One - The Slide.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sliders. No monely is being made from this.
Buffy Summers stepped out onto the roof of the hotel and breathed in the cool air. Finally, peace and quiet.
She gazed out over the twilit city of Los Angeles, a sad look in her eyes. This had been his city. He’d watched over it like a guardian angel while people went about their daily lives, never knowing the danger they faced each time they stepped out their front doors. She could relate. She’d spent seven years doing exactly the same thing in Sunnydale and now she and her girls protected the whole world.
Nearly all the people were gone now. Gone, or dead. The houses sat dark and silent, cars were overturned, windows smashed, bodies lay in the streets they hadn’t cleared yet. Another city that had got in the way of the war between good and evil. At least this one hadn’t sunk into a crater.
According to the news LA had been beset with an outbreak of a particular strain of flu that caused hallucinations. How else could the general populace explain the things that had happened here? Buffy knew better.
She and Dawn had just moved to Rome when she first became aware that something was seriously wrong here. Local Slayers, activated by Willow’s spell, had reported that the evil law firm – was there such a thing as non-evil lawyers? – Wolfram and Hart, had been taken over by some old friends: Angel and his detective agency. She’d wanted to believe that the man she’d once loved with all her soul had done it for a reason, but the more the situation was investigated, the more disturbing information was turned up.
One of Angel’s original crew, a girl named Winifred Burkle, had been used as a host for an ancient demon, one of the true old ones, and all evidence suggested it was someone from inside the company that had made it possible. ‘Lawyers’ continued to support questionable clients and the operatives sometimes used obscene techniques to protect those usually guilty clients. He’d hired Harmony as his secretary. Buffy hadn’t been able to deny the information was disturbing and when forced to make a decision had ruled that they could no longer trust Angel.
It was almost a year after the collapse of Sunnydale that Buffy received a report that said Angel was turning dark. She had ignored the issue until then, hoping that he would come around. She may not have been involved with him anymore, but she still felt a lot for him. She’d even let it pass when she heard that he had been in Rome with one of his colleagues, for all intents and purposes spying on her in her new home, during that brief lapse of judgement that had been her relationship with the Immortal.
Now that had been an experience. He’d breezed into her life, reminding her in some ways of her first love and she’d enjoyed recapturing that feeling of heady joy she’d felt back then. It wasn’t until Dawn hit her over the head and pointed out the similarities that Buffy realised she didn’t love the Immortal. It had all been about Angel.
And then Lorne was there, knocking on her door like there was no tomorrow. He’d been scared, anxious for the friends he left behind and terrified for the millions of people who would get caught in the crossfire. He’d told her everything. How they’d taken charge of the firm in order to change it from the inside. There had been so many good intentions but it had all gone so wrong. They’d discovered too late that the Senior Partners wouldn’t be swayed and the evil was entrenched so deeply in their new employees that it could never be eradicated. It was then that Angel had become entangled with the Order of the Black Thorn.
Lorne had explained the Sanshu prophecy and told her how Angel had signed away any possibility of it coming true. Buffy had almost wept at his selflessness. The prophecy said that he would become human, they could have been together at last, but Angel had given all that up in order to save lives.
Lorne had done his part in Angel’s plan before leaving LA and tracking her down. His conscience hadn’t allowed him to stay any longer and Buffy was surprised he’d done as much as he had considering his strong feelings. He hadn’t been able to forget the danger they were in, though, or the peril of the people of LA. Five against an army that could number in thousands. Buffy’s own experience told her that it wasn’t impossible, hadn’t she herself led an army of thirty girls into the Hellmouth to face an army of ten thousand uber-vamps and they had won that one. She’d been tempted to stay out of it, it was Angel’s mess, let him clear it up, but in the end she couldn’t do it. She’d sent orders for every girl in range to get to LA as soon as possible and had boarded the next plane to the States along with Willow and a handful of Italian Slayers.
They’d arrived too late to save Angel and his team. Willow had identified the bodies of Gunn and a much altered Fred, located near the corpse of a huge dragon, though there had been no sign of Wesley. Angel and his other, unknown companion were also missing. Angel had most likely exploded into a pile of ash upon his death.
