the appearance of larger shoulders, and for her, it was held in by the black belt, from which descended a flap of the same leather material on both the front and the back, giving the appearance of a loin cloth. The tunic was a deep royal red color, a color that the girl had never seen among the Lin-Kuei Ninja ranks before.

She felt honored beyond description when she realized what wearing this meant. She knelt before her lords and waited for them to instruct her in her first task. As she knelt, she heard the High Elder speaking with the other Elders, as though they were the only ones in the room, and in a respect, they were.

“She has the potential of wielding the fire,” one of the younger Elders spoke up.

“Yes, she does,” the High Elder responded.

“She has passed all of the trials. She is literally at the peek of training,” another said.

“Yes, she is,” the High Elder simply said.

“She is young. Younger than any other warrior that has reached this level of mastery and training. Coupled with her ultimate destiny, she could be among the most powerful of our ranks. Shao Kahn would give anything for her. I would think that we would not let him take this one, not with as much talent as she has shown.” Another spoke.

“You are correct,” the Elder said.

“Then what do we do with her? The agreement for even having this one here was that she could not become one of our assassins or warrior-class Ninjas,” a fourth Elder pointed out.

“That is true,” the High Elder responded.

“We could send her back to her father, he could handle her training and physical needs certainly,” the other Elder suggested.

“No, we cannot do that,” the High Elder admonished.

“Why not?” the last Elder asked, genuinely curious.

Reigning in his temper at being questioned, the High Elder merely looked pointedly at the offending member until the younger looked away. “The girl’s father lives in the Americas, in L.A. If we send her to him…no, that is not an option. It is agreed that there is nothing more that she can be taught here, and she will not go to Shao Kahn. I think it better that she enter the Tournament on the side of the Earth Realm.”

“It would make sense. We do know the girl’s destiny, even if her parents did not when they sent her to us. Perhaps they even now do not know.”

“So what should we do with her? Send her to the Hellmouth?” the last Elder asked sarcastically.

Instead of laughing at that, they all took pause. After a minute, during which the Elder that had asked the question realized what he had suggested could mean, the High Elder spoke once more. “We will send her to her mother. We will make arrangements to direct her destiny from there. Leave us. I must speak with her and test her one final time. We will reconvene after supper tonite.”

With that statement, each of the six Elders bowed once before the High Elder and then blended into the shadows and departed from the room. After they had left, there were several moments of rustling among the shadows as all of the other attendants and people watching from the shadows left the room as well. Except for one. And the High Elder and the girl ofcourse.

“Stand, young warrior,” the High Elder commanded in a quieting voice.

Cautiously, like a jungle cat, the girl stood to her feet, her head still bowed. “Raise your eyes, and look into mine, and tell me what you see,” the High Elder commanded.

The girl did as ordered, raising her face and staring into the smoldered yet intense gray eyes. Her features were soft compared to the hard-edged face of the ancient, a chiseled jaw-line, smooth alabaster skin, pink lips under a sharp nose, which was between two almond shaped hazel eyes. The girl, a youth of 14 years of age, looked deep into the High Elder’s harsh gaze. Yet despite all the stories she had heard, all the feelings she had experiences, all the pain and strife that gaze had caused her, she did not look away.

As she stared into his eyes with her own innocent gaze, she couldn’t help but sense something about the ancient. Something she had never felt towards the leader of their society before. Kinship. She had experienced many hardships to gain the status, the chance to be where she was now.

Now, as she looked into his eyes, she saw that he too had seen many hardships, far too many for the human soul to bear. Throughout it though, she somehow felt that no matter the pains, the trials, the evils he had seen and even advocated, he had kept just a small portion of his humanity. The tiniest piece of innocence, buried deep beneath all the training, the power, the evils and the hardships, it was there, she could see it.

Without even realizing it, she smiled up at him. And but for a moment, as little more than a fleeting thought, she thought that he might smile back at her too. He did not. Instead he just kept staring into her eyes, boring into her soul, reading what was written on her heart and possibly even understanding parts of her she was never aware of. She did not look away.

Finally he grunted, and nodded his head. “You may speak freely here Buffy,” the High Elder told her. “And only for this time. You have earned it. That, and my respect. Don’t abuse these gifts.”

The blond girl clapped her fists before her chest and bowed deep. “I would never dare such Master,” the girl answered in a quiet alto voice.

The High Elder just regarded her for several moments before asking her a very dangerous question. “Buffy, were you listening to our discussions of your destiny just now?”

The girl hesitated. Keeping in mind that she was allowed to speak freely, and that her Masters valued honesty among their students, though more often not the truth just honesty, she answered, “Yes.”

The High Elder nodded his head and asked another dangerous question. “What did you think of it?”

The girl’s eyes clouded with confusion. “I-I…I……” she stuttered.

“Never mind,” he waved off the confusion. “Buffy, we are going to send you to your mother. I am aware that you have not seen her since you were an infant and then on special visits, but she is the best to take care of you. You are aware of the Tournament held each generation, and our involvement?”

Buffy nodded, her appearance that of the calm ninja. Inside though she was everything but calm. They wanted her to leave? They were sending her away? Was she being punished? Did they no longer want her? She wanted to stay here, this was her home. The only family, the only clan that she belonged to was the Lin-Kuei. Not some mother or father that had abandoned her years ago. She wanted to stay, not leave.

Even though her appearance was calm, the Elder was aware of the conflict in her heart. “This troubles you? Remember, you are allowed to speak freely here,” he asked.

Buffy hesitated for a few moments before finally answering his question. “Yes Master, this troubles me a great deal. This is my home. This temple is all I’ve known. My clan, my family is the Lin-Kuei. I am Lin-Kuei! I…I do not want to leave Master.”

The High Elder stared at her for quite some time before speaking again. He was contemplating whether to just order her to go, or actually explain it to her so that she might better understand their reasons. After all, despite that they had trained her since she was an infant, she was not truly theirs. She belonged to a greater destiny than even the mighty Lin-Kuei could provide for her. Finally, he decided to try and explain.

“Buffy,” he began, “You do not belong here anymore. Your ultimate destiny lies out in the world, on Earth. You have reached the culmination, the peak of the training we alone can provide you. To continue your training, to become stronger and wiser, you must leave this shelter and brave the world. We will send you to your mother, who is living with your father at this time in Los Angeles, California in the Americas. There you will learn the ways of the world and the one thing that you have been denied here. Your mother. This is not your decision. It has been made and it will be carried out. Understand this, warrior, your greater destiny lies in protecting the Realm of Earth. You are Lin-Kuei and you will always be Lin-Kuei. You will fight in the next Tournament, for the Earth Realm, in ten years. Your enemy is Shao Kahn, his minions, and the demons of Hell. That is your destiny.”

