A Lit Match
“The Light of a Civilization All Alone in the Night” by Shadow Master aka Ryley Breen
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the copyrighted materials contained herein. They are the rightful property of their respective creators and associated companies. I make no profit off of this whatsoever. I write for my own amusement and for those that enjoy reading my stories.
Note: There are a few things I’d like to point out. First is the fact that I will take some liberties with the facts from all three shows so for those of you who insist upon fanfic writers adhering strictly to canon you’d best go elsewhere for your fanfic reading. Secondly while I know that officially Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda aired from October 2000 to May 2005 I would ask you to just take what comes as an AU where all five seasons had aired by the time the Halloween Episode of BtVS occurred. So suspend your disbelief, overlook the details and just enjoy the story I have to tell you.
The Light of a Civilization All Alone in the Night
October 31st, 1997
The Student Lounge of Sunnydale High School, 1:00p.m, Xander’s P.O.V
“Shut up and sit down! All of you!” yelled Principal Snyder as he glared all twenty-four people in front of him into sitting down.
~And this day was starting out ^so^ well!~ Xander thought as he sat down next to Willow and Buffy on the couch they’d called dibs on by arriving earlier than the others.
It had been almost half an hour ago when the troll had come over the personal address system summoning a list of people to the student lounge while making it clear that refusal would not be wise. While some of the dimmer students sounded happy about being able to skip out on classes, even if it was only for a little while, those with an average or higher IQ knew that being summoned by Snyder not of the good. Sadly the Scooby gang knew that it’d only bring more trouble down on their heads if they blew off the mini-Hitler. So, with both dread and reluctance, they went to the student lounge and awaited the Principal so that they could see what sort of hellish thing he had in store for them. Looking about, he could see that teachers were present along with students making him wonder if this was going to be so brief that no classes would be cancelled or if the remaining students had been let go for the day.
~I guess I’ll have to just wait and see like everyone else.~ He thought as he watched the troll pick up a box with a single hole on the top a little bigger than a person’s fist.
“Normally at this time of year, some of you would be ‘volunteering’ to chaperon a group of spoiled brats for Halloween. However one of you delinquents whined loud enough to the school board about this so I can’t recruit you for the job like you deserve,” Snyder said with his usual scowl firmly in place. “Instead I’ve been allowed to make a list of troublemakers and ‘punish’ them by making them escort those ankle biting misfits around. You’ll be separated into groups of three with a member of the faculty supervising you so you don’t corrupt those kids with your delinquent ways.”
With those words Snyder began to group students together and assign them teachers. Fortunately the Scooby gang got grouped together with Giles as their supervisor so they could just treat the whole thing as just another patrol except with elementary students tagging along. He didn’t really pay attention to the other groupings but was happy to see Larry stuck with them since the jock deserved to have his Halloween night spoiled. It took a minute or two but eventually all the groups were listed by the principal and he waited for the sneering dismissal or last few details.
“Now to make sure that you don’t pollute their minds too badly, I’ve taken the liberty of asking members of the student body who actually manage to give me something to take pride in to select the theme of the costumes each group will wear,” Snyder said with a hateful smile on his face. “In the interests of fairness, though, you will be picking your group themes at random from this box. Once you’ve made your selection, ^I^ will read it to the rest of the group so you truants can’t trade your choice with another group. Now let’s get this over with!”
It didn’t take any of the Scoobies long to figure out who Snyder meant by students he could actually take some pride in. The only ones who fit that description were the ones who actually gave the troll something to gloat about to other members of the school board about or to other school districts. That meant the star jocks and eggheads making the various themes that might be contained in the box of a distinctly macho or nerdish persuasion. This made him cringe somewhat since he knew that while not completely unfamiliar with the theme’s that sort of crowd would submit for consideration he knew people like Andrew and Jonathan had…unusual tastes. Still as he watched the Snyder appointed leaders of the group picked their themes and read them out to the rest of them he found they weren’t too far off the mainstream. Battlestar Galactica, Rambo, Star Trek and the Justice League were the first four to be listed getting mixed reviews from the people who’d pulled them out of the box. Eventually though it was Buffy’s turn as she was called up by a sneering Snyder who probably had a good idea of what possible choices were left inside the box. Watching his friend and personal hero reach into the box he hoped she chose a theme that he was an expert in because it’d be so cool to be able to pull a G-man on them and tell them all they needed to know.
It only took a moment but, when Buffy unfolded the piece of paper in her hands, the look of cluelessness on her face was enough to let him know that the title wasn’t ringing any bells for her. Not that many of the things picked out by nerds or jocks would be familiar to her but he knew she wasn’t as out of touch with the interests of her peers as some might think. The quips and puns she pulled during patrol showed that she knew most of the mainstream stuff, plus there were those movies that the gang had seen together so this would have to be something a little more off the beaten path. He didn’t have to wait long to hear what theme had been chosen by the blonde Slayer since a single glare from Snyder prodded her into speaking.
“Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda,” she said, sounding like she wanted the floor to open up and swallow her at the moment.
Not a good thing to think when you’re within sprinting distance of a Hellmouth but, since nothing happened, he guessed that she lucked out.
With that she walked back to join him and Willow on the couch while Snyder called a student from the last group to select their theme. He could tell that the Slayer was bummed about not being able to enjoy her one night off the way she’d intended but he hoped she wouldn’t be a complete wet blanket chaperoning the kids. It’d only take one person to spoil any sort of fun or levity that there might be in dressing up for Halloween and he’d be damned if he let his blonde buddy ruin it for the rest of them. If she stayed in this funk, he’d do his best to cheer her up even if it meant looking like a total idiot in front of her. It was part of his role as morale officer of the Scooby gang; to keep their spirits up when it felt like all that existed around them was darkness along with insurmountable odds. He’d do it and he dared anything or anyone to try and stop him.
“Don’t worry, Buff’. I know the show pretty good and I promise that I’ll help you put together something that’s both stylish and capable of passing herr Snyder’s inspection,” he said, wrapping his right arm around her shoulders. “After all, the clothes they wear in the show aren’t really all that different from what we wear today. Maybe a bit more leather than I’d like but nothing too out there.”
This seemed to cheer her up and also get the attention of his bestest buddy Willow as well, so he felt that now since he had his foot in the proverbial door he’d best do what he could to widen the opening more.
“At least we won’t be wearing jogging suits or multi-colored spandex,” he said, looking at the other nitwits who’d been corralled into this assignment before looking the blonde up and down. “Though I know I wouldn’t mind seeing you in some spandex, but I guess I’ll have to settle for leather. Talk about win-win, eh?” For added comic effect he bobbed his eyebrows up and down to imply that he was thinking of things she would no doubt disapprove of.
The fact that he was thinking naughty thoughts about her only added to the performance.
“Pervert,” Buffy said, lightly (for her anyway) slugging him in the shoulder with a small smile on her face.
