"July 24th. Raccoon City has been rocked in the last month by several bizarre murders. Victims were apparently...eaten. The Raccoon Police Department, completely unable to solve the case, assigned its highly specialized S.L.A.Y.E.R. team to the case. Last night, the S.L.A.Y.E.R. Bravo team went into the woods...and vanished. Now Alpha team-"
"Willow? Who the hell are you talking to? And why are you repeating the synopsis?"
"-led by Buffy Summers, is heading into the forest to find them."
"Are you done?"
"I'm done. But I've been wondering something."
"Who the hell calls a city Raccoon?"
"Isn't that more of an inner monologue question? I don't think we're actually supposed to ask things like that out loud."
"Right." As I stared silently out the window, searching for any sign of Bravo's helicopter, I wondered to myself who in the hell would call a city Raccoon anyway.
"Much better," said Buffy.
And then my mind began to wander, and other questions rapidly became self-evident. Why would a town as small as Raccoon need a specialized anti-terrorist force anyway? And how would they afford to give them two helicopters? How could I have been a green beret and be in a special police organization at my age? And what does S.L.A.Y.E.R. even stand for?
"Willow! Stop that - if you start pulling at dangling plot threads, the whole story's going to come apart like a cheap sweater."
"That was a terrible analogy."
And then I wondered, why was Buffy the leader here anyway?
"Hey, I can still hear you, you know."
"Hey," came Spike's voice from the pilot's seat, "look below us - there's Bravo team's helicopter."
"Can you see what happened to it?" Willow asked.
"Looks like it crashed."
"Well, if I had to guess, I'd say spontaneous engine failure."
"What caused it?"
"Take us down, Spike," Buffy ordered. "Okay - we have no idea what we might be facing out there, so everybody be prepared."
"Shouldn't you take your sunglasses off, then, given that it's the middle of the night out there?"
"No - my eyes are light-sensitive. Now, since I'm a good team leader, and certainly not evil or complicit in any grand conspiracy, I'll need all of you to do exactly what I say, no questions asked. Understand?"
A chorus of "yes sir" filled the helicopter.
"Who invited the police choir?"
"Sorry, sir," Spike raised his hand. "The radio wasn't working, and I thought some in-flight music would be nice."
"Fine," she sighed. "Let's go." Pulling open the door, she led the Alpha team out into the woods - all except Spike, who needed to stay and "look after the helicopter."
"Look!" Willow exclaimed. "There's an overturned Military Police vehicle!"
"No there isn't," Buffy replied.
"But - it's right there!" Willow pointed.
"Look!" Buffy hissed, grabbing Willow's arm, "that jeep is only there for the prequel. We're not supposed to know it's here, okay? So shut up about the jeep."
Willow mimed zipping her lips closed, and went on searching.
After a few fruitless minutes of searching, it was obvious that Bravo team was not in their helicopter, and Alpha team spread out to search the forest. There was no indication of what could have befallen the team - until Clem, the newest member of Alpha team, found a severed arm in the grass. He picked it up - which was safe, as the blood couldn't possibly stain his red shirt - and screamed as he realized it wasn't attached to anything. And that's when the dogs started to howl. Clem saw the first of them emerge from the woods - covered in slime and fast as greased lightning - and fired at it. The rest of the team looked to the source of the gunshots and saw Clem being torn apart by three of the dogs.
"Shit!" Buffy yelled. "Run!"
"Shouldn't we help him?"
"The hell with that! I'm not getting eaten by no snot-dog!"
Alpha team ran back toward the helicopter - only to see it taking off. "No!" Xander yelled, waving his arms. It was too late, however - Spike flew off toward the city. "That guy is so fired," Buffy muttered. The dogs burst through the trees behind them, and they took off running, Willow and Xander firing wild shots behind them.
"There!" Buffy called. "Head for that incredibly conspicuous mansion in the middle of the forest!"
