Pockets and Slaves
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all characters belonging to the show are not my creations. I take no credit for them, just for my own story lines.
Author’s Note: Much thanks to DreamsofSpike, my wonderful beta for this story.
All the Scoobies were gathered, each and every one in their own spot in the living room of the house at 1630 Revello Drive. The only one that didn’t belong was the green demon – Buffy’s new graveyard stalker – standing there before them all, like a professor preparing to give a lecture.
“Imagine if you would…a pocket between worlds…between dimensions,” he began. “It acts as a gateway…docking, or transit…it can also be use for hiding, or business. These pockets are places that exist in between, small worlds all their own. They’re places that only those who know of them can travel…and usually only by invitation. Time passes differently in these places…not as slowly as it does here, but not as quickly as it does in most hell dimensions.”
“Yeah, uh…” Xander raised his hand from where he sat, perched on the edge of the couch. “That’s all well and good…but what does this have to do with vampires with souls and truces with Slayers?”
“I was getting to that.” The demon showed his first sign of irritation at the interruption, but managed to reign it in. He turned a patient smile towards the Slayer, then took a look at all of her companions.
“You’re all demon hunters…” His gaze fell on Dawn, who was twirling her gum around her finger. “…of sorts. I’m sure you know much about demons…” He purposely tried to ignore some of the blank looks he was receiving. “My name is Durrak. I am a Thorshosh demon. My kind…we are mostly businessmen of the demon world. That is how I know about this newest…pocket. For the last several centuries, the biggest business in our world – in many worlds, in fact – has been slaves.”
Silence fell over the living room. Buffy swallowed hard, not liking the sound of where this was going.
“I-is…is this where the vamp-pires with souls come in?” It was Tara that spoke up first.
Durrak nodded. “At first…when the slave trade really began…it would be other demons that were enslaved. When clans warred among one another, the victims would be brought in for profit. Unfortunately, this only caused many more wars. After those actions were abolished as war crimes in most of your standard dimensions, and even most of the ‘pockets’ in between that I’ve described to you…well, then the slavers had to find some other source of – er – merchandise. Eventually, their efforts became concentrated mostly on humans.”
Buffy’s interested gaze all at once became a hard glare, her lips thinning. Her expression gave Durrak the distinct impression that he had a very limited time to get through his explanation.
“However, times have changed,” Durrak explained quickly. “Humans were…weak. They made fragile slaves, and never lasted long. Eventually, they became more trouble than they were worth. Most demon species that bought them at all only liked them because they were…pretty, and soft. And they…screamed well.”
“Ok…um…ick?” Willow spoke up now. “Not really the best way to get our help.”
“My apologies,” Durrak nodded ingratiatingly towards the red-headed witch. “Fortunately, as I said, those days are long gone.”
“Ok, I’m confused.” Buffy raised her hands in exasperation. “Why are you giving us the big history lesson?”
Durrak sighed softly, then shifted most of his attention to the slayer. “There is a gateway, here in Sunnydale…one that leads to one of these pocket dimensions…one that is currently being used as a slave brothel.”
“So why ensouled vampires?” Anya asked. “And how did they get enough for an entire brothel?”
“I’m coming to that,” Durrak assured her. “Even during the time when humans were still used as slaves, some of the brothels had already begun using halfbreeds…those that are part human, part demon. Some of them are born with human souls. You see, a half breed is considered nothing in the demon world…far below second class. To many species, they are worthless. It is these that became the slaves first. As for the vampires…” He sighed heavily, beginning to pace slowly across his small space in the living room.
“Vampires, despite their human appearance, are still considered demons. It was declared as much a crime to enslave them as it was to enslave full-blooded demons. But, when the owners of this particular brothel heard of the existence of a vampire with a soul…then, they were intrigued. A vampire with a soul is no longer considered a true demon, has no standing in the demon world…thus, there would be nothing and no one to object to that vampire being used as a slave.”
Buffy clenched her teeth hard, trying to remain calm. “Are you saying they went after Angel?”
He laughed. “Oh, of course not…Angelus has made quite a reputation for himself in Los Angeles…none of them desire to take the risk of trying to capture him. And why would they need to, when they could simply make more?”
“Make more?” Willow asked. “As in, ensoulling other vampires?”
“Precisely…it isn’t that difficult. And if you can trick them into asking for it willingly…well, then it stays put. You have a slave that you don’t have to worry about any demon race demanding that you set free.”
