Rated TEEN


€te watched his ship rise, the cloak made the metal invisible, but vapor and dust swirled as it rose into orbit, waiting for him to make his kill. He had trained for this his whole life. He was going to find good prey, and he was going to have a story worthy of his name, the name of his esteemed mother, and the name of her entire line. He would bring honor and be claimed by the best of the wives. His sons and daughters would be the scourge of the universe.

Scenting the air, €te checked his scanners. The energy in this area indicated that prey were here, fighting, their bodies hot red against the night, and the flash of weaponry making his proximity alarm on his small ship click its warning. Oh yes. He would find formidable prey.

The night was cold compared to home, no lava glowed to show his path, but the technology compensated for the dull yellow light that left too many shadows. His jaws ached with tension, and he clicked them before falling silent.

The fight he had recently observed from above had been three þnaþ away, so he moved cautiously in that direction. He had hoped to land before the fight was over, to see the combatants and judge their style; however, the night was quiet. A strange noise floated by. €te asked the translator, and it informed him that it was laughter. Ah yes. He had found warriors who took joy in the battle.

The armor hid him, but the training of his youth still controlled his actions. He used a native tree for cover as he moved closer to the site of the battle. The opponents were gone, but three survivors stood in the center of a clearing.

Only three. For a second, €te considered retreating and finding another battle. A warrior sung of his first kill, and €te wanted a good song—one that would be remembered after his body had been thrown to the volcano by wives and daughters and sons and husbands. However, there had been many enemies, and these three were still here, laughing. Perhaps they would make for a good song.

€te scanned the trio to prioritize his targets. To his disappointment, one of the females was not armed at all. He could not, at the cost of his honor, target that one. That left two. The second female was of good health with impressive muscle composition, but a small frame and negligible weaponry. Actually he wasn't sure if her primitive piece was a weapon, but it was shaped like a þtel€ and he had hunted many animals with nothing more. Of course, his had been made of the bones of great predators, and hers was of wood, but it was enough for him to at least respond if she attempted to fight.

That left the male. He was armed impressively. Repeating projectile weapon. Knife. Upper body armor was minimal, but it represented the best offered on this planet. €te could take all three before they ever saw him, he knew that the moment he scanned them. However, a simple kill from the cover of a tree was not a proper song. He would give them a small chance and give himself a great song that would make the women claim him as husband.

A flick of his eye set his suit's defenses, and now his invisibility flickered randomly. Pointing at a spot just in front of the male, he fired his weapon and watched as the wave blasted a hole in the ground and threw dirt high into the air. A half second after he fired, he felt fear that the prey would flee. That would make for a poor story. Luckily, the three of them fell into some semblance of defense. One female retreated behind the other and the male brought his weapon up.

He yelled something, and the female in front answered him before she came running at him. Ignoring the female, €te targeted the male and felt the tingle as his suit allowed the prey a glimpse at their executioner.

The male fired a number of projectiles at him, but they glanced off his side harmlessly. Bringing his weapon up, he prepared a spear. He would see this one impaled and see if he begged or fought.

The female hit him, forcing his weapon off target, and the spear sank deep into the ground before its invisibility flickered and failed. The male yelled again, and €te focused on the female. She was significantly stronger than he'd been led to expect from this species.

Reaching out, he caught her by the neck. Instead of getting her neck, he found himself holding her jacket, and before he could adjust to that unexpected circumstance, the female hit him again, and then, without warning, he felt the short, wooden þtel€ sink into the crack between his chest armor and his visor. He gasped in pain, and struggled to raise his arms. He could still win, still earn his song. The female kicked him, and €te could feel the bones in his neck snap before he died.

Xander clutched his sword and tried to get his heart rate back under control before he had a heart attack. "Am I the only one thinking, 'What the hell is that?'" He looked down at the flickering invisibility that showed flashes of something big and scary and vaguely sasquatch shaped.

"Demon," Buffy said with a shrug. After eleven years, two Hellmouths and a half dozen apocalypses, she was a little harder to ruffle.

"We can research. I'll send it back to the house so we can crack the books." Willow suggested as she waved her hands to complete a translocation spell.

"Yippee," Xander said with absolutely no enthusiasm. Maybe he'd be lucky and a toilet would break. "Those were some seriously bad ass and scifi-worthy weapons for a demon. I mean, he could have been a big bad if he'd been a little better at using them." Xander poked at the demon's huge gun with his toe just as Willow finished and it vanished into thin air. Stumbling forward, Xander almost went to one knee. "Great timing, Will."

"Sorry," she offered with a sheepish grin. "But you're right that he was armed better than most demons."

"Oh please. If the day comes I can't kill one invisible demon with armor, I need to hang up my stake. So, is anyone up for a cappuccino?" Buffy shoved her stake into the back of her jeans and started heading back for the car.

"Oh! Me!" Willow headed after her.

"If you two get all weirdly over-caffeinated again, I am not letting you drive," Xander warned. "Friends do not let friends drive like wild-eyed maniacs trying to break the sound barrier in a Ford."

"Coward," Buffy said with a crooked smile. The three of them crossed the park, arm in arm. One more day, one more dead bad guy, one more cup of coffee.

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