Lost in Time and Space without A Map - Prologue
One moment, Willow had been in the act of standing, and then the next thing she became aware of was a blinding blue-white flash of light and the sensation of being pulled in all directions at once. No longer was she standing in the middle of the specially constructed circle of power that had been used as part of the ritual activation of the world's Slayers. Come to think of it, she really didn't believe she was on Earth any longer, what with the dozen or so robots doing battle with a massive, horned dragon and a quartet of human beings who glowed with impressive auras of magical energy.
Frozen into inaction by simple shock, Willow's choice of whose side to take in the conflict was made for her by the winged robot that decided that she would look much better with a hole burnt through her head. Nothing like attempted murder to get the juices flowing. A hastily erected barrier of projected force barely deflected the deadly beam of coherent light from its target. Even so, Willow distinctly felt the intense heat embodied in the attack.
Finding ample, hell, more like obscene amounts of free energy available for use, Willow was able to erect a more substantial protective spell around herself without feeling even the slightest twitch from that well of power somewhere deep inside herself that always had the unfortunate effect of altering her personality while making magic so easy to perform. This was good. Being able to perform heavy magic without fear of losing herself to it raised her prospects of immediate survival a great deal.
"Let's see how much you like it when someone tries to blow your head off," she muttered before speaking a brief incantation in an ancient and mostly forgotten form of Greek. The crackling electricity that enveloped her small hands was a pure, neon blue without so much as a single black highlight. Hmm...
Meanwhile, the dragon had managed to capture one of the robots in its massive jaws. Metal was crunched and perforated like so much tinfoil by sword-like teeth while supernaturally intense flame poured from the creature's throat to sear the machine into something less than slag. A pair of the flying robots breaking off from their ineffective flyby attacks on the dragon drew Willow’s attention from the humans before she could attempt to assess their magical prowess, this time. They were heading for her with alarming haste. And then a combination of fast-moving projectiles and a rapid-fire series of laser blasts were hammering the mystical armor she had surrounded herself with.
Two could play at that game. A double stroke of scintillating lightning surged from Willow's outstretched arms. With no small amount of wonder, the sorceress could sense just how powerful her spell had become in this strange world. Her aim was true and the lead machine found itself short of a rather vital piece of equipment; it's head. Without guidance and, well, headless, the flying hunk of metal veered sharply to the right and flew out of Willow's immediate range of vision.
Willow would have ducked the next attack, had she had more time or inhuman reflexes, but the small missles racing towards her closed the distance too quickly. Both missles exploded against her eldricth armor with incredible force, enveloping her in a cloud of intense, liquid-like flame. Knocked several feet backwards, Willow was unable to keep her footing. Unharmed by the explosion, Willow was still a little stunned. When her vision cleared and her ears stopped ringing only seconds later, her remaining robot attacker was no longer airborne. It stood maybe three feet away, its disturbingly large weapon aimed point blank at her head. The skull-like visage of the robot's head seemed to grin down at her.
Knowing that her armor spell's protective potential had to be nearly depleted and doubting that she would be given time to reinforce it, Willow made a snap decision. Hoping to surprise the robot, she surged forward with all the speed she could muster, finding that she was indeed able to wrap her left hand around the barrel of the machine's laser rifle. From there, it was a simple matter of voiding the remaining electrical charge she'd generated with her spell and forcing it through the readily conductive material of the weapon.
For a moment nothing happened, then the air was rent by a piercing, masculine scream that surprised Willow nearly as much as finding herself transported to this world. It didn't last for long, as the machine collapsed backwards with a loud metallic thump. Why would a robot scream as if it were in pain? Could a robot even feel pain? The answer was obvious to the horrified young woman; her victims weren't robots at all, but people in some sort of extremely advanced armor, like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.
She'd taken another human life, a pair of them, and this time she hadn't even been temporarily insane. Willow didn't know whether she should cry or giggle hysterically. She'd promised herself that she would control her magic...and she had, even when confronted by the First and its minions. All that time and she'd only used the addictive power in the most extreme emergencies. Perhaps worst of all, Willow had been in full command of her faculties, her head unclouded by magic.
