Chapter 2. New Beginnings
Willow and Faith waited until they knew the Terra Nova portal was open before opening their own portal. Willow had been able to explain it to Faith as 'piggybacking' on the Terra Nova portal to get them to the right place/time. They had a story prepared for how they arrived too. About how a powerful witch had banished them to the Terra Nova dimension. (Hell, it was half true anyway) Hopefully they'd be able to get people who'd just jumped 85 million years back in time to believe in magic. To complete the ruse, they weren't bringing much but the clothes on their backs. Faith was bringing a butterfly knife and a few other small, hidden weapons; but Willow elected to bring only herself and a packet of dried blood. All the other possessions they might one day like to have again were being kept in the same dimension as Dawn's frozen blood.
(Four Years Ago)Skye.
That was going to be the lesson to to himself as to why you should never let the 'kids' pick a name for you. What a stupid name. The man that gave it to him, Corporal Howard Lang, probably barely remembered the sky.
Speaking of 'him' it was probably time to start getting used to going by female pronouns again. Step One was always to start referring to himself as herself and such. While always confusing for a week or so, it made the transition from living as a grown man to living as a small girl easier.
Therefore, her name was now Skye. She was 11 years old, which meant she was born in 2132. Hell, she looked in the mirror and she looked like she was a 12 year old girl, except for the eyes. Eleven was a believable stretch to give her another year before her agelessness was discovered.
“Oof.” Faith let out a breath when Willow landed on top of her.
Standing up and dusting herself off, she heard a familiar sound of electro-guns powering up and the cry of “Gun!” A bunch of soldiers were pointing their guns at a lone man on the ground with a pistol.
Now normally, Faith would be on the side of the guy on the ground just for standing up to the authorities, but Willow had made her promise to try to play nice with the local law. Besides, the guy was about to get his ass blown away. She jumped into the line of fire and kicked the guy's pistol away. The man wisely showed his empty hands after that.
“Check their packs for more weapons!” a soldier called. Another soldier pulled a knife and went to slash it open despite the protests of the family. Willow made a subtle movement and suddenly the man's knife shot out of his hand and buried itself up to the hilt in a nearby tree. The family that would have arrived too late to stop the soldier opened up their pack and pulled out a little girl. No one seemed to know quite what to make of that.
After a brief discussion where the soldiers dismissed their claims that they were sent there by magic, Faith; Willow; the man with the pistol, Jim; and the little girl in the bag, Zoe were all declared stowaways. Faith wasn't sure she liked that title, but Willow seemed really happy for some reason, so she let it go. “What's the what, Red?” she asked as they walked.
Willow tried and failed to hide her smile, then checked around them to make sure no one was listening. “My magic. It's back.” she jumped up and down like she was 17 again.
“Great. I didn't know it was gone.” Faith chuckled at Willow's antics.
“Neither did I. It's like I was walking in tar and didn't even realize it... and now I'm free. It happened so slowly that I never realized I was walking in tar. First I was walking in grass, then sand, then mud and then tar and the change was so slow that I never knew the difference. But now that I'm here...” she took a deep breath, “I feel whole again.” Willow sighed, grabbed Faith's arm and leaned on her shoulder. Faith laid her head on Willow's.
It was nice. Neither of them was exactly attracted to the other, though they had had sex plenty over the last 150 years. Sometimes you just needed the comfort of someone who understood what the other was going through. Willow tended to lean towards women and Faith leaned towards guys, but they sometimes shared and swapped too. It was nice that they both had someone they were completely comfortable with, since they couldn't keep any lovers for more than a few years before said lovers started to notice the lack of aging. Women were especially good or bad (depending on your perspective) at noticing those details. Men tended to be somewhat oblivious, which meant they could stay longer.
But as they walked hand-in-hand to Terra Nova, they realized it would be a long time before either of them could take another lover. There just wasn't enough room for that kind of scrutiny in such a small community.
Skye watched the Fresh trying to bite into a sugar apple and she couldn't help but laugh. Unfortunately the misfortunate kid heard her.
“Oh, this is funny to you? That's how you get off? Making fun of the new guy trying to eat fruit?” he accused.
Oh, the poor kid. She thought. She couldn't help but feel sorry for him. She walked up to him, took the sugar apple and broke it. She handed half back to him, keeping half for herself. She laughed again when he still tried to eat the skin instead of going for the very delicious inner flesh.
“Oh!” he almost choked.
Then again, the Freshers always had trouble with the sweet stuff when they arrived. “You get used to it. I promise.” At least he wasn't afraid to try new things. Almost all the Freshers were cowards, afraid of the Dinos, afraid of the clear sky, afraid of whatever Taylor told them to be afraid of. Someone who could think for himself could be a real asset.
“I'll take your word for it.” he said as he started to walk away.
“Hey, what's your name?”
“I'm Skye.” she introduced herself. “5th Pilgrimage. So, you a recruit or lottery?” she dug a little. It would be good to know if the kid or his family had a useful skill to contribute.
“Oh my mom was recruited so we all had to come.” Josh didn't seem very enthused to be here.
A mystery. Someone who escaped 2149 but didn't want to... “Most people count themselves lucky.”
Josh just sighed.
A realization. “You left somebody behind.” And an in. This somebody might be the key to winning his loyalty. And maybe an in with his family as well. Someone who was important enough to be recruited.
Josh quickly changed the subject. “So what's there to do around here anyway?”
She gave a small shrug and a smirk. “Well that depends on how close to the edge you like to walk.” and walked away, only checking once to make sure he followed.