“Why would any vampire want to willingly accept a soul? From what I hear, it sucks.” Anya pointed out – then glancing anxiously around the room for the reactions of the others, shrugged and added self-consciously, “For them, anyway.”
“The slavers have…methods of persuasion. They make a great deal of money from their brothel…it’s become quite large over the last month alone. They have telepathic creatures working for them, shape shifters…and of course, they employ the best torturers in any dimension.”
“They’re that big?” Tara asked, the worry on her face enough to tear at the heart. “B-but how? Wouldn’t we have heard something about them by now? I mean, if they’re somehow working in Sunnydale…”
He smiled softly at the blonde witch. “Time works differently in that small dimension, as I said. While here it’s only been a month, in their pocket dimension, they’ve been building for years. And all they must do to acquire their slaves is to simply skip over to this dimension, lift a fledgling or ten every one of your days…and would you ever notice, with the abundance of vampires that Sunnydale seems to have? Then, they simply return to their sanctuary to restore the poor creature’s soul, train it as a slave – and it spends the rest of its miserable existence in the service of these brutes, to make them money.”
“So what are you saying...?” Buffy felt numb as she asked. “That there are…how many…?”
“Nearly a hundred,” Durrak said. “Since not all of their vampire slaves are taken from the Hellmouth.”
“Hundred…” Buffy tried hard to wrap her tongue and her mind around the word. “A hundred…ensouled…enslaved…vampires.”
“Alright…” She folded her arms across her chest, trying to hide the shaking of her hands. “Say I believe you…what’s in this for you? Why would you tell me this? Why try to help them?”
“This brothel…its owners…” He sighed softly. “They are former business associates of mine. They consider me to be in debt to them, because they helped me and my family gain safe passage through dimensions. They want…” He looked down, unable to meet the Slayer’s gaze. “They want my daughters…for the brothel. I have twelve offspring, only two of them sons. They are all partially human – thus considered to be fit for slavery.”
The Slayer studied the demon before her for a moment, wondering if such an unselfish reason could really be his motive. But then again, hadn’t another demon done unselfish things before, for no other motive but his love for her?
She looked down, putting her hands in her lap and trying to keep her mind on the situation at hand. “I’ll need proof of this. I’ll need to know where this gateway is…and I’ll need some clue as to how to stop this.”
“Of course,” the demon nodded. “Do you have…um…a, uh…” he held both hands up, making a box shape in the air, “video recording device?”
Buffy stared hard at him. “You want to use a video camera?”
“Did you have…another idea, perhaps? For proof?”
“Uh…well, I guess that is a pretty good idea – just – not exactly what I expected,” she admitted as she turned to meet Xander’s gaze. “Don’t you have a video camera, Xander? Could you get it for him?”
He nodded hesitantly. “Sure, Buff…” He made his way towards the door, keeping a few feet of distance between himself and the new demon. “I’ll just…be right back.”
Durrak watched the carpenter, taking note of his obvious suspicion. He turned his attention back to the Slayer. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just take a step outside. I’d very much like a little fresh air at the moment.”
Buffy nodded numbly.
When the demon left the house, the Slayer turned to her red-headed friend. “Willow, I need to do all the research you can about Thersoshie demons.”
“Uh…I think it was…Thorshosh.”
“Fine,” Buffy sighed. “Some research on these space…dimension…pocket thingies would be great, too. But do the research on this Durrak guy, first. If things go bad, I need to know how hard he’ll be to kill.”
“What if he’s telling the truth?” Willow asked. “What if there are really all these vampires with souls that need our help?”
“Yeah, and what if he’s leading us into a great, big, trap?” Buffy stood, rubbing the back of her neck. “We need to know…just in case. If he’s telling the truth, I’ll go in and take care of the problem. There will be no slave trade on the Hellmouth, not on my watch.”
“Yo-you’re going to go alone? To another dimension?” Tara asked.
Buffy shook her head. “No, I…I’ll take Spike with me, he can hold his own. I doubt he’ll mind dimension traveling…” she shrugged. “…as long as he gets to kill something, anyway.” She made her way towards the stairs, then trudged tiredly up to her room.
Tara turned her attention to Dawn, who was still seated, and was suddenly very surprised to realize that the girl had stayed silent throughout the entire explanation, boring history lesson included.
“Is something wrong, Dawnie?” she asked, concern in her hesitant voice.
When the younger Summers girl looked up at her, Tara was struck by the worry in her eyes. Dawn swallowed hard, her voice soft, as she whispered her dread-laden question.
“Has anyone seen Spike lately?”
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