Family Part III, Chapter Three
POWER RANGERS :- Demon Wars
A'Zores watched as Sormeghe walked up to him. "Still waiting for your ship?" The Rogue asked sweetly as she bisected a rat with her fingernails, eating its raw organs one at a time.
"It's on it's way. My first mate ran into some turbulence between the dimensions and has to reset the rigging." The Pirate Demon captain told them.
The grin the Rogue gave was predatory, full of teeth and little mirth. "Of course they do." she said sarcastically.
A'Zores waved a finger. "Ah, my dear. Don't be so skeptical. I've seen his ship, it is very impressive."
"Thank you." Sormeghe tilted his head, but when he looked up there was a calculating look in his eye. "I was wondering, were you going to mount an attack or just wait for me to fail?"
"Who says I expect you to fail?" A'Zores felt a smile tug at the corner of his mouth.
"I expect to fail." Sormeghe said savagely. "My ship is, as you said, impressive but no match for the Ranger's fighting machines on it's own."
"You're selling yourself short my friend." A'Zores supported him. "Your ship could damage one of them significantly. Enough for my plan to work."
"So you did plan to let me die?" He accused him flat out.
A'Zores shrugged "We both know you'd all stab me in the back the first chance you get. I just let you all take the lead."
"And the bitch?" Sormeghe asked pointedly as the Rogue picked the Rat's brain off her fingernail.
Cleaning her teeth with her tongue she shrugged, matching A'Zores gesture perfectly. "I don't care about leadership, as long as I get to kill and then bath in the blood of virgins I'm happy."
"How can I say no to that?" A'Zores grinned. Sormeghe however looked thoughtful.
"How much do you know about my joining the Warlords forces?" he asked after a moment of twirling a mustachio around his hook. He didn't wait for an answer. "I'll tell you. I'd heard rumours across the dimensions that he was coming. Those that had escaped were hunted down. It was inevitable, as far or fast as I could sail I knew that sooner or later The Warlord's forces would overtake. Eventually there wouldn't be anywhere to go."
A'Zores saw where he was going with this. "So rather than get squashed you joined forces."
"It seemed best at the time." Sormeghe shrugged. "As it does now."
"Opportunistic." The Rogue sneered.
"Like you're any different?" the Pirate snapped back.
A'Zores held his gauntleted hand up, stopping the argument. "That's enough. You're a pirate, let me asks you a question; if it came to an empire or plunder which would you chose?"
"I don't understand?" he asked back.
A'Zores headed to his crude throne and sat down, playing with his sword stick. "I am a warrior. I live for the fight and the thrill of the challenge. The Rogue here is happy as long as she gets to wade hip deep in various bodily fluids, so what about you. What would you rather do. Rule or pillage?"
The blade built into his hook sprang forth. "It's a pirate's life for me, my lord." He grinned. "Give me a tall star and an open sky and I'll sail for you as soon as anyone else."
A'Zores grinned the final piece slotting into place. "Perfect! Now, contact your first mate. Tell them to take their time."
"What?" Both Sormeghe and the Rogue asked at the same time, but the Rogue suddenly looked slyly at him. "What else have you set in motion?" She asked eyes shining.
A'Zores grinned as he sat back. "Let's just say I've not been idle, it won't be long now before everything is in place."
"So where's Cassie?" Buffy asked her sister as they made it back to her dorm.
"Still with Jenny and Michael, I think she's planning a big party for them. Probably drag me into it sooner or later." Dawn said with a shrug.
"I know the feeling." Buffy said as she sat down on the corner of Dawn's bed. "You ever think of kids?"
Buffy shrugged. "Yeah, I mean think about it. Kids. Put all this Slayer and Ranger stuff behind you and raise a family?"
Dawn blinked at her rapidly. "Alright who the hell are you?"
"It's still me Dawnie." Buffy rolled her eyes at the cliché. "You're friends just got me thinking. I mean there not that much older than you..."
"Same age." Dawn interrupted but Buffy just carried on regardless.
"… and they've got their lives ahead of them and now this. It changes everything doesn't it?"
Dawn sat down on the chair at her desk. "Well go on, lets see where you're going with this."
"I'm not going anywhere Dawn. I'm just saying it makes you think, doesn't it?"
"I guess." She shrugged. "I mean I think it's pretty cool and all. Ther're both in classes with Cassie, so she knows them better than I do. They might work together. If Michael stands up to her once in a while and Jenny realises not everything's about her."
Buffy let out a short laugh. "That's blunt enough. So speaking of that…"
"Here we go."
"…You and Marky. You were careful the other night, right?"
Buffy saw Dawn set her shoulders. "Marcus, and you just segue-way into that? You are totally shameless, you know that right." She took a deep breath. "No, if you must know we weren't."
"It's not like we planned it: Five o'clock, a nice meal. Six a few episodes of Blackadder. Half eight wild fun time." Dawn waved her arms in the air. "It just sort of happened."