Skye introduced Josh to the gang: Hunter, Tasha, and Max. Who decided they wanted to go OTG today. She purposely didn't explain what OTG meant until they got to the wall. When he realized that OTG meant Outside The Gate, she could almost see the wheels turning in his head. She was afraid for a moment that logic would override his testosterone. It wouldn't mean she couldn't use him, it would just be harder. But he followed. And when she stripped down to her bathing suit she could almost hear his brain shut down. She grinned. The poor kid was putty in her hands now. Oh well, use what you got and she definitely had it right now.
When he jumped off the waterfall after her, she decided to reel him in. She showed him Lucas Taylor's drawings and equations, pretending that they were a big secret. Ironically, asking someone to keep a secret for you was the best way to get them to trust you. With Josh firmly in her camp, it was time to head back to the group.
(Four Years Ago)
Skye was walking home late one night.
True, Skye only looked like she was 12 years old but those who underestimated her did so at their peril. The first to learn that lesson in Terra Nova was a man called Tom Boylan; a right nasty piece of work the night she met him. She thought there was a British accent under all that alcoholic slurring, but it was hard to be sure. He was very drunk and tried to recruit her as an underage prostitute. That or he was propositioning her, which was just as bad considering how young she looked. Either way she wasn't in the mood.
She pulled one of her five knives and stuck it in his thigh before he could blink. When he dropped, she gave him a lightning quick blow to the nose and then a knee to the testicles. He fell back, clutching his jewels. She straddled his shoulders and pulled another knife. She pressed it to his throat.
“Listen, you sick fuck. Normally, I'd have just slashed your throat and been done with it. But you see... humans are a bit thin on the ground right now and I can't afford to waste even scum like you. So, you have a choice. You can work for me. I need someone older to do things sometimes. Things that would be odd to see a teenager doing. On the plus side of this deal, I'm going to make you rich. At least by Terra Nova standards. You're going to be my face and my mouth so that no one knows who I really am.” Skye pressed the knife a little deeper. “Or you die. Right here. Right now. So what's it gonna be?”
“Yes. Yes. I'd like to work for you, please.” Boylan sobered very quickly.
Skye withdrew the knife from his throat and stood up. Then she pulled the one from his thigh. She wiped the bloody one off on his pants before tucking them both away. After that was done she gave Boylan a hand up. Not the easiest thing to do when he was more than double her weight.
“That was... unexpected.” Boylan allowed, his Australian accent clearer now that he was quite a bit more sober than when he had propositioned her.
“The knives or the hand up?” Skye asked.
“You work for me now. You take care of me; I take care of you. That's for life. Now, what's your name?” Skye replied.
“Boylan. Tom Boylan. And I'm not really a pedophile. It's just the way you were walking...” he trailed off.
Skye just looked at him. “I'm Skye.”
” Boylan asked.
Skye shrugged. “Lang. Anyway, we need to get you patched up.” She used his own belt as a temporary tourniquet and they limped back to Boylan's unit. She stuffed his leg and nose with some herbs she knew would speed healing and ease the pain, then wrapped the leg with gauze and a bandage. “Try your leg now.” she ordered.
Boylan looked a little nervous as he stood and put the slightest pressure on it. When pain didn't shoot through it like he expected, he gradually put more and more weight on it. “Where'd you learn that?” he wondered.
“You live long enough, you pick up some skills.” Skye idly replied. “Anyway, enough about me. What about you? Is there anything you're good at?”
“I s'pose you mean besides drinking?” Boylan shrugged.
“Depends. Did you make the alcohol you drank tonight?” Skye asked.
Tom nodded, “I've got a still. I s'pose I can make more.”
Skye continued. “Can you mix drinks and avoid getting shitfaced until after closing?”
“Yeah, I think I can do that.” Boylan agreed.
“Then we'll get you a bar. And don't think. Do. You don't have any 'I fucked up' currency with me yet.” Skye warned him and opened the door to leave. “Now, don't do any running or jumping for a week. I'll come back every night to change the poultice. We'll get started on that bar tomorrow when you show up at the East storage sheds at 2 o'clock, sober.”
“Aren't you going to ask me why I drink or try to 'change my evil ways'?”
“No.” Skye said as she left.
Tom was a little dumbfounded as he hobbled to his bed. What a strange girl,
he thought. When I wake up in the morning this will all be a dream.
Jim and Elizabeth Shannon were currently getting a dressing down from one 'Commander Taylor'. Faith could hear every word of Taylor's speech and passed a summary onto Willow while they waited their turn. “She's a doctor. He's a cop that got thrown in the pen for having three kids.” Faith relayed. “He's putting him on the agricultural detail. I guess farming an' shit.”
Willow smiled and waved as Jim walked by, though Faith's greeting was a subdued nod. To this day, she never felt comfortable around cops. Then it was their turn with Taylor.
Faith strode in her usual, confident self. Willow strode in with her step for step. Faith thought back to the mousey little girl that once called herself Willow and all the differences between her and the confident woman now walking with Faith. Perhaps becoming an incredibly powerful and possibly immortal witch who could kill people with her mind had given Willow a smidgen of self confidence. Even if she still smiled too much.
Taylor looked down at a sheet he was holding. “Willow and Faith. No last names given. What am I supposed to make of you?” he paused. When no answer was forthcoming he continued, “This is a very tight-knit community here. We're still small enough that everyone knows most of the other people and recognizes everyone else. We're an extended family in a way. Now that gentleman that just left has a family connection. That means that even with out much in the way of useful skills, I can use him as a strong back because I need to keep his family happy. You two on the other hand have no one. Nothing. No connections. No skills.”