Buffy, staring into the High Elder’s eyes, almost had a look of defiance in her own eyes, but it was quickly lost and she then stared with the conviction of one who believes in themselves and their place in the world. Buffy clapped her fists together once more and bowed, saying, “I understand Master. I will not fail the clan, I shall seek my ultimate destiny and fulfill it Master.”

“Good,” the High Elder commented as he reached into his maroon robe for something.

He pulled it out and held it before the young Ninja. It was a solid black velvet mask, with a hard plastic covering for the mouth and nose. The hard mask was stylized to the general markings of a clan Ninja. Eight congruent lines on either side angled in a down slope to the middle, where a flat blade ran the middle of it from the top to the bottom in a downward point.

Buffy’s eyes widened in amazement at the very sight of the mask. “M-m-Master?” she stuttered, her voice hushed from awe. The Elder just nodded and placed the mask into her upraised hands. She looked briefly to his face to confirm, and he only nodded once more. Smiling brightly for but a moment before her face went blank once more, the girl fitted the mask in her grasp and then slipped it over her head. Since her hair had been cut there was no problem getting it on, only in getting it situated around her eyes and tucked properly into the neck of her new uniform.

Smiling beneath her mask, Buffy clapped her fists one last time and bowed much lower this time. As she was bent over, she praised, “Thank you Master, you greatly honor me with this gift. All of your gifts.”

When she stood erect once more, she dared not to look her Master in the face, settling on his robed chest instead. “You may go now Buffy. Pack your personal belongings and say goodbye to your friends. You leave tomorrow after midday.” The High Elder informed her.

Buffy bowed one last time and then silently melted into the shadows to leave the Training Hall.

The last of the people in the Training Hall waited until they were sure that the new Ninja-warrior was truly gone before making another move. After the girl had left, one of the shadows moved towards the High Elder, who had not moved a millimeter since dismissing the girl. The High Elder spoke first.

“Simply amazing wasn’t it?” he asked.

The shadow that had moved close enough to be registered as human, but not much more, took another step and answered, “She’s young. That and she’s a woman makes it more than merely…amazing.”

“She is unique among the others. She has a destiny,” the High Elder argued.

“You keep talking about that. What could her ‘destiny’ be that you would not make her one of the Assassins? She could be the greatest and the deadliest among them, quite simply and for only that she is a girl. That she shows this kind of talent…that much power; she could even stand a chance of being the equal of an Elder. So other than to protect your own interests, what could her destiny so entail that you must send her away?” the shadow asked.

The High Elder hesitated for but a moment, and then waved the shadow forward into the light. “Why do you care Sub-Zero? You are not one who often troubles himself with the desires of a subordinate. What is so special about her that makes you care so much that she stay?”

The shadow moved into the light at the gesture, revealing a warrior, dressed in a Ninja garb costume identical to the one Buffy had worn, save that the vest and loincloth were deep ice blue rather than royal red. His facemask was different also. Stylized the same, but hers had been oil black, Sub-Zero’s was a mottled gray, giving it the appearance that it was frozen solid.

His chocolate brown eyes stared unflinchingly and unafraid into the High Elder’s eyes as he answered. “She is my friend. Another that makes her special is that she passed the very trials that I endured. That makes her worthy of anyone’s respect. She also shows remarkable control, of both her temper and her body. She did not kill her opponents making it a harder effort to accomplish, though it would have been the simplest of ease to do so. She did not cry out, and she even melted the ice completely rather than let it fall off. As I said, remarkable control.”

“She is only 14 years old, and she has not only surpassed our training, but she has passed the culmination of our order. Respect indeed. She might even be a match for you Sub-Zero. After all, you have so much in common…” the High Elder teased.

“I am 15 years old, and I have been for the better part of three months. It will be another six before her next birthday. I have already mastered my control of the Ice. When she learns to control the Fire…”

If she learns control,” he interrupted.

Sub-Zero paused. “When she learns control, she will be the most powerful warrior the Lin-Kuei have ever trained, myself included. All I want to know is why you are sending her away, away from where you can properly control her, maintain your mastery of her and her powers.”

The High Elder stared intently into Sub-Zero’s eyes. “Kahn Alexander Harris, I am going to tell you this girl’s story. You will not repeat it, even to yourself, and especially not to Buffy Anne Summers!”

The use of full names was not lost on the Ice Ninja, it indicated that the High Elder was very serious, and that to disobey would be to commit an act of treason far worse than death. Sub-Zero, Kahn Harris, clapped his fists and bowed, making the vow of secrecy.

The High Elder nodded and told Buffy’s story. “Nearly 14 years ago, Raiden, the God of Thunder and protector of the Realm of Earth appeared before the entire Council of Elders. He had with him a man and a woman, holding a baby girl in her arms. Raiden spoke with the majority of us in private, the others remaining to watch over the “guests.” He told us that the couple was being hunted, hunted by Outworld, demons, and even humans who cared only for money. They wanted the girl. The reason, they could sense what all of us and Raiden as well could sense. The girl would one day be the Slayer.”

“Before you ask, a Slayer is the Chosen One. One girl born each generation, born with the strength, the skill, the power to hunt the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness and destroy them where they meet. Raiden knew the girl was in danger of being killed and as the protector of Earth, he had to do all he could to ensure that she could be raised and live long enough to actually become the Chosen One. So he brought her here, where he commanded us to train and raise her. He set five conditions however.”

“First, the girl could never become one of our Assassins or ever kill in cold blood while under our service. Second, Shao Kahn could never have her, and if he demanded her death then we were to deny him. Her parents were to be allowed to visit her, on her birthdays. We were to provide safe passage so that they could. We were to train her to the fullest of her abilities, which we have. And lastly, come the day of her ascension into being the Chosen One, she must leave here and be placed where she may do the most good.”

“The reason for the Hellmouth?” Sub-Zero asked. The High Elder nodded.

“She has not been chosen yet, but we all sense that the time is near. So, in order for her to be better prepared to face her destiny, we are sending her out to face the world that much sooner. We are sending her to her mother because her father is a wanted man, it would not be safest with him. Though her parents are still married, our spies tell us that…well, to quote a statistic, 90% of all marriages end in divorce.”

Sub-Zero nodded. “I understand.”

“I had hoped you might Kahn.”