The dogs nipping at their heels the whole way, Alpha team pulled open the unlocked front doors and dove into the mansion, slamming the doors shut behind them as the dogs jumped straight into them. Willow chuckled at the sound of the animals slamming into the heavy oak. "Stupid dogs," she muttered. She looked around the enormous foyer of the mansion. Wow, she thought, this place-
"This place is huge!" Faith exclaimed.
"Sure, step on my thought. Wait," she looked around. "Where's Xander?"
Buffy shrugged. "I'm sure he's fine. Probably found another entrance."
"What? Don't be ridiculous - he would have had to run all the way around the house to find another entrance. I'm going out there to find him."
"You can't go out there, Willow!"
"Why not? There were only three dogs. And, judging by those dog-shaped lumps in the door, they're unconscious anyway."
"Just trust me. You really, really don't want to go out there."
Willow sighed. "Fine. Then what should we do?"
"You and Faith go look in that room."
Willow blinked. "Why that room? There's a hundred rooms in here, shouldn't we split up a little, check more than one?"
"No. That room. Take my word for it - that's a very important room. I think. I've never been here before, of course, but I have a feeling."
"Whatever. Let's go, F- Did she go in already? Damn it!"
Willow walked across the hall and pulled open the heavy door. She walked into the dining room...
"Hey!" Willow yelled. "There weren't loading screens in this series until Outbreak! Fucking Outbreak." Shaking her head, she walked around the huge dining room table, grabbing some clips of ammunition and a typewriter ribbon from one end. A typewriter ribbon? And who leaves handgun ammunition in the dining room? Is this Charlton Heston's house? As she neared the end of the table, she saw Faith knelt in front of the fireplace, examining a pool of red liquid on the hardwood floor. Faith looked up at her as she approached.
"It's blood. I hope it isn't Xander's blood." She stuck her finger in the dark stain and tasted it. "Doesn't taste like Xander's blood."
"I...you know what? Never mind. I really don't want to know. I'm going in there," she gestured to the nearest door. She opened the door and found herself in a long hallway, and she could hear chomping sounds from the far end. Looking back at Faith just in time to see her take another lick from her finger, she closed the door behind her and headed for the source of the chewing sounds. She rounded a corner into a small sitting room and found Joseph, one of the expendable members of Bravo team, lying on the carpet with blood smeared around him. Another person was leaning over him, apparently the source of the chewing noises.
"Dammit, Joseph - you know Buffy's policy on prostitution. No consorting with them on the job unless you share." The person knelt over him stood and turned to face Willow, blood smeared across her face and chunks of rent flesh in her teeth. Her skin was badly decomposed, and there was only hunger in her eyes. Willow cried out in alarm and ran back down the hall. "Faith! Faith!" she called. "There's a crazy hooker in here!" She tore open the dining room door and came face-to-face with Faith's magnum.
"Duck. I'll handle this."
Willow did, and Faith fired a round into the thing's skull. It kept coming. She fired again, and finally a third time before it hit the floor. "What the hell was that?"
"I dunno...it looks like that thing was dead before I shot it."
"And I'll back you up on that."
"No, seriously. Look at the thing - it's been dead for days."
"Hmm...so, what then...zombie?"
"Huh. I'll go tell Buffy." Willow walked back through the dining room, and out into the foyer. Which was empty.
"Buffy?" she called. "Officer Summers?" No reply was forthcoming. "Shit." She turned back and found Faith staring out the dining room door.
"She's not here?"
Faith walked up and stood beside her. "Well, maybe we should split up. But we should stay downstairs for now - we don't want to get separated."
"Works for me. I'll check the doors on that side of the foyer."
"Wait - I have something for you. This lockpick kit - I can't do much with it, it makes no sense that I even have it, but you, THE MASter of unLOCKING, should be able to put it to use."
"What's wrong with your voice?"
"I don't know. It's like some crappy voice actor who barely speaks English is emphasizing the wrong parts of words. Weird. Anyway, see you in a bit! Try not to get eaten."