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The Fall of Humanity

The Veneer of Society

It had been 26 days since the first online report about the dead coming back to ‘life’ somehow, or rather it had been 26 days since the recently dead got back up again and began trying to eat any and all humans and animals they could get their teeth into. It was a small mercy that at least the animals didn’t turn; if they had turned as well then humanity would’ve been even more doomed than it already was.

The first time Buffy had heard of the dead getting back up again in a non-vampire setting was on an internet forum where people who knew about the less than human side of the night world would post and keep each other updated on the latest news regarding vampires and demons. The website was surprisingly informative and as a bonus it also had an easy and effective search engine. It had been Tara who had shown her the website/forum back in college, and she had also taught her how to navigate it.

She’d been a little startled to read an entry on ‘Vampire Slayer, The’. The entry listed the Slayer Prophecy, the common powers of a Slayer, their mission, how the Council of Watchers acquired Potentials (usually kidnapping of children), how they were trained and raised, some vague and incomplete information about the Cruciamentum (which turned out to actually be called ‘Tento di Cruciamentum’ and translated to ‘I try to torment’), and an incomplete list of Slayers from about 1942 and until the present day.

While both she and Faith were listed on the website they were thankfully not listed by name, and were instead referred to as the ‘Sunnydale Slayer’ and the ‘Boston Slayer’ to protect their identities. It was followed by a lot of speculation as to how the Slayer Line had been split, but thankfully no concrete or correct information. Her own entry had a list of her accomplishments, the name of her past Watchers (Merrick and Wesley) and a note about Giles but his name was left out, and her territories (LA and Sunnydale). There were also some vague references to her friends, but, again, nothing concrete in order to protect them.

More than a decade later and it had quite literally been a lifesaver as it had given her a slight advanced warning about the walking dead. Someone, somewhere had seen one of the first walkers and reported it online. It hadn’t been enough to stop it or really warn anyone properly, but she had forwarded the message to certain people she kept in contact with - along with information about her own whereabouts and who she was with. It wasn’t much, and they, like her, knew her location could change at any time and she would most likely be long gone by the time anyone got there. Still, a general area was better than nothing, and some of them had even been able to reply with the pertinent information regarding their own positions before they lost electricity.

A few of her contacts had even been close enough that there was a small chance they could meet up or run into each other somewhere, but she and Rime had decided to deliberately stay inside the Atlanta city limits and help the survivors there rather than follow the exodus out into the countryside. As it had turned out that decision could’ve easily cost them their lives, but neither regretted it. They were both in the ‘saving people’ business, even if it was on different sides of it.

It was 20 days since life as Buffy knew it had ended completely. The military had shown up in their tanks and their armored vehicles, and began randomly shooting people whether they appeared to be sick or not. At first they had created safe zones with tall fences and around the clock guards in various parts of the city, but it didn’t take long for them to give up. Just as suddenly as they had showed up they had disappeared. They had left behind more than their share of destroyed families; parents who had been separated from their children, friends and neighbours who were left searching for their loved ones. None of which accounted for all the people who had witnessed the military shoot and kill their family and friends like they were rabid dogs who needed to be put down, despite not having been bitten or even scratched.

Many houses, buildings, and other structures were in ruins or partially destroyed by the bombs and other heavy artillery. The point had no doubt been to try to annihilate the hungry corpses, but that did not change the fact that they had killed thousands of the living in the process. When she had first seen the camouflage painted helicopters flying over the areas where large groups of the walking dead had congregated and began dropping bombs into the hordes, a memory had flashed in front of her eyes of Riley trying to defend what he collateral damage during the mess with Adam. The recollection had not helped her mood in the slightest.

Not that Buffy or Rime cared about the armed forces, but Buffy’s memory of her ex-boyfriend was neither the first nor the last time she remembered the Initiative in less than positive situations during the initial outbreak. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the military had come to actually protect them instead of trying to kill off what was left of humanity. But it didn’t matter anymore; they were gone and so were pretty much everyone else as well.

In the days and weeks that followed Buffy had thanked her lucky star that she had been with Rime when the infection first began spreading. The two of them had been friends for years when everything literally began shambling its way toward hell on Earth. And no, she would at no point get over the fact that Rime’s mother, Ulva, had been born in a small, Norwegian village called Hell over a millennia ago. It was just one of those things.

In fact during one of their conversations Buffy had realized that Rime was only a decade or two older than Anya had been, even if Rime didn’t know exactly which year she had been born in. She did however know the approximate year her mother had been born and roughly how old Ulva had been when she had given birth to Rime.

Trying to figure out if the two of them had ever met had gotten her nowhere though. As Rime had pointed out she had spent the first few centuries of her life in what was now known as Norway, while Buffy’s deceased friend had been Swedish and after she had become a Vengeance Demon she had spent her life causing as much death and destruction as she possibly could all over the whole world while still having a good time. Rime on the other hand preferred peace and quiet. Which was rather contrary to Buffy’s brutal and at least partially uncontrolled life, but the two of them had managed to find a way to balance their lives together.

A part of Buffy was grateful that her old friends from Sunnydale were dead, thankful that they didn’t live long enough to see the apocalypse actually happen, but at the same time she missed them terribly. She missed the young, happy, and slightly spazzy girl Willow had been when Buffy first transferred to Sunnydale High. She missed the girl who couldn’t even take a sip of coffee without babbling a mile a minute. She didn’t miss the young woman who had gotten more and more manipulative over the years and who had then gotten addicted to magic.