Sub-Zero then reached up and pulled off his mask, showing a pale white face, thin and lanky looking, crew-cut black hair, dark eyebrows over his chocolate brown orbs, a blasé nose, and a wide mouth that at the moment was straight with tension. “You do remember where the Hellmouth is located?” Kahn asked his master. The High Elder nodded, hiding his own smile.

“Yes, as I recall there is a small township that rests above it. Sunnydale, yes? Oh! That’s right! Your twin brother and mother live there don’t they? Tell me Kahn, how is…what is he called? Xander? Yes that’s right. How is Xander doing?”

Kahn squinted his eyes the tiniest bit. “You would know better than I would, High Elder. I have never seen my mother or my brother. As with Buffy, I was raised here and in truth, it is all I know.”

“Yes, that is true,” the High Elder, with a note of humor in his normally strict voice, commented. “Well Kahn, since you are so worried about Buffy, I hereby give you permission to follow her. You may choose when you leave Kahn, but be sure to be there when she gets to the Hellmouth. As much as I’d like to keep up fronts, I like this world Kahn. I don’t want to see it ruined by Shao Kahn or destroyed by the demons anytime soon. You will help her, and if you wish, you may live with you blood family during the time. Yet as with Buffy, always remember Sub-Zero, you are Lin-Kuei and you will always be Lin-Kuei.”

Kahn didn’t react in the least as the High Elder gave him his orders. He understood them, perfectly, and while he appreciated that he would be looking after his friend, he did not like leaving anymore than she did. He was smart enough though to know when to keep his mouth shut and follow orders. Clapping his fists, he bowed a last time, put on his mask, and blended into the shadows and left the room.

Alone at last the High Elder stood where he was for several more minutes, utterly still. “Well? I take it that is to your satisfaction?” he suddenly asked the air around him.

In response, the air suddenly ionized and began to let off loud and bright sparks. In the next instant, a flash of lightning and clap of thunder, Raiden, God of Thunder and protector of the Realm of Earth stood before the leader of the Lin-Kuei. “It’ll do,” the white haired god answered.

“Is our debt repaid?”

“No.”

The High Elder sighed. “What else do you need us to do?”

The Elder God just crossed his arms and smiled at the immortal. “Well, for starters, you can leave them both completely alone. If they ask to come back, let them. Don’t seek them out, and don’t try to control them. I brought both of them to you, and the entire clan owes my warriors and me a debt of honor. This is only the beginning Lin-Kuei. It will be a long time before I call in all of my favors from you.”

With that said, the God of Thunder disappeared the same way he had appeared. The only trace that he had even been there was the frown on the High Elder’s face. Suddenly, the god reappeared.

“Oh, one last thing,” he said, holding up a Polaroid© camera and snapping a quick flashy picture.

“I just had to see that look on your face. Thanks,” and he disappeared once more.

“I hate this world,” the High Elder grumbled as he left the Training Hall as fast as he could.

Chapter 1

Buffy was nervous.

Actually, that didn’t even begin to describe her current level of emotional turbulence. After three months, she was getting to see her parents again. Albeit, she normally saw them with an entire year between visits, and then only for a day, and she was happy to be seeing them again. But this time…it was to live with them. For the rest of her life.

Actually, according to the conversation the Elders had right in front of her, she was living with her mother, but her father still lived with them, so for the time being, she was calling it living with the both of them. Buffy sighed and shook her head. Twenty hours out of the hidden Training Temple of the Lin-Kuei and she was already starting to think with half ideas and speak confusing sentences.

Looking out the plane window, she had been surprised to see that it was daylight. She had left the temple under the cover of darkness and arrived at the airport just in time for her flight to America, specifically Los Angeles, California, by the hour before midnight. Eleven p.m. she corrected her self.

Buffy closed her eyes then and tried to get a few moment rest, or if possible sleep, before arriving in her new home. It seemed that she had just shut out all the noise of the engines and everything else when she suddenly felt someone shaking her shoulder. She reacted instinctually, almost breaking the flight attendants arm before realizing she was on the ground and it was getting close to sunset.

Apologizing for hurting the man, Buffy hastily gathered her things and practically raced to the gate where she had been told where she was to meet her parents.

Buffy was not ignorant of the ways or the technology of the modern world. Knowledge was power, and the Lin-Kuei was all about power. Yet when she exited the simple hallway that was the gate, she was amazed by how…modern everything was. She did not show her surprise or her interest in just about everything that was the modern convenience that was the Airport.

She saw television coming out of the ceilings! Others were erected onto massive columns and fitted together to show a list of information in green lettering and numbers. And the lights! Just because the Lin-Kuei were not ignorant of electricity did not mean they indulged in it. The sight of neon and fluorescent lighting nearly blinded the technology-deprived girl, and she couldn’t help widening her eyes in awe.

During this sweep of amazement with her eyes, she also constantly scanned all the people around her, as well as hiding spots, escape routes, and various other things that had been engrained into her by her training. She actually saw her parents before they saw her, which really couldn’t be called surprising, save for the fact that she was the only one exiting from the flight not in a business suit.

She was actually wearing some “borrowed” American clothing she had acquired before boarding her flight in Hong Kong. Just some plain denim blue jeans, a grayish white T-shirt, and a brown leather jacket that she had picked up at the Airport off the chair it was sitting on. When trained by a guild of ancient assassins, morals about stealing are not often highly valued.

She passed customs quickly, still managing to avoid the view of her parents, and then moving like the softest breeze that not even a mouse could sense, Buffy moved behind them and spoke in a calm, disinterested voice, “So, are we ready to go yet?”

Despite the non-intention to frighten her birth-givers, (she struggled with giggles at that term), she apparently had done so as they jumped and turned around with surprise in their eyes. “Buffy!” Joyce Blade Summers exclaimed at the sight of her only daughter. Hank Summers remained a bit less expressive, but that might have had to do with he was too busy trying to catch his breath to say anything.

After he caught his breath, “That’s a nice trick. Please don’t ever pull that on me again. I’m only 34, I don’t want to have a heart-attack this early in life.” After a moment, where Buffy was looking like she was getting a lecture, or rather that having to listen to the lecture was a punishment, both joy-filled parents smiled brightly at their prodigal daughter. “I missed you sweet-pea,” Hank said just before he took her in a bone-jarring hug. Buffy, now smiling as the girl she was, hugged him back.

Joyce just dropped to her knees and took the beautiful blonde girl in her arms and felt like never letting go. “Oh my precious little girl! I missed you so much! I will never let you go again! Oh I missed you! My baby girl…”

Buffy knew they were “making a scene,” but she was just so happy to be with her parents that she really did not care. Some things…training never takes away.

