Did Anyone Get the Number of that Donkey Cart?
This is an attempt to cross Buffy with the Kate Daniels books. I figure if you have a world with out-of-control magic, you could use it to mess with the Scoobies. It'd be in line with their usual luck (or lack thereof).
I own neither Buffy nor Kate. People far more talented and self-disciplined than I have those honors.
“Ow.” Buffy didn’t feel too bad about voicing a complaint of pain, since just about everyone else in the van was doing the same. Including Faith. “All right, you guys don’t get to complain about my driving ever again”
“What the fuck was that?” Xander leaned over from his spot behind the wheel to make sure Giles was okay. He might have only had one eye, but he was usually the best driver in the group. “Did anyone else see that? It was like a giant ball of lightening.” He winced. “Uhm… sorry about the glasses, G Man.”
Giles held his glasses up and away from his face. Sure enough, the left lens now had a spiderweb of cracks going through it. He may have said ‘damn’, but it was so softly spoken that not even Buffy could be certain. “Yes, I did see it. Not your fault. No way it could have been avoided.”
Buffy gave up trying to unfasten her seat belt and just tore it free with a rip of canvas. “An attack of some kind?” She heard Faith get free of her belt as well and start to wrestle the canvass duffle with their ‘in-car’ weapons; the ones they kept inside with them rather than the bigger, nastier ones that rode on the roof of the van in the shell. “It’s still daylight.”
“Yep. Beautiful weather for knives.” Faith handed over two long bladed weapons that looked like adolescent machetes. “Sunny sky, light breeze, just the right temperature.”
“But not much good against magic. Wills?” Buffy looked behind her to the back seat where Willow and Oz had been sleeping peacefully. The witch was examining her on-again boyfriend’s broken nose. “Again with the ‘Ow’, that looks painful.”
“But not too severe, I think. Hold on. This is going to hurt.” She gripped Oz firmly and waited until he took a breath and gave her the okay before she twisted quickly. The werewolf refused to give even a whimper but everyone else present winced at the crunching sound as Willow put his nose back straight.
“What did he break it on?”
“My head, I think. We were a bit snuggly.” She rubbed at the place on her scalp that was now sore.
“Oh. You sense anything? Like a magic attack?”
“Oh, hold on.” Willow got a frown of concentration between her brows, her eyes mostly closing as she sought outward. “Uhm… I can’t tell. There’s magic everywhere.”
“Like it’s all around us?” Buffy and Faith both scanned the terrain outside of the windows.
“Uhm, B… where are we? This don’t look Sunnydale.”
Faith was right. The street outside looked nothing like Sunnydale. Not that Good Ole’ Sunny Hell didn’t have its fair share of dark and spooky alleyways, but this place looked like Sunnydale times ten. Of course, they could still be shaken from the crash.
“I don’t know, but we should get out where we can see.” Both slayers got out of the van, each heading in a different direction around the vehicle as their eyes scanned the shadows. “I think you’re right. This isn’t Sunnydale.”
“Then were are we?” Faith looked at a shadowed spot where several pairs of red, gleaming eyes peered back. “Some kind of hell dimension.”
“Couldn’t be. It’s not Tuesday.”
“It thought Tuesday was Abduction Day.”
“You don’t think getting sent to a hell dimension would qualify as ‘abduction’?”
“Good point.” Faith brandished her knives at the red eyes. “Come get some.” The eyes didn’t move.
“Faith, don’t play with your food.”
“Aww, Mooom.” She frowned and looked towards the west. “Do you hear that?”
Buffy turned her head so her ear was pointed that way as well. “Yeah. Sounds like people. Panicky people.” The others had gotten out of the van by then and Xander had used the access ladder at the back to reach the shell. “Xander, hand me something pointier.”
“Swords-R-Us, that’s me.” He offered each slayer something longer and sharper, along with a custom made bandolier with stakes. The rest of the group also got some new toys to carry. “You wanna go check that out?”