“What kind of skills you need?” Faith interrupted.
“Yeah. We've got lots of skills.” Willow pronounced. “You name a skill you need. We might just have it.”
“You might have it Red. I'm just the muscle, remember?” Faith countered.
“You have lots of skills.” Willow comforted.
“Ahem.” Taylor announced. Faith glared but Willow blushed and he continued. “If you're done, I'd like to continue. The most important jobs we have need for are experienced farmers, teachers and doctors. In that order.”
Faith looked at Willow who shrugged and answered, “I was a healer a while back. Technological advances the last few years have left me a bit behind, but I could catch up again in six months, maybe a year. Plus I know a bunch of stuff about herbs that your people might not know.”
Taylor nodded. “Fine. Report to the hospital. They'll let me know if they can use you or if you'll be reassigned.” he turned to Faith, “and what about you?”
“I'm good with physical labor.” she informed him. “Could be a farmer if you need, but the last job I had was as a fireman.”
“Hmm.” Taylor nodded. “We could use an experienced fireman. A lot of wood around here. Stuff tends to burn. See Sgt. Bracco; he's in charge of our fire department such as it is. And we'll find you some things to do until a fire breaks out.” He sat behind his desk and put his hands behind his head. “Well, you two might just work out after all. Dismissed.”
Faith bristled a little at being ordered around, but allowed Willow to take her hand and lead her away instead of pounding Taylor's smug face.
After getting settled in, Willow headed to the hospital to start her internship. “Hi. I'm Willow.” she told the receptionist. “I'm supposed to report here to see if I can still be a doctor. I hope it's not too much trouble. Mr. Taylor assigning me to you like this without even asking you.”
Taylor assigns everyone their jobs.” the receptionist informed her. “That way everyone has a job suitable to their skills and every necessary job gets filled.”
“Ohhh.” Willow processed that information. “Then how do people change jobs? And how do you get a job if you have no skills?”
“Same answer for both. You apply for a new job at the command center. Someone on Commander Taylor's staff will review your case. If it's tricky to find a good job or you have a specific request, then Commander Taylor will review it himself before it gets approved.” The receptionist explained. “Now let me show you your duties.
Willow would be working alongside Dr. Elisabeth Shannon, the wife of the other stowaway. Dr. Shannon was an accomplished doctor but was new to the hospital. She'd be learning the ropes of the hospital while Willow tried to get a feel if she could still be a doctor 50 years after she last practiced. She mostly watched and stayed out of the way.
Computers and machines made everything so much easier than the last time she'd practiced. Once she got herself up to speed on all the new drugs she was pretty sure that this job would be a piece of cake. And if she really needed it, there was always her newly re-empowered magic to fall back on.
They let her go home early so she could start reading up on all the drugs.
While Willow was getting the guided tour of the hospital, Faith was meeting Sergeant Bracco. And getting a rundown of the camp's firefighting equipment. Sprinklers were standard in every building, which was good, but there was a distinct lack of any fire hydrants. The fire-rhino they had didn't even have a water tank or any hook ups for water even if there had been hydrants. Instead they relied on tanks of compressed CO2 to fight fires.
Those were great for the small fires but CO2 wasn't ideal for large blazes. Faith was also concerned with the experience of the group of part-time firefighters. None of them had seen, much less battled a real blaze before. Thus none of them had any experience in what to look for. Or how to prevent fires.
“The first thing we gotta do is cut back this jungle 100 feet. Minimum.” Faith explained.
“Yeah, I'd love to do that. But we just don't have the man power.” Bracco replied.
“Then we find the man power. Or we do it ourselves. Cause this ain't gonna work. A forest fire would wipe out the entire colony. Someone tosses a cigarette out the window and Poof! We're all dead before we know what happened. So where are the tools?” Faith asked.
“Excuse me?” One of the other fireman asked.
“Tools. Axes, machetes, chainsaws if you got 'em.” Faith explained patiently (for her).
firemen.” the man, Stanley, Faith thought his name was, replied.
“Yeah, well until the colony is safe from fire, you're full-time
firemen.” Faith decided.
“You can't just do that.” Stanley complained.
“Listen, I don't feel like becoming a crispy critter just cause you're too lazy to do your job, asshole. So get to work or I will put you in the infirmary. Capiche?” Faith warned.
Bracco, at least, appeared impressed. He had been telling Commander Taylor that they needed to cut back the jungle for a couple years now and had always been told that there wasn't enough manpower. Now this young woman comes in and skips the onerous task of asking for permission and just does it. He might catch a little flack from Taylor later, but it was always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. “You heard the lady. Get to the tool shed. Grab axes and machetes. I'll join you at the gate with a chainsaw for the bigger trees.”
With seven men, Faith, and one chainsaw, they cleared an impressive amount of jungle in just one day. Steven (not Stanley) even appeared impressed and dropped his attitude. Faith clearing more than anybody but Bracco and his chainsaw had elevated the men's opinion of her. Everyone was so happy Faith didn't have the heart to tell them they'd only cleared a strip 50 feet wide instead of the needed 100. They'd learn that soon enough, she figured. Probably about the time they started on a second 50 foot wide section.
Faith and Willow met after their respective jobs and made it to the market to shop for dinner, where a ruckus was breaking out, just in time to hear a soldier yell, “Get these people back. We got Sixers coming in!”
“Did he say Fixers?” Willow asked.
“Sixers.” Faith heard better with her Slayer hearing. She bobbed her head towards the fence, “Must be a nickname for that dinosaur chasing those cars.” Faith could feel Willow starting to draw energy from the earth. “Easy Red. They didn't react well when we told them about magic the first time and I don't want to step on any toes if we don't have to.”
