It's The Apocalypse...Why Weren't We Invited? - Prologue
Walking out of the small corner grocery, Willow felt a moment of unexplained dread. A quick glance around and a flexing of mystical muscles revealed nothing out of the ordinary, certainly nothing to warrant the sensation. Others went about their business, completely ignorant that anything was out of place. Shrugging the feeling aside, attributing it to lingering psychic impressions imbedded somewhere nearby perhaps decades earlier, Willow turned toward the nearby parking lot of the bank where she'd parked her rental.
And then the sky went black. Brilliant morning sunlight and a deep azure sky unsullied by even a hint of cloud cover simply vanished, to be replaced by a void of Nothingness. It was as if the entire Earth had been engulfed by limbo. The bag of groceries dropped from Willow's suddenly numb fingers as the previously felt dread returned, this time accompanied by a pervasive sort of hunger that the witch felt somewhere deep in her very soul. Not to be ignored was the overwhelming wave of power that swept across/through/over her.
Without having to look in a mirror, Willow knew that green eyes had been replaced by orbs of solid, soulless black and that her vibrant red hair had become a lustrous black. Well, that had been unexpected, though not so much as the plunging into darkness the world had just experienced. Mastering her emotions, chief of which was panic, or maybe blind terror, Willow couldn't be sure which, she forced her mind into comfortable channels of concentration, pushing away the dark energy she'd inadvertently absorbed. The procedure was easy. She'd had more than enough practice purging the power she drew whenever her control waned.
Xander awoke feeling quite a bit better than any time he could remember in recent memory. Sleep fell away almost instantly, leaving the young man more alert than he had any right to be, not after drinking himself to insensibility the night before. Come to think of it, he didn't feel at all like he was suffering from any of the normal effects of a hangover. Reaching over for his eye patch, no need to expose Willow to the gaping cavity that was his left eye socket, Xander came to the altogether pleasant realization that he had periphreal vision...on his left side...the part of his face that no longer had an eye.
With a yelp of suprise, he leapt from the bed, throwing aside sheet and comforter in his haste. The door to the bathroom survived his entry, though the door knob itself wasn't so lucky. Sparing no time to mourn the twisted chunk of metal crushed in his clenched fist, Xander practically flew into the room. The wall-mounted mirror of his and Willow's hotel room stood before him, throwing back an image that was not his own.
Where Xander stood, where his reflection 'should' have been, stared back an example of male perfection, and it had both eyes. The face was handsome, though Xander didn't think himself that great a judge of such matters, and what he could see of his upper body was absolutely ripped. There were muscles everywhere. Muscles! He'd never had muscles before, at least not ones that stood out for the rest of the world to see.
Xander was still reviewing his new features when the mirror reflected a swirling cloud of gray smoke forming over Willow's bed. In the space of a hearbeat, the smoke disappeared entirely, only to be replaced by the familiar form of Willow, his superpowered witch of a best friend. Absently, he wondered how she would react to his appearance.
Street and traffics lights had been working, of course, and most drivers seemed to have their wits about them, but Willow didn't particularly feel like being involved in any automobile accidents, especially when the chances of medical attention arriving with adequate speed to save her life in the event of an accident would be slim to nil. So, careful to shield herself from the drastically increased amounts of freefloating and totally Evil energy, Willow incanted the brief but powerful teleportation spell she'd learned back in her evil psycho days. The lack of disorientation was a sign of marked improvement in her overall control.
The less than comfortable mattress of Willow's bed seemed to appear beneath her, though she knew it was her that had appeared above the bed. A quick bounce followed by a childish urge to jump on the bed and she was on her feet on the firm orange carpet. She muttered a very un-Willow-like curse under her breath when she realized she'd left her groceries behind. Oh well, the spell was too taxing to use for such trivial matters.
Willow was just about to call for Xander, they needed to see if Buffy and Dawn were awake yet, when she sensed movement behind her. "Xand-"
The man standing in her bathroom was most definitely not Xander. He wore the candy cane boxers her friend had worn the night before when she and Buffy had dragged him back to their room, stripped him, and tossed his inebriated form into bed to sleep off what could only be described as a monumental drunk. It would have been all too easy to draw upon the mysterious seething energy that seemed to be everywhere and blast this intruder to atoms...Damnit, she thought angrily, once again forcing the accumulated power from her system.
Mindful of what her appearance could do to a person when she was charged, Willow used a negligible amount of her own personal energy to turn her hair and eyes black. "All right, buddy, where's Xander and what have you done with him?" With her words the witch had interlaced a subtle subliminal command. The intruder would 'want' to tell her where Xander was.
