Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Exalted. I'm not making any money off of this. This is a fan work by someone who loves both of them. I'm just a starving artist, so please don't sue.
Author's Note: This was my other idea for a Buffy/Exalted crossover. The concept behind The Third Age (my first idea) was the Scooby Gang was Exalted as a group at the end of the 7th season and would go on to lead the fight against the forces of darkness on a grander scale. Unfortunately, as I tried to write the second chapter, I realized that in order to write the fanfic as seen in my head I would need a lot more ability than my novice writing skills can handle at the moment. Thus, Third Age is on hiatus while I take some ranks in Fanfic Writing. In the meantime, I give you:
Prologue: 'Tis but a Scratch
She was standing on the side of a sloped road in the heat of the early afternoon. That was strange, since the last thing she remembered was the Master throwing her drained body into that puddle. Looking around, she notices a sign next to her with two arrows pointing in opposite directions. Looking down the hill, she saw a shining city off in the distance. In the opposite direction she saw what looked like a rundown Sunnydale. Looking up at the sign again, she noticed that she could now make out the wording on it. Pointing down the hill, in disturbingly soft letters was printed 'Death', and on the other side, seemingly scribbled on in rough handwriting was the word 'Life'.
Giving an unladylike snort she turned to start walking up the hill. "What kind of idiot would chose to die just because it's the easier thing to do?" She said out loud. Ignoring the irony of her statement, she lifted her leg to begin her uphill journey.
Suddenly, she was hit by exactly how exhausted she felt; like she had just spent the last twelve hours with a sadistic cheer instructor going through all her routines until she got every detail perfect. A downhill journey was suddenly sounding a lot better. Besides, that city down there looked like it loads better than the other place. She bet it would have some really awesome malls and-
"Buffy!" She stopped. That was Xander's voice. He sounded terrified.
"Buffy!" That time it was Angel. Quieter, but no less worried.
She shook her head in frustration, beads of sweat flying off as she did so. "No way. I don't care how much easier it is, I'm not going to die here." She shouted at the universe as she forced her body to trudge uphill.
As if summoned by her cry an air-conditioned breeze blew past her as a bus suddenly pulled up next to her and opened it's door. "Hey there little lady." The driver called out from his seat in a kind and relaxing voice. "You look like you could use a lift."
"Oh thank goodness, you wouldn't believe..." She stopped in mid step as she noticed the destination flashing 'Death' on the side and that the bus was facing downhill. "Um... I don't suppose you could take me up that-a-way?" She asked
"Sorry little lady, it's a one-way trip. Them's the rules."
"But you don't even have any other passengers." She commented as she glanced in the windows. "Can't you make one exception?"
"Nope, no exceptions. So you getting on or what?"
She slouched as her hopes of a nice, easy ride crumbled. Then she looked up slowly as a malevolent grin spread across her face.
Nine figures were left standing as the bus sped away. Well, seven were standing. The former bus driver was swearing as he tried to free himself from a cactus patch, and the last was rolling around on the ground laughing her ass off.
"Bwahahaha! Oh, man. *snicker* that was great." Said a Silver-haired woman as she managed to compose herself a bit.
"Is she allowed to do that?" A man in a golden robe turned to ask the other six as he motioned to the retreating bus.
"She just did." An athletic blonde commented as she scratched her head.
"Hey, U.C." The still-chuckling woman said as she climbed to her feet. "I you don't want her I'll totally take her. Anyone who thinks outside of the box like that is totally what I'm looking for in my chosen."
"No need. She's a bit unorthodox, but she's got spirit. I think she'll do just fine."
"In that case, we should probably get moving." A muscular redhead interrupted as she started walking into the desert. "There are some Powers that need Beating." Which she emphasized with a punch to her palm.
With a chorus of agreements the motley-looking group turned and vanished into the desert.
"Um, does this mean I'm not in trouble?" The thorn-covered driver asked as he managed to climb out of the cacti. "Hello?"
Xander flinched backwards as the girl he was giving CPR to suddenly took a deep breath and golden light burst around her. Angel backed away as the glow burned his skin as a spectral, red and gold phoenix seem to burst into life briefly as Buffy got to her feet, a golden sunburst on her forehead.
"Um, you okay there, Buff?" Xander hazarded a question as the radiant girl checked to make sure she was still alive.
"Huh? Oh! Yeah, thanks Xan. I feel... Super." She finishes with a smirk as she surveys the room. "Which way did the Master go?"
Xander just points to the only other exit to the room.
"Thanks. Gotta run. There's a vamp that needs a lesson on how to treat a lady." Having said that, the glowing blonde turned and dashed at superhuman speed into the tunnel, leaving Xander and a slightly smoking angel alone in a suddenly much-darker room.
"... Did Buffy just get possessed by the Phoenix Force?"
Phoenix Force is owned by Marvel Comics