Later that night, at home…Buffy thought it strange for a moment, “home”, that night as they were having dinner, Buffy realized that all of her fears about living away from the only life she had ever known, were all about to be realized.

“School!!?” she screeched again.

“Yes Buffy,” Joyce repeated for the third time. “I don’t know why that is so hard to understand. I mean, we saw what the…uh, what you were learning before. School is just America’s way of continuing that. Buffy, you speak three languages already! Why do you make going to school sound like it’s the end of the world?”

Buffy shrugged and tried to look indifferent once more, but a note of despair still lingered in her expression. “I know three languages because it was necessary to learn! They only spoke Chinese at the temple, and only Japanese at the market. I learned English so we could communicate, and mostly at Raiden’s insistence! The end of the world I can handle, piece of cake, no problem, but school!”

“Buffy,” her father spoke up. She looked him in the eye. He repressed a shiver. “You are going to school. Look, don’t worry about it. We’re giving you a week to get settled into life in California, and next Monday, you start the Eighth grade. They’ll start you off slow, and remember Buffy, no matter the problem, we’ll always be here to help you out. Besides, on the plus side, you’ll get to make whole new friends.”

That is the problem!” Buffy exclaimed, throwing her hands up. She had finished her meal the second it was on the plate, so now they were “talking” as custom in America until her parents had both finished. She longed to go and meditate to sort out her problems, unfortunately, her parents insisted on sorting them out verbally. That was another one of her problems.

Suddenly confused and concerned over her outburst, Buffy’s parents set down their selfish thoughts of having her back with them again, and focused 100% on her. “What do you mean Buffy? Why is having friends the problem?” Joyce asked. Sighing in resignation, Buffy folded her arms and sat back in her chair.

Having them was never the problem. Making them always has been.” Buffy said shortly.

“Ahhh,” Joyce nodded in complete understanding. Hank, however, was still a little in the dark. Seeing that his wife did have the matter in hand, he decided to hang back and watch the fireworks.

“Buffy, honey, how many friends did you have…before,” Joyce asked, referring to her time at the temple, and if she’d had many, if any, friends there.

Buffy just shrugged again, withdrawing into herself, “About…three,” she muttered quietly after a minute’s silence. Buffy had hoped that her mother hadn’t heard, but it was not the case as she saw the older blond nod her head.

“Can you tell us their names?” Joyce asked tentatively.

Buffy nodded. She was silent.

“Well?”

Buffy sighed.

“Kahn, Trisha, and Marco. Kahn was in my class of training, Trisha was my first roommate, and Marco was her boyfriend. After…after my tenth year, Trisha and I began to distance ourselves from one another. Then Marco was killed on an outing expedition, and Trisha was devastated. I…I tried to offer what little comfort I could, but…she just pushed me away further. Then she started to blame me for his death. She was found dead three weeks after my twelfth birthday.”

Both Joyce and Hank gasped. They didn’t know how to react. Buffy just sighed.

“Kahn was my…is my only remaining friend. He even guided me to the airport in Hong Kong. I will never forget him.” Buffy sounded very sad, though while she had spoke of her other two friends, she sounded entirely monotonous, like a robot listing off data. Obviously she had chosen not to remain in the wounds of that past. They mutually decided to stay away from that area of topic from then on.

But Joyce couldn’t keep one part of her brain quiet that found something about Buffy’s story a little out of place. “Buffy, I…I thought that the…that they didn’t allow relationships among…their “ranks.” If…if that’s so, then how could your roommate have a boyfriend?”

Buffy smirked suddenly. “They don’t. Marco was a boy from the local village. Trisha was two years older than I was, and thus allowed to freely move about outside the walls. They kept their relationship quiet, telling only those that they could trust beyond all doubt. Marco’s death was truly an accident. A wild animal. Trisha’s…was not.”

“But…”

“It is rather difficult to claim suicide when you have been beheaded, hand’s and feet cut off, disemboweled, and eviscerated, and the remains tossed into your bed that you shared with a secret lover…I don’t think that can by any definition be called a suicide.” Buffy said, once more monotonous.

Joyce’s eyes widen in shock and fear as she stutters through her words. “B-b-buff-Buffy, d-d-di-did-did, yo-you, se-see, see the th-th-the-th-“

“No mother, I did not. All I saw was the urn they placed her ashes in, and then cast into the lake.”

The rest of the night was quite silent.

Seven Months Later

Buffy was in the gym. The workout gym, not the basketball gym. She was just going through some basic aerobic and gymnastic routines to work the movements into her muscles. In the months since she had come to L.A. she had surpassed her limited expectations of “fitting in” with the crowd. She just had to act stupid, brainless, and more interested in everybody else’s opinion of her than absolutely anything else in the world. Once she had met up with her “click” it really wasn’t that hard, she just did everything they did.

Those first couple weeks of school last semester before the summer had been near essential for that, and she had to admit that she was grateful that they had forced her to go. She had made her first friend; that is if she could call her a friend at that point. More an acquaintance that thought she had “the right look.”

From there, she had made as many friends as anybody could desire. She found it pleasant, comfortable. Even enjoyable. Yet still, there were times where she longed for the strict rule of the Temple…at night, or whenever she was alone. Over the summer, she got to know her new friends a little better, and had even gotten herself a “boyfriend” of sorts. A guy that thought she was hot, which was mutual as far as she could care, but there was very little in any kind of emotional attachment to him. Buffy knew it was only hormones, and their “relationship” was as good as over as soon as he woke himself up.

Buffy’s musings recalled the events of the past couple weeks, her dreams, the strange feelings of greater strength and her senses were sharper than they’d ever been, but she hadn’t let it affect her attitude with her friends. Then there were the mysterious “vampire” deaths around the city. Despite her keeping of appearances with the general public and her parents in particular, Buffy wasn’t as dumb as she looked. She knew something was going on. She just didn’t know what yet.

As for her dreams… At first she had thought they were memories of training at the Temple, but she had never been anywhere other than the Temple’s grounds and the local village, all Chinese or Mongolian influences. In her dreams, she was always fighting, and not often the same arena. Once she was a slave on a plantation fighting demons and what could only be vampires. Then there was the one where she was a barmaid in obviously either England or France during the dark ages. Another, she was in Hong Kong, during the Opium Revolution, fighting a vampire in some kind of temple. In every dream, she died, and most often by the same strange man. One of the vampires.

