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Summary: It seems that the Scoobies family histories are more complicated than they had believed ...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > FantasyGladiusFR181053,4101610229,2618 Aug 1218 Jan 13No

Part 4

Disclaimer: Surprisingly, neither the characters of BtVS or the
themes of 'Scion' belong to me. Instead, they seem to belong to Joss
Wheadon and White Wolf, which seems very unfair to me.

Rating: MA15+(mostly for violence, language and occasional sex)

Spoilers: Beginning of Season Three for BtVS, just background info
for 'Scion'

Hefting the bladed club in her hands, Buffy slowly approached ‘Ken’, who was pinned to the dungeon floor by the portcullis impaling his legs. He looked up at her, with an expression more confusion and disbelief than the rage she expected. As though he simply couldn’t comprehend why she hadn’t simply accepted her lot of slavery and despair. It simply hadn’t occurred to him that a mere human would dare actually fight back! She felt satisfied, hearing the other escapees climbing up through the portal behind her. Kinda fitting: they’re climbing out of Hell into the real world. Maybe I should say something poetic about it - nah, stick to what you know.

“You - ruined - you -”

Buffy looked down at the demon’s blood-splattered, face and smirked. “Hey Ken: wanna see my impression of Ghandi?” ‘Ken’s red eyes widened as she lifted the club over one shoulder and swung it down with great force. It was the last thing the demon ever saw.

“Ghandi?” asked Lilly, pulling up beside Buffy, somewhat shocked by the casual, brutal violence with which Buffy had dispatched their tormenter.

“Well you know,” she said, feeling slightly embarrassed by the lameness of her taunting. Why is it that the slaying comes back to me like falling off a log, but my punning skills are the rusty ones? Life just isn’t fair! “He was really pissed off.”

Turning to go, she took Lilly’s arm and guided her to the portal. “Come on, let’s get back to reality. Minimum wage sucks, but it beats hell - barely.”

“Yeah,” acquiesced Lilly, still sounding somewhat distant.

Reaching the portal, Buffy helped Lilly climb through, before taking a look behind her. Sound of pursuit was increasing, and iron-studded boots were clattering against the flagstones. “The Hell with this,” she muttered, and reached up, taking the hand thrust through the portal to help her, and hauled herself upwards through the portal into …

… Not where she had expected.

Instead of a dingy basement in LA, Buffy found herself climbing into a large room, well lit, with walls and floor of polished, black-veined marble. She let go of the hand and jumped aside, seeing not Lilly, but a stranger, a tall, slender woman, pale skinned and large-eyed, dressed in a simple, flowing white robe. The strange woman backed away, her hands held up in a silent placating gesture, acknowledging Buffy’s confusion and distrust. Buffy accepted the distance, and took the opportunity to look around.

The room, as previously stated, was large, marble and with a high ceiling. Bright light filled the air, seemingly from no particular source. Windows up near the ceiling revealed a crystal-clear night sky filled with stars.

Neither Lilly, nor any other escapee was in sight.

Buffy turned to the oddly dressed woman. “Okay, Ms Pantomime, what’s going on? What happened to the -” she broke off as the glowing portal flashed several times and resealed itself with tiles and appearing like a small, dry water feature.

“Ookay, that’s not ominous at all,” she said slowly. Turning to the strange woman again, she asked, “Right, where am -” and broke off again as the woman turned and left the room through an arched doorway, only to pause just outside and silently motion for Buffy to follow.

Now, Joyce Summers had raised no fools (Dawn’s occasional insinuations aside), and the Slayer had no intention of being lead around by the nose. However, alone, unarmed and having just escaped from Hell, she wasn’t at her best. True, standing up to ‘Ken’ and making with the jailbreak had gone a way towards getting her Mojo back, but she still wasn’t feeling 100%.

She also wasn’t getting the oogies from either Ms Tall and Pale or the surrounding architecture, so she ignored her mind and went with her gut.

She followed.

The pair wandered through long corridors of the same, high-roofed marble, with columns every few yards, carpeted with a deep grey velvet. Occasionally the walls housed small alcoves, which held pedestals mounting marble or plaster busts of indeterminate subjects, bowls and goblets of pewter, copper or bronze, and once a tiny plastic Donald Duck figurine. This last one held Buffy frozen for a moment, shocked by the incongruity of the thing, before her companion’s silent urging summoned her onwards.

