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And This Is Why We Hate Tuesdays

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Summary: A flare is a pain in in the hind end, even for those who lived before the tech fell.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > FantasyChelleyBeanFR18516,3774274,48910 Sep 1213 Dec 12No

All For Acclamation

In case you don't know, there are likely spoilers in my story. This chapter takes heavily from "Magic Bleeds", "Magic Slays" and "Gunmetal Magic". If you don't want to be spoiled and would rather read the books yourself, stop now. That is all.

~***~

“I don’t know what’s better; all the premium beefcake outside or the fact that we’re sleeping in a kickass castle.”

“Actually, we call it a Keep.”

Faith looked at the werewolf who had been brought in to escort them to the Pack’s headquarters. He wasn’t a bad looking guy. He had a dangerous air about him, brought about by what had to have been some massive damage which left permanent changes in his facial features. The guy wasn’t deformed, just hard. Kate had introduced him as ‘Derek’. “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck.”

“Then around here it’s probably dinner.”

She threw her head back with a laugh before leaning over to bump a shoulder against him playfully. “I like him, B. Can I keep him?”

“Not until you can prove you’ve learned how not to break your toys.”

“I’m a lot tougher than I look.” His voice had a raspy, dangerous tone to it. It was the kind of texture a voice took on when the owner had damaged his vocal chords. Given how fast shape shifters healed, Derek must have gone through hell to get messed up enough to do permanent scarring and damage of that level. “The Steward got you some rooms down the East hallway. You’ll be close to the library. Curran and Kate thought you might like to have a chance to read up on what’s been going on over the past thirty years.”

“B and me are more hands on type of girls. We leave the research gig to the rest of the crew.”

“In that case, Jim says you’re welcome to join him for training drills once the Flare is over.”

“Drills?”

“Sure. It’s a hard world out there. Everyone in the Pack is required to train how to fight as a group and alone, and how to make the most of the skills and talents of their specific beast.”

“Smart, but why wait until after the Flare?”

“Everyone is on high alert during the Flare. And there are a lot more people in the Keep right now than usual. Children and expectant mothers, along with the non-shape shifter family members of the Pack are all brought inside the walls. All able bodied shape shifters are expected to be ready to fight if something big goes down.”

“Like those Loups that tried to get out of Unicorn Lane?”

“We weren’t expecting them. We don’t usually send patrols into Unicorn because it’s dangerous without Loups being in there, but we usually don’t let them remain breathing for long. It’s bad for everyone. You go Loup when the Lyc-V blooms out of control, which makes them contagious as hell. They rape, murder and eat their victims, and not always in that order. You get a Loup infestation and all the people that hate us for being shape shifters come out in force. It’s just smarter to take care of the problem when it first comes about. At any rate, the Loups weren’t the worst thing that can happen during a Flare.”

“You got baddies that are bigger?”

“Gods. Or things that want to be gods and have almost enough power to pull it off. And it doesn’t always have to be a Flare before we get something nasty. Kate told the records keeper to pull out the information on the types of things that have attempted to settle down in Atlanta so you can get a better idea of how crazy having the magic back in the world has made everything. Though not even the craziest god could top the assholes we had a few years back.”
Faith arched a brow? “Oh? What were they?”

“Humans. An organization that calls themselves the Lighthouse Keepers. Some genius created a device that would take the magic out of an area. Had good intentions at first; he wanted to make it so hospital equipment wouldn’t quit during a magic wave and end up killing the patients. But once he made a small one, he had to make a bigger one. Trouble was, if you have magic and this thing ripped it out of you, you died from the shock. The Lighthouse keepers got hold of his plans and built one with a five mile radius. Would have taken out over a third of the city.”

Faith and Buffy both stopped in their tracks to gape at Derek. “Yeah, we thought that was pretty fucked up, too. Probably one of the few times you’ll ever see The Pack and The People work together without a fuss. Say what you will about shape shifters and necromancers, it’s humans that do the worst things.”

“Looks like some things never change.”

“I hear ya, B.”

~***~


Xander let out a low, appreciative whistle. “That is some beautiful work.”

A middle-aged man wearing a pair of worn jeans bearing a carpenter’s loop, a pair of work boots and no shirt looked down from where he was checking the
dresser he was building to see if it was level. “Thank you. I’m rather happy with how it’s turning out myself.” He held out a brown, work-calloused hand.
“I’m Mitch.”

Xander shook the hand. “Xander.” He looked around the workroom. “So you guys are building this place by hand?”