Willow released some of the energy she'd drawn up. “Faith Lehane is worried about stepping on toes?”
Faith snorted. “Just because I've matured doesn't mean I'm not down for cracking some skulls if need be. It's just not my first choice any more.”
They watched tensely as the dino was stood off by Taylor until they could get everyone inside. Faith was impressed with the guy's guts. Once everyone was safely inside the walls and the dinosaur driven off the girls finally allowed themselves to relax.
The relaxation was short lived as two groups of soldiers immediately engaged in a tense stand-off. Faith could hear a bunch of people around her whispering about 'Sixers' again.
“What's a Sixer?” she asked a man in a straw hat.
“A group of people from the Sixth Pilgrimage went rogue.” he whispered. “Stole a bunch of weapons and have a base in the jungle. They raid sometimes for supplies. This is the first time any of them have been inside the gate since they left.”
“Politics.” Faith spat. “Come on Red. This is a human issue. They don't need our help.”
Willow wanted to stay, but couldn't think of a retort. There really wasn't anything that two people ignorant of the political situation could or should do right now. She knew that she'd have to research the local history and politics in depth before she could risk intervening. A histories of Slayers joining the wrong side without knowing it had taught her that. She'd call it a research party but she knew that Faith probably wouldn't help. Human politics didn't interest her. Faith would much rather go hunt a dinosaur. Willow glanced back again as the situation escalated and watched the non-verbal byplay between the commanders of each side just before they calmed the trouble.
Skye and her group reached the place where she'd hidden Boylan's old still. The bar had a dozen much better distilleries now and didn't need this one any more. And even though she didn't drink, it didn't mean she couldn't earn a few points with her friends by helping them to drink and break the rules at the same time; a dream come true for any teenager.
As they were cutting up new fruts (half fruit/half nut) to feed the distillery, Josh started complaining about his father and how he'd acted when they'd run into him earlier.
“You two don't get along?” Skye prompted.
“We're just really different, that's all. He's lecturing me about rules? He broke every rule in the book just to get here.” Josh complained as he cut fruts with Skye's Slasher-tail knife.
Skye sarcastically agreed. “Right. He's the kind of guy who shows up at a new place and is like 'Ooo, I'm going to ditch orientation to go swimming with some people I barely know'. Right?” She softened the rebuke with a smile. “Yeah, you guys are pretty
Josh just shook his head like Skye didn't understand and started laughing with her once he realized the analogy she'd made. Not long after that, a Slasher roar echoed from the area they left their rover.
“What was that?” Josh asked.
“Probably just a Howler.” Hunter dismissed.
Tasha, at 15, was the youngest and was already starting to panic. “Yeah! H-Howler.” she agreed.
But Skye knew better; that was a Slasher roar. And coming from the area of the rover meant that one of three things were also in that area: herbivores, Sixers, or Terra Novans. And nothing good would come of getting caught by either human group. Still, it was best not to panic the kids. “You know, it's getting late. We should go.” she stated calmly as she stood up.
The walk back to the rover was nerve wracking for Skye. She had her knives on her and a pistol stashed in the rover, but they wouldn't be enough against Slashers. She really hadn't been planning on them being here. Not now certainly. This was both a bit outside their usual territory and early for the diurnal animals to come out. They reached the road and Skye kept her head on a swivel looking for a Slasher or Sixer ambush. When they got to the rover, they found the power cells had been stolen. Which meant Sixers. No one else would have taken the power cells of a Novan rover.
“Dammit! It's shredded. The power cells are gone.” Max yelled.
Tasha was almost cute in her naivety. “Okay... well then we have to call somebody.”
Hunter could have been a little nicer when he answered. “Did you hear what he said?! It's dead!”
“It's too far to walk. We'll never make it back before dark.” Skye tried to ready them for spending the night in a cave network back near the falls. It would be the safest place. The rocks leading to it were steep, slippery, and very hard for Slashers to navigate.
Then Tasha looked around, “What's that?”
Skye's shoulders slumped. How could she have missed a Sixer rhino out in the open like that? She started walking while the others argued about what it was doing there.
“Wait, where are you going?” asked Max.
“To get our stuff back.” Skye answered already crossing the stream. “Hello? We're unarmed.” she told the vehicle. “We just want to talk. Hey, we're stuck out here without those power cells.” Hopefully even Sixers wouldn't leave kids to die.
Everyone else followed her across the stream. Max found the power cells as Josh noticed some blood. Just then a Slasher roared from the other side of the stream. Everyone ran to the Rhino. Skye opened the door to find an injured and scared (and armed) Sixer already inside.
“Get away from me!” the man pointed his gun at them.
“Come on man, let us in. Please.” Hunter begged.
“Hey. I- I remember you. It's Drake, right? It's me, Skye.”
“Skye?” recognition crossed his face. “Alright get in.”
Skye was the last one in and shut the door in the face of a Slasher. The Rhino rocked violently.
(Four Years Ago)
Skye never knew what information Boylan had on Commander Taylor that allowed Tom to blackmail him for the land and building that would become Boylan's Bar. She suspected, but never asked. A couple of favors and some sweat-equity later and they had themselves a real business.
Boylan's Bar quickly became the
social hangout in Terra Nova. Probably because it was the only place to get an authentic drink. Even if the drinks weren't quite like back home, Boylan made some good alcohol. At least according to people who'd mostly had polluted
beer, wine and whiskey their whole lives. Boylan was also quickly branching out into gambling and loan sharking. But Skye had nixed his plans for a protection racket. Enabling people to do the things they wanted while taking a cut was one thing, but she wasn't going to allow him to run any sort of racket in Terra Nova. No matter how big a cut she got.
