The Red Hills
See chapter 1.Spoilers:
See chapter 1.Summary:
Kim has another strange dream. Author's Note:
While not a crossover with any of her works, this idea came to me while reading a novel by Melissa Scott
. This idea really deserves more than the few words I've devoted to it.Word count:
1,720 (2 of 10)--- --- ---
Kim squinted slightly, trying to bring the distant red hills into sharp focus in the hazy afternoon sun. In the back of her mind, in the chilly semi-intelligent mechanical depths of her com implant, she could feel the faint electronic shadows of the rest of her team. With barely a conscious thought, she checked her com for their current status.
Wade was in low orbit just out past Phobos, monitoring everything from their cloaked ship. From the occasional bursts of data pinging her from their own coms just over the horizon, Ron and Yuri were having no luck as they searched the crumbling city they'd discovered the day before. Riding the air in his small, nearly invisible AV, circling lazily between her position and Ron's, Rufus was ready with all of the lethal firepower the Council could squeeze into it.
They were all too far away to show up as more than colored dots in her display as it appeared to float unsupported in front of her right eye. Frowning, she turned slowly in a futile attempt to find her team with her own senses. She'd been using some form of com implant for years now but she refused to rely on it completely.
Even with the most recent upgrades, now that the Council witch docs had figured out how to prevent the mystical slayer immune system from rejecting the com-brain interface on a regular basis, she preferred her own senses over the constant barrage of information the com was giving her. She wasn't foolish enough to defy protocol and shut down her com implants but she had convinced Wade to write her a filter that kept most of the useless, distracting data in the background.
And as much as she would prefer to go without them, her com implants had proven their worth over the years, giving her additional tools to hunt with. In her business, information was survival, but there were still times when she just wanted to turn them off and face the world in all of its raw beauty. There were times when she felt like they processed the data too much. Analyzed too much. Like now.
She continued to look around, focusing back on the hills, frowning at the faint red haze. Mars wasn't her idea of a vacation spot. The recent terra-forming had done little to alter her opinion of it, even if she no longer needed to wear the bulky rebreather. This was her team's first visit since just before the war but it still felt like a dusty wasteland to her enhanced slayer senses. The magic that seeped out of the ground was something totally alien and was well on its way to giving her a headache for the second day in a row.
Her senses were telling her that something was out there, watching her. She imagined she could feel it. Something dangerous. But her implant and the tech streams she was getting from Rufus and Wade still showed nothing. And they had a job to do.
Some ancient artifact of unknown origin was rumored to have been discovered in this area during the war. Rumors had been circulating for years among veterans of the nearby battles, claiming it had somehow wiped out an entire division that had stumbled on it. She wasn't sure what had convinced the Council that the rumors were true but they'd sent their best team in to retrieve it before any of their foes could discover it.
Team Possible just needed to find it and get out. The mystics had been able to narrow down its location to an area of one thousand square kilometers, right in the middle of an uninhabited tech dead zone. The only reason their tech worked at all was because most of it used some form of magical shielding to operate in hostile situations that caused straight electronics to break down.
The ancient city itself had been an unexpected find during their search. Wade believed it had been uncovered at some point near the end of the war by one of the heavier weapons used to smash the colonial rebels. Once they'd retrieved the artifact the Council would send in another specialized team to explore the city. Probably Bonnie, Felix and the Tweebs if they were back from Pluto.
They could have it. Kim just wanted to find the artifact and get off planet, away from the alien magic. The rest of her team would follow her lead even though they weren't affected by it like she was.
Kim made a note to herself. As amusing as it would be to see, she should probably let the Tweebs know that the 'rents were on the warpath again about the lack of grandchildren. Before she could think of it any further, she was enveloped by the feeling that she was standing in the middle of a thunderstorm, her senses suddenly going crazy at the power surge, something she hadn't felt since the Easter Island Hellmouth implosion.
"Wade?" She called, her com flooded by sharp static. She slowly turned around in a circle, focusing her senses outward, straining to identify whatever was causing it.
"Oof!" she involuntarily exclaimed, something knocking her off of her feet from behind.
