Chapter Five - Butterflies & Hurricanes
‘Butterflies & Hurricanes’
AN: Making good progress so far in the last week of my vacation. Let’s see if I can wrap of the first act before it ends.
(I did!) :)
Another day, another dollar.
That’s what the saying said so it had to be true, right?
Another day working for the Man!
As she opened the doors of the Magic Box Android #18 saw the familiar site of the UPS delivery truck coming up. It was probably Jimmy again. By now Jimmy had found out she was as regular to the milli second in opening the Magic Box every morning. Which of course was a side effect of her being an android with perfect time keeping.
The downside of course was that whenever he had a delivery Jimmy came to the Magic Box, knowing it would always be opened at the exact time and he wouldn’t have to ring the bell.
“Hello, #18,” Jimmy said cheerfully as he halted his delivery truck. If it had struck the young man as odd that a woman working at a store was named after a number he never showed or mentioned it. It was one of those strange things about humanity, #18 thought, a complete ability to accept things as they were without questioning the logic or the why.
“Hi,” #18 said in her usual bored tone. As usual Jimmy seemed unperturbed by her less then sunny behavior. Quite the contrary in fact. Which was annoying to Android #18 because she wouldn’t mind letting him know that she disliked being used as a clock for first deliveries.
Stupid no killing and no yelling rule!
Not for the first time she wished she could communicate better with humans. Some way in which they communicated non-verbally with each other as they so often did. Then again Jimmy seemed pretty oblivious to her lack of warm behavior. And as a born Sunnydaler he was probably used to some strange stuff.
Maybe she should come in to work in a little earlier? Her contract did stipulate she had to open the store at 09:00, so coming in later was forbidden. But she could come in earlier. Maybe 08:59?
Then again she wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy was lying in wait. Observing the Magic Box only to start his delivery truck and come in the moment he saw her arriving. By air that is. But if he had ever seen that, he’d never alluded to that.
“Got a delivery for you,” Jimmy said as he left his truck and walked to the back, “It’s a bit heavy so if you could give me a hand.”
Yeah, by now it seemed a fair deduction that Jimmy knew she wasn’t a normal human female. Most likely he used his on the clock arrival knowing that she could also do most of the heavy lifting for him.
Jimmy opened the back door and #18 joined his side. Inside stood a very large crate, man-sized almost.
Yup, manual labor. That had to be it.
Angrily she glared at Jimmy but he seemed oblivious as he checked his records.
“All the way from Burma,” he said, then he laughed, “You know I had to look that up on the map?”
Android #18 didn’t laugh.
“Sign here,” Jimmy said and handed her his clipboard and pen, “And then it’s all yours.”
Yup. Manual labor. That’s all she was nowadays.
According to the manifest the crate turned out to be some Burmese statue. It also said, repeatedly, do not open. To many people this would have been an invitation to open the thing regardless, to satisfy their curiosity. But Android #18 of course was blessed with far below curiosity. If the crate said do not open who was she to argue with instructions?. Now if her boss told her to open up the thing, chop it into little pieces and feed it to the birds outside she’d do that too. She’d also look at him funny but she’d do it.
She secured the crate in the special storage room, which differed from the regular storage room on the account of having additional security measures, some mechanical, some magical. Often to protect these items from thieves, but sometimes to protect the rest of the world from those special items. She did this because in her experience stuff that was repeatedly labeled as do not open tended to be stuff that Rupert Giles preferably kept inside the special storage room. And if he didn’t she could always take it to regular storage, right?
Having done that she did all the myriad of little things one does when opening up a place of business. It was while doing that that she saw there was a message on the answering machine. It was part of her duty to listen to them so she did.
“#18, this is Rupert. You probably opened the shop but you can it again because at 09:15 we will be having a general meeting. So make sure there is coffee and tea, the good stuff, not the stuff we serve customers. Also get us some sandwiches. I’ve placed an order with Green’s deli shop. You can take some money out of the register, be sure to note it in the petty cashbook under operational expenses. Thank you.”
Android #18 couldn’t help but snort. Like if she didn’t know which expenses should be noted down into which financial ledger. If she could connect to a printer she could probably give him his entire financial review up till now. She checked her internal clock she knew it was 09:07:34:567. Plenty of time to do everything her boss wanted her to do.
As it turned out most humans and Saiyans weren’t as punctual as the guy driving the UPS delivery truck. Giles was the first to arrive at 09:18:45:129, but Belmovekk only arrived at 09:31:12:921. Of course he came with a lot kids and his newly recovered wife. All in all it was what she had come to expect from them, so she didn’t feel insulted for having had to hurry. She did what she was told and she was ready as ordered.
In a way this surprised her. Because having to carry out orders was what had caused her and her brother to rebel against Gero. Of course Gero sought to utterly dominate them. To own them and make them do exactly what he wanted. In the case of working for Rupert Giles there was no domination involved. If she didn’t want to work for him she was free to quit. She’d lose her job but did she really need a job to survive? As long as her reactors provided her with limitless energy she didn’t need anybody or anything. Perhaps doing the job, a voluntary requirement, as required, gave her a form of satisfaction? Perhaps even this mythical job satisfaction that she heard other humans talk about.
But then why was she often so bored on the job?
Because maybe she could do so much more?
After everybody had filtered into the Magic Box everybody retired into the gravity gym. Everybody except the children and Android #18. Because after all, somebody had to look after the kids.
Especially in a place which had some of the most powerful magical paraphernalia on the West Coast.
So, with machine like precision and acceptance #18 carried out her orders. In the name of job satisfaction! And to prevent the kids from doing something with the inventory that potentially could cause the end the world.
Buffy knew that something was up because Belmo had alluded to it before, but the sheer scope, or the fact that almost everybody except her knew about it boggled her mind. In a way it felt like when she learned that Belmo knew how to resoul Angelus again and didn’t because he thought Angel was bad for her. In hindsight he had been right because that relationship had been doomed from the start. But that still didn’t make it any less of a betrayal.
Everything that could have been said about the betrayal of Angel had been said and over the years she had come to accept that finding stuff and keeping them a secret was just in his nature. That he didn’t actually meant to betray anyone with it. That in his own perverted way he thought he was shielding her from things for her own good.
In a way it also felt…. comforting?
After the way her own father had abandoned both her and her mother it felt good that there was a male authority figure in her life who cared about her and would go to almost any length to keep her safe. Sure there seemed to be no ends to the secrets that kept unearthing themselves (usually violently), but so far they had managed to weather them. And deep, deep down, there was only one secret that Buffy truly feared. The one where it turned out that he had cheated on her mother and would leave them.
Like her father had.
Okay, her father hadn’t cheated, but he had run out on her and her mother. It was a particular end result that she feared, not so much the cause.
So when Belmo told her that something was wrong with Dawn and that she was created through magic from her sister Mayan by someone in the future her first instinct was the same as always.
At least he’s not cheating or leaving us.
After that little relief came the anger.
Tons of anger.
But there was also something else.
Her mother had almost died. At best the doctors could only give her a one in four chance of survival. The others couldn’t help, but he had. As always he did whatever it would take. Shouldn’t that count for something at least?
And you know what? Maybe it was time to finally grow up.
So as everybody awaited her usual and inevitable freakout, Buffy sat down on her folding chair, closed her eyes and sighed calmly.
“I give up,” she sighed in a tired voice, “of all the crazy schemes you pulled this one comes closest to what you did with Angel. But……, what’s done is done.”
Everybody looked at each other in bewilderment.
“No freak out?” Willow said surprised?
“No freak out,” Buffy said shaking her head.
“No freak out? No fun,” Xander sighed disappointed, “I could do with a little excitement. I mean look at all this food being wasted.”
Xander pointed to the table with sandwiches.
“We could have had the mother of all foodfights,” Xander said disappointed.
“I for one think it’s mighty…., um, adult of you, Buffy,” Giles said approving.
“You’re not mad?” Willow asked surprised, “Not livid? No wanting to rip heads off? Throwing of furniture.”
“Oh, I’m mad alright,” Buffy said calmly, “Bit your head off angry. I’m so angry that if there was a third level I’d be reaching that right now.”
“I’m sorry, Buffy, I wanted to tell you for so long but I couldn’t and it was driving me mad with guilt and I couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep and it made me cranky so I couldn’t have smoochies with Tara and all I could think off was why can’t I tell Buffy and I felt so bad about it that I couldn’t eat and I think I already talked about that but that still proves how badly that made me feel and….”
“Easy Will,” Tara said as she put her hands on Willow’s shoulders, “breathe, remember, breathe.”
“Well I for one don’t think we did anything wrong,” Xander said and grabbed a sandwich, “We didn’t know what we were dealing with and I think it was still better to find out more and have you freak out over more instead of telling you earlier and have you freak out over less.”