Finally, just as Buffy was about to loose her temper and grab the woman demanding answers, the silent figure stopped at a pair of double doors, made of dark wood and bound in iron, and indicated with a graceful arm-wave that Buffy should go through.

Caught up in the unreality of the whole situation, Buffy nodded to the woman, who bowed in return and glided off on some other errand, and turned her attention to the doors. Big, heavy things, with enormous ring handles and ornate hinges of black iron.. If Buffy had been a simple, LA cheerleader, there was no way she’d be able to pull those doors open.

“You know, I’ve seen this movie. The hot, young blond dies first.”

Taking a deep breath, she gripped one ring in each hand, set her feet and pulled. Even for her enhanced strength, the doors were heavy: the wood groaned, the hinges screamed, but working her shoulders, the Slayer built up enough momentum and the damned things open.

Man, am I glad I chose sneakers, she thought absently. This would have been a lot harder in heels!

Walking through the doorway, she blinked as she entered a large hall with an even higher ceiling than the hallways, again walls and floor of marble, the vaulted ceiling supported by columns. The carpet flowed into the hall in a narrow strip leading up to a multi-tiered dais, surmounted by a large Roman couch.

On said couch reclined a woman.

More on her in a moment.

Buffy’s attention was drawn more to the enormous windows that took up much of the wall behind the dais. Apparently without glass, they opened to a starry night sky, crystal clear with bright, steady stars.

And a big, bright blue and white disk that looked suspiciously familiar hung large in one window where her mind insisted the moon should be.

“’I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto,’” she murmured.

“I never thought much of that girl,” came a deep, clear voice, and Buffy’s attention returned to the occupant of the dais. “A bit of a whiner. Brave, I‘ll grant, and determined. But surely she could find a better weapon than a bucket of water!”

“If it stupid and it works, it’s not stupid,” retorted Buffy, largely by reflex.

“An excellent point,” admitted the woman, beckoning Buffy forwards with a brisk gesture. “Well? Come on, girl, come closer. Let me get a good look at you.”

Reluctantly, Buffy walked forwards, getting a betted view of the stranger.

Even reclined as she was, the woman was clearly tall and athletic. Long, dark hair fell about her face in waves. She wore a simple white tunic, edged in blue Greek key patterns, cinched at the waist by a belt of silver links. As Buffy drew closer, she noted the piercing eyes, the pale skin and the regal bearing.

Reaching the base of the dais, Buffy stopped. “Well? I’m here, and I guess You‘ve got something to do with it. So, what’s the what?”

The woman’s lip twitched, and her dark eyes glittered. “Very well,” she said, and waved her hand. Buffy blinked: there was a second couch next to the first. There was no flash of light, no sparkle of FX, no magic words or even effort. She had simply gestured and reality was rewoven. Okay, that’s new.

“Come, sit. You have had quite an eventful evening.”

Snort. “Yeah, about that. Where the heck am I? I was in some dungeon dimension, and was supposed to wind up back in LA, but here I am, what, on the frigging moon?”

The woman now smiled outright. “Oh, yes, you’ll do fine. Now, please, sit down with me, and I will explain as much as I can.” Again, she gestured at the second couch.

Climbing the steps up the dais was not easy for Buffy. For one, she was naturally distrustful of authority figures, and ‘authority’ was one thing this woman had in spades. Oh, and Power, capital ‘P’. Buffy’s extra senses were doing the Macarena being this close to her - not in the gut-wrenching way that alerted her to nearby vampires and other minor nasties, but her senses definitely recognised her, even in repose, as a Predator (yep, that’s another capital ‘P’).

Gingerly, Buffy sat down on the couch. Uncomfortable in the unfamiliar furniture, she pulled her feet up under her and leaned against one of the arms. “Ookay, make with the ‘splanie: where the hell are we and who the heck are you? Believe me, a confused Slayer is no one’s friend.”