"*Kim! Are you all right?*" Wade's presence was suddenly sharp, the static gone, almost as if he were leaning over her, the com translating his thoughts so that it seemed as if his voice was in her ear.
"Not sure," she muttered, rolling over to get her face out of the dirt she suddenly found herself wallowing in. The power surge was gone, leaving behind a strange metallic taste in her mouth. Cautiously sitting up, Kim looked around for whatever had knocked her over.
"*Rufus should be there in five,*" Wade said. "*What do you think it was?*"
"No idea," she muttered, getting back up and attempting to brush off the fine red sand that now coated her everywhere. "Gonna need a bath tonight."
"*Good camouflage,*" Wade said. "*Would have lost you if I wasn't already locked onto your com.*" A live video feed appeared in her com, showing her dust covered figure standing on a hill, her eyes the only thing not the same red as the hill.
"Gee, thanks Wade," Kim said, grumbling at the sight.
"*I do what I can,*" he told her smugly.
Before she could reply, Kim felt the presence again, her senses once more picking up some kind of power surge. Flexing her wrists, she armed herself with her force blades. "Wade? It's happening again. Are you recording this?" she said, hoping he could hear her over the returning static.
"*I don't see anything,*" he muttered. "*It's not showing up on any of our sensors.*"
"Even those experimental magic detectors?" Kim asked.
"*Nothing.*" She imagined she could hear him desperately typing away, even though he hadn't needed a keyboard for longer than she could remember.
"Where's Rufus?" Kim asked, looking around. His cloaked AV should have shown up in her com by now. She wondered if the continuing static was affecting her com.
"*Almost there.*" Wade reassured her.
There was a blinding flash of white, a squeal of feedback and her com went dead. "Wade? Wade?" She squinted, trying to get her eyes to focus but all she could see was white and even if she'd been willing to drop her knives, she didn't dare rub her eyes with her dust coated hands. "Wade?"
"He's not here." An almost familiar voice said, speaking to her left.
Pivoting towards the voice, Kim was surprised to see two women standing there on a featureless, white plain. A woman with short, blonde hair in a shapeless white shift stood next to another who was dressed in an odd assortment of bits of green and black cloth and scraps of leather. Her pale green face was painted like some primitive warrior below black dreadlocks. Her presence was the epitome of danger. There was something familiar about both of them. She'd seen them before, somewhere.
"Who are you?" she asked, tensing. "What's going on?"
"You have a very rich imagination," the blonde said, not answering Kim's question. "It should be useful, when you're ready for the next step," she told her cryptically.
"We've met before," Kim mumbled to herself. "Where am I?" she asked. She could feel the power rolling off of the blonde. Squinting and shaking her head in an attempt to engage her com, Kim frowned when nothing changed, her actions having no affect on her surroundings or the two women.
"Somewhere you shouldn't be yet," the blonde said. "It's too soon. We're here to make sure you get back home where you belong."
"Huh?" Kim stared at them in confusion. The green woman shook her head but didn't say anything.
"How can you tell when something is a dream?" the blonde asked.
"A dream?" Kim echoed, confused as the two women faded from view, leaving her standing alone.
"Kim! Time to go to bed." a familiar voice echoed across the empty plain.
"Mom?" Kim opened her eyes and looked around. The screen saver image for the DVD player was bouncing around on her parent's tv. Ron was slumped on the floor against the other couch, his face half in his bowl of popcorn, with Yuri curled up next to him and Rufus sleeping on her shoulder.
Wincing, Kim sat up and stretched. "We can't leave them like that, can we." she grumbled, feeling the need to blame Ron for the strange dream she'd had with the almost familiar blonde, again with the cryptic comments, and Shego dressed up like the First Slayer.
The only explanation for the dream that made any sense was the Governator sci-fi movie marathon he'd pressured her into sitting through. She was going to have to check with Wade in the morning to see if that many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in one day was going to cause her to permanently lose any IQ points.
Kim's mother shook her head. "No, your brothers will be back from their field trip in the morning. This mess needs to be cleaned up before you pick them up at the airport."
"How about a couple pictures first?" Kim asked, grabbing her Kimmunicator. "This is excellent bribery material."
"Kim, stop stalling," her mother said. "Just wake them up. "