Time and Effect
Author: David Mycock
Gaheris Rhade opened his eyes and blinked a few times before realizing he was alive. That took him a few minutes to process before everything came back to him. The rebellion, killing Dylan and then being frozen on the event horizon of the black hole and of finally being freed by Beka and her crew to find it was all done for nothing. The Nietzschean Alliance had fractured at the end of the war and civil war had reigned. Millions of his people were dead and worse with them and the Commonwealth so weakened the Magog had invaded and millions more had died. In the future his people were like pirates praying on the weak.
Oh how he had come to hate and loathe them for how far they had fallen, he had tried to restore the Commonwealth, but he had failed badly and lost most of his crew, one even by his own hand. Tyr's treachery had been anticipated and he had dealt with it, but it had just weakened his position, finally during the crisis with the Tesseracts machine a new version of Trance had come to him and made him realize he could not succeed.
She had taken him back in time to the point just before killing Dylan and then left. He had murdered his younger self and taken his place, ensuring Dylan survived and he had perished knowing in his last moments that his friend would succeed hopefully, where he had failed.
He sat up slowly, wondering just what in hell was going on. He looked down at his hand and noticed the scar Tyr's blade had caused, just before he had killed him. He looked around and noted he was on the Andromeda and wearing his old Commonwealth uniform which confused him even more. He finally stood up and saw he was in his room. He quickly moved over to his desk and grabbed his force lance and then headed for command. He had to work at ignoring seeing crew members who had either died during the rebellion and even some he had personally killed during the battle.
Clearly something strange was going on, he paused as he entered the bridge as standing in the middle looking wearily around was Dylan and next to him was Rommie, who could not exist just yet, as she had not been built in this time.
"Gaheris," Dylan said as he finally noted his presence. "Walk with us," he said and quickly head down the corridor.
He considered pulling his force lance before shaking his head knowing until he knew more about what the situation was he should do nothing that might expose him. He turned and followed his friend and the ship's avatar.
"Dylan, are you ok?" he inquired, wondering why his friend seemed so tense.
"No Gaheris I am not and when I tell you why, you are going to understand. According to Trance you know exactly how I feel," Dylan responded, shocking Gaheris with the use of Trance's name. "I'm from the future, Rhade, as is Rommie. Something I think you can already tell as Harper will be the one to build her 300 years from now," he continued.
"I don't understand. How is this possible?" Gaheris exclaimed with a shake of his head and paused. "If you are who I suspect you to be, then I should be dead Dylan. What happened?" he asked, being close to demanding.
"Not here Gaheris and not now," Dylan responded, understanding exactly what Gaheris was feeling and yet he was still weary of this man, no matter what Trance had said.
The last time he had seen Gaheris Rhade was during the fight, just before he had been frozen on the event horizon of the black hole. Trance had said this Rhade had actually won their fight and he had been the one frozen. He did not know how to feel, so he decided to just do his best to concentrate on the matter at hand.
"Rommie, I want you to interface with your AI and upload your memories and personality, so that we don't have to worry about being exposed," Dylan said, turning to the android woman.
"Good idea Dylan," Rommie agreed, before she turned and left.
Dylan watched her go, feeling as always the conflicted feelings he usually felt whenever he was near her. He had always had an attachment to Rommie, but his engagement with Sara had always given him a buffer to ignore them. That buffer had been taken from him when he had been frozen along with Rommie. In his mind there was very little difference between Rommie and her AI counterparts, except Rommie had a far more range for emotions.
He had to shake himself out of his trance, as Rommie rounded the corner and vanished. He turned to look at Rhade and noted that he was trying to refrain himself from grinning. He ignored him as best as he could and turned to the nearby computer screen, where Andromeda's AI was watching them.
"Andromeda, what is the position of the Twilight?" he inquired.
"The Twilight is currently on patrol in the Acheron system," Andromeda responded. "Captain, may I inquire where the avatar that resembles me came from?" the AI inquired a second later.
"It is complicated, but you will understand soon, as she is heading for your core system to interface and update you on the situation," Dylan responded, not surprised by the question. "Don't worry, it won't harm you," he added at her questioning look.
"I understand Captain," Andromeda replied.
"Tell the helm to plot a course to Acheron and engage slipstream," Dylan ordered before turning and heading for his quarters along with Gaheris.
Xander shook his head as he came to and looked around. He quickly noted he was on the bridge of his ship with people around him. He quickly sat up and looked around again, noting Faith, Dawn, Willow and Buffy were also down and still out. He stood with a little help from Maxwell, one of his ship's original crew members.
"Are you okay sir?" Maxwell inquired as he stepped back.