"Just happened?" Buffy echoed in disbelief. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "What he tripped and fell on you? God Dawn, were you drunk?"
Dawn burst out laughing. "After that last time, are you kidding?" Back in Rome, before she had run off to college, Dawn had gone out drinking with a few Slayers. Buffy remembered finding her sister learning the hard way of some of the more unpleasant side effects in the bathroom.
After that her little sister had sworn off drinking, especially after Buffy waking her up, banging a wooden spoon against a pot. "Then what was it?" She asked, hoping for an honest answer.
Dawn stood up and looked out the window. "Alright, we'd had a close call, okay? Connor almost died and, well I thought things were going to get bad."
Buffy felt a shiver up her spine. Bad in her world usually meant dead. "You still think that?"
She nodded. "We're near the end now, I can feel it. For A'Zores it's do or die time and we might not all survive what he's got coming next."
Buffy sighed, and nodded. "You just wanted to know, and feel, what it was like." It was just like her time with Angel. The difference being she had been facing a giant blue demon that could kill with a touch. "Dawn, I get that. I do, but was it a good idea?"
Dawn burst out in to a smile. "Oh yes. I'm sure."
"It's just I worry about you Dawnie. I wanted you to have a normal life, any sort of normal life. I let you go to find one and you become a Power Ranger, about as far from normal as you can get. Then I find you're dating average joe. Are you sure you know what you're doing with this boy?"
"What's me being a Ranger got to do with Marcus?" Dawn asked.
"Everything, he's not cutout for this sort of thing. Even if he does have a stupid name. He's way below your league."
Dawn shook her head. "You don't know him."
Buffy disagreed. "He's a sweet kid and his heart's in the right place I guess, but I just don't think that's enough. Sooner or later you'll see that there are better guys out there and when you do you're just going to end up hurting this boy and maybe yourself. If you don't you might miss the right guy because you're looking the wrong way."
"You're wrong." Dawn shook her head. "Dead wrong."
"Am I?" Buffy asked pointedly.
"Yes." Dawn snapped. "You might want this white picket fence life for me, but that's not who either of us is and I'm not pretending…"
"That's just it." Buffy stood up. "Marcus is that guy, that nine to five suburban dream guy. Alright so he likes swords, that doesn't make him a hero."
As Buffy thought she had made her point Dawn began laughing. "Hero? Alright fine you want to know who Marcus is, who he could be?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Nothing, everything. You know these demons, this whole end of the world thing, do yo want to know what this is about?"
"What's this got to do with your boyfriend?"
"Everything. You see this whole demon invasion thing isn't you're regular suck the world into hell plan. It's way more than that. It's about turning this world into hell."
"What's the difference?" Buffy asked.
"A lot." Dawn took a deep breath. "Look what happens is these guys swoop in and invade. First it's all quiet until they get a foothold, then everything hits the fan and they summon their castles. These great big fortress like things full of Demon Warriors and a Dark Crystal."
Buffy saw Dawn shudder. "Alight I'll bite, what's a Dark Crystal."
"It's a magic crystal, if you're exposed to it, well that's were all the Warriors come from. People, kidnapped, stolen or just picked up from the street. You just have to look at it and the Crystal strips away all humanity." Buffy felt a shiver running up her spine.
"They want to turn us all into demons?"
"Yep, and when they've taken over one earth they start all over again on the next one. And the one after that and the one after that." Dawn stared into Buffy's eyes and she knew her sister was deadly serious. "Time and time again they've done this. The world without shrimp. Gone. The world where everything's candy and puppies lick your toes? Gone."
"Alright! I get it! still don't see what this has to do with your boyfriend but I get it."
"Well that's the cool thing. There's a you in most of those places too. Other Buffys, Willows and Cassies. Even other Marcuss."
"Hang on you're saying that there are other versions of your boyfriend out there and what? He leads another Ranger team fighting the good fight?" Buffy couldn't believe that.
"Nice idea, but no." Dawn shook her head. "The other Marcus, he got converted."
"Oh please, don't tell me."
Dawn grinned evilly. "A'Zores. My boyfriend in a parallel reality became the same guy that wants to end the world."
Tommy rested his sword against the controls and looked around. Alpha wasn't anywhere to be seen. The former Ranger wasn't sure if that was a good thing or bad. On one hand he didn't have to explain what he was doing but on the other it felt like he was sneaking around behind the other's backs.
Selecting the Viewing Globe's tracking function Tommy began to scroll through the villains database. Looking for a specific signature, one he knew all to well. He didn't have the experience Alpha had with the technology so it wasn't as easy as he thought it could have been.
The list was huge, Rito, Hammerstine, Pumpkin Jack. All of the old foes, listed here with their powers weakness's and a little history. This was what the Ranger active was originally supposed to save and it was never supposed to be used in this way. The cold deliberate murder of a bother living creature.