The cries and sounds of fear grew more insistent. Buffy nodded. “I think we should. Everyone stay together.”
They moved as a unit towards the exit of the dingy alleyway, none of them willing to mention how it seemed to grow longer. They still moved quickly enough to outpace it and they eventually broke out onto a cross street clamoring with activity.
People were fleeing. There was no mistaking their actions. Hastily packed bags and duffles were being secured to… horses? As they watched, a man tried to steal another’s horse and was killed with a slashing blow from a tactical tomahawk while a woman tried to calm her toddler as he wailed in fear. Some people weren’t even bothering with trying to take any belongings; they were just trying to run.
And here and there were cars that were just being abandoned.
A man stumbled and fell a foot away from them. Xander helped him back up. “Whoa, you okay? What’s going on?”
The man looked at Xander as though he were speaking gibberish. “What’s going on? The Flare! Unicorn Lane is growing!”
“A ‘lane’ is growing?”
The man shook his head, as if trying to shake away a bad dream. “Run. Just run! Get out of here before the monsters get you!” Then he shoved his way past them and continued running towards the street.
Faith looked around at the chaos and saw a woman trampled to the ground, lost under the crowd of people as her child, a boy who could be no more than three, wailed and reached out to her with a chubby fist from a stairwell. “B, over there!”
The gang squared their shoulders, the others following Buffy and Faith as they muscled their way through the press of bodies towards the fallen woman and her child. When they reached her, they saw that the woman was lost. Her body had been crushed to death under the many feet. Willow shook her head in disbelief as Faith plucked the boy from the stairs. He gripped her as though his life depended her. From the look of things, it probably did.
Willow was about to say something when she gave a gasped and stumbled. Oz reached out to steady her, but Buffy saw the glow in his eyes. “Oz? You okay?”
“I’m good. Just… feel wolfier.”
“Buffy. Magic. A lot of it.” No more than Willow had spoken the crowd’s shouts increased. The Scoobies looked back and saw that the ‘Lane’ did, indeed, appear to be growing.
The buildings behind them seemed to warp and darken. Bricks and stone crumbled in some places, warped into new shapes and textures in others. In the distance they saw a dumpster seemed to sprout furry, spider legs and being to chase after a plump man who was gibbering like a madman. He was too far away for them to save and they watched as the spider-dumpster ate him in one bite.
Street lamps turned into serpents. Animals on signs sprung free from their backings and either pranced away or attacked, depending on the nature of the creatures they were supposed to depict. Dense patches of vines punched through asphalt and wrapped around people, around cars, around doors. In some places the vines appeared to pull down structures as though they were the botanical version of Japanese-style movie monsters. The gang looked at the chaos, rethinking the dismissal of having been somehow sent to a hell dimension, when a loud male voice, brimming with terror, called out a warning.
The crowd froze, but only for an instant before the screams became louder and true chaos kicked in. Over the screams were the snarling sounds of predators, punctuated by the occasional cry of a victim. A heartbeat later, the Scoobies saw their first Loup and understood the havoc.
They looked like shapeshifters gone wrong. In some places there were patches of matter fur and in other spots they had smooth, human-looking skin. One of them had a leg that had a kneecap facing backwards. Another had a lower jaw that jutted out a good five inches from the top one. One even had a face that was some kind of animal from the nose down, topped with human eyes and forehead and a name of silky blond hair. All in all there looked to be eight of them, plowing through the fleeing crowd and ripping into the stragglers with glee.
“Shit.” Faith turned and shoved the toddler into Giles’ arms. “Take him! Go with the crowd. They must think there’s safety that way.”
“The rest of you go, too. Faith and I will try to hold them back.”
“I’m not leaving you to face that!” Willow glared at the monsters, her hands starting to glow as she gathered power. “I’ll help hold them. Oz, go with Xander.” Oz said nothing. Willow looked over his direction with a frown. “Oz?”