Nodding, the woman smiled. “In answer to your first question, we are indeed on the moon. More or less. More accurately, we are … in a realm that mirrors the essence of the moon. A metaphor, if you will. As the moon is one of my purviews, I maintain this abode here. Quite safe and unassailable by unfriendly forces, such as your playmates from that dreadful dimension. I intercepted your path through the portal. Oh, and I sent a messenger to speak to … Lilly, was it?”

“Eh, it is today, at least.”

“Excellent. I sent a messenger to advise her that you are quite safe, and should arrive back in Los Angeles before too long. I believe that girl has become quite attached to you, so it wouldn’t do to worry her unduly.

“As to who I am … my name is Artemis.”

“Ah,” nodded Buffy. “Named for the Greek goddess?”



“I the Greek goddess. Specifically, goddess of then hunt, of women and,” she waved at the window, “the moon.

“And I am your mother.”

*** *** ***


“Shit!” cursed Xander, falling out of the stance he was practicing. One of the benefits of his Visitation had been the enhancement of the Soldier-Boy memories from Halloween. True, he could have done without the vivid memories of bombed out villages, napalm and gut-churning fear, but the fighting skills were coming back. Modern combat training seemed to be worth a few nightmares. Still, even magically ‘learned’ skills fade without practice …

… which was what he had been doing before the phone rang.

“Shit,” he swore again, lunging for the phone beside his bed. Flopping down, he wiped the sweat off his face with one hand and lifted the receiver to his ear with the other. “Hey, it’s Xander!”

“Um … hi, Xander. It’s Harmony … did I call at a bad time? You sound kinda out of breath.”

“Harmony? Wait, no, no, it’s fine. I was just doing some kata work - you know, martial arts. It’s harder than it looks in ‘The Karate Kid’, you know.”

“Huh? Why’re you bothering with that? I mean, aren’t you all super-powered now?”

He grinned into the phone. “Not so much. There’s a lot more to fighting than just being strong. There’s always something bigger and badder, you know? So if I know what I’m doing, I can fight the meaner things out there and still get home for milk and cookies. Any edge counts, right?”

“Er, right.” Xander frowned. It still seemed like Harmony was still processing the whole thing. Totally understandable, of course, but it couldn’t be fun for the Cordette. “Hey, since when did you know anything about martial arts? Did your mom make you Jackie Chan or something?”

“Hey, I wish. Remember this last Halloween?”

“Like, sure. Wasn’t there some kinda riot going on … oh. Was that whole thing kinda Hellmouth related?”

He smiled again. Hell, Harmony worked that out pretty darned quick. Maybe this whole thing scared some smarts into her? Really, Harmony wasn’t really dumb. It was simply that she kept her attention focused on things that really mattered to her.

Clothes, men and schoolgirl politics, naturally.

Could it be that a life-or-death situation had shifted her focus?

“Yeah, due to some wing-nut wanting to cause some havoc, a lot of us turned into our Halloween costumes for a few hours. I went as a soldier, the whole fatigues and rifle shtick, and spent the night running around as a real GI. Some of the skills got left behind - came in handy when we needed to boost a bazooka from the base near town.”

“Wait - did you say bazooka?

“Yep: Buffy said it was the best birthday present she’s ever gotten. I think she would have preferred it if it had been coloured to match her shoes, but hey, basic khaki goes with everything, right?” he joked.

“Bite your tongue, looser!” she shot back. Then paused. “Sorry. About the looser thing.”

“Hey, no big.”

“Yes, big! I mean, you guys totally saved our lives last night, Xander! Vampires trying to kill you might be a normal day at the office for you, but it freaked me the hell out! And then you and Rosenberg come out of, like, nowhere, and bam! Save the freaking day! To me, that’s, like, huge! So the least I can do is lay off you two and your friends and play nice.”

His eyebrows quirked. “Really? The first time we saved Cordelia’s life she acted as though we should be honoured to do so, and seemed mortified that of all the people to actually rescue her, we were the most embarrassing, and could we please get away before someone actually saw us associating with her.”

*** *** ***

Harmony smiled. “Well, duh. I mean, you were kinda looserish. Of course, since you saved moi, you are magically transformed into totally cool.”

“Of course,” he agreed, the sarcasm dripping through the phone.

“Whatever,” she shot back. Then she took a deep breath. “Look, I owe you an apology for last night. I shouldn’t have tried hitting on you like I did. You’re with Cordelia, and we never go after each other’s guys. It’s so not cool. I don’t know what came over me.”