Then again, a small part of her mind rationalized, didn't this whole situation qualify as an extreme emergency? What was she supposed to do, stand there and let herself be gunned down on some alien world without even attempting to defend herself?
How much time she sat there beside the man in his armored shell, Willow didn't know. When she finally became aware of her surroundings, a tall woman in a gown of flowing metallic silk stood before her, looking down at her with an indiscernible expression on her inhumanly beautiful face. There had been no woman among the magic-wielding men fighting the armored men. Where had this one come from?
"Are you injured?" the beautiful woman's clear soprano voice was as perfect as her face. The accent was strange, impossible for Willow to place, but easily enough to understand.
"N-no," Willow answered, embarrassed that she couldn't reply to such a simple question without stuttering. Gathering her confidence and mentally wrapping it around herself like a cloak, Willow climbed to her feet and looked the woman in the eye, or at least tried to. Not quite seven feet tall, it was hard for Willow to look her in the eye, unless she had a stepladder somewhere nearby. "Where am I?" The young woman's voice was firm and steady this time, for which she was imminently thankful. .
"A good question..." Turning to the small group of men who were now approaching Willow and the statuesque woman, she asked,"What did you call this world, Ian?"
Upon closer inspection, Willow realized that while they were all men, one of them was clearly were not human. If the man addressed as Ian weren’t an elf, Willow would eat her shoe.
"This is Earth. A pleasant enough place if one doesn't run afoul of the more xenophobic natives." For emphasis, he kicked the lifeless armored shell of one of the 'xenophobic natives'.
"Earth?" Willow was pleased that she hadn't choked on her own tongue, much less ask the question. "This can't be earth," she insisted. "I'm from Earth...we don't have this kind of technology," she indicated her last victim without actually looking at him,"and the magic is so much stronger here...stronger than I ever imagined possible." She'd wanted to say that Earth didn't have dragons, but she wasn't really sure about that one.
"Nevertheless, this is the planet Earth, the most powerful interdimensional nexus in the megaverse," said one of the men. He was of average height, a little pudgy around the middle, and in the latter stages of baldness.
At the mentioning of dimensions, Willow was reminded uncomfortably of her vampire self that had paid Sunnydale a visit not too many years earlier. "Okay, then, this just isn't 'my' Earth. I'm in a parallel dimension. That's not so bad. I should be able to get home without too much trouble. I hope." Willow remained silent while the others examined the man she'd electrocuted. From the smoking chunks of metal located in various positions nearby, she gathered that this one was by far the most intact.
"Who were they?" While these strangers had been nice enough, Willow was hoping that she hadn't picked the wrong side in the conflict after all. How was she to know why they'd been attacked? For all she knew, they were escaped criminals.
"Coalition patrol. They came upon us while we were in the process of opening a portal to send Ian to his home dimension," replied the balding man. "They would have likely let you be on your way had you not appeared through the rift at such an inopportune time. Men and women of magic and anything more than human, such as our dear Ilyana here, are automatically enemies of the Coalition States."
Not that she was the greatest judge of character, but Willow found that she trusted the unassuming man who had only minutes earlier wielded powerful magics against others of his own race. Self-defense. Imagine attacking someone simply because they used magic...It was like the Salem witch trials, only with advanced technology and people who weren't ignorant scum.
"Ah." Something he'd said stuck in her mind and drew her attention. To Ilyana, who had been indicated as 'more than human', Willow asked,"You wouldn't happen to be a dragon, would you?" Hopefully, she hadn't just committed some grave error in dragon etiquette.
Ilyana grinned broadly, completing shattering her previous solemn appearance. "Tall, green, and scaly, at your service."
"Sorry to interrupt, and I'm all for making new friends, but hasn't it occurred to anyone else that these men may have called for help before being defeated? A small patrol of relatively weak soldiers was difficult enough to defeat. Do any of you wish to hang around and see what reinforcements their fellows may send?"
"You're correct, of course. I apologize, Ian, but it appears we must postpone your departure to a later date."
The elf shrugged the matter aside. "I'm not in a hurry."
"Our transport is hidden nearby. May I assume that you will be accompanying us, at least for a short time?"
