Bug Bites:- Chapter One
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
Dawn was loitering outside the classroom. She'd gotten there early, he'd been late. She'd tied to catch his eye during class and all he'd done was look at the blackboard taking notes. He'd been avoiding her.
At first Dawn had thought she was just being paranoid. That it was just bad luck that Marcus had left just at that moment, or that he wasn't in, or that he hadn't left a message anywhere or got any of hers.
The idea that he was the dimensional twin of some guy that had been turned into a demon, hell bent on taking over the world and transforming all the little people on it into mindless slaves, was a little big for him. She got that and given him a few days, two and a bit, before her paranoia got to her and she needed to talk.
She wasn't going to admit something so stupid as never feeling this way, but she honestly didn't know what to do. Give her a book she hadn't read or a sword to swing and she'd know exactly how to act. Give her a boy she might, possibly, maybe, if she had time for that sort of thing, on the outside chance, like and she was lost.
"Marcus! Hey." She ambushed him as he came out. "How's things?" she asked, suddenly feeling like a bumbling child. All the bravado and the million things she wanted to say vanishing.
"D… Dawn." He said, staggering back. "Were you waiting for me?"
"Yes, yes I was." she admitted almost defiantly. "I… I think…"
"That we need to talk?" Marcus prompted and Dawn could only nod. He looked back into the empty classroom. "Me too."
Inside the classroom the two of them looked at each other for an uncomfortably long time. Eventually Dawn broke the silence. "I thought you might need some time."
"I did." He looked at her shoes. "I still do. You see I can't, can't fit it all in my head at once. You're so fantastic, I mean every night you save the world."
"Not every night, that's more my sister." Dawn mumbled, but he carried on.
"I mean you fight… You're…" Marcus stumbled over the words. "You're a superhero, what do you see in me?"
Dawn didn't know what to say.
"You're this brilliant, beautiful woman with a great sense of humour and you actually want to spend time me. I knew it was too good to be true, now I find out you're also this ass kicking super heroine. You're this perfect woman and I'm just a shrub."
"I'm not perfect!" Dawn admitted, hating the note in her voice, "I'm useless, worse than. When I was in high school all I ever did was get in trouble and kidnapped every other week…"
"Dawn, I know you. I've seen you fight and I've seen how the others look up to you. I could never be that great, you deserve someone who's your equal. That's not me, no matter how hard I try."
Dawn was horrified, he believed what he was saying. "You don't have to try, don't you get it. This whole thing, I didn't ask for it, I don't even want it!" She pulled out her morpher. "Don't you get it? This thing, this whole thing isn't me! I'm person that loved hanging out, watching Blackadder and scromphing down chips with you. That's me, not the green suited hero person you saw."
"That's just it Dawn, you are. You can lie and pretend to yourself, but I can see it. You are amazing and I can't help but think one day you'll open your eyes and see that theres someone else. Someone better for you."
Dawn didn't know what to say about that. She knew he was wrong, really wrong, but she couldn't think how to convince him. "So I'm going to fall on my sword." he said. "I don't want you wasting your time on someone like me and missing the right guy."
"Wasting my time?" Dawn repeated, blinking. "I'm wasting my time?"
"You need someone better, braver, stronger. Someone you can rely on and not panic at the sight of what you do everyday. I love you Dawn, and that's why I know you're far more important than to waste your time on me."
"And thats it, he just dumped you like that?" Cassie asked her roommate. It was like someone had taken her best friend an replaced them with a hollow copy of her. Dawn was usually full of life, just the right side of sanity. She lived life to the full, even after all she had seen. It was one of the things she most admired about her.
Now she had a haunted look in her eye, like she had lost something important but couldn't quite figure out what.
"You think he's right?" Sari asked, she sounded curious more than anything else. Cassie was going to call her on it, before remembering she was only eight years old and a robot. Having someone cut someone's heart out wasn't something she'd experienced.
