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Battle Not With Monsters…

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Battling Your Inner Nature". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The Scoobies dealt with the Initiative and some of its backers, but lost their initial confrontation with Wolfram & Hart. Now they have to deal with the subsequent repercussions of how that particular conflict ended.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > GeneralGreywizardFR1812,496052,67219 Aug 1219 Aug 12No
Disclaimer: Few, if any of the characters or concepts in this story belong to me, which is a damn shame, because I could definitely use the money they've all generated. The Scoobies and the Circle of the Black Thorn, Maggie Walsh and the Initiative most definitely belong to Crack-Head Joss and Mutant Enemy. Senator Kinsey and the NID belong to Jonathan Glassner, Brad Wright and MGM, too, I think. John Clark belongs to Tom Clancy, and Sydney Bristow belongs to J. J. Abrams and Ziva David belongs to Donald Bellisario. I also don't own anything having to do with either the Pretender or Dollhouse, and Cyber-Viral Implants first appeared in Earth: Final Conflict, so I don't own that idea, either.

Category: Story No. 2 in my series, 'Battling Your Inner Nature', and a follow-up to my story 'Looking Into The Abyss,' which is a response to my own TTH Challenge 5348: 'The Initiative Shows Up Early.'

Time Frame: This is several months after the Season Three episode, 'Graduation Part 2,' as far as the Scooby timeframe is concerned, but that really isn't of any concern to them or us, at the moment.

Spoilers: Some spoilers for events which occurred in BtVS Seasons One and Two might be mentioned in passing, but this story and the events leading up to it have taken place a very significantly different universe than the one Joss and Mutant Enemy created.

Warning: This is going to be a very !Dark! fic in some areas. Extreme violence and death looms ahead in some areas. You have been warned.

Character Bashing: Nope, not for any of the Scoobies. Other people are fair game, though I think you'll probably agree with me about most, if not all, of them. If not, please tell me why in your reviews!

Feedback: Of course!

Archiving: Talk to me first, please.

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

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


"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you" – Friedrich Nietzsche

“...Monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

"We stopped checking for monsters under our bed because we realized they were inside us." Gil Grissom (CSI)


Previously, in 'Looking Into The Abyss':

Unfortunately for the trio intent on grabbing a criminally corrupt politician who harbored plans of one day becoming President of the United States, as Faith canceled the protective shield the lawyer had invoked, a small portal appeared inside the protective hemisphere and both Kinsey and Manners dove through it a scant instant before their defensive force field collapsed.

At the same time the pair escaped to whatever safe haven had been offered, a hairless, white-skinned demon with curved, antelope-like horns, pointed ears and piercing yellow eyes, and who was dressed in dark embroidered robes, appeared off to the side of Manners' office, a disapproving, narrow-eyed expression on his face as he looked over the three interlopers.

"Hmm, you three might possibly have enough combined power to be more than just a minor inconvenience," the demon commented thoughtfully, before lifting his hands and gesturing in their direction.

"And we definitely can't have that," he added, an instant before the floor beneath the trio began swirling around them in an iridescent whirlpool of energy that abruptly shot up into the air to form a globe before almost immediately winking out of existence.



A few seconds later

The churning vortex of otherworldly energy rose up into the air to quickly form a shimmering sphere that brilliantly reflected all light impinging upon it as it appeared to spin wildly upon its axis before unexpectedly and silently exploding in a miasma of haze and vapor, and depositing its contents in an ungainly sprawl on the ground below

"Goddamn! What the hell just happened?"

"Son of a bitch! What the fuck's going on?"

"Mother pus bucket! Who was that bastard and what the hell did he do to us?"

The outraged expressions of the surprised and disgruntled recipients of the unscheduled transport cut off abruptly as Buffy, Faith and Xander looked around – and they quickly realized that they didn't recognize anything at all about the site where they now found themselves.

Oh, the long grass underfoot looked to be approximately the proper shade of green, and the sky above was a magnificent shade of blue, with various clumps of white clouds scattered across it, and the sun looked to be a brilliant golden-yellow in hue and approximately the proper size they'd expect it to be…

…but the two moons also clearly visible in the azure sky, as well as what appeared to be a fairy tale castle situated on one of the larger clouds floating above them were clear and definite indicators that the trio – already quite harshly treated by Fate – weren't anywhere even remotely familiar to them.


