: Daria and Co. are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; characters, etc. from the Number of the Beast and its offshoots are owned by the estate of Robert A. Heinlein; characters from the Kildar/Dark Paladin series are owned by John Ringo. None are mine, no infringement intended, making no money. The plot of The Author as a Lesbian
is mine, however.
Daria looked down from the commander's seat of the M113A3. "Is everyone strapped in?"
Her wives, Tom, and Quinn, all nodded, Stacy gave her a thumbs up from the driver's station, Buffy and Willow said, "Yes," simultaneously, while Oz and Faith (who Daria had finally met after the Senior Partners had been taken down) simply smiled. Looking around, Daria nodded.
"April, the settings on file for bondage-world, please." There had been some discussion about whether to move the Burns family's continua device inside April, as soon all devices would be. MearsGirls had the sentience to refuse to translate warships across intergalactic or interdimensional distances, were smart enough to know when exceptions had to be made, and could destroy both themselves and the devices embedded in them if they discovered that they had been hoodwinked and they were
being used in such a way. The Burroughs-Long portion of the Scooby Clan had breathed a sigh of relief at the solution, and multiple millions of dollars in payments were promised as soon as they got back from this trip. In the end, they decided that, at least for this trip, it was better to have the device where it was.
"Set and locked in, Boss."
"Stop!" Everyone turned to look at Quinn. "I'm sorry, Daria. It's just...I've been so busy thinking about what we just went through to even consider where we're going."
Daria nodded. "I understand, Sis. Taking out hundreds of demons," she let her mouth smirk just a bit, "and then detonating the highest-powered weapons ever used in anger can tend to distract someone."
Quinn blushed. "But after we sat down, I did start thinking about it. Daria, if we just wing it by the seat of our pants, at best, we're not going to get full cooperation. At worst, they're going to be actively hostile. And I don't think your plans envision us working completely alone."
Daria considered. "All right, Quinn." She turned to April. "I'm sorry, but would you please change the settings to 405 Beacon Street, our universe."
Daria smiled at the appellation. Trying to sound like a balding English actor, she intoned, "Engage." Giggling, April did, and Daria popped the hatch and looked around. Their brownstone loomed above them, and so they all filed into the building, and into the elevator.
When they got out of the elevator car, Daria walked into the kitchen, where her mother was on the phone. "Well, of course, Jim. Daria just needed me up here for a few days to consult on some -" she broke off as she saw Daria. "Hold on, Jim, I'm going to have to call you back later." She hung up and said, "Daria!" while hugging her.
Stepping back, Daria smiled at her mother. "We're not done, yet, Mom..more like about halfway. But I'd like to introduce you to some new friends that we picked up on the way, -"
Helen interrupted her, exclaiming, "Buffy Summers! Willow Rosenberg, Daniel Osborne, and Faith Lehane!" She smiled widely. "I'm so pleased to meet you. I'm Helen Morgendorffer, Daria's mother." She squinted at April. "I seem to remember you, vaguely. Didn't you have something to do with that bastard, Warren?"
Buffy blushed, as she took Helen's hand. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Morgendorffer. Apparently we're from an offshoot of our original work, just like you and your daughter. I'm Buffy Summers-Rosenberg, and Willow's my wife, though it's not legal where we are." She smiled and gestured at Faith. "These are our clansmen, Oz and Faith Osborne."
April smiled. "Warren made me, Mrs. Morgendorffer."
"Oh, yes. You're April, aren't you? I find it hard to remember, because your episode was right before..." She looked at Buffy, her eyes soft. "Is your mother all right?"
Buffy smiled brightly. "Oh, yeah. Wills was waiting for me in another time-line, and she had a really good idea..she turned time back. And we were able to save my mom, and Jenny, and..." she blushed. "I guess it is true, that you get to be a lot like your spouse."
Willow grinned and punched Buffy's shoulder. "That's only supposed to be after a few years, doofus."
Helen looked at Daria, slightly puzzled. "But I thought you were going off to save that Neanderthal and his world from whatever that Gomer did?"
"Funny thing, Mom," she said, sitting down at the table. "We set everything to random, and it brought us to Buffy, who needed our help. You see -"
After an hour, Helen leaned back and clasped her hands together in her lap. "Well, I certainly can't say that you haven't been putting your time to good use."
"They did," Willow said, "even if they didn't get more in exchange for the plutonium." She winked.
"Oh." April would have blushed if she had been able to, as every eye turned to her. "Did I forget to tell you? Lazarus said that you weren't going to get away without getting paid for the plutonium, at least, so while you were doing other things, they went back to Tertius and got a couple tons of gold, and loaded it on top of the M113."
Daria's eyebrow rose. "A couple tons? Why that must be worth - "
"Just under 77 million dollars, at the spot prices the day we left," Tom said. "What? I keep my eye on prices like that, and it's simple multiplication."
Daria shook her head. "We'll get it in later. First, we need to plan what we're going to do when we get to this 'Ghost's' universe. What would Gomer have been able to do that would have affected the entire world?"
"Well, the smallpox they almost let go in the fourth book would have killed everyone on the planet." Any smile was now gone from Helen's face. "Or tampering with things so that the DVD's from Lunardi got into the wrong hands, where someone wanted to start a nuclear war?"
"It might be both. One to be the primary, and one to be the backup, if the primary failed or was defeated." Daria's face was grim.
"Goddess, I hate this," grumbled Buffy, who then looked up. "We're going to have to trust the Powers on this one, guys. Make the numbers random, and trust that we'll end up where we're needed. The question is, how will we know where and when we are?"
Daria sighed. "That'll be easy. If we're not in Georgia, the country, that means the first book. Otherwise, if none of the Keldara are dead, and they haven't fought the battalion of Chechens yet, it's the second book. If they have fought the Chechens, but haven't taken any KIAs, it's the third. If they've had a couple of deaths, it's the fourth, and if the deaths include Gretchen, it's the fifth." She took a breath. "Our most likely points are the beginning of the third, or beginning of the fourth books. The fifth deals with issues, while important to Harmon/Jenkins/whathaveyou, aren't going to destroy life on Earth."
"How are we going to even get in to talk to this guy, if he's holed up in this big mansion?" Jane asked.
"Apparently by talking to his retainers," Willow said, holding up a sealed envelope with the Goddess's interlocking moon symbol on it. "These guys are believers in the Norse tradition, which means that She sees them in Her guise as Freya, and we'll go as Her daughters."
"And, instead of a hammer, their Thor carries an axe," Stacy said, with a pointed look at Buffy.
"All right, all right, the Scythe comes out," Buffy sighed. "But how do we get him
"Use information from the first book," Quinn replied. "Most of it nobody know but him and that Chief Adams guy."
"And how much do we tell him? About the future, about World as Myth, everything?" Tom asked.
"Well, here's where I thought we could start off..."