Characters: The Master, Luke.
Spoilers: Welcome to the Hellmouth / The Harvest.
Summary: The Harvest is approaching, everything is ready, and the Master can practically taste victory.
Word Count: 1025
Written For: Amnesty, using Challenge 189: Harvest at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own BtVS, or the characters.
There had been a time, long ago, back before he’d become trapped in this infernal place, when the Master had been one of the most powerful vampires ever to walk the earth. He was still one of the oldest of his kind, but his power, both physical and in terms of the number of vampires who owed him fealty, had dimmed over the intervening decades, while he was stuck here like a cork in a bottle, unable either to fully open the Hellmouth below or to regain his place in the world above. If not for that inconvenient earthquake sixty years ago that had trapped him here in the ruins of this church, things would have been very different.
For so long all he’d been able to do was wait, seething with impatience, as the years crept by with agonising slowness. To have come so close to victory only for a natural phenomenon to derail his plans at the final moment was undoubtedly the cruellest twist of fate imaginable.
But that hardly mattered now; the moment was almost at hand. His waiting now could be measured in hours, and his victory was so close he could almost taste it. He hungered for it; this time he would not fail, the Hellmouth would open, unleashing the hordes of demon kind upon the earth, and the world would be their playground once more, with himself as their Lord and Master. They would bow down before him, swear their allegiance to him, and then there would be a feast the likes of which had never been! The humans themselves would sate his subjects’ appetites, and those who weren’t eaten would become their slaves.
A feast, yes, that was what he required now; he was weak, starving, and he would need all of his strength for what lay ahead. Luke, his trusted right hand, had sent his servants out to bring food; something young that he could drain the rich, vibrant lifeblood from, nourishing him, making him ready for the Harvest, and then… Then Luke would be his vessel, draining humans, one after another, channelling the strength from their blood, the very essence of their souls, into him. As his power increased with each sacrifice, the Master would finally be able to break free from this accursed place, tearing open the portal and unleashing Hell on earth. It would be glorious! This time nothing and no one would stand in his way! All had been made ready.
The instant the Harvest began the Master could feel the strength pouring into him as Luke dropped one drained victim to the ground and grasped the next, sinking his fangs into the jugular, hot blood filling his mouth again. It was working! The Master could taste the blood as if it was he himself who was feeding, but it wasn’t enough, not yet. He pressed against the invisible barrier that still kept him trapped, felt it ripple and give way a little, stretching like a rubber sheet only to spring back, but he could already tell it was beginning to weaken.
Life after life was extinguished to fuel the process and the Master was certain it wouldn’t be much longer. He was almost free; he could sense it with every fibre of his being. Each soul ripped away in pain and terror brought him that much closer to his goal. He and Luke were linked; he had only to demand more in order for Luke to provide it. Anticipation surged in the Master’s chest, where his unbeating heart lay. Soon…
But then the steady flow of lifeblood abruptly dried up, the transference of power inexplicably halted. The Master was confused; what was Luke doing? Why had he stopped feeding?
Time inched ever onwards as the Master waited for Luke to resume his interrupted feast, and finally…
“Master! Taste of this... and be free!”
The Master readied himself; victory would be his at last! But in that instant, just as he was poised for his ultimate triumph over humanity, he felt a surge of agony lance through his body and recognised it as the death of his vessel, felt the weakening barrier resume full strength, and knew that once again he’d been thwarted.
“Noooooooo! Noooooooo!” His voice was filled with mingled rage, frustration, and despair. All his careful planning, all his efforts, come to naught; what should have been certain victory wrenched from his grasp. It wasn’t fair! All he wanted was to rule the world, have every demonic entity grovel at his feet, and every one of the filthy humans beg for their worthless lives! Yet he remained trapped here, as securely as before, and another century would pass before he could attempt the ritual again. He’d need to select a new vessel from his followers, yet there was none he trusted as he’d trusted Luke, none who’d been with him as long. Worse, he’d have to start the entire process from the beginning once more. Curses on whoever had ruined his plans! If he could only get his hands on them, they would pay for their meddling with their lives!
It wasn’t over, the Master refused to contemplate giving up; perhaps the third time would be the charm. Luke simply hadn’t been good enough. Loyal, yes, to an almost fanatical degree, dedicated to his Master, and strong, but loyalty, dedication, and brute strength hadn’t been enough. He needed someone smarter, craftier, physically strong but mentally agile, someone merciless yet flexible. Angelus would have been ideal; whatever happened to him? Perhaps Darla could find him, bring him back to the fold.
Wearily the Master sank down on a rock in the cavern that remained his prison, feeling like an old, toothless rat, locked in a too small cage, and dependent on whatever scraps its keepers saw fit to offer. He would endure the wait, as he had done before; a hundred years was nothing to a vampire, it would pass. Some day he would be free, and both the demon and the human realms would be his to rule over however he wished. He merely needed to be patient a while longer.