And now, in 'Battle Not With Monsters…':

:: God damn it! Just where the hell did that fuckin' sonuvabitch send us?! :: Faith angrily demanded through their mental link, as the three unwilling travelers instinctively regained their feet and moved to stand with their backs to each other, as they inspected the completely unfamiliar environment surrounding them.

:: Beats the hell out of me, :: Xander answered as he checked out the 120 degree arc of sight in front of him, just as he knew Buffy and Faith were also doing for their areas of interest. After all, they'd been taken by surprise by unsuspected opponents too many times in the past to not expect to be attacked without warning, now.. :: It's certainly not Kansas, though. I'm definitely sure about that. ::

:: My sector appears to be clear, :: Buffy stated after a moment's inspection. :: And I can't feel anything hostile nearby, :: the diminutive blonde elaborated, referring to her telepathic ability to sense the presence of humans or humanoid beings. :: Or at least, nothing sentient and remotely human, at least. ::

:: And remind me to smack him, later, will ya, Faith? :: she asked the brunette. :: I don't think we need to tempt Fate, and see if any wicked witches show up. ::

:: I've got nothing, either, guys, :: Faith reported. :: The biggest animals I can sense around here, other than us, are a couple things about the size of a small dog, and they seem to be heading away from us as fast as they can. ::

:: And I want to smack him upside the head, too, B, :: the brunette quickly added. :: Just so you know, X, if I see anything that looks like flying monkeys showing up around here, I'm gonna kick your ass up around your shoulders! :: she warned their partner.

:: I've got bupkis, too, ladies, :: Xander noted, concurring with his bondmates' evaluation of the local threat quotient. :: It seems like we've scared off whatever local wildlife was in the area with our arrival. ::

:: Well, I don't have any problem with being left alone by whatever lives around here, :: Buffy commented with the equivalent of a mental shrug. :: Actually, I'm perfectly fine with not being attacked by some unknown bad guy or monster the moment we show up someplace new. ::

:: I'm right there with you,there, B, :: Faith agreed as trio tentatively relaxed from what they'd taken to referring to as 'imminent combat' mode.. :: I'm perfectly happy with not having anyone trying to kill us. ::

:: Yes, indeed, ladies, :: Xander nodded his own agreement. :: A complete lack of attempts at death or maiming is always of the good. ::

:: Now, if we just had some freakin' idea of where the hell we ended up, I'd be a whole lot closer to happy than I am, now, :: he declared as he shrugged off his dress jacket and loosened his tie.

Giving the castle hovering several thousand feet above them an inquisitive glance, Xander asked, :: Do you guys think maybe we should stop by and ask our neighbors up there, just where the Hellmouth we might be? ::

:: Well, personally, I’m thinking the whole point of somehow building your castle on top of a cloud is to avoid having to deal with annoying neighbors, stud, :: Faith stated with a smirk, as she cast her own glance at the citadel floating above them.

:: Not that I *don't* want to maybe check the place out some other time, but right now, I think we need to find some place to hole up until we figure out exactly just where the hell we are, and how we can get back home. ::

:: I agree with Faith, :: Buffy chimed in. :: We need to find somewhere we don't have to worry about being attacked while we figure out exactly where it is that sonuvabitch sent us. ::

:: I'm all for that, Buff, :: Xander nodded. :: And hey, we also need to figure out what we're gonna be doing about supplies. ::

:: 'Cause, unless either of you guys have some really, *really* big pockets in those business suits of yours, we don't have bupkis, by way of food or anything else, to fall back on, :: he reminded his partners.

:: Sorry, but I got nothing here either, :: Faith admitted with a frown. :: I was thinking we'd just head back to the hotel, once we finished kicking Kinsey's ass, and then we'd order up room service, just like we usually do. ::

:: And just so you two know, once we finally do get back home and find the asshole who did this to us, I'm calling dibs on ripping that fucker's horns off his head, and then shoving them up his ass, :: Faith added with a truly alarming frown.

:: Now hold on just a minute, there, missy, :: Xander immediately protested. :: You and Buffy got to take care of Travers and Walsh, and I didn't complain at all. ::

:: I think that, this time, *I* should be the one who gets the first chance to kick the shit out of the prick responsible for sending us here, wherever the hell 'here' may be. ::

:: I think Xand's sort of got a point, Faith, :: Buffy conceded, even as she continued examining the surrounding area for any potential signs of civilization. Well, apart from the freaking huge castle floating a few thousand feet above them, that is.