“So you’re really okay now, honey?” Joyce asked, then she pointed to her husband, “Because he wanted to tell you two weeks ago and I thought it was better not too.”
“I’m calm,” Buffy said and held up her hand to show it was rock steady, “But later I will take Belmo apart and give him a piece of my mind. At 150 G’s no less.”
“Yes!” Xander said pumping the air with his fist in triumph, “there will still be freaking out!”
“Xander!” Willow said frowning.
“And you’re going to be part of it, mister,” Buffy said pointing at Xander, “Trust me, what happened in the desert’s going to be Peanuts. Lots and lots of tiny little peanuts.”
“Rats!” Xander said pretending to be disappointed.
“I guess there is always a price to be paid,” Giles said slightly amused, then he turned towards Willow, “Now that Buffy knows what we know, maybe you could show her as well?”
“Why?” Buffy asked curious, “I already know.”
“Because there is a new development,” Giles said, then he nodded towards Willow.
“It also makes for a cool lightshow,” Xander quipped.
With an encouraging smile from Tara Willow took centre stage again. And like before she held up both of her hands, creating the two spheres again. Both almost pale pink, except for a tiny minute difference.
“What am I looking at here?” Buffy asked.
“Well,” Willow said nervously, “In order to find out what made them differently I had to examine samples of both Mayan and Dawn. That’s because even though they’re fraternal twins and not identical…..”
Buffy held up her arm.
“Is this going to be long?” she asked, “Cause I’d rather have the cliffnotes version instead.”
“Buffy and knowledge,” Xander chuckled.
“Says the guy who’s not even in college,” Buffy countered.
“Well, I could skip a few things,” Willow said, waving her hand to make the sphere’s change color, “This is when I eliminate everything that they have in common. This is pure difference.”
One sphere was now opaque yellow, the other bronze green.
“Wow, this would be so much more amazing if I actually understood this,” Buffy remarked.
“You wanted the cliffnotes,” Xander sniggered.
“Shut up,” Buffy said and hit him on the shoulder, causing him to gasp for air in pain.
Willow waved her hands again and it now went to light yellow and a greenish gray.
“This is without Saiyan DNA, so this is pure human difference,” Willow explained, and then she waved her hands again, “And this is when I take away all their humanity.”
The spheres were now both completely blank.
“You make it sound so….., evil,” Joyce said.
“Wow,” Buffy said as she looked at one of the blank spheres, “Anticlimactic much?”
“On the contrary, Buffy,” Willow smiled, “It’s gonna get wicked.”
Waving her hand the room was made completely dark, then a very dark green light enveloped the room. And then one of the spheres began to glow in a greenish hue.
“When you look at it through a magical spectrum you get to see stuff you otherwise could never se,” Willow said and pointed to the glowing sphere, “Meet Dawn.”
“What is it?” Buffy asked.
“I have no idea,” Willow said, “But this is one of the things that separates her from Mayan. I think that this is what she really is.”
“What?” Buffy remarked as she looked at the sphere up close, “That she’s green?”
“I-it’s unique to Dawn,” Tara added.
“Couldn’t you have just switched out the lights right away and gone to this?” Buffy asked.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Willow said shaking her head, “It only shows if you gradually take away everything. Whoever was responsible for her creation tried to be thorough. Really thorough.”
“And what about that time travel thing?” Buffy asked.
Willow waved her hand again and this time everything went to glorious black and white vision. Dawn’s sphere had now changed to that of a fiery star with a flaming corona around.
“So those are those time licorice things?” Buffy asked.
“Time vortices,” Willow corrected.
“Yeah, time licorice,” Buffy said undeterred, “And they do what again?”
“Time vortices are the show and tell that somebody has been traveling through time,” Willow explained, then she pointed at Belmovekk, “he once also did it, but his happened so long they’re almost invisible. This is what they look like when its very recent. It’s residual time energy.”
“Okay, Will,” Xander said, “everybody’s been updated. You said you had discovered something new. Spill it!”
“It’s about the time vortices,” Willow said. She then waved one hand and Mayan’s sphere disappeared.
“On a hunch I asked for another sample of Dawn,” Willow said and with a gesture she created a new sphere, this one fully pale pink again. One handwave later and the thing was in black and white vision as well. And ablaze.
If the original sphere was like a star with a corona around it, this sphere was blazing flames all around it making it easily four times bigger in size.”
“Shpadoinkle,” Xander said surprised and dropped the sandwich he was eating.
“Good God,” Joyce exclaimed.
“Good grief, Willow,” Giles said, “What are we looking at now?”
“The same thing,” Willow said, “Time vortices.”
“But they are burning even brighter and are more active then before,” Belmovekk asked, “What has caused them to become more active?”
Willow looked at Tara.
“It’s b-because we are getting c-closer to the origin,” Tara said.
“Whoever will create Dawn will do so very soon,” Willow said.
“I don’t know about you guys, but this is really starting to freak me out,” Joyce said and moved up against her husband.
“Any chance of a when, Will?” Buffy asked, “Cause I like a few words with whoever did this.”
“Why?” Xander asked, “You got an extra sister out of this.”
Buffy pointed towards her mother.
“My mother had a cancerous tumor that appeared in less then a month. Starting when she first learned that something might be different with Dawn. Trunks and Mayan, from a future that had no Dawn, suddenly thought that she had existed there as well. Am I the only one who’s thinking there’s a connection? Whatever they did, it almost got mom’s killed!”
Everybody looked at everybody.
“Don’t tell me I’m the only one thinking that?” Buffy stated.
“I wasn’t going to say it but it did cross my mind,” Xander said as he cautiously raised his hand in the air.
“Yeah, me too,” Giles said and did the same.
“So, Will, Tara, can you find when and where this will happen?” Buffy said pointing to the burning sphere.
Willow looked around for Tara but noticed that she had left the gym, then the door to the gym opened and Tara came in carrying a glass.
“Dawn just d-drank from this glass,” Tara said.
“Oh,” Willow said excited, “fresh DNA.”
As the witch and the sorceress began to work on the glass Buffy looked at the flaming sphere and tentatively stuck her finger in one. Her finger disappeared in the burning black and white flames but nothing happened, nor did she feel anything.
It was Xander holding out one of the trays with sandwiches.
“I’m not hungry,” Buffy said shaking her heads.
“Its free food,” Xander smiled, a mouth full of bread and chicken.
“How can you eat at a time like this?” Buffy said frowning.
“As much as it pains me to admit it I’m a Harris,” Xander shrugged, “there’s two things we Harris’ can never get enough of, booze and free food. Give us a free buffet and we’ll eat you poor.”
Buffy couldn’t help herself and chuckle.
“Have a sandwich,” Xander insisted, “I have a feeling that whoever did this has enough mojo to make this the biggest crisis since Cell became perfect. And that was a big hoot, right? So, have a sandwich, you might need the strength.”
A little hesitantly Buffy took a sandwich, then Xander picked up another sandwich and held it out towards her.
“Two is better,” he winked, “Besides, this tuna is simply to die for. Metaphorically speaking.”
It took Willow and Tara 15 minutes to extract Dawn’s recent DNA and then use. Then Willow presented the findings through a third sphere, a ball of black and white flames burning just as large as the second.
“So there is no change?” Belmovekk asked looking at Willow.
“Oh there is,” Willow said, “This sphere is not as large as the other two. You’re looking at it basically zoomed out.”
“What if it’s true to scale like the other two?” Giles asked.
“I don’t know,” Willow said scratching the back of her head, “I don’t think it will fit in here.”
“That’s big,” Buffy said, followed by Xander holding out the sandwich plate to her again.
“Another sandwich big?” he smiled.
“Does this mean that…..,” Belmovekk asked Willow, who then looked at Tara.
“We don’t know where yet, but it’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen today. Somewhere probably around this evening, at least after sunset.”
Xander again held out the sandwich tray to Buffy.
By now tech sergeant Walters must be the oldest tech sergeant at the SGC still in his original job, manning the consoles in the Gate control room. And so far he had resisted all attempts at getting promoted. Why should he when he was doing something that he loved? Besides, Colonel O’Neill was still a colonel leading SG-1 after all these years. If the colonel could find excuses to stay at his post, so could he.
No, he’d rather stay behind the consoles if he got anything to say about. After all, the consoles had access to practically everything. Well, not the top secret information that was deemed too sensitive for most people. But the consoles had access to every real-time information that came into the SGC. From offworld teams calling in to relay their reports to anything NASA was doing on the International Space Station and the Mars rover, to the watchful eyes and ears of NORAD housed above the SGC, to the information and telemetry data of the the SGC’s deep space sensors.
It was like have a real-time internet to pick from.
And every piece of top secret information that was now deeply classified at one point passed through the desk or console of some real-time information analyst. So not only was anything that Walters now looked at potentially top secret information, over the years much of what had become top secret information at some point had passed his eyes. Which together with his long tenure meant he had a pretty good idea what was really going on.