She was a waitress in Boylan's Bar and Tom Boylan was her 'boss'. It was a job she'd had to fight hard to get. And she had to fight her own instincts and habits to do it too. Too often she just took/did what she wanted and damned the consequences but she was trying very hard to fit in here. And fitting in meant that a 12 year old girl needed her parents' permission to work in a bar. Eventually, her 'father' relented and allowed her to work there. Skye wasn't sure if he might know that she wasn't an ordinary girl, but decided that could wait until later.
Working the bar was a great job. The command center may be where the leaders of Terra Nova announced their decisions, but the real debates of colony policy were settled first over a bottle of suds down at the Bar. And that meant that Skye and Boylan had their fingers on the pulse of the entire colony.
(Three Years Ago)
Working in the bar was how Skye was the first to discover that Mira and her friends in the Sixth Pilgrimage had an agenda. She was also the first to discover that Taylor was planning on taking them into custody. Unfortunately that seemed to be all she could discover. And she wasn't going to get any information if Mira's people were taken, so she warned them before Taylor could take them into custody.
No one in Terra Nova knew what she had done so it didn't cost her anything here, but it earned her a lot of credit with the 'Sixers' as they came to be called. She also taught them how to sleep in the trees like Nykoraptors so they'd be safe from the bigger predators. They trusted her and she could come and go from their territory as she pleased.
The colony had calmed down once the Sixers left but now it was getting riled up again.
“What's going on?” Faith asked as Willow came back inside from checking on what the commotion was.
“There's some kids missing. They took a rover and disappeared.” Willow answered.
Faith perked up. “Like outside the colony, disappeared? Like I can actually go hunt some dinosaurs, disappeared?”
“Don't hunt them Faith.” Will admonished. “They're not demons, only animals. Just find the kids and bring them home. If you have to fight to save the kids, then fine. But otherwise...”
“Yeah, yeah.” But Faith was smiling as she got ready. Her normal leathers were packed with knives and one stake. She was fairly sure that there weren't any vampires around. But it didn't pay to take the chance and she felt naked without one. She took off, making a circuit around the fence. There were three clear paths besides the gates where various people came and went. Though those paths would soon be cut away by the fire crews. The commander of the colony was lax in letting the jungle encroach too closely. Unless the guy was using one or more himself,
Faith mused. Only one of the three showed signs of being used today. Faith took off at an easy lope for a Slayer, or about a dead run for a normal human.
The rhino was even more dead than their own rover. Everyone but the new kid, Josh, was panicking, and the poor kid was about to go into shock. Skye handed him a belt and had him tie a tourniquet on Drake's leg. “Hey. We get through this and you won't be a Fresh any more.” she tried to give him some hope. When the Slasher loomed over the rhino and tried to get in through the turret, the kid still froze. Skye just sighed and closed the hatch. Maybe he would still be a Fresh.
Skye grabbed one of the guns Hunter had found and took careful aim. The first burst impacted the head, but missed her target, the eye. The skull of a Slasher was too thick for the tiny bullets to get through. All the bullets hit though, the Slasher's head rocked with the impacts. But even if they didn't kill it, the dino didn't seem to like being shot. It backed off and started calling for others. She fired another burst into its body and the Slasher backed off until she couldn't see it any more, but it continued to call.
The real problem was the bullets. The other side of the portal sent guns that shot the tiny 3mm bullet. The bullets were small, light, and optimized for killing weak and lazy humans. Bigger dinosaurs barely felt the small bullets, though. Skye's own collection didn't contain anything smaller than 7.62mm; also known the old .30 cal round.
With the Slasher almost certainly watching them, they dared not leave the safety of the rhino so they sat until night fell. An hour later a couple of Slashers returned to terrorize the rhino. It was too dark to shoot at them until they came close.
“Well, what about the radio? Can we get it to work without the power converter?” Josh asked a silly question that any Terra Novan would know that answer to was 'no'.
However, it did seem to jog Drakes memory. “The com won't work, but Alvarez might have a portable one in his pack.”
If Drake hadn't been slashed already, Skye would have smacked him for forgetting that there was a working com in the Rhino. Hunter called the Novans. Hunter and Taylor talked for a bit, until the Slashers decided to attack. The rhino rocked again and Tasha screamed. Skye made a mental note that Tasha was never going OTG again. Skye and Josh opened fire on opposite sides of the rhino. “Conserve your ammo. Short bursts.” she ordered.
By the time the attacks stopped, Tasha was freaking out. “We should- We should make a run for it while we still can.”
Max saved Skye from pointing out the phenomenal level of stupidity of that idea. “Make a run for what?”
“Terra Nova!” Tasha yelled.
“It's like five klicks away. Tash, we'd never make it.” Hunter reasoned.
“We have weapons and- and- anything is better than being sitting ducks!” Tasha gibbered.
Skye wished for a bottle of chloroform but interrupted the panicked babbling, “No. We don't know how many of them are out there and we have limited ammunition. We hold until-”
“Hey. I might be a Fresh, but Commander Taylor got our distress call. We just have to hold on until they get here.” Josh reasoned.
“It's going to take them hours to find us!” Tasha screamed.
“We have enough ammo to hold them a little while longer.” Josh calmly soothed. “We can make it.”
Skye was impressed that the kid was holding on to his head. Perhaps there was hope for him yet. But not for Tasha.