Buffy wiped a stray tear from her cheek. She and Angel had parted ways many years ago, but somehow she’d always known they’d be together once more. Now that could never be.
The general population of LA had fled the town between the time that the demons attacked and the Slayers arrived. Buffy could understand why. LA had become almost as much of a supernatural hotspot as Sunnydale had been in its day, what with eclipses that lasted for weeks, rains of fire and demon attacks. The Slayers had missed the fight, but this was the kind of clean up that only they could do. Many of the demons had scattered, some staying here others leaving to find a new hunting ground. They would be tracked down by Slayers in other cities.
Part of Buffy was tempted to let the demons have what was left of the city, but she knew that eventually people would come back to rebuild and when that time came she would make sure they didn’t come just to be ‘happy meals on legs.’
Buffy turned to see a redhead walk out onto the roof.
“Can I intrude on your quiet time?”
Willow Rosenberg sighed. “It’s all such a mess out there,” she said. “And it’s utter chaos in there. I don’t know how you deal with it.”
Buffy allowed a tiny smile to lift her lips. “I just take one thing at a time.”
Willow leaned on the low wall and took a good long look at her old friend. “How are you coping?”
Buffy shrugged. “You know how it is.”
“Come on, Buffy,” Willow scolded her. “I’m not one of your girls, I’m Willow. I know how much Angel meant to you. You can tell me that you’re hurting.”
“I just hate that he died thinking that I didn’t care about him anymore.” There, she’d said it.
Willow laid an arm about Buffy’s slender shoulders. “He knew you were conflicted, that he was doing something questionable and that you couldn’t trust him with the lives of all those Slayers. He would have understood and known that whatever happened, you would still care. He loved you so much.”
“And I loved him.” The two girls looked out across the city, silent for a time, both thinking about the events that had led them here.
“Can you believe it’s been a year since Sunnydale?” Willow asked suddenly.
“I still have trouble believing it’s all over,” Buffy told her. “Sometimes I wake up at night thinking that I’ve gotta figure out how to stop the First and protect all those girls and then I remember...”
“A year ago we changed the world,” Willow finished. “So many people would be dead if it weren’t for what we did.”
“And for what Angel did,” Buffy looked to her friend. “How could I have thought he would ever do anything to hurt anyone?”
“We all did,” Willow tried to reassure her. “Angel didn’t exactly make an effort to tell you what was going on.”
“But I knew him better than anyone,” Buffy lamented. “I should have trusted him to do the right thing. I didn’t. I...”
“What?” Willow followed Buffy’s gaze out into the city and saw the same flickering blue light that had distracted Buffy. “What is that?”
“I don’t know,” Buffy replied her eyes locked on the distant spot. “I’m gonna check it out.”
“Take some of the girls with you,” Willow suggested.
“No time,” Buffy said. “Send someone after me if you want, but I’m going now.”
Buffy vaulted over the wall and landed on the roof of the next building over. From there she dropped down onto the road and took off in the direction of the light.
A swirling blue vortex opened in the middle of an empty street. This would have been surprising enough had there been anyone there to witness it, but then a woman’s screams filled the air and a small body was spat out of the vortex.
Wade was grateful for the soft landing – well softer than normal – as she half turned and sat up to see two more figures fly from the vortex. The first, Professor Arturo, landed a few feet away from her and struggled to rise before the second, Rembrandt Brown, landed directly on top of him.
Wade grinned. It was like Remmy aimed for the Professor, not that she could blame him. Some of these landings were rough and the Professor made for a good cushion.
A final figure exited the vortex and would have remained upright were it not for the two men on the ground. Wade laughed out loud as Quinn Mallory tripped over her other two companions and landed directly across Remmy’s back.
“Good landing, you guys,” Wade said sympathetically from her spot on the ground.
“Yes, well, if Mr Brown would watch where he was going it wouldn’t happen,” the Professor said irritably as he extricated himself from the bottom of the pile. “Next time, you go through first and then maybe I’ll land on you.”
“Now, now, no need to get testy, Professor,” Rembrandt chuckled. “It was an accident.”
“Looks like you didn’t land so well yourself,” Quinn said looking behind Wade. “Did you knock someone over?”
His comment reminded Wade of her soft landing and she half turned to see what it was that had broken her fall.
