Setting up the stage
Author notes: This story happens in the same multiverse as the Traveller Chronicles but can be read separately. If you haven’t read that story, all you will miss are some of the references a common character makes in the prologue, but that’s all. It will link together (at least initially, other minor crossovers may happen) two mangas with a similar theme to the Buffyverse. One of them is well-known in fanction, the other less. It was a relatively short series (only 5 volumes). As for Traveller Chronicles, this story will use Halloween to induce changes then focus on the aftermath. For this story, the timeline of BtVS has been moved so that the Halloween episode happens in 2011. I also considered that Dawn is already here and fourteen years old. Summary YAHF: Some people don’t like rules. Others are expert at changing them when they don’t suit them. Thanks to the meddling of an old cosmic entity, Joyce Summers was about to become very familiar with someone from the latter category. Disclaimer Rating: FR 18 Fandoms I don’t own anything of
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Ah! My Goddess!
- Stray Little Devil
- Tenchi Muyo (Only used in prologue)
Somewhere in a higher plane of existence, the being known as Lady Tokimi was enjoying a moment of rest and was busy reading. Some may have expected some kind of arcane book delving on the mysteries of the universe but the truth was that the loudly colored booklet she was holding was more mundane.
It was one of her servants that had brought her attention on comics. In particular, she liked the concept of a series called ‘What if’ as it was something she herself did, meddling in one timeline or another and comparing how it deviated from the untouched one or from a different set of alterations.
Her recent experiment had shown some results, but it was now mostly in her elder sister’s hands. At least, it had allowed her to identify her sister’s main avatar. What was more interesting to her was the information regarding her daughter.
Her daughter had started as a mindless anomaly, just a kind of quiet bug in the structure of the multiverse that she had introduced to test a theory. It had now grown to become an intrinsic part of the system, coterminous to every point in space-time. As it used human girls as avatars in every timeline that species existed, Tokimi had come to consider the being as her daughter.
The version of her daughter present in the timeline of her most recent experiment was now raised by her elder sister’s avatar. There were many others… some died, others lived. It mattered to Tokimi… but only so much. After all a human did not cry because one of the cells of his body died and, as a whole, her daughter would live till the end of times.
Closing her comic issue, she wondered if she should meddle once again. The timelines having a Sunnydale had proven to be worthy of her attention and she was curious to retry her Halloween experiment with different parameters.
She extended her awareness, finding a universe matching her desire. In the one she envisioned, the adventures of the SGC were a TV show instead of the reality. There were aliens of course, but the probability of interference was… lower, but non negligible.
It was also a little shifted on the time axis. The Halloween she needed would be in 2011 instead of 1997. This would even make some things easier. Some prophecies in that world were supposed to realize at the end of October 2011. She smiled as she saw that the prophecies had been done by seers feeling her own manipulations.
This would require less extreme temporal alterations than her previous experiment. All she needed to do was to make sure some items were in the right hands for Halloween. Three of the beings she intended to use could detect and object to her manipulations but… no, they would probably play along.
Lady Tokimi snapped her fingers.
Joyce Summers was humming as she unpacked some things she had brought back from Los Angeles. Originally, her scouting and acquisition trip should have taken several days but as she walked to a site she wanted to check, a quaint little shop had taken her eyes. Called ‘Enuma Elish’, it was mostly an antique shop but some of the pieces in the showcase had attired her attention.
Discussing with the owner, an old man called Remy; she had learnt that he was helping some artist friends by displaying and selling their pieces. Joyce had seen many copies of antiques but those were not such. They were original art using the style and techniques of old civilizations. There were sculptures, painting as well as recreation of jewelry of those civilizations. They had quickly come to a deal and she had scheduled a showing for those pieces. And I’m even back for Halloween…
The man had also given her a small crate of items as a gift; things that Remy said ‘had gathered dust for too long in his shop’. She went through them. Most were pieces of jewelry and maybe some early works of the artists she would present in her gallery. Nice bracelet… looks like Norse runes… and it seems to suit me.