Tasha wouldn't be soothed. “Ohmygodhedoesn'tevenknowwhathe'stalkingabout!” she shrieked. Then she started hyperventilating.
“Tasha! Calm down.” Skye yelled, trying to get through to her. Unfortunately everyone else was yelling too and nothing got through.
Tasha grabbed a gun and made a break for it. Hunter tried to go after her, but Skye and Josh held him back. “Hunter. It's suicide.” Skye informed him as they watched Tasha run across the stream.
Faith sighed. She'd heard the trucks leave the colony not too long ago and begin a search pattern. The sound changed and all the trucks started heading in her direction just before gunfire broke out up ahead. Now Faith had a decision to make, the path she was following was trending to the right of where the gunfire was. Should she follow the path or head towards the gunfire, alone, in a strange forest, surrounded by monsters?
She headed straight for the gunfire.
It wasn't long until she heard two sets of footsteps heading towards her. One was human. One definitely was not. She ran on until she could see the human. A girl, running through the dark with a gun. Stupid bitch,
Faith almost growled out loud. Anyone should know better than to run through a dark jungle with a gun. Faith purposely tripped the girl as she ran past. It wouldn't do to have the girl outrun Faith's protection after all.
The dino pulled up at the new threat charging straight at it. It flung its tail at Faith and the Slayer dropped flat on the ground. As soon as it whistled overhead, Faith was back up and had her biggest knife in her hand. She punched the blade into the side of the beast and twisted to open the wound. Unfortunately, the rib bones were much stronger than she had thought and her knife's handle broke off in her hands. “Fuck.” she swore and jumped sideways as the monster tried to bite her in revenge. Instinctively she grabbed her stake and jammed it in the thing's neck. The dino responded by slamming her sideways with its head. As she flew backwards into a tree, it turned and ran off.
“God damn mother fucker.” Faith swore as she picked herself up. She wasn't so much hurt as she was angry at herself for grabbing a stake instead of a knife. With a knife, she probably could have slit the thing's throat, instead it got to run away. Anyway, it was time to check on the girl. But she was already gone. Headed straight for Terra Nova it looked like. Faith decided it would be better to help any others up ahead rather than try to help a panicking girl with a gun and get shot for her troubles. Faith turned and followed the girl's footsteps back where she had come from.
Sitting and waiting for death to come for her friends seemed like all Skye ever did any more, whether it was today or a hundred years from now. Terra Nova didn't change that pattern. Hunter had the bright idea of running to their rover and trying to get it running again. She let the boys debate the pros and cons of running or not before shooting down the idea. “This rhino is the most secure position within 5 klicks. We've got shielding, food, water, ammo, and that big gun up top we can use once daylight hits. So long as we've got four walls and a roof protecting us, we're not going anywhere.”
In hindsight, she really should have known better than to jinx them like that. She wasn't sure what she'd ever done to the guy, but Murphy really seemed to have a yen for her. During the debate about their next move, they had been lax in their lookout duties. Just after she finished speaking, a Slasher got in close and tore a hole in the rhino. Hunter kicked at its head, found his leg caught in its jaws and was dragged from the vehicle.
Skye climbed out of the rhino to get a good shot at the Slasher. She was surprised to find Josh by her side. Two guns blazed at the dino who turned and flicked its tail at them. Skye spun low under the arc of the tail and took Josh's legs out from under him to keep him safe too. Looking up from her back, she was facing the rhino and found another Slasher about to pounce on them from behind. Silhouetted against the night sky, she could see it had what looked like a broken spear sticking out of the left side of its neck. She emptied the rest of her clip into that one while Josh drove the first one away.
Once the Slashers were gone Max jumped from the rhino and ran to Hunter, dragging him back to the relative protection of the vehicle.
“Now, I guess the rover is the best choice.” Skye observed as she reloaded.
“What about Hunter?” Josh asked.
“Help me get him over my shoulder. I'll carry him. Max can carry Drake. You cover us till we get to the other side.” Skye ordered.
“Drake's a Sixer. I ain't carrying no Sixer.” Max stated.
“I don't know what a Drake or a Sixer is, but I'll carry it if that means you kids will stop yapping and get a move on.” a woman called from across the stream.
Skye blinked, the woman standing in the headlights of the rhino appeared to be unarmed. Skye looked again and revised that estimate a little. She counted two knives, plus a third in the small of her back based on her posture. Not even Skye came OTG at night without something more than a knife, even if she didn't have her own gun in her hands at the time. Sure, she could kill a dinosaur with a knife if she had to, but it was so much harder at night that a gun or a spear were almost necessities.
“Who are you?” Max demanded.
“I'm Faith.” Faith answered.
“You a Sixer?” Max continued.
“Still not quite sure what those are, so I'm going to go with 'no' for now.” Faith smirked. “Listen, we can play 20 questions later.” Faith scanned the area. “It sounds like those things are coming back for another pass.” she turned around to listen to something behind her, “And those trucks ain't gonna to get here in time. They stopped for something a while back. Just starting up again.”
“Do you think it was Tasha?” Max asked Skye.
“Dark skinned? About yea high? Running around in a dark jungle with a rifle?” Faith held up her hand to indicate Tasha's height.
“You saw her? She was still alive?” Skye blurted. She had given Tasha up for dead.
I stopped one dino chasing her, but the way she was running, she'll attract something else soon enough.” Faith walked to the damaged rhino and pulled Drake out bodily. She tossed his gun to Max and then bent to pick up Hunter as well.
