The landscape was covered in thick mist and it was easily 39° or hotter in the lush jungle. Two figures pushed through the dense overgrowth until they finally stumbled on to a trail. The first was short and had bleached blond hair. She was wearing a camouflage uniform and a heavy armored vest, and carried a backpack with a large axe and a crossbow strapped to it. The other was much taller at almost two meters and had long dark hair that spilled out of the back of her helmet. She too carried a pack but was wearing hard armor and had a rifle instead of a crossbow, and a strange looking metal bar instead of an axe.
"We stop? I tired, need rest," the tall woman said.
"No problem Tasha, this heat is killing me too. Up a tree though? I really don't like the feelings I'm getting."
"Da. Good idea Pchelka."
The pair found a suitable non-spiny barked thing that looked close enough to a tree to pass and the shorter one zipped up it like a monkey. When she reached the top she dropped a line down and almost effortlessly hauled her much larger friend up. When they had gotten settled on a branch they both pulled off their helmets.
The shorter woman had a strangely slick looking texture to the skin on the left side of her face and it looked bubbled and slightly melted. She also wore a gray leather patch over her left eye. The taller woman lifted her left leg up, and unbuckling the armor on it, examined a strange rune inscribed prosthetic.
"Willow's leg giving you problems?" Buffy asked.
"Nyet, I still fascinated by it. It nothing like protocols from my land."
"Wills is a certain kind of special snowflake."
"It moves just like my old leg. Very smooth, balance perfect," after looking at it for another minute, she strapped the armor back on.
"Well don't break it. The mechanic is...Oh who am I kidding, the mechanic doesn't have a clue where we are right now. Baba Yaga has made sure of that."
Natasha nodded. That morning she had been in her cabin in the Yukon washing the breakfast dishes when suddenly she found herself in the old witch's hut. Seated next to her was her closest friend, Buffy Summers. The witch herself was in her normal rocking chair by the fire, smoking her pipe.
"Ah my children. It's so nice that you decided to drop by and pay your old grandmother a visit," Baba Yaga blew a smoke ring that transformed into a ghostly skull as it dissipated.
"What do you want?" Buffy growled.
"Temper my dear. Bad things happen when anger erupts," the old woman's eyes started to glow.
Buffy gritted her teeth, "I'm sorry Grandmother."
The glow faded and Baba Yaga was all smiles again, "Better, much better."
Natasha decided to take a different tact, "Since we are here, are there any errands we can run for you?"
"Such a clever girl. Still a child of your land even so far displaced. Yes there is. As you know I become...irritated when the natural order of things is disturbed..."
"Unless you're doing the disturbing," Buffy muttered. Baba Yaga pretended not to hear.
"...such as a man attempting to steal souls from their rightful passage to the afterlife and corrupting them in his quest for power."
Natasha noticed Buffy twitching. Fighting this sort of thing was what the short woman lived for.
"You stopped that individual. Granted you were mostly used as bait, but the effort you made was significant. Now there is a situation much as before, but with some distinct differences," she turned to face Buffy, "What would you think if I told you that an equivalent of the Deeper Well was opened and its occupants released?"
Buffy stiffened, "I have to tell the others!"
"Oh no, it's not on your world or Natasha's, but on another version. Due to the nature of the corruption, the beings call it the Dark Symmetry by the by, souls are transformed into their servants to gather more souls. The battle rages across the solar system, fought mainly in secret due to the effects that knowledge of this might have upon the general populace. These powers also have...affected my persona in that version. I am crippled and weak from certain locations I rely on becoming twisted and perverted. Your Powers That Be," she looked at Buffy, "Have not deemed it necessary to step in. I believe they are observing the conflict as some sort of experiment."
Natasha looked over and saw Buffy's face was a cold mask.
"Is their Varan under the dark power's control?" Natasha asked the old witch.
"Oh their version has ceased to exist years ago as a country, but the people are still there and still part of the land and my spirit."
Natasha shrugged, "What can we do to help?"
"If you can clear some of the nodes that have become corrupted, I may be able to regain some power and do more to help humanity."
"Grandmother," Natasha chided gently, "You only wish to help humanity shake off its yokes so that you may have them all to yourself."
"I have never said otherwise, but consider that I wish humanity to thrive and create and feel joy on occasion, the dark wishes them to serve as mindless thralls."
Buffy looked over at Natasha, "I actually don't think she's lying this time."
The tall woman nodded, "Da, her asking for help and admitting weakness proves truth," she ignored the old woman's glare.
"We will help you Grandmother."
The old witch's glare faded instantly and she was all wrinkled smiles again.
"Now their magic works on different principles so I can't do as much to aid you against being seen this time, I can do some however and your good eye will still function as before my child. Look to the sky for your bearings."
With that the two found themselves standing in a jungle, fully equipped.
"Well, she doesn't waste time."
"Nyet, sometimes I wish she would."
After walking to follow a black flaming path in the sky, heading south west by the compass on Natasha's hook, for about two hours they were now seated in a mostly comfortable tree drinking water.
"Hey Tasha, why do you never come visit me in England, I mean Lions."
"I told you. I happy in quiet woods. Nobody bother me. I bother no one"
"Come on, you know that bastard was responsible not you."
"Kar Dartha? Da, I know, but I still sometimes have trouble believing."
Buffy nodded, "Yeah I get that," she looked around. "I wonder where on our Earths we are?"
"I do not know. This no plant I ever see in Suden...Africa?"
"Yup, Suden is Africa," suddenly a loud roar erupted followed by rapid weapon fire.
"Da, that sound like party invitation."
"The two slid to the ground and took off running drawing their weapons.
The World of the Red Star created by and property of Christian Gossett and Archangel Studios
Mutant Chronicles (Game not Movie) Property Heartbreaker,Target AG, and 7th Circle Development