She would see with her daughters if something interested them, maybe something to go with their costume. Buffy and Willow took Dawn to this costume shop… I wonder what they found…
Joyce looked as her youngest daughter went down the stairs. She had to admit that she made a rather cute she-devil. Thankfully, her outfit was rather tame as she didn’t want to think too much on her little Dawn starting to turn boys’ heads. Her outfit looked like a slightly gothic catholic schoolgirl uniform and it married well with Dawn’s current Hime-cut.
“Hmm… I may have something that will go with that costume,” she said, remembering the items in the gift crate.
She quickly found the case she was looking for and took out a small pendant, a simple oval red stone rimmed with golden metal and adorned with two little bat wings. The stone reflected light in a way that made it look like an eye with a cat-like pupil. It was simple yet… the stone had a peculiar way to reflect light, as if it had unsuspected depths.
Dawn smiled. The pendant looked cool and it was something she would also be able to wear on ordinary days. She looked into the depths of the stone and she really liked how the light played on it.
“Thank you mom, that’s really cool,” she said while hugging her mother.
The door rang and Dawn rushed to the door, revealing to other teenage girls dressed in a devilish theme. Joyce recognized Dawn’s best friends Kit Holburn and Amanda Ditchik. The energetic Kit was a bit of a troublemaker from what she had learnt. Her normally brunette hair was dyed blonde and arranged in a kind of wild, short mane that made Joyce think that she spent too much time playing with electricity. Her skintight outfit was not something she would have liked to see on her daughter – or maybe only on a beach – but she had to admit that it looked good on Kit. The shy Amanda had gone for voluminous robes that, combined with her usual composure and kind smile, gave her an air of benevolent wisdom. Even the little ram horns on both side of her head… they just added to the impression. It’s missing something. Kit’s horns don’t look right with her haircut and Amanda… let’s see if I have something. After all…
thought Joyce as she looked through the remainder of the crate’s items, I gave one to Willow and Xander too.
Smiling, she took two items that would go nicely. One was a circlet with a silvery, lightning bolt-shaped horn that came on the brow, the other a golden, hexagram-shaped amulet. She gave them to the girls who cheerfully donned the items. She waved them goodbye and finished her own preparations
In a costume shop that had sold most of his stock, the owner, an Englishman called Ethan Rayne was busy putting the last touches to his spell. Soon, the Chaos magic would be unleashed on the town, finding every article that he sold and turning everyone wearing them into their costume. Seeing the Slayer being turned into a defenseless noblewoman for a night would be… really fun.
He pronounced the last words of the spell.
The Chaos magic traveled, finding its targets. It soon hit a group of three teenage girls and tried to turn them into the she-devils they were dressed as. Suddenly, the spell hiccupped as it hit a little gold pendant with bat wings. Red light flared, bathing Dawn Summers and arcing in crimson bolts to her two girlfriends, locking on a circlet and an amulet.
The change the Chaos spell had tried to bring was happening, but with an order dictated by the amulet’s crimson light. What would have been a superficial, temporary change became stark reality. Horns and tails became real as the girls’ biology was rewritten.
“Ew…” said ‘Kit’. “Anybody has an idea of what we’re doing here?”
“No idea, Raim,” said ‘Dawn’. “Given that the Tupsimati is radiating magic like mad,” she said while holding her pendant, “Remy’s probably behind it. Vine, are you all right?”
“Give me a minute, Pam,” said ‘Amanda’. “We’re possessing people… humans I would say.”
“Let’s split up and try to find if someone else from Deamonea is here,” suggested Raim. “With a little luck, Vine’s grandfather will be here.”
Pam nodded. Her friend’s grandfather, Malphas, was the President of the Devil Council and an expert on many magics. She herself had loads of raw power thanks to being the current depositary of the Tupsimati as well as Marduk’s granddaughter, but she was still a devil-in-training.
The three girls’ wings materialized and they soared in the sky.
Joyce woke up, feeling warmth and a faint brimstone scent. She was in a library and a statuesque, tanned woman with a long mane of white hair and a barely decent purple and black dress was busy going through the books.