“Oh God,” she said and backed away. “Guys!”
Quinn was at her side in an instant. He crouched next to the still body and turned it over. “He’s dead.”
“Did I kill him when I landed on him?” Wade asked desperately. Maybe on this world the people were really fragile.
“I don’t think so.” Wade could hear the sick tone in his voice. “This guy’s been dead for a while.”
“What, they just left him there?” Rembrandt said, coming up and laying a comforting hand on Wade’s shoulder.
“He’s not the only one.” Wade looked up to see the Professor staring up the street to where another body lay, as still as the first.
“What happened here?” Quinn asked curiously. “War?”
“I don’t think so,” the Professor said. “Look at the houses. It looks as if this place has been abandoned. Perhaps that poor fellow was merely left behind.”
“Why would they abandon a city?” Wade asked.
“Any number of reasons,” Quinn told her. “Earthquakes, maybe, but the structure of the buildings is too stable for that. Maybe a pestilence or something like that.”
“That would explain this guy,” Rembrandt said. He’d wandered over to the other body and turned it over with one foot. “Come and look at this.”
The other three Sliders hurried over to their friend. Wade covered her mouth with one hand and turned away. She felt sick. The man’s face was covered in red blisters the size of her thumbnails and judging by his hands and neck his whole body looked like that.
“Don’t touch it,” the Professor warned.
“I wasn’t going to,” Quinn replied. “It doesn’t look like this was caused by a disease.”
“What is it then?” Remmy demanded.
“I don’t know, Crying Man. Maybe it’s a sub species that evolved on this Earth. It looks like his skin has been boiled and this looks like some kind of tribal design,” Quinn said, pointing at a triangular shaped mark painted on the man’s forehead.
“I think it’s safe to say we aren’t home,” the Professor said. “Let’s get inside until the Slide.”
“How long have we got?” Wade asked. She just wanted to get far away from this world and its freaky inhabitants if that was what they looked like.
“About an hour,” Quinn said checking the timer. “Not long. Maybe we can find a newspaper or something to give us a clue about what happened here.”
Dawn Summers always felt anxious when the Slayers went out. She worried that they wouldn’t all come back. True, they were all super powered girls and well trained, but they were up against demons that were as strong as they were.
Buffy hadn’t been happy when Dawn had shown up here in LA two days after the battle, but there was no way she was going to leave. The girls needed someone here who could look up demons and research spells. Who else was going to do it? Buffy? Not likely. Few of their Watchers were as well versed in demon lore as Dawn was and this was going to be a tricky job. They needed the best and Buffy needed her.
Buffy had been under a great deal of stress what with all the newbie Slayers looking at her as if she were the second coming and the expectations of being the Slayer General. Add to that Angel’s apparent betrayal and subsequent death and Buffy seriously needed a vacation. Dawn thanked any deities who happened to be listening that her sister still didn’t know that the fifth member of Angel’s group had been Spike. It was no surprise that Buffy had taken to spending hours alone, moping as far as Dawn could tell and generally regretting not believing in Angel and not being there for him at the end.
When Willow had come down from the roof where she and Buffy had been having a serious talk, with a perplexed expression on her face Dawn was all ready to go and make an attempt to get through to the stubborn one herself. On hearing what the wicca had to say Dawn had been the one who immediately sent out a squad of Slayers.
Why did Buffy always think she had to do everything alone? There were fifty Slayers staying in this very hotel, all willing to follow their leader into the depths of Hell – and not for the first time either – but Buffy had seemingly forgotten that in her haste to investigate. Dawn knew why. Buffy had been the Chosen One. She’d gotten used to having no back up besides what little her friends could provide and now that she did have hundreds of Slayers the world over, ready to heed her call, she still acted alone. Not for the first time Dawn cursed Merrick, the man who had taught Buffy that ‘she alone could stand against the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness.’
Willow had gone back to the roof. Whatever the light had been it had disappeared shortly after they had first seen it. From the roof Willow would see if any more appeared and could use magic to contact Buffy quickly. Three other Slayers had gone with her so that Willow wouldn’t have to look in every direction at once. Besides the ten-girl squad that had gone after Buffy another three squads were out on regular patrol, leaving only seven Slayers in the building. That on its own was worrying. It would be a perfect time for something to attack their headquarters and catch them off guard.