Buffy took a deep breath, centering herself, and closed her eyes. She took a running step and fell forward into a front handspring, round-out back handspring, round-out handspring, back handspring, round-out front handspring, and round-out handspring with a full twisting layout. Not exactly difficult, but a good warm-up. She suddenly froze as she hear clapping coming from somewhere behind here.

She turned suddenly, barely stopping herself from stepping into an attack stance, and saw a strange old man in the shadows that she hadn’t seen there before. When she realized he wasn’t a threat, she gave a teenage response without even thinking about it. “Oh gawd! You scared me!” she shouted, holding her chest slightly.

He did look strangely familiar though. “That was very impressive, the, uh, the tumbling,” he said, traces of an English accent in his deep thick voice.

“What?” Buffy hesitantly responded. She was automatically determining if this stranger was a threat, his weaknesses, the strengths she held over him, all of the easiest ways to kill him if she needed.

“I uh, used to do gymnastics,” she excused for herself, when actually it had been fighting and assassin training that had so engrained the same movements into her muscles. “Are you looking for somebody?”

“I’m looking for you actually,” he said holding a handkerchief between his hands.

Buffy began to panic. She started looking around, hoping, and almost praying that anybody else was around, though she was very confident of her abilities to handle one old man. Finally she came up with a decent response, “Why? Am I in trouble for something, because if I am, I didn’t do it.”

“Oh no, you aren’t in trouble, I am,” the man answered. “I’m years late. You should have been taught, prepared. Though I was not certain until just now that it was you.”

“What are you talking about?” Buffy shot in as he took a breath.

“I’m saying that I’ve been searching everywhere for you Buffy,” he answered. Buffy almost gave a sardonic laugh, thinking, ‘Try a Lin-Kuei Training Temple you old baka! And I’ve been trained for everything!’ resorting to Japanese cursing when even Californian Teen slang came up short to describe the vibe this guy was giving off.

‘Now I remember!’ Buffy realized. ‘He was that old guy that held the elevator at the mall on Saturday. Same creepy vibe. Huh, wonder who he is?’

“Why?” Buffy asked, curious despite her misgivings.

“To bring you your birthright,” he answered shortly.

Buffy was confused, but she always thought quick on her feet. Rather than give anything away, she just spurted off the top of her head, “My birthright? Is that like some kind of trust fund or something…?”

He shook his head and began to approach her. “I think it will be easier for you to understand this birthright,” he answered her question cryptically, “if I show it to you, all right? So you come with me now. To the graveyard.”

Buffy knew then that something really wasn’t right about this guy. She dove for her letter jacket on the bench nearby while mumbling, “Umm. No, no, no, no. My trust funds in the graveyard? Gawd, what’s your damage?”

The strange gentleman tracked her, staying by the parallel beams, yet staying distant enough that Buffy felt comfortable enough not to kill him. “Buffy?” he called after her. She stopped and confronted him, her hands on her hips, the words coming out of her mouth before she even thought of them.

“You’re like one of those skanky old men that attacks little girls and stuff, right? Well forget you!” she then turned her hardest intimidating glare that she’d ever used since coming to America on him. He wasn’t really that affected by it unfortunately.

“My name is Merrick,” he said with an English accent that made it sound more like Mirrik. ‘Well at least he finally got around to introducing himself,’ Buffy thought, ‘But how’d he know mine anyway. Well, if I hang out, I might just find out.’ Buffy grinned a little at her rhyme.

“And you have been Chosen Buffy,” he continued. Buffy rolled her eyes and breathed out a sigh of frustration rather than the scream of rage she wanted to lash out with at hearing that term once again!

“Chosen to go to the graveyard?” she sarcastically bit out. “Why don’t you just take the first runner up, kay?”

“Well, that all depends on you Buffy,” he said, continuing his cryptic jazz. “Now you must come with me to the graveyard, while there’s still time.”

“Time to do what?” she asked, not for a second planning on going anywhere with this loser.

“Time to stop the killing. To stop the vampires.” Merrick told her.

“All right, let me get this straight,” Buffy now had her letter jacket on and was planning to either kick this guys but or just leave him hanging in the next minute, after she’s made the necessary teasing at his expense ofcourse. “You want me to go to the graveyard with you, because I’m the Chosen One, and there are vampires?”

“Yes,” he said shortly, starting to realize himself how outrageous it sounded.

“Does Elvis talk to you? Does he…tell you to do things? Do you…see spots?” Buffy asked, figuring if he wasn’t a pervert then he must be insane.

Instead of answering, he just gave her a withering glare, and she could tell he had nothing more to prove to her, not that what he’d said so far made that much sense. “Yeah, well whatever. I think it’s way past medication time for you back at the farm pal. So why don’t you just stay the hell away from me, all right?” Buffy snapped at him as she picked up her remaining things and started out of the gym.

“Did you ever dream you were somebody else Buffy?” he suddenly yelled at her retreating back.

“Yeah, who doesn’t?” she shouted back.

“Someone from the past. Someone real. Maybe a peasant girl perhaps? An Indian princess? A slave?” Merrick used his trump card.

Buffy paused as her mind started screaming, ‘He knows!’. But how could he, anyone, know about her dreams. Slowly, not sure what to expect, Buffy turned around to face Merrick. “I was a slave,” she told him.

His entire demeanor changed as his face lit up in a huge smile, saying, “In Virginia.”

“I…I don’t know,” Buffy admitted, stepping closer, intrigued despite herself. “There was like this big farm or something. There’s this one where there are all these knights and I’m…” she paused, giving him a look, testing him.

His smile got bigger, “A servant girl. A Barmaid,” he used the term of the dream. And Buffy’s world sunk through straight to Outworld. “Oh my gawd,” she muttered. Then she cursed, “Oh my God!”

“I never told anybody about this!” she exclaimed, starting to panic, not knowing what all this meant.

Buffy’s mind was on a whirlwind, trying to wrap her mind around the turn destiny had just thrown her way. She walked up to beside the man, Merrick and asked, innocent earnestness in her eyes, “How do you know all this?”

“Because it is your birthright, and I am apart of it. Now you will come with me to the graveyard…and I will show you.” Merrick told her. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say it was more an order.

And show her he did. Buffy was introduced to vampires that night. And not only vampires, but the entire underworld that no one in the world should ever be made aware of. The Darkness, the shadows, the bogeymen of children’s nightmares, the demons and vampires and werewolves of legend, myth, and horror story. On the plus, at least the mythos surrounding vampires were true. Wooden stakes, sunlight, decapitation, fire, and silver, all the stuff that was rumored to kill vampires were true and the same, though what vampires feared was often a matter of perspective.

