Title: Sacrificial Nature
Author: Robyn the Snowshoe Hare
Part: Prologue
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.

Dedication: For Sam.

Thanks to Petronius for a great grammar-check.


Winter nights were almost unknown in Southern California, but the wind that whipped through the broken window of Dawn's room held a chilling bite. The illusions that created the image of a typical teenage bedroom had held true, and broken furniture and knick-knacks echoed the violence that the shattered window silently attested. Of course, in reality it was all part of the illusion that maintained Dawn's existence. But the illusory damage was just as telling as the real thing.

The wreckage continued into the hallway, and down into the living room, showing that Dawn had fled her abductors. The blood slowly congealing beneath the remnants of the babysitter left no clue as to who the attackers had been. At least, no clue that the Sunnydale Police Department picked up on.

For once, neighbors had responded to screams by calling the police. By the time Buffy returned home from an uneventful hunt through the north woods, the house had already been cordoned off by crime scene tape. Under normal conditions, Buffy would've been kept from examining the house by police protocol.

The situation was only saved from blows by an old classmate who had just graduated from the police academy. Through his intercession, Buffy was allowed inside. Under the pretext of packing an overnight bag, she slipped into Dawn's room, and found the clue.

Little Dawn hadn't submitted quietly to her abductors. She had fought back, which no one had expected. Surprise had leant her the time to perform one crucial action.

Lying on the floor in the tiny illusion of a bedroom, among the slivers of glass, lay an expensive hair clip. Torn from the elaborate coiffure of its owner, several strands of curly blond hair were still tangled in the teeth. From this, Buffy knew the identity and location of her enemy.

Her immortal, unbeatable enemy.

Part One