She missed Xander, back when he was still her friend and the group’s comic relief. She missed the young man who tried to cheer her up with stupid and inane things, just to make her laugh or roll her eyes at him in amusement. She missed who he was before he began using her own Calling against her, before he expected her to be everywhere and do everything while still being able to be relaxed and happy.

She also missed Giles and his old, dusty books. She missed how he would always consult them when she had a Slayer Dream or when something strange happened during patrol. She missed how he would remove his glasses and clean them whenever she or one of the others would do something he just did not want to see, or that he would get in trouble for if he knew about it.

When it came down to it Buffy was both thankful, relieved, and sad that none of them were here with her at the end of the world. It would’ve been a major benefit to have someone else around who understood what the apocalypse meant, even if it wasn’t demonic as far as she could tell. None of the walkers gave off a demonic vibe, or even the slightest sense of magic. Something which was strange in and off itself as it meant that they were not zombies, despite the obvious similarity. Instead it felt like something in between a sick, nearly dead human, a corpse, and a void.

Out of everyone she had known in Sunnydale Faith had lasted the longest, which was ironic on so many different levels. As she had told Buffy on several occasions she wanted to she had gone out in a blaze of glory. A large assembly of demons, vampires, and werewolves had teamed up and decided to attack a small town en masse. Faith had had a Slayer Dream and called in reinforcements, but because Buffy had been on the other side of the country at the time she had been left out of it.

Afterwards Buffy had received a box with some of Faith’s personal effects, including the knife she had gotten from the Mayor. There had also been a letter which explained what had happened and why Buffy had gotten the things she did. Even now she had no idea who had sent it or how they knew where she had been staying at the time. Regardless, she was pleased to have gotten it, and even more happy that Faith hadn’t been travelling alone as she’d thought.

Faith’s knife was currently strapped to her thigh, where she’d kept it since she realized that there were walkers out to eat people. It was her go-to weapon for close-up kills, while she used either the Scythe or a katana if she had the space to move properly.

At the moment Buffy and Rime were squatting, if it could still be called that given the situation, in an abandoned furniture store in Atlanta, GA. Mainly because it had been free of walkers and a human presence, and the beds there were both amazingly comfortable and on the second floor so they were less visible to both the living and the dead. At first they had tried to get to one of the hotels, motels, or inns which were littered all over the city, but they had all invariably been crawling with either walkers, the living, or a combination of both.

Their fellow survivors had not been willing to let them in in case they were infected. It was an understandable reaction, but it hadn’t hurt any less. It was a woeful state of affairs when people were unwilling to take in a couple of attractive young women. Still, they had opted not to leave the city right away, but instead try and find as much food, medicine, and other essentials as possible before heading out into the countryside to try and find something more permanent. Because who knew how long it would take before they could enter another big city without risking being swarmed by a huge horde of walkers.

In between the scavenging they were looking for small groups of survivors or single survivors, anyone who were alive and at least semi-friendly. Sometimes they were allowed to help, but most of the time they ran and hid at the smallest hint of anyone coming near them. It didn’t take them long not to take offense at this behaviour. The few people who didn’t run away from the two women were given a little food, some water, and first aid if they needed it. People were frightened, and avoiding possible enemies was an effective way to stay alive.

The two apparently young women complimented each other well; Buffy was the protector, the one who mainly fought both the hostile and/or desperate humans they came across and the walking dead who tried to eat them. On increasingly rarer occasions she was the one who had to kill animals who attacked them, mainly starving dogs. She was also the one who did the heavy lifting; she put up barricades to block out anyone from getting to wherever they were staying at any given time, and likewise the one who removed barricades - both their own and those made by others.

Rime on the other hand was a healer, literally. She wasn’t a witch, but rather a part-human. Early on, when the government was still trying to tell everyone they had things under control, Rime had tried to heal several people using her healing ability. Unfortunately it had turned out that the infection was immune to her power and instead drained her. Each time it had taken her days to recover fully. After the third attempt Buffy had put her foot down and demanded she stop trying. There were others, who had not been scratched or bitten, who could actually survive if she helped them.

Years ago Rime had told Buffy that her mother had been entirely human, but her father, Arolin, was one of what she called the ‘Mountain Nation’. They lived inside the Norwegian mountains and that was where Rime had been born and raised. She had been young and curious however, and had desired to see the world outside the confines of the mountains. It was this curiosity which had led her to America centuries later.

Outside the building they heard a herd of walkers groaning as they shambled by as someone, clearly alive, at least for a little while longer, screamed in fear and pain before it was abruptly cut off. Both women closed their eyes and bowed their head, body tense with the beginnings of adrenaline they would not be able to release as it was too late for the person outside. Another life was needlessly lost to the walking dead, someone else they were unable to save.

Notes

This is the rewritten, expanded, and, hopefully, better version of my fic 'Watch the Fall of Humanity'. The original first chapter of this story was called 'Watch the Fall of Humanity' but has been changed to 'The Veneer of Society.'

Like the original, this fic is not beta'd.

Comments

@JetCmoon

Thank you for the review! :)

Thank you for the review! :)

Excellent update!! Can't wait for more!!

JetCmoon JetCmoon
1/8/17