Feathers:- Chapter 1
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
"I'm really glad Cassie invited you." Jenny said. "We don't really know each other that well and you've been locked up inside that dorm room since you got here."
"Not really." Cassie shook her head. "We've been out lots of times. Mostly for coffee or the like. Mostly ends up as hot chocolate though." It had taken hours of coaxing to get Dawn to leave the room. She'd been more and more withdrawn every day recently. Unless she was in training with Cassie of Sari, then she'd been down right frightening. It was one thing to be efficient, it was another when she floored both of them in less than five seconds.
When Jenny and Michael had asked Cassie to have lunch with them she had jumped on the chance of getting Dawn out of her funk, before she killed someone. "Sure, but you know, you need to get out more. This is College Dawn, you're supposed to party 'till morning and revise at the last minute. Not spend all your time locked up in your room like some social pariah."
"Gee, thanks." Dawn muttered quietly. The four of them were at the college cafeteria. While three of them were talking and eating as normal Dawn was just pushing her pasta around on her plate.
Jenny winced "I didn't mean it like that. We just don't know anything about you, no one really does."
Dawn shrugged back, "What do you want to know?"
"Anything." she insisted.
"Born in Hemmy, outside LA. Family moved to Sunnydale, got out just before the hole place fell into a sink hole. Spent a few months traveling with my sister before coming here. My favourite colour is dark green and I like Python." The Green Ranger shrugged. "I guess that's me in a nutshell."
"Pythons?" Jenny blanched.
Dawn rolled her eyes, showing some sign of life. More than she had all week. "Monty Python."
Cassie had spent enough time with Dawn, and her collection, to know what she was talking about. "Monty Python, its this old group of british comedians. They can be kinda funny."
"British? You said you were from LA?" Michael asked
She shrugged. "My sister was part of this group, they hung out at their high school library. When I was a kid I was always sneaking, around getting underfoot. The Librarian, an Englishman called Giles, put it on to distract me. I guess I got hooked."
"Sounds like you're whole family needed to get out more." Jenny said. She wasn't trying to insult her. Just break Dawn out of her shell, she didn't know why Dawn hid so much of herself. With all the crap, as Uncle Jack put it, she'd been through it wasn't surprising. "I didn't mean it that way."
Dawn shrugged again, Cassie almost wanted her to take it badly. At least then she'd be upset rather than sort of noncommittal. "We got out lots. Nearly every night we were out somewhere, this night club called the Bronze, the cemeteries. Spike had this cool crypt I'd hang out in some times."
Jenny blinked. "Crypt, as in?"
"It was empty, well when he wasn't in it. Spike was, well my sister's sort of boyfriend."
"That lived in a crypt?"
"No one else was using it." She explained then looked at the door, with a deer in the headlights expression.
Cassie caught a glimpse. It was Marcus, he'd noticed Dawn too and quickly left. For a terrible moment Dawn sat there before mumbling an excuse and leaving.
"Okay, what was that?" Jenny asked. "It felt like some just opened the freezer door."
Cassie winced. "It was Marcus, she, they…"
"Bad brake?" Michael asked
"That explains some things."
"It's not like that," Cassie said. "It's kinda complicated. Marcus got scared, I guess. Told her he didn't think he was good enough for her and she'd find someone else…"
"That sounds like total BS." Jenny scoffed.
Michael shook his head, "He's scared, terrified. He must really like her."
"And she likes him, their both just too scared to do anything about it." Cassie said with sudden insight. Dawn was scared, scared he was right and just as scared he wasn't and she never would find anyone.
Given the crazy life of the Green Ranger meeting a nice, funny guy was just what she needed. "I'll catch up with you guys later. Got to talk to someone."
Cassie grabbed her bag and chased after the boy. "Hey, Marcus. wait up!" she called as she caught up with him.
"Cassie, I've got to…" he started a lame excuse but she didn't let him. Pulling the boy out of the hall and into the Quad outside.
"I just gotta know, what you said to Dawn. Did you really mean it?"
He looked at her for a long moment before answering. "I love Dawn, she's beautiful, strong, funny, smart. I'm just, just some average joe that likes Python."
Cassie tried not to grin. The two of them described themselves so alike it was funny.
"I mean, one day she was going to realise it and that would kill me."
"So you did it first, tore her heart out." She accused.
"No!" he exploded. "It's not like that. I couldn't, I wouldn't ever hurt Dawn. The… She's… I don't want her to miss the right guy because she's slumming it with me."