"You may," Willow answered with a grin. She wanted to get home, to see whether or not they had defeated the First, but Willow couldn't help but be excited by the prospect of exploring such a strange new world.
"My experience with alternate dimensions is pretty limited," Willow explained. "A girl, sorta a friend, I guess, made a stupid wish to a vengeance demon. It ended up creating a new dimension. My other self was turned into a vampire, a slutty, leather-clad skanky version of me who paid a visit to my reality. We were able to send her back to her own reality. I'm way more powerful now than I was back then. I just need to work out the proper spell for the job."
The transport had turned out to be a cross between a tank, a motor home, and a hovercraft. It was also surprisingly roomy. The young man who had been introduced as Keith was up in the cab, driving to somewhere relatively safe.
"Not that I doubt your skills, Willow," Harry, the middle-aged spell caster with the shiny head said,"but you would do well to refrain from any premature attempts at dimensional travel. As you've said, this version of your world possesses a great deal more magical energy than you're accustomed to working with. This world is also saturated with extra-dimensional energies that weaken the barriers between realities. You could cast your spell, and though it would normally send you to your destination, the interaction of otherworldly forces could deposit you in hell. I would attempt to send you myself, but I'm don't know the first thing about traveling to alternate versions of Earth."
"He's right," Ilyana insisted. "Even though I'm considered young by the standards of my race, a mere hatchling, I've seen more than a few talented men and women undone by factors beyond their control. Were I in your position, I'd look for a well traveled Shifter. They specialize in dimensional travel."
Willow sighed in disappointment, wanting to argue with the transformed dragon and the man. Both of them made valid points, though, and she really didn't want to end up in an out of the way hell dimension or somewhere possibly worse. "Any of you guys know a helpful Shifter? Preferably one who does charity work?"
"Actually, I know a few," answered Harry. "Not any of them are particularly charitable, but the one I have in mind happens to owe me a favor or two."
"I wouldn't want to impose-"
"Nonsense, Willow, nonsense. Your aide fighting the Coalition soldiers was admirable and quite possibly prevented any of my companions or myself from coming to harm. Besides, if you and I were in a similar situation with the roles reversed, I believe you would do your best to help me get home. Am I right?"
Willow nodded with a small smile. "I'm pretty lucky to have appeared where I did, don't you think? Even with the soldiers there. If I'd popped up in the middle of a Coalition city or a couple miles up below the ocean..." Not wishing to dwell the possibilities, Willow decided to change the subject again. "So, Harry, tell me about your Earth and I'll tell you about mine."
"Trust me, Willow," Ian insisted,"the word 'witch' has a different meaning on this world and most others than what you're used to. Have you made any pacts with an evil entity of great power that involve your soul, first born child, or decades of servitude?"
Willow shook her head. This time it was Keith, who responded to her answer,"Then don't say that you are a witch. By our standards, you would be a sorceress, a perfectly respectable, non-evil sorceress."
"If you say so." Keith was likable enough, she supposed. Willow would have been considerably more comfortable if he didn't keep flirting with her. He was a techno-wizard, an area of magic she'd never encountered. Somehow, for some reason, he channeled his magic through machines. Well, to each their own.
"I knew a witch a few years back," said Harry. "She didn't reek of evil like one would expect and was a great conversationalist. Then she tried to skin me alive."
Eyes widening at that last bit of information, Willow tried not to think about Warren and his less than pleasant death or the agonized shrieks as she had tortured him to death. "I'm a sorceress, definitely a sorceress."
"Up up!" came a roar from outside of the vehicle. It was recognizable as Ilyana, an Ilyana in her true form as a big whopping bundle of great horned dragon. "Ley line storm coming up quick!" Midway through the warning, the booming voice lost its draconian intensity and assumed a more human volume. The side-hatch slid open a dripping dragon leaped into the transport. "We've gotta get off the line!"
Keith was up and gone in a rush of movement. He didn't even bother to carry his faded and patched bomber jacket along. In the week that Willow had known these strange people, it was the first time she'd seen the young man leave it behind. Funny how little stuff like that could tell you how bad things was getting.