When the warning light began to blink it was Walters who was on it first.
Throughout the solar system and the Kuiper belt the SGC had placed satellites with deep space sensors, to give them more warning time in case of alien incursions then they would have with the old Earth bound network.
A move which now paid off as they detected something coming in at high speed.
“Get me General Hammond,” Walters yelled.
Within two minutes the portly general was in the control room and looking over Walters’ shoulder.
“What am I looking at, son,” Hammond asked as more and more people filed in.
“Something’s coming, general,” Walters said, explaining the data, “Something coming in from deep space.”
“Is it one of our allies?” General Hammond asked. None were expected, but who knew what was going on out there. A Sons of Priya task force had once shown up out of the blue looking for a safe spot to carry out repairs and gather supplies.
“I’m not sure,” Walters said shaking his head, “They’re still too far away and they’re not sending us any IFF codes.”
“Can we hail them?” Hammond asked.
“Not yet,” Walters replied.
Hammond looked at some of the other officers.
“What assets do we have that could carry out an intercept?” he asked.
“Prometheus is still in deep space,” one major said, “And the Yorktown is at the Alpha Site. We only have two Tel’Taks to carry out a deep space intercept. But they are unarmed.”
“Send one of them out,” General Hammond said, “At the very least it can gather information. Anything else?”
“We have the moonbase defense squadron,” a captain said, “Six F-302’s ready to intercept once they get close. And the Odyssey’s airwing is operational, that’s another eight F-302’s.”
“That close our defense grid can also come into play,” another captain said.
“Okay,” General Hammond said. At least now he had options. He wished he had more. It was something he wished for a lot lately. It would have to do.”
“Any more information regarding those contacts?” he asked Walters.
“Judging by their course they seem to be coming straight for Earth,” the tech-sergeant said.
“Of course,” Hammond sighed, “Where else, right?”
The advantage of working in the Magic Box was that it had so much more books of magic, so much more magical implements, so much more magical ingredients, so much more of anything then Willow, Tara or Giles ever had at home. Of course there were a few magical tomes that Giles kept at home that the Magic Box didn’t have, most of them involving prophecies, but other then that it was a dream come true.
Which was part of its design of course.
Other then being a fully functional magic shop the Magic Box was also supposed to be the new Scooby HQ, combining a place for meetings, study and high gravity training under one roof, instead of the previous separation.
Which sort of complicated the bookkeeping as far as Android #18 was concerned. Because how do you account for Willow taking various magical spices and Tara taking a thaumaturgical filter out of inventory?
According to her boss Giles these were just private withdrawals for personal use. To be filed under personal usage. But Willow and Tara weren’t employees of the Magic Box, nor were they owners. Clearly a different kind of journal was more efficient. Obviously you couldn’t state it on the books that these withdrawals were used for fighting the forces of darkness. But a charity journal might be more appropriate. And wasn’t what her boss was doing basically a form of charity anyway?
Plus charities were tax deductible, right?
At the moment proper book keeping occupied only 32% of her thinking though. Android #18’s biggest worry right now was keeping the unholy spawn of Belmovekk and Joyce Summers in check that was called Dawn Summers. The child literally wanted to touch everything and kept taking stuff to her, asking what it was.
Unlike Alex, whose needs revolved around simple basic things like feed me, clean me, shut me the fuck up, Dawn and her sister had more complicated needs. Like requiring constant personal supervision and attention. Not for the first time #18 wondered why human children were designed this improperly. A larvae state that would see them cocooning until they were 18 years old would serve both them and their parents so much more for the better. Thankfully Mayan was occupied making color drawings next to Willow and Tara. Too bad her sister wasn’t.
“What does this do?” Dawn asked as she held up a crystal soul shrine, a device that when used properly allowed a person to invest a small part of their soul into it. The theory being that when that person then dies you could still commune with them via that small part of their soul. So the theory went. Like many things in the Magic Box it sounded like a load of bull to Android #18.
“It is a soul shrine,” Android #18 said and took the item away from the child. Because it was a very expensive item and because her taking things of the shelves wrought havoc with her careful filing system. She put it on the table behind her, full of things that Dawn had taken. At first #18 had returned each item immediately after taking it away from Dawn, but that left the pre-schooler free to look for even more things while she couldn’t keep an eye on her. And this way she could return them all after Hurricane Dawn had left.
“What does it do?” Dawn asked again, causing Android #18 to run a dozen simulations on what to tell the little child. In her experience little children did not yet comprehend difficult concepts as a soul shrine. She wasn’t even sure she understood it herself. As part of her job in the Magic Box #18 tried to read up on what she was selling but most of it either made no sense whatsoever or was wholly beyond her comprehension. If even she could not understand what it did, how could she explain it to a child?
What should she say? She had noticed that humans tended to use instinctive simplifications to explain normally complicated concepts. They also tended to use outright lies. Sometimes even the lines blurred and they used both.
Instinctive simplification was not the thing for her. Humans could do it without thinking but she really had no clue whatsoever. Either it was dead simple or humans were geniuses in that respect. Which struck her as odd as most humans didn’t strike her as anything remotely like that.
Outright lies seemed…. dishonest. It also seemed like a betrayal of trust. With the ultimate betrayal this so called Santa Claus, of who’s supposed existence they lied to children. No, even though she was an annoying kid she would not lie to this child. It would have to be the truth.
“I don’t know,” Android #18 said in earnest, “I have no idea what it does. Or what most things here do. All I know is that it’s worth a lot of money.”
“Why’s that?” Dawn asked.
“Because most people are stupid and they have too much money. And they want things that they don’t need. And the more people want something, the more expensive it becomes.”
Dawn looked puzzled at the android. Then she mentally shrugged and ran away. She had already seen something else that was interesting.
Elsewhere in the shop, Joyce had watched the incident together with Giles.
“God, I hope Willow and Tara come through soon, before that android turns my daughter into a complete cynic,” Joyce said, “She has like zero people skills. How can you even employ her?”
“She has her good qualities,” Giles chuckled lightly, “She’s punctual…”
“Rupert, she’s got an internal clock,” Joyce countered.
“She’s very good at heavy lifting, doing inventory, her accounting is impeccable and she is…, quite honest?” Giles countered back.
“She’s a robot, with a computer, doing computer things and she’s…., brutally honest?” Joyce said back.
“Sounds like she’s perfect for retail,” Giles smiled, “Besides, you employ her as well. As a babysitter for Alex.”
“Yeah, but Alex has known her for like half a year,” Joyce said, “And he doesn’t ask her questions yet.”
“He will some day,” Giles said, “Don’t worry. Kids are smarter then we give them credit for. Dawn seems to like her despite her ‘brutal’ honesty. Kids like that sometimes. Finally an adult who doesn’t treat them as little kids. I had an uncle like that, I really liked him. And I like to think that I turned out fine.”
“I suppose,” Joyce relented.
“So how are you feeling?” Giles asked.
“You mean the hospital thing or the hearing that my daughter is something green from the future thing?” Joyce asked back.
“Well, both actually,” Giles asked, “Of course the fact that you still call Dawn your daughter tells me all I need to know on the latter.”
“Well, she’s a surprise that keeps on giving, that’s for sure,” Joyce nodded slowly, “And even though in my head I sometimes wonder, I did give birth to her. It’s not like one day she materialized out of nowhere. Now that would really have been strange.”
“I suppose,” Giles chuckled.
“As for the hospital, I’m fine,” Joyce continued, “I kinda feel kinda heady, but I’m so glad to be relieved of those terrible headaches.”
“So no more, um, headaches?” Giles asked tentatively, “Even after hearing more revelations about your, um, daughter?”
“None!” Joyce smiled, “Whatever Dendé did, he totally took it away. Isn’t it great?”
“Yeah, it is,” Giles said a little unsure. Then he said nothing and looked away.
With a loud thud Belmovekk fell to the ground, blood pouring from half a dozen small wounds.
Nothing serious but Android #18 might be pissed when she had to clean up the gym later on.
He really hurt. She had really done a number on him.
Well, that’s what you get for fighting at 150 G’s. Once you hit the floor with the equivalent weight of more then 20 tons you really paid the price for that kind of arrogance.
It’s also what you get for lying to her. No, scratch that, keeping things from her which she deserved to know.
Even if it most likely would have caused the mother of all freakouts.
As he felt more pain coarse through his body Belmovekk opened his eyes again. Not far from him he could see Xander lying on the floor, trying his best to just breathe.
“Any of you two old men up for a rematch?”
Hovering above them, at the center of the gravity was Buffy.
Just one look at her and he knew he would do it all over again.
Well, not everything. The Angelus thing in hindsight was extremely stupid. And walking into Anubis’ trap wasn’t very smart either.
Belmovekk looked at Xander.