“Nah, forgetaboutit. Adrenaline can do some whacky things to your brain, especially when you get a huge shock to your worldview. How did Cordy react?”

Harmony walked across the kitchen and looked out the window, where she could see Cordelia lying next to the pool, basking in a small yellow bikini. “Well, I did some hellacious grovelling and totally humiliated myself apologising, and she made me lend her my blue sweater, which is really gonna be stretched when she finally gives it back, but it could be worse.

“Look, I didn’t call to tell you all about Cor. I wanted to talk about last night.”

There was silence over the line, then Xander said, “Alright.”

Taking another breath, she said in a rush, “I wanna help!”

Another pause. Then, “You want to … help?”

She nodded, forgetting that he couldn’t see the gesture. “I … I can’t go back to the way it was. I can’t forget that those … things almost killed me. I can’t ignore that you - you, of all people - swooped in and saved me. I can’t just go back to parties and boys and clothes while you guys are out there saving the freaking world!”

“Harmony … it’s dangerous. Really, really dangerous. People get killed doing what we do.”

“No, really? Xander, I know I’m not all that smart, but I’m not stupid either. I mean, I know I haven’t got any powers like you and Rosenberg, and I can’t fight, and I’m not really brave, but I can’t … I can’t …” she ran out of breath, chest heaving with frustration, fear and, surprisingly, rage. “I don’t want to be afraid, Xander. I don’t want to hide at home and pray nothing eats me. I might not be worth much, but I’m worth more than that!

“Harmony,” he said, then paused, and started again. “Harmony Kendal, you’re a lot braver than you think. And a lot smarter than I thought, and I’m sorry for that. For underestimating you.”

“Really?” Harmony gave a little laugh, although it was somewhat brittle, almost hysterical. “Because right now I’m realising what I just said, and I’m starting to freak out a little.” Using one hand to hold the phone, she used the other to steady herself against the kitchen counter, suddenly feeling somewhat shaky.

Harmony Kendal was not, as has been observed, a particularly deep person. In fact, shallow was normally a pale term to use to describe her personality. But not even the most vapid blond could ignore the seriousness of the moment.

A day ago, Xander Harris had been nothing more than an annoyance to her; a bug on her windscreen, a mosquito in her ear., and she was ruler (or at least co-ruler, after Cordelia, of course) or her world. Suddenly, she realised that he was far more than he appeared to be … and she wasn’t.

Suddenly Harmony was no longer top dog in her world. Dopey Xander Harris now possessed a fire and magnetism that eclipsed her own, and had opened her eyes to a world that was so vast that it made her feel … small. Unimportant. Mouse-like.


So, her course was set. Weld herself to Xander and Cordelia (and Willow and Buffy their freak friends, she supposed), and get back on her feet and get back on top. Not just in school - not even Harmony thought that high school was the be all and end all of existence - although it was damned important. But in her own eyes, and in the eyes of the dark universe that had been opened up for her.

She wanted to be more.

*** *** ***

Cordelia watched Harmony through her dark glasses as the blond came outside, carrying a tray of iced drinks. Harmony was working hard to ‘atone’ for her behaviour the night before, which included fetching the Cordelia’s drinks while she herself reclined comfortably by the pool. “You can put them down here,” she said lazily, waving a hand at the table next to her lawn chair where she lay, one arm resting behind her head. She suppressed a grin as Harmony stumbled slightly, before recovering and serving the drinks without further incident. Maybe making her wear four-inch heels today was going too far?

The act of serving her best friend dressed in a tiny blue-and-white bikini and high heels was necessary cruelty: making sure that Harmony understood her place was just as important as having fun with her. Deflating Harmony’s ego when appropriate was part and parcel with being her best friend. Real cruelty would be if I had made her do it when all the girls were here. This teaches here a lesson without humiliating her in front of her everyone else.

“So, did you talk to Xander?” she asked innocently.