Most of the monsters Zedd, Rita and who knew who else built were never alive. Just animated by magic or some arcane science. All they did as Rangers was destroy that evil force, letting whatever it was return to it's original form. Dawn and her team were walking a fine line by out right killing the demons. With no possible cure for the full conversion and the threat of other casualties they didn't have a choice.
The same as Tommy didn't have a choice. Goldar was too dangerous, coming back time and time again. The former Ranger had hoped that he'd seen the last of his foe after the Z-wave, now he needed to be sure.
The Viewing Globe resolved into static before suddenly showing Goldar, the armoured blue skinned monkey was stalking through the desert. After a moment the image zoomed out to show him slowly making his way to the Command Centre. Tommy nodded. 'Well, looks like we had the same idea.' He said to himself as he picked up his sword. "Alright then Goldar. if that's the way you want it I'm not going to disappoint."
"You're dating the bad guy?" Buffy almost shrieked.
Dawn shook her head, she was getting very, very tired of Buffy's over protective streak. It was kinda sweet that she was worried, but if she would just listen it would be so much easier. "No, the bad guy just happens to be the dimensional twin of my boyfriend. Big difference."
The Slayer obviously couldn't believe what her sister was telling her. "Didn't you figure anything out after what happened with Angel? Dating a good version of the bad guy never works. God Dawn it's such a cliché!"
"I fight demons dressed in a green and gold body suit, and now you notice a cliché?" Dawn smirked.
"That's not the point and you know it." Buffy threw her hands in the air and grunted, making Dawn wonder just when this whole argument became so childish. "How is this supposed to make me feel any better?"
The Green Ranger pinched her nose and bit back a sigh. "You're supposed to realise that he's got that inside him. If he can do that what else can he do?"
"Kill you?" Buffy snapped
"So missing the point." Dawn rolled her eyes. "Your whole argument against Marcus was that I'm too good for him, right?"
"I wouldn't put it that way, but yes. What if you are?"
"But I'm not!" Dawn said, cringing at the high note in her voice. "He's just never had a chance to prove it. Not until I came along. It's like Xander, look at him now and think how he was back when you first met him. Hell think how I was back when the monks first made me, nose in a diary complaining how life was so unfair. Marcus just needs a chance to show who he is."
"He shouldn't have to be that Dawn." Buffy tried to make her point, but Dawn could tell she was getting somewhere.
"No one should have to be anything Buffy, we all have choices. They might not be easy ones and they might not be good, but we all have them."
Buffy glared at her on that one. "Really? What choice did I have? You think you're so smart, come on. Show me that choice!"
This was just the opening she wanted. Dawn reached behind her back. "Okay, you want to see it." She pulled out her morpher and opened up a her sock draw. Throwing the device inside she slammed it shut. "You could have done the same with your stake. Anytime over the last nine years and I can think of at least twice when you did just that!"
"It's not the same."
"Yes Buffy, it is." Dawn took her sister by both hands. "You could have chosen to turn your back on the whole thing. Gone back to waving pompoms, but you didn't. How could you, knowing what was out there?"
"I get what you're saying, but Marcus wasn't chosen. He doesn't have to know what's out there."
"Neither did Xander, or Willow, but they did, they do and they had the same choice. They chose to keep fighting, same as you did and the same as Marcus would."
"How do you know that, for sure?"
"Because I love him." Dawn said simply, knowing it was the truth. "And because A'Zores gatecrashed one of our dates and he threw himself at a warrior without thinking."
Buffy looked at her, Dawn could see all the arguments she was trying to come up with. Letting her go she retrieved her Morpher and put it back on the clip in the small of her back.
She could see Buffy frown at that and then nod. "Is this what you really want?"
"No." Dawn shook her head. "Well Marcus and the whole college thing is cool but I could without the whole inter-dimensional war."
"But you can't give it up, it's your fight right?"
"Curse of a chosen one I guess." Dawn laughed at her sisters reaction
Buffy left Dawn's dorm room with a new found respect for her little sister. It annoyed the hell out of her, but she at least respected her and the impossible choice she had.
Was her whole family cursed? Did the powers have some sort of bet going on? How much more could Buffy take before she finally broke? Then they include Dawn, shoving this destiny down her neck.
She couldn't just stand still and let her fight a whole army. Buffy knew first hand how powerful these guys were and sure Dawn had toasted them but what if a hundred more turned up, just for the hell of it? She was glad when Dawn was spared from being a Slayer, thought she might just have a chance to live that normal life they were talking about.
Now she knew that it was something neither of them were going to have, but that didn't mean that they couldn't find a little happiness where they could. If Dawn was serious about this boy then Buffy was going to help anyway she could. That meant helping take out these demons and keeping them both alive.
Pulling out her phone she flew through her contacts and called. "Giles, it's me. I need you…"
End Family III