~~ Stacking the Deck ~~
Buffy and company is owned by Joss W.
The Forgotten Realms and such are created and owned by Ed Greenwood and Wizards of the Coast and the various authors of the fiction.
Ranma 1/2 is owned by Rumiko Takahashi.
Thanks to Janessa Ravenwood for editing.
For several hours Angel and Buffy held each other, taking solace in the knowledge that they would suffer in hell together. Buffy had finally become like all the other slayers - effectively dead before she was 18. She was stuck in a hell dimension, trapped away from everyone else she knew. Or so she thought. Although it had only been a short while. The sun was already going down. The entire daylight lasted only an hour for Sunnydale. As soon as the sun fell down behind the mountains, dropping the shadows on the displaced town, a certain perturbed vampire couple stormed back into the mansion. Well, Spike stormed, Drusilla just kind of hung limply under one of his arms.
“Bloody, bloody hell
Slayer!” Spike said with a snarl. Buffy jumped to her feet, sword in hand. Spike dumped Dru into a chair.
“We had a deal Spike, your help for me not dusting Drusilla,” the slayer snarled. “You should be driving away right now."
“You bollixed it up!” Spike screamed as he stalked forward, pointing his finger in her face. “The deal was I help you by taking Dru and driving away! I can’t very well drive away if there isn’t any bloody road!”
“Wait, Spike, why are you two all wet?” Spike spun around to glare at Angel, who was trying to keep from laughing.
“Well, when I was keeping my end of the bloody deal, the road out of lovely old Sunnydale was replaced by a gorge,” Spike said, glaring at his grand sire. “Didn’t have enough time to stop before we toppled right into the thing.”
“Oooo! Oooo! Spiky, my Angel, they’re wrong!”
“What is she babbling about?” Buffy said, still pointing a sword at Spike’s throat. Drusilla was having one of her fits, her hands shook and she stared out the window with fear.
“Eh Love? What’s wrong?”
“The Stars! The Stars are wrong!”
Everyone in Sunnydale noticed the new mountains, the changed stars and the abnormally short day. The sun had moved from its normal morning spot to a noon position in what was supposed to be north. People who looked at a compass could tell that north was now south and east was now west. Everything was wrong.
Somehow Sunnydale had been transported away from the familiar stomping grounds of the hellmouth and was perched in a valley between two mountains. On one side was a growing lake caused by the sudden deposit of the town. On the other was a drop off that fell almost as deep as the Grand Canyon. Something was clearly wrong.
And everybody decided that Mayor Wilkins had to fix it.
“Now, now, people, let’s sit down,” the Mayor said in his usual jovial tone. Smiling at the podium he addressed the crowd. “Now I know everyone is upset, but I think we should just relax a bit and talk these things over. It’s not the end of the world today after all!”
“Mayor Wilkins, what happened?”
“Well, I myself don’t really know, but I assure you that I’ll have the best people on it,” Richard Wilkins III said with a smile, motioning everyone to sit. “Now I guess you’ll want to know who those are, well, I’ll introduce them too you tomorrow after we have something to tell. Now if you’ll all excuse me I have a meeting to attend.”
Ignoring the cries for help and demands for knowledge behind him, the mayor walked back to his office. Telling his deputy mayor to take care of things, Wilkins prepared to call up an old friend.
“Ik tal mokkeri nun clava shi, Marvra’th!mokkkelitlikg’uranda,” he intoned. Soon a face appeared before him. The demon Marvra’th!mokkkelitlikg’uranda glared down at the Mayor.
“Why have you summoned me?”
“We have a problem.”
“We? Our agreement was for you to take care of your own problems.”
“That was fine until I wake up one day and find out that my little Sunnydale is no longer sitting on top of a hellmouth,” the mayor said calmly. He struggled to keep from sounding angry, but he was more than a little upset by the day’s events. “I am supposed to have one year left, but the Ascension will be pointless if I cannot gather the power from the hellmouth.” The face paused a moment taking in the new knowledge. The face hummed, bemused.