“What say you, good friend?” he asked through laborious breath.
“I think I speak on behalf of everyone that I’m in a lot of pain here,” Xander stated through equal laborious breath.
“You guys aren’t any fun,” Buffy said disappointed.
“There was fun?” Xander said and spit up some blood.
“Fun is relative,” Belmovekk groaned, then he looked up at Buffy, “Feel better?”
“I suppose,” Buffy said as she floated over to the Gym’s controls and returned the gravity to normal, “Any of you old people need a hand?”
“No thanks,” Xander groaned as he sat up, “My walker is parked right outside the room.”
“How about you then?” Buffy said coming to a landing next to Belmovekk and extended her hand, “Dad?”
Taking her hand Belmovekk allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. Then she began to dust him off and straighten him out.
“Let’s get Willow to make you nice again,” she smirked.
As Buffy left to get Willow, Xander began to laugh out loud.
“What is so funny?” the Saiyan asked.
“Oh man, this is so ironic,” Xander laughed, “You used to be the big strong guy who also liked to keep a lot of secrets. And now she’s the strong one and all that you got left are your secrets, but she beats you up for it. If irony were made out of strawberries we’d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now.”
“What has gotten you so cranky,” Belmovekk asked as he shuffled for the exit.
“Having to get here at 9:15 AM after an all nighter at the hospital perhaps?” Xander said as he hopped on one leg to his clothes lying in a heap in the corner.
“You are just not a morning person,” Belmovekk said and shuffled out of the gravity gym.
“Maybe I’m not a morning person after being an all nighter person,” Xander muttered softly as he picked his jacket. Reaching inside he pulled out a small opaque container, took out two white pills and popped them in his mouth. Having done that he put the container away and hopped to the exit.
As Xander entered the store part of the Magic Room they found everybody looking excited at a map.
“You girls hit paydirt?” he asked hopping to the table.
“I wish,” Willow said dejected, “We only know it’s going to be somewhere this evening in the industrial district.”
“But…., that place goes on like forever,” Xander said a little let down,” And a lot of it is empty.”
“Then we should get going,” Buffy said, “We’re burning daytime.”
Xander looked at the clock.
“That only leaves us three hours till nightfall to find whoever, um….,” Xander stopped himself noticing that Dawn was present, “Well, suppose we do find them? What are we going to do? Stop them doing the dastardly deed? Wouldn’t that mean ixnay on the….”
Xander finished his sentence by making a whistling noise and nodding as subtle as possible towards Dawn.
“I just want answers,” Buffy said, “simply as that.”
“I second that,” Belmovekk echoed.
“Thirded,” Joyce said.
“Okay,” Xander said as he sat down, “So we’re going to do this then. It’s still a lot of ground though. Can’t we improve our odds by using some demons to do the searching for us?”
“I, uh, would rather not,” Giles said, “The Edict works both ways when it comes to that and they, um, know far too much about us already.”
“Fine,” Xander surrendered, “But before we go I want two things. First a deftly helping of Willow’s pixie dust. And second, are there any sandwiches left?”
Sitting in the Magic Box Willow, Tara, Giles and Joyce listened in to the others through a battered old scouter hooked up to a small amplifier. Scouters had fallen by the wayside since the Cell Games, which wasn’t that long ago, but all the chi fighters had spent one to two years inside the Room of Spirit and Time without them and gotten used to it. Their current search in the industrial district was a rare return to form for them.
It also had the additional benefit that they could communicate with each other through them.
“Nothing in Pablo Honey pharmaceuticals,” the voice of Xander reported, “moving on to Kid A imports.”
At the Magic Box Giles put an X on the map of the industrial zone. So far there were a lot of X’s, indicating fruitless searches. And there were still a significant number of buildings to check.
“We’ve got to do this quicker,” Buffy’s voice said impatient, “the sun is beginning to set.”
“We’re going as fast as we can,” Xander’s voice said back.
“There’s nothing here at Iron Lung transports,” Android #18’s bored voice reported.
“Scratch another one,” Willow said as Giles marked another company with an X.
“They’re not going to make it in time, aren’t they?” Joyce asked.
“There’s still time to get Spike,” Tara suggested.
“That’s a big negatory on the bringing in Spike thing,” Buffy’s voice said in response, “I don’t want him in on this. This is personal. This is… family.”
“Thanks, I guess,” the voice of Android #18 said surprised, “Should I get a name change?”
“I think she means the family of no-Spike,” Xander’s voice said jokingly, “We’re very inclusive, as long as your name doesn’t begin with S and ends with pike.”
“Less talky, more searchy,” Buffy’s voice said impatient.
“We’re not going to make it,” Giles said shaking his head as he looked at the clock.
“Maybe those mystery guys had a long lunch?” Willow smiled weakly.
Maybe they should have gotten Spike after all, Buffy thought with growing despair. He may be an asshole but having him along would have meant an extra pair of feet covering more ground.
It also meant telling him everything. Taking the android along was one thing, she had never given Buffy a reason to doubt her and she was willing to come along without being told why they were searching. Spike on the other hand…..
And yet, ten minutes after sunset she wished she had. Maybe then they would have found whoever they were looking for.
“Nothing at In Limbo furniture,” Buffy spoke into the scouter as she vacated the premises. Who the hell came up with these names?
The next building she went to had no name.
It was also abandoned.
This was weird because according to the list that Willow had compiled of the official records this was supposed to be Weird Fishes fish food company. And it wasn’t supposed to be abandoned or they would have hit it first on their search, as they had with all abandoned buildings.
Going inside noticed that this building had been empty for a very long time.
Which was good because the last thing she wanted was having the smell of fish on her for the rest of the day.
Normal search procedure so far was to start at the top and then move downwards, as to not give anyone the chance to leave via the roof. She was going to do so again when at the stairwell she noticed something. It was a yellowish crystal sphere, glowing in the dark, but still hidden so you didn’t see it unless you walked right past it.
By all rights this should have been a warning sign and she should have called in the troops.
Instead she picked up the sphere and contrary to search protocol she went down, into the basement.
In the basement there was a massive steel door, and it was dented, like a Saiyan had been using it for practice and then ripped it from its hinges like it was a shower curtain.
That should have been the second warning sign
Inside the basement she fought a battlefield.
It was a slaughterhouse.
Bodies were strewn across the floor, bloodied, ripped apart.
Cell left behind less of a carnage she thought. At least he sucked his victims dry until there was nothing left.
Then, amidst the bare light she saw a man sitting in a chair.
And heavily tortured.
She ran up to him and checked him out. He was still alive but only barely breathing.
“Don't worry. I'm stronger than I look,” she said as she put down the sphere and began to fumble with his ropes, “I have had experience with stuff like this before. Best of all….”
Suddenly the sphere glowing up brightly. A sudden tingle of her sense and she turned faster then was humanly possible and grabbed whatever had been trying to sneak up upon her.
“…I'm not stupid,” she said with a big smirk as she grabbed the person by the throat. But before she could see who it was that person broke free and she got backhanded so hard she flew backwards and hit a concrete wall so hard she created a crater in that wall.
“You sure about that last part?” the person sneered, then the sound of clicking heels running away.
“Maybe Xander was right about that sandwich,” Buffy groaned as she fell out of her vertical impact crater onto her hands and knees.
Next thing a Super Saiyan, golden chi blazing, came crashing through the roof.
“BUFFY?” Belmovekk asked concerned as he tapped his scouter, “Are you alright? Are you hurt?”
“Just my ego,” Buffy groaned.
“Who are these men?” Belmovekk asked, his chi flames finally illuminating the basement.
“My guess? The men we were looking for.” Buffy said as she got on her feet, “Oh, and I am more then usually certain of that.”
“We are not going to learn much from them dead,” Belmovekk said as he examined one of the bodies.
“I didn’t do it,” Buffy said and pointed to the stairs, “Whoever it was, it got away.”
“Xander, #18,” Belmovekk spoke into his scouter, “Search and destroy.”
“Are you sure?” Xander’s voice asked, “Don’t you want information?”
“Whoever it is, it killed people able to reach through space and time, my guess is we will be better off with the dead option. When faced with an unknown danger and unanswered questions forensics is the safest choice,” Belmovekk said.
“Will do,” Xander replied.
“I don’t think he will find her,” Buffy said.
“Her?” Belmovekk asked surprised.
“She was a woman alright, I heard her voice,” Buffy said and walked to the man in the chair, “And she doesn’t show up on the scouter either. Now help me get him lose.”
Together they freed the man. And in the light of Belmovekk’s chi flames they could see he was dressed like he was some medieval monk.
“Are you okay?” she asked after they took him out of the chair and laid him down on the ground.
“No,” the monk said with torturous breath, “My journey's done, I think.”
“Don't get metaphory on me,” Buffy said, “Come, we're going.”
Suddenly the monk reached out and took her hand. Then he looked at the both of them.