“Mostly. Magic tends to wear away anything high tech. Things made by hand with low-tech tools last longer. Not to mention hauling rocks for the walls is good punishment for infractions that don’t really call for execution.”

“There’s that, too. And thank you for actually explaining and not talking to me like I’m an idiot.”

Mitch laughed. “We shape shifters gossip more than a gaggle of southern church ladies. The whole Keep knows about you time travelers by now.”

“That makes us sound way cooler than we really are.”

Mitch laughed more and waved Xander over towards a cooler with ice and lidded canning jars containing brown liquid. “Tea? Has a little mint in it. My wife brews it up for me because she knows I don’t trust what the Keep kitchen makes.”

“Why not?” Xander took a jar and opened the lid to take a drink. He made a sound of appreciation. The tea was cold with a zing of peppermint and just enough sweet to knock the bitter out without being too much.

“Because the pack doc is a honey badger. If he gets into the tea, he turns it into syrup with all the sugar he adds.” Mitch downed nearly half of his pint before speaking again. “You know something about carpentry?”

“I worked as one until this.” He waved a hand at the black eye patch. “I still can if I’m careful, but the decrease in depth perception made construction foreman uneasy.”

“How’d it happen?”

“Evil preacher. He hated women and I hated that he killed innocent girls. He caught me and decided I might not see so much if he took out an eye.”

“You kill him?”

“I wasn’t there for the final fight with him, but it got done.”

“Good. No sense in letting a man corrupt and pervert faith like that. Especially not in times like these. If there’s gonna be gods walking about, I’d rather they were nice ones. Like fertility gods or maybe harvest ones.”

“I’d steer clear of fertility gods. You’d end up with orgies.”

“That’s a bad thing?”

“I have half a mind to tell your mate you said that, Mitch.” The woman’s voice was cultured and rich. Xander turned and felt his jaw drop. She was gorgeous. A strong, beautiful face with lines reminiscent of a statue of some ancient Greek goddess and the calm, regal bearing to go with it. “How’s she doing?”

“She’s holding up. Probably could use a visit if you have some time to spare.” Mitch handed the woman a pint of tea. “Xander, this is Martine. She’s a Bouda and the pack’s head shrinker. Keeps us from going nuts on the Beast Lord so he doesn’t have to knock our heads through walls.”

“Someone has to. We’ve put too much effort in putting up these walls. It’d be a shame to damage them.”

“Yeah, all in agreement with you there. This place is amazing.” Xander strongly reminded himself not to babble. “I was admiring Mitch’s handiwork here.”

“It is lovely. Is it for one of the new rooms?”

“Actually, this one is for Julie. She doesn’t like the one that came with her quarters. Says it’s too prissy. Wanted something that was more in line with her personal style.” Mitch rolled his eyes. “She tries so hard at being goth it’s funny. Next she’ll ask for a bed shaped like a coffin.”

“She’ll grow out of it. That girl has had a rough life.”

“Is Julie your daughter?”

Mitch shook his head. “No, she’s the Consort’s ward, and thus the Beast Lord’s as well. Kid lost her mother in the last Flare and her father was already dead by then. Kate took her in.” Mitch gave a loving rub of his hand across the top of the dresser. “Good kid. Cute, though. And the boys are starting to notice. I feel for the Beast Lord. I really do. Thank God I have sons.”

“That cute kid also knows her way around a throwing knife and spent enough time on the streets to know how to hold her own. No boy is going to lay an
unwanted hand on her without pulling back a stump.”

“Hey, I know girls like that.”

Martine shared a smile with him and Xander felt his heart do a flip-flop. “It was nice to meet you, Xander. If you gentlemen will excuse me, I should go check on a couple of people up in the infirmary. Mitch, I’ll stop by the house later today and see Angela.”

“She’ll be happy for it.” The woman walked away and Xander tried not to ogle her retreating form. “She’d be a hard one to win over.”

“Huh?”

“Martine. Got done real bad by a man. Ascanio’s father, actually. Swore off men all together, which is rare for a Bouda. Were-hyenas are rather… active when it comes to sex. They enjoy it a lot, and with a lot of different partners until they settle down on that special someone. She and Andrea Nash are the only two Boudas I’ve heard of that aren’t given to sleeping around. Well, except for Aunt Bea, but she’s been married more than once, had her kids and is at that point in life when she’s stoic, stately and maternal. Still, Martine’s a good person and a good therapist. Has helped my Angela a great deal.”