:: You did get to stuff Travers' balls down his throat, after I yanked out his lower intestine, :: the blonde reminded their bondmate of their quite enjoyable get-together with the former head of the Watchers Council. :: And Xander didn't complain even once about not getting to do anything more than break his arms and legs. ::

:: So, when we do get back home, Xand should get first shot at beating the shit out of that demon asshole, :: Buffy stated simply. :: He's let us do all of the fun things so far, and helped clean things up, afterwards. It's only fair he get to be the one doing the initial breaking, once we get back. ::

:: Yeah, I guess you're right, B, :: the brunette reluctantly conceded after the briefest moment of consideration. :: You and me have had most of the fun as far as ripping apart the people responsible for everything that happened to us. ::

:: Okay, fine, Xand, you get first shot at the asshole who sent us here, :: Faith conceded a moment later. :: But you gotta promise ya won't kill him before B and I get the chance to kick the shit out of him, too, okay? ::

:: No problem-o, Faith, :: the third member of the trio agreed with the usual agreeable smile he typically gave each of his bondmates. :: I promise, I won't do anything more than cripple him – as painfully as I can, mind you – so that both you ladies can have a chance to stomp his ass into the pavement, too. ::

:: Okay, then. Now that everyone's agreed on what we're gonna do with that bastard once we get home, has anyone seen anything that might help us figure out just where the fuck we are? :: Faith asked. :: 'Cause I gotta say, I got nothing. And I'm gonna have to wait for night before I can check the sky against the star charts I've got stored and see if I can figure out where we might be; and that’s gonna take hours yet. ::

:: I got squat, too, guys, :: Xander declared with a frown and a sigh as he dropped to the grass beneath him. :: I just know that this definitely isn't home. ::

:: I can't describe it exactly in words, but everything around me feels a little – off, :: he elaborated, while offering them a glimpse of his thoughts, to better allow them to comprehend what he meant. :: It's definitely not Terra Firma, but other than that, I don't have any idea of where we are. ::

::Yeah, I know exactly what you mean, Xand, :: Buffy nodded her head in agreement, as she followed his example and plopped down on the grass beneath her..

:: It certainly feels as though there's a whole lot more ambient magic available here than I could access back home, :: Buffy reported as she eased back just the slightest bit from her earlier state of alert, :: which *might* mean that I'll be able to do more than I could back home, at least as far as conjuring or transforming things are concerned. ::

:: But that's just conjecture at this point, :: the blonde Slayer-turned-lab-experiment cautioned her bondmates. :: I won't know how true that is until I can actually do some conjuring and transformations, and I'm not about to do anything more than the absolute minimum, unless I have to. I'd really like us to be settled down somewhere that we know is secure before I start pushing to see if there's been any change in my limits. ::

:: Works for me. And this is just my opinion, but any of us being able to do more than we could before sounds pretty darn good to me, Buff, :: Xander smiled appreciatively. :: And you should check to see if having more magic available possibly increases the power of those energy blast of yours or maybe helps you fly faster, too. :: he suggested.

:: But you're right about wanting us to be settled down in secure quarters before any of us starts pushing our boundaries, :: he agreed.

:: And as tempting as it might be to fly up there and check things out, :: Faith joined in the conversation as she idly gestured at the castle floating above them, :: I’d say the smartest thing to do is find someplace close by where we can crash for tonight, until we have a much better idea of where we are and what we can – or can't – do. ::

:: Once we know that, then we can start with the exploring shit, and figure out how we best fit in around here, wherever 'here' might be, :: the brunette pointed out, receiving both nods of agreement and mental affirmations for her recommendation.

:: Okay, then, let's start checking the area for any ground-level signs of the locals, :: Buffy suggested with a sigh as she pushed herself back to her feet and glanced around, apparently trying to decide on which direction they should begin their search. :: Which way, do you guys think? ::

:: That way looks as good as any, :: Faith suggested, indicating a potential route which paralleled the small stream crossing the valley where they'd currently found themselves.

:: That haze in the sky over in that direction looks like it could be smoke from some sort of civilization, so it's possible we might find someone there, :: she explained her reasoning for the suggestion. :: Demons, people, whatever. ::

:: Sounds good to me, :: and :: Works for me, :: were the response the nano-technologically empowered brunette received from her bondmates, and so the trio headed off along the suggested path, unsuspecting of the changes their decision would eventually cause in their lives.

And this world, which just so happened to be called Shal'tus, where magic was much more widespread and where the tech level corresponded approximately to that of Renaissance era Earth, would never be the same, either.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Battle Not With Monsters…" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 19 Aug 12.

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