According to Merrick, holy relics and holy water only really worked when the person using the blessed item truly believed in the faith. And garlic, well that really didn’t work because garlic was only used in spells to either summon or banish vampires, since garlic was of their essence, whatever that meant. Holy ground, aka sanctified ground, no matter the faith did burn vampire’s skin, yet cemeteries, unless it was the site of a religious figure, were not to be considered such ground. Churches were, even abandoned ones.

Later that night, in the local, and only cemetery in the area, Buffy was walking beside Merrick making their way to some place in the middle. Buffy was seriously beginning to wonder about her sanity in even listening to this guy, not to mention his for taking her out here. She was supposed to be home like an hour ago, but all things considered, she knew her parents wouldn’t really care. They knew she could take care of herself, after having handled being mugged less than three weeks after first coming home.

The biggest reason that she could think they would be worried about her is that they might think she would run away, but she believed that she had proven, not only to them but to herself, that she had no intention of running away. Not even running back to the Lin-Kuei Temple that she had once called home. She had received her orders, and her mission. She was to stay with her mother until she fulfilled her destiny.

Destiny, the word rung clear through her head. ‘Could…this birthright this guys talking about…be my destiny? My ultimate destiny?’ Buffy began to entertain in her thoughts.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Buffy muttered as they entered the gate to the cemetery.

“What?” Merrick asked out of concern.

“I can’t believe that I’m in a graveyard, with a strange man, hunting for vampires on a school night!” she answered. As they walked into the cemetery proper, all of the moss covered tombstones and memorial markers became clearly visible in the soft moonlight. Among them, Buffy was sure she saw some bugs, or at the least heard them. “Ewwww,” she groaned.

As they walked on, Merrick apparently got bored enough to strike up a conversation and asked her, “Why is it that you didn’t tell anyone about your dreams?”

Buffy snorted and readjusted her letter jacket. “Yeah right! Tell everyone I’m crazy, great idea!” Buffy sarcastically remarked. All of a sudden she felt an incredibly sharp pain in her stomach. It was so sharp and sudden than she wasn’t prepared for it and winced in reaction, crying out softly.

“Cramps?” Merrick asked, distractedly.

“None of your business, gawd!” Buffy snapped, feeling embarrassed for having even reacted to something as minor as pubescent pains. Suddenly they stopped beside two graves, where the grass hadn’t grown back yet.

“This is it,” Merrick told her. “Robert Vermin was found dead three days ago, his body was found in the bushes by the canal. Extensive tissue damage and tearing of the neck and shoulders. Take these.” He handed her a two-foot long stake and a simple cross.

“What do you want me to-“ Buffy began to ask.

“No, no, you won’t have to do anything,” Merrick assured. “They’re just for your protection. Sit there. I just need you to watch.”

Buffy looked where he pointed and noticed that it was more or less right in front of “Robert Vermin’s” grave. Shrugging, and figuring that she’d never get rid of this guy, let alone the answers to her questions if she were to split now, Buffy sat down with a huff. After all, if he only wanted her to watch, what could be the harm in that? “What do we do now?” she asked.

“We wait for Robert Vermin to wake up,” Merrick continued cryptically.

Buffy was pretending not to listen, hoping that he’d be the one to drop her if she really didn’t go along with the program the way he wanted her to. She was looking at her nails, finding them more interesting at the moment than any grave. She looked up, “Ya have any gum?” she asked.

Merrick gave her an incredulous look, shaking his head in disbelief. He took a deep breath and let it out with a deep sigh. “No,” he said harshly. Buffy just shrugged and went back to her nails, wanting gum.

They stayed like that for nearly an hour, just sitting there and waiting for something to watch. Buffy was getting ready to just go on home, planning on bolting if nothing happened in the next ten minutes. Merrick himself was beginning to see the fruitlessness in taming Buffy’s impatience, and was also wondering if he truly had found the one that he had been looking all his life for, the Slayer.

Finally, it happened. Muffled through the ground, but still able to be heard, the sound of breaking wood came from Robert’s grave. In the seconds after that, a hand began to break the surface of the dirt, and Buffy’s eyes widened in surprise and near-fear. She decided that being on the ground when whatever this was broke out of the ground was not a good idea. Merrick meanwhile was pulling out a second wooden stake out of his coat and slowly stepping closer to the grave.

In the next seconds the vampire rose out of the ground and the first thing that it saw was Buffy. And all it knew was that it was hungry and she smelled like food. He began to slowly stalk forward towards her, and with each step he took, she took one more backwards. In the next second, Merrick had the unmentionable gall to step on a twig, causing the vampire to turn around. Unfortunately Merrick hesitated long enough for the vampire to see his attack and just before Merrick would have dove in to stake it, the vampire rushed him and flipped him up on its back.

“Buffy!” Merrick shouted in fear and concern.

Buffy meanwhile was in the condition known as shock. She just kept backing away from the sight of the vampire, not knowing what to do. When all of a sudden she felt cold and clammy hands on her ankles, tripping her. Buffy fell flat on her face, struggling against the unknown assailant holding on to her. She could hear Merrick struggling with the other vampire, and when she finally risked a glance, she saw a second vampire, female, still half out of her grave that Buffy had been standing on.

Buffy kept struggling until she managed to free at least one leg and kicked the one holding her as hard as she possibly could. She was strangely surprised when she saw her foot imprint in its face as it let her go. Buffy looked up in time to see Merrick in trouble, the vampire having him by the neck, almost about to bite. Buffy rushed up, keeping the stake Merrick had given her at the ready when somehow the old man had pushed the vampire away from him, and not to surprisingly straight at Buffy. She held her stake out and in the next second she had impaled his heart from behind so that the tip of the wood was poking out through the front of his chest. Three seconds after that, it’s skin began to turn ashen gray and it let out this horrific inhuman cry of anguish, and then it burst into a cloud of dust that quickly settled to the ground.

Buffy heard the female vampire before Merrick saw her, and he must have known it because all he did was mutter, “Behind you,” and tossed her the stake in his hand. She turned quickly, and more to the vampire’s stupidity than Buffy’s luck or skill, it impaled itself on the piece of wood. It too quickly exploded into dust.

Merrick let the blond girl catch her breath after staking two vampires before escorting her out of the graveyard, back to his car, which was how they had arrived there in the first place. Later, as he was dropping Buffy off at her house, he said the first words to her in over thirty minutes.

“Now, Buffy,” he began, “You go to school tomorrow, and you act normally. Don’t let anyone know that you know what’s happening. This is very important. Because once the vampires find out who you are…you won’t be hunting them anymore. They mustn’t know your name!”