“You two, you have to... the Key,” he said, “You must protect the Key.”
Buffy looked at Belmovekk, then at the monk again.
“Fine,” she said, “We can protect the Key together, okay, just not here.
The monk shook his head.
“Many more die if you two don't keep it safe.”
“What?” Belmovekk asked, “What is it?”
The monk pointed to the night sky through the hole Belmovekk had made.
“The Key is energy. It's a portal. It opens the door..., cough, for centuries it had no form at all. My brethren, its only keepers. Then the abomination found us. We had to hide the Key, gave it form, molded it flesh... made it part human, part Saiyan and…, cough, sent it to you.”
Buffy and Belmovekk stared at each other as they realized the implications of what the monk was saying.
“Dawn...,” Buffy said.
“My daughter,” Belmovekk said.
The monk nodded.
“She's the Key.”
“You made her my sister?” Buffy said incredulously.
Again the monk nodded.
“We knew that the Slayer and the Saiyan would protect her.”
“How?” Belmovekk asked, “Why did you reach back into time and placed her in my wife’s womb?”
“We had too,” the monk coughed, “At first we wanted to place her in your midst and just change your memories. Give you new ones that made you think she had always been there.”
Then the monk pointed at Belmovekk.
“But he was too strong. You are strong too, but Saiyans…., their minds cannot be fooled by spells. They resist. We did not have the time nor the power. In the end it was easier to go back in time and make her be born for real.”
“But there was a mind altering spell,” Belmovekk asked, “the Saiyans of the future.”
“They were only half Saiyan,” the monk said, “Their minds were not as strong. But we had to make sure for the mother. A mother always knows if a child is hers. We had to remove any doubts she might have had.”
The monk began to cough heavily.
“You cannot abandon,” he coughed.
“Why us? I didn't ask for this!” Buffy asked, “I don't even know... what is she?
“Human... and Saiyan,” the monk said, “And helpless. Please... she's an innocent in
this. She needs you two.”
“But she's not my sister,” Buffy countered.
“She doesn't know that,” the monk said, then one final exhale and he was dead. Leaving Buffy and Belmovekk to stare at each other.
“Needs us against what?” Belmovekk finally said.
At the Magic Box Joyce was standing up straight, but only barely as she was leaning against one of the shelves. Her head was spinning faster then the speed of light. She had heard everything through the speaker and her head was spinning. It was even worse. Somebody had not only used magic to turn what would have been a normal pregnancy into twins, they had placed something called the Key inside her. She now felt double violated.
“Joyce, are you alright?” Giles asked concerned.
“I…, I’m fine,” Joyce said as she gave Giles a weak smile, “I could use a glass of water though.”
Tara said something, got up and went to the back store kitchen. But Joyce didn’t hear it. She was starting to tune out the world as Willow and Giles were starting to argue about something.
Her daughter was…. a thing?
Buffy and Belmovekk were still in the basement when Xander reported in.
“We can’t find anything. There’s nothing on the scouter and I can’t sense shit. Whoever it was got away.”
“That’s okay,” Buffy said, “I figured as much. Go back to the Magic Box, we’ll meet you there.”
“What about those dead guys,” Xander asked, “Are we going to declare Edict violation.”
Buffy and Belmovekk looked at each other.
“No,” Buffy said, “for now we’re going to keep this under wraps.”
“Will do,” Xander replied.
“What are we going to do?” Belmovekk asked and gestured around, “with these bodies of course.”
Buffy looked around one more time. She then took her scouter off and switched it off.
“I still don’t get what they did,” she said, “One thing I do know, they almost got mom killed with their stupid magic. The city can clean them up for all I care.”
Android #18 was the first to return to the Magic Box where she turned in her scouter with Giles. A fascinating piece of device, which undoubtedly was what Android #16’s sensing abilities were based on. Which again beckoned the question, why did Gero did not use this technology in the 17-18 series, nor his own 19-20 series?
The only outcome to that question was that it either required extremely rare parts. Or that the man was pants on retarded.
Anyhow, as she turned it in Giles took her apart.
“Look, #18,” he said a little hesitant, “What did you learn today?”
Android #18 looked at her employer. The man who could order several people to take her apart if need be. The man who also signed her paycheck.
“That somebody used magic to go back in time and place something that is called the Key into Joyce Summers’ womb and turn it into Dawn?” she said in earnest.
“I figured as much,” Giles said not too happy, “Do you know what this means?”
“That I cannot tell this to anyone?” Android #18 said without batting an eyelid.
“You are very perceptive,” Giles stated.
“I was created with an ability to learn through observation,” #18 said.
“I was wondering though, is there any way for you to lose the information that you heard today?” Giles asked tentatively.
“You mean delete?” the android said a little surprised.
“Delete sounds so harsh,” Giles said uncomfortable, “How about simply… forget?”
“I’m not a complete robot you know,” Android #18 stated with just a hint of anger, “There’s a real brain in my skull. My brain is augmented, not replaced. Also, do you have any idea what it’s like to lose parts of your memory? Have you? Cause I can tell you, Gero wiped everything! He left my brother and I with nothing! Do you know what it is like to wake up one day and have nothing?”
“I, uh, um, suppose not,” Giles said feeling ashamed.
“Then don’t ask me to forget things!” #18 said indignant, “Cause my brother and I swore that we would never EVER let somebody do that to us again!”
“Uh, okay,” Giles said, flinching somewhat under her verbal attack.
“Now don’t worry,” the android said, straightening some of her hairs that had gotten across her face, “your secret is safe with me. It’s already filed under things that should never ever be told to anyone.”
“That’s, um, good to know,” Giles said.
“Oh, and next time, boss,” the android said, “if you don’t want me to know things, please keep me out of them.”
“I shall, uh, try to keep that in mind,” Giles nodded. Then he left the android and went back to the store front where Joyce, Willow and Tara were.
“And?” Joyce asked, “did she hear everything and has she deleted what she has heard?”
“Yes and no,” Giles said as he sat down at the table, pulled out a cleaning cloth and began to clean his glasses, “She heard and she won’t forget. Can’t or won’t, probably both.”
“I could write a subroutine that would make her forget,” Willow suggested eagerly.
“I don’t think that’s very wise,” Giles said polishing enthusiastically.
“Why not?” Willow asked.
“Let’s just say she finds that kind of experience quite, shall we say…, traumatic?” Giles said, “Let’s chalk it up to childhood trauma shall we say?”
“So you’re going to trust her?” Joyce said incredulously, “You’re going to trust the live of my child to a…. machine?”
Giles looked at her as he put his glasses back on.
“We trust Spike, and the only thing that keeps him in check is a single chip. A government chip. So it’s probably made by whoever offered to make it the cheapest.”
“We don’t trust Spike,” Willow countered, “we just….., tolerate him?”
“Well, #18 has given me a lot more reasons to trust her then Spike does,” Giles said vehemently, “When you ask her to do something, she does. She doesn’t bitch, she doesn’t bargain, she doesn’t try to weasel herself out of things. I think we should trust her.”
“It’s a machine,” Joyce implored.
“S-she’s a person,” Tara finally spoke up, “She’s m-more then a machine. If we treat her like a person, she will prove her loyalty to us.”
“God, I hope your right,” Joyce said shaking her head.
Not that much later Xander, Buffy and Belmovekk returned to the Magic Box and explained in detail what they had found.
“Monks, huh?” Giles said as he raised an eyebrow, “I suppose it’s not a complete surprise. The spell they did was very powerful. Only very powerful magic practioners or very old organizations have the kind of knowledge to pull this one off. And according to Sam Zabuto the Cell Games have caused a grand exodus in the former category. And they still haven’t returned.
“Maybe they know something we don’t?” Xander said amused.
“That leaves only very old organizations like the Watchers, right?” Buffy asked, “And those guys weren’t wearing tweed.”
“He did say they were the keepers,” Belmovekk said, “In my experience those who call themselves the keepers of something do tend to be organizations who go back quite some time.”
“Especially the keepers of the Key,” Xander said, then he cupped his chin and mused out loud, “Almost sounds like the plot of Ghostbusters. The key master and the gate keeper. Best not to open any fridges soon. And if somebody asks if we’re a god, say yes.”
“Xander!” Willow said annoyed.
“Is there anything known about these keepers of the Key?” Buffy asked Giles.
“Probably not,” Giles said as he tried to recollect something, “Firstly because that’s probably not their real name and secondly, those who hoard ancient mysteries tend not to advertise their existence. It kinda goes contrary to their, um, mission statement?”
“So we still don’t know anything?” Joyce asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” Giles said, “I mean we now know what has been done exactly. And why. Dawn’s the key. And something unmentionable wants it. That’s more then we did this morning.”
“Something’s stalking my baby,” Joyce said as she sat down, “Our keyish baby.”