The woman turned to look at her. Joyce noticed the six-pointed star on her brow and her purple eyes. She had never seen eyes like those, eyes that seemed to pierce through her very soul and told of unbound pride. Yet… there was also sadness in this gaze, loss and grief.
“Where… where am I and who are you?”
“You’re still ‘sleeping’ and this library is a mindscape you created to host our encounter. Classical, but fitting. The books are allegories for your memories. As for me… I am Hild. I am sharing your head tonight.”
She was about to say something about living some strange dream when Hild raised her hand.
“No, you’re not mad or hurt… at least not yet,” said Hild. “There is magic at work, coming for a very high level… higher than mine as I was suckered into it just as you were… As I suppose my ex-husband is here too, that doesn’t leave many suspects.”
“Well… there aren’t that many people higher than me. The kind of beings I’m thinking about is usually fond of nicknames like ‘the Alpha and the Omega’. While I have my doubts on exactly who, it’s of little interest right now. What’s important is how we deal with the present situation… after going through some of your memories, I think you and I can make a deal.”
“What kind of angel makes a de… you’re Lucifer.”
“Lucifer is actually one of my errand boys so let’s say you got it half right. You should listen to my offer, though.”
“And its price, of course.”
“Cunning! I knew there was some spirit under that boring guise you show to the world, Joy-chan. I think you will do nicely for the job I want to offer you.”
“Becoming your ‘errand girl’?”
“No. This is not my world. It’s yours. I have taken a little look at it and it happens that I already heard about your world from some… acquaintances to which I had to explain rather forcefully that I would not tolerate them opening a branch on my world. So, I think that your world’s current custodians are doing a poor job and I propose you to stage a little revolution.”
“I remember something from a discussion I had with Rabbi Rosenberg… Depending on the tradition, the Devil is not a rebel but tempting humanity on God’s orders.”
“Again… half right. We don’t really have time for a philosophy course, so I will get straight to the point. I had a little look at your life and… it sucks big time.”
“Apart from being in a dream with the Devil…”
“You have spent a lot of time wondering if Buffy did get into fights… she is, but not how you think. I took the liberty to give… a new lighting on some of your memories,” said Hild while giving her a book.
Joyce took the book warily, remembering who she was dealing with. Memories rushed in her mind. They were familiar but… seen from a different viewpoint. She remembered the fights in Hemery, culminating with Buffy burning down the gym but now noticed a lot of small details that had eluded her until now. It was more of the same about the last year in Sunnydale, all the little things she had not seen. Or rather did not want to see… the attack by that monster disguised as a catholic schoolgirl should have tipped me.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she remembered Buffy’s look while she left for that ball, as if it was the last time she would see her. The final scene of the memories was from the Jeremy Brett version of Sherlock Holmes, the Great Detective saying his famous line about what was left when the impossible was eliminated.
“Magic is real,” she said while the bitter conclusion hit her like a slap to her face. “Vampires are real and my daughter is fighting them.”
“You know, I understand,” said Hild. “I’m a mother too and my relations with my daughter are certainly not the best. Contrarily to me, though, you didn’t alienate her yet and my offer will allow you to change things for her, to help. As for the price… my job is not always easy and you will have to learn to punish.”
Joyce wondered if she was forfeiting her soul, if she… no. She felt again that certitude that it was just meant to be, that the other path had been tried and only led to death and misery.
“Where do I sign?”
“And what do you intend to do, little girl?” asked the vampire.
Willow cursed her current ghostly state. When the madness began, she had left her body behind because of the ghost sheet she had been wearing over the far too revealing costume Buffy made her wear. She had seen Dawn as she was on her way to the library, to warn Giles about all this. The problem was that Buffy’s little sister, or rather whoever she had dressed up as that night, was busy facing some guy turned into Dracula by his costume and leading a group of ‘regular’ vampires.
Suddenly, a red aura flared around the fourteen-year old girl and a dark shape looking like a black tornado escaped her pendant.