As if someone had been reading her thoughts the door crashed inwards and a handful of demons stalked in.
One of the Slayers, an Australian girl named Sarah, swore under her breath even as she leapt to her feet and ran to the weapons closet. The other girls dropped into familiar fighting stances, prepared for battle.
Dawn ran to help Sarah. The girls would need weapons more than they would need her help, Sunnydale survivor or not.
“Go,” Sarah ordered, forgetting that Dawn was the Watcher here. “Tell Willow what’s happening and get the others down here.”
Dawn nodded and obeyed even as she heard the Slayers engage in battle behind her, regretting that she didn’t have the same telepathic connection with Willow that the rest of the Scoobies shared. She made it to the stairs and started up as quickly as she could, her heart pounding in her chest. If only Buffy were here.
Dawn stopped abruptly. There was a demon standing above her on the stairs, a very familiar looking demon. “You – you worked for Glory,” she said, a sudden urgent fear hitting her.
The demon tilted its head to one side. “You remember. That is good. After all, it is because of you that the Great Glorificus was killed.”
“No,” Dawn said desperately. “I didn’t. It was Buffy.”
“She may have been the one to strike our Lady, but it was because of you that she did.”
“So this is revenge?” Dawn just had to keep him talking. Eventually Willow would hear the commotion from the fight and one of the Slayers would take him out from behind. As she was she was helpless. No weapons and not enough skill in a fight to really do any damage without one, but if it came to it she would go down swinging.
“No, child. This is all about you.” The demon started walking down the stairs towards her and Dawn backed up.
“What do you mean? Dreg isn’t it?”
“The fall of our Goddess was prophesised long ago,” the demon told her. “We worshipped her anyway, because we knew her greatness was unparalleled on this world and we knew that she would lead us to our true Goddess.”
“And who is that?” Dawn took another few steps back.
Dawn stopped. “She’s dead.”
“In this reality, yes, but there are others and the prophecy gave explicit details. It told us the time and the place and what we need to get there and it told us how to get what we needed and how to best serve our lady.” The demon lunged at her.
Dawn turned and fled down the stairs, but was brought up short when another demon stepped in front of her. She was surrounded. It was fight or surrender and if being the sister of the Slayer had taught her anything it was that you never surrender.
“Anything in the paper, Q-ball?”
Quinn looked up to see Rembrandt peering over his shoulder. “Not really, unless you’re interested in a law firm defending the governor from some scandal or other. This paper’s a week old. There’s nothing in there about a pestilence or natural disaster or anything. As far as I can tell there was no reason for everyone to just get up and go.”
“No matter,” Professor Arturo said. “We’re leaving this world in less than twenty minutes anyway. I very much doubt there’s anything we could discover in that time.”
“It’s eerie,” Wade said with a shudder. “Not a living soul in sight. I can’t help but wonder what happened here.”
“I did glean one bit of information,” Quinn said, folding up the paper. “We’re back in LA.”
“Ah, man,” Rembrandt complained. “Even since Logan St-Claire messed with the timer we’ve been landing all over the place.”
“Nothing I can do” Quinn said regretfully. “Having Logan’s geographic spectral stabiliser means that we can land anywhere between here and San Francisco.”
“Can’t you replace it?” Wade asked hopefully.
“You know, it just so happens that I have a spare in my pocket,” Quinn said sarcastically.
“That’s enough,” the Professor said reproachfully. “The last thing we need is to start fighting amongst ourselves.”
The Sliders had taken refuge in one of the empty houses, not wanting to start wandering about with such a small amount of time before the next window. They’d not even tried to turn on the lights just in case the electricity was still on. They’d had enough experience with sliding to know that even if they didn’t see anything out there it didn’t mean they were alone. The last thing they wanted was to be attacked by something that looked like the dead man outside.
“How do you think they died?” Wade asked. She’d been dwelling on it ever since they’d found the two men.
“The first man, the human looking one, didn’t have a mark on him that I could see,” Quinn said. He’d looked incredibly pale though as if all the blood were drained from his body but he wasn’t going to say that in front of Wade unless he had to.