Cassie gaped at him. "You did. You do. By the Ancients, what kind of moron are you?" She eventually said, stunned. "Who's to say anyone else will come by? Somehow Dawn cares for you, given your brain donor idea I can't see why. Now I get that you're freaked, I mean finding out, everything I guess."
"You mean the whole Demon dimensional twin thing?"
"For instance." Cassie suddenly realised just how insane it all sounded, especially to him. That Marcus hadn't ran screaming in the opposite direction was a much needed plus for the young man. "This is probably difficult for you. Dawn grew up with this stuff, you've only had a few weeks to get over it."
"What about you?" He asked. "You were raised with this sort of thing, weren't you?"
Cassie actually laughed. "No such luck. I only found out the whole demon stuff when she started here. Let's just say I'm more used to surprises than you are. Same for the others. I mean, for you, the world was this nice I guess kinda complex place with rules that made sense. Now it's all demons, dimensions and Rangers fighting to save it all."
He shook his head. "I can't get my head around it all sometimes."
"Nether can I. Want to know a secret, the trick is not to think about it so much." Cassie admitted. "Sooner or later Dawn comes out with something even more insane and it doesn't really matter as much anymore."
"Before long we're going to shrug off an invasion of bunnies."
Cassie laughed. "Dawn told me about a friend she had once. She was an Ex-demon, made human and was terrified of bunnies."
Marcus blinked, hard, before laughing himself. "That's her world, not mine. That's why I can't, why she can't…"
Cassie put a hand on his shoulder. "You're an idiot, you really are. You know that, right. It's the same world, you just can't see that."
"Is it, really?" he asked, a note of hope in his voice.
Cassie was about to say something, probably insightful, when a shadow passed overhead. She looked up and silently cursed.
It was a demon, but it didn't look that threatening. It was sort of like a cross between a bird, a lizard and a man. If the man had a hunch back and rainbow coloured scales. It landed on the college roof and turned to face them. Perched like a gargoyle on the edge. "Oh for crying out loud!" Cassie hissed as she pushed Marcus to one side. "What's next a demon made of apple pie?"
"Found you, found you." It squawked, drawing peoples attention. As they ran screaming Marcus stood his ground.
"What is it?" He asked.
The bird demon screeched as it stood up straight. Yanking a handful of feathers from under it's arm it threw them in one smooth move. Cassie didn't think, just reacted. Throwing Marcus out of the way with her power instead of saving herself.
The feathers flew like a swarm of darts, sticking in the ground as if they were made out of steel. Two of them hit her, they felt like red hot branding irons digging in. One in her thigh and another in her shoulder. Stumbling backwards Cassie tried to pull one out, but couldn't. They were stuck in and hurt like hell, even just to touch. "What, what did you do to me?" she asked, a sudden wave of dizziness passing over her.
The bird demon screeched again, this time in triumph, before flapping it's wings and flying off.
Dawn looked at her reflection in the mirror, trying to convince herself that she hadn't been crying. She wasn't doing a very good job about it. It was silly, it shouldn't have mattered to her. It wasn't part of her world.
Faith was wrong, she was never going to be some highflying researcher, or a stay at home mom, but she wanted, no needed something normal. A tiny sliver of what everyone else took for granted. Some small measure of hope. Without it she didn't know what she was. A costumed hero, the Key, the Slayer's sister. She was all of those, but which one was Dawn Summers.
Which one was the girl tearing up in the mirror?
There was a knock on the door. Dashing her eyes clear with the back of her hand she opened it. It was Marcus, half carrying Cassie. "Goddess, what happened?"
"There was an attack." Cassie told her, from between clenched teeth. She looked pale and very ill. "Marcus was there."
"She, she saved me." He told her as Dawn helped him get Cassie to the nearest bed.
Dawn wasn't anywhere near as good a doctor as Cassie, but she'd treated her own fair share of wounds. They were feathers of all things, dug really deep. "What the?" Dawn asked getting a good look. There were two main feathers and a handful smaller ones around both of them. They looked like they were actually growing out of her.
"It threw these feather things at us, she pushed me out of the way."
"This is because of you?" Dawn almost shouted, grabbing Marcus by the shirt. "You were too slow and she got hit saving your butt." She shook him, hard.
"No." Cassie said weakly. She was sweating now. "It, it was after me. It flew away after hitting me."