“Now that you all have your theme assignments, you’ll go to the address on the back of the pieces of paper to pick up your costume bundles,” Snyder said with a growl that showed that even dealing out punishment like this wasn’t enough to improve his mood. “Against my better judgment, you’ll even be allowed to leave to prepare for the right now so long as you’re back by four to pick up your group of brats. The costumes will be rentals so you better bring them back in ^perfect^ condition or I’ll assign you detention until you’re thirty! Dismissed!”
With that the students began to file out of the room, along with the teachers, until only the Scooby gang remained with the others looking like they were trying to figure out a way to free themselves from this assignment. Not that he entirely blamed them since no one liked being forced to jump through the troll’s hoops but there wasn’t anything he could think of to help them escape. For the time being, though, Snyder was the top dog at Sunnydale High School and held ultimate authority over both student as well as teachers. To defy him would give the moron all the ammunition he needed to make their lives even more difficult than he could at the moment. Still, he could at least try to make things a little easier for the others.
“How about you guys let me pick up the costumes while you go relax?” He said, taking the piece of paper from Buffy’s hand, “I’ll meet you at Buffy’s place with the outfits.”
“You sure, Xan?” Buffy asked, sounding like she didn’t want to cause him any unnecessary trouble.
“No problem, Buff,” he said before he prepared to head out the door of the student lounge. “I’ll see you in thirty then?”
Seeing the nod from the others, he walked out the door and began to make his way to the nearest entrance/exit of the high school. He wondered what sort of outfits were a part of the Andromeda bundle and if they were of actual characters or just some generic pieces of the show’s wardrobe. Personally he was okay with it either way since he could easily come up with an OC background story if he needed to. He also had a few in mind for the others but, when his mind thought up background stories, he couldn’t help but also imagine how they’d look dressed up.
~Good times, they are a comin’!~ he thought with the image of Buffy in a sexily cut leather high guard uniform in his mind’s eye with Willow dressed up like Trance or maybe Beka.
Ethan’s Costume Shop, Ten Minutes Later, Behind the Cash Register, Ethan’s P.O.V
“Why, thank you for providing me with the list of names Principal Snyder.” Ethan said with greasy gratitude in his voice. “Have a nice day!”
With those words he hung up and sent a silent prayer of thanks to Janus that he had left school behind him a long time ago because any child forced to endure that man as their principal deserved a hefty amount of pity. Still, this little job he’d been hired for by the local high school provided him with a true opportunity that he could not afford to pass up. Originally he’d simply planned on opening a costume shop two weeks prior to Halloween and arranging that his only competition, Party Town, would be forced to shut down during those two weeks. After all, if he wanted to get the most chaos possible he had to sell as many of his enchanted outfits as he could and that wouldn’t happen if the oblivious people of this town had an alternative. Now, though, he had a guaranteed set of twenty-four people who would wear complete costumes from his shop and surprise of surprises his old pal Ripper was the adult in charge of a group of teenagers one of whom was the town’s resident Slayer. It was like Christmas and his birthday rolled up into one perfect day with the chance to play the mother of all pranks on his old chum. With this in mind he put a ‘back in one minute’ sign on the counter next to the cash register before going into the back room where the school’s costume bundles were stored.
Picking up the one holding the Andromeda outfits, he laid them out on the table and pulled down the zipper on the plastic covering, exposing the costumes within. There were eight separate costumes within but four were made for women while the other four were for men since up, until now, he didn’t know what the groups would be aside from the three to one student to teacher ratio. Now that he knew who’d be wearing these costumes, he could have a little fun with Rupert and his Slayer by adding a few extras. The first thing he did was throw in a few more of the costumes he’d gotten with the large bulk order he’d acquired from a client. Strictly speaking, he knew that only four costumes were needed but, with a little luck, if he put more of them in they’d pass them along to their friends, only adding to the chaos of the night. Then, once he’d filled the plastic covering as full as possible without making zipping it up too much of a bother, he went over to the spell ingredients to select those that would increase the potency of the spell on these outfits. This would increase the thoroughness of the changes to something beyond mere cosmetic changes or insertion of surface thoughts consistent with their characters. Normally when this spell was cast, there would be few if any lingering effects from the spell and those were said to fade within a week or two of the spell.
Now, though, for old Ripper’s sake, he would make it so that there’d be as many leftover changes as he could manage without altering the spell too much.
While he liked to think of himself as an accomplished mage, he knew the inherent dangers in modifying a spell that you didn’t create yourself. Making up a spell all your own was painstaking work, as it meant understanding the elements you were attempting to bend to your will as well as weaving each variable into the desired pattern without any unintended side effects. Still, tweaking the spell a bit wasn’t beyond his abilities, especially since the spell book he’d gotten the enchantment out of specified the purpose of each ingredient, thus allowing him to know what he was increasing the potency of. He knew that physical changes would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to make permanent but the mental changes would be quite thorough if given enough time to settle.
He was just adding in the final touches when he heard the bell he’d placed on the main counter for customers who needed to see him immediately. He figured that it must be one of the students from the school come to collect their costume bundles so, sprinkling the last of the dust on the costumes, he zipped up the plastic covering and put it back on the hook on the wall. Walking over to the curtain, he pushed it aside to see a black haired young man with obvious hand me down clothes waiting patiently for him by the counter. It was a good thing that the school was footing the bill for the costumes because he’d risk losing quite a bit of cash letting someone as financially desperate as this lad have one of his costumes. It was true that he wasn’t in this for the money so much as the entertainment that the spell would provide for him, along with the fact it would put him in good standing with Lord Janus, but a little bonus never hurt.
“Yes? How can I help you young man?” he asked as he raised his voice to get the lad’s attention.
“I’m here to pick up the Andromeda costume bundle for my group from Sunnydale High School,” the lad replied, turning to face him with a somewhat wary expression.
“Ah! I’ve been expecting you. Your principal called me a few minutes ago to inform me of the composition of each group,” he stated with his usual businessman smile. “If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll just go get your bundle and be right back.”
He returned to the back room he picked up the plastic covering containing the costumes and picked up the nearby bag containing the various props that went with them. It was a fairly large amount of equipment but the lad looked to be strong enough to carry it all without too much effort. Carrying it out into the main area of the store, he walked over to the young man before handing over both with all the good business manner he could muster.
“Here you go. Please be sure to return this in as good a condition as you can manage,” he said, not really caring whether or not the outfits were returned to him one way or another.
“No problem. See ya,” said the youth before he carried both burdens out the door.
Seeing the lad go, he looked about the store to see if there were any other opportunities for increasing the level of chaos that would be unleashed tonight. After all, as a loyal servant of Janus and a chaos mage, it was his duty to do the very best that he could no matter the circumstances.
The Summers Home, Twenty Minutes Later, The Front Porch, Xander’s P.O.V
~Well this should be interesting.~ He thought as he knocked on the front door of Buffy’s home and waited for someone to answer.
