The End Is The Beginning
: Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. Ron D Moore is responsible for this version of Battlestar Galactica
. I'm just playing with their toys for a bit.
Dawn had lost track of how long she’d been crying alone in the dark. The electric powering the portable television had gone out a while ago. It didn’t matter anyway. All that had been on the screen was static. Changing the channel didn’t help.
They were all static. There was nothing to show because there were no broadcasters left.
Frakking Cylons. That much she’d found out before the last station had gone down. It had been a retransmission of a local broadcast out of Delphi. Her home city had been in a state of complete panic, but still unharmed. It probably wasn’t anymore. Most cities on Caprica weren’t. They were gone.
This wasn’t what she’d expected. This wasn’t how she thought her new life would turn out. It wasn’t what she’d signed up for when she’d accepted the mission Powers had offered her. She had gotten hit with some wicked mojo in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’d woken up someplace she could only describe as ‘empty’ with her sister’s least favorite demon ever standing over her.---“Whistler. What in the name of all the gods do you want?”
Whistler grinned maddeningly.
“Funny you should put it like that. I’d offer you a hand up, by the way, but past experience says that wouldn’t go well.”
Dawn glared. She couldn’t argue, though. Whistler had not only her sister, but also Willow, Kennedy, and Faith to go by, plus a long-standing threat from Xander to drywall him into the nearest hell dimension if Whistler came anywhere near him.
“Spill. If you’re here, there’s a reason.”
“Right to the point, then. Make sure you pay attention, I’m only telling you this once. Some of it’s important, and if you accept, you won’t see me again until you’re done. I can’t interfere on someone else’s turf. There’s an opportunity here, kid. A big one.”
“How big?” Dawn snorted. She didn’t trust the balance demon any farther than she could throw him, and she was guessing that wasn’t very far. She didn’t have Slayer strength.
“Not quite defeating the forces of evil in this dimension permanently, but still pretty big. It’s the chance of a lifetime.”
Dawn blinked. Whistler wasn’t given to exaggeration. He might embroider a little, but that was a hell of a thing to say.
“Yeah. Your little mishap has given the Powers an opening, and they’re hoping you’ll agree to let them take it.”
“What am I agreeing to if I say yes?”
“Something along the lines of what you already do,” Whistler said.
“Right, that was highly descriptive. Care to vague it up a little more?” Dawn grumbled.
“Sorry, kid. Can’t give you a lot of details. Free will’s a huge variable, and there are some events that still need to happen after you get there for all the pieces to line up the way we need them to. There are a few parts you won’t like much, and it would be way too much of a temptation to try to prevent them if you knew what was to come.”
“Why can’t you just send me in after those events happen so I can’t screw things up?”
“We need you to feel like you’re part of that world- it’s not Earth, by the way. This way you’ll have time to get used to the culture and how things work before everything goes down. I’m not going to lie to you, kid. This is a tough one. If you don’t feel like it’s your world too, you might give up. That and if you just appear with no history, nothing to establish who you are…let’s just say it wouldn’t go well. It would put a crimp in our plans, and you’d be on the receiving end of some rather specific unpleasantness. Anyway, the Powers want you to pretty much just be yourself.”
“What if I refuse?” Dawn asked, aware deep down even as she said it that she wouldn’t. She was a Summers. She could no more walk away from saving the world than Buffy could. Even if it wasn’t really her world.
“Then you go back to where you were as soon as big sis and her witchy friend figure out how to pull you back. They know you’re not dead, so it’s only a matter of time. Could be a while though.”
At Dawn’s aggravated look, he added, “Oh, not for you. It’d only be a few days, or maybe weeks, not that time has much meaning here. But you’d probably get bored.”
Looking around, Dawn had to agree. She didn’t know where she was, but wherever- or maybe whatever- it was, it had a whole lot of nothing. No scenery, no people, no sound, no smell. Just a great big white nothingness.
“And this world you’re worried about?”
Whistler shrugged, which Dawn didn’t find a terribly reassuring response.
“Maybe they get it right on their own, maybe they don’t.”
“So it won’t make a difference to the world I live in?” Dawn asked, knowing with Whistler it paid to be specific.
“Your world will still be there either way.”
“And if I say yes to this? Do I ever get to go home again?”
“To Earth, you mean? Eventually, provided you don’t get yourself killed along the way.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes. She hadn’t dealt with Whistler before, so she only had what her sister and the other Scoobies had said to go on. As far as she knew, Whistler didn’t lie, but something told her he wasn’t being completely straight with her. She was at a loss for what else to ask to figure out what it was he wasn’t telling her, though.
Whistler beamed. She must have really been making him nervous, he was looking too relieved for this to have been a foregone conclusion.