“Interesting, it seems that Acathla was momentarily revived,” said Marvra’th!mokkkelitlikg’uranda. “It has the taste of a Slayer on it.”
“Buffy Summers is the slayer in Sunnydale these days, though I hear a second one has been around lately,” the Mayor explained. “I heard she was the girl killed in the school yesterday. I don’t know why there were two.”
“Here is my advice: wait. Continue your work with the town, but at the same time, discover where you are and what happened to the hellmouth,” mused Marvra’th!mokkkelitlikg’uranda. “Seek out a different hellmouth if worse comes to worst. There is at least one on every world I have seen. Also, the Slayer could be of use. I will give you the extra time you need. You will ascend, Richard Wilkins.”
“What about the Box of Gavrok?”
“I shall see that it arrives.”
“Thanks Marv, I knew I could depend on an old friend when things went bad,” The Mayor replied smiling jovially as usual.
“What do you mean the entire town fell into the portal?”
“Listen Slayer, I know what I saw,” Spike said, holding Dru close to him. She kept staring at the stars and moaning about the wrongness of all things. Angel kept himself between them, just in case. The four were standing on the roof of the mansion, the tentative truce continuing as they sought information.
“Buffy, it’s true, look at those mountains around us. Where’s the ocean? Where are the rolling hills? It’s all gone,” Angel said confused. He sighed, Buffy never stopped glaring at Drusilla. “Buffy we might need them.”
“Angel, you’ve got your soul back, good,” Buffy said testily, not moving her gaze from Dru’s moaning form. “But she just killed Kendra and I’m not going to forget it.”
“I-I know. And just a few hours ago I was torturing Giles for information,” Angel said with a wince. The glare was on him now. “Everything is different. We should go to the hospital and see if your friends are okay.”
“No, I go in, you three stay here. I’ll be back in a few hours,” Buffy said angrily. “If I find out they’ve killed anyone they’re dust, no questions asked.”
“I’ll keep them in line,” Angel said.
“I don’t know if you can.”
“Buffy, it-it’s a sire/childe thing,” Angel said with a shrug. “A sire can command the childe to do almost anything. I can keep Dru in line.”
“Then why didn’t you do it earlier?”
“I don’t like to use it, there’s no free will. It’s mind-bending,” Angel said sadly.
“Don’t worry, slayer, we won’t be going anywhere,” Spike said as he lit a cigarette. “I’m staying with Dru. And he won’t do it because he doesn’t like it. Darla tried it whenever Angelus went all artistic over some girl. That’s why he made Dru like Dru.”
“Spike,” Angel growled.
“Oh, and if you’re going to the hospital, think you could get me a pint of AB Neg? It’s the best stuff,” Spike said as if it were a jug of milk.
“Stuff it, fang face,” Buffy said as she stalked away.
Buffy walked through the town, forgetting that she was wanted for murder, but the cops didn’t seem to be looking for her. They were too busy keeping people from rioting and looting. They were doing a good job, only a couple of places were hit too hard, the local magic store and the antiques shop that used to hold Ethan’s Costumes. Or were those looted last Tuesday? Buffy couldn’t remember.
The hospital was a mess. People were running all over the place. It seemed busier than usual, but not really as bad as some nights. She avoided eye contact and made her way to the Scooby double suite.
“Buffy, you’re back! What happened out there? People are talking about mountains and it’s really weird because we have no mountains around here, I mean we do have some hills that are pretty big and all, but it doesn’t make much sense. Ooh! Did the spell work? I mean for my first big spell it’s kinda hard, but it’s really cool at the same time, people were saying that I went all weird and had all sorts of things painted on my face it was a real trip,” Willow said, too happy to have her friend back to put the resolve face back on. After the spell, Willow had slept for hours resting from the exertion. Xander and Oz were there, sleeping in chairs. Giles was asleep in his own bed. Cordelia had wandered away to find something to eat.