They were, as usual, at the Coffee Shop. Dawn drowning her woes in the finest Hot Chocolate and the rest of the Rangers were trying to help her. Cassie hadn't been surprised that Marcus had freaked but she didn't think it would have derailed Dawn quite as much as it did. She liked him, he liked her, but it never occurred to Cassie that it was that much.
Faith sat down and gave Dawn a supporting grin. "Come on Dee, was he worth it, really?"
Dawn gave her a long look. "You think anyone is. I mean who could take it, the truth I mean. The whole demons are real thing can be a bit of a blow, add our little pastime and we're looking at a very small list."
"Vampires included." Faith laughed. "The last thing you want is to be a mini-Buffy."
"That's what Spike called me." She said sadly.
"Then he was wrong." Faith said carefully. "Bee's stuck up, never admits it when she's wrong and thinks the world revolves around her. You're nothing like that."
Faith gave her a serious look. "Yes, yes I am. Dawn you're not going to end up like her."
"What? Alone with a string of heartbreaks behind me. I'm already making a good start."
Faith rolled her eyes. "Dawn, come on. Let's be serious here. How else could this go? I mean let's put this in perspective; in about five years can you still see the two of you together?"
"This coming from you?" Dawn asked, suddenly snapping at her old friend.
"I mean it Dee. I've slept around, done things that's probably illegal in some states."
"Thats a given." Dawn said sarcastically.
Faith gave her a withering look. "With boys Dee. With boys." Cassie didn't want to think about what that meant. "Point is you're not me. For you it's going to have to be the real thing. You deserve it. The whole picket fence, reliable job, school run with the boys sort of thing."
"What are you talking about?"
"A normal life, I'm not going to have one. I don't think Bee's going to have one either. You should, after all you've been through it's something you deserve."
Dawn stopped, for a moment she was almost totally still. There was a brief flicker of something, before she stood up. "I have to go, I'll see you guys later."
"Dawn?" Cassie asked, if anything this was even less like Dawn than before.
"Bye," she waved absently and left.
"What was that about?" Cassie asked, not liking what she had seen.
Faith frowned at the closing door, "I'm not sure." she admitted. "I think I touched a nerve. Who'd have thought she was so sensitive?"
Cassie knew it was more than that, a lot more. There was something Dawn wasn't telling them and some how it scared her.
Jack looked up from his desk and saw Walter at his door. For the head of Homeworld security he had a much bigger office, back at the SGC.
For a terrible moment he realised he missed an office. He, Jack O'Neill, a man who at least four of his superiors insisted he'd never get past captain, missed an office. "What is it Walter?"
"Sir, the background check you had us do on Cassandra's friends, some er… interesting things have come up."
Jack had asked for a check as soon as he had gotten back from Amethyst. He wanted to know what, and who, little Cassie was hanging around with. He owed it to the old doc. "Interesting?" he said, not liking the word.
"Well one of them has lead an interesting life. Dawn Summers was born in LA, her family moved to Sunnydale where her mother died. She lived with her sister after that, numerous warnings for truancy that almost had her taken into care but she got her act together. She was among the last to leave the town before it sank it to a sinkhole about three years ago. Her sister is currently travelling in Europe, working for the same London based company that's paying for Miss Summers tuition."
"Sounds like she's got it all planned and ready." He said remembering the confident young woman he'd met. "The others? Sari something and Faith… something else?"
Walter looked uncomfortable. "There is no record of a Sari Sumdac, or even a family named Sumdac in the United States."
"No record?" he asked, a sudden sinking feeling.
That was something he was going to have to check up on, he hadn't accepted the idea that she was a robot at first. Now he was going to have to think about it. "And the last one?"
"Faith Lehane, she's a problem. We found two sets of official records for her. One an archive copy and a public record that's been extensively altered." Walter handed over two files one very much thicker than the other.