“What about the other guy,” Remmy asked. “That was freaky looking.”
“As Quinn suggested, he may be one of another species that evolved here on this Earth, like the Kro-Maggs” the Professor explained. “Maybe he evolved in a desert and that skin provides some protection against the sun.”
“Or he could even be completely alien,” Quinn suggested. “Maybe on this world they made contact with alien life.”
“Fifteen minutes ‘til the slide,” Rembrandt pointed out. “We’ll never know for certain.”
Buffy huffed quietly to herself as she led the way back to the hotel. Whatever had caused that blue light was long gone now. She could only hope it wasn’t dangerous.
True to her word Willow had sent a squad of Slayers after her, ten girls who had yet to learn that stealth was a key skill for a Slayer. With the amount of noise they’d made when they came after her it was no wonder that whatever had caused the light had scarpered.
Buffy yanked open the front door feeling a wave of irritation that she knew she could never show the girls. Morale was important in a place like this, if they got down there was no way to lighten the mood. Fortunately beating things up was a great way to release tension if you were a Slayer.
Buffy stared at the sight that met her. Demon bodies were strewn about the room haphazardly and a lot of the furniture was overturned or broken. Most worrying of all was Willow and six mini Slayers huddled together.
Willow turned at the sound of Buffy’s voice and Buffy was startled to see tears in her eyes. “It’s Min,” she said quietly. “She’s dead.”
Buffy nodded. She would deal with that later, right now she needed to work out what happened here.
“They must have been watching us,” Sarah, one of the girls said sadly. “They attacked right after you left.”
Buffy glanced around at the mess. “Where’s Dawn?”
Willow closed her eyes in concentration. “She’s not in the hotel.”
Buffy stared at her in consternation. “Dammit! I hate Tuesdays! OK, Willow, use magic to find out where she is and let me know, Sarah, you’re coming with me, bring the scythe, the rest of you stay here just in case there are more. We’re vulnerable here and we don’t want to have to relocate. From now on there must be two squads here at all times.”
“OK, Buffy,” Willow said. “You get out there, I’ll contact you as soon as I know anything.”
Buffy nodded and as soon as Sarah returned and handed her the scythe the two Slayers went out into the night.
With five minutes to go until the slide, the group left their shelter and headed to a nearby park. Professor Arturo insisted that by sliding from a nice grassy area they were more likely to land somewhere with lots of soft grass. The other three, knowing how cantankerous the man could get, went along with it, more to keep him quiet than anything else.
“It’s so weird,” Wade said to Quinn. “It’s hard to believe this is LA, it’s just too quiet.”
“I wish we knew what happened,” Quinn said distantly. “I always worry about taking something with us.”
“You said yourself it didn’t look like that guy was infected with anything,” Wade pointed out.
“Hmm,” Quinn agreed in a non-committal way.
The two walked in silence, following Rembrandt and the Professor.
“Ah, this looks like a good spot,” the Professor said at last. “I do detest landing on concrete.”
“We know,” Rembrandt said with a grin. “You’ve told us many times.”
“Today you will go first, Mr Brown,” Arturo said, ignoring Rembrandt’s comment. “See how you like it when I land on you.”
Quinn and Wade shared an amused look. Those two were always winding one another up.
“We’ve got a couple of minutes,” Quinn said, checking the timer.
“Can you hear something?” Wade asked suddenly.
Quinn strained his ears before glancing at Wade. He couldn’t hear anything.
“The wind in the trees, Miss Wells,” Arturo suggested.
“Maybe,” Wade said doubtfully.
“What’s that?” Rembrandt said, pointing into the tree-line.
Three figures stepped out from between the trees. Two of them unnaturally wrinkled skin that was certainly not human. Coupled with their unkempt hair and unnaturally large and pointed noses they looked almost as scary as the dead man they had seen on the street. Between them, her wrists held tightly by the two ‘men’ was a young girl around eighteen years old. She was a pretty girl with huge eyes and dark hair that came to her waist and she looked like she couldn’t decide if she should be scared or angry.
“People,” Wade gasped. “This place isn’t deserted after all.”
“Hey!” Quinn shouted, not liking how the two males were holding the girl. “What’s going on?”
