Chp 29 Advanced Ideas
We will remember them…
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
It was the smell Buffy noticed first! As she followed a young German soldier down a steep, winding stone staircase, the air seemed to thicken around her and what had been a faintly unpleasant odour at the top step, made her stomach lurch ominously by the time she reached a door at the end of the long passageway that stretched away from the foot of the steps.
Buffy immediately recognised where they were – the cells where Joy, the English Slayer, had been held captive with her baby daughter. But these cellars under the Chateau were now empty. Even as she gazed around, remembering, the soldier unlocked another small door and gestured for her to descend the stone steps behind it.
They were now far deeper underground than the cellars where Joy and Aurora had been imprisoned. The walls of the steps were carved out of solid rock; moisture glistened and trickled and underfoot, damp seeped into her boots.
The soldier who was guiding her - he didn’t look any older than Xander - pulled a face as the foul air caught in her throat and she coughed.
They reached the bottom step and muttering something in German under his breath, he shook his head as he knocked on a metal door that looked weirdly out of place, set in the dark grey rock.
After a long pause, Buffy heard bolts being shot back and a key turning. Whatever they had inside, the Germans were determined to keep from escaping.
A tall, thin young man, untidy brown hair, black-rimmed spectacles, wearing a white laboratory coat opened the door with an impatient, “Yes, what is it now? Can’t we be left in peace for ten minutes?” And the accent left Buffy in no doubt – he was American.
“Professor Walsh?” she said tentatively.
“That’s my father. I’m Dr Walsh – Joseph Walsh.” He stared over the top of his glasses at Buffy. “Why, you’re American!”
“Yes – I’m Buffy, Buffy Summers. I – I work for Doctor Baxter.” She tried to appear confident, how she thought a Personal Assistant should sound.
“Ah, we wondered when the Doctor would arrive from the States. Well come in, come in. We need to lock this door. You can never be too careful when dealing with Them, as I’m sure you know.”
He ushered Buffy inside and she coughed as the foul smell rose up in waves to assault her. She was standing in another corridor and could see that along its entire length were cages – but not the big, modern, clinical ones that the Initiative would build in Sunnydale all those years in the future. No, these were small, no more than narrow boxes carved from the rockface, with metal bars along their sides. She could hear growling and rustling noises and suddenly something close by thudded against the bars of its cage and a tortured, vicious face with bared yellow fangs was snarling up at her.
Dr Walsh crashed the heavy stick he was carrying against the cage and the vampire flinched away, back into the dark foulness it was lying in.
“Sorry about that, Miss Summers, but I expect you’re used to their behaviour. This is a new batch that’s just been delivered; they’re still a bit full of themselves, but we’ll soon knock that out of them! My father and I have been very interested to read Dr Baxter’s notes about his work on demons. He has some advanced ideas we would like to see in action.”
Buffy nodded. “Oh yes, very advanced. He’s – he’s anxious to meet you – but he’s been - delayed.” She wondered fleetingly what he would say if she told him a vampire had killed the American scientist. Trying to appear brisk and efficient, she pulled the notes from her pocket, wincing when she saw that Henry the toad had been chewing on a corner. “I brought the Professor these, er, lists.”
The young man took them enthusiastically. “Thank you. How very interesting. Hmmm…” he seemed to forget about Buffy as he studied the notes. They were walking slowly along the corridor, all of Buffy’s nerves jangling as the overpowering sense of vampire came at her from all sides.
“How many – vamps and demons – do you have in here?” she asked at last.
“What? Oh, I’m sorry. I was so interested in Dr Baxter’s notes – well, I’m not sure. They come and they go! As you can imagine. The Germans provide us with a constant supply. I must admit they have proved extremely helpful.”
“But we’re at war with Germany!” Buffy couldn’t stop herself. This young doctor with his untidy brown hair and smeared glasses could have been any of the nerds at college. Did he understand what he was doing, who his partners were?
Dr Walsh waved away her words. “Oh, that’s all politics. As your Doctor Baxter often says, ‘us scientists should be above all that petty squabbling.’ My father thinks that science should recognise no borders or nationalities. So many of our German colleagues agree with us. And let’s face it, we couldn’t be doing this work of ours if there wasn’t a war on.”
“Is your father here today?” Buffy had no idea what she could possibly say or do to the older man that would stop him, but she knew she couldn’t just return to Sunnydale without trying.
“No, he’s gone to Berlin, he’s meeting with Herr Hitler. But you must meet my wife. She’s never met an American girl before. This way…”
He opened a door into a long, brightly lit laboratory and as she stepped forward, Buffy felt burning nausea flood her throat. A metal table stood in the middle of the room, a body, writhing against the ropes that bound it, was moaning and growling, yellow eyes starting out of its head as a young woman cut into its skull with a scalpel.
She looked up, smiled warmly at Dr Walsh, frowned at Buffy then stepped back as a spray of blood cascaded onto the floor and the vampire screamed again.
“Miss Summers, or may I call you Buffy? - this is my wife, Eva. Eva, this is Buffy Summers, Dr Baxter’s assistant.”
The young woman wiped her bloody hand across her white coat and held it out to Buffy. “I am very pleased to be meeting you, Miss Summers.”
Buffy felt the cold blood coat her palm and hid the shudder that zipped through her. The girl had long blonde hair, braided and twisted up on top of her head in a knot. She was small and not particularly pretty, but her smile was warm and friendly.
“Eva’s English isn’t too good yet,” Joseph Walsh explained with a fond smile. “We’ve only been married a few months.”