It had been about twenty minutes since he’d left the costume shop with the outfits for Team Scooby and, while he hadn’t looked into the plastic clothing bag containing the costumes themselves, he had been able to peek inside the prop bag and he liked what he saw. While he could see signs of the force lances and gauss guns being fake, they were remarkably realistic looking. In fact he’d say that if they set one of these props against the ones used in the actual TV show that even the big time studio people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them. If the costumes inside the plastic clothing bag were anything like the props then the Scooby gang was going to look better than just about anyone else tonight, except maybe the other students who’d gotten roped in by herr Snyder. He might even be willing to try and convince the others to take a spin by the Bronze in their costumes if only to see what sort of reaction they’d get out of the party goers there.
Hearing a stampede of footsteps approaching the front door, he grinned a bit as he realized who was likely going to be on the other side when it opened. It wouldn’t be Buffy because while the Slayer could be something of a lead foot when she walked, there was no reason for her to make a dash for the door. It wouldn’t be Mrs. S since the older woman definitely was light on her feet and usually answered the door at a more casual pace than either of her two daughters. It could be Willow but he doubted it since his bestest bud would be on her best behavior while at the Summers home, so doing anything that could bother anyone else would be avoided by her. That left only one person who could be interested enough in getting to the door first when he was the only person being expected and so he braced himself for what was about to happen.
Like clockwork the door did open and a dark blonde blur shot out of the house before wrapping itself around his waist. Looking down, he wasn’t surprised at all to see one Dawn Marie Summers hugging him for all she was worth as he held the bags away from his body so they wouldn’t get or damaged. This was the sort of welcome he’d come to expect from the youngest Summers sibling ever since she moved here with her sister and mother about a year or so ago. She’d managed to knock him off his feet the first time and almost sent the two of them tumbling down the front steps had he not grabbed hold of the railing in time. Ever since then, whenever he had the smallest suspicion that she’d be the one opening the door for him, he’d made sure to be in the proper stance to receive her welcome so that there wouldn’t be any sort of accidents.
“Hey, Dawn Patrol!” he said with his usual glad-to-see-you tone. “You ready for Halloween?”
“Sort of but I wanted to see what you were going as first before I made my decision,” Dawn replied, finally letting him go and taking a step back.
“Why would you need to look at my outfit before choosing your own?” he asked, not quite seeing the connection between the two things.
“Because my mom has to go to some big thing at the gallery and can’t take the butt pain out trick or treating so she’ll be tagging along with us tonight,” Buffy said as she made the trip from the living room to the front door.
He could tell that his blonde hero wasn’t too happy about that because, while he knew that she cared about her younger sister, that didn’t mean that they were all that close. From the usual sibling rivalry to Buffy being held accountable for Dawn’s actions since she’s the older sibling, it all made for a volatile sisterly relationship. When you added that to having her one free night a year taken away by Snyder and he supposed it just made the Slayer’s mood all the worse. Hopefully once she got a look at her outfit for the night she’d perk up a bit and he was sure she would since every guy knew that nothing improved a woman’s mood more than new clothes.
“Cool. I got the outfits so let’s take a look at them and see who gets what,” he said, nonverbally asking to be allowed to enter the house.
Taking her cue, she stepped to the side and, with Dawn practically joined at his hip, he walked into the house, angling towards the living room where he figured everyone was waiting. Looking around, he spotted Willow on the couch where she’d most likely been waiting along with Buffy while Giles sat in a chair taking with Joyce. As soon as the others saw them, he could tell he’d become the center of attention so he figured he’d better start with the big unveiling.
“Before we get to the costumes, I’m going to give you a bit of a background on the show so you’re not totally clueless when you head out tonight,” he said as he found a nearby coat hanger hook to put the bags on. “This show takes place a little over three thousand years in the future during a time in which many of the known worlds in this galaxy and several others are part of a democratic federation known as the Systems Commonwealth. It was big, as in three galaxies big, and lasted for about fifty-five hundred years from the time it was formed to when it was destroyed by the Nietzscheans.”
“Nietzscheans? Is that a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche?” Giles asked, his interest in the back story of his costume going up considerably.
“As a matter of fact it is, G-Man,” he said, smiling at the wince he produced in the man. “The Nietzscheans were a people who were big fans of that guy and really practiced what that guy preached.”
“A rather disturbing people then,” Giles stated with the knowledge of what each belief component was and how it could be applied for a people.
“True. Basically the show focused on how the Nietzscheans destroyed the main government of the time and this one captain worked to put it all back together again. Thing is he didn’t have a full crew and what crew he did have didn’t exactly believe in military discipline.” He explained trying to condense the library of knowledge he had into as few words as possible, “A ship captain looking for the big score, a purple skinned girl with a touch of Harmony in her, a genius engineer with about the same luck I do with women, a monster trying to follow the path of a priest and the sole survivor of a decimated clan of Nietzscheans. Still they tried their hardest and managed the impossible by putting the shattered Commonwealth back together again.”
For a couple of minutes no one said anything and he wondered if it was because they were stunned at his nerdy knowledge but then he saw a twinkle of something odd in Giles’ eyes. Something that usually only showed up when a subject popped up that particularly caught his interest or tickled his fancy. Odd seeing as how the man had few positive things to say about American culture and generally couldn’t understand what teenagers saw in modern mainstream forms of entertainment. As for the others he could tell that both Dawn and Willow had soaked up his briefing like a sponge while Buffy had likely only caught the basic facts while the rest just soared right over her head. It wasn’t that she was a stereotypical dumb blonde or anything because she was comfortable going through her own routine without adding anything new. Buffy Summers didn’t like change and, considering what change had done to her life so far, he couldn’t blame her one bit. Change had happened when she’d become the Slayer, ripping her from her normal life and thrusting her into one where she had to fight monsters almost every night. Change had her family torn apart when her father had an affair with his secretary, resulting in a divorce that caused them to leave familiar L.A for a dangerous Sunnydale. If he’d had those things happen to him, he’d keep change away with a cattle prod and a stick of dynamite with the threat to use both firmly in his mind.
“W-well Xander, while my opinion of modern science fiction is somewhat low, I must say that your summary of this ‘Andromeda’ show has piqued my interest,” Giles said, resettling his glasses a little higher on his nose.
“Yeah! It sounds great Xander!” Willow said with a smile on her face and sparkles in her eyes.
“I guess it’s okay,” Buffy said, looking like she really thought more of the show but didn’t want to come off like a nerd or something.
“Count me in!” Dawn said but that hardly surprised him since he’d never known the youngest Summers to not like his ideas or plans.
“Well, far be it for me to go against the will of the majority. If there’s anything left over after you all are finished looking through the costumes and props, I’ll use it to make my own costume,” Joyce said, making the opinion of the theme they’d been dealt unanimous. “Since you seem to know so much about the show, I think you should choose which costume suits each of us.”
Words of agreement came from just about everyone else so he figured he was pretty much stuck doing what everyone else wanted.
“Alrighty, then, let’s see what we have to work with,” he said as he turned to the plastic bag and opened it up. “First we have what looks to be a dress uniform for a high ranking High Guard officer and it’s definitely for a guy but it looks like it’s for an admiral, so I guess this is yours, G-Man.
“Next is another High Guard uniform but this time it has a pin on it saying it’s for a Captain so I call dibs on this one,” he said, pulling out the costume and setting on another hook.
