|Publication date||April 01, 2009|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #24|
"Predators and Prey"
|Published by||Dark Horse Comics|
|Cover artist(s)|| Jo Chen|
Georges Jeanty &
|Letterer(s)|| Richard Starkings &|
ComiCraft's Jimmy Betancourt
In an amazing one-shot issue, the esteemed Jim Krueger — whose works include Avengers/Invaders, Earth X, Justice, and multiple original series — fleshes out the go-to girl for dirty deeds, Faith, and her new partner, Giles. After her last thankless escapade, where she put a stop to Buffy-hunting Slayer and kindred spirit Lady Gigi, Faith decided that though she's determined to be finished with bloodshed, she's not ready to leave misguided Slayers (like Gigi) with nowhere to turn. Fast-forward to the present… bloodshed still abounds, and the Faith-and-Giles team is still finding out what it really means to help those chosen to slay…
A disillusioned slayer, Courtney, fights a vampire in an alleyway, misses staking the heart and apologizes for trying to slay him. He chases her and she calls out that she never wanted to be chosen; the vampire retorts that he does not want to hurt her, just sire her, because everyone wants to be a vampire. Courtney and the vampire turn the corner where the vampire is met with a stake to the heart, and he explodes into a pile of dust revealing Faith and Giles. Courtney misinterprets Faith as Buffy, something that Faith clearly finds insulting. Courtney asks if Giles and Faith are going to train her, but they state that they are merely sent to find her because she went rogue from her squad, which she says she only did because she was ready to get into the field and begin slaying and her squad was not. As they are talking a vampire sneaks up behind Courtney, startled she turns and stakes him square in the chest. Staking a vampire makes her realize how much she does want to be chosen after all, citing she is not ready to go to the 'Slayer Sanctuary' yet.
This statement puzzles Faith and Giles, and Courtney explains that many of Slayers have left their squads to go to this village in the mountains called Hanselstadt, which is a safe zone where Slayers can go if they decide they no longer want to be Slayers. At the train station the trio boards a train for the village and Faith cannot understand why, with vampires now being on the rise, Slayers have gone into hiding. Giles says that if the girls see Faith, they will want to get back into the fight, but Faith tells Giles that even though things have changed and have gotten worse lately, if it is the choice of these Slayers to sit on the sidelines, then so be it. Along the way Giles observes vampires have gathered in numbers along the borders of the village, but dare not enter. As the trio leaves the train, Courtney tries to tell Faith the same thing that Giles did about inspiring the Slayers to fight, but Faith doesn't feel like she is the type to inspire these girls to fight, given the mistakes she has made in the past.
They are greeted by a Watcher, Duncan Fillworthe, an old friend of Giles'. As they eat in a large banquet hall, Duncan fills Giles in on how they keep the vampires out with the threat of a Slayer army, a threat which Giles says will only keep them out for so long. Faith questions as to the whereabouts of the Slayers, and Giles brings up the possibility of recruiting these girls, but Duncan says these girls have no interest in protecting the innocents that resent them for killing vampires. An older woman leads Faith and Courtney to the library where the sanctuary is located while Giles remains behind. On the way, a jaded Faith notes that there are no children on the streets; she realizes that they are walking into an obvious trap. The door swings open and, in a green haze, Faith is confronted with a vampire from her past.
It is revealed that when Faith was a young Slayer three vampires in an alley attacked her. She quickly dusted two of them, but got the third in the stomach, who merely removed the stake and ran away. Faith now learns that the vampire is responsible for killing all of her friends, leading her to feel regret for not slaying it. Courtney stands by and watches Faith fight an invisible vampire, as she doesn't share in the illusion. Behind Courtney are a bunch of green tentacles making their way out from the shadows.
Back at the banquet hall, Duncan fills Giles in on the demon that lives in Hanselstadt, which fed on the regrets of children. Giles realizes that it is the demon that the vampires fear, not Slayers, and that there being no children in the village Duncan sent out word of a Slayer sanctuary to lure disillusioned Slayers to be fed to the demon.
Back in the library, Faith is bitten by the vampire and falls to the ground. Courtney is approached by illusions of her parents forgiving her for destroying their marriage. Like Faith, Courtney is hallucinating where in reality she is being taken in by the demons tentacles. At the banquet hall, Duncan explains how he is the model Watcher, for even though he sacrifices Slayers to a demon, he has saved an entire village. He reminds Giles of how Buffy rejected and betrayed him by loving a vampire and allowing him to kill Jenny Calendar. Shocked, Giles runs off to rescue Faith and Courtney from being devoured by the demon. Duncan arrives, armed with a crossbow and tries again to reason with Giles to let the demon kill the girl. Out of nowhere, Faith knocks Duncan into the arms of the demon where he is devoured. Armed with the crossbow, she shoots the demon in the mouth and as it dies, it explodes, and from the borders, the vampires see this and now know that it is safe to enter the town.
Outside, the villagers are angry that their protector has been killed, and Courtney tells them that as murderers, the vampires should be allowed to take them for what they have done. Faith tells her that even though these people have done wrong, they are still people and that Slayers don't let people die. She tells the crowd that if they want to live, then they have to fight. This issue ends with Faith teaching Courtney that the only thing she needs to remember about slaying vampires is to "aim for the heart" as she, Courtney and Giles lead the armed villagers against the oncoming vampires.