Harmony straightened up too quickly, and almost fell again, the heel on one foot digging into the grass. She cursed under her breath as she steadied herself, and tried to look casual as she moved off the lawn and back onto the sandstone paving stones that surrounded the pool. “Er, yeah. You said I needed to apologise for last night, so I -”

“I meant in person. In front of me. And maybe in front of Willow too, I hadn’t decided yet." Okay, we’re moving past discipline and moving towards abuse. “But I’ll let that slide. This time.”

Turning over on to her stomach, Cordelia folded her hands under her head and turned her head to one side. Without being prompted, Harmony scooped up the bottle of suntan lotion nearby and moved over to kneel next to Cordelia and begin applying the oil to her shoulders. This part wasn’t really part of her servitude - the two had been doing this for each other since they worked out the value of a quality tan. Well, this time Cordelia probably wouldn‘t reciprocate, but that was to be expected.

“How are you dealing with the whole Hellmouth thing?” she asked somewhat unexpectedly, and Harm’s hands paused for a moment.

“It’s scary,” Harmony admitted after a moment, then resumed her work. Her fingers massaged the lotion into Cordelia’s flawless skin with practiced motions. “I didn’t sleep much last night, and not just because I knew you were pissed at me.”

Cordelia grunted. “Come on, Harm, I’m not gonna smother you in your sleep, alright - I said that, like, when we were twelve, and I mostly didn’t mean it then, either!”

Harmony shook her head. “Like I’m gonna ignore a Cordelia Chase threat? You always follow through: case in point,” she added, lifting one hand to gesture vaguely at herself. Reaching up and moving Cordelia’s ponytail aside, she started to work on her neck. “But yeah, total freaksom. Still, now the mysterious deaths aren’t so mysterious anymore.” She paused again. “But Xander and Willow having frigging gods for parents? Like, of all the people in the school, it goes to them!”

“Totally. I so did not see that one coming,” agreed Cordelia, closing her eyes as she enjoyed Harmony’s fingers digging into her neck in just the right places. “Still, as arbiters of popularity at Sunnydale High, it falls to us to correct the complete imbalance occurring. They’re not losers by nature, they just fell into looserness because no-one taught them better. So it’s up to us to … rehabilitate them.” Plus, it’ll make dating Xander a whole lot easier, she admitted.

“Hmm,” mused Harmony as she squirted more lotion onto her hands, then started on Cordelia’s lower back. “There’s nothing really wrong with either of them, you know - or Summers, even. True, their wardrobes need serious work, although last night shows they have some potential,” she admitted.

“Agreed,” said Cordy, flashing back to the night before. “And their attitudes have definitely improved, especially Willow.”

“Right. Since she stopped letting her mother dress her and she dropped the whole wallflower bit, she’s suddenly halfway decent,” affirmed Harmony. “I will admit, Summers seems to have been a positive influence - and I never thought I’d say that,” she snarked. “Although that Oz guy probably has something to do with it, too.”

“True - Oz can be a total wild animal sometimes,” Cordy joked. At Harmony’s confused hum, she waved her hand dismissively. “Later. So Willow’s mostly set - with a little wardrobe help and her new confidence, she just needs some help socialising.

“Xander on the other hand,” she continued, and then stopped, popped herself up on her forearms and looked back over her shoulder at Harmony. “This is important. I cannot stress this enough. Step one: we get our hands on his Hawaiian shirts. All of them.

“After the ashes die down, and he stops crying, we can start with …”

*** *** ***

“No, you’re so not!”

It wasn’t the whole ’goddess’ thing that Buffy doubted. In fact, she was quite willing to believe that Artemis really was the Greek deity. The power rolling off her in waves was far beyond anything the Slayer had encountered before, and the whole situation was another level of weird beyond her experience.

Saying that her mother wasn’t her mother, on the other hand …

Artemis just smiled as Buffy leapt to her feet and jammed her fists on her hips. “Oh calm down, Buffy. Sit, please. Of course, Joyce is your mother,” she said reassuringly as Buffy mechanically sat down at her command, both surprised and pissed that she actually obeyed. “She bore you, raised you, and loved you. Still, the truth is a little more complicated. You see, Hank Summers is not your father -”


“- and at the same time, he is. Was.” Here the goddess frowned, puffing an errant lock of hair away from her face. The gesture was so … ordinary, so mortal, in spite of herself Buffy almost giggled.