Dawn let go of Marcus and turned back to her roommate. "Flew away? So the feathers aren't just for show." She didn't look good. "I've got to get her to the Command Centre."
"Wouldn't a hospital be better?"
Dawn shot him a dark look. "Good idea, and when they have a mystical injury ward and a world class shaman on call we'll do just that. Until then why don't we leave this sort of thing to the experts. Okay?"
Marcus opened his mouth to say something, then shook his head as he looked into her eyes. "I'm sorry." He whispered.
Dawn pretended not to hear him and quickly turned away. Using her watch she called Dr Oliver. "Cassie's been hurt. I'm taking her to Command so Alpha can give her the once over." It was lucky that her first lesson was with her Archeology tutor.
He was one of the few people that would accept saving the Earth as a valid excuse for missing class.
Helping Cassie off the bed Dawn felt her shivering. Whatever was wrong it was getting worse. She looked back at Marcus, he looked like an injured puppy. It was all she could do not to hug and thank him.
Pressing the other button on her watch Dawn beamed out.
Dr Oliver was already at the Command Centre when she landed. "What are you doing here, shouldn't you be…?"
"Classes were canceled after the attack." He told her, unfolding a cot to one side of the dais of computers. "I was about to call when you told me you were coming here. Sari's on her way."
There was a column of yellow light and the techno-organic girl appeared next to them. "What in Primus happened?" She asked.
"There was an attack on the College." Dr Oliver told her.
Dawn shook her head. "It was aimed at Cassie. They wanted her, it did something." She eased her best friend into the cot. "Alpha I need you to scan these feathers. Find out what they are doing to her."
"Will do." The saucer headed robot produced a sensor, well Dawn guessed it was a sensor. It had a lot of blinking lights and some strange antenna poking out at weird angles.
Dawn knew Dr Oliver had built the Command Centre out of the wreckage of previous centres and it was never meant to be used as actual Ranger base, but the sensor was pushing it too far. Some parts were held together with duck tape of all things. "Ay ay ay!" Alpha looked at the flashing lights. "This is bad! The feathers are mutating her!"
"Mutating her?" Dawn gasped. "How?"
"I'm reading demon energy vibrations and bio residue." He explained, uselessly. "But no poisons or toxins."
Dawn looked down at Cassie, "Then it is magic, at least partly. I thought it was."
"Then you know a way to cure her?" Sari asked. "A spell, or talisman, or something."
Dawn shook her head. "I'd have to do research, we'd need to track down the demon that did it. Then find out what it's called, where it came from, if the cure is part of them or we have to go looking for it…"
"You've made your point." Dr Oliver told her. "You're the expert, where do we start?"
"Willow." Dawn said, there wasn't any other choice. "I don't like it, but she's the only one I know with the power."
Dr Oliver frowned. "Why don't you want her here?"
"Because she'll tell Buffy, then we'll never hear the end of it." Dawn shook her head.
"You're more worried about your sister finding out than saving Cassie's life!" Sari shouted
"No!" Dawn shouted back. "We need to call her, but it means a lot of problems. Buffy will bring in the rest of the Slayers, like I said before they're no match for the things we're fighting. Not alone. It'll be war."
"What is it now?" Sari asked. "A wrestling match?"
"Right now we're keeping it under control. Try doing that when we get hundreds of Slayers in town looking for a party. Tretrax, A'Zores or whoever would have to respond with everything they have." Dawn knew she was going to have to make the call, even as she argued. It wasn't going to be fun, Willow was bound to bring Kennedy.
Even if she persuaded Willow to keep quiet trying to silence her girlfriend would be next to impossible. Dawn privately detested the spoilt rich brat. She didn't have the right to comment on it but she wasn't good for Willow either. She'd kicked the bad magic, but Kennedy spoilt her rotten.
"What if there was someone else." Dr Oliver suggested. "A powerful wizard, you do the research he does the magic. Think that could work?"
"Why, you think you might know someone?"
"Zeddy, honey." Rita called out for her husband as she entered the oversized library.
"Yes, Rita my dear?" He'd been researching what he could on the Keys. He found it all fascinating. Already he learnt that there were six Guardians, possibly more, rather than the two he knew about. There was also something about the Lonely God and an eternal chess match.
There wasn't anything concrete, then again when researching anything from the Dark Times solid information was hard to come by.
"I just got what I think the humans would say was an interesting phone call."
End Chapter One