"Altered?" he said, not liking the sound of that one bit. Years of practice meant he could flick through files and get the gist. In the first, smaller, file Lehane was a resourceful young woman that had grown up in a bad part of Boston. A few thefts, the sort of thing someone would need to survive, but nothing serious. Once she moved to Sunnydale she began to get her life on track. A few jobs here and there and that was about it. There was a suspicious gap of about four years where very little seemed to happen.
Then he opened the other file, five seconds later he cursed and looked up. "Someone tried to cover this up!" he exclaimed. "How?"
Walter seemed uncomfortable. "We think the databases were hacked, whoever did it was an expert. They didn't leave any traces and removed all the records."
"How did you find this then?" Jack asked.
"The gap in her records, as we dug deeper they didn't make sense. Fortunately there was a offline backup of the federal database we had access to. Specifically for this eventuality. On a hunch we checked it."
"Good work." Jack thought for a moment. "Book me a flight out to Amethyst. Summers had to know about this, I want to know why she's sheltering a violent murderer."
A'Zores knelt before the Orb. "You have failed me. You are not the first." The Warlord announced gravely across the realities. "Perhaps it is time I took to the field myself."
"Warlord?" He gasped.
"There appears to be no other option. Two of my best have already failed me. Prepare for my arrival."
A'Zores bowed his head and the image faded. That was all he needed, the Warlord himself. Here. A'Zores was just beginning to enjoy himself and now he was going to have to be very careful. Pure bloods had no sense of humour.
It was then that one of his warriors interrupted him. "This better be good." A'Zores warned.
It began chattering and A'Zores frowned. The word "Attack" as well as "Human" repeated a few times. No one would be foolish enough to launch an attack without his say so.
"Tretrax." A'Zores growled, that was just what he needed. But the Warrior shook it's head. "An attack, here?" A'Zores said disbelievingly. Who could be that stupid? More importantly who could know where his encampment was?
Grabbing his sword stick the General dashed from his makeshift hall and ran to where he saw his warriors gathered. At least a dozen lay dead on the ground, the rest were surrounding a young man they were struggling to hold. "A human?" He asked, stunned at what he was seeing. The Rangers were human, in theory, but they had a strange assortment of powers he was only just beginning to learn.
The human boy wasn't one of them though. He wasn't in a costume, in fact he looked sort of floppy. A long fringe and a sulky expression. Like some overgrown kid. He had dusty battered jeans and a well worn, dull brown, jacket. "Who are you?" A'Zores asked, prodding him with the stick.
"Have your goons let me go and I'll show you." The boy demanded, struggling. It was taking two warriors on each arm and a whole pile of them around his legs to hold him in place. Even if he wasn't a Ranger he was powerful.
"You show promise." A'Zores admitted. "I wonder…" The first strands of a plan forming in his mind. "… what if you were to work for me?"
"Never!" the boy shouted.
"It's not like you'll have much of a choice." A'Zores told him as he blasted him with a low powered lightning bolt, knocking him cold. "In fact none of you will."
Faith was left to lock up the Shop. She didn't really mind, aside from A'Zores and his goon squad Amethyst was pretty quiet when it came to demons but being a Slayer made her more of a night owl than most.
She'd locked down the front and was coming out of the back when she heard something. Whipping around, back up stake in her hand, she looked for whatever caused the noise. For a moment there was nothing then a cat gave a sudden hiss and darted from under a dumpster.
"Go home little one." Faith said to it as it ran away. Slipping the stake back in it's holster at the small of her back she finished locking the door and went the other way. Only to stop as a large hooded figure stepped out of the shadows. "Oh great." Faith sighed. "What is it this time? A demon that spits green slime or did you guy's go for something original and try for the purple?"
The demon threw back it's hood and Faith stumbled back with a curse. "Slayer!" It laughed. "Good to see you again."
"Tretrax." She hissed, remembering how strong he was last time she tangled with him. "Thought you were gone for good."
"Not gone. Preparing." He announced, standing straight and puffing out his chest, he looked even stronger than before. "But I still need more time."