“My name is Zu,” said a deep voice as a feral, tanned teenage boy materialized in the eye of the tornado. “The lion-headed eagle, the wild king of darkness, master of storm, Anzu. I answer the call of my mistress.”
Willow blinked, hard. It was not only because the boy that had just appeared was… well yummy. Her main problem was that she had read enough Sumerian and Babylonian prophecies lately to know the name Zu. It appeared in a myth were he stole the Tupsimati, the Tablet of Destinies, and usurped the throne of the gods before being killed by the other gods, exactly who depending on the version of the myth. And such a powerful demon is calling Dawn’s costume ‘my mistress’…
The boy had a smile that Willow had sometimes seen on Buffy when she was enjoying Slaying just a little too much. A mini-tornado formed into his hand and swept the vampires in the sky while he clawed toward them. The Dracula clone would probably survive if he managed to turn into a bat. She doubted that the regular vampires would like falling from several hundred meters very much.
She was about to say something when she was interrupted by the sound of clapping. Willow turned to see Buffy’s mother except that… it wasn’t her, not with that tan, white hair, a dress she would have blushed to wear in the privacy of her bedroom and, more than all, a star-shaped mark on her brow. The girl-turned-ghost froze and started to shake of terror. She knew that mark. She knew the manga it came from and who was wearing it: Hild, the Daimakaicho, the ruler of Hell in the story called ‘Ah! My Goddess!’.
She listened as Joyce-turned-Hild spoke in Japanese with the devil Dawn, Zu standing in protection before his mistress. The nodding coming from the teenage demoness as she listened to whatever the Daimakaicho was telling her was not to reassure the ghost.
“… and now,” said Hild, switching to English and looking at her, “My little Will-chan, all shaking with fear as she recognized me… What should I do with you?”
“H… Hild-sama, I…”
“Hmm… it seems that your body is still where it fell when you became a ghost… Its lifeforce is fading fast, without your soul to hold it together. For now, you would only awake… dead tired if you allow me that little pun. Later… who knows? Well, thankfully, I can easily arrange that little problem. After all, my host’s daughters will need their friends in good shape… then it’s decided, I will help you!”
To other people who didn’t know who she was, Hild’s smile may have looked kind, maybe a little playful. Willow was currently too terrorized to think about anything. When the hands of the Daimakaicho held her incorporeal body, she passed out.
He was looking at the Chaos in town, wondering how he could act without disrupting this world’s cosmic rules. Suddenly dark flames erupted from the ground, coalescing in the shape of a woman. The body wasn’t familiar to him, though it was to his host. The soul now… he knew her all too well.
“I should have known… How much of this is your work?”
“Actually… I didn’t create the situation, but I fixed some isolated cases. I suppose you’re looking for a way to put things back in order as a whole?”
“You know that the only way for both of us to be whisked away against our will…”
“Yes, I know… probably the youngest of the Three, she’s fond of the ‘let’s put things in the cauldron and see what happens’ approach. You have an idea about her goal?”
“Actually, yes. Have you looked in your host’s memories? My own doesn’t have much knowledge on what truly happens, but it was enough to pique my curiosity.”
“One ‘quality’ that you have in spades… Very well.”
The man took concentrated to access the memories of the human he was possessing. The woman looked with an amused smile at his expression, going from shock to outrage while he sifted through them.
“I suppose you have, as usual, a plan?” he asked.
“Of course. We help our hosts stage a coup by letting them with enough power to become… us.”
“The man I’m possessing is… well maybe he can redeem himself.”
“Says the man who was ready to kill our daughter because she made a little slip.”
“You call activating Fenris a little slip? Belldandy interfered anyway. And once we, or rather they, have taken over?”
“It’s up to them. We’ll just set up the stage.”
“Yggdrasil and Nidhogg don’t exist here… but our hosts can create them to regulate things once we’re done. We will have to petition this world for sovereignty.”
“You can take care of that. Just don’t forget to call on me in the final steps as this world wants balance. In the meantime, I will use the chaos spell to divide the town’s population between us.”