While he knew he couldn’t quite match the physique of Kevin Sorbo, it was Halloween so a perfect match wasn’t necessary. Plus, if anyone decided to make something of it, he could always claim to a clone of Dylan Hunt. Still, since he doubted anyone outside of the nerd patrol would get in his face about it, he’d go by Captain Dylan Hunt if anyone asked.
“Third in the bundle is definitely meant for a female and given the fact that there are arm braces with bone spikes coming out of them, I’d say this is a Nietzschean outfit,” he said before taking in the size of the thing. “I think this is yours, Buff, but where the guy got your measurements I do ^not^ know.”
All of them took a moment to try and figure out where the store owner could have gotten them and collectively shuddered in disgust at the possibilities that involved Snyder.
“Alright, quickly moving away from that due to the ‘ick’ factor there, I’m a bad guy?” Buffy asked, taking the outfit and testing the flexibility of the bone spikes a bit.
“Not necessarily. You could say you’re from one of the few Prides that chose to remain loyal to the Commonwealth or that you’re an outcast of the Drago-Kazov Pride seeking to destroy them utterly for their betrayal of you and your parents,” he shrugged, trying to create an original character back story the Slayer would like. “After all, the show had plenty of examples of Nietzscheans who were respectable and considered good guys or gals.”
This brightened up the blonde quite a bit as she draped the costume across her lap and waited for the next outfit to come out of the bag.
“Hmmm. Looks like we got two or three extra outfits in here. I guess the guy made a mistake,” he said as he noticed that the plastic clothing bag wasn’t quite as empty as it should have been. “ANYway, here’s an outfit for you, Willow, and judging by the abundance of purple as well as the tail dangling from the back, I’d say you’ll be going as one Trance Gemini tonight.”
“Who’s she?” Willow asked sounding somewhat… unenthusiastic about the outfit.
“Well, judging by the outfit by that point in the series, she was the ship’s environmental and life support officer as well as xenobiologist, botanist and doctor,” he replied, remembering the first two seasons of the show. “Personality-wise she’s a little ditzy and mousy but on the whole she’s a cool enough character. Has some sort of weird precognitive ability that makes her real good at picking the right road to go down ninety percent of the time. It’s the other ten percent that usually rears its head at the worst possible times, though.”
While this didn’t necessarily make his bestest bud feel any worse about the outfit, it was clear she have a case of the warm fuzzies, so putting the Trance costume down he began looking through the rest of the costumes and props for something that might be a little more appealing to the redhead. There were a lot of force lances and communicators, as well as few gauss guns, but then he found something that brought a big smile to his face. It was a disc about a quarter of an inch thick and about an inch and a half in diameter with a silver circle on the outside but a bronze circle on the inside. He knew what it was immediately and with that knowledge came an idea for Willow’s costume that he was sure she’d like if he could convince her to borrow some of Buffy’s cloths to complete the look. Grabbing two gauss pistols while he was at it, he then turned to his oldest friend immediately imagining how she’d look when all was said and done.
“How about this then: you’ll be one Wilhelmina Valentine, cousin to Beka Valentine from the show, an information broker as well as a freelance thief always on the lookout for the ‘Big Score’ as they call it,” he explained as he rattled off the idea he’d come up with. “Thanks to her two respective lines of work, she’s used, stolen or had to repair just about every piece of tech in the known worlds. After all, if you’re going to get info or steal something, there are a variety of things you need to know.”
This definitely perked the redhead up quite a bit just like he figured it would since the combination of tech know how and the sexiness of a female thief would appeal to brainy girl. While she was still, for the most part, the mousy genius, she was before Buffy showed up there were signs that she was growing as a person and if she could go out in public with cooler clothes it’d be a big step.
“You’ll have to borrow some of Buffy’s clothes probably, since no one in the TV show wore clothes like yours but I’m sure if the two of you talk it out you can find an outfit that both of you can agree on,” he said as he passed her the guns and the dataport prop.
“I’ll take the Trance outfit then!” Dawn said as she grabbed the purple themed outfit off the floor and locked it into a death grip.
“Well, I’ll probably have to shorten the legs and arms a bit but it should work.” Joyce said, smiling at the way her youngest was acting.
“She’ll need to put on this purple face paint and lipstick, too, but it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle to wash off since she just needs to put it on the spots the costume doesn’t cover,” he said, pointing out the bulge in the outfit where he’d spotted a small make up bag hanging from the clothes hanger.
He looked into the plastic clothing bag to see what was left and found it odd that there was at least three costumes still in there and even outfitted with the necessary props there’d still be some left over. Looking over to Mrs. S for a moment, he decided to see if there was an outfit for her that was the right size and might suit her. There was one right at the back that looked like something that he’d seen Tyr wear in the show but, judging by the cut of the fabric, it was definitely meant for a woman. Feeling around where the coat hanger would be, he could feel arm braces similar to the ones that Buffy had for her outfit. That pretty much gave him what he needed to come up with a back story for the costume and it fit, considering what Joyce’s relationship with Buffy was.
“Here you go, Mrs. S. You can be the matriarch of the Pride Buffy’s character belongs to. Basically the role of the matriarch is to both make sure that only couples who will produce children that will improve the strength of the Pride are allowed to come together and to remove weak members whose genes will only weaken the Pride,” he explained as the Summers matriarch took the costume. “Basically any marriages or even romantic relationships that involved Pride members needed to be approved by her before they’d be allowed to develop.”
This, of course, didn’t meet with Buffy’s approval since there was little doubt that if she ever met Angel then if she’d really been a Pride matriarch as there was no way she’d approve of the pairing. After all, a corpse with a soul only had dead flesh for a body so reproducing would be beyond Deadboy’s abilities, thus a relationship between him and Buffy would not benefit the Summers Pride in the least.
He couldn’t say that this didn’t give him a happy.
With all the costumes handed out, he then went to the prop bag and began to divide up the contents amongst the group. He made sure each of them had a force lance or gauss gun of some kind and then picked apart what remained in the bag by using their characters to decide who got what. The more engineering or useful thief items went to Willow while the fake knives went to Buffy and Joyce. He gave Giles one of the devices he believed were communicators but, seeing as how there were never any real close ups done on the equipment on the show, they could have been some sort of sensor devices. Eventually he reached the bottom of the bag and while the others would no doubt have a bit of trouble figuring out where to put everything he was sure they’d manage just fine.
“Well we only got… an hour before we need to be at the school to pick up our group gang so we should probably get dressed now,” he said before grabbing his Dylan Hunt outfit and accessories. Dibs on the bathroom!”
Amidst the female outcries, he couldn’t help but smile thinking that this was going to be a night to remember.
A Sidewalk in the Residential Area of Sunnydale, Two Hours Later, Dawn Summers’ P.O.V
~It might be a pain having to deal with all these kids but I’m also out with ^MY^ Xander, so it’s already the best night I’ve had all week!~ Dawn thought as she walked down the street with her crush hand in hand.