"Yeah I'm fine thanks," he replied. "Take Faith and the others to Medical, along with anyone else who is still out," he ordered, as Cordelia (Twilight) walked over to him flanked by two security guards who had their force lances at the ready.
"Sir, Kalderash, McLay and Giles were also found unconscious," Jenkins reported. "They are already in Medical," he added.
Xander nodded, having already expected that. No one on board knew Jenny was his wife, as it was against High Guard policy for members to have relationships, let alone marry. So she went under her real last name Kalderash. It was a hassle, but it was one they were willing to live with.
"Sir this woman appeared at the same time you and the other crew members fell unconscious," one of the guards stated.
"That's okay Sergeant, I know her," he replied. "She is not a threat, so you can stand down," he added, noting both guards did just that, which relieved him. "Twilight, I want Andromeda's position," he ordered, turning to the watching AI of his ship, which was in its original mode before he and the others had changed it.
"The Andromeda is heading straight for us Captain," Twilight replied. "I am unsure why she has suddenly abandoned her patrol route. There is no emergency that I am aware of," she went on, sounding confused.
Xander nodded, as it meant Dylan would soon arrive and they could all sit down and talk about what they needed to do to stop the fall of the Commonwealth. He wondered how much time they had before the Nietzschean began their rebellion.
"Let me know when they arrive, I'll be in medical," he ordered, before he turned around and headed to the med deck, followed by Cordelia.
The Powers that Be were annoyed with the Sun Avatars actions, which had basically given the Slayers and their friends another shot at life and actually succeeding in their mission.
Time meant nothing to them and so they knew exactly what had happened in the future. They had plans in place to replace the universe with new worlds and new life, once the destruction of the old one had taken place thanks to the Abyss. Now all of that was destroyed. Once again someone had destroyed their hard worked plans. However they had no power over the Sun Avatars, as they were beyond the Powers control, so for now they could do nothing but watch.
That did not mean they would sit back if an opportunity to remove the Slayers and their friends forever came up. It did not matter anymore that they suffered, whilst the curse lasted. They just wanted them gone.
(Andromeda Ascendant, computer core)
Rommie watched as her AI integrated her memories and personality. She felt lost at the moment, as in the minute she had arrived here in this time frame, she had lost the connection to the ship and her AI counterpart. Now that link would be rebuilt once the integration was completed. She had time to think and one of the first things that came to her was that in this period, Sara, Dylan's fiancée, was still alive. That was not a happy realization as nasty as it sounded. She had bonded with Dylan far beyond anything she had shared with him, before they had been frozen. They had shared a unique relationship, which sometimes boarded on the romantic. However they had never breached that barrier, now she was worried she might not ever have the man she loved.
Love was a concept she had experienced fully, once she had an Avatar body, thanks to Harper. Her relationship with Gabriel, the Avatar of the insane AI Balance of Judgment, had shown her the ups and downs of love and other emotions, that Avatars seemed to be able to feel. Ignoring her AI's advice had been a strange thing, but something she had grown used to in the future, still even when she had not had a body, her AI core persona had feelings for Dylan, even if she had basically denied them later on.
"Integration complete," her AI's voice quickly brought her out of her thoughts. "Hello Rommie, you should not be here," Andromeda stated.
"I know and I would not be, had not Trance insisted it was necessary if we wanted to stop the downfall of the universe," Rommie countered. "As you well know, thanks to the download," she added with a glare.
"I do know, however I am not happy with certain events that happened in your time frame and we will be discussing them later on," Andromeda responded.
Rommie sighed, having expected this from her AI counterpart. A lot of what she had done in the future was not exactly standard for Avatar's and what she did, reflected on her AI counterpart, so she settled in for a long talk.
In the Captain's quarters Dylan and Gaheris were playing a game of Go, something they had done many times in the past. They were both unsure how to really act in the presence of each other, considering what they knew of what happened in the future, still even with that their friendship was intact, strangely enough.
"If we both failed to save the universe against the Magog and the Abyss, how can we save it now?" Gaheris inquired, watching Dylan make his move.
"I'm not to sure on Trance's plan, but if we can stop the rebellion of the Nietzschean, the Commonwealth will stay together and thus will be intact to face the Abyss, when it comes" Dylan speculated.
"That is not good enough. We have to take the fight to the Magog and wipe as much of them out as possible," Gaheris said seriously. "If we leave them where they are, they will attack no matter if there is chaos in the universe or not and it is possible we won't be able to stop them," he explained his reasoning, as he noted Dylan's skeptical look before making his own move.
Dylan had to admit Gaheris had a point there and considering what he had seen in the future, he knew the Magog would not go away. He leaned back in his chair and ran a hand through his hair.