Skye was the first to recover from the shock of seeing a woman carry that much. The amount of weight she was carrying should have been staggering for the amount of muscle mass the woman had. She'd have to ask her about it later though. She collected herself, “Okay, I'll take point. Josh, Max, you keep an eye on our six.” Max's eyes flicked to Drake. Skye pointed towards the damaged rhino, “No, that direction.” she instructed, then shouldered her gun and started making her way across the stream with everyone else following behind.
Halfway across, a Slasher charged the stream from the bushes. She fired and drove it off only for another to appear. She held off three more charges while walking steadily forward. From the sound of gunfire behind her, Slashers were coming out of the woodwork. Then Murphy laughed as Skye's gun clicked on empty. “I'm out!” she cried. She turned around, but no one had any spare mags.
“Fuck this.” Faith called and dumped both of the injured men in the cool but shallow water of the stream. She pulled two knives and charged the dinosaurs while letting out a roar to match their own.
Skye watched the woman charge for only a moment before grabbing Drake's collar and starting to drag him to the shore their Rover was on. “Max, get Hunter!” she yelled.
Max turned and complied, grabbing Hunter under the arms and dragging. “Josh! This way!” he called as he cleared the stream bank.
Josh turned and ran to join the group at the Rover. Max was already putting the power cells back in the rover and had given his gun to Skye. Josh and Skye spent the next minute watching the woman fight dinosaurs hand to hand while they held off any other Slashers that tried to flank them. Skye watched the fight between woman and dinos with fascination. She recognized the strength and speed now. It could only be a Slayer. She'd known Slayers before, there had been a virtual explosion of them for a while, but it had been a long time ago; and she hadn't expected to see one in Terra Nova. As far as she knew there were no vampires here.
Just as Max shouted “Got it!” the Terra Nova rhinos pulled up. Dozens of soldiers piled out and started shooting tranquilizer darts at the Slashers. With the new noise and numbers, the Slashers decided to retreat and regroup.
The soldiers secured the perimeter and their new Sixer captive. He and Skye were very careful not to look at each other. She'd let Mira know soon that Drake was alive, but captured.
Then a rustling from the bushes brought a number of tranquilizer guns to bear. A human figure covered in blood stepped into the road. “That one's mine.” Faith jerked her thumb back into the bushes then walked calmly to the stream to wash off the blood; though she had to lay face-down in the shallow water to accomplish that. Once she was more or less clean, she walked back to the soldiers pointing tranq guns at her. One soldier went into the bushes to investigate.
“Holy shit!” came the voice from the bushes. “There's a dead Slasher back here, Commander.”
“Yeah. And I said it's mine.” a dripping Faith growled.
“Miss Faith.” Taylor cocked his head. “What exactly are you doing outside the gate?”
“Kicking ass and chewing bubble gum. But I'm all out of gum.” Faith smirked.
Skye couldn't help but laugh at the fairly dated reference. She tried to hide it behind a cough. But she caught Faith's eye and gave her a smile to let her know she got the joke. “Commander Taylor. Faith helped save us. Maybe we could discuss this somewhere with doctors and walls. Hunter's hurt.”
“I'm a doctor.” a woman Skye didn't recognize ran up when she heard the call for a doctor. That meant she was probably part of the 10th pilgrimage. The doc started examining Hunter's leg, “Okay, this is going to need surgery to repair but it's stable enough for now.” then she moved on to Drake. “These slashes should be easy enough to heal back at Terra Nova.”
“What about Tasha?” Skye asked as Josh and his father shared a heartfelt reunion.
“She's in one of the transports. She's a little scratched up and we had to sedate her, otherwise she'll be fine.” the doc answered. “Okay, let's get these men loaded into a transport.” she called.
“Careful doc, that one's a Sixer.” Max added.
The doc paled a little bit and swallowed, but was the consummate professional. “Well, I don't think he wants to die, so he's not going to give us any problems. Are you?” she asked him with a warning glare.
Drake shook his head and grimaced. “No ma'am.”
Skye just heard the doc whisper to a soldier. “Make sure he's bound tight.” Apparently the doc wasn't a fan of Sixers, which was odd for a Fresh. Then she realized the road they and the Sixer rhino were on led towards the Sixer camp and wondered if there had been an incident while they were gone.
Josh rode with his family while Skye and Max rode in the back of their rover with two soldiers riding up front. Skye watched as Faith and three soldiers loaded the dead Slasher on the roof of one of the Terra Novan Rhinos. There would be a feast tomorrow.
Back at base came the hard part. Hunter and Drake were seriously injured and had to be carried into the infirmary. Tasha also had to be helped inside due to the sedatives she'd been given. There's one girl who's never going OTG again,
Skye thought. But the hardest part was watching a touching reunion between Josh and his family again. It really only served to remind her just how alone she was in the world.
“Makes you want to puke. Don't it?” Faith said from her side. Sneaky little Slayer.
Skye laughed. It was funny to hear someone so young be so cynical. “We need to talk, Slayer.
” Skye whispered so quietly that no one but a Slayer would be able to hear.
Faith was quiet for a moment. “Yes. We. Do.” They turned from the hospital and walked to Faith and Willow's unit. “Honey, I'm home!” Faith called as they entered the house.
“Hey Faith. How was- Oh!” Willow stopped when she noticed Skye. “We have company!” Willow shot Faith a look.
“Oh yeah.” Faith said as if just remembering. “Willow, Skye. Skye, Willow. Skye saw me in action tonight and guessed that I was a Slayer.”
Willow suddenly went from welcoming but guarded, to very open. Anyone who knew about Slayers was likely in-the-know about magic. It made their acceptance of her as a witch far more likely. “Wow, that's impressive.”