“Knew we could count on you, kid. Chip off the old block. Both of them, come to think of it.”
“Both of them?”
“You didn’t think we’d dump you down all on your own, did you? You’ve got family where you’re going. Don’t worry, you’ll know what I mean soon. Oh, and one last thing, kid- that part about things you’d change if you knew? When it happens, remember it’s not your fault. That’s not why you’re here. Your part comes after.”
The next thing she’d known, she’d woken up in the infirmary.
“Ugh, what hit me?”
“Actually…you kind of hit you, Dawn.”
The speaker was someone she’d never seen before in her life, but her memory suddenly informed her was her best friend, Ilary Begala. And if that wasn’t just the freakiest thing- she could still remember Buffy, Mom, Sunnydale, everything, but now she also knew that she was Dawn Marie Thrace, daughter of Socrata and Dreilide, younger sister of Kara, born on Caprica two months before her parents’ divorce, currently a junior at Delphi Union High School with plans to follow family tradition and join the Fleet.
That pretty much summed up the entire situation in Dawn’s opinion. If she ever saw him again, Whistler was going to die. He’d sent her back to high school! Fortunately, the other people in the room seemed to also consider her confused reaction a valid response to her current circumstances.
“Do you remember what happened, Miss Thrace?”
Dawn remembered the person who went with this voice, too. Doctor Rence was not her favorite person in the worlds, possibly because while she wasn’t in the infirmary often, when she was it was usually due to her uncanny skill of finding innovative ways to get injured.
The doctor shook his head in mock disapproval.
“Apparently that internship opportunity in Adar’s office is all you can think about today. You were so off your pyramid game you managed to hit your head hard enough on the goal to knock yourself out.”
Dawn’s groan was heartfelt. She wasn’t nearly the player Kara was- her older sister could have tried out for the pro teams if she hadn’t decided that flying was what she really wanted to do and taken an Academy scholarship. But she was still good enough that it was beyond mortifying to have done something so stupid. Kara was going to laugh her ass off when she heard. Doctor Rence was never going to let her live this one down either. This was so much worse than the time she’d twisted her ankle tripping over a textbook.
Ilary rolled her eyes as she helped Dawn sit up.
“Maybe your head wasn’t completely in the game, but that idiot Jack Carlon doing his best C-Bucks imitation didn’t help. He frakked it up as usual and knocked you off balance. It wouldn’t have mattered if you hadn’t been already heading full speed for the goal.”
, Miss Begala!”
Ilary ignored the doctor as she handed her best friend two pain pills and a glass of water with a sympathetic look.
“He felt really badly about it. I think the rest of the team are tearing him to shreds as we speak.”
“Great,” Dawn muttered. At least it hadn’t been her reverting to her early teenage klutziness. “Remind me to kill him later. When my head doesn’t feel like someone drove a truck over it.”---
She hadn’t killed Jack. He was probably dead anyway, though. Most people she had known would be. Helice had been completely obliterated. Direct nuclear strike. Dawn adored her dad, but she wasn’t crazy enough to think that he could survive that. Gram and Pop-Pop Thrace’s place was close enough to Caprica City that the shockwave from the first detonation had probably destroyed it. Dawn wasn’t holding out any great hope for Kara. If the Cylons were attacking, Viper jock was a pretty risky occupation. Ilary…Dawn tried not to cry as she thought of her best friend. Ilary had just come home from her first year at uni. She’d have been one of the terrified people trapped in Delphi, knowing what had happened to so many other cities, waiting for whatever fate the Cylons had in store for them.
Mama had already been dead. In fact, she’d only made it another six months beyond that first day of Dawn’s life on Caprica. Cancer. She hadn’t told Dawn until she had to go to hospice. Kara hadn’t made it home in time. Dawn had been the only one there for the end. It had been hard to watch her mother die a second time. Even though she hadn’t really been there, she had a teenage lifetime’s worth of memories of the woman who was her mother in this world.
At the time, she had been upset about how much of her life and Kara’s Mama was going to miss. Now she was relieved her mother hadn’t lived to see this, or to die at the hands of her old enemy. She’d been spared that, at least.
Socrata Thrace would have been proud as punch to know that her youngest had beat the entire planet to win that coveted eighteen month internship in the President’s office. Proud, but not surprised. She’d always instilled in both her daughters her belief that they were destined for great things.
She might have been less pleased that Dawn had to defer taking up her place in the Colonial Fleet Academy for two years, instead of just one. The Academy refused to let a cadet join midway through the academic year, no matter what the reason. Rules were rules. The Fleet didn’t make exceptions. Ironic, really- if they hadn’t been so rigid about it, Dawn would have been on Picon when the Academy was obliterated along with Fleet Headquarters in the first wave of the attack.