He’d put up a bit of a fuss early on when they were walking to the high school but eventually she managed to cute him into giving in. From there they’d been inseparable and, while Buffy and Willow were in the same area as them, they had problems of their own to deal with so they couldn’t do much more than glance at them every so often. She knew that Willow had been looking at her with narrow eyes because she had this whole thing for her best friend but, quite frankly, the girl only had herself to blame for the current state of things. If she had more than friendship feelings for Xander, she should have acted on them by now rather than twiddling her thumbs like she had. It was a good thing that the redhead and Mr. Giles went a couple of streets over five minutes ago because it had been seriously spoiling her mood to get the green eyes of jealousy on her so often. As for her sister, well, she was being her usual big sister self, which meant that thoughts of boys and dating were out of the question for her. So when the possibility of her falling in love with a guy she knew came up, Buffy was the ultimate grump, either saying such a relationship was impossible or saying that she shouldn’t be thinking of such things at her age. She didn’t realize that, even if she was a couple years younger than Xander, it didn’t matter so long as true love existed between the two of them. Besides, it was only a couple of years and considering that she theorized that her sister was actually dating her so-called history tutor Angel, her older sibling had no room to criticize her choices in the area of who her future husband would be.
“Alright, kids, we’ve only got an hour to get back to the LZ for pick up,” Xander said, falling back into his role of being a High Guard Captain. “Let’s get this street and then head on back, okay?”
The kids, of course, gave out cries of complaint since they no doubt wanted to get as much candy as possible and didn’t want to go back until they were ready to. However a single glare from Xander got them to fall in line like good little brats as they went off in different directions to different houses. While she knew that Xander might have looked like a jerk to the kids but she knew that he was just being firm with them and that was sometimes necessary when dealing with immature brats. For a moment she let herself wonder what it would be like in a decade or so when they had kids of their own and had to take them out for Halloween. It was a nice dream and one she was determined to make reality. Some would wonder why she said a decade into the future and not six or seven years and the answer is simple: she’s smarter than her sister. She knows that Xander won’t even look in her direction until she got a few more upgrades from the puberty fairy and, even then, he’d wait until she reached the legal age of consent for the state of California. Then, of course, there was the fact that they’d want to at least get jobs as well as a place to call their own before starting a family together. Unlike Buffy, who tended to not think past the end of the month, she’d actually planned the next few years of her life with room for changes depending on what happened.
For now, though, she’d enjoy this one night while it lasted.
She was just about to say something to Xander when something slammed into her from behind, filling her vision with light and her body with unimaginable heat. Pain thrummed through her body as flashes of images and sounds flickered by her mind’s eye almost too fast for her to make anything out. She could barely feel Xander’s hand grasping her own tightly and, as the feeling of fire grew within her, eventually she could not feel even that. Higher and higher the fires of pain rose higher with the light surrounding her growing brighter along with it until she could bear neither any longer. Raising her face to the sky above, she let out a scream that filled the air in all directions in an effort to empty her body of the inferno burning within her.
Thus a beam of golden light wrapped in arcs of green energy shot ever higher into the sky until it reached the outer edges of the atmosphere.
There did the fabric of the universe did twist, did turn and finally with an implosion of energy did bring something truly wonderful into being.
At that moment all across the town of Sunnydale, anyone who purchased so much as a single part of their costume from the store known as Ethan’s changed. The effects varied, it was chaos magic after all, with some of the most thorough transformations coming from wearing a single item while those whom had gotten their entire costume were only changed superficially. Nevertheless, the effects were felt throughout the area, right up to the edge of the edge of Sunnydale itself, leaving none who bore the mark of Janus untouched.
For six people in particular the event marked the point at which their fates transcended what had previously been the paths they would walk down… much to the frustration of certain higher beings that thought they had the power to determine the destinies of mortals with unshakable power.
The Streets of Sunnydale, After the Chaos Spell Has Taken Full Effect,
Elizabeth of Pride Slayer P.O.V
~Grrrr! Someone is going to hurt for this~, Elizabeth thought as the pain that had brought her to her knees faded.
As the pain hastened its departure, she immediately began to evaluate the situation based on her last memories and what her senses were telling her right now. Her last memories were of heading down to the slipfighter launch bays of her Pride’s flagship as a battle group belonging to those inbred Drago-Kazovs was about to begin attacking. It had been only days since their spies in the other Pride’s had informed them that some of the stronger one’s had amassed a large feet in secret. Her mother, the Pride’s matriarch, had been furious that their spies had been so late in informing them of this development in time to prevent it. The exact number of ships was unknown but their sources estimated it to be well over eight thousand and all of them were outfitted for war. More information on this build of up of arms was not possible, though, since their spy in Orca Pride had been discovered mid-transmission and slain. With their plans in danger of being exposed before they were ready to act, the disloyal mutts would no doubt accelerate their plans and move against them. Her Pride’s Alpha had ordered the Commonwealth notified of this troubling discovery but, to their surprise, they’d discovered that precautions had already been put in place along the edges of her family’s territory, preventing that either by transmission or ship.
Then the filth had the gall to be ‘kind’ and offer one last chance to join them in their insurrection against the Systems Commonwealth. It had been sickening to stand in the throne room and listen along with her parents as the commander of the advancing forces made a contemptible effort at sounding like he was only looking out for Pride Slayer’s well-being. However the Alpha was much like her in many ways and, once the windbag commander finished speaking, he was told that this ‘misguided’ Pride would keep his kind words in mind when the last of his ships exploded. It was with these words that the confrontation between their fleet of forty ships would be pitted against an enemy fleet of a hundred. It was not an impossible situation and it had been left to her to lead Red Squadron in an attempt to make it past the enemy fleet to seek out Commonwealth reinforcements. Their Pride’s warships could hold the enemy at bay for a while but if the rest of the traitors heard that their little fleet was having trouble, they’d send more ships to make sure the mission succeeded. That had been her motivation as she’d turned the final corner of the ship with the expectation of seeing the entrance to the slipfighter bay.
Now… now it appeared she was on a primitive world that looked like it had barely mastered the most basic forms of nuclear power. Internal combustion engines, primitive light fixtures and none of the more advanced forms of construction that were developed after the first colony ships left Earth. In fact, the more she looked at her environment, the more she believed that she’d somehow been transported to the planet Earth thousands of years in the past. However she didn’t let herself overlook the other possibilities like the fact that it could be a fabrication or deception of some kind. Perhaps a hallucinatory drug being spread through the ship’s environmental systems or perhaps an artificial digital construct that she’d been placed in through the use of sophisticated technology? Until she learned more, she would evaluate each piece of information she obtained and would use it to determine the truth.
“Andromeda? Andromeda respond!” came a young man’s voice from behind her.
Turning around, she saw a sight that in her mind made her wonder just how elaborate a deception this truly was or what part of her superior mind came up with a hallucination of a High Guard officer and a purple female alien of unknown race.
“Any luck?” asked the purple female, looking rather timid in how she held herself.
“Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with the communications device but either they’re not within range or something is blocking the signal,” replied the officer as he lowered his bracer to his side. “We need to find a better place to establish contact. They might have a better idea of what’s going on.”
