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With This Ring…

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Doubly Chosen". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: The Scooby Gang's escape from an imploding Hellmouth and a collapsing Sunnydale takes an unexpected detour.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sci-Fi > Author: Jim BaenGreywizardFR1511,4680236,2724 Aug 124 Aug 12Yes
Disclaimer: The characters all belong to either Crack-Head Joss and ME and the referenced story belongs to Eric Flint. Deal with it. I have.

Time Frame: Immediately post 'Chosen' for the Scoobies, and I've juggled the time frame by a few years for the crossover book referenced.

Spoilers: None really for the Scoobies, if you're at all familiar with BtVS, and none whatsoever for the crossover.

Character Bashing: Nope. I do take requests, though.

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

Author’s Note 1: Many thanks to Bill Haden and Theo (Starway_Man) for beta-ing this story.

Author’s Note 2: As usual, “word” indicates speech, :: word :: indicates mental communication and { word } indicates a character's thoughts.

Author’s Note 3: This is story #4 for the 2012 August Fic-A-Day Challenge.

~/~/~


Main Street
Sunnydale, CA

May 20, 2003


Buffy Anne Summers dashed across the rooftops of all the collapsing warehouses, running for all she was worth and slowly gaining on the yellow school bus carrying her comrades as it sped toward the city limits at the fastest speed its driver, Robin Wood, could wring from its laboring engine.

Behind the desperately fleeing Slayer, all of the remaining buildings were fast vanishing as the town slowly collapsed into the rapidly growing crater, which had formerly contained the active Hellmouth and the legions of Turok-Han.

As the final warehouse on that section of the street collapsed into rubble beneath her feet , Buffy made one last desperate leap into the air, sailing past the Sun Cinema marquee as that building vanished, too. Mixed emotions of anger, frustration and regret filled her as Buffy recognized that her leap was going to fall short of her target by several feet – before a sudden gust of wind, apparently generated by the collapsing buildings behind her, conferred the needed additional speed and Ms. Summers sprawled awkwardly atop the roof of the speeding vehicle.

The blonde's fingers frantically scrambled for purchase as she felt herself starting to slide towards the rear of the fleeing vehicle, and Buffy cursed viciously and uselessly as she began slipping across the yellow-painted metal. As she felt her legs begin to flail uselessly through the air as the lower half of her torso dangled off the side of the bus's roof, Buffy could hear Dawn screaming her name, the fear and anxiety for her big sister almost palpable in the younger woman's voice.

"Got her!" Buffy heard Rona yell from somewhere below her, feeling strong fingers clamping around her ankle at the same moment the bus hit an obstruction in the road and the original Chosen One was jolted off the slick metal roof.

As gravity compelled her to begin swinging down towards the pavement passing below her, despite the newly Awakened African-American Slayer's unyielding grasp, Buffy felt a half-dozen more hands grabbing a firm hold on her flailing limbs and pulling her against the side of the bus and towards her fellow Slayers, whose upper bodies were all hanging out of the bus's windows in their efforts to save her.

It was the work of an additional few seconds before Buffy was finally pulled through one of the hastily-broken windows and inside the wildly lurching vehicle, at which point she was being squeezed so hard that it seemed as though she was being attacked by a group of octopuses.

"Oh my god, Buffy, I was so scared! I thought for sure you weren't going to make it!" Buffy could hear Dawn sobbing hysterically in her ears as the frantic teen desperately wrapped herself around her older sibling. "I thought you were gonna die – again!"

"But I didn't, Dawn," Buffy reassured her sister as she hugged the younger girl back with an equally anxious ferocity.

"So I guess you're just gonna be stuck with me for a while, huh," the blonde said with an admittedly feeble attempt at humor.

Before Dawn could respond, a brilliant flash of light blinded everyone for an instant, and when the bus's occupants finally stopped blinking and could see again, the frown on the Slayer's face would have terrified a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex.

"Whistler. What the hell do *you* want?" Buffy demanded, the chill in her voice easily capable of freezing boiling water.