Fumbling with her morpher and stake Faith kept backing away. "You think I'm going to give you that? Think again." Just dropping the stake she pulled out the ancient device. "It's morph… ahhh!"
Suddenly there was something on her back, and an intense pain in her neck, like someone shoving two knitting needles into her. Screaming in shock and she tried to reach back and pull what ever it was off.
As she tried it gripped harder, dropping Faith to her knees. Tretrax laughed as it became harder to move. She could feel something cold spreading from the bite and all her strength bleeding away. "What…? What did you…?" she hissed between clenched teeth before collapsing.
"Cassie, are you awake?" Dawn asked. She was, mostly because her roommate hadn't slept a wink all night. The almost audible sound of gears turning in the Green Rangers head had kept her up. Something had been eating into her all day and Cassie had a horrible feeling she knew what.
"Oh," she sounded distant, almost if she was only half listening. "Can you be?"
"I was joking."
Cassie rolled her eyes and looked over, Dawn had both hands behind her head and was staring at the roof. "Alright, you've been a zombie ever since the Coffee Shop this afternoon. What is it?"
"It's what Faith said. About a future with a picket fence and a dog."
Cassie laughed, remembering the silly law Jack had told her as a child. "I don't think she said anything about a dog."
"Well I've been thinking about it." Dawn said in a hollow voice. "A little dog, a silly SUV the size of this room, a nice house and having the Jones's over for dinner. A normal life, or what I think a normal life might be without demons, vampires and the like making it a mess."
"You'd go crazy in a week." Cassie told her. "You're not built for that sort of world."
"But I need it." Dawn admitted, an obscure pain in her voice. "I never thought about it, I never thought about trying to be normal, I always thought this was my life you know. Demons, monsters under the bed or in the cupboard."
"Are there really monsters in the cupboard?" Cassie asked trying to change the subject.
"Sock gnomes. They steal peoples socks."
"That true?" Cassie asked, half scared it would be.
"That's just it, I don't want to know about sock gnomes, or tooth fairies, or the fact santa's real!" she exploded. "I just want a normal life, a nine to five job and maybe a home."
"Santa's real?" Cassie repeated, not quite sure what to make of the bizarre twists the conversation was taking.
Dawn let out a sigh, "Yes. Well he usually comes down your chimney and eats children, but the whole flying reindeer thing is legit."
Just like many of her conversations with Dawn Cassie found he sense of the impossible spiralling. "What about the easter bunny?" she asked curious.
"Bakes people in giant chocolate easter eggs."
Dawn chuckled "No I made that one up, now stop trying to change the subject."
"Sorry." Cassie said, caught out. "So this normal life. You really want it."
"I need it." Dawn said plaintively. "All I've ever known has been this world, all this madness. I came to college to get away from it all. Find out who I was without Buffy looking over my shoulder."
"And now you don't like who you're becoming?" Cassie asked.
For a long moment she was silent. "I don't like who I'm making other people. All you ever wanted to be was a doctor Cassie. Look what I've done to you, to Sari…"
"And the fact I wasn't born on this planet has nothing to do with it?" Cassie pointed out. "My people were lab rats for a tyrannical parasite that thought it was a god. They conducted genetic experiments on us to find out just what humans would become, and then casually killed everyone with a virus when someone found out. As far as normal goes on this planet I'm not its poster child."
Cassie powered on; "And as for Sari, half human half robot? That sounds perfectly normal. Faith's this chosen vampire Slayer, destined to kick butt Dawn, you're the most normal of all of us."
There was a strangled sob from Dawn that stopped Cassie mid rant. "What is it?" she asked.
"You wouldn't understand and I can't tell you." Dawn choked. "You're right, none of us are normal. There is no way any of us can have a normal life with those we love." Dawn's voice had a hint of steel in it and Cassie knew, without a shadow of a doubt, she was right.
"I guess we're just going to have to live with that." Cassie said, knowing what had been eating away at Dawn all day.
"I don't think we should tell Sari." Dawn said quietly. "She deserves to hope for a while."
End Chapter One