“You were destined for greatness from the moment of your conception, Buffy. You see, the man you know as Hank Summers is not … entirely Hank Summers. He is really an avatar of my brother. Hermes.”

Buffy’s eyes widened almost comically. “Now that I did not expect to hear. And I believe you, why exactly?” While she was a classic ‘daddy’s girl’, even she wasn’t quite willing to go so far as to deify him.

“Well, I could say something like, ‘search your feelings, you know it to be true,’” Artemis offered, and smiled at Buffy scoffing response. “But it’s mostly because it’s true.

“Hank is an aspect of Hermes, a facet of his being that he uses to intervene in the World. Personally interacting with mortals and the mortal World is … hazardous … for gods, as we twist the fabric of destiny by our very existence. When he met your mother, he that she was special, and that any child he had with her would be, quite simply, spectacular.”

“Wait - wait a damned minute!” Buffy barked, a look of horror crossing her face. “Are you saying … you mean I’m the freaking Slayer because a Greek freaking god chose my mom to be a dammed brood mare?” The rage she was feeling quickly outgrew the shock. How dare he! Oh my God, it’s not just bad luck or fate or whatever: he did this to me!

“Don’t be ridiculous,” snorted Artemis. “You were never supposed to be the Slayer. Believe me, we gods demand great things of our scions, but we have nothing to do with the Slayer. When you were Chosen, it threw all your father’s plans into chaos: while you were always destined for a life of hardship, you were also to reap the glory and reward of your efforts! Hermes planned that you would be properly armed, equipped, supported and advised, aware of your destiny and certain of your father’s love and support! You certainly were not to have your power suddenly thrust upon you unawares, then rely on a bunch of mortals to throw you into battle against vampires with nothing but a sharpened stick for a weapon!” The patron of huntresses was clearly offended by the very suggestion.

“But … if it wasn’t dad, then who …” she began, not sure how to finish the question.

Artemis harrumphed, a very unladylike sound that nevertheless seemed to fit her perfectly. “A group of beings who have a far higher opinion of themselves than their existence warrants. Their followers and agents often call them the ‘Powers that Be’, and they see themselves as the architects and leaders of the war against evil in this and several other realities. Arrogant and manipulative, these ’Powers’ fancy themselves far more clever than they truly are, but until very recently they managed to avoid making too much of a nuisance of themselves, so as to avoid the wrath of the Pantheons.

“Until you.

“When the mantle of the Slayer was placed on your soul, it severed your connection to your father. In a very real sense, you were rendered fatherless. Hermes raged and screamed, but the damage was done: without that connection, it was impossible for him to acknowledge you as his daughter, to awaken your divine heritage, and set your destiny - your true, planned and prepared for destiny - in motion. He was forced to watch impotently as the Powers sent you vague signs and visions, set stumbling blocks in your way and squandered your potential, all to progress what they see as the ‘right’ path.

“Until today.

“By passing through the portal into the world of, what was his name, ‘Ken’? Yes, by passing through that portal, for an instant you were beyond the Powers’ reach. Hermes saw his chance, and immediately approached me with a plan. At his behest, when I felt you enter the portal to return to the world, I intercepted you and brought you here. As this realm is mine, it is quite simply beyond their influence, and I took the opportunity to ‘adopt’ you. Metaphysically, you are no longer his scion, his child, but mine instead. Thus, I am your mother - you simply have two, now.”

Buffy wasn‘t sure how she felt about this. First Hank wasn’t really Hank - wasn’t really human - and now he wasn’t really her father. Did that mean she wasn’t allowed to be angry at him … or to still love him?

Obviously, Artemis saw Buffy’s ambivalence, she offered a different view. “Perhaps we could go with aunt instead?”

Buffy nodded, but was still worried. “But … why?”

Artemis smiled “Because now I can awaken the powers within you, and forever remove you from the influence of the Powers. As a hero of the Dodekatheon, the Greek Pantheon, they will no longer be able to interfere in your life: not even they would risk the ire of our family that way. Before, they could plead ignorance, claiming to be unaware of your connection to the Pantheon. But as an Awakened scion, they would have no choice but to withdraw their claims from your destiny.”