“Nothing will happen to her,” Belmovekk immediately said, “I will lay down my live to protect her.”
“I will do anything to protect her as well, mom,” Buffy immediately said as well.
“That’s sweet,” Joyce smiled at the two of them, “But please don’t try to die, especially you, Belmo, you already died once.”
“It looks like those monks succeeded,” Xander said, “They got the Slayer and the Saiyan to do exactly what they wanted them to do.”
“Xander,” Willow said shocked, “How can you say such a thing? Dawn’s been with us for two years. Four if you count that hokey room.”
“Yeah but if we had found them earlier and stopped them she would have never existed and we would never have known,” Xander countered.
“You don’t know that,” Tara said, “For all we know it would have caused a hole in the space time continuum and be the end of time. For all we know Dawn was meant to be here.”
“Oh, that’s low,” Xander said, “How dare you use my love of science fiction against me instead of logic?”
“I wonder what that evil is,” Giles mused out loud.
“Tell them, the Beast, the Key, protect, sister,” Xander said almost thoughtlessly. Causing Giles and Buffy to look at him in bewilderment.
“Why did you say that?” Giles asked astonished.
“I don’t know,” Xander said equally astonished, “its like I suddenly remembered. Somebody told me that.”
“Who said it ” Buffy asked.
“You did,” Xander said, “You in that alternate future. When alternate dead Willow was whispering things into her ear. Man, why did I forget this?”
“Indeed, why did you not tell of this before?” Belmovekk asked.
“I dunno,” Xander shrugged, “they were her dying words. You’d think that I would remember them. And yet all I could remember coming back was Dawn not being there in that future. Damn! It’s like somebody put a blanket of stupid over me that’s only just been lifted. Together it makes so much more sense. Dawn’s the key and the sister that has to be protected. Which means that this thing that Buffy fought, it had to be the Beast.”
Just the mentioning of that name caused a chill to go through the room.
“I don’t think we should mention that name a lot,” Willow said as she looked around the group, “This place is protected but sometimes words have power and it looks like that name’s got power too.”
“I concur,” Giles echoed.
“Kinda puts those Slayer dreams I’ve been having into perspective,” Buffy said.
“Indeed,” Giles nodded, “protect the sister. From the B…that thing.”
“What Slayer dreams?” Belmovekk asked curious, “Why was I not told?”
“Come on, daddy dearest,” Buffy said as she condescendingly patted his cheek, “You don’t think you were the only one who’s allowed to keep secrets.”
Other then a medium loud snort Belmovekk didn’t bother to reply to that.”
“So what kind of dream did you have?” Xander asked curious.
“Really, really, REALLY crazy ones,” Buffy said, “The kind that make David Lynch look like an amateur. But they keep on changing. There were two things they had in common though, they tried to warn me that something was wrong with Dawn and then Yoda told me to protect the sister from this…. thing.”
“Yoda?” Xander said sounding suddenly extremely interested, “You’re dreaming of Yoda? Do tell!”
“What’s there to say?” Buffy shrugged, “I’m there, he’s there and he tells me that the future always changes and that I must protect the sister. That is if I can understand what the hell the little troll is saying.”
“Yeah, that sounds like Yoda,” Xander grinned, then his face turned dead serious, “Be careful though, once Lucas finds out you’re dreaming about him he may sue the pants of your ass.”
“It’s okay,” Buffy replied, “I checked, as long as I put up a disclaimer saying that all rights to Yoda belong to Lucasarts and I’m only using him for non-profit reasons I can use him.”
“You can also use him for parodies,” Willow added.
“We do know one thing,” Giles said looking at Buffy, “Whoever this thing that shouldn’t be named is that’s after Dawn, according to Buffy’s she female.”
“She also hits like Cell and likes to wear heels,” Buffy added.
“I feel so much better hearing this,” Xander sighed then he looked at Buffy, “Remember your ‘I want to wear heels when training’ phase? I still have scars from those damn things.”
“Well, it’s not my fault that you’re so damn slow,” Buffy said back.
Before anyone else could say anything a cell phone rang.
It was Belmovekk’s.
“Yes?” he said as he answered the call, then he raised an eyebrow, “Warleader Hammond? What a surprise.”
“Oh God,” Buffy said as she slammed her forehead into a table, “Just when you think you had everything they
show up as well.”
“Well, we are doing okay I guess,” Belmovekk spoke into his cell phone, “And you? That’s good to hear….. I hear you have put poor old Piccolo to work at the Lookout…. I’m sure he likes that quite a lot….. yeah, I agree, enough chitchat. What do you need me for? Really?..... Are you sure?”
Belmovekk stood up and began to pace.
“That doesn’t look good,” Willow said apprehensive.
“Bite your head off,” Xander agreed.
“This is an……, um, interesting development,” Belmovekk continued,” Are you really sure? Oh, you are looking at the real-time images as we speak. How droll. I guess then it must be true…… yes, I concur, this does require looking into…. Can you give me an ETA? That soon? Yes, I’ll be there….. If she wants to come? That is up to her.”
“Oh lookie,” Xander winked at Buffy, “They want you too as well.”
“Okay, just tell me where and we’ll be there,” Belmovekk said, then he chuckled, “Yeah, that is ironic indeed. Alright. Thanks for the call.”
Belmovekk turned off his cellphone and turned around, into the waiting faces looking at him at the table.
“And?” Buffy asked impatiently, “What planet do they want you to go this time?”
“Actually, this one,” Belmovekk said, putting his cellphone away, causing various at the table to look at each other.
“What? They found something ancient that they should better have left alone on this planet instead?” Buffy asked.
“No,” Belmovekk said shaking his head, then he pointed upwards, “There are three Saiyan space pods on the way, and they are going to land within half an hour.”
“Saiyan space pods,” Xander said surprised, “As in small and round and full of deadly inside?”
“Yes,” Belmovekk nodded, “There are Saiyans coming this way.”
“Are you sure?” Giles asked flabbergasted, “I mean you told me that besides your people some of Freeza’s more ‘unsavory’ employees they also like to use those pod ships.”
“Trust me,” Belmovekk said, “In this galaxy the only ones who ever used space pods were my kind.”
“I see,” Giles said and began to think.
“Haha,” Xander laughed and poked Buffy, “Your grandfather in law is coming to visit.”
“I hope not,” Belmovekk said and went for the scouter cabinet, “Rebar was old school through and through. If he knew I had fathered half-breeds he would kill them. And then I would have to kill him to stop him.”
“In that case I’m coming with you,” Buffy said as she stood up. Then she looked at Xander.
“Yeah, I suppose,” Xander sighed deeply.
“Master Giles,” Belmovekk said, “I want you to take Joyce and the children home, together with #18 and guard them. When in doubt you have my permission to bring in Spike as well.”
“Spike,” Giles said a little hesitant, “Do we really want him in on this?”
“That’s why I said in doubt,” the Saiyan said as he put on his scouter, “But better to have him and not need him then need him and be somewhere else.”
Belmovekk kissed his wife goodbye and then left the Magic Box followed by Xander. Before Buffy followed she turned to Giles and pulled something out of her coat.
“I found this with those monks,” she said and put the yellowish crystal sphere on the table, “It glowed when that she thing tried to attack me. Maybe it can help you find out what we’re dealing with.”
Funny how life took you around in circles.
One moment you were born, you had a lifetime’s worth of experiences, and then one day you’d find yourself back at the place you started.
Maybe it was because you were suddenly out of work and you were forced to move back in with your parents, back in your old bed and room.
Maybe it was because you met your former girlfriend, some old feelings stirred again and before you knew it the both of you were back in their old patterns of behavior.
Maybe it was because that rockband that you were trying to get off the ground, always fell apart again because your personality just clashed with most people.
There were a myriad ways you could be going around in circles.
And sometimes it was because you literally returned to where you started.
Standing on top of a hill Belmovekk looked around at the deserts of Turkmenistan.
Back where he had started, more then three and a half years ago.
My, how does the time fly?
It was really odd but at moments like this he missed his talks with Amūn. For years he had been like a buzzing mosquito in his existence. Always dropping in at inopportune moments and places. Caspar the Goold Buffy nicknamed him. But now he was gone, finally in the afterlife. And Belmovekk really missed him. Because for all his faults and annoyances he had proven to be a good soundboard to bounce ideas off. Or share personal moments with.
Looking up to the skies for a moment Belmovekk wondered what had happened to Amūn. Had he been cast back into hell? Or was he up there, sparring with Goku? It seemed like the Goku thing to do.
“Satiya, are you alright?” a voice said behind him. Belmovekk looked around. It was Jamison, commanding the detachment of chi trained soldiers that like him were now awaiting the arrival of the Saiyan space pods.
“I was just thinking, Commander Jamison,” Belmovekk said, “Did you know that I arrived on this planet not far from here?”
