I’d been playing poker with Clem and his mates and I’d won. Clem and his mates play for kittens, so this is where I’d put in some kind of clever pun about winning the kitty, if I weren’t too knackered to bother. I’d won back me stake, a marmalade cat with the heart of a lion, and three other not-as-good kittens.
I’m sure Clem was hoping I`d say “Thanks for the evening, my good chap, and in appreciation for your wonderful hospitality, please have all the kittens I have won.” He knows I’ve never acquired a taste for cat – the fur gets caught in me fangs. However, I didn’t do that, since I have a mate who would take them in trade. Instead, I borrowed a basket to carry the kittens in and left.
I’d had a bit to drink that night. More than a bit. Could be I play poker better when I’ve had a few.
Even though a basket of kittens looks so cute on the card you send to your gran on her birthday, a basket is not actually a very practical means of transporting kittens. My marmalade kitten escaped early on, and I couldn’t catch him or I’d lose all the others. I’d already decided I was going to keep him and sell the others, so I wasn’t too happy about that. Never had a pet before because Dru would have tortured and killed it when I wasn’t looking. Who says a vampire’s pet has to be a hellhound or a slavering wolf? At least a cat’s better than tropical fish.
I know that Wesley’s rolling his eyes at this point and saying under his breath, “Hurry up and bring on the old ultra-violence! When’s Spike going to get beaten up?” Don’t fret; that bit’s coming up.
Me mate had some of those little bottles of booze they give you on airplanes. I got two little vodkas and a peppermint schnapps for the three kittens I had left. I drank the vodkas on the way home, so by then I was well and truly pissed.
Stopped to watch Angel’s lady love offing a vamp on the way home. I wouldn’t describe Buffy’s fighting style as poetry in motion, but she gets the job done. She’s a concise fighter, not showy.... but she’s got no gift for the snappy one-liner. She should leave that to the Scoobies.
Anyway, it was while I was watching her, and thinking about whether I should have the schnapps now or save it for later, that I was surrounded by uniformed soldier boys. I was ready to fight, but they had a taser and pretty soon I was writhing on the ground, unable to control me muscles. They dragged me off to the Facility, tasering me a few more times on the way, every time it looked like I might be getting control of me body. Then one of them gave me a shot, and I lost consciousness.
Woke up chained to a hospital trolley with Riley grinning over me. I recognized him because seen him a few times around town with Buffy. Always thought he was too good to be true.
Next to Riley was an older woman. I heard Riley call her Dr Walsh. She wasn’t wearing a uniform like the rest of them. She was in hospital scrubs, and she seemed to be in charge.
“Good,” she said. “He’s coming out of the anaesthesia. We’ll wait a few minutes.”
I was still pretty out of it, but not quite so much as I was pretending.
Then she stood well back and nodded to Riley. He undid the restraints, and in a second I was up and headed for the door. Riley was expecting that, so he tried to sucker punch me, but I was too quick for him. I was going to rip out his bleeding throat, but even before I moved - just as I thought of attacking him - I was on the floor. A thunderbolt in me head, like the worst migraine you’ve ever had. The pain was excruciating. Worse than the taser. Walsh and Riley stood over me. Grinning. Triumphant.
I know Wesley is going to want names and dates, and he isn’t going to be satisfied with anything less. Well, too bad, Wesley. I was stuck underground, where I couldn’t tell day from night, and the Initiative guys aren’t regular army. None of them wore dog tags or had their names stitched on their pockets. Any one of them could have been Adam. (Insert your own ‘I wouldn’t know him from Adam’ joke here.)
I’m not going to bother describing the cellblock that they took me to, because you’ve seen it. Me and a bunch of lame vamps – the wimpy, stupid kind that flock to the hellmouth and that last about three or four days before Buffy dusts them. The Initiative didn’t waste any chips on them. They were lab rats. So was I, of course, but I was an expensive lab rat, because of the experimental chip in my brain, so they kept me alive when they dissected the others. I heard Walsh talking with one of her assistants. She was wondering whether they’d be able to recover the chip if they killed me, or whether it would turn to dust when I died, like me clothes. They didn’t want to take the chance of destroying that chip.
What sort of tests did they do on us? There was an acid test where they discovered that acid burns vampires. One where they found that you can’t drown a vampire, but you can freeze him in a block of ice and then defrost him. A test where they crushed vampires under heavy weights to see how much they could lift. However, their specialty was pain. They were very interested in how much pain a vampire could tolerate compared to a human. Even my wimpy cellmates could endure more pain than the toughest of the Initiative’s soldiers. I’m not sure whether it hurts any less for vampires than it does for normal humans, but we don’t have heart attacks or strokes and we take a lot longer to break psychologically. One of the guards told me that his theory was that demons and vampires were built tough to withstand an eternity in the hell dimensions. We aren`t allowed to escape our just punishment by dying or by going crazy. His theory sounds as good as any, though I don’t know how you’d test it scientifically.