“A sound plan, High Guard,” she said, approaching the duo with a hand near the gauss pistol at her side. “I’ll come with you in the interests of mutual survival.”
In truth, though, she was going to follow them since they were likely the first pieces put into play by the untrustworthy wretches who dared call themselves Nietzscheans. If she kept an eye on them and studied them, she would learn what the true purpose of this charade and hopefully a way to escape it. Even if it turned out that these two were mere decoys meant to distract her or inspire false hope of escape, she’d get a better idea of their overall scheme by learning the roles the pawns had to play in it all.
“Who are you?” asked the Purple little girl.
“Elizabeth Summers, out of Joyce by Hanko, Slayer Pride.” She replied proudly as she laid out her genealogy, “And you?”
“Commander Alexander Hunt of the Andromeda Ascendant and this is Dawn Gemini,” replied the High Guard Commander as he tried to covertly take a strategically superior position.
She had to respect the young man for that, even though he looked a little young to be a commander since he looked to be in his mid-twenties. Given the longevity of some of the branches of humanity, it was entirely possible he was older than he looked. As for the female, her name gave no clues as to her planet of origin or species, so it would be wise to pay extra attention to her until the missing info of her profile got filled in some more. Still, she appeared to be in her mid-to-late teens in terms of age and might be what most humanoids would consider above average in the area of physical appearance.
“Well, as I said, you’re plan is a sound one. Our best chance for getting a signal out even inside of a jamming field is to reach an elevated position,” she said as she looked about the immediate area before settling on a large bluff on the edge of the primitive settlement. “That bluff seems to be the highest we can hope to get without obtaining some sort of transportation. I suggest we make our way there as quickly as possible before whoever brought us here decides to show us their intentions.”
~Assuming, of course, that you two aren’t a part of the intentions meant for me.~ She thought as she waited for the duo to take the lead before taking up the rear.
While she was concerned about the two in front of her being the enemy, she also kept herself aware of the environment and the things in it. If this was some sort of virtual reality set up with her mind here while her body was hooked up to the artificial environment gear then the world around her could change in the blink of an eye. If this was a real town constructed to deceive and distract her then nothing she saw would be what it appeared to be. A lesser being would let their fear of the unknowns in this situation get the better of them but she was Homo Sapien Invictus and it would take more than this to shake her composure.
Deciding to take stock of the information her senses were bringing her way, she first went with the sense of sound; there were none of the standard hums of hover vehicles or any of the ordered movements indicating a trained force in the immediate area. If this was a VR environment then that meant nothing and she would have to make sure she could react the instant that hostiles materialized in the fake world. If this was the real world and the environment had been fabricated then the chaos sounds she was hearing was meant to confuse her and distract her. To counter this she would have to filter out the anarchy that appeared to have gripped the town and hear only the things that would alert her to a threat to her survival.
As far as sight went, everything she could see indicated that she was in a small pre-space faring town where some phenomena had caused disorder and randomness to become the theme of the night. Aliens of all size and shape were running around with no apparent purpose other than the satisfying of the whims of the moment. Humans were also a part of the senselessness of the night but none of them were wearing clothes she recognized, nor were any of them like her. Most of the humans, though, seemed to be running for their lives from the various aliens that were chasing them with only a few possessing the will to make a stand against those that would kill them. Fortunately all it took to scare the creatures away from her group was a few well-placed near-misses with her gauss pistol. She was glad that the High Guard commander was smart enough to realize her intentions because it would have been disappointing to be travelling with someone who couldn’t see past the obvious. Then again she doubted that the man could have earned the rank he had by being that dense but that was assuming he hadn’t stolen the uniform and equipment in order to pretend to be High Guard. She’d heard of a few instances on space stations and drifts where crooks had impersonated high-ranking officers in order to steal goods only available to such people.
Only the smart ones, though, even made it past the first level of security consisting of a retinal and DNA scan, which was connected to a database containing the genetic IDs of every member of the High Guard regardless of where they were posted.
No one made it any further according to official record.
Unofficially she’d learned that there’d been three successful thefts in her lifetime but most of those required inside assistance in the form of a treacherous officer looking to fill his or her own pockets.
As far as smell was concerned, it was nothing but foul scents consistent with most planetary environments along with a few others that she couldn’t identify. There were some faint traces of blood and burnt flesh in the air, along with scents consistent with what the air would be like after an energy weapon had discharged. Nothing nearby as far as she could tell but, judging from the number of different scents, as well as the strength of the smells, she could tell that numerous confrontations were taking place. This was both good and bad for her. On the one hand, presuming that this was not a VR generated environment, it would allow a group as small as hers to slip by unnoticed on their way to their destination. The other possibility, though, was that there would be no safe path to the bluff and that they would inevitably encounter someone or something they’d have to fight. This was also the more likely scenario if this entire situation was a set up by enemies of her Pride since they wouldn’t want anyone from Slayer Pride to have an easy time. True, lulling her into a false sense of security would supposedly be best achieved with a period of boring nothingness but for her people it would only ensure she stay on alert all the more.
~Then again, if someone is on alert too much, it is possible to miss small clues that could prove crucial if utilized at the right moment~, she thought as she fired off a shot at the feet of a tall hairy humanoid thing that had been charging their position.
However she would beat the odds no matter what this situation threw at her.
Her heritage demanded no less of her.
Five Streets Over, Same Time, Admiral Rupert Giles’ P.O.V
~While I don’t remember leaving the classroom with a force lance holstered at my side, I am thankful that it is here.~ Giles thought as he used the fully extended weapon to parry a strike from the humanoid in front of him before delivering a knockout blow to his opponent.
Keeping his guard up as he looked about the immediate area, he eventually determined that for the time being he was safe and so pressed the button that collapsed the weapon. He didn’t know where he was but, judging by the materials used in the construction of the surrounding dwellings, it was a safe bet that he was quite a ways away from the Commonwealth. While there were a few worlds that existed within their territory that possessed life but had never been contacted due to the non-interference laws that existed to protect them, he didn’t think this was one of them. It was his first inclination to attempt to raise any High Guard parties that might be within range of his communicator but he put an end to that idea considering he didn’t know how he came to be in this place. His last memories were of drilling a group of slackers at the academy on their slipfighter piloting skills as well as the more advanced strategies and tactics that could be employed. He’d been at the point where he had been about to give up hope on accomplishing anything significant with them when he’d suddenly found himself here on this primitive world.
He’d only had time to do a cursory scan with the sensors in his bracer before being attacked but from what he’d seen there was a pervasive energy field blanketing the entire area. Sensor readings fluctuated at random and he had a feeling that he shouldn’t rely on what he was being told past fifty meters. Considering the chaos that appeared to be happening all around him though fifty meters would be just enough warning room for him to properly prepare for any unpleasant encounters. His force lance had a full charge and was fully loaded so he wouldn’t have to worry about close quarters combat for a while so long as he didn’t get too trigger happy.
~Someone’s using a semi-automatic gauss pistol nearby.~ He thought as he began to move towards the sound.