“Are you kidding?” Jamison said surprised.
“No,” Belmovekk said as he shook his head and pointed to the North-East, “32 miles in that direction is where my space pod landed.”
“That is a coincidence,” Jamison said.
“Yeah,” Belmovekk agreed, “The universe likes to do that from time to time. If you go a few miles to the right that’s where the evil tyrant Freeza and his father landed and died.”
“Did you kill him?” Jamison asked curious. The Saiyan seemed awfully melancholic of a sudden and quite talkative.
“Me? No,” Belmovekk said shaking his head, “I only arrived after the fact. Trunks killed him. Our boy from the future, you remember him, right?”
“How could I forget,” the soldier replied.
“This was where he gave us our three year warning that Gero’s androids were coming,” Belmovekk said.
“To bad he didn’t warn us of Cell as well,” Jamison said back.
“Let’s be fair on the boy,” the Saiyan chuckled, “He traveled back in time a little too early for that. But he did manage to kill the Cell that emerged in his own time after he returned and killed the androids of his time.”
“He did?” Jamison said surprised. That was news to him.
“You know, seeing this desert again it reminds me that I must really ask Warleader Hammond to return my old space pod back to me.”
“Are you planning to leave, Satiya?” Jamison asked, causing Belmovekk to chuckle.
“That Colonel O’Neill would love that, wouldn’t he?”
“It’s no secret that he is not one of your biggest fans,” Jamison smiled, “Probably because he washed out so soon out of the training program.”
“His age might have something to do with that,” Belmovekk chuckled again, then he looked up to the sky pensive again, “No, Commander Jamison, I have no desire to leave this planet. Maybe once I had that ambition, but not any more, I have children now.”
“Yeah, but Riley told me you are basically immortal,” Jamison countered, “You’d live long after we all are gone and dead. Including your children I might add.”
“I know,” Belmovekk echoed mournfully, “It is the curse of being immortal. But…. suppose they were to get children? Would I deprive myself of their company? What about their children? Maybe I could find peace in being that crazy uncle who from time to time pops into their lives and bores them with stories of how one day we all fought in the Cell Games.”
“That’s not much though,” Jamison said, “It seems like a world of pain to see your loved ones get old and die, and never really be a part of their lives.”
Belmovekk looked at the soldier.
“Sometimes it is enough, commander. Because sometimes that is all you will get. Is that not what your Earth saying says? If life gives you lemons, you make lemonade? I love that saying by the way.”
“I suppose,” Jamison said as he briefly looked away, “What are Saiyans like?”
“What do you mean?” Belmovekk asked curious.
“I mean, we may have to go up against them, Satiya,” Jamison explained, “Your people do not have a reputation for niceness. I need to know what I can expect. The only Saiyans I know are you, Goku and Vegeta. Are they like you, driven, focused, but also reasonable? Are they like Goku, cheerful, naive, not very bright but good in a fight? Or are they like Vegeta, mercurial, stubborn, untrustworthy, resentful and prone to make an ass of themselves?”
Belmovekk cupped his chin as he thought about it.
“That is a good question, commander, and truth be told not one I can fully answer. Had you asked me a hundred years ago I would have said very much like Vegeta, now…, I no longer know. I have been without my kind for 4000 years. Having met Goku and Vegeta it made me look at my kind in a more favorable light. Not because they are such fine outstanding fellows but because seeing them triggers old memories. Too much memory lane as they would say. And memory lane makes things look more favorable then they should.”
“To answer your question, yes, they can and probably will be very dangerous. They will probably behave much like Vegeta. But they may also behave very honorably like Goku. You must remember one thing with Saiyans, commander. They respect strength and Saiyans submit to those who are stronger then they are. And unless they experienced their own Cell Games I do not think they will be as powerful as we are.”
“So you don’t think any of them will be able to go Super Saiyan?” Jamison asked.
“Commander,” Belmovekk said as he looked at Jamison, “Have you any idea how many Super Saiyans there have ever
been in all of recorded Saiyan history?”
Jamison shook his head and Belmovekk held up four fingers.
“One happened a very, very, very long time ago. One is now dead, and the other two live on this planet. And you are looking at one of them.”
Not that far from Jamison’s men Xander and Buffy were sitting on two pieces of rock.
“Belmo seems really wicked jumpy,” Buffy said as she looked at Belmovekk and the military commander.
“You think so?” Xander asked curious, “He seems normal.”
“Nah, I can tell,” Buffy said, “He can do this really cool exterior. But it makes him very chatty.”
“If you say so,” Xander shrugged, “I fail to see what there is to be nervous about. We zip in, crush the Smurfs and then go home. And maybe this time I make it to my bed in time.”
“Xander, they’re his people,” Buffy said shocked.
“Still doesn’t negate that they’re Smurfs,” Xander shrugged indifferent, “I mean, have you sensed them? Your sisters could probably kick their asses.”
“Maybe they’re suppressing themselves,” Buffy countered, “Maybe when they land they come out all golden glowy in the dark.”
“If you think so,” Xander shrugged indifferent.
“Geez, Xander, they’re his people,” Buffy said, “Maybe he’s nervous because he hasn’t seen any of them for like 4000 years.”
“Gee, he only saw Goku and Vegeta like….,” Xander said, then he put his hand in front of his mouth and pretended to be shocked, “like only six months ago!”
“No need to be an ass,” Buffy said grumpy.
“I suppose,” Xander sighed, “I’m sorry, I’m like really low on caffeine. I’ll go and see if those soldiers have any coffee.”
“You do that,” Buffy said disapproving as Xander walked away to get some.
“Fi Fa Fo Fum, I smell the blood of some soon to be dead Saiyans,” a voice suddenly growled behind Buffy.
“Hi, Piccolo,” Buffy said without looking back, “Did you come here for the party as well?”
“You think I’d pass up on parties like this?” the Namek said as he walked into view.
“You never struck me as a party animal,” Buffy said as she pretended like she was checking him out.
“Are you kidding? I’m the original party crasher!”” Piccolo said as he bared his teeth in a grin, “I’m also the Saiyan pest exterminator.”
“Here they come!”
With that final word of warning three fiery trails came through the clouds and streaked towards the ground.
This was the first time Buffy saw Saiyan space pods and it occurred to her that they looked kind of cool.
Then the first one hit the ground two miles from them, creating a geyser of sand that shot a hundred meters into the air. Moments later the sound and shockwave hit them.
“Whoa,” Buffy said impressed as wind and sand blasted her in the face.
Next came the other two, landing three and four miles away.
“I like the traveling but I’m not so keen on the landing,” Buffy said.
“You know what they say,” Xander said and emptied the remainder of his cup of coffee in one gulp, “Take offs and landings are a bitch,”
“Any landing you can walk away from is a good one,” one of the soldiers said.
“Yeah, that one too,” Xander agreed.
“What now?” Jamison asked.
“Now we wait,” Belmovekk said unmoved.
“Is that smart?” Buffy asked, “what if they try and get away?”
“Then you don’t know Saiyans,” Xander scoffed politely.
“They will probably carry scouters,” Belmovekk said and put his on, his old one, his original, “and if they do they will notice us. And then they will come. Now here is how we should proceed….”
Feeling shaken the mission leader switched off the space pod’s systems.
They had landed.
The last act was hit the eject button and the door opened.
The Saiyan space pod was a marvel of technology. It allowed single passenger to travel across the stars in suspended animation. It was extremely durable, it had to be because for the final part of atmospheric re-entry it didn’t rely on parachutes of fancy sky cranes, it relied of good old fashioned slamming into the ground for stopping. Which meant it had pretty good shock absorption systems, although truth be told it would kill any normal human being trying to land that way. Which was of course why the SGC had done very little with Belmovekk’s space pod. And that of course was why it was called a Saiyan
space pod in the first place. The person inside it had to be able to take a punch.
It also had good systems to keep the muscles from its passengers from cramping and atrophying after sitting for prolonged times in the same position. This allowed its passenger to come out of the space pod feeling like he had just stepped inside. This was extremely important because the one thing the Saiyan space pod was not so good at was interstellar travel. They could do it, and do FTL as well, but most other interstellar space ships were faster. The ships of Freeza’s business empire, the Goa’uld, they could all do in weeks what space pods would take months.
This of course was by design because the Saiyan space pod was not designed by Saiyans.
They were created by Freeza’s business empire. Saiyans had a big say into the design requirements but it was Freeza’s scientists who designed it for them. And by not giving them the same kind of top speed that other ships had it made Saiyans dependent on others for long distance space travel. Having Saiyan war bands travel on route to targeted planets on board other ships was standard procedure.
After all, Freeze didn’t want to give his mercenaries too much advantages.