“And what exactly are you doing with the – vamp?” Buffy asked, trying to sound casual, aware that Henry was trying valiantly to climb out of her pocket. She pushed him back down and heard the irritated burp of an annoyed toad.
She walked across to the table and stared down at the body lying on it. He had once been a young man, dark haired, darkish skin, gypsy looking. The top of his skull was open to the air and Buffy hastily glanced away as she saw the grey gleam of his brain.
“Well, this is one of our more complicated procedures,” Joseph said enthusiastically. “To be honest, my father doesn’t like us to waste time on it but while he is away, Eva and I thought we’d take the opportunity to experiment.”
Evan picked up a square piece of metal. Wires led from it to a box at the side of the table. She motioned towards the vampire’s head. “I put in here – then turn on electricity.”
“We’re trying to control them. I’m sure there’s a way of altering their brain-waves,” the young boffin said. “What do you think, Buffy?”
Buffy fought to make her reply as non-committal as possible, wondering what they would say if she told them one of their ancestors would find a way of putting a chip in a vampire’s brain that would render them harmless? “Interesting,” she managed. “Do you think it hurts them?”
The German girl looked surprised; her English was good enough to understand that. “They are vampires,” she said slowly, as if that was all that mattered.
Buffy nodded, hoping her revulsion didn’t show, knowing that in other camps all over Europe, the same sort of thing was being said, but not about vampires and demons, but about human beings.
She stared around the laboratory, trying not to look at the big glass jars on shelves and tables with odd bits and pieces floating inside them. Maybe she was the one who was wrong. Maybe this was where the basic knowledge that the Initiative used was created. So was she right to condemn it? Surely the chip as such was a good thing. Just because Spike had been the one to have it done to him – and if he hadn’t? Then they would never have –
She reached out to hold onto the edge of the metal table as the room swum around her for a second. This Spike, this William the Bloody whom she had fought, laughed and kissed in this time had no chip. And even if her feelings for him had been coloured by her memories of the future Spike, his behaviour had been almost identical in each time span. So although the chip controlled his feeding desire and his ability to hurt humans, it didn’t change the man himself at all.
Suddenly she realised that the vamp’s fingers were touching her hand as it rested on the bloody tabletop. She glanced down into eyes that were blazing with agony, hatred and fear. “Toterin!” The whisper came from the torn, twisted mouth and Buffy remembered from hours of boring study with Giles, so many years ago, the old German word for Slayer!
“What did it say?” Joseph asked curiously, looking up from where he was talking to his wife.
Buffy shook her head and coughed violently as the word was gasped out again. The vampire twisted and turned, fighting the ropes. “Watch out! It’s escaping,” Buffy shouted and pulling a stake from her waistband, sent it dissolving into dust, the hate-filled eyes the last things she saw before it vanished.
“Jeez, I’m sorry! Have I ruined your experiment?” she gasped in pretend horror.
Dr Walsh struggled to hide his anger. “Not at all, plenty more where he came from, but perhaps we should leave my wife to get on. My father will be back tomorrow and we shall have to continue with our scheduled work.”
“And what is that, exactly?”
Dr Walsh smiled. “Oh, but you must know that, Buffy. It’s what your boss and my father have been working towards for years. It is only now that the German High Command is interested in the outcome that our experiments can continue unopposed.”
Buffy nodded, as if she understood exactly what he was saying. “Yes, Dr Baxter is delighted. So tomorrow – ?”
“We continue with our experiments to raise an army of vampires loyal to the Third Reich.”
“And how’s that going?”
Dr Walsh shrugged. “Slowly, I admit. We have volunteers from the German forces. Good, brave soldiers who are prepared to give up their human lives in order to serve their Fuhrer.”
The young man took off his glasses and polished them on the hem of his blood-smeared lab coat. “I must admit we haven’t had any great success so far – the vamps we’ve produced have had to be staked immediately; we had no control over them at all. But we have to continue in order to obtain the funding from the German authorities to further our other work.”
“So you think an army of Nazi vampires is a good idea?”
Joseph cast a swift, anxious look over his shoulder but his wife was busy wiping the dust and blood from the operating table and couldn’t hear them. “Well, Buffy, to be honest I think it’s a crazy idea. Trying to control demons and vampires, yes, that seems a sensible use of time and resources. But apparently Herr Hitler is determined to have his vampire army and so that is our top priority.”
Buffy fell silent. Now she knew why she had been sent back to France, why the return charm hadn’t worked. OK, saving Joy had been the reason she’d been given by Quentin Travers, but all along she’d felt that was an excuse for something bigger. Preventing an army of Nazi vampires being raised – that was a mission she could embrace without a second’s doubt.
“My father decided we were using inferior vampires as our turners,” Dr Walsh continued. “So many of those still held in captivity are weak, fit for nothing but staking. As from tomorrow we are starting afresh, with strong young vampires, newly caught. Here – let me show you our breeding stock.”
At the far end of the laboratory, a door led into another room, lined with cages.
“All freshly caught, strong, full of energy. They will make great warriors of the German volunteers.”
Buffy stared around the cages; it was hard to see into the dark interiors. The vampires were staying as far away from the bars as they could. “Why should they help you?” she asked quietly.
“Because they’ll be staked if they don’t,” Joseph replied happily. “Here – our newest recruit. A little battered – some of our German colleagues are somewhat heavy-handed – but a prime specimen.”
He stood aside but even before Buffy stared into the cage, she knew. The hairs on the back of her neck twisted in a way they only did for one person. And the shadows moved, blue eyes blazed into hers and William the Bloody snarled up at the Slayer he had trusted.
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