Then it hit Buffy. “So … so I wouldn’t be the Slayer anymore?” Hope mixed with regret: she had never wanted to be the Slayer, and often resented the effect it had on her life. She often railed against the rigors of her Calling, and even ran away from it, that summer especially. But the thought of loosing her abilities, her strength, of going back to being a Cordeliaesque teen in a world she knew was full of evil that needed to be fought …

She hated being the Slayer. But she couldn’t turn her back on the fight.

Artemis saw her confusion, and sought to calm her. “In truth, you stopped being the true Slayer when you died fighting the Master: the line passed on to Kendra, and on to her successor. If you had died again, no new Slayer would have been Called. But you remained a Slayer, with the Slayer’s powers and duty, so the ‘Powers’ remained able to claim you as their pawn.

“When I Awaken your power, you will no longer be a Slayer, but a scion, a child of the gods and a potential goddess. You will develop abilities far beyond the most powerful Slayer could ever dream of. But you will maintain a link, a tenuous kinship to the Slayer line.” Here Artemis frowned. “I will admit that I am unsure as to how strong that connection will be: I’m afraid that great wisdom has never been a part of my purview. Athena or Apollo might know more, but of this I am certain: as my scion, you will no longer be the pawn of distant, manipulative beings who consider mere mortals game pieces to be played with.” She then blinked and paused, as though replaying what she just said. “Er, perhaps I should rephrase that … suffice to say that while I will be making demands of you at times, your efforts will be rewarded.

“The other reason to adopt you was because having powerful scions reflects well on a deity. Adopting you is quite a coup: your potential is simply amazing, which was why loosing you frustrated Hermes so. You were so bright, so full of potential, of possibilities. You were destined to be amazing, to attain godhood and win great victories against our foes … and then it was all taken away, and you were suddenly forced into a short, brutal life, serving uncaring puppeteers. Hermes protested to Father, but there was nothing any of us could do.

“So when this opportunity came up, we both leapt at the chance - he to restore the future the Powers had taken from you, and I to gain a new … niece … and the glory that comes from being parent to such a scion.”

Buffy blushed at the sudden praise, not used to being lauded so strongly. “I’m not all that. I couldn’t stay in Sunnydale after -”

“After a terrible event, child. To strike down the one who bares the face of your lover … such trials have broken mighty heroes, Buffy, men and women of great power and renown. Yet even before I intervened, as you set about rescuing that girl from the demons, you already intended to go back, to face your friends, your mother, and return to the fight, were you not?” She nodded at the steel in Buffy’s eyes. “You could have remained as a waitress in a diner - indeed, you could have done far worse. You could have vanished into the masses of humanity … but instead you chose to fight, to save the life of a girl you barely knew, and to return to a battle you knew could very well kill you.

“Is it any wonder that Ares and Athena are currently steaming in jealousy that I got to you first?” The smirk of triumph on the goddess’ face was so familiar, Buffy suddenly had no trouble believing that she and this … woman … were related.

Suddenly the goddess sat up and clapped her hands. “So, time moves on, even for gods, and even in our own domains. We have little enough time left, and less to waste, so let us be about it.” Gesturing for Buffy to rise, she herself took to her feet. The couches vanished as though they had never been, and Buffy found herself looking up … and up at her new aunt. Damn: couldn’t I have at least inherited some tall genes from her?

Artemis smiled at the diminutive Slayer. “So, are you ready to let go of one destiny and take up another? Be warned: as my scion, your path will be as perilous, or more so, than it was to be as the Slayer.”

Buffy considered. She had only just met Artemis, but already considered her family. The revelations about her father could wait for another time.

The most important thing was that this time, she what she was getting in to. Instead of being Chosen, this time … she Chose. “I am.”

Artemis threw back her head and laughed, a golden, musical sound that filled the lunar hall. “Take that, you sanctimonious mongrels! Try to steal a child of the gods, will you? Ha!”

Before Buffy had a chance to change her mind (due to her new aunt’s questionable sanity), the goddess grinned and pressed a hand to Buffy’s forehead.

Lights exploded behind her eyes and her body shook as though struck by lightning. Her arms shot out as new strength entered her limbs like fire, and a scream of agony and ecstasy struggled to claw its way out of her throat. It was like a ball of energy had erupted in the centre of her being, and expanded through her veins, changing her as it went.