“This is the time and place,” one of the men said to the other. “Where is the gateway?”
“Have faith,” the second one said. “We have the key.” He shook the girl’s arm violently, causing her to stumble.
Quinn moved forward to try and pull the girl away, but the Professor’s hand caught his elbow. “We don’t have time.”
“What is this? Some kind of virgin sacrifice?” Rembrandt said in disgust.
“Hey! What are you implying?” the girl demanded. Apparently she wasn’t as helpless as she looked.
“Only you can get offended at a time like this.”
Quinn turned to his left to see two women approach. The older of the two, a petite blonde who seemed to be in her early twenties, was carrying an axe-like weapon as if she knew how to use it. The second, a younger girl of about sixteen wielded a sword. What was going on here?
“Buffy!” the hostage exclaimed. “I didn’t mean to get kidnapped, honestly.”
“You never do,” the blonde answered. She peered at the two holding the girl. “Hey, aren’t they-“
“Glory’s minions,” the first girl answered.
“Buffy,” the third girl said quietly in an Australian accent. “What do you want me to do?” Clearly the blonde, Buffy, was in charge.
“Sit tight,” Buffy answered. Her gaze shifted to the smaller of the two men. “You know Glory’s dead right? Taking Dawn won’t bring her back.”
“Your interference will accomplish nothing,” the man replied.
“Which is what I’m trying to say,” Buffy said patiently. “Why don’t you just let her go?”
The timer in Quinn’s hand beeped. “Time to go,” he said to his friends.
“Who are you?” the youngest girl asked as if she had only just noticed them.
“Human,” Buffy grunted at her. “Ignore them.”
“We’ll be out of your hair in just a moment,” Rembrandt said as Quinn pointed the timer between the two sides.
The vortex formed in the air, causing the youngest girl to gasp.
“It was you!” Buffy said in surprise.
Quinn was about to wave the others to slide when one of the men stepped between them and the vortex, pulling the girl Buffy had called Dawn with him. He was chanting something under his breath.
The other man joined him and he too was chanting. He grabbed Dawn’s free hand and slashed it with one of his claw-like nails.
“What are they doing?” Wade said fearfully.
“Get away from there.” Quinn and Arturo stepped towards the men to push them away from their ride out of here.
The second man flicked his claw with the blood still clinging to it at the vortex.
The ground seemed to shake and Quinn fell to his knees. “What have you done?” he yelled, staring at the vortex in dismay for it was no longer a flickering blue, but a pulsating emerald green.
Without a backward glace the two men pulled the struggling girl into the vortex.
Buffy was there, pulling Quinn to his feet. “What is that thing? Where have they taken her?” Her hair was whipping about her face in the wind created by the vortex.
“It leads to parallel worlds,” Quinn yelled over the turbulent wind.
“Is it safe?” Wade called.
“We have to risk it,” Quinn said desperately. “If we don’t we’re stuck here for twenty nine years.”
The Professor stood up. “Mr Brown, you first.”
“Oh, great,” Rembrandt complained. “For all I know that thing leads directly to Hell itself.” He took a running leap into the vortex and disappeared.
“Here goes,” Wade said and followed Remmy. Arturo was right behind her.
“I’m coming too,” Buffy said.
“Are you sure?” Quinn knew they didn’t have long before the vortex closed, but he had to let her know the risks. “We don’t know what they did. It could kill us all. Even if it doesn’t we have no way of getting you back.”
“I don’t care,” Buffy said. She threw her weapon to her companion who caught it deftly.
“Maybe I should come too,” she said.
“No!” Buffy called over the wind. “You need to tell Willow what happened. Tell her that I’m counting on her to find a way to get us home.”
“If you’re coming we need to go now,” Quinn yelled. It was a matter of seconds before the vortex closed. He held out a hand to her expecting her to be nervous, but her hand in his was rock steady. “Go!” Together they ran to the vortex and jumped.
A/N: OK, first chapter of a new story so I don’t have much to say yet, except please review and let me know what you think. I’ve already written up to chapter four so hopefully updates will be quite fast, but I’m hoping to stay a bit ahead so no promises. I’ll update chapter two when I’ve finished chapter five. With the speed I’m writing lately it shouldn’t take too long.