“If you don’t mind my asking…”

Mitch sighed. “We had to kill our eldest son about six months back. He went Loup.” Xander froze in shock. “It happens. Almost one half of shape shifter births are still born or die shortly thereafter. Of those that survive, almost half of them will go Loup and have to be put down.” He forced a smile. It looked painful. “That’s probably why we’re so protective of children. Any child. Most shape shifters would likely run into a burning building to pull out the child of their worst enemy if only because it was a child in danger. When you have to bury as many of your own as we do, they become rather precious to you.”

~***~


“Erra is a woman?” Giles was staring at a newspaper article detailing a battle that took place a couple of years ago.

“Was a woman.” Elisa, the rail thin, pinched-face woman who served as the Keep’s librarian and records keeper set another thick binder of papers and articles on the table. “The Consort killed her, though if anyone asks you outside of these walls, it was the Beast Lord.”

“Why the revision?”

Elisa shrugged. “I’m not sure, but if I were to guess I would say that the Consort attempts to play down her full strength. Not that anyone in the Pack doubts she has what it takes for the job. She more than proved that right after she and the Beast Lord made it official.”

“I thought the wedding was less than a week ago.”

“That was for the rest of the world. They were already married by Pack Law. But, when you’re the Beast Lord, your marriage becomes a ‘Matter of State’. It was a big affair. The Governor was there, along with some foreign dignitaries, alphas from packs outside of our territory and even the Secretary of State.
The happy couple hated every minute of it.”

Giles looked up from his reading to find an amused smirk on the were-jackal’s face. “Not much for pomp and circumstance?”

“No, but duty did prevail.” Elisa carefully went through some papers and came out with a magazine. “The Consort was exquisite, though. Our Lord is a lucky lion.” She handed him what proved to be a copy of the Georgia edition of Vanity Fair. Kate, resplendent in a wedding gown of ivory and beading, graced the cover. Her head was turned away from the camera, looking off to the reader’s right, most likely to keep her from glaring at it.

“The ‘Georgia’ edition?”

“The world is big again. It’s not feasible to ship the same volume all over the world, so they settle for regional versions. And the internet is gone.”

“Yes, I heard. Willow is distraught.”

“Yes, I heard.” Elisa stifled a chuckle. “Poor baby. But she’s supposed to be a witch, right? A powerful one? She should adapt nicely to a world of magic.”

“We can hope.” Giles set aside the magazine and turned back to the collection of recent history. “This flare, it usually only happens every seven years? That would make this one rather early, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes. It’s been less than five years since the last Flare. Not a good sign. We all know that eventually tech will fall for good and magic will take over completely.”

“Hmm. Well, if you go with the pendulum theory, like this chap Foster puts forth, then it may just be a more shallow swing of the pendulum itself. The periods between Flares may be growing shorter on a gradual basis. Or something could have set it off early.”

“Like what?”

Giles pondered and looked over the stacks he had already gone through. “Where is that information on the Lighthouse Keepers?”

“Oh. Those assholes.” Elisa found the bundle in question in less than five seconds.

“Yes, them. This device they used could be one possible culprit. It may have taken enough magic out of the equation to upset the system. If I’m reading Andrea’s report correctly, it rips the magic not only from the surrounding terrain, but from any people and magical animals as well.”

Elisa’s nod was tight and angry. “Yes. And losing your magic that quickly kills you from the shock of it. That town they killed, there was hardly anyone left. I was there. After we captured the Keepers, this woman stumbled out of the brush. She was half-mad from grief. Those bastards murdered her husband and children, just ripped the life right out of them while she was standing there.”

“What happened to her?”

“After we got the information we needed out of them, she got her turn with them.” Elisa’s smile was vicious. “And the Keepers mysteriously disappeared.”

“Yes, well, how unfortunate.” Giles was hardly fazed by the idea. He had killed before. Sometimes a person should not remain in the world. “Still, to pull
magic from the area all at once in that fashion, it might play a part in the early Flare. Could just be one small part of it all. If what we’re dealing with is an imbalance between magic and the absence of magic attempting to right itself, then it would seem that something set them further off balance and now magic is trying to ‘catch up’ as it were.”

“That’s disturbing.” Elisa stilled. “I hope those bastards didn’t get the plans for that thing out to any of their other cells.”