"Plus another important fact you have to remember is that the Commonwealth did so badly in the war with my people, because they have not fought a proper war in years," Gaheris pushed on, wanting Dylan to see the point he was making.
Dylan remembered Andromeda saying much the same thing to him, just after they had learned the truth from Harper about the Commonwealth losing the war. He had never really thought to hard on that fact. At the time of the rebellion he had thought the Commonwealth was at its strongest, but in reality they had stagnated and weakened. They had been almost easy pickings for the Nietzschean.
"You're right Gaheris, on all points," Dylan finally admitted, hating to say it, but knowing it was true. "The Commonwealth needs to fight the Magog and regain the strength we have lost in peace. Once we meet up with Alex and his friends we can discuss tactics and a plan."
Gaheris nodded in agreement and settled back in his own chair, as they continued the game. They had a lot of work ahead of them, but he was sure they could pull it off. The only real problem they would have was the Drago-Kazov pride. Who had pushed for the rebellion with all its might, wanting to rule the universe themselves instead of serving someone else.
Xander watched as Cordelia or Twilight integrated with her AI's main core personality, hopefully this would prevent them having trouble with the AI itself. They did not need to be exposed as people from the future, if they were going to have any chance of actually succeeding in their mission. The others were now awake and back at their posts, bar Jenny who was asleep in her cabin. The fact that they had to go back to separate quarters in this timeframe was another problem they would have to work around now. After the fall he had grown used to sleeping in the same room as his wife and that was not something he was willing to give up.
Finally the integration was complete and he watched in surprise as the AI's features changed to match those of her Avatar, then again he guessed he should not be too surprised, as he knew just how powerful a link existed between the AI and its Avatar.
"Twilight, are you okay?" he inquired, stepping forward.
"Yes Xander I am fine. I understand everything my Avatar has uploaded to me and I am willing to do all I can to help," Twilight's AI responded.
"Glad to hear it, but remember for now we have to maintain our cover, so call me Captain," Xander replied. "I'll be with Jenny, as we still have a couple of hours until we meet up with Andromeda," he added, as he turned to leave, but was stopped by Twilight's voice.
"May I remind you Xander we are once again members of the old Commonwealth and relationships are forbidden, if any of the crew sees you enter her quarters there could be trouble," she warned him.
"Clear that area for me please, until we have sorted something else out, it will have to do," Xander said after a few minutes of thought. "Tell Faith she has command unless there is an emergency," he added before heading for Jenny's room.
Twilight and her Avatar watched him go, before doing as he asked. It was not hard after all and she understood why he was asking, thanks to the memories from Willow and Tara and the upload from her Avatar. She had once been a normal Commonwealth AI, but after the fall that had changed thanks to her friends. She had a lot of the deceased Cordelia Chase in her now, including memories.
It was strange having a set of memories that was not her own inside her, but she excepted them as she knew her Captain and his command crew were loyal to the Commonwealth, more than anyone knew. She knew their true mission and curse and so she would aid them any way she could. She quickly relayed orders to Faith and then began checking her systems, whilst her Avatar headed for the bridge.
Faith stood on the bridge, as she received the orders from Xander and was not surprised by them. He needed a little time with Jenny before they got down to the hard stuff. She had watched Xander's relationship with Jenny get stronger and stronger as time passed and she sometimes envied the other woman, but at this point other rules get in the way of them being together openly.
Hell it was the same for Willow and Tara, whose relationship had endured the long centuries just as well as Xander and Jenny's had. Faith had an off and on relationship with Dawn, something that had surprised everyone, especially Buffy, but whilst the blonds' immediate reaction had been one of shock and anger she had quickly realized with their curse it made sense, granted most of them had relationships with people they had met and even families with them.
That was one of the problems of immortality, watching their families die. That was what had affected Buffy so damn much and changed her personality so. Xander and Jenny strangely enough had not been affected too badly by losing their family, accepting it was part of life, but for the last 100 years they had refrained from having kids again. Xander was also the surrogate father for Willow and Tara's children, as he had donated his sperm so they could have children when they wanted them. Jenny had understood the witches' reason for requesting Xander being the father and allowed it.
Even she had once had a family, but that was a long time ago. The pain of losing them had been unlike anything she had felt before and so she had not had anymore, but sometimes she caught herself dreaming of a new family. Maybe if they made it through all this she might start looking for a new lover again.
Xander slipped into Jenny's room without being seen, thanks to Twilight and quickly undressed and slipped into the bed beside her. Jenny instantly shifted into him and then sighed before returning to her dreams. Xander stayed awake, watching his wife for a bit before joining her in slumber.