"Ley line storm?" Willow, as well read as anyone her age could possibly be, knew what ley lines were; though back on her world she had never seen or heard of any active lines. She suspected the Hellmouth was what Harry called a nexus point, a place where several ley lines met.
"Excess energy bleeding off the line. Bad things happen to magic during ley line storms. This vehicle has been converted to use magic as is power source through techno-wizardry." Harry was nearly thrown off his feet as Keith brought the hover system online and accelerated to top speed all at once. He caught himself on the edge of the small sofa and turned to Ilyana. "If we don't make it out in time, Ilyana, you'll have to leave the transport. If the storm forces you to assume your true form inside we'll all be crushed."
Willow jumped back away from the window when a crackling bolt of bluish energy slammed into the ground only meters from the speeding hovercraft. "We're off the line," Keith announced. "Another couple miles just to be sa-...Damn."
And then the world went white.
Author's Notes[*Please read if you want to know what's going on*] - This is a crossover between BtVS and the Palladium RPG Rifts. For those who don't know, Rifts Earth is a post apocalyptic version of Earth that has been invaded by demonic hordes, alien gods, and entities of incredible power. I won't go into a long history of Rifts Earth, but technology is considerably more advanced than present day standards. The cataclysm that destroyed civilization began as a nuclear exchange between warring nations somewhere in South America in the year 2096. The simultaneous release of the potential psychic energy[PPE, i.e. magic, life energy, etc] of millions of dying people and animals kick started the world's ley lines, swelling them to bursting and opening countless rifts to other worlds and dimensions. The subsequent invasion of demons and other dimensionally displaced creatures would have been bad enough, but this was the apocalypse, so there were also thousand foot tidal waves, frighteningly powerful earthquakes, and all sorts of other nasty unnaturally powerful natural phenomena. Magic has reemerged as a force to be reckoned with and is widely used by the forces of good and evil. The current year by my timeline would be somewhere around 106-107 PA[Post Apocalypse, a dating system established roughly two centuries after civilization fell].
In the game world a war has just been fought between the magic kingdom of Tolkeen and the technologically oriented Coalition States, a war which the Coalition won. However, a magical artifact[a talking skull that predicts the future, hey, really, I'm serious] gave the following prophecy -
"There will come a time when a prophecy will not come true because interlopers from afar will enter events foretold and break their connection with the Future That Might Be. The changes they shall make from the Future That Might Be will be great, and those who had been destined to triumph shall be the losers, and those destined for defeat shall find themselves victorious."
It just so happens that the prophecy of the Coalition's victory was given by this same talking skull, but the leaders of Tolkeen ignored it. If those destined to triumph become the losers and those destined for defeat find themselves victorious, Tolkeen wins and the Coalition loses. Which would you prefer, the magical kingdom that accepts technology without qualms and welcomes outsiders or the human supremacist Coalition States who fear magic and anything not human?
I'm a big fan of Willow, and in the magic rich environment of Rifts Earth, she would become freakishly powerful. Her magic would be increased in potency and the psychic powers she has access to alone would make her a force to be reckoned with[telekinesis of the level she performs, telethapy, rapid erection of force barriers, etc, are psionic powers in the Palladium-based megaverse]. However, this isn't a wolf among sheep situation. This is a world where a common street thug can buy a relatively cheap laser pistol that would destroy a modern day tank with a single shot. Being powerful on Rifts Earth is simply a requirement for survival, not anything particularly special.
Supernatural beings, creatures of magic, and some aliens as well as most modern armor on Rifts Earth possesses Mega-Damage Capacity[MDC], while modern day body armor offers SDC protection and something like an M-16 only inflicts SDC damage. 100 SDC equal 1 MDC, so a suit of ceramic body armor with 60 MDC would have 6000 SDC. Mostly, though, SDC weapons simply can not damage MDC structures. Due to her magical nature[since she does tend to transform into an evil, super-magical version of herself every so often], I'm going to write Willow as an MDC creature of magic. That means a simple knife would slide harmlessly across her skin without leaving so much as a scratch while a high-frequency vibro-knife or particle beam weapon would inflict mega-damage as normal.