“All right,” Buffy muttered, just desperate to be home and in her own bed once again.

“One more thing,” Merrick said just before she opened the door. He handed her a card, “Meet me at that address after school tomorrow. We’re going to start training. Do you understand me?”

Buffy glared hard at him. “I have cheerleading practice tomorrow, ‘kay?”

“Well, you’ll just have to skip it then, won’t you?” Merrick said regretfully.

Buffy was on the edge of ripping this guy a new one, but she now knew something. She knew of a darkness that even at the Temple she hadn’t been aware of. Vampires. And what of other demons or creatures of darkness. And what if not everything in the legends were true. What if…once they found her, they would attack her at her home, kill her family and friends from the inside?

“They can’t come in, unless you invite them inside? Is that true?” she asked, a bit of a waver in her voice.

Merrick nodded. “Yes, that is true.”

Buffy nodded and muttered, “Good.” And got out of the car and walked into her house. She showered for over two hours that night before slipping into her clean cool sheets. Her dreams were disturbing, but they always had been. Even when she was little, it’s just that they had never involved vampires cuddling with her in bed before now. She was the Vampire Slayer. What a destiny, not!

One month later

Lothos’ vampires were all around the gym, which had been completely redecorated for the “Peace On Earth” environment friendly theme of the Senior Dance. The vampires had the building completely surrounded, and a number of the vampires, who had once been Buffy’s friends and Seniors at this school, were running amok inside, already feasting on those unlucky enough souls to be caught by them.

Buffy, in a white dress made more for dancing than fighting, was starting to get a bit frustrated over how everything had turned out for her. Merrick, her Watcher, the very man that had gotten her involved with, trained her to fight and everything else about vampires and demons and so on, had gotten himself killed by doing the one thing that he kept saying he couldn’t do. He stopped her from being killed.

After that one event…Buffy’s life went down the proverbial crapper. Nothing else ever seemed to matter enough to even pay as much attention to as she used to pay it. Especially her ever precious “reputation” that absolutely nobody could understand why she wouldn’t give so much as a damn about now. As for her parents…well, she could see where staying with her Mom might be the right choice, and also why the High Elder told her to stay with her mother rather than just “her parents”.

Shortly after Merrick showed up she started telling them everything that he told her, and then they took her to this clinic. She knew a problem when she saw one, so while the Doctor was going to get some more forms to fill out, she gave her parents an ultimatum. Either they take her out of there and they go home…or she breaks out, killing at least one guard and goes back to the Lin-Kuei temple. They didn’t even say goodbye to the doctors.

And now look at her. Surrounded by vampires, and teenagers running, screaming their heads off in all directions. She began to smile as she broke a foldout wooden chair over her knee. Picking up the rather larger splinters, Buffy spun around so fast that the vampire sneaking up on her didn’t even realized she’d moved until he saw her walking away as he turned to dust.

Another former Senior showed up and without even a second glance, Buffy threw another wooden fragment into her heart. Another vampire tried to run up an tackle the Slayer, but she just snapped out her left leg, stopped it cold, and then jumped up and did a roundhouse kick at its head with her other leg. The vampire went spinning to the floor, it’s neck broken so that it wouldn’t be getting up any time soon.

Unfortunately, as Buffy was walking away, the trail of her dress caught on the unconscious vampire’s foot and ripped away the lower portion of it. She paused to consider it after it had happened and then just shrugged, realizing she now had more legroom for kicking and running. She didn’t have long to think about it though as yet another vamp came up to try its luck against the Slayer. She just kicked it back so that it crashed into broken table and cleanly staked itself.

Buffy went on automatic after a while, just recognizing the vampires and taking them out in the most expedient manner available. Finally, she, the dead bodies, and forty remaining students were all that were left in the gym. And just when she thought that it might be over…

The gym doors suddenly burst open, revealing about five or six leather and lace clad vampires that were more than likely also former seniors. “Give us Buffy! All we want is Buffy!” they hissed, laughing like hyenas. Buffy realized what it meant, the moment that she left this gym, almost all protection the remaining students had was gone. But if she didn’t go out…

She grabbed Jacen, her former boyfriend. She still couldn’t believe that he had broken up with her machine. “You weren’t home!” he exclaimed when she accused him. And while she had been expecting to break up any day now…she would have thought that he’d had the decent courtesy to honor his promise to take her to the Dance. Instead he had just taken her “friend” Michelle and now he was cowering in a corner actually hiding behind her!

“Block all the doors and windows!” she ordered as she picked the coward up from the floor. “Don’t let anyone in, and above all else, don’t invite anyone in! Do you understand me?” she shouted. He just dumbly nodded his head and started picking up tables and chairs and putting them in front of windows and the few remaining closed doors. Buffy picked a few other jocks and told them the same thing. Their reactions were the same. Buffy just sighed and broke a few more chairs to get a couple extra stakes before walking deliberately towards the waiting vampires at the open doors.

The vampires at the door were at a loss. They never actually expected the girl they were asking for to come barreling straight at them with absolutely no prompting from the crowd. They also never expected her to kick them all down in one move and to be dead in the next seconds. But they were.

Buffy knew, that unless alternately invited by somebody else, the only way for the majority of vampires to get in were the few Seniors and other students they had turned. So she began targeting any familiar faces right off the bat. She got two more after her charge through the door, which had been closed, locked and barricaded by this point, yet there were still maybe a hundred more. Not wanting to test her chances, Buffy started running, ducking and weaving through the parking lot.

Finally, after narrowly avoiding a majority of the vampires surrounding the gym, and dusting at least three others that insisted on getting in her way, Buffy had managed to get herself to the back of the gym. There were hardly any vampires back here; it was where most of the gym equipment and maintenance and janitor’s closets all were. Buffy slowed her running and came to a stop just outside the door to the boiler room, hoping to catch her breath for a minute before going back out there and somehow, through some miracle kill all the vampires and thereby saving all of her class and schoolmates.

Suddenly, Buffy just stopped. She heard music. Violin music it sounded like. Buffy turned her head to the left. The door to the boiler room was cracked open, and a shaft of light was illuminating through it. Creasing her brow in slight confusion, Buffy stepped through the door with little hesitation.

Inside, her feet just stopped moving. At the base of the stairs, and more or less in the center of the deceptively large room, stood Lothos. The vampire that had been haunting her dreams and nightmares for the past month since she had learned his name. The vampire that had sought to control her. The vampire that had killed her Watcher, Merrick, right in front of her eyes as she stood there helplessly in his mind-controlling grip. A vampire that was playing a violin and staring like a lost puppy dog finding home up at her.