"Hey, spare me the attitude, doll-face; I'm just here to give you and your people a quick heads-up about some nasty stuff that's headed your way," the badly-dressed minion of the Powers That Be replied, the dour expression on the balance demon's face an unambiguous herald that the news he was bearing would almost certainly not be greeted with smiles and cheers.

"And please don't waste what little time I've got here threatening me, okay, kid?" Whistler requested with a frown. "Because you’ve royally pissed off the Big Guys this time."

"What’s this pimp-wannabe talking about, B?" Faith wanted to know, swaying from side to side until Robin abruptly brought the bus to a screeching halt, just outside the city limits.

"What am I talkin’ about, she asks? Slayer, you and everyone else here have interfered with the Powers’ plans for the last time, and now they're looking to make sure you don't screw things up for them anymore – ever," the apparent pimp informed the group, his words eliciting expressions of surprise and anger from the veteran members of the group and bewilderment from the other, newer members.

"What, exactly, are your masters intending to do, Mr. Whistler?" Giles interjected, clearly intent on acquiring as much information as they could in the time available.

"Well, thing is, the PTBs were expecting – hoping and praying, to be perfectly accurate – that all of you people were gonna die in the fight against the Turok-Han," Whistler replied, obviously relieved that at least one person wasn't wasting time arguing, "and when that didn't work out, they accelerated the speed of the town's collapse, hoping to get rid of you that way

"And by the way, that last-second gust of wind that blew you onto the bus roof? That wasn't just some random breeze, Slayer," the balance demon noted parenthetically, with a small pleased smile edging onto his lips as he noted the expression of surprise which appeared on Buffy's face at that revelation.

"Anyway, all you need to know is that the Big Shots on both sides have agreed that they want all of you out of the game, as in permanently," Whistler told them, "so they pooled their a lot of their resources and put in a fair amount of effort to arrange things so that a couple of artifacts created by what you'd call another nonhuman group would hit this continent at the same time.

"That way, if their bosses ever decided to check up on things, since there's another town on the East Coast that just got zapped at the same time as Sunnydale did, it won't look like youse guys were targeted deliberately – but that you just had a string of bad luck, instead," their visitor said as he informed them of the Powers' machinations.

"Now, we've gotta work fast, 'cause if my bosses figure out that I'm not doing exactly what they wanted, and that I managed to divert the portal aimed at you people from the center of the volcano you were supposed to meet, then the kim chee is definitely gonna hit the fan," Whistler warned his audience.

"Look, you're probably all gonna find this place you're all gonna end up in kinda strange – except maybe for your pet geeks over there, Slayer – but if youse guys all work together the way you have in the past, then you should be able to –

"ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!" Whistler abruptly screamed in agony, an instant before his body flared up like a gasoline-soaked rag set on fire, followed by a slight sprinkle of ashes that then drifted slowly to the floor. Such was the ultimate price for trying to undermine the plans of the Powers That Be and the Other Side, and being found out.

A fraction of an instant later, the bus's inhabitants were again blinded as a dazzling light surrounded them for a few brief moments before slowly fading away, allowing the small group of demon fighters to peer out the windows – and gape in disbelief at what they could see.

FIN

~/~/~

Okay, people, that's all for this story. At least for the moment. ;-)

I do have a general idea of where I'm gonna go with the sequel to this story, once my muse decides to follow it up, but since she's been toying with several different destinations where the now larger and significantly enhanced Scooby Gang could discover themselves and she hasn't settled on any specific one at the moment, I'm still waiting on that information before proceeding.

And for those of you out there who might not recognize the referenced crossover, it's the novel '1632' by Eric Flint, the first novel in the 'Ring of Fire' series. I haven't gotten around to finishing reading all of them yet, but they're an excellent series, so pick them up.

Also, if anyone would like to use this story as a jumping off point for their own story, feel free to do so. Just let acknowledge this story as the launching point (maybe with a link, huh?) and let me know where you're posting the follow-up story.

The End

You have reached the end of "With This Ring…". This story is complete.

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