Ethan Rayne heard the front door opening. He wasn’t so afraid of having something going in. The wards he raised around his house were tailored to let only pass one man. You’ve been fast, Giles…
He looked in the shop part of the house and saw a small form perusing the remaining costumes. A girl? How…
He went in the shop. She was now nearing the place where the statue of Janus was still focusing the spell.
“You can get out, you know,” said the girl.
He looked better at her, at her gothic clothes, tanned skin and bleached blonde hair. Something was wrong, really wrong.
“You know, you’re lucky that I’m mostly occupied with other tasks and so… Janus… I should have known,” she said, pointing the statue.
“Who are you… you look a little like the Slayer’s mother but…”
“As I said, I’m mostly occupied with other things,” she replied, as if she was undecided between being annoyed and amused. “So, I have sent but a fraction of me here. Now…”
She made a gesture and a second magic circle appeared on the floor, outside his own.
He started to cast one of his fast attack spells but was cut by a negligent flicker of her hand in his direction. The pain hit him like a truck. When he recovered enough reason to be a little coherent, he saw her, smiling and crouching beside him.
“For your information, I activated simultaneously every pain receptor in your body, while protecting you from consequences like a heart failure… Next time you’re rude, I may forget the protection part…”
“Lord have mercy…”
“Sorry, but my ex-husband is a little too occupied to hear you right now. Now, be quiet. I have to supercharge your nice spell with the Hellmouth energy.”
“A second, dear…”
She got back to the circle and started to chant. Her voice was magnificent, sultry, like the essence of temptation. That language… Enochian? Could she be…
“Here! Now for your explanations, as I am in a rather good mood… One of the basic tenets of war is that seemingly unwinnable battles can be fought if you change the rules. Or, as Sunzi was fond to say: “all conflict is based on deception”. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing. You can be reassured though, I know better than to try to destroy the Earth, contrarily to the idiotic demons that seem to regularly aim for this place. Where would I spend my vacations? You can’t imagine what a few weeks of R&R in the Caribbean can do for someone in my position… but I digress.”
“What have you done?”
“Your spell is charging and will soon have enough energy to affect everyone in town. Oh, it won’t be in the… puerile way you intended. I am aiming for a different kind of Chaos, the one that sparks revolutions. Now…”
She got up and looked through his unsold costumes, finally taking a tiara with cat ears. As she came back to him, a sadistic smile on her lips, Ethan tried to move, but his body was still tetanized by her attack. He started to shake as she put the tiara on his head.
“You see, I can’t have you running unchecked and I know I can’t trust you to serve me faithfully. However, you may still be useful later, so I won’t kill you. By the way... do you like tuna?”
“Who… who are you?”
He felt pain washing again as his body warped and shrunk.
“I am Hild,” she said, taking the unconscious tabby cat he now was in her arms.
Above the town, the devil trainee known as Pam Akumachi felt the power stirring under her. I hope that Vine’s grandfather is right to trust this Hild woman. Let’s get to work!
She accessed her power, delving deep in the Tupsimati. It was harder here as this wasn’t the world the Tablet of Destinies gave her dominion over, but Zu, her familiar demon, was currently in the gem and helped her to channel the chaos magic.
Hild had told her that she was necessary because the Tupsimati commanded to Heavenly, Infernal and Natural energies and she would be able to transmute the chaotic energy into something more diverse. All she had to do was assure the transformation. Hild’s spell would do the rest. I hope… I know why but still, it’s a little mean of us to force that on the people of that town.
She remembered how the simple Japanese schoolgirl she had believed to be had been forced to adapt to being a devil after a botched portal sucked her in another dimension. It was only later that she had understood that her grandmother already came to that other world and fell in love, coming back ‘tainted’ and making the teenager the heir of the Devil King of that world. Was it right for them to use that chaos magic to change all the people in town? No… this world is rotten. I can feel it in my soul. I’m sorry, but… we’re only giving you a chance to fight back.