She could almost gag in disgust. In her early days of training at the Temple, she had learned to overcome and at times even stop mind controlling effects on her. The first time Lothos had gotten to her, she had been completely unprepared as he violated her. This time, this time she was ready. Yet nevertheless she still felt the pull of his music. She felt it pulling her down the stairs, towards him.

Just because this was where she wanted to go all along really didn’t make that much of a difference, mind control was mind control. So Buffy tried to see if she could resist the pull. He kept playing. She stood there, staring down at him. Then she snarled. She took three steps back, got a running start, and flipped over the stairs to land directly in front of the master vampire.

Buffy saw his right hand man, funny cause a right hand was the only one this vampire had left, and attacked him first, even though she had barely noticed the music had stopped playing. The punk rock vampire barely put up a half-decent defense before finally just nailing him straight in the heart with one of the stakes she had kept with her.

He gave her a withering look as his body was turning to dust before her eyes, the words “Aw Fu—“ on his lips as the ashes and dust skeleton fell to the floor, nothing more than another pile for the janitors to clean up in the morning. Good thing they were in a janitor’s closet of sorts.

Buffy turned her attention back to Lothos, a scowl of anger etched into her features. Lothos really didn’t notice. He just resumed playing his violin. Buffy stopped out of reflex. She couldn’t resist the confused look that came to her face. ‘What the hell does this guy think he’s pulling?’ Buffy thought to herself.

Tiredly, she just shook her head and began to stalk forward. When Lothos saw that his mind-controlling trick was no longer working, he tried the more direct approach. His shock showed on his face when he found he could not enter her mind, deflected by something he had never imagined before, let alone encountered. Finally, he just gave up, his plans to ensnare, enslave, and turn a Slayer to him would just have to wait for the next one as he snarled himself, his demonic face showing itself as the Slayer threw the first punch.

Buffy connected with the left side of the vampire’s face, knocking him back a couple feet, followed by a vicious left roundhouse kick. Lothos responded quicker than she expected however and landed several blows himself. Buffy just pushed past the pain and took the punishment until she saw an opening to attack, which she quickly took.

Buffy hit Lothos square on the nose with her palm, causing it to immediately break and possibly send some bone shards up into his brain. Lothos staggered back from the blow, Buffy quickly took advantage by high kicking the indention on his face, followed by a second kick to his midsection that tossed him back into the boiler itself. Buffy then took a minute to catch her breath and get her bearings straight.

Before she could fully recuperate however, Lothos managed to first, and neatly launched himself out of the debris, literally flying at her, and tackled her. He didn’t stop however and as such they blasted through several walls until they appeared, with explosive results, back in the Main gymnasium.

Finally Buffy managed to force herself from his grip and fell to the floor with a mild thud as Lothos still floated above the floor. “I don’t understand how you can resist my mind control, Slayer, but it makes little difference. You will be mine!” Lothos taunted as he lowered himself to ground level.

Buffy got to her feet and sneered at the age-old vampire. “In your dreams you twisted sick-o! And speaking of dreams,” Buffy jumped up and snap-kicked Lothos so he flew back into the wall making another hole, “Stay outta mine!”

Buffy, for the moment without an opponent, looked around the dance floor she had landed in the middle of. Her heart stopped in the next second. ‘No…’ All around the gym, pooled in their own blood…were all of the students and other people she had left there not ten minutes ago. Almost all of them lay dead, their throats ripped out or just left to die. A couple were up and walking, but with blood on their own lips and marks on their necks. ‘No…’

Buffy begged it not to be true. She had failed them. They had trusted her with their lives, and she had abandoned them to go after the creature that had started all of this. And now because of her mistakes…they were all dead. Tears of salt water began to make trails down Buffy’s cheeks. She didn’t even notice until her vision began to blur as Lothos made his way out of another hole he had been knocked through.

“You are mine. We belong together, you and I. It is our destiny!” Lothos went on.

Buffy tried to control her reaction, tried to stay calm and use her head to figure a way out of this, but then she saw one of the older vampires almost casually snap the neck of the girl he was feeding from. Then he tossed the body away like it was so much garbage. Buffy recognized the body, she was a friend. A friend that deserved far better. In the next instant, Buffy lost all semblance or desire of control.

Buffy began to tremble with rage as her tears continued to fall. Unnoticed to anyone in the room, when the blonde girl’s tears hit the floor, they began to steam and left boil marks on the laminated wood. Slowly, she turned her burning gaze on the focus of her rage. Lothos.

Buffy never clearly remembered what happened after that moment. She just blacked out.

From the vampires point of view, a weak and pathetic girl that they were told was responsible for killing them and their brethren and was the warrior destined to fight, hunt and kill them, Buffy was trembling with fear and was ready to beg for her life. They were proven oh so wrong in the next instant as the “terrified little blonde” turned to Lothos with a look of such hatred and burning rage that a couple vampires unconsciously backed up a step or two.

“What’s the matter little girl? Run out of comebacks?” Lothos teased.

The Slayer’s face contorted into a mask that struck fear into the hearts of the demons as they all suddenly noticed how hot it was inside. True, it was Southern California in late spring, but when the saw the heat waves radiating off of the little girl in the room, they began to think it was a little warmer than it was supposed to be. The closest vampire, who was just less than ten feet away from her suddenly caught fire from the near-unbearable heat that was coming from her. He was ash shortly after.

“What is this?!” Lothos exclaimed.

Buffy said nothing as the heat waves began to grow in intensity until it looked like she herself was liquid, the air around her dancing and distorting the light. Suddenly, the Slayer got into a martial arts ready stance and the heat waves took another shape. Waves of reddish distorted light began to dance in streaming auras around her body until they all combined at a single point where both of her palms held the collecting red energy. Finally, after a minute, the energy seemed to have been collected and the Slayer was holding a fiery red ball of the red energy roughly about the size of a large basketball.

She smiled evilly up at Lothos, who suddenly felt very nervous. Moving faster than thought, Buffy fired the ball of red energy a the largest concentration of vampires, and spread into flames that caught fire to everything in that area. The vampires were ash in the next instant. Buffy fired three more red fireballs, at each corner of the gym, setting fire to the entire building. No vampires escaped.

Turning to the last few remaining undead in her presence, Lothos watched as Buffy began charging another large fireball. “Now, my dear, I’m sure that we can work out some arrange…” He never finished as he exploded in a blast of flame and ash when Buffy’s fireball hit.

“Fatality,” Buffy muttered under her breath as she left the burning grave of undead…and student.

To be Continued....

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