Instead, she had been driving back from a day at the beach, taking the scenic route. She’d been about halfway between Caprica Beach and Caprica City when her back right tire had gone flat. She’d cursed her luck- she was in a wireless dead zone in the Abraxan hills. There was nothing for it but walking to the nearest settlement.
It was sheerest chance that she was passing a railroad tunnel when she saw the first flash behind the hills- likely the one that had taken out Caprica City and her apartment, job, boss, and most of her friends with it. Then again, it could also have been Salonica. It didn’t really matter which one. In the end, it was just one flash among many that day. Too many.
Dawn had stood stupidly watching the horizon for a few minutes, as the cloud that heralded the end of the worlds rose into the sky with painful grace. Then she’d had a bizarre and completely inappropriate fit of the giggles, because the first thing that popped into her head was that this was nothing like the song and she didn’t feel fine.
Actually, she was pretty much the opposite of fine. She was freaking out. Nothing in her Scooby experience had prepared her for an apocalypse that had nothing to do with demons, vampires, or magic. This was just good old fashioned nuclear weapons and an enemy angry enough to use them. And there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.
Some part of her brain that hadn’t completely shut down- a part that had grown up on Caprica and remembered learning about the Cylon War and the school lessons on what to do in case of nuclear attack- recalled that by law there were fallout shelters in all railroad tunnels longer than one kilometer. Legislators had seen it as a sensible way to provide shelter space in remote areas. This tunnel, one of many on the rail line that cut through the rocky hills between Caprica City and the seaside resorts in and around Caprica Beach, was three klicks.
She’d stumbled through the tunnel until she’d found what she was looking for- the opening with the faint yellow glow just inside, coming from the universal sign for safe shelter. She’d pulled the outer door shut behind her, ruthlessly suppressing the guilty thought that doing so might condemn anyone else who came this way in search of sanctuary. She checked the decontam shower was operational before she walked through the inner door and shut that as well.
The next two hours had been spent watching the portable TV. It must have been hooked into the railroad network and power. It told her what was going on, until one by one the channels all turned to static. The first time it had happened, as Naxos was destroyed, she’d actually screamed. As more and more channels went out, she’d grown numb to it.
She realized that this must have been one of those things Whistler had been talking about not changing. She’d cursed Whistler, the Powers, the gods, and anything else that could allow hundreds of millions if not billions to die without lifting a finger to stop it. But even the anger couldn’t hold tears at bay. Then the power had gone out. She knew there would be an emergency generator in the shelter someplace. She just couldn’t bring herself to care enough to move.
So much for fighting the good fight.---
Starbuck rested her head against her locker. Gods, everything was frakked up. And to think this morning she’d been pissed about getting herself thrown in hack again.
She couldn’t believe she’d stuck her foot in it like that, shooting her mouth off about killing Prosna. She would never have said it if she’d known. She hoped the Chief understood. She couldn’t have known they’d lost Prosna. And they’d lost so godsdamned many
Half the pilots in that morning briefing she’d missed, for a start. Anyone who had gone out in one of the newer model Vipers wasn’t coming back. They didn’t know exactly what the Cylons had done, but only the older models seemed to be safe. Helo and Sharon were missing along with their Raptor. Lee was dead. And Dawn…
Kara strangled a sob. Her beautiful, smart, talented little sister, who was finishing a prestigious internship in the President’s office and looking forward to a brilliant career in the Fleet. The one who despite having occasional moments of klutziness was emphatically not a frak-up. Dawnie lived in Caprica City. Had lived.
Past tense now. Caprica City no longer existed.
She opened her locker and retrieved a small bundle. Unwrapping it carefully, she pulled out two of her most precious possessions. Artemis and Athena. Goddesses of the hunt and wisdom. She’d been consecrated to them. Mama had often remarked in exasperation that Athena had evidently bestowed all her gifts on Dawn.
“Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer. Take the souls of your sons and daughters lost this day, especially those of Lee Adama and Dawn Thrace, into your hands.“
It wasn’t quite right. She only had figures of her own goddesses. She should have had others. Lee and Dawn deserved to have prayers for them offered to the gods they’d been dedicated to. But she didn’t have any idea who left on board might have figures of Apollo or Aurora, and she wasn’t about to start asking.
Even if it would give her something to do to keep from thinking. Keep her from worrying about how her sister had died, if she had been one of the lucky ones who hadn’t seen it coming and gone in an instant, or if her last minutes had been filled with fear and pain. Keep her from feeling guilty for having failed in the one thing she had never let her parents down in: protecting her little sister. She had always looked out for Dawnie. Always. Until today.
She carefully wrapped and replaced the cherished figures in her locker before she flung herself into her rack and pulled the curtain shut as tight as it would go. Nobody on Galactica
was going to see her cry.