"Woah, woah, Wills, don't go over to the dark side of the force!" the man insisted in Xander's voice, causing Willow's eyes to widen. "It's me Xander! Really! I just seem to be trapped in the body of a greek god!" He was waving his arms wildly, no doubt expecting some sort of flaming destruction at any moment. Before Willow could respond to the disturbing, but strangely believable claim, the not-Xander continued,"I know, the Snoopy dance." And that clenched it. Even as he did the humiliating dance number, Willow was releasing the glamour that had twisted her features. Years earlier, he had used the same method to prove that he wasn't an evil demoic twin of himself. It looked like another tradition was taking shape.
"By the Goddess, what happened to you?" she asked in a whisper even as she clasped her friend to her in a lung collapsing hug. Lung collapsing came to mean something when Willow felt what had to be her ribs creaking within Xander's embrace. "Xander," Willow gasped,"gotta...breathe."
"Ah, yeah, about that," he said somewhat sheepishly,"I don't think I know my own strength." To confirm his observation, Xander held up what had once been a door knob and pointed with his free hand at the knobless door.
"This has got to be connected to what's happening outside," said Willow. "I don't know how, but there's gotta be a connection. I mean, it's not every day that the planet is swallowed by darkness and your best friend evolves into a supermodel." She left unsaid the massive amounts of corrupting energy permeating the air. It'd be best if her friends didn't have to worry about her going off the deep end unexpectedly.
"Hey, that's right," Xander said, turning to face the mirror,"I could be a supermodel. Just look at me, with this body...Hey, wait a sec, did you just mention that the world had been swallowed by darkness?"
Willow nodded with a small smile, unable to suppress her mirth despite the potentially dire circumstances the world may have been in. "'Fraid so. Come on, I'll show you."
Following Willow towards the curtained window, Xander asked,"I'm pretty hot now, aren't I? I mean, I know you're gay, but you can still tell, right? Whether I've got the goods?"
"Trust me, Xand, if I wasn't into girls, I'd be all over you in a second," she assured. Drawing back the curtains, Willow gestured grandly towards the utterly black sky.
"Oooh, look at all the pretty apocalypse!" Xander said with false cheer. "Well darn, look's like we missed one somewhere along the way."
"Hey, don't go jumping to conclusions!"
"Well, what else could it be?"
Willow could think of a few possibilities, but apocalypse still seemed the most likely event. She was about to make a bad joke about giant space creatures making a snack out of the Earth when a loud, urgent knock came from the door. Before either of them could respond, Buffy, with a sleep-bedraggled Dawn close on her heels, rushed into the room.
Buffy stopped short, her eyes widening at the sight of Willow's 'guest'.
Dawn was unable to stop herself from commenting,"Woah, Willow, you decided to stop playing for the home team?"
Glaring at Dawn, Willow waved them into the room and closed the door.
"I'll have you know," Willow said not quite indignantly,"that this is Xander."
"It's true. I just woke up looking like this. I'm pretty damned hot, aren't I?"
Seeing Buffy and her younger sister's incredulous expressions, Willow rolled her eyes and said,"It's really him, you guys. He'll do the Snoopy dance if you want him to."
Without being bidden, the new Xander launched into another rendition of the ridiculous dance. Buffy reacted with astonishing speed, blurring into motion as she slapped her hand over Dawn's eyes to a howl of, "Hey!"
"Xander!" Buffy growled with her head turned away.
"What?" Xander was the picture of confused innocence.
Willow coughed discreetly, drawing his attention. She could feel her cheeks reddening even as she pointed towards his boxers, his open, gaping boxers.
"Oh." The situation was quickly corrected as he got all of his bits and pieces back under cover. Xander's unclad state made it easy to see that he was undergoing a full body blush even through the golden tan of his new body.
Trying to change the subject, or at least get things moving along another track, Buffy said,"We've got to get in touch with Giles and the others. The phones are dead and my cell just keeps beeping at me. Xander, get some clothes on before Dawn goes blind. Dawn, see if there's anything on the TV about this." To Willow, the slayer asked,"Can you make with the mojo and get us in touch with Giles?"
Willow nodded and pulled Buffy aside. "I could get ahold of him, but I don't think that'd be such a great idea. Whatever's happened has turned loose so much energy, dark magic, that I'm having to almost constantly fight it off. If I opened myself up to communicate over such a long distance, it'd be like turning myself into a funnel for all that magic." She left unsaid the possible consequences of that unhappy event.