Turning the corner to an area between two dwellings, he found what he sought in the form of long-haired redheaded woman dressed in black leather whom wielded two pistols instead of one as he’d originally surmised. She was dealing with a trio of beings that at first appeared to be humans but, when he got a better look at them, he found that they had enlarged foreheads, glowing yellow eyes and fangs in their mouths. He was surprised even more was, when the young woman succeeded in landing a pair of shots to the heart of one of the beings, it transformed into ash to be blown away by the wind. Were they artificial constructs of some kind or did they have a self-destruct mechanism that was designed to obliterate any trace of them upon death? He didn’t know the answer but it was clear they intended to kill the woman and, since they didn’t appear to be of any race he knew of, he would not intervene to save the two who remained. It took the skilled gun woman only another few minutes to dispatch the remainder of her foes. Quite impressive considering the three beings appeared to be a little stronger than your average Nietzschean, as well as a little faster than them. When the last of the opponents had turned to dust, he began to approach her but kept his steps both loud and slow so as not to startle her accidently.
“Well, that was pathetic. You’d think they’d never seen a gauss weapon before,” said the redhead with contempt for her fallen foes.
Then without missing a beat she whipped around swiftly and had both pistols aimed at him and, out of instinctive reaction, he pulled his force lance out aiming it at her.
“But I’m betting by the look of that antique you’re holding that you have,” Red said with a playful yet dangerous smirk. “You one of Dylan Hunt’s people?”
“I know of a Captain Dylan Hunt, if that’s what you mean,” he replied knowing the name of a former pupil of his who’d recently been promoted to Captain.
“Yep! That’s the guy. My cousin’s a member of his crew and is forever sending me messages about all the trouble they get into,” stated the woman with obvious annoyance at her relation’s messages. “Wilhelmina Valentine. Part time data broker, part time liberator, but all time professional.”
He might not be fluent in all the slang of the drifts and such but, unless he was very much mistaken, he was speaking with a thief as well as a data hacker. Not that he was personally opposed to the profession since such people often became useful when official channels dried up but, as a high ranking member of the High Guard, he had to present the right image when certain eyes were on him. However, based on his surroundings, he very much doubted that such eyes were watching his every move and it’d be to his advantage to have an ally amidst the confusion that surrounded them.
“Well, Miss Valentine, it would seem we are caught in quite the unusual situation where the two of us are not where we recall being twenty minutes ago,” he said, doing his best to be informal yet in keeping with his rank. “Until we find some way of returning to where we belong, it’d be to our mutual advantage to stick together. Good enough for you?”
“Well, as much fun as it might be wander around this den of flash heads and chip brains by myself, I suppose I can make it my one good deed a year watching your back ‘til we leave this mud ball,” Miss Valentine said as she holstered her gauss pistols. “After all, those Wayists say the Divine withholds judgment on those who do at least one act of kindness a year so I plan to keep it guessing for at least another decade or so.”
Somehow he didn’t think any religious group worthy of respect would say such things.
“So where to, Admiral?” Valentine asked with a bit of restlessness in her movements.
“Well, transmissions are being blocked somehow or we’re too far away from any help for us to reach them with our communicators. Also there are no reliable forms of transportation to take us anywhere,” he replied, running through the options in his mind. “Therefore our best bet is to attempt something locally to remove the interference that might be keeping us from reaching anyone. If that doesn’t work, then we can try leaving the area somehow.”
“Sounds like a workable plan,” Wilhelmina said as the two of them began to walk along the primitive roadway. “Any idea where the jammer is?”
“Not precisely but if I look for the wave distortion that’s interfering with the range of the sensors in my bracer, I should be able to get within fifty yards of the source,” he replied as he brought his bracer back up and began to calibrate it for the task ahead. “From there it will be a simple matter of inspecting each of the possible hiding places for such a device.”
“Then let’s get going because I was in the middle of a job when I got yanked here and if I have to return the down payment my client gave me then my whole month is going to be ruined.” Miss Valentine said, sounding quite against returning her initial payment.
With nothing more needing to be said, he began to lead them towards where he believed the source of the interference could be found. Whether or not he chose to pry into his temporary ally’s affairs after this would depend on his judging of her character. If she turned out to be something like the scum that he’d taken great satisfaction in bringing down back in his younger years, he would do the right thing and send her straight to a prison ship. If she turned out to be more like the sort of outlaw who broke the rules for the right reasons, though, he’d do what he could under the table to sweep away what problems she might have. Nothing big, of course, but if a few files got lost here and there then it could easily be dismissed as a system bug to be grumbled about, fixed and then forgotten.
Such was the way of the universe.
Thirteen Minutes Later, Halfway to Kingman’s Bluff, Commander Hunt aka Xander’s P.O.V
~I wonder how long it’ll be before Elizabeth decides to stab us in the back?~ Alexander thought as the three of them continued to their destination.
He knew his adoptive father would not like the fact that he was assuming the worst of the Nietzschean woman from the beginning but it was hard for him to see them any other way. How else could you see a race after one of their most powerful Prides grew him in a test tube with the help of the Collectors and then, when he was ready, spent every waking hour conditioning him to be like the one they wanted him to replace. Even now, five years after he’d been found and rescued by the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant, he couldn’t shake his unfriendly attitude towards the Ubers or those glorified librarians. Still, with the help of his adoptive father and his friends, he’d made some progress in getting away from what had been his first reaction to seeing one of either group. That first reaction, of course, being to kill them as quickly and as viciously as possible with whatever tool happened to be within reach. Now whenever he was around one of them, he slipped into what he called his ‘High Guard mode’ in which he obeyed the protocols and laws of the High Guard to the letter. This meant no fraternizing with them outside of work and bowing out of any function that didn’t require the presence of the second in command of the Andromeda. It wasn’t perfect and his father was still trying to get him to make friends with some of the Nietzscheans his own age but all he had to do was point out Tyr and Gaheris to make the older man back down.
While he might not be in the Commonwealth anymore, he still would not let down his guard around the female behind him. His senses were as sharp as they could be without technological assistance and his right hand was close enough to his force lance that he could draw it in an instant should it be needed. He’d do what he could to shield Dawn, though, from any gauss shots since she wasn’t exactly as skilled as her ‘sister’ Trance when it came to fighting. Simple pointing and shooting were fine for her but actually evading enemy fire and shooting at the same time were a little beyond her at the moment. He didn’t know what sort of training she’d received before coming aboard the Andromeda but he was fairly certain it wasn’t anything beyond a civilian’s level of skill, nothing that could match a graduate of the High Guard Academy.
He was about to dig for information on his tentative Uber ally when the sound of a female scream cut through the air, clearly indicating a damsel in distress.