“I’m okay, Willow, I’m glad you are too,” Buffy said with a sigh. “The spell worked, but it was too late. Angel opened the portal and I had to stab him to close it.” At Willow’s look of concern, Buffy put up a hand to calm her. “No, he’ll be okay, it’s just going to take some time. The portal closed, but it had been open too long and it swallowed the town.”
“So where’s Angel resting, I mean it’s the middle of the day,” Willow said anxious.
“No, it’s actually early night,” Buffy nodded at Willow’s wide eyes. “We’re not in Kansas anymore. There are mountains all around us.”
“Scooby meeting?” Both turned to see Cordelia wandering back in with drinks and snacks.
“You guys really messed up this time,” the brunette said sitting down.
“Yeah, that’s what Spike said too, but he said I ‘bollixed’ it,” Buffy said a little confused. “What is a bollix anyway?”
Deep in the valley a dark skinned elf crawled out of his hiding place as the sun fell below the horizon. He was cold and he was hungry. His panther rumbled pleasantly next to him as he called her forth from the black statue. He was a little confused as to what had happened as he was awoken from his meditations that afternoon. A sudden boom shook the valley followed by a burst of wind so powerful it knocked boulders off from their mountain perches. He was very lucky that no rock slides had covered the entrance to the cave during the event. He surveyed the damage with a saddened eye. Things had fallen all over, but on the other hand, his pursuers might have lost his trail in the destruction. Hopefully they had survived. Even if they were after him, he wished them no harm for the case of mistaken identity.
Drizzt Do’Urden pondered his plight as he ate the little pieces of fish he had left. He would have to find some more soon. The destruction of the valley was not complete, there were plenty of trees and places untouched below. Some trees, however were blown right over like the threshed wheat like he saw the Thistledowns harvesting with their scythes; before they were killed and he was blamed for their murder.
The dark elf was not pleased with his situation. He knew that somewhere, there would be people who would treat him like an equal, not like an outsider. Or at least he hoped so. Being first hunted by his family and now by strangers, he wondered if he would be killed before he could find his place. At least he was not alone. Guenhwyvar stayed alongside him, ever the loving companion.
His memories of the previous night troubled him. He had been prepared to make peace with the light elf, but they had ended up fighting. No doubt they were hunting him still. Why would they hunt him when they had already seen that he was not the culprit? Perhaps something would become clear in the coming days.
Pushing his troubled thoughts aside, he made his way up the valley.
Buffy was troubled by the events of the previous night as well. Her fight with Angelus was not truly finished. When she looked at Giles’ unconscious body she shuddered, still having difficulty believing that the same man she loved was capable of such horror. She knew she was looking through rose colored glasses, but she couldn’t help herself. Separating the Angel from the Angelus was never going to be easy again. And they could never again...
“Don’t think about it, Buffy,” she said to herself. Willow had fallen back asleep after she had filled the budding witch in on the night’s events and the morning’s troubles. She was about to fall asleep herself. She had been up for more than a day so far and she was fading fast. She almost toppled over in her chair when her mother burst into the room.
“Buffy!” The blonde looked up at her distraught mother. This was a problem she had not remembered to worry about. Suddenly her mother’s parting words rang in her ears: “If you leave now, don’t ever come back.”
“Mom, oh, I’m sorry, I’ll leave, I know you don’t want to see me,” She started to get up from the chair, but Joyce pushed her back down into the chair. Buffy suddenly found herself bound up in her mother’s arms. It seemed like Joyce was clinging on for deal life.
“That’s not true. I didn’t really mean what I said,” Joyce said, sitting down in the chair next to her daughter. “I-well, I was angry and confused and I just blurted it out.”
“Oh, Mom!” All the events of the previous two days came crashing down at once. Kendra’s death, Angelus, Spike, Acathla. Buffy hugged her mother and cried.