“Surely you would have heard something. The gossip chains can’t be that disrupted. If there is still some semblance of a federal government, then there has to be communications. Word of a large number of deaths due to magic loss would have reached you. It would take a massive conspiracy to cover up something of that magnitude.”

“One would hope.”

“I’m thinking more of an attempt to build something technological on a massive scale. Perhaps in denial? Or it could be overcompensation from the magical side, or even someone trying to push the magic forward. Someone unwilling to wait for the shift to complete itself naturally.”

Eliza got up and hurried to her desk. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m getting you paper and a pen. You should be writing these ideas down.”

~***~


Willow looked up from her reading as the door opened. “Hi, Honey. Did you have a nice talk with the doctor?”

“Yes.”

“What did he want?”

“He wanted to check my virus levels and ask me questions about being a werewolf pre-magic. I told him about my time in Tibet, the monks and the herbal blend I use. He wanted to know more about that. That’s what took so long. He’s sending people to the markets to find the herbs so we can see if we can copy it. Wants to see if it will help keep children from going Loup on them.”

“Oh, that’s nice. That would be helpful and… nice.”

“I’m good that way.” It was a joke, but his expression remained stoic. Typical Oz. “What’s up?”

“Oh, I’ve been reading some books on the Shift. It was really bad.” She opened up one book where she had marked it. “All the airplanes fell out of the sky. Do you know how many planes are… were… up there at one time? Thousands died from that alone. And the cars stopped. Ships lost power at sea. Life support equipment stopped in hospitals. There were riots! Months of them!”

Oz accepted the book and looked at the marked passages. “People would have been scared. Think of how much we depended on electricity and machines. All that vanished in a blink.”

“All of it! There’s no more internet! It’s gone! Poof!”

“That’s why we make heavy with the books.” He offered the one in his hands back to Willow. “Wills, don’t worry yourself over what you can’t change. Even if we go back to when we came from, we’ll just be at the start of all of this.”

“Oh, that’s not what I’ve been trying to figure out.” She closed the book and set it aside again. “I’ve been thinking about us. About the Scoobies.”

“What about us?”

“Well, strange stuff always happens to us. I mean, we think one of us is dead then that person is back. We go to the Dark Side and come back. Buffy’s died twice and there was that time Angel got sent to a Hell dimension and came back.”

“Yeah. All that came with the address. Sunnydale stuff.”

“What I mean is we have a tendency to beat the odds. To be gone and then come back.”

“Okay. Not following, but okay.”

“I’m talking about Dawn. She knows we do this. I mean that. Why would she assume that we would be gone for good? Why wouldn’t she figure that we wouldn’t come back someday?”

“Probably wouldn’t. But Dawnie’s gone. That scary lady with the sword and the were-lion for a husband said so.”

“Yeah, she is. They don’t have much about her in their books, apparently those Order people keep that sort of thing locked up nice and tight and Kate’s personal collection got wrecked a few years back. Still, she said that Dawn got stronger after the shift, and she was already studying magic stuff.”

“You think you could find her?”

“I doubt it. I mean, she’s the Key of Doors. Opening gateways to other places is kind of her shtick.”

Oz looked bewildered. The expression wasn’t much different from his happy face. “Then you’re thinking… what?”

“I’m thinking she would have made sure she would have a way to learn when we came back. Or specifically, when Buffy came back.”

“Buf.. ah. Those monks made Dawn using blood they took from Buffy, so she and Buffy are practically the same, even though they’re different.”

“Bingo!” Willow was getting more excited as she thought about it. “I’m thinking we rig up a beacon spell, or more like a signal spell. We use some of Buffy’s blood to confirm it’s her, Dawn gets the message and comes over to what’s the what.”

“What if something else gets the message?”

“We key it for Dawn specifically. Use the magical link caused by them being of the same blood. It would be like Buffy sending a message specifically to herself, only it’s going to Dawnie.”

“Okay. I don’t really understand the magic part of it, but I can see the reasoning. What do you need to do it?”

“That part I don’t know, yet. I’ll have to research it, maybe talk to some witches already here. I mean, I’m stronger here, so I need to figure out my limits. Kind of like when the mini-slayers had to relearn how to pick up a water glass without breaking it.”

“No offense, but the prospect of you like that, only with magic… a little scary.”

“No offense taken. Scares me, too.” She beamed at him. “But I have you to keep me centered. You’re my wolfie-anchor.” She got up to her knees on the double bed of the room the Pack was letting them use for their personal quarters and walked to the edge of the bed so she could hug him. “It will work. I know it will.”
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