Reacting on pure instinct, he ran for the source of the scream and found what looked like a human woman in some sort of cat costume being pursued by a tall furry humanoid creature easily eight feet in height that didn’t match any alien species he’d ever encountered. With that in mind he pulled his force lance out of its holster and immediately extended it to full length before placing himself between the furry creature and its prey. He didn’t have much to worry about since the first few swipes directed his way indicated a barely-sentient level of intelligence or someone who knew next to nothing about how to fight. With a few well-placed strikes to the torso followed by a solid blow to the back of the thing’s neck, the fur-covered alien dropped to the ground, unconscious but relatively unharmed save for a few bruises it’d have upon waking up. Turning around to look at the young woman he’d saved, he found her looking at him at shock with her jaw hanging in surprise. Not the usual reaction he got the few times he came to a damsel in distress’ rescue but certainly not the worst response ever.
“Are you alright, miss?” he asked after several moments of no movement from her.
“Since when did you turn into Robin Hood, Harris? And why are you older looking?” she asked, sounding a little too like the spoiled daughter of the Tarazed Ambassador he’d been forced to act as a bodyguard for once.
He was not looking to have to deal with another one.
“I’m afraid you have me mistaken for someone else, Miss. My last name’s Hunt, not Harris.” He said as politely as he could, using the etiquette lessons he’d gotten from Rommie.
“Have you gone mental or something?” the woman asked, sounding like she didn’t believe a word he’d just said, “What am I saying!? Of course you have! Just like the rest of this town and Jo-Jo the dog boy you just put down! Ooohhh! I’m never going to get my deposit back from Party Town with all these tears in my costume!”
Definitely someone who likes the sound of her own voice a little too much. He thought as he began to inch away from the brat so he could hook back up with Dawn and the Uber.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Ms. Brat asked him with hands on her hips and full superior glare aimed at him, “The entire town’s gone completely schitzo, more so than usual, and you think you can just leave me by myself?! I don’t ^think^ so!”
~I have a feeling she doesn’t think much, ^period^.! He thought as he heard the sounds of two sets of feet approaching his present location, ~At least not when it comes to someone other than herself.~
“You and your little freak team always seem to be able to fix things so I’m sticking with you until things go back to normal.” Ms. Brat said, sounding like she’d just made her statement a law of the universe.
“This one sounds like one of those scheming Jaguar Pride princesses,” came the condescending tone of the Uber he’d allowed into his group. “Still, she sounds like she has a better idea of what’s going on than we do. Perhaps she could tell us what she knows.”
“Buffy? Since when did you start copping a Ms. Bad-Ass attitude?” Ms. Brat asked, sounding puzzled but still certain she had the right view of things.
“The name is Elizabeth and, if by some chance I had been named… Buffy… I would kill my parents for giving me the name and then kill myself to rid such nonsense from the gene pool,” replied the Uber woman, looking thoroughly disgusted at having such a un-Nietzschean name. “Now, do you know anything about why this primitive town has gone mad or am I just wasting my time talking to you?”
“Like I’m supposed to know all the crazy freaksome stuff that happens! That’s your department, Summers!” Ms. Brat replied, sounding like she would start a catfight if she was pushed one more step forward. “All I know is one minute everything’s normal and I’m deciding to dump the jock I’d been with and then everyone, like, totally goes psycho, acting like the things they dressed up as. I was lucky to get out of the Bronze in one piece!”
“But you didn’t change? Right?” Dawn asked pointing out that Ms. Brat hadn’t been changed into a cat person of some kind.
“Of course not! You losers probably got your outfits at that new dirt cheap place while I got my outfit from the best shop in town.” Ms. Brat replied arrogantly before taking a second look at Dawn, “Since when did you become Barely Legal material?”
While he might not understand the context of the reference, he had a fairly good idea of what the brunette was referring to but it didn’t make sense to him since it was perfectly normal for Dawn to look roughly eighteen or nineteen physically. While it was true that he didn’t know a whole lot about Dawn’s race or how they grew physically, he didn’t think they aged physically all that different from most humanoid races.
“So… it would be fair to say that only those people who got their costume from this… cheaper store were affected tonight?” asked Ms. Uber rhetorically, sounding like she barely thought this story was worth considering. “Take us there.”
“Why should I?” Ms. Brat asked, sounding like she was two seconds away from giving the Uber a tongue lashing of a lifetime.
Without a single pause Elizabeth pulled out her gauss pistol, aimed it at a nearby vehicle and fired three shots into it, leaving nothing but smoking holes in the metal.
“Good enough a reason for you?” Elizabeth asked, returning the weapon to its holster.
“Right. This way.” Ms. Brat replied, showing that she had more smarts than he’d thought by taking only a second to pick up on the implied threat.
While truthfully he wouldn’t have let the Nietzschean woman kill or seriously hurt the teenager, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t permit a couple of bluffs tied to examples in the form of inanimate objects. If it got him back to where he belonged, he’d be willing to allow quite a bit.
However the killing of innocents, even spoiled ones, wasn’t even an option.
He was a lot like his father in that respect.
The Sol Star System, Not Far From Jupiter, 628,743,036 km from Earth, Same Time
It was a region of space that had only loosely been explored by the native inhabitants of the system. Probes sent from Earth had conducted flybys and other such scans of the planet while telescopes on the only populated world watched the planetary body from a distance. However, despite the advancements that had been made between the launching of each probe and the gazes from increasingly sophisticated telescopes, none would see what would happen next.
With an effect like the birth of a new star, a concentration of light sparkled for a moment, stretching out with beams of light. Then, mere seconds later, a blue whirlpool-like vortex sprang forth, hinting at being a doorway to another plane of existence. This hypothesis was proven to be correct when a small, seemingly organic based ship emerged from within the vortex. If it could be described as anything, it would be described as being like an alien tree that was travelling through space roots first. This was proven even more accurate when sections near the rear of the craft moved away from the central trunk to form a sort of canopy like one might see on a tropical palm tree. However the most interesting part of this was not the ship but rather the being inside who was piloting the ship.
Standing in front of a holographic display on the bridge was a being that was distinctly not native to this star system. Composed of an elongated helmet with a single eye in the front, a harness around where the shoulders would be, a cape or robe making up most of it and ending with a plate of multicolored glass on the front, it was an odd sight to be sure. However, as it looked at the images displayed in the air before it, one could sense an almost timeless wisdom about the being. The main image in the center was of a ship that was easily over a thousand meters in length from one end to the other. It had an almost artistic design to it but the being had long since learned to look beneath the surface for the truth. What it discovered was technology easily four millennia ahead of what the natives of this system should have been capable of producing without outside help.
~Intriguing.~ Thought the being as he caused the main image to slide into the background as another one moved to the front.
The second image was of a section of space close to Mars that seemed to be fluttering like a blanket that was being blown about by a strong wind. There were no tears in space and, visually, the only way one could determine its shape was by following the distortion effect until it disappeared. To the owner of the organic ship, though, his sensors clearly indicated it to be the beginnings of a temporal anomaly. Whether it was natural or artificial was unknown at this time since there was evidence to support either possibility but it was growing in strength. In fact, if it proceeded to develop like it was, there was a real possibility that a hole in space and time would be created in a little over two weeks.
~Interesting.~ Thought the entity as he piloted his ship into prime position to observe both locations and capture the information with its sensors.
He did not know if the two anomalies were connected but they definitely bore further investigation.
Especially given what his people had planned for the inhabitants of this star system.