Skye shrugged. “Hardly a guess. Not many women who can carry two grown men like they were nothing.”
“Still. Oh! Where are my manners? Faith told you that I'm Willow, so you know that of course, but I'm also a witch. Can I ask how you know about the supernatural? We didn't expect to meet anyone who'd know about us here. And can I get you something to eat?” she added as an afterthought.
Skye realized how hungry she was and nodded at the last statement. She also hadn't expected the redhead to offer something like her being a witch so freely. “Yeah, I'd love something to eat. Every time I almost get all my friends killed I always get hungry afterward. Actually, I pretty much just stay hungry. I can almost out-eat a Slayer.”
Willow raised an eyebrow. “Wow, that's impressive. I'd better conjure up a little extra food then.” And then she literally conjured up a huge platter of roast beef sandwiches and three glasses of what smelled like iced tea.
“Oh my god. I love witches.” Skye moaned as she tasted the delicious food.
“It's not like I can conjure food out of thin air. All the ingredients were in the pantry. Magic just allowed me to transform them here into this.” Willow explained. “Even with magic, the laws of conservation of energy still apply. Though they might behave differently than you'd expect.”
Skye just nodded, her mouth full with delicious food; she knew how magic worked, she just couldn't do it. After she washed down her first sandwich, she decided to add. “As long as everyone's being so forthcoming. I should let you know... I'm a lot older than I look.”
Willow and Faith shared a look. Willow was the one without two sandwiches stuffed in her maw, so she asked. “How old?”
That was always the question. “I lost count.” she said truthfully. “But I was on that last planet for around 10,000 years.”
“And I thought we were old!” exclaimed Faith who had finally swallowed. At a questioning look from Skye and after a nod from Willow, she explained. “We're both 150 some. There was this spell to activate all the potential Slayers and somehow, we haven't aged since then.”
“Wow! That was you?” Skye asked and Willow nodded. “Has it been 150 years already? Seemed like only 50. What about Earth though? You're just going to leave it unguarded?”
“We killed almost every demon on Earth. Anything that had a home to return to already left and took word about how the humans had destroyed Earth and it wasn't worth conquering anymore.” Willow defended.
“Yeah, nothing left to defend there. We figure we can help the people here, though.” Faith added.
Skye couldn't argue with that. After all, she had left too.
“Except that I can't help like I thought I'd be able to. My magic's all wonky.” Willow pouted.
“What are you talking about? I thought you said it was back at full power?” Faith exclaimed.
magic, yes. I could probably make a lamppost grow if I wanted. But I tried a locator spell to find the lost kids and... nothing.” Willow explained. “It's like the power that the spell called on is just gone.”
“Or doesn't exist yet.” Skye smirked. “People haven't had a chance to create any gods so far.”
“Jesus.” Faith breathed.
Willow, the lapsed Jewish Wicca, snorted at that. But Faith grabbed her cross necklace thoughtfully. She'd certainly never lived up to her namesake, but she'd seen with her own eyes the power that a cross could have on a vampire and never left home without one or two. It was disconcerting, the knowledge that the religion that powered the crosses no longer existed and wouldn't exist for 85 million years.
“Don't worry,” Skye smiled. “you wouldn't have liked him that much anyway.”
“Who?” Faith shook herself out of her revery.
“Joshua. Joshua of Nazareth. Sure, he was enlightened for his day and age; but I had to punch him out when he tried to 'put me in my place' as a woman.” Skye thought back. “Actually, he got a lot better after that. And that happened before he started teaching. He actually turned out pretty swell.”
“You punched out Jesus?” Both women asked incredulously, though differently. There was a touch of fear but more respect and maybe some humor in Faith's voice. Willow was a little panicky about bringing the wrath of Yahweh down on them.
“Yeah, kinda. But it was a different time. Jews back then were misogynistic, animal sacrificing, barbarians. Not the enlightened people they turned into after that. I just had to correct a couple mistakenly held beliefs of the kid.” Skye explained. Technically everything she was telling them was true, but it hadn't happened on the Earth they'd just left. She just hadn't felt like bothering this time. The stories came out pretty much the same anyway, as long as the Romans were in charge and not the Greeks. Never the Greeks.
“Anyway, back to magic. It's 'wonky'?”
They talked late into the night about magic, Slaying, gods, and demons. Finally Skye left for her own house with a promise to come back and talk more about such things.
(Three Years Ago)
Skye had her pocket-watch open in front of her, watching time ticking away. It was an old watch, the type that was powered by winding instead of bateries.
Tom Boylan stepped next to her. “That's a nice watch, did your dad give you that?”
Skye shook herself from her reverie. “Huh? Oh. Uh, no.”
“Oh. Well. I was sorry to hear about him just the same.” Tom uncomfortably got to his point. “Your mum too.”
“Yeah.” Skye acknowledged.
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Tom spoke again. “Well, if you need anything...” then he went back to the bar leaving Skye alone with her thoughts and her watch. Time ticking away. She really hadn't known the Langs all that well when they'd died. There had been too much to do and she figured she'd get to know them better when she looked a little older and they could think of her as an adult. But then Sincyllic Fever had struck. A disease with no known cure. She was immune of course. She was always immune. And she volunteered to care for the sick to spare as many of the hospital staff from exposure.
She was asleep when Howard passed, but she got to hold Nancy's hand as she followed.
And that was all she could do for them in the end. Time kept passing, as did her friends. She stayed behind. Speaking of being left behind, she was supposed to report to the orphanage with Nina tonight. She tucked away the old fashioned watch end went to the Langs' house one last time.