“It took so much time to get here, everything is so chaotic right now,” Joyce hugged her daughter back. “I was so afraid that you believed what I said, I was worried that when we were sent wherever we are now, that you weren’t there with us.”
“I didn’t kill Kendra, Mom,” Buffy said, sobbing.
“I know,” was all that Joyce said, patting her daughter on the back.
Mayor Wilkins was preparing for tomorrow. He had a few calls to make, unfortunately, no one but the hospital had electricity and Sunnydale Medical Center was running on borrowed time. Their emergency power would run out sooner rather than later. It looked like he would have to make house calls. There were many things a politician does: diplomacy, manipulation, consideration, cooperation and others. But the one thing that every politician creates is a committee. Whenever the shit hits the fan, they call the best people together to deal with the situation for the committee, even if they were not directly connected. But Richard Wilkins was a good politician and he was a good mayor. After all, he had been doing the job for over a century. So he made up a list of the committee members. They would all show up, some willingly, some not so willingly and some would try and kill each other.
Glancing at the short list, it was going to be harder to get some of these than others. Harder still would be getting them to work together. Vampires and a Vampire Slayer at the same table might not be the best idea, but it was what he had to work with. Dr. Walsh was a scientist and might have a problem with dealing with magic. She was the type to try and quantify everything and might break when faced with something that did not compute. Colonel Hennessey was a soldier so he should take the knowledge and deal with it. The hardest part would be convincing him that a petite blonde civilian would be leading one of his teams. Once he learned of the situation he might be easily taken care of. There were the Slayer’s friends and her Watcher and a few of her classmates. She had a very promising class, it was almost a shame he would most likely have to eat them.
He sent out his deputy to take care of the students and Mr. Giles. He would deal with the Initiative himself. Military, never could get used to them.
“Hello, Dr. Walsh,” Richard Wilkins III held out his hand to her. He had driven to her apartment directly and had caught her just as she was about to leave.
“Mayor Wilkins, what a surprise,” she replied with constructed surprise. “Whatever could you be doing here at the university? I would imagine that you have plenty of work back at City Hall.”
“Well, gee, I guess you’re right, but I just wanted to invite you and the Colonel to a little get together tomorrow morning to deal with a few problems,” the Mayor replied jovially as usual. “I expect you to be there at daybreak, and no later!”
“Whatever do you mean? Are you inviting the university staff to a dinner when everything is going on?”
“Oh gosh darn it, I didn’t want to play hard ball, but the jig is up,” he said with a smile. “I meant your other colleagues, Dr. Walsh. I guess it’s time to take the Initiative.”
“That’s classified.” Her eyes narrowed.
“Now, now, let’s keep this a polite conversation. There’s not much in this town I don’t know about,” he said shrugging it off. “Don’t you think it’s time to get rid of all that trouble? After all you’re going to be working with us soon anyway, unless you think you’re going to declare martial law in my town?”
“I’ll talk to the Colonel.”
“Um, He-Hello?” Joyce turned to see a small man knocking on the door frame to the hospital room. “Is Buffy Summers here?”
“I’m Buffy’s mother,” She said. “Buffy is asleep right now.”
“Oh, yes, well, I’m from the Mayor’s office and I wanted her to know that the charges have been dropped,” he said wringing his hands as he glanced over the bent and beaten kids in the room. “A-also the Mayor would like your daughter and her friends at a meeting tomorrow morning about the situation.”
“Why would he want high school students at a meeting?”
“A-are you aware that your daughter is the Slayer?”
‘Only in the past two days,’ Joyce though with an edge of annoyance to her voice. “Yes, I am aware.”
“W-well, the mayor is holding a conference on the subject at City Hall tomorrow,” he said.
“Then we’ll be there,” replied Joyce.
“Oh, but you aren’t invited-“
“Now you listen here, I am her mother and I don’t care what the mayor says, where my daughter goes, I go,” Joyce said, cutting him off. “And that goes for her friends as well.”
“Oh,” the man said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. “I guess I’ll tell the mayor that you are coming.”