Pam felt the rush as the infernal power of the Hellmouth bathed her. A human soul would have been destroyed, corrupted to the core in mere seconds but it recognized her as a demon, feeling Marduk’s power in her. She forced it through the Tupsimati, changing it in a shower of blue and red sparkles that rained upon the town, looking for people to convert.
The following morning, Drusilla tentatively put her finger in the sunray, expecting the familiar burn to come. She felt nothing, not this time. Gathering her resolve, she stepped forward, letting the warm rays of the rising sun bathe her.
She started to cry. It felt so good, like if she was awakening from a long nightmare. She took the hand mirror and looked at her reflection, marveling at the sight of her own face, a face she had not seen for more than a century.
She remembered the being that had shared her head the night before, when the blue sparkles rained upon her. The stars had told her to stand in the rain; that she would heal if she did so. She had needed it so much after those people almost killed her in Prague. Well… maybe I deserved it… I wasn’t very nice then.
The demon in her had tried to fight the cleansing effect of the blue light, but it had soon felt the invading spirit’s goodness infect it and, then, a miracle happened. The demon had shattered and the one possessing her had held her sobbing, reborn soul during the night. She had comforted her, offering her understanding and forgiveness as blue marks were etched on the former vampire’s brow and cheeks.
“Thank you, Belldandy.”
She heard someone crashing on the couch. It was probably her Spike coming back. Well, she would have to make him admit that some things had changed. She smiled as she saw his own face, adorned with marks similar to her own, but red.
“You look like you could use a good bath, love.”
“Tell me about it… I was about to kill the Slayer when there was that red light… the next thing I remember is awakening completely singed under rubble. I think the Slayer said something about being first category unlimited…”
“It’s all right, I will make some tea.”
Spike looked at the woman of his life as she busied herself in their lair’s kitchen. Now that he thought about it, their lair didn’t have a kitchen yesterday… nor did it look like a loft with an… unfinished but already very comfy look. All it was missing was some art to fill in some empty spaces. Why did Dru make those blue marks on her face and…
He felt warm as he saw her kind smile, while she came back with a heavenly smelling tea and biscuits.
Buffy woke up, trying to remember what happened the night before. Hell of a hangover… what did I drink?
She got up heavily and went to the bathroom, hoping that her little sister wouldn’t be up for now. She reached the shower and felt with delight the hot water run on her skin, chasing the fog away. But still no clue… let’s see… I remember going out wearing that frilly dress, plus that necklace Mom had from her Los Angeles trip. We moved to the school and started to escort the little monsters, thankfully not seeing Dawn who had the ‘good’ taste to dress as some kind of imp. After that… nothing, the great white hole.
She went to the mirror to brush her hair and immediately noticed two things. One may have wondered at her sense of priorities, but she first noticed that her hair had curls she didn’t have the day before and was… more blonde, as in natural, golden blonde instead of dyed. The second thing she noticed were the red tattoos on her face, two sickle-shaped ones on her brow and two pairs of triangles at the corner of her eyes. She started to shake, wondering if someone had cursed her.
Suddenly, as if responding to her thoughts on curses she… kind of remembered. In her mind’s eye, she saw something that reminded her of computer code… No, she was, somehow, sure it was computer code. What she hadn’t a clue about was on what this ‘software’ was supposed to run.
She had to see Giles. She hurried to her room and dressed up. As she got down to the kitchen, she heard her mother talking with someone about planning lessons and a strange voice answering her. She rushed into the kitchen and stopped. In front of her mother, a cup of coffee set before… it, were the strangest demon she had ever seen and… probably a demonic cat.
The demon was a lion’s head with five goat legs radiating from it. The cat was unusual too, black with strangely angular emerald stripes. The worse was that they… didn’t feel evil.
“Ah… Buffy, nice to see you awake,” said Joyce. “Please meet Buer and Sitri,” she said as first the lion-head demon then the cat bowed slightly. “You will probably see them in school soon, after I have… discussed some things with your principal.”
It was then that Buffy noticed the red star on her mother’s brow.