Unfortunately the Saiyan mission leader and her team didn’t have the luxury of getting a piggy back ride to Earth. The only transportation that they had were their old space pods. There were only two other alternatives, using this galaxy’s system of Stargates was one. Unfortunately Earth’s Stargate was well defended. And the only other alternative, asking for a ride from a faster ship was impossible because their current benefactor would neither give them such ships, nor allow them to travel to Earth in the first place.
So it had taken the Saiyan team more then six months to travel the distance to Earth.
As she left her space pod from the planet’s North West came one of her team mates flying. His pod had crashed just ahead of theirs.
“You must turn on your scouter,” he said agitated.
She tapped her scouter.
But the damn thing chose this moment to crap out on her.
“Stupid piece of junk!” she said angry, as she ripped the thing off and threw it back into her space pod. Meanwhile her other team mate arrived as well.
“There are at least two dozen strong chi signatures in that direction,” the new arrival said.
“How strong?” she asked and the 2nd arrival tapped his scouter.
“Most are between 300 and 400,” he said, “But there are at least six powers at 4000.”
“That is strong,” the mission leader said, now wishing she had taken a spare scouter along. Too bad scouters had become exceedingly rare. And the technology nor the technological base to design and build new ones just wasn’t there any more.
“I also detect at lease several more strong powers on this planet,” the 1st male Saiyan said, “They are….., Priya’s justice!”
“What?” she asked.
“I track at least two powers at opposite ends of this planet, one not that far from here who are currently at five million or more. I track three powers who are currently at one million and at least eight who are between 10.000 and half a million. There are also clusters of powers ranging from 50 to 300.”
“Any sign of Freeza?” the mission leader asked.
“Hard to tell,” the 2nd male Saiyan said, “Hanzo’s readings are correct. If so Freeza can be anyone of the larger powers. But Freeza was known to have a powerlevel of 530.000, so there are way too many suspects.”
“Something is wrong,” the mission leader said shaking her head, “Freeza would never tolerate anyone with a powerlevel akin to him.”
“Not even close to him,” the 2nd Saiyan male said, “The only one who ever came close to Freeza was Captain Ginyu. And he was only measured at one quarter of Freeza’s strength.”
“There are way too many strong powers on this planet,” the 1st Saiyan male said, “This does not bode well. Even with a full moon.”
“You said there were a lot of moderate powers nearby?” the mission leader asked.
“Yes,” 1st male Saiyan said and pointed to the planet’s South West, “They’re maintaining distance but I’d say they were waiting for us.”
“So they’re the welcoming committee, huh,” the mission leader said, then she turned around and closed the hatch on her space pod, “Well, let’s pay them a visit. Maybe they can tell us what’s going on.”
“They’re coming,” one of the soldiers shouted.
“They’ve taken the bait,” Piccolo said.
It had been Belmovekk’s idea to lower their power just enough to not be a threat but still big enough to command both interest and respect.
“Remember,” Belmovekk said one last time, “Once they arrive anyone suppressing their strength should raise it to a more normal level. That way they will know not to do anything stupid.”
He then looked at Buffy and Xander.
“And no going Super on them.”
“You’re no fun,” Xander said pretending to be disappointed.
“Here they are,” Jamison said and stepped forward as the three Saiyans touched down.
All three were dressed in blue and white armor, akin to the armor that Bulma had provided for them during the Cell Games. Xander still had his back home, and he knew Buffy had hers somewhere also at home. It might not have been such a bad idea to have pulled it on before coming here. For some additional intimidation factor.
As they touched down Xander let his chi level go, up to what it normally was.
As it did he could hear their scouters go into alert mode and the two man tapped their devices, their eyes growing pretty big. But Xander instead looked at the female Saiyan. She was cute, probably cute in a crazy Saiyan way as only Saiyan women could be.
With his luck in women she’d probably be all over him like a motherfucker before the day was over. As if his life wasn’t already complicated enough.
She looked spooked though.
Unlike the others she didn’t carry a scouter but she had that same look on her face like she had just realized how outclassed they really were. Scratch that, she looked like she had just seen a ghost.
“She looks spooked, doesn’t she?” Xander whispered to Buffy.
Only he got no answer.
“Buffy…?” he asked and looked at her.
And saw that she was just as spooked as future crazy Saiyan ex No.2
As the Saiyans approached what looked like the welcoming committee they noticed that most of them were in uniform. Uniforms that they recognized.
“Tau’ri warriors,” 1st Saiyan male said, “Could this be their homeworld?”
“Makes sense, that’s why this planet was forbidden to us,” 2nd Saiyan male said then he pointed ahead, “Is that a Namekian warrior?”
“That other man looks Saiyan,” 1st Saiyan male said.
“Don’t talk nonsense,” 2nd Saiyan male snorted, “No Saiyan worth his name would defile his arms wearing tattoos. Besides, there are no Saiyans in this galaxy other then us.”
The Saiyans touched down.
As soon as they did their scouters gave off major alerts.
“Two of those soldiers just increased their strength to above 10.000,” 2nd Saiyan male said horrified.
“Screw that,” 1st Saiyan male said even more appalled, “That Namekian warrior and that civilian male just shot over the 5 million mark.”
“We’ve walked into a trap,” 2nd Saiyan male said and looked at his mission commander and…. saw that she was staring with her mouth open at the tattooed man.
Xander saw that Buffy was speechless, then he looked to his other side and saw that Belmovekk was also looking speechless.
Then Belmovekk stepped forward, followed by the female Saiyan, the both of them looking like they had seen a ghost.
“Commander?” one of the Saiyans said, not sure what to make of the situation.
“Satiya?” Jamison asked equally unsure.
The two Saiyans walked up to each other and looked each other over.
“Could it……,” the female Saiyan said, her lip trembling, “Is it really….?”
“I cannot believe this,” Belmovekk said, a tear rolling across his cheek, “this is…..”
Then Belmovekk gripped the female Saiyan in a bear hug that would crushed lesser men. And she equally gripped him back as well.
“You know, I expected many things when I came here,” Piccolo said as he scratched the back of his head, “But I have to admit this wasn’t one of them.”
“It’s like they know each other,” Jamison said equally bewildered.
“Well, if they know each other I guess I’m not looking at future crazy Saiyan ex No. 2,” Xander said relieved, “Maybe she’s his ex?”
“You guys are such dorks!” Buffy said indignant, “For god sakes! She’s his friggin’ sister! That’s Mayan!”
“Sister?” Jamison said surprised.
“Okay,” Piccolo said after he had picked up his jaw from the desert floor, “That
I did most definitely not see coming.”
“Oh, God,” Xander said worried, “If she’s his sister, and not his ex then she might still turn out to be my future crazy Saiyan ex No. 2.”
“You really are the biggest dork,” Buffy said and hit him on the head, “Scratch that, you’re the king of Dorks. Why do you have to ruin this….., this beautiful moment with your demon girlfriend phobia? His sister is still alive! This should be a happy time for him.”
“Well, let’s see,” Xander said and began to count on his fingers,” First, she’s Saiyan. So crazy. Second, she’s a woman so that means she’s also crazy. Third, she’s a female Saiyan so that means she’s double crazy, fourthly….”
“AAAAAH!” Xander yelled as he clutched his head in pain.
“I told you to shut up, didn’t I,” Buffy said after hitting as hard as she could on his head, “You just don’t know when to shut up, do ya?”
“I might be willing to concede that particular argument,” Xander said fumbling his head.
“You know, that blow would have killed a lesser man,” Jamison said shocked.
“Then it’s good that I’m more then enough ma….,” Xander said rubbing his head, then came the sound of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man coming from his pocket. Xander reached in and pulled out his cell phone.
“You have reception here?” Buffy said surprised, “We’re in the middle of nowhere. How come you have reception? I don’t even have reception here.”
“Haha,” Xander said and held up his cell phone, “Look, five bars! Thanks Wills!”
Then Xander answered the call.
“And hello from a beautiful sunlit desert in Nowhereville, Assholistan?” he said, “Oh, hi Giles.”
“Tell him Belmo’s sister is still alive,” Buffy said eagerly, “She’s actually here!”
“Yeah, we’re okay,” Xander said and signaled to Buffy that he’d heard what she had said, “I don’t think it’s going to come to any blood shed. You’d never believe who…… What? I was kinda hoping that I could get to tell you first…… Fine, you go ahead….. WHAT!!! Please tell me your kidding?...... Ohmigod…..I’m speech…. Yeah, I will tell them.”
Xander then closed his cellphone and looked at Buffy.
“Buffy, I’m so sorry,” Xander said emotionless.
“For what?” Buffy asked surprised as she looked at Xander, who seemed completely lost for words, “You’re starting to freak me out here.”
“Buffy,” Xander said downcast, “your mother, she just died.”End of Act One
To be continued in Act Two, ‘the Rage of Hypsis’
AN: The last chapter for now. Gotta write the rest first. Don’t worry, I’m halfway Act Two right now.
Also, you know what to do. ;)