Dr. Walsh oversaw all the experiments, though sometimes she had assistants do the actual work. I never saw Riley there.
The guards were not supposed to talk to the prisoners, but one of the guards would talk to me. I was chipped so I was safe, and he was bored. Also, I think he had a bit of a crush on me. He told me I had a cute accent, which is not something that one straight bloke says to another.
One day, he told me that some of the Initiative’s soldiers had been caught in an ambush and killed. There were even rumors that Dr. Walsh was dead. The mood in the Facility was ugly, and who knew what might happen. He told me to look after myself and be careful, and I nodded, even though we both knew that there was absolutely nothing I could do to protect meself.
We could hear them before we saw them. There were gunshots in the other cells – the ones that housed the demons. Humans yelling and demons screaming and howling. Pandemonium getting closer and closer. The guard who had the crush on me was off duty, and the one who was supposed to be watching the cellblock left his post. He did nothing to stop the Initiative soldiers who were running wild through the cells, slaughtering everything that they could see. He probably joined them.
Then the first of them got to the cellblock where the vampires were housed. He had a baseball bat in his hands – I guess he thought beating something to death was more fun than shooting it – and he used it to smash the video camera that hung above the door to the cellblock. His eyes glittered and he grinned in a way I’d only seen before in demons and vampires. I didn’t know that plain ordinary humans could look that way.
Some of the stupid vamps were going up to the front of their cells, trying to reach him, trying to drag him back so they could bite and claw him, but that also put them in reach of his good old baseball bat. The doors in the cellblock were locked, and the Initiative soldier was trying to figure out how to unlock them.
Then the lights were turned off for a second and then on again, to capture everyone’s attention, and the public address system came to life. I recognized the voice over the tannoy as Riley’s. He was telling the rioters to put down their weapons. He told them that failure to comply immediately would result in severe disciplinary action. Isn’t it annoying when you’re saved by an enemy? I hate that.
The soldier took another look around the cellblock, looking at all the vamps he wasn’t going to have a chance to dust. That’s when he spotted me, and our eyes met for a second. He smiled and said “I’ll be back”, quoting that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. (His feeble idea of wit.) Then he left.
No one ever came back to fix the broken video camera.
After that, things got worse. The centre could not hold. Anarchy was loosed upon the world, etc, etc. (Quote from a famous Irish poet. Angel can ask Wesley what it means.)
There were no more testing sessions, which led me to believe that the rumours of Dr. Walsh’s death were true. The guards weren’t as careful about not talking around the prisoners – probably because they knew we were all going to be killed soon anyway – and it was about this time that I first heard mention of Adam. The story was that Dr. Walsh had been killed by Adam or because of Adam. Still didn’t know what or who Adam was, but I figured that Adam was a secret even from the guards.
Nobody thought to feed the lab rats when there were no more tests. The vampires in me cellblock were attacking each other in their hunger. Once in a while, my favorite guard would sneak me a cup or two of cow’s blood or pig’s blood. There are advantages to being as good-looking as I am.
What happened next is none of Wesley’s business and doesn’t have anything to do with Adam, so Angel cut this part out when you show this to him.
The soldier who broke the video camera came back. He came straight for me. He must have known about the chip, because he wasn’t cautious at all. He knew I was harmless.
He beat me up first. He hit me in the stomach so I doubled up in pain. He kneed me and he hit me across the face, and then after he had hit me a few more times, I sank to the ground, so he could use his boots to soften me up a bit more.
He pulled down my trousers and my pants and he took me. It hurt like hell. The other vampires were watching, cheering him on. The bastards loved to see a proud son of the house of Archaeus brought down so low.
That was the first time a soldier came for me, but it wasn’t the last. There were at least a dozen, maybe more, who came into my cell - but he was always the worst. He was the one who used the bleach, just before the lights went out. It was a warning – mafia style - to make sure I’d never tell anyone what he had done. He probably got that from a movie too. I guess he thought that if he killed me, he might get in trouble for destroying that expensive chip in my head, so he just tried to silence me instead.
He was a freckled-faced bloke with blue eyes. Always smiling. If I ever see him again, I’ll kill him, even if it makes me head explode.
Wesley can read the rest.
What saved me from the frequent attacks of the Initiative’s out-of-control soldiers was someone’s bright idea to hold a kind of gladiatorial games among the surviving vampires and demons. The guards, who had turned a blind eye to their buddies’ visits to me cell, suddenly became vigilant. I was one of the contestants, and any kind of interference would be nobbling the game.
Of course, the games would be a fight to death, but I was happy about that. If I died, I’d be killed in combat, not while being dissected by a mad scientist.
None of them had a very high opinion of me fighting abilities, since they’d only seen me doubled up on the floor with a migraine when I tried to defend meself. The few people who bet on me really cleaned up. I came in top of me weight class; then top among vampires. I had already beaten some of the small and mid-sized demons when the Facility finally closed down. I would have beaten them all. I’m the only one who is still alive, aren’t I? Proves I’m the toughest.