“Oz’s eyes were still glowing, brighter than before. His hands started pulling off his clothes as though they were suddenly too tight and he was starting to growl in his throat. One moment he was just Oz; the next his body blurred and twisted and grew. He became taller, his body growing fur and his jaws elongating. He was shifting from man to wolf and the Scoobies got a nervous vibe at the thought they might have to defend themselves from their friend as well as from the ‘loups’.
Then wolf-Oz opened his muzzle and howled what was undoubtedly a challenge to the creatures. They stopped and looked at him, clearly surprised to come across him.
Faith dared a quick glace at Oz, taking note of the stance he took up facing the creatures. “I’m hoping you’re still in there somewhere. I don’t want to put up with Willow if I had to kill you.”
In answer, the wolf-man pointed a long, clawed finger at the ‘Loups’. “Kirll them.” The words were mangled by the monstrous jaws, but understandable.
“I can get with that plan.”
The four friends met the charge of the creatures head on, their primary goal to keep them from reaching the people trying to escape. Willow wasn’t nearly as useful as they would have thought, her magic having no clear affect on the monsters. It wasn’t until she turned her focus to the terrain around them, coaxing the new growth and exposed cables to wrap and ensnare them that they gained the upper hand. She was able to slow them down well enough that the others could tear into them with claws and swords. It wasn’t as easy as one would think. The monsters healed quickly, almost instantly, but decapitation almost always works.
The last one fell and they lowered their weapons, gasping for breath. “That’s it.” Buffy looked over to make sure the other three were all right. “We should ge…” A long, angry howl ripped through the dark lane growing towards them. It was soon joined by others. All four warriors looked up, hands tightening in response.
More loups headed their way. Dozens more. Each twisted and deformed in some way. Each of the large and graced with razor sharp claws.
“I… think we should be making a strategic retreat right now. Willow? Can you buy us some time?”
The witch nodded, made some gestures and sent the decaying buildings on either side of the lane crumbling down to block the advance. That done, they started running in the direction of the crowd. Behind them they heard the enraged snarls of the monsters, which spurred them to move faster. Wolf-Oz scooped Willow up as she was the slowest of their group. The long limbs that came with the impressive height of his new wolf-man form allowed him to outpace the slayers, though not by much.
The darkening lane fell back a bit against the bright sunlight on what looked to be a main cross street ahead. Men in military-style garb but with archaic weaponry had formed a perimeter there while what looked like emergency medical personnel were dealing with the civilians. Xander was refusing attempts to move him behind with the other civilians, his one eye sharp as he looked for them. An expression of relief crossed his face a second before he realized that the military guys were leveling crossbows at his friends.
“Whoa! Hold your fire! They’re with me!” He lunged out in front of the perimeter to put himself in the line of fire. Stupid, but the soldier –types paused enough for the friends to trip to a stop.
Willow waved back behind Oz’s shoulder from her position in his arms. “Back there. More of those Loup things. I dumped a building on them, but I think it only slowed them down.”
The soldier who looked to be in charge frowned. “You sure they were loups?”
“I guess so. That’s what one of the people called them. They looked like weres of some kind, but…” she frowned and looked up at Oz as the wolf-man set her down onto her feet, “not well put together. Like some kid built them out of mismatched parts?”
“Sounds about right.” The voice was deep and had something of a growl under it. The soldier glanced over then froze for a moment. Everyone who looked over towards the voice froze for a moment. “We’ll handle it from here.”
The gang looked over to see what the fuss was about. A handsome man with wavy blond hair, a nose that had been broken at one point in time and not set quite right and eyes that looked to be grey with flecks of gold in their depths was walking towards them. There was something primal about him, coupled with an air of nobility that demanded respect. And it apparently demanded it well, because there were a few dozen men and women, all with a battle-hardened look about them, standing close behind him. It was clear they were waiting for his directions.
The lead soldier cleared his throat. “While the MSDU is grateful that the Pack would offer their assistance, we have matters under control.”