In a small part of her mind, a tiny voice asked if she knew what she was getting herself into …

Finally, it ended, and Buffy blinked, suddenly realising that she had fallen to her knees. Moving to her feet, she marvelled at the ease and precision with which her limbs responded. Even at her height, when the Slayer in her was at its strongest, she had never felt so … wonderful.

She didn’t realise she was grinning until Artemis brushed her fingers against her cheek. “It feels incredible, doesn’t it? The ichor in your blood, the spirit of the divine in your being, has Awoken, and you are now fully a hero, a recognised child of the Dodekatheon. As such, it is appropriate for me, as your … aunt … “ here she smiled quirkily, “to present you with the tools you need to fulfil your destiny.” She raised one hand, and Buffy looked around to see another of those creepy, pale servants approach, carrying a large cushion. Resting on it were …

“Oh, you have got to be kidding,” breathed Buffy, as the servant offered the two objects to Artemis, who lifted one from the cushion with a regal nod of thanks.

The goddess smiled as she hefted the plain, polished-silver band in her hand. “What? Even bondage obsessed mortals with alternative lifestyles get it right sometimes,” she said with a smile, gently taking one of Buffy’s arms and slipping the bracer over her hand and wrist. The new scion hissed as the metal shrank, fitting snugly about her forearm, and she shuddered a fresh wave of energy swept through her. This distracted her enough for Artemis to attach the second bracer to her other arm. “These vambraces will allow you to channel your power into your limbs, granting you the ability to accomplish even greater feats of strength than you would have, otherwise. The more powerful you become, the more they will increase your strength.”

Another servant silently approached, and again Artemis retrieved the item she offered. “Even the strongest warrior can be laid low by her enemy’s blade,” she said, lifting the small, amber pendant on a silver chain. “Encased within the amber is a fragment of the Eagle, the lunar module that carried two brave men to the Moon. When you wear it, it will act to protect you as well, as tough you were wearing the finest mail, without hampering your movements.” She gently lifted the chain over Buffy’s head, letting the pendant lie next to her cross.

Buffy’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “What, no golden lasso? No invisible plane?” She almost pushed the joke further, but caught the warning look in the goddess’ eye, and suppressed the urge. Snarking is one thing … mouthing off at a literal smiting goddess was quite another.

Seeing that her scion was regaining her poise, Artemis nodded. “Unfortunately, we have run out of time. I must return you to the World, and you must return to your home. Your friends and family have missed you terribly, and long for you to return. Although much has changed in your absence, their regard for you has not.

“Live, fight, grow stronger. Protect your friends, your city and your World, and in time you will rise to join the Dodekatheon in battle against the Titans, and together we shall drive them back into their prisons in the Underworld!”

Buffy nodded. “Right.” Then she froze, and her eyes widened. “Wait, who’s fighting what in the where now?”

Before she could finish asking, there was a flash of light, and Buffy blinked hard to clear her vision. When she could see clearly, she found herself not in the lunar hall, but in the dark basement where she had entered ‘Ken’s’ portal. “Oh great. I get a whole new destiny, weird magic jewellery and funky new powers, and my new ’aunt’ doesn’t even give me the full story? Now what am I gonna do?”

“You could come with me,” came a new voice, and Buffy whirled about, raising her fists and falling into a ready stance. Facing her was a tall, blond woman, dressed in very expensive clothing, tasteful jewellery and some shoes she ached to possess. The Nordic beauty was flanked by bulky figures, each wearing baggy black combat gear and body armor while holding assault rifles at port arms.

Next to the woman was Lilly, still dressed in her prison smock, who raised a hand hesitantly and offered a small, silent greeting.

“Any you would be,” asked Buffy, a little freaked by the newcomers.

“Not your enemies,” insisted Blondie, who then, amazingly, fell to one knee, revealing an expanse of muscular leg through the slip in her dress and bowing her head respectfully. “As servant of Divine Artemis, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you back to the World. I am Valerie, Matriarch of the Amazon nation of Los Angeles, and I am at your service.”

Buffy blinked at the stately, magnificent woman bowing to her, kneeling in a filthy basement in not the best part of town, and found herself reaching for an appropriate response.

“Oh,” she managed.
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