Buffy placed her hand on Willow's shoulder and nodded with understanding. "We've got to do something. Could you maybe fix a phone, like that time when we were on the run from Glory?"
"I could give it a shot, but I doubt it would work. That phone was on the grid, it just wasn't getting any service. This time I'd bet that there are so many people trying to call their families that the phone system is pretty much compltely overloaded."
"Anything you can do, Wills."
Not only did the spell prove fruitless, the phone quietly became engulfed in angry purple flames and melted into a puddle of bubbling plastic. Xander prodded the remains with a spork. "Didn't there used to be some metal in there somewhere?" The plastic of the spork began to melt without being exposed to the supernatural flame. Xander dropped the rapidly liquifying utensil and gasped as the bedside table the phone had been sitting upon also began to melt.
"My bad," said Willow with a weak grin.
"Check it out, guys." Dawn was indicating the TV, where a reporter was speaking into a microphone. "This is in New York," she informed.
"It's...incredible. Ladies and gentlemen,night has fallen in New York City in the early morning hours! Uh,I can't the sky or sun, just a solid sheet of darkness across the sky.I can't BEEPing believe it! It's not an eclipse. It's...it's the BEEPing end of the world, that's what this is! Hey, they ain't paying me enough money for this.I'm getting the BEEP outta here!"
"Well, this sucks," Xander snapped. "Not that I'm not digging the new ride, but we just got rid of the First, what two months ago?" He was wearing a pair of denim shorts and an old t-shirt that had once hung loosely on his average physique and now only served to outline his muscular new form.
"I guess this means we aren't going to Disney World afterall, huh?" Everyone looked at Dawn as if she were crazy. "Don't look at me like that. I've wanted to go all my life and just when I manage to convince someone to take me, this happens."
Inspiration struck Willow and she could almost imagine the proverbial lightbulb clicking on over her head. "Hey, Buffy, I think I've got a way to get in touch with Giles, well, Faith or one of the other slayers, but one of them will be able to act as an intermediary. The spell will have a better chance of working if we use the Scythe."
"Be right back." Buffy slipped out of the room quickly and was back moments later.
Willow had just taken the Scythe in her hands to reaquaint herself with its unique energy when the door to the hotel room was smashed off of its hinges by a huge, figure in skeletal black armor. It rushed into the room, followed closely by three others.
Author's Notes[really need to read these if you want to know what's going on] - This is a crossover with the Palladium RPG Nightbane. In it, the modern world of Earth is turned upside down on Dark Day, a 24 hour period where the planet was engulfed in absolute darkness. By the timeline of the game, this occured on March 6, 2000 at 6:02 AM, but I'm gonna fiddle with that a bit to synch it up with the BtVS timeline.
This Earth was very much like our own, and fits pretty well with the BtVS universe. Magic exists but is a largely unknown factor and demons and other creatures exist, though few known of them. Dark Day was actually the side effects of a ritual performed by the Nightlords to bring the Earth and the Nightlands[a twisted, perpetually dark analogue to Earth] closer together in order to allow for easy travel between them. The Nightlords are incredibly powerful beings who, thousands of years ago, were human sorcerers who made a pact with an evil alien intelligence known as the Dark. They would have conquerred the Earth had they not been banished to the Nightlands.
Now they're back and they've got minions like you wouldn't believe. Their avatars[a piece of a Nightlord] and more powerful minions control entire governments, of which the USA is only one. It's a bad, bad time for the human race. The Nightlords are vampiric in nature, but instead of feeding on blood prefer the life essence of their victims.
One of the few forces actively combating the invasion from the Nightlands are the Nightbane, supernatural beings who were once human. Nightbane appear to be normal humans until one day, prompted by personal danger or some other stimulus, they undergo a startling transformation, most often becoming grotesque, but powerful beings. Forever after, the Nightbane can assume this monstrous[referred to as their Morphus] form at will and just as they can return to their human form[the Facade]. The appearance of the Nightbane differs radically from one case to another, with most looking like creatures let loose from some poor fool's nightmares. Some look normal enough to pass for human in society. Xander looking like he does is possible, but highly unlikely. Call it luck. He deserves something good to happen to him, you know?
Dark Day triggered most of the latent Nightbane in the world, bringing their true nature to bare. Not a good thing for a lot of people, since the Nightlords fear few things more than they do the Nightbane. The Nightlords and their minions began a rapid and thorough extermination process designed to eliminate all Nightbane and any other supernatural being or magic user who could pose a threat.