The man gave a one sided smirk. “Of course you do. You should also know that the Pack takes the presence of Loups seriously. I don’t tolerate it, and we clean up such messes as they appear.” The man looked over at Oz, his expression assessing. “You’re not one of mine.”
Buffy looked over at Oz and blinked as she saw the large wolf-man lowering his head in a gesture of respect. “Oz?”
“We arrre lost. Crashed. People were screaming.”
“Loups have that affect. The Flare does as well.” The man gave a slow nod. “Oz, is it?”
“I’m Curran, Lord of the Free Beasts and Alpha of the Pack. You have any fight left in you?”
Oz nodded, his eyes still lowered.
“Good.” Curran motioned behind him and a man detached himself from the group to come forward. “This is Michael, Alpha of Clan Wolf. You can follow his lead. Normally I’d wait until we had time to assess your skills and my head of security had checked you out, but this is a special circumstance. I won’t turn away a good fighter. But you betray us, and I’ll rip your throat out.”
“Hey!” Buffy gave her sword a circle, almost in perfect mirror to Faith. Willow balled her fists as Xander squared his shoulders. “That’s
our friend you’re threatening.”
Curran gave the other Scoobies an almost amused look. “All shapeshifters in this territory are Pack responsibility. We take out the Loups when they show up and we keep tabs on our numbers. If he’s going to be in my territory, he has to play by my rules.” He smiled, and although he was in human form, it looked positively predatory. “If you wish to debate that, I suggest you wait until we take care of the loups.”
“It’s all rright, Buff-ee.”
Oz gave another slow nod. Curran arched a brow. “Buffy?” She glared at the ‘Lord of the Free Beasts’. “You know how to use those
“Wanna find out?”
“Later, perhaps. I’ll introduce you to my wife. You can debate whose sword is bigger.” Behind him, the werewolf known as Michael stifled a snort. Curran’s eyes shifted to Willow. “You said you dumped a building on them?”
“Most of one. Most of a couple, actually. I think it made them mad, but it slowed them down.”
“Won’t for long.” Curran motioned towards his entourage and they started stripping out of their clothes. Faith whistled.
“Damn B. A fight and a show. I think I like this place.” The dark haired slayer gave her lips a once over before making sure her sword arm was still limber. Good thing, too. As she did so, an angry howl poured from the mouth of ‘Unicorn Lane’. Around them, the soldiers stiffened but held steady. The shape shifters moved into formations of their own, taking up the space before the soldiers and ready to charge forward once their targets moved far enough into the bottleneck made by abandoned cars and debris toss about by the mass exodus of the people who fled their homes to escape the oncoming nightmare.
Curran shifted with the rest of his people, growing into an impossibly massive combination of human and lion, his fur pelt a rich grey with black stripes running through it. He stood with his people, ready to face the same threat head on rather than sit back in the rear and dictate orders from a safe position. Buffy approved and he gained a couple notches upwards in her opinion. Not enough to forgive him for threatening Oz, but it was a start.
“Willow? You still good?”
The witch nodded. “I’m good. Hardly tired at all.”
“Good. Keep in the back, but lend us what support you can. All right?”
Willow nodded even as she moved closer to the soldiers’ line. Without asking permission she clambered up the side of what looked like a modified cart meant to be drawn by at least four horses so that she could get a better view of the alleyway. Her eyes fixated on it, her hands by her sides and fingers moving in subtle, barely noticeable patterns. “I’m ready.”
Buffy nodded and exchanged a look with Faith. She looked over towards Oz to see him with a group of werewolves, all of them frightening and impressive. She knew their friend wasn’t usually a pack player, but he had no trouble recognizing when you couldn’t stand alone.
They were as ready as they were ever going to be. The slayers squared their shoulders and watched the mouth of the alley with everyone else. They watched until the snarls and howls from the monsters in the shadows were close enough to raise the hairs on their skin. The lion-man known as Curran let out a deafening roar and his people (monsters?) moved forward with